International reaction to the 2007 Burmese anti-government protests

International reaction to the 2007 Burmese anti-government protests

International reaction to the 2007 Burmese anti-government protests ranges from support of the protestors through neutrality to support of the State Peace and Development Council, the ruling junta. While most countries supported the protests and urged the Myanmar's State Peace and Development Council ruling military Junta to implement far-reaching reforms, several key countries, such as the People's Republic of China and India maintained commitment to the notion of noninterference. A number of protests against the Burmese Government's crackdown have been held worldwide.


- The French government warned Myanmar's ruling junta on September 24, that it would be held accountable if it cracked down on protesters who have taken to the streets in large numbers in Yangon. [ [ France warns Myanmar junta against crackdown] AFP (via, September 24, 2007.] President Nicolas Sarkozy requested on September 26 that French businesses freeze investments in Myanmar and he called for the UN Security Council to have 'sanctions to be adopted without delay.' [ [ Sarkozy asks French businesses to freeze Myanmar investments UPDATE] Thomson Financial News (via, September 26, 2007.]

SWE - On September 23, foreign minister Carl Bildt said in a statement that:

"(Sweden) demands that the regime fully respects the right to peaceful protests" ... "We—and the European Union—want to open up for cooperation and trade with a democratic Burma". [ [ Växande protester i Burma] Alla dessa dagar (Bildt's personal weblog), September 23, 2007.]

UK - The UK Ambassador, Mark Canning, commented that the Burmese leaders were now in uncharted territory, and was concerned about any possible crackdown by the junta, saying:

"That would be a disaster, although in terms of probability, I'm afraid, ranks quite high." [ [ Monks lead largest Burma protest] BBC, September 24, 2007]
Mike Ellam, Prime Minister Gordon Brown's spokesman, stated that:
" [HM Government] deplore(s) the continued repression of ordinary citizens by the Burmese regime and we were deeply concerned by reports of further acts of violence perpetrated this week by security officials against peaceful demonstrators." [ [ Burma Statement] Downing Street says, 2007-09-24]

Foreign Secretary David Miliband, at the Labour Party Conferences in Bournemouth, responded to events by saying:

"I for one thought it was brilliant to see Aung San Suu Kyi alive and well outside her house last week. I think it will be a hundred times better when she takes her rightful place as the elected leader of a free and democratic Burma." [cite web | author= David Miliband| title= In full: David Miliband speech | publisher= BBC News| date=2007-09-25| url= ]

GER - Foreign Ministry spokesman, Martin Jaeger, expressed his sympathy towards the demonstrators, saying:

"We, along with the Portuguese presidency of the European Union, urge the release of those recently detained during the protests." [Cite news |work=AFP |title=World urges restraint amid Myanmar protests |url= |date=2007-09-25]

IRL - The Irish Foreign Minister, Dermot Ahern, stated that:

"We have all been struck by the dignity and courage of the protests by thousands of Buddhist monks and tens of thousands of ordinary people in cities across the country, and their appeal for national reconciliation, genuine democracy and improved living conditions."
"The Burmese authorities must fulfil their promises of reconciliation and democratisation, which the 14 year-long National Convention has singularly failed to deliver. The authorities must engage democratically with the democratic opposition and ethnic groups in open and inclusive dialogue. The world needs to speak with one voice in ensuring restraint on the part of the Burmese regime in dealing with the peaceful protests.” [Cite news | |title=Ahern backs peaceful regime change for Burma|url=|date=2007-09-25]

Ahern also then stated that the European Union should impose more sanctions against Myanmar's military regime:

"Within the European Union, Ireland has long taken a strong and principled position on Burma. We are looking urgently at how to increase the pressure on the regime, including through further EU restrictive measures, without harming the ordinary people whose suffering is already so great." [Cite news | |title=Ahern calls for EU sanctions on Burmese government|url=|date=2007-10-03]

POL - Polish democracy leader Lech Wałęsa and a former Communist Polish political and military leader Wojciech Jaruzelski made a unique joint appeal to Myanmar's junta on Thursday to talk to protesters.

"In Myanmar, as in Poland, only a bloodless transition to democracy is in the interest of all." [Cite news |work=Reuters |title=Poland's Walesa, Jaruzelski urge Myanmar talks |url=|date=2007-09-27]

NOR - Norwegian Prime Minister Jens Stoltenberg and Foreign Minister Jonas Gahr Støre both condemned the use of violence by the military junta, and urged the international community to take responsibility for the democratic development in Myanmar. Jens Stoltenberg stated that:

"The use of force is the last thing Burma needs right now. That's a message we're sending very clearly from the Norwegian government."
"We believe that the countries in the immediate area have a special responsibility. That applies, not least, to China." [Cite news |work=Aftenposten |title=Norway condemns military violence in Burma |url=|date=2007-09-27]

NED - Dutch Prime Minister Jan-Peter Balkenende has called for sanctions against Myanmar.

"In Myanmar, soldiers opened fire on monks and civilians taking part in peaceful demonstrations. We strongly condemn this brutal violence." Also, he asked the United Nations Security Council to meet once again. "If the Security Council does not reach an agreement, we will take our own responsibility. In that case, I am convinced that the European Union and the United States will decide on further measures, together with other benevolent countries."

In accordance, several sanctions are being considered by the Dutch government, including a possible ban on wood from Myanmar. Also, the Prime Minister remarked that these sanctions should target only the military junta, but not impair the population. [Cite news |work=De Telegraaf |title=Balkenende roept op tot actie tegen Myanmar |url=]

CHE - Swiss President Micheline Calmy-Rey spoke at the opening of the UN's 62nd General Assembly and addressed the use of force by Burma's military junta against pro-democracy demonstrators calling the situation "alarming". Calmy-Rey went on by adding that Switzerland favoured a dialogue, among all parties involved, under leadership of the UN secretary-general's special envoy to Burma, Ibrahim Gambari. [Cite news |work=swissinfo |title=Calmy-Rey calls for a "more coherent" UN|url=]

VAT - Pope Benedict XVI stated that he wishes for a peaceful solution to the "extremely serious" events in Myanmar, and expressed sorrow for the poor residents of the country during its "painful trial". [Cite news |work=Reuters|title=U.N. peace envoy meets detained leader|url=]


AUS - The Australian Foreign Minister Alexander Downer has told reporters that:

"I hope the international community will use this, as Australia does, as an opportunity to express our heartfelt support for the people of Burma who want to see reform there, but also to send a very strong message to the military leaders in Burma that some hardline crackdown like we saw in the 1980s, in 1988, would be completely unacceptable to the international community." [Cite news |publisher=Australian Broadcasting Corporation |work=News Online |title=No tanks on the streets in Burma: Downer |url= |date=2007-09-25]

On September 27, there were protests in major cities across Australia, supporting the rights of Burmese to democracy and peaceful protest.

Also on September 27, Alexander Downer said there was little the United Nations could do after the Security Council's call for restraint, adding:

"The very fact of the Security Council addressing the issue of Burma is important because it helps to provide momentum for international support for reform in Burma and this opportunity has to be used for that." [ [ UN wants Burma envoy, Howard flags more sanctions] Australian Broadcasting Corporation News Online, September 27, 2007.]

External links

* [ BBC - In quotes: Burma reaction]
* [ BBC - Where the world stands on Burma]
* [ ABC AU - Burma tries to cool international pressure]
* [ BBC - Global rallies to pressure Burma]
* [ Reuters - Global reaction to Myanmar protests]
* [ Free Burma Australian Campaign - Photos and Videos of the Protests]


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