The military regime in Burma is determined to maintain its hold on power regardless of the cost and suffering of its people. The junta's ‘Roadmap to disciplined democracy', including a new constitution and elections planned for 2010, is designed to entrench military rule behind a facade of civilian government. The process excludes the opposition and meaningful participation by the ethnic groups. Fundamental rights are consistently ignored.
Since early November, over 200 pro-democracy activists have been given sentences of up to 65 years in prison. These severe sentences are clearly designed to silence all dissent ahead of the 2010 elections. There are now over 2,200 political prisoners in detention, including opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi, and other pro-democracy leaders. Ethnic minority groups have been methodically marginalised. Against this backdrop, we will continue to do all we can to generate international pressure for a peaceful transition to democracy and respect for human rights in Burma. In particular, we will continue to give our full support to the UN Secretary General and his efforts to break the current deadlock.