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 You are in: Special Report: 1998: 03/98: Asem 2  
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Asem 2 Saturday, 4 April, 1998, 14:49 GMT 15:49 UK
Protesters target Asem over refugees' plight
Refugees
More than 100,000 Karen refugees remain on the Thai-Burmese border
A leading Burmese democracy campaigner joined a protest at the 26-nation Asia-Europe meeting (Asem) in London.

Ten organisations, including Survival for Tribal Peoples and Campaign Against the Arms Trade, are angry that discussions at the conference have focused on economics rather than human rights.

The summit was held as fears mount over the health of the Japanese economy.

As well as the leaders of the 15 EU member states, leaders from Cambodia, China, Indonesia, Japan, Korea, Malaysia, Singapore, Brunei, Thailand and Vietnam were in attendance.

May Oo, the President of the Karen National League, which represents ethnic refugees on the Thai-Burmese border, joined the protest ranks outside the meeting.

She fled Burma for the border in 1988 when the country's military regime took over a student uprising.

Later, she went to the United States as a refugee - but has continued to campaign for the 115,000 refugees she left behind who continue to live under appalling conditions.

May Oo says the regime has attacked their border camps and her people are living under siege. She claims one of them has been completely burned down, and two are still under attack.

Asem conference
Protesters want human rights issues on the agenda
The campaigner says she wants the international community to understand the gravity of the situation.

"We really hope that international communities realise the situation and get involved especially with ASEN meeting in the UK," May Oo said.

She expressed disappointment that human rights issues were not being given a higher priority at the summit.

"Many investors, including those here in Britain claim that human rights have nothing to do with the economic crisis in Burma.

"Burma is a case in point where the absence of democracy and respect for human rights has lead to an economy where people suffer from deprivation. So we really think the British Government should be proactive in support of the activist groups here who are working for human rights in Burma," she said.

 WATCH/LISTEN
 ON THIS STORY
BBC News
May Oo tells her story to the BBC's Radio 5 Breakfast programme (2'37")
See also:

11 Mar 98 | S/W Asia
16 Mar 98 | Asia-Pacific
12 Mar 98 | S/W Asia
23 Mar 98 | Asia-Pacific
27 Mar 98 | S/W Asia
Internet links:


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