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INFO PACK FOR "BEYOND RANGOON"
- Subject: INFO PACK FOR "BEYOND RANGOON"
- From: darnott@xxxxxxxxxxx
- Date: Fri, 18 Aug 1995 19:01:00
INFORMATION PACK HANDED OUT AT THE NEW YORK PRE-RELEASE
SCREENINGS OF "BEYOND RANGOON".
Some of these materials could be used for distribution outside
cinemas when the film comes to your village. You should adapt the
contact list to your needs and interests, and use a local contact
address/phone No. so that if there are enough interested people a
local Burma support group might emerge. If the film runs for a
while, the materials may need to be updated. Other items that
could be added are Suu Kyi's essay "Freedom From Fear",
information about specific campaigns, boycotts etc., and any
topical or other material that appeals.
The front page of the pack is a photo of a Burmese soldier
pointing a gun at the photographer, alongside an image from the
film of an eye looking through bamboo, with the words "Truth has
a witness," and "'BEYOND RANGOON' A film by John Boorman". This
page and a formatted version of the leaflet can be found on WWW
on one or more the Websites listed in the "Contact Addresses",
below, which formed the back page of the 8-page pack (the present
version contains extra bits).
The information pack
BEYOND "BEYOND RANGOON" -- A BURMA UPDATE
On 10 July 1995, after six long years, Aung San Suu Kyi was
finally freed from house arrest. Unfortunately, as Daw Suu Kyi
said herself upon her release, NOTHING ELSE HAS CHANGED IN BURMA.
One woman is free. But a nation of 45 million people remains
hostage to a military dictatorship. Hundreds of other political
prisoners remain jailed under desperate conditions. The generals'
junta still rules by fear and by the gun. For most Burmese, life
has grown worse since the army crushed the pro-democracy People's
Power uprising of 1988.
John Boorman's powerful film depicts some of the bloody events of
1988, including the flight from Rangoon by thousands of democracy
activists. It offers a graphic picture of a country living in
the grip of terror. The courage and charisma of Aung San Suu Kyi
shines through. The bravery, loyalty and sacrifice of the
students and other democrats is both uplifting and tragic.
What the film's 99 minutes cannot fully relate is the depth of
horror and the duration of suffering STILL BEING EXPERIENCED by
Burma's peoples. It may be difficult to believe that such cruelty
could occur in a "gentle Buddhist country" like Burma. Yet, if
anything, the film plays down the horrors.
Since 1988, investigations by human rights groups and the United
Nations have repeatedly detailed rampant rights violations in
Burma. Scores of reports have been issued and dozens of
resolutions adopted condemning repression by the Burmese
military. Rape.... Torture.... Murder.... Slave labor. An
election stolen. Freedom of expression and association utterly
denied.... the litany of abuses goes on....
These reports and resolutions -- and fictionalized accounts like
"Beyond Rangoon" -- shine a harsh light on the reality that is
Burma today. We cannot say we don't know of the nightmare that is
the Burmese peoples' daily fare. But this knowledge alone will
never end the generals' reign of terror. People power -- from the
Burmese people and from the rest of the world -- is needed to
convince governments to take decisive and coordinated action to
end this horror. Unlike South Africa, Burma has no strong
constituency in Western countries. But one can and should be
built. Learning more about the country and the struggle of people
half a world away is a first step. Working together locally with
people committed to peaceful and democratic change in Burma is
Those of you who have been moved by this film CAN do something to
help. Here are some suggestions:
* Write to President Clinton, your senators and
representatives. A model letter on pending legislation is
enclosed in this pack.
* Write, phone or fax to the US corporations investing in
Burma (see below for contacts).
* Boycott tourism to Burma and companies that do business
* Contact the groups working on specific themes (listed
below) and join their efforts.
* Join or form a local Burma Support Group to learn about
Burma and plan common actions.
YOUR LETTER CAN HELP LIBERATE A COUNTRY
Senator Mitch McConnell (R-KY) co-sponsored sanctions legislation
against South Africa. Now he has introduced legislation against
another repressive regime -- this time, Burma.
The legislation calls for non-violent economic sanctions against
Burma's military regime. It is the best way to stop the flow of
investments that the generals desperately need to hold on to
power against the people's will.
The bill was introduced in the U.S. Senate on July 28. However,
its fate is far from certain. Only with encouragement from voters
will senators vote this bill into law.
Your voice can make a difference. A suggested sample letter is
included below. Please take time to write one of your own and
send it to your senator today!
The Honorable ........,
United States Senate,
Washington, DC 20510.
Dear Senator ........,
Senator Mitch McConnell introduced legislation (S.1092) on July
28 to restrict American private investment in Burma.
I strongly urge you to co-sponsor this important legislation.
Despite the release of Nobel Peace Prize Winner Aung San Suu Kyi
following six years of house arrest, human rights abuses by
Burma's military regime are unabated. As Daw Suu Kyi said after
her release, the only thing that has changed in Burma is that she
is no longer under arrest.
Forced labor, torture and political detention are widespread. And
the military regime continues its campaign of terror against
ethnic and religious minorities.
The case for sanctions is strong. Economic incentives helped
convince South Africa's apartheid regime to respect the will and
the rights of the South African people. Senator McConnell's
legislation will hasten the restoration of basic freedoms to the
people of Burma.
Economic investment from transnational corporations, including US
companies Unocal, Texaco, and Pepsico, are today helping prop up
Burma's repressive military regime. I urge you to co-sponsor
Senator McConnell's bill to help end this lifeline for Burma's
tyrants, and to support democratization in Burma.
EXTRACT FROM THE REPORT "BURMA: ENTRENCHMENT OR REFORM?"
PUBLISHED BY HUMAN RIGHTS WATCH/ASIA, JULY 1995.
"It is not yet the end. There is still a long way to go and the
way might be very, very hard. So please stand by...Don't think we
are there home and dry." - Aung San Suu Kyi.
The release of Daw Aung San Suu Kyi on July 10, 1995, a day
before the end of her period of detention under Burmese law, was
a welcome move on the part of the State Law and Order Restoration
Council (SLORC). Her release comes after years of international
pressure on the SLORC, including four resolutions by the U.N.
General Assembly and appeals from numerous governments, including
the U.S., Japan and members of the European Union (EU). These
governments, and the U.N. Secretary-General, were quick to send
messages applauding the release, though there were distinct
differences in the response of Western countries, all of whom
reacted in a spirit of "cautious optimism" as Daw Aung San Suu
Kyi herself put it and Asian governments, including Japan and
Thailand, who welcomed the move as "substantive progress." At the
same time, diplomats in Rangoon were quick to point out that the
release was a measure of SLORC's confidence in its strength in
the country and its ability to hold down the lid on dissent.
Indeed, it is difficult at this early stage to know whether the
release of Daw Suu will lead to an improvement in the human
rights situation in Burma, or whether it may only lead to further
entrenchment as the SLORC achieves its main aim of increased
international investment and economic aid and, as a result, finds
less and less need to heed the calls from the international
community for fundamental reform. 
It is perhaps too early to say which road it will take, but
it is certainly far too early to reward the SLORC with further
investment and bilateral or multilateral assistance. "Of course,
in the long run I think we would need international investment,
but I don't think we should rush into this...I want to study the
situation carefully before I can say whether I truly believe
that this is the right time for investment," said Daw Suu,
speaking to the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) on July
12, 1995. The SLORC itself has highlighted the linkage between
rising levels of international investment and the failure of
international efforts to bring an end to abuses. David Abel,
Burma's minister for planning and economic development, told
Although some western countries always cite human rights or
democracy, these Tools have not been effective because if
you look at the amount of investment, the United Kingdom
and the United States are the leading investors in our
Indeed, while other members of the National League for
Democracy (NLD) the political party Daw Suu founded have been
free to meet with Daw Suu at her home, and the crowds gathering
outside her house have thus far faced no harassment, no other
political prisoners have been released. Human Rights Watch/Asia
estimates that at least 1,000 political prisoners remain in
Burmese jails, including sixteen members of parliament elected in
1990. Moreover, by July 18, there had been no contact between
Daw Suu and ranking members of the SLORC. On July 7, just days
before the release, secretary-1 of the SLORC, Gen. Khin Nyunt,
gave a speech outlining the "political, social and economic
objectives" of the government in which he implied that Daw Suu
would not be released and that the military planned to continue
running the country.  The following day, the government-run
newspaper, "The New Light of Myanmar", carried an article titled
"Destiny of the Nation - No.24," which was a scathing attack on
Daw Suu and her husband, British scholar Michael Aris. The
article alleged that Daw Suu had "slandered the Tatmadaw [the
armed forces] her father had founded to the point of opposing it,
which was not a happy augury. She even misled those who had been
supporting her with their eyes shut." It also implied that in
1990, when the SLORC allowed the general election to take place
without any interference, the NLD was "found to have resorted to
unfair means to win the elections. Mobs coerced voters into
casting their ballots to particular candidates. Whole communities
were threatened to vote for party candidates if they did not
want their homes to get burnt down." The article claimed that
the fact that the NLD nevertheless remained a legally recognized
party was "an illustration of generosity."  These statements
would suggest that Daw Suu and the NLD remain as threats in the
eyes of the SLORC and that there is a long way to go before the
human rights situation in Burma will improve.
Even though Daw Aung San Suu Kyi has been released, the
overall human rights situation in Burma is worsening. On June
16, 1995, the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC)
announced that it will close its office in Rangoon later in July
after the failure of negotiations to allow the organization
access to Burma's detention centers. Offensives have been
renewed against ethnic minority groups, including the Karenni
National Progressive Party, which had signed a cease-fire with
the SLORC as recently as March 1995. In areas where fighting has
resumed, tens of thousands of villagers have been forcibly taken
from their homes and fields to work for the army. Many have died
from beatings and exhaustion. After the fall of the Karen
National Union headquarters in January 1995, a breakaway group of
ethnic Karen Buddhists, called the Democratic Karen Buddhist
Organization (DKBO), which has an informal alliance with the
Burmese army, attacked refugee camps in Thailand, killing several
refugees and Thai villagers and abducting scores of others. In a
further sign of regression on the human rights front,
discrimination against ethnic and religious minorities across
Burma has increased during 1995. These communities have been
forcibly relocated into government-controlled villages, while
religious buildings and land have been confiscated. In Arakan
State, from which 270,000 Muslims fled during 1991 and 1992,
reports of forced labor and forced relocations of Muslims have
continued. As the SLORC has moved to attract international
investment, at least two million people have been forced to work
for no pay under brutal conditions to rebuild Burma's long
The international community has long recognized that the
detention of Daw Aung San Suu Kyi was only one in a long list of
abuses which the SLORC has been called on to address in
successive U.N. resolutions. On December 13, 1994, at the United
Nations, member countries passed by consensus the toughest
resolution to date on Burma calling not only for the immediate
release of Daw Suu and all political prisoners but demanding that
SLORC undertake a series of other reforms. But there has also
been an apparent softening in bilateral relations, with Western
countries becoming the largest investors in Burma. The foreign
minister of Japan announced on July 11 that he was willing to
start talks with the Burmese government on the resumption of
official loans and that he would visit Rangoon as early as
August. Japan had already renewed aid to Burma and provided
insurance credit for its companies investing there. China has
continued its massive financial and diplomatic support to the
SLORC, and Burma's other neighbors, anxious about China's
dominance, have also sought closer relationships with the SLORC
under a policy of "constructive engagement." This policy is aimed
at increasing economic ties while occasionally calling for
further economic and political reform.
 Message to the international community from Daw Aung San Suu
Kyi, British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) World Service TV,
July 12, 1995.
 The SLORC held the country in the balance between greater
political freedom and further repression once before when it
allowed a national election to be held in May 1990. Clearly
expecting to win in the elections, they did not disrupt it, but
on realizing the scale of their defeat, they refused to hand over
power and arrested many of the victors.
 Brig. Gen David Abel, quoted by Kyodo news agency (Japan)
June 10, 1995.
 Kyodo news agency, July 7, 1995. The speech was also reported
in full in "The New Light of Myanmar," the Burmese government
paper, on July 8 and 9, 1995.
 Written under the pen name "Nawarhta," "The New Light of
Myanmar", July 8 1995.
 On June 20, 1995, the ICRC issued a press release stating
that they would be closing their office in Burma having failed
"to persuade the SLORC to reconsider its position" -- that is,
having failed to obtain an agreement from SLORC to visit prisons
regularly and with the guarantees its work requires.
 See Human Rights Watch/Asia, "Burma: Abuses Linked to the
Fall of Manerplaw," Vol. 7, No. 5 (New York: Human Rights Watch),
March 27, 1995.
 For the full text of the recommendations, see Human Rights
Watch/Asia, "Abuses Linked to the Fall of Manerplaw."
 Figures published by the Burmese government on March 9, 1995,
which show all investment in Burma since 1989, reveal France as
the largest investor (equivalent to U.S. $1.05 billion), followed
by Singapore ($293 million), Thailand ($265 million) the U.S.
($203 million and Japan ($203 million). Total SA, an oil company
in which the French government and state-owned enterprises own 25
percent of the voting rights, accounts for almost all French
investment. Singapore's investment increased on June 4, with the
signing of a $500 million contract to build a new airport in
THE FULL REPORT CAN BE OBTAINED FROM HUMAN RIGHTS WATCH,
485, FIFTH AVENUE, NY, NY 10017. TEL (212) 972 8400
Conde Nast TRAVELER magazine
JUNTA ethics (Page 46)
New Tourist Drive Uses Forced Labor
By Gary Stoller
The military junta that rules Burma -- and which renamed it
Myanmar -- has designated 1996 Visit Myanmar Year. But recent
eyewitness reports make it clear that forced labor is being
widely used to prepare the country for a tourist boom. "Countless
times I've seen what looks like forced labor, including people
working in chains, says English guidebook author Nicholas
Greenwood, who has visited the country 16 times during the last
"At Putap Airport, in the north, I saw forced labor being used
to extend a runway so tourists could arrive on large jets," says
Barton Shulman, a student at the San Francisco -- based New
College of California who recently returned from a trip to
Myanmar, says he saw forced laborers building roads in the
country and repairing a moat around the palace in Mandalay. "For
every five workers, there were two guards with guns," he said.
Myanmar has been censured for human rights abuses by both the
United Nations Commission on Human Rights and the U.S. State
Department, which reported that the "military forced hundreds of
thousands, if not millions, of ordinary Burmese (including women
and children) to 'contribute' their labor, often under harsh
working conditions, to construction projects throughout the
Human rights activists are calling for a travel boycott that
would deprive the junta of foreign capital. But companies helping
the regime to build its tourist infrastructure argue that
breaking the country's isolation will eventually soften the
David Gevanthor, an executive vice president at Radisson Seven
Seas cruise line, told Conde Nast Traveler: "by opening up
destinations like Burma to outside visitors, we feel we are
fostering change for the better in the long run."
Upscale tour operator Abercrombie & Kent makes the same argument.
Officials at Myanmar's embassy in Washington deny that forced
labor is used.
"Our country wouldn't do that," says Aye Hla Bu, third secretary
of the embassy. Bu admits that "volunteers" work on government
projects without pay but says such labor is a part of Burmese
culture that's misunderstood by Westerners.
This is denied by Khin Ohmar, a leader of pro-democracy student
demonstrations, who escaped from Myanmar. She says Burmese
Buddhists often volunteer time for temple-related projects but
never to build roads for the government. Ohmar wants to see a
boycott of the 1996 tourist campaign.
The Nobel Prize for Peace winner Betty Williams, who, along with
Bishop Desmond Tutu and eight other Nobel prize laureates, was
refused entry into Burma in 1993, is also in favor of a boycott.
"In the first place, there's no such country as Myanmar," she
says. "It's an invented name made up by a repressive military
Hima Singh, whose Asian Pacific Adventures has been offering
Burma tours since 1987, said she would "reevaluate the situation"
if convinced that forced labor was being used. Guidebook author
Greenwood, however, is against a boycott and says that it is an
issue for individual conscience.
Unlike travel firms that continue to operate in Burma, some major
U.S. corporations -- Amoco, Liz Claiborne, and Eddie Bauer --
have already pulled out.
The romance of old Burma, like cruising the Irrawaddy River from
Mandalay to Rangoon, appeals to many travelers. Khin Ohmar says,
"Burma is beautiful. It offers exotic adventures. But anyone who
travels to Burma contributes to the agony of the Burmese people."
1) SUPPORT GROUPS WORKING ON PARTICULAR THEMES
COALITION FOR CORPORATE WITHDRAWAL FROM BURMA
Simon Billeness, Franklin Research & Development Corporation,
711, Atlantic Avenue, Boston MA 02111 (Organizes shareholder
resolutions at various companies involved in Burma)
RAINFOREST ACTION NETWORK (Los Angeles) 1431 Ocean Avenue, Suite
500, Santa Monica CA 90401 Tel (310) 458 2068; Fax 458 7348;
Email ranla@xxxxxxxxxxx (Working on Unocal and Texaco)
NY SELECTIVE PURCHASING GROUP, (Working to get NY City Council to
refuse to buy from companies dealing with Burma) c/o Burma
Support Group (below).
2) INFORMATION SUPPLIERS
PROJECT MAJE, 14, Dartmouth Rd, Cranford NJ 07016, USA
(Investment, women, eco-devastation and non-Burman ethnic groups)
"BURMA DEBATE" P.O. Box 19126, Washington D.C. 20036
Fax: 301 983-5011; Email: burmad@xxxxxxxxx (Presents various
perspectives on Burma) Back issues of Burma Debate can be read
and downloaded at the Open Society Inst. home page (see below)
HUMAN RIGHTS WATCH/ASIA, 485, 5th Avenue, NY NY 10017, USA.
(Publishes reports on Burma)
AMNESTY INTERNATIONAL, 322 Eighth Avenue, NY, NY 10001
(Publishes reports on Burma)
EMBASSY OF MYANMAR Washington, D.C. Fax (+1-202) 332-9046
(Provides other perspectives on Burma)
3) BURMA ON THE INTERNET
reg.burma@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx (The main online Burma conference).
For a free subscription to its list, Burmanet, send an email
message to: majordomo@xxxxxxxxxxx
In the body of the message type: subscribe BURMANEWS-L [News only
mailing list], or for the news + discussion list, type:
(Burma Project, Open Society Intitute: http://www.soros.org
4) SOME US CORPORATIONS INVESTING IN BURMA
Unocal Corp: CEO Roger Beach, Unocal, PO Box 7600, LA, CA 90051.
Tel 1-800 227 1255
Pepsico: Tel 1-800 433 COLA
Texaco: CEO Alfred De Crane Jr, Texaco Inc., 2000, White Plains,
NY 10650. Fax (914) 253 7753
5) SUGGESTED READING
ALLOT, ANNA J. "Inked Over, Ripped Out: Burmese Storytellers and
the Censors". A Pen American Center Freedom-to-Write Report. New
York: Pen American Center, September 1993.
AUNG SAN SUU KYI. "Freedom from Fear". New York: Penguin Books
USA Inc., 1991.
"Empowerment for a Culture of Peace and Development, in Burma
Debate, Vol. 1, No. 3, 1994. pp.4-11.
LINTNER, BERTIL. 1989. "Outrage : Burma's Struggle for
Democracy". Hong Kong : Review Publishing Co.
SMITH, MARTIN. "Ethnic Groups in Burma: Development, Democracy
and Human Rights". London: Anti-Slavery International Publication
SPAETH, ANTHONY "Freedom's Challenge," cover story of the TIME
Magazine. July 24, 1995: 16-21.
SWERDLOW, JOEL L. "Burma: The Richest of Poor Countries,"
National Geographic Magazine, July 1995 : pp71-97.
6) LOCAL CONTACT ADDRESS
NEW YORK BURMA SUPPORT GROUP, c/o 777, UN Plaza, 6th Floor, NY,
NY 10017 Tel (212) 338 0048; Fax 692 9748
Free Suu Kyi, Free Burma, Burma Peace Foundation
18 August 1995