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Federal Police needs to apologize

Date: Thursday, May 10, 2001 4:15 PM



May 10, 2001

Attention:          Chief of Staff

                    Foreign Affairs Reporter


Federal Police attack Burmese protest in Canberra, linked to Burma visit

Federal Police last Friday, May 4, attacked a peaceful protest by 80 Burmese

people and supporters outside the Burmese Military Embassy in Yarralumla, on

the pretext that the burning of the flag of the military dictatorship was a

threat to order.

At the same time, the AFP Director General, Michael Keelty and a police

delegation were in Rangoon (Yangon), where they visited the Criminal

Investigation Department and attended the opening of an Australian Police

Force Public Relations Office at the Australian Embassy. Keelty’s group flew

home on May 5.

“The AFP became more aggressive to our protest to facilitate their

cooperation with the Burmese police and military regime,” said Maung Maung

Than of the Free Burma Action Committee, who was among those kicked and

beaten by the police in Canberra.

“We call for a parliamentary inquiry into the attack by the AFP against our

protest on May 4, and for a parliamentary review of the AFP program in

Burma,” said Maung Maung Than. “We appreciate the support of Wayne Barry,

Labor Leader in the ACT Legislative Assembly, and Jeremy Pyner of the ACT

Trades & Labor Council for an inquiry, and a formal police apology to the

Burmese community.

“The Australian government is making the same mistake in Burma that it made

in Indonesia and East Timor, by placing trust in a brutal military

dictatorship,” said Maung Maung Than. “Instead of cooperating with and

legitimising these generals who have imposed forced labour on two million

Burmese people, the Australian government should join the global movement to

fully isolate and discredit the military dictatorship in Burma."




For further comment:

Ko Maung Maung Than - Central Coordinator, Free Burma Action Committee

Phone / Fax: +61-2-96435646; mobile 0411337816