Subject: Timor leader urges Australia to push harder on Myanmar

Timor leader urges Australia to push harder on Myanmar

July 23 (AFP) -- East Timor President Jose Ramos-Horta on Friday urged Australia to learn from the past and push harder for reform in military-ruled Myanmar.

The Nobel Peace laureate said Australia had turned a "blind eye to blatant human rights abuses" during Indonesia's 24-year occupation of East Timor and should not repeat the mistake.

"Australia can, working together with Indonesia for instance... help bring an end to that ugly situation in Myanmar," he told reporters.

Australia has imposed financial sanctions and visa restrictions on members of the regime in Myanmar, formerly known as Burma, and banned all defence exports to the country.

It also called last month for the release of Nobel laureate Aung San Suu Kyi, the democracy icon who has spent most of the past 19 years in detention.

But Ramos-Horta said "occasional statements" were not enough and urged Australia to apply consistent pressure for reform in the country.

"It's been going on for over two decades with the imprisonment of Aung San Suu Kyi and there is no light at the end of the tunnel," he said.

"Here is where Australia can be more proactive and not only be happy with occasional statements."

Aung San Suu Kyi's National League of Democracy won a landslide election victory in 1990 that the junta, in power since 1962, refused to recognise.


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