Monday, December 29, 2008

Human Rights Update: Burma, the Congo & Tibet -- Just Another Day?

Image: Frida Kahlo, Love Embrace of the Universe

Human Rights Update: Burma, the Congo & Tibet -- Just Another Day?

By Richard Power

No, I am not going to write about Gaza. I refer you to Steve Clemons' Washington Note. Steve offers a sophisticated perspective on the conflict (as well as a range of vital geopolitical issues); his views, and those of his featured colleagues, are both pragmatic and compassionate. (Click here, and here, and here, for some examples.)

Of course, I want the Obama-Biden administration to prove Robert Fisk wrong on Israel/Palestine (click here), just as I want it to prove George Monbiot wrong on Climate Change (click here); although, I confess I am skeptical on both fronts.

But, no, I am not going to write about Gaza.

I am going to stay focused on those situations I have committed myself to; they are, for me, free of any ambiguity whatsoever: Burma, Congo, Tibet and Darfur.

The Burmese Thugocracy remains entrenched and unchallenged, in any meaningful way. The great nations have not made life uncomfortable for them. Nor have those corporate interests that influence the policies of the great nations. Nor has the UN.

In a recent editorial, the independent (and exiled) Burmese newspaper, Irrawaddy, mocked the ineffectual performance of UN Special Envoy Gambari:

The Nigerian diplomat must be insane to think that the corrupt generals who terrorized the whole nation can be bribed into compromise. ... The Burmese generals must be laughing at Gambari and his proposal. The country’s political prisoners, however, have nothing to laugh about. They will be asking whether a more effective and better informed UN special envoy cannot be appointed. Persuasion and bribes won’t move the captors of more than 2,000 innocent people. Irrawaddy, 12-29-08

Of course, Gambari has had no impact on business as usual:

The China National Petroleum Corporation (CNPC) has concluded a 30-year deal to buy natural gas from Burma, the Chinese Corp announced ... The signing guarantees that energy-hungry China can fill a portion of its energy demand for nature gas from Burma’s offshore Blocks A-1 and A-3 in the Bay of Bengal for at least 30 years. In the two offshore fields, South Korea’s Daewoo International Corp owns a 51 percent share; Myamar Oil & Gas Enterprise, 15 percent; India’s Oil & Natural Gas Corp, 17 percent; Gail, 8.5 percent; and Korea Gas, 8.5 percent. ... Irrawaddy, 12-26-08

But before you beat your chest about China, check your stock portfolio (or what is left of it) against the Burma Campaign/UK's "Dirty List" of corporations doing business with the Thugocracy.

Meanwhile, UN Goodwill Ambassador Mia Farrow continues posting from the outskirts of Hell:

The impact of the violence is evident everywhere and it cannot be overstated. No institutional structure is in place. All ordinary ways of life have been disrupted. ... Children live in terror of being raped or abducted -- the girls are used for sex, boys are forced to fight. Civilians are attacked, raped, tortured and murdered.
Although the United Nations has dispatched the largest peacekeeping operation in the world, it has been unable to protect the people of North Kivu. Last month, with peacekeepers less than a mile away, at least 150 people were massacred.
Mia Farrow, CNN, 12-23-08

And in Tibet, documentation on the torture of dissidents has been released:

The UN Committee Against Torture has delivered a damning assessment of China’s record on torture. ... In one section titled “Widespread torture and ill-treatment and insufficient safeguards during detention” the Committee states it remains “deeply concerned” about widespread reports of the “use of torture and ill-treatment of suspects in police custody, especially to extract confessions….to be used in criminal proceedings”. In its own submission to the Committee (2) Free Tibet submitted evidence of government. Tibetan News and Culture, 12-5-08

When will human rights, along with sustainability, be recognized for what it truly is -- the secret ingredient without which no real security is achievable?

See also The Bush Legacy on Darfur: Joy to the World? Glories of His Righteousness? Wonders of His Love? He Rules the World?

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

For a Words of Power Archive of Crisis in Darfur 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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