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Democracy In The Asia Pacific Region


Democracy In The Asia Pacific Region

Freedom, says President George W. Bush, has transformed the Asia Pacific region:

“Whenever they're given an opportunity, the people of every culture and every religion choose freedom over oppression. In Asia, millions have been given this chance, and they built free societies that are sources of peace and prosperity.”

The nations of the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation group, or APEC, are supporting the advance of freedom, says Mr. Bush:

“Indonesia, Malaysia, and Singapore helped lead the effort to include democratic and human rights principles in the ASEAN [Association of Southeast Asian Nations] Charter. Japan has incorporated democracy and governance programs into its official development assistance. South Korea hosted an historic gathering of the world's free nations, the Community of Democracies summit.”

Still, says Mr. Bush, more work remains to be done:

“We must work for the day when the people of North Korea enjoy the same freedoms as the citizens of their democratic neighbors. We must press the regime in Burma to stop arresting and harassing and assaulting pro-democracy activists for organizing or participating in peaceful demonstrations. The Burmese regime must release these activists immediately. It must stop its intimidation of these citizens who are promoting democracy and human rights. It must release all political prisoners, including Aung San Suu Kyi.”

Mr. Bush says the United States will urge other Asia Pacific countries to respect human rights and democratic principles:

“We'll continue to work with nations like Russia to advance our shared interests while encouraging Russia's leaders to respect the checks and balances that are essential to democracy. We'll continue to work with China, but as we do so, we'll never shy away from expressing our deepest-held values that each person has human dignity, and that we believe strongly in liberty. . . .And finally, we look forward to free and fair elections in Thailand.”

A partnership of free Asia Pacific nations, says President Bush, will work to support democratic values, strengthen democratic institutions, and assist those who are working to build and sustain free societies across the region.

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