At the NCCA
Thursday, 29 March 2012 19:04rom Act for Peace, the international aid agency of the National Council of Churches in Australia
By-elections in Burma / Myanmar this Sunday will not change the balance of power in the nation, but could be an important step in its struggle towards democratisation, according to Act for Peace, the international aid agency of the National Council of Churches in Australia.
Aung San Suu Kyi and her National League for Democracy party will stand for national parliamentary elections in Burma / Myanmar for the first time since the party was prevented from taking office in 1990. The decision of Aung San Suu Kyi and her party to stand in these by-elections, and the possible influence she may have in the parliament, will continue to be hotly debated inside the country.
Act for Peace has been engaged in community development and humanitarian programs with partners in Burma / Myanmar and with Burmese refugees for over two decades.
Alistair Gee, the agency’s executive director, returned last week from visiting the refugee camps in his role as chair of the Thailand Burma Border Consortium, which provides food and shelter to 138,000 Burmese refugees.
“The last few months have seen significant change in Burma / Myanmar, including the announcement of a number of ceasefire agreements, the freeing of opposition party leader Aung San Suu Kyi from house arrest, relaxation of censorship of some domestic media and the release of hundreds of political prisoners,” said Mr Gee.
“These initial changes are very welcome and provide hope of further democratic reform and resolution of ethnic conflicts. That said, since the last parliamentary elections the number of people displaced by the armed conflicts in Burma / Myanmar has actually increased to the highest levels on record. So while there is new hope and a new peace process, the realisation of democracy and peace is far from assured.”
Available for interview: Alistair Gee, Act for Peace.