Labour restricts Burma trade

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The Independent Online
The Government yesterday came up with a small but symbolic birthday gift for Aung San Suu Kyi, the Burmese opposit-ion leader. It put new restrict-ions on doing business in Burma in protest against the country's abuses of human rights.

"The Government will not provide any financial support to companies for trade missions to Burma or for trade promotion activities within Burma until there is progress towards democratic reform and respect for human rights in Burma," said Derek Fatchett, Foreign Office minister. "We shall encourage our EU partners to take similiar action," he added, in answer to a Parliamentary question.

In Rangoon, military police prevented 100 supporters of Suu Kyi from visiting her home to celebrate her 52nd birthday. About 20 of her relatives and aides, however, were allowed into her compound for a quiet ceremony. She has been under semi-house arrest since last September, when the military sealed off her home to prevent a congress of her political party.

The British announcement was welcomed by human rights campaigners. "The Burma Action group UK sees today's move by the new Labour Government as an encouraging first step," said a statement from the London-based group.