Chiswick hosted brutal regime's party

Myanmar allowed to hold reception at Town Hall

Sign up for our free weekly newsletter

Comment on this story on the

The ruling military government of Myanmar, formerly the British colony Burma, has been allowed to hold a reception here in Chiswick. The event, to mark the 56th Anniversary Independence Day of the Union of Myanmar, took place at Chiswick Town Hall on 4 January. Present on this occasion were more 300 patrons of the Myanmar Association and their guests.

A report in 'The Light of Myanmar' tells of how guests, including Myanmar's Ambassador to the UK Dr Kyaw Win, were entertained with traditional dancing and snacks. The reception came to a close at 4 pm with the singing of National Anthem in chorus.

CiP, the company which are responsible for taking bookings for the Town Hall, have confirmed that this is not the first time the Myanmar Embassy has booked an event at the venue. They have hired the Town Hall several times over the past few years. When the initial request for hiring the venue was received, it went through an approval process by senior management.

This regime has brutally suppressed the movement for democracy in the country. In the 1988 as many as 10,000 students, Buddhist monks and others were reported to be massacred following a clampdown after pro-democracy protests. In 1990, Nobel Prize winner Aung San Suu Kyi's party won an election with 80% of the vote, but the military refused to recognise the result and placed her under house arrest.

The International Labour Organisation, a UN agency, has reported how men, women, children and the elderly are forced to labour on roads, railways and other construction projects. They also face punishments which include: "money demands, physical abuse, beatings, torture, rape and murder".

Third-World debt campaigner, Bono, has spoken out against the regime calling for the release of political prisoners and urging the UN to impose trade sanctions in an effort to overturn military rule. A bloody conflict has raged in this country for over 50 years during which time countless numbers have lost their lives. Myanmar is one of the 15 countries listed by UNís Kofi Annan as using children to fight as soldiers.

The country is also currently the world's largest producer of illegal opium and a major supplier of the raw material for amphetamines.

A CiP spokesperson said, "CIP do not actively support any political regime and as an apolitical organisation we support equal representation. With contentious bookings discussions regarding the actual event will take place. No cause for concern was highlighted, we have received no complaints from the public and there have never been adverse reports from the venue staff who worked on these past events."

February 13, 2004