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Burma Holiday Perpetuate Misery

Burma Holiday Perpetuates Misery
Letter to the Editor, The Australian, December 5, 1995.

Cameron Forbes's report, "Burma's War of Nerves" (Focus, The Weekend
Australian, November 2-3), should hit a nerve with most Australians.

Aung San Suu Kyi, Nobel Peace Prize Winner and Burma's rightful leader,
is appealing to the world for support.

It appears there's little room for manoeuvre as the State Law and Order
Restoration Council plays its deadly game, using blocking tactics to
thwart the push for reform by Suu Kyi's National League for Democracy.

Suu Kyi's moves are bold and calculating. As the world watches, clearly
the NLD's intention, she taunts the military, calling on it to engage
in dialogue aimed at returning Burma to democracy.

Forbes suggested the SLORC may have written off the West, noting its
increasing relationships with its Asian neighbours. Certainly its
military purchases from China, to be used against Burma's pathetically
under-resourced people, in particular the Karen, are evidence of this.

However, the SLORC needs the West. It is banking much in a successful
"Visit Myanmar Year" in 1996 as it hopes to lure wealthy Western
tourists to Burma. Accommodation will be in new hotels, built by
"slave" labour. Recreation will be to restricted tourist destinations
made over for Western eyes.

Off limits will be visits with political prisoners; trips into
restricted rural areas, where many are finding it difficult to get
enough to eat; and visits to observe progress on the southern gas
pipeline, where death is an everyday occurrence.

Suu Kyi has called for a halt to foreign aid and investment in Burma
until democracy is restored. Australia has partly responded, resolving
not to recommence aid until Australia's recommendations regarding
human rights and democratic pursuits are adopted.

Those considering making Buma a holiday destination in 1996 should
think again. You will only help to perpetuate the human face of misery
in Burma. Little gets through to the citizens in the street and
certainly nothing dribbles down to help those in rural areas.

Don't go. Further, write to the Burmese government and tell them why 
you will be staying away from Myanmar in 1996.

Helene M Armour
Warragul, Vic[toria]

Typed in by Moonie (Dec. 5)

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