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Burmese Democracy Movement Loses Friend in Wellstone Death - 2002-10-28


Democratic Senator Paul Wellstone, including his wife, daughter and five others were killed in a plane crash Friday Oct. 25 in northern Minnesota. The twin-engine private plane went down in bad weather about 175 miles north of Minneapolis. The cause of the crash is unknown and still under investigation.

Senator Wellstone was an outspoken and very liberal democrat from Minnesota. President Bush said Senator Wellstone "was a man of deep convictions. He was a plainspoken fellow who did his best for his state and for his country."

In an interview with VOA Burmese Service, U Bo Hla Tint, a spokesperson of the Washington-based exile National Coalition Government of the Union of Burma expressed his heartfelt condolences saying, “His sudden death is a loss not only for his Democratic Party, his family, friends and the nation but also for Burma’s democratic movement.” He said Senator Wellstone was one of the fourteen members of Congress who highlighted the use of forced labor in Burma. Together with a group of lawmakers, the Senator also wrote to the UN Secretary General Kofi Annan to request for further investigation on the recent report, “License To Rape", which accuses the Burmese military of using rape as a weapon against Shan ethnic women.

Most importantly, U Bo Hla Tint said, during the 107th Congress, Senator Wellstone also supported the S 926 Bill, which prohibits the importation of any article that is produced, manufactured, or grown in Burma. This is a proposal of action to be taken by the United States supporting multilateral action to end forced labor and the worst forms of child labor in Burma.

Senator Wellstone was one of the members of congress who closely monitored human rights abuses in Burma and the current political stalemate between the Democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi and the Burmese military government. U Bo Hla Tint said, “The Senator cared a lot about Burma. He was often seen at most events on Burma held at the Senate building and if he was not free, he would send one of his aides to attend the events.”

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