Australian Federal Police
GPO Box 401
Canberra ACT 2601
We wish to strongly protest the actions of the Australian Federal Police towards the demonstration for Burmese democracy at the Burmese Embassy on Friday May 4th.
The response of the AFP was excessive from the beginning, involving as it did the mobilisation of countless police, including some in full riot gear, dogs, mounted police and plain clothes agents.
Members of the demonstration tried to burn a Burmese dictatorship flag, their own property. The police responded by charging into the crowd with fire extinguishers, provoking a short scuffle between police in full riot gear and protestors, a number of whom were injured.
This action was unwarranted, given the harmless nature of the flag-burning, which is a regular occurrence at these demonstrations.
Given the links between the Australian Federal Police and the Burmese SPDC dictatorship, highlighted by the recent visit of an AFP delegation to Rangoon headed by yourself, the actions of the police at the demonstration were inappropriate and raise questions about the ‘neutrality’ of the AFP.
In a context where the SPDC regime refuses to conduct meaningful dialogue with the democratically elected Committee Representing the People’s Parliament, any ‘engagement’ by the AFP or other government agencies with the Burmese junta undermines serious efforts for peace and democracy. It also helps to legitimise a brutal regime that abuses basic human rights, engages in slave labour on a massive scale, conducts a war against its own people and is complicit in the international heroin trade.
When protestors calling for basic human rights are provoked and attacked by riot police in the streets of Canberra, people are justified in asking whether the AFP exists to defend the law or to defend the government and corporate interests that dictate a policy of ‘engagement’ with murderers like the SPDC.
We call upon your organisation to end all ties with the SPDC regime, and apologise to the Burmese community for the attack on the May 4th demonstration. We further support calls by the Free Burma Action Committee and others, including ACT Legislative Assembly member Wayne Berry and ACT Trades and Labour Council secretary Jeremy Pyner, for a parliamentary review into the AFP program in Burma, and an inquiry into the AFP attack on the May 4th demonstration.
Stuart Munckton, Canberra Resistance branch organiser
James Vassilopolous, Canberra Democratic Socialist Party branch secretary