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Thu, Sep 21, 2000 - Page 3 News List

Lawmakers aid Myanmar

By Stephanie Low  /  STAFF REPORTER

Legislators across party lines yesterday announced that they were joining lawmakers from 80 countries in a worldwide signature campaign to show support for a group of exiled Myanmar parliamentarians who are fighting for democracy.

The legislators said Taiwan should lend a hand to the activists in the same way the international community helped push for democracy in Taiwan.

"Taiwan, which experienced what Myanmar has been going through over the past three decades, was eventually freed from autocracy. Today we are obligated to support the people of Myanmar and their struggle for democracy," said DPP Legislator Shih Ming-te (施明德), one of the main organizers of the signature drive in Taiwan.

Other co-initiators in the Legislative Yuan included Liu Sung-pan (劉松藩) from the People First Party, Chen Chieh-ju (陳傑儒) from the KMT, Hong Chi-chang (洪奇昌) from the DPP, Hau Lung-bin (郝龍斌) from the New Party, aboriginal legislator Tsay Chung-han (蔡中涵) and independent lawmaker Tsai Hau (蔡豪).

Shih said it was his goal to have all 221 legislators sign up, and as of yesterday he had managed to collect some 70 signatures.

Myanmar has been under military rule since 1962. Though it held parliamentary elections in May 1990, the democratically elected representatives were denied their legitimate right to serve after the military government declared the results of the election null and void.

According to Amnesty International, more than 1,000 political activists were sent to prison in Myanmar in 1999 alone. As many of 55 elected lawmakers were incarcerated as of March. Five have died while in detention.

The "Worldwide Solidarity Campaign" was launched by a group of Myanmar lawmakers who were elected in 1990 but never allowed to take their seats, who now head the National Coalition Government of the Union of Burma based in New Delhi, to mark the 10th anniversary of the 1990 parliamentary elections.

It aims to pressure the military government of Myanmar to release the imprisoned lawmakers immediately, recognize their right to convene parliament, end all violations of human rights on the people of Myanmar and engage in dialogue to achieve a peaceful transition to democracy.

Data from the National Coalition Government shows that a total of 1,026 lawmakers representing more than 80 countries, not including Taiwan, have signed their names as of July.

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