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W. Klein's reply to N. Greenwood [f

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Date: Wed, 27 Sep 1995 05:48:45 -0700
Subject: W. Klein's reply to N. Greenwood [flame]

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Date: 26 Sep 95 17:32:36 EDT
To: Strider BurmaNet <STRIDER@xxxxxxxxxxx>
Subject: Answer to Mr. greenwood:Independent letter
Message-ID: <950926213236_100010.354_JHB41-1@xxxxxxxxxxxxxx>
Status: RO

Dear Mr. Geenwood,
I read your slanderous answer to an inquiry I made to you about slave 
labor, which needs to be corrected and rebutted. On Sept. 14th I asked you 
by fax (through Sue Wheat) for some detailed information about slave labor 
in tourist projects. You had been suggested to me as the one source I could 
rely on. However, instead of giving me the information I need for 
responsible journalism, I read your very insulting article on the net.

Let us make clear from the beginning: Except of you, there are also other 
forces out here working for democracy in Burma who might have a different 
approach than you have. Calling them " apologists", "infamous authors" or 
"collaborators" serves neither the cause, nor does it make you a journalist 
with an unbiased view. You neither know me, nor the work I do, to be able 
to judge as you did in your article. Before throwing mud at somebody else, 
you should at least have investigated. Which, after reading what you wrote 
as an answer to my fax, seems to be a very weak point in your work.

I am a subscriber to the BurmaNet and draw also on many other sources. I am 
informed and I do use in journalism what has a reliable footage, though I 
have not yet found the requested information in regard to slave labor in 
tourist projects. For exactly the reason you criticize me, I wrote to you. 

Please let me quote from my fax: 
"I would appreciate if you could let me know about some proven facts, 
otherwise I cannot use it in my writing ....  If, however, there are proven 
facts (projects, names of investors and statements of affected persons) 
that slave labor serves the enrichment of whatever party (military or 
foreign investors) then we have a point."

This is what I call responsible journalism, finding reliable sources for 
what I write. Since I know that there is much more going on than what a 
single traveler can see in the country, I need access to these sources. You 
surely do not belong to them. To me, it seems, you use the Net to get your 
book selling and not to assist in combining all available forces to produce 
a change for the better. Your article, Mr. Greenwood, proves this clearly.

You write: " It is alleged that Mr. Klein and Mr. Pfannmuller were richly 
rewarded by SLORC ..."
If you would have done the least research, then you would know that our 
books are prohibited in Burma (for its political content). Clearly they 
would not be, if we had anything to do with the SLORC. A little research 
and intelligence is of help when going public.

Writing, as you do .. "they were paid US$ 1000 per day" is dishonoring 
beyond the word and I would not even accept an excuse from you for being 
that careless in your writing. I just see it as incompetent journalism. We 
did our books in Burma without being paid either by Burmese nor outside 
sources and paid every step of our travels ourselves, and that, surely, as 
we all know, cannot be said of everyone who airs his voice on the Net. In 
our case, not even the publisher is interfering in our work and relies on 
our painstaking research. Truth cannot be found through slander.

My remark regarding the not yet started work on the pipeline goes exactly 
into this direction, this is responsible journalism. Answering with  "I 
presume that when work starts, Mr. Klein will have no objection to the use 
of  slave labor in its construction," however, is the opposite, pure 
defamation, actually, not even worth an answer.

It seems that in your opinion, any book on Burma, irrespective of what it 
deals with, must be political. If you would have read the introductions in 
both books you would have read this:
"There are books that describe the economic or political hardship this 
country is experiencing. This book just tries to show you some of its 
hidden splendor, its endangered way of life, that the sensitive, individual 
traveler will surely cherish, but which cannot survive if trampled upon by 
millions of tourists who in their heart of hearts do not really care. 
Neither does this book ask if the policy of isolation from cosmopolitan 
ideas is a legitimate one in the 20th century, the book is intended to 
serve only one purpose: to be a snapshot of a constantly changing world, 
documenting some of the vanishing charms of a lifestyle which has elsewhere 
already gone forever."

For you, it seems, a book with this clearly stated objective must have been 
"obviously" done with the "tacit support of the SLORC." (When we I did both 
books, it was eight years before anyone ever heard the word SLORC) I guess 
you should question your own narrowness of mind before airing it. 

To mention MTT in our book (which as you so proudly say you have not used, 
thus proving nothing) has the same reason. When we wrote the Guide, there 
was only MTT to get around the country. It was already at the beginning of 
the 80s at a time, it seems, when you might not even have been aware of the 
problems Burma was facing already then. This, too, you could have read in 
the introduction.

Dear Mr. Greenwood, it pays to be a little more thorough in your writing.
I will not go deeper into sentences like: "Any mentioning of human rights 
abuses - and other foolish western concepts - was strictly taboo." Since 
they are just slanderous journalism and do not get us a step further. 
Except of human rights, which are as much in the forefront of my mind as in 
yours ( I presume), I know that there is also legality, that is basic to 
civilized life. Therefore, except of what seems to be your badly presented 
specialty, I try to find also an answer to the legal question. Therefore I 
wrote to you in my fax:
" .. Which means, where Myanmars have to work without being paid for it on 
tourism projects and where expropriations of land have taken place that are 
inconsistent with the civil code of 1974. Though I know that this is often 
applied according to the generals needs, it is still the valid set of 
laws, since the so-called coup is unconstitutional."  

I try to compare what is happening, with how the generals defend 
themselves, i.e. with a set of laws, that has not been abolished, neither 
during colonial nor during democratic times in Burma: the 1950 Emergency 
Provisions Act, 1957 Unlawful Associations Act, 1962 Printers' and 
Publishers' Registration Act, the 1975 State Protection Law, and the 1908 
Villages and Towns Act which permits village councils to order citizens to 
work as forced laborers. Especially the last one is not unimportant in 
regard to slave labor. It was enacted, as can be seen by the date, by the 
British and it has been in use ever since.
I do not need your public lectures about applied legality by an 
unconstitutional government, I can use my own brain and do not need your 
interpretation of what you think goes on in my mind. We live in a civilized 
world and fortunately the international bodies know that a set of laws, 
even after a coup, is a necessity. To abolish the aforementioned laws, we 
must first press for democracy. Everything else is thoughtless politics and 
polemics in which you seem to be specialized.

My question to you was simple: Tell me the facts where this law does not 
apply and we have a legally valid fact?
Instead of giving me an answer (which you obviously cannot, otherwise I 
would have received a different response from you) you just try to throw 
mud on someone who is as concerned and touched as you are by the situation 
the average Burmese is facing.

Let me end this by saying that I do not want to continue this discussion on 
the level you have started it on the Net. For this answer you have asked 
and you got it. Otherwise you can always reach me privately. The issue is 
much too important and dear to my heart to continue in this manner. Rather 
than senselessly personalizing these issues, we should, each in his way, 
press the issue as best as he can.

(Wilhelm Klein)