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Stop Crackdown on Suu Kyi Supporters, Thai Govt. Urged (click to view PDF)

For Immediate Release
October 13th, 2003
Contact: (202) 543-8753

(Washington, DC) A leading US activist group today urged the Royal Government of Thailand to halt a massive crackdown on Thai-based supporters of Nobel Laureate Aung San Suu Kyi and the movement for human rights and democracy in Burma. The move comes just days after 35 US Senators, including powerful Senate Majority Whip Mitch McConnell, signed a letter to US President George W. Bush criticizing Thailand’s support for Burma’s military regime.

“The organizations targeted by the Thai authorities have been promoting peaceful means to achieve a political solution to Burma’s problems - serious problems that have spilled over into Thailand and the rest of the region. They are working for a solution that will also bring immense benefits to Thailand. They should be supported, not suppressed,” said Jeremy Woodrum, campaign director for the US Campaign for Burma.

Thai press reports and first hand interviews over the past year have indicated a disturbing trend towards zero tolerance of Burmese and Thai groups campaigning for democratization in Burma. The crackdown appears to have been stepped up in the wake of the regime’s brutal assault on Aung San Suu Kyi’s motorcade on May 30th, which led the United States and European Union to impose a raft of sanctions against the regime.

Thai Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra called for the release of Aung San Suu Kyi while visiting Washington after May 30th, yet subsequently ordered a serious crackdown on her supporters in Thailand. This includes the reported blacklist of 500 people who will be barred from entering Thailand, including supporters of Burma’s democracy movement.

Last week, 35 US Senators sent a letter to President Bush harshly criticizing Thailand’s support for Burma’s regime and bluntly stating, “Burma is becoming a serious threat to regional security.”The Senators urged President Bush to speak forcefully on Burma during his trip to the upcoming Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) meeting in Bangkok.

The Thai government has stepped up the crackdown on Burmese activists under the guise of improving security measures for the meeting. “This is part of an ongoing trend that has targeted not just those based in Bangkok where the APEC meeting will be held, but also other parts of Thailand. We hope that the Thaksin administration realize that the pro-democracy groups are friends, not foes. Burma’s threat to Thailand and the region have been caused by the regime, not the activists,” added Woodrum.