Sunday, January 20, 2008

Burma Crisis Update: Talk is Cheap, Business as Usual; On Martin Luther King Day -- Remember Aung San Suu Kyi

Image: Aung San Suu Kyi, TIME 100

In the Quiet Land, no one can tell if there's someone who's listening for secrets they can sell.
The informers are paid in the blood of the land and no one dares speak what the tyrants won't stand.
In the quiet land of Burma, no one laughs and no one thinks out loud.
In the quiet land of Burma, you can hear it in the silence of the crowd
In the Quiet Land, no one can say when the soldiers are coming to carry them away.
The Chinese want a road; the French want the oil; the Thais take the timber; and SLORC takes the spoils...
In the Quiet Land....
In the Quiet Land, no one can hear what is silenced by murder and covered up with fear.
But, despite what is forced, freedom's a sound that liars can't fake and no shouting can drown.
Aung San Suu Kyi, In the Quiet Land

Burma Crisis Update: Talk is Cheap, Business as Usual; On Martin Luther King Day -- Remember Aung San Suu Kyi

By Richard Power

In September 2007, the Buddhist monks of Burma rose up against the thugocracy.

The world wrung its hands pathetically as the military conducted a brutal crack down.

In the months that have passed, there has been no significant push back on the Burmese regime.

Aung San Suu Kyi is still under house arrest.

The natural gas continues to flow. The forests continue to be felled. The gems continue to be mined.

The UN Security Council has criticized the "lack of progress," called for "more dialogue between Burma's military government and pro-democracy leaders, and "urged the ruling junta to allow another visit by UN envoy Ibrahim Gambari." (BBC, 1-18-08)

The EU is calling for UN mediator Ibrahim Gambari to return to Burma and make the release of Aung San Suu Kyi his number one priority. (Agence France Press, 1-18-08)

For his part, Gambari is calling on the Indian government to use its influence. NDTV, 8-20-08

But talk is cheap.

If the great nations wanted to do something meaningful, they would lean on their own corporations to stop doing business with this bestial regime.

Of course, the executives of those corporations could also have acted on their own by now. The blood of many monks and the misery of tens of millions of Burmese is on their hands, just as surely as it is on the hands of the Burmese generals.

Here are some excerpts from an NDTV interview with Gambari:, with a link to the full text:

The Special UN Envoy for Burma, Ibrahim Agboola Gambari, is scheduled to visit New Delhi later this month to have another round of discussion with (his) Indian (counterpart) leaders on how they can play an influential and meaningful role in meeting the Secretary General, Ban Ki Moon's goal of a peaceful, united, stable and democratic Burma, respectful to human rights.
Gambari: We want India to do more because, as you know - it is public, they are not hiding - India is just in the process of signing a huge contract to build a port there (in Myanmar). What we are saying is that to the extent that gives India some leverage, we would like (India) to help on other front, to be able to send the right messages to the authorities to cooperate fully and make the process of engagement with them and Good Offices of the Secretary General to produce tangible results. So far, some progress has been made, but still a lot more needs to be done.
NDTV: How much influence India has on Burma?
Gambari: It is difficult to say. India is a big neighbor. So, clearly Myanmar should take into account India's views. There are also, insurgent groups who are fighting from Myanmar side of the border; fighting the Indian government. So I think there is some mutual - and of course India is interested in some of the resources of Myanmar oil and gas and others. The way we see it that it positions them to be helpful. It is also true that it modifies how far they can go, how far they are willing to go, but we think they have enough and sufficient influence to be helpful to us in what is our common objective of a peaceful, united, stable and democratic Myanmar respectful to human rights.
This would be consistent with India's own being. It is a democratic country with true commitment to human rights. We also believe that a peaceful prosperous and democratic Myanmar would be even a better partner for India than what the situation is right now.
NDTV: What further steps you would like India to take in the coming months?
Gambari: I would really like to impress upon the authorities in Myanmar that it is in their interest as well as the interest of the neighboring countries, ASEAN and the international community that they engage seriously with the Good Offices Mission of the Secretary General and work with me to bring up tangible results from the engagement. That message has to be delivered, and if India offered to do so, it would be extremely helpful to us. ...
NDTV: Do you think, China influences India's role in Burma?
Gambari: I am told that one of the reasons in the past that Indian has not been as forthcoming as they could have been, was geo-political relationship between India and China. And there was fear that if they played too hard on the generals that would push them further in the hands of China. I do not know if that is correct analysis or not. But, what I know is that it is not in China's interest or India's interest or any neighboring country's interest or ASEAN's interest, certainly not in the interest of the people of Myanmar if the status quo continues. It is not sustainable.
NDTV, 8-20-08

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Burma Crisis Update 11-10-07: Amnesty International on "Grave & Ongoing Human Rights Violations"; Alternate Media Vital to Resistance

Burma Crisis Update: An Open Letter to the Executives of Chevron

Burma Crisis Update: Two Weeks Into the Crackdown, China Has Not Tempered the Thugocracy's Hand; Chevron Has Not Even Slapped Its Wrist

Human Rights Update 10-6-07: Chevron, Condoleeza Rice & the Burmese Thugocracy

Human Rights Update: Blackwater, Burma, Darfur & You

Human Rights Watch to Business: "Keeping quiet while monks & other peaceful protesters are murdered & jailed is not ... constructive engagement."

Human Rights Update: Blackwater, Burma, Darfur & You

Hard Rain Journal 9-27-07: Aung San Suu Kyi was Elected in 1990, Al Gore was Elected in 2000 -- Consider What Has Befallen Both Countries Since

For a directory of Words of Power Human Rights Updates, click here.

Richard Power's Left-Handed Security: Overcoming Fear, Greed & Ignorance in This Era of Global Crisis is available now! Click here for more information.

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