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The BurmaNet News, October 21, 1997
- Subject: The BurmaNet News, October 21, 1997
- From: strider@xxxxxxxxxxx
- Date: Tue, 21 Oct 1997 01:14:00
------------------------ BurmaNet ------------------------
"Appropriate Information Technologies, Practical Strategies"
The BurmaNet News: October 21, 1997
AI: A CHALLENGE FOR THE INTERNATIONAL COMMUNITY
MAINICHI DAILY NEWS: BEGINNING OF A NEW ERA FOR BURMESE
ABSDF-WB: INDO-BURMA BORDER NEWS
AP: EXILES SAY BURMA USES FORCED LABOR
THE GUARDIAN: BURMA PUTS NEW ETHICS TO THE TEST
THE ECONOMIST: SOUTH-EAST ASIA IN DENIAL
BOSTON GLOBE: QUINCY TAKES A WORLD VIEW
ANNOUNCEMENT: ARCO WEEK OF ACTION OCT. 25 - OCT. 31!
FBC ANNOUNCEMENT: MANUAL AND VIDEO DISTRIBUTION
AMNESTY INTERNATIONAL: A CHALLENGE FOR THE INTERNATIONAL COMMUNITY
A CHALLENGE FOR THE INTERNATIONAL COMMUNITY
OCTOBER 1997 SUMMARY AI INDEX: ASA 16/28/97
The State Law and Order Restoration Council (SLORC, Myanmar's military
government) has shown a cynical contempt for the basic human rights of
the Burmese people and for calls by the international community to
improve its human rights record. Since the first United Nations (UN)
General Assembly resolution was adopted on Myanmar in 1992, the SLORC
has made almost no progress in implementing any of the recommendations
made by the UN. Although some prisoners of conscience have been released
since 1992, scores more have taken their place in prisons throughout the
country. Repression of ethnic minorities continues unabated by the
SLORC, in spite of 15 cease-fire agreements with armed ethnic minority
groups. Radical restrictions on the rights to freedom of speech,
assembly and movement remain in place for all citizens in Myanmar.
In 1997 the SLORC continued to use short term arrests as a tactic to
intimidate political activists, a tactic employed since their seizure of
power in 1988. Hundreds of political activists, most of them members of
the National League for Democracy (NLD), the largest legal opposition
political party, were arrested in the first six months of 1997.
Although the majority of these people were held for brief periods, at
least 57 others were sentenced to long terms of imprisonment. Renewed
NLD activity since the release of party leader Daw Aung San Suu Kyi in
1995 has been matched by increasing repression of party members by
Military Intelligence (MI).
Amnesty International remains concerned by the SLORC's use of both
short-term detention and long sentences of imprisonment as methods to
repress peaceful political activities in Myanmar. In spite of the fact
that from 1992 -1995 the authorities reportedly released over 2,000
political prisoners, there are well over 1,200 political prisoners
currently held throughout the country. Their numbers are growing
steadily, particularly since the SLORC's renewed crackdown on the NLD
beginning in 1996. Ninety-three of these are prisoners of conscience and
hundreds more are possible prisoners of conscience, about whom Amnesty
International is seeking further information.
This year also saw continuing widespread repression by the SLORC of
ethnic minority civilians. Thousands of Rohingyas, Muslims from the
Rakhine (Arakan) State, fled from poverty, forcible relocations and
forced labour into neighbouring Bangladesh. A forcible relocation
program in early 1997 in the Shan State caused tens of thousands of
ethnic minorities to flee into Thailand. In February the SLORC launched
a large offensive against the Karen National Union (KNU), the last major
armed ethnic minority group not to have agreed a cease-fire, which
resulted in some 20,000 civilians fleeing from fighting and human rights
violations into Thailand. Refugees from the Shan, Karenni, and Karen
ethnic minority groups provided detailed information about
extrajudicial executions, forced labour and portering, and forcible
relocations accompanied by cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment.
On 23 July 1997 Myanmar was formally admitted into the Association of
Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) at its summit in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.
Since Myanmar became an ASEAN member, non-governmental organiz-
ations and ASEAN dialogue partners. Dialogue partners include the EU, New
Zealand, Australia, Japan, Canada, and the USA, have urged ASEAN nations
to pursue the issue of human rights in Myanmar with their new regional
partner, but no improvements have been forthcoming.
For the last nine years the international community has repeatedly
called on the SLORC to improve Myanmar's human rights record. However
frustrated by the lack of responsiveness on the part of the SLORC, it
has never been more important to sustain and increase this pressure,
especially as Myanmar is brought into broader international contact
through its membership in ASEAN. In this regard Amnesty International
calls on the 52nd UN General Assembly to adopt a strong resolution on
Myanmar. The resolution should call on the SLORC to:
- release all 93 prisoners of conscience immediately and
- improve prison conditions in Myanmar. As a first step, grant
immediate access to the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC)
to all prisoners in the country.
- either charge all political prisoners with recognizably criminal
offences and try them in accordance with international standards for
fair trial, or release them immediately.
- grant immediate and complete access to the UN Special Rapporteur on
Myanmar, in accordance with his mandate. Since his appointment in 1996
he has not been permitted to visit Myanmar.
This report summarizes a 12-page document ( 4, 871 words) Myanmar: A
Challenge to the International Community (AI Index: ASA 16/28/97) issued
by Amnesty International in October 1997. Anyone wishing further details
or to take action on this issue should consult the full document.
INTERNATIONAL SECRETARIAT, 1 EASTON STREET, LONDON WC1X 8DJ,
MAINICHI DAILY NEWS: BEGINNING OF A NEW ERA FOR BURMESE POLITICS
October 20, 1997
By Aung San Suu Kyi
Letter from Burma (No. 9) By Aung San Suu Kyi
The 27th of September is the anniversary of the founding of the National
League for Democracy (NLD). Nine years ago on that day, U Tin U and I went
to the offices of the Multi Party General Elections Commission to register
our party. I have only a vague recollection of the occasion: sitting at a
table exchanging courtesies with the staff of the commission, putting my
signature to relevant papers. That was how it all began.
The history of the NLD has been a turbulent one. We started as an
amalgamation of three forces. Chairman U Aung Gyi, a well known retired
brigadier headed one group which included politicians, retired army officers
and businessmen. Deputy Chairman U Tin U, one time commander in chief and
defense minister, headed the group which was made up entirely of retired
armed services personnel who had gathered together to work for democracy as
"patriotic old comrades." The group that I headed was made up largely of
writers, lawyers, doctors, teachers and technicians. U Aung Gyi and his
followers left the NLD within a matter of months and founded their own
party. U Tin U became the chairman and the two remaining forces in the NLD
gradually merged into a cohesive whole.
The early days of the NLD were hectic ones. Before we managed to rent a
nearby house for our office, my home was used as the unofficial headquarters
of the party. Even after we acquired our official quarters much of the work
still had to be carried on in my house and came to be divided into three
realms: one for the NLD, one for my mother who lay ill and one for my
private use. As party activities increased, we put up thatched, bamboo
sheds in the garden and transformed part of the garage complex into
storerooms and living quarters for the staff. An unfinished building in the
garden was also patched up to provide accommodation for some young people
who had come together as an informal political organization during the
revolutionary days of August 1988. The front hall, dining room and pantry
of my house were transformed into reception rooms and offices.
Going across from the offices to the part of the house where my mother lay
was like entering an oasis of quiet medical care. Her room opened out on
to a verandah and had a pleasant view of the lake through a tangle of palms
and casuarinas. The doctors, nurses and friends attending to her were soft
spoken and cheerful and the calm atmosphere provided a welcome change from
the turmoil of political work.
The rooms on the first floor that I so grandly referred to as my private
realm were in a state of chaos in those days. All the furniture and bric a
brac that had to be removed from the rooms used for the NLD and for my
mother were brought upstairs so that it was a little like an overstocked
second hand shop. (It was only after I was placed under detention that I
had time to bring order to the chaos and to create a comfortable study and
bedroom, the two rooms where I spent most of the six years of my house arrest.)
My house is at number 54 University Avenue and the first NLD headquarters
was at number 44, so it was just a few minutes walk away. This made
University Avenue a busy political thoroughfare. A couple of tea shops
sprouted in the area and various food vendors took up position along the
street, providing ready meeting points for our workers and visitors. During
the three days of the water festival of 1989 when the party organized a
competition of rhyming choruses and satirical skits which is traditional
during that time of the year, the road was blocked with an audience of
thousands. Some would come early in the morning with a packed lunch so they
could sit through the day long performances and motor traffic had to be
The political activities in the street came to an abrupt halt after I was
placed under house arrest in July 1989. The office had to be moved a few
months later as the landlady did not feel in a position to renew the lease.
It was only on a few rare occasions during the next six years that I had the
sense that anything was going on in University Avenue. There was the time
just before the elections of May 27, 1990 when a car went slowly past my
house making the announcement that supporters of the NLD should vote for the
Democracy Party. I had been put up as the NLD candidate for the area, but
the candidate of the National Unity Party (the erstwhile Burma Socialist
Program Party) had lodged an objection on the grounds that I was married to
a non Burmese and that I had received support from the foreign media. His
objection was rejected by the township elections commission, but it was
accepted by the Rangoon division commission. Consequently, the NLD was left
without a candidate. On May 26, 1990, arrangements were made for me to cast
my vote at home, one day ahead of the elections. Keeping in mind the
announcement I had heard a few days previously I voted for the Democracy
Party, an act which filled me with a tremendous sense of solidarity and
Such a sense of solidarity and satisfaction must have been experienced by
the millions who went to the polls the next day to vote for a democratic
government. But as it became obvious that the authorities had no intention
of honoring the results of the elections disillusionment began to set in.
And as the people saw their hopes of a quick transition to democracy fading,
the street outside my house seemed to grow quieter. The only times that I
was aware of any activity were during the water festivals when carloads of
young people doing the rounds of the water throwing stations shouted out
greetings to me as they went past. University Avenue became more lively
after my release from house arrest, especially at weekends when our
supporters gathered to hear U Kyi Maung, U Tin U and I speak about the
political economic and social conditions within our country. But the
authorities placed increasing restrictions on the activities of the NLD,
culminating in December 1996 with a blockade of the road to my house.
Thrice over the last 18 months, the authorities have interfered with our
plans to hold a party congress. The first time in May 1996, our elected
members of Parliament who had been invited to attend the congress were
arrested. The second time, in September 1996, NLD members who had come to
attend the congress arranged to be held at my house were denied entry.
Again in May 1997 when we arranged another congress, the authorities adopted
As September 1997 approached, we discussed plans for yet another congress.
After studying the situation from all angles we decided that we would
persist in our determination to exercise our fight as a legally registered
political party to hold periodic meetings. The response of the members of
the NLD who were invited to the congress was most heartening. Even knowing
full well that there was no guarantee that the meeting would take place and
that they might be courting arrest, they came in their hundreds from all
over the country, defying the monsoon rains and floods, rising transport
costs and, in some cases, the threats of their local authorities. Their
courage and dogged perseverance were rewarded: this time we were able to
hold our congress. Of course there were still some hitches an some
harassment but the authorities were more cooperative than they had been for
a long time. We sincerely hope that this the beginning of a more
enlightened era of politics in Burma.
ABSDF-WB: INDO-BURMA BORDER NEWS
October 20, 1997
A peaceful demonstration at Falam Nursing college of Chin State was carried
out by first year students.
There was a peaceful demonstration at Falam Nursing college, Chin state by
first year students from this college. At the end of the first week of
October, the female students from this college went to the chairman of the
Law and Order Restoration Council of Falam township, to discuss allowing the
students 10 days October holiday for the Khwar-Do festival (New year
celebration of all Chin nationalities) and lighting festival of Buddhism. In
this period they
wanted to go back their home and stay together with their families.
Lt. Col. Ye Htut, Secretary of Chin State Law and Order Restoration Council
was informed step by step by township chairman of Falam and he replied that
there is no holiday at lighting festival and Khwar-Do festival for all 18
Nursing colleges in Burma and he would not allow it.
So, students from first year, 36 in number and all female, started their
demonstration peacefully by not attending class just after lunch, as they
disliked the reply of authorities. They were lying on the beds inside the
hostel after closing all doors & windows. Although the teachers Daw Khin
Sanda, Daw Cho Cho Lwin and Daw May Aye Myint went there to persuade the
students to calm the situation, the students resolutely refused to open the
So assistant In-Charge of administrative body of the college Dr. Than Than
Aye called an emergency meeting to solve the present agitation of students.
Professor Dr. Kyaw Kyaw Myint, ENT professor and Matron attended the
meeting. All of them wanted to solve this problem at the lower level, and to
prevent the higher authorities from finding out. So they sent Mrs. Daw Khun
Sun Yaung, a senior nurse and other three blue-stuff nurses to persuade the
students. The teachers said to the students that they should not create such
kind of demonstration, that they could ask whatever they wanted through
proper channels, that they shouldn't give their teachers a headache, and
they should attend the classes regularly starting from tomorrow.
The students are continued the demonstration in the evening also by not
taking their dinner. So professor Dr. Kyaw Kyaw Myint went and discussed
with the chairman of Falam township Law and order Restoration Council. After
step by step information, the secretary of Chin State Law and Order
Restoration Council Lt. Col. Ye Htut, unofficially agreed to allow the
students their return home for 10 days October vacation for lighting
festival and Khwar-Do festival.
When the authorities asked the students;
-Who led this demonstration?
-Who ordered the students not to attend the class?
-Who suggested closing the doors and windows of the hostel?
-Who instructed them not to take dinner?
But the students replied that all unanimously took part in everything on
their own individual decision.
Now the twenty students, out of 36 students from first year of this nursing
college have gone back to their home after getting agreement from
authorities as understanding, not officially,
Now the authorities from Falam are seriously investigating the question of
who were the leaders of that demonstration.
News and Information Unit
AP: EXILES SAY BURMA USES FORCED LABOR
October 20, 1997
BANGKOK, Thailand (AP) -- Burma's military government is using forced labor
to build tourist facilities at a national park, a student group in exile
Burma's government, meanwhile, accused U.S. diplomats of interfering in the
country's internal affairs and warned it may consider downgrading diplomatic
ties to the United States and other Western nations, Burma's state-run press
A villager who escaped from Burma said he was among 150 villagers rounded up
each week by the Burmese military to work without food or pay at a marine
national park on Lampi Island, off Burma's southern coast.
About 400 Burmese prisoners also are used as forced labor in the project,
the villager told the All Burma Students Democratic Front in Thailand.
A 1996 report by the U.S. Embassy in Rangoon estimated that forced labor
accounts for about 3 percent of Burma's gross domestic product.
Burma's military government admits it uses forced labor to build
infrastructure, but says its citizens are happy to contribute, in keeping
with Burmese traditions.
The marine park is one of two environmental projects the Burmese government
is developing in the Mergui Archipelago, a chain of about 800 islands in the
Andaman Sea. The other is the Myinmolekat Nature Reserve.
The student group estimated that 80,000 villagers on the islands have been
forcibly relocated to make way for the parks. There are reports that
villagers who protested were killed.
The student group also said soldiers killed 40 villagers and arrested 200 on
Lampi Island at the beginning of this year.
Until the past two years, Burma's southern peninsula and islands were out of
the military's reach and mostly controlled by ethnic groups. But the army
launched several offensives in the past two years to gain control.
Burma's state-run press, meanwhile, lashed out at diplomats from five
Western countries for attending a congress of democracy leader Aung San Suu
Kyi's political party in September.
In an opinion piece, the New Light of Myanmar accused Western diplomats of
interfering in the internal affairs of Burma, suggesting their actions were
so shameful they should commit suicide.
The only country named was the United States, although the military
government has expressed displeasure in the past with diplomats from the
United States, Great Britain, Australia, France and Germany.
Burma's newspapers are under the tight control of the military government
and opinion pieces are frequently written by military intelligence officers
under pen names.
The article, signed by ``Pauk Sa,'' warned that ``diplomatic ties can be
downgraded ... due to the malpractices of the so-called diplomats.''
THE GUARDIAN: BURMA PUTS NEW ETHICS TO THE TEST
September 1, 1997
Labour has a chance to redeem tarnished image of its foreign policy if it
learns from Thatcher's errors on apartheid and backs sanctions, argues John
THROUGHOUT the 1980s the Thatcher government vigorously opposed sanctions
against South Africa. The black leaders in South Africa, then in prison now
in government, know their cause was being undermined by such a policy.
Tony Blair's government now has a golden opportunity to see that history
does not repeat itself. The challenge is Burma, a country which may help
the Foreign Secretary to redeem the tarnished image of his ethical foreign
Burma's military rulers, who bear the Orwellian acronym SLORC, have an
appalling record. Human Rights Watch estimates that about two million men,
women and children are being used as forced labour on infrastructure
projects, much of it aimed at developing the tourist industry.
Over one million people have been forcibly removed from their homes to areas
without basic amenities. And still the military refuse to hand power to the
party of the Nobel Laureate Aung San Suu Kyi, which won a landslide election
victory in 1990. Burma's people have been made poor yet their country is
For these reasons the international momentum for sanctions against the
regime has been building. Companies such as Pepsi, Apple and Heineken have
withdrawn from Burma. Consumer pressure in the UK has led British Home
Stores, The Burton Group and most recently River Island to do the same.
The United States government has gone the furthest in terms of official
sanctions by banning any American citizen or company from new investment in
But probably the most significant legislation has been produced by US city
and state authorities such as New York, San Francisco, California, and
Massachusetts. They have enacted laws barring procurement contracts with
companies doing business in Burma.
The European Commission is pressing the US government to invalidate the
Massachusetts law in particular, alleging that it violates a 1995 agreement
on government procurement. It has initiated formal proceedings against the
US at the World Trade Organisation (WTO). The EC's motivation is obvious:
European companies such as Total, Unllever, and Premier Oil are potential
"victims" of such selective purchasing policies.
However, European institutions are not of one view; in June the European
Parliament passed a unanimous resolution supporting the Massachusetts law
while urging the commission not to proceed with the WTO disputes procedure.
On this side of the Atlantic things have been much slower. The EU refuses
to issue visas to the SLORC's officials or their families and has also
withdrawn the trade privileges Burma enjoyed as a developing country.
Many argue that sanctions will no work especially in the light of Burma's
admission to the Association of South East Asian Nations (Asean) in July.
But the omens have not been good. With Burma's joining came a regional
currency crisis. Malaysia's prime minister, Mahathir Mohammad, accused
George Soros of politically motivated speculation against Asean members'
Mr Soros is known to support the pro-democracy lobby on Burma and has argued
for sanctions against the regime. It is unlikely that Mr Soros has planned
the downfall of the region's currencies, but it does seem that Asean's
Burma-related difficulties will continue.
Burma's membership may well lead human rights activists to target South-east
Asian companies with consumer boycotts, while next April's Asia-Europe
summit in Britain could be difficult if, as indicated, Burmese delegates are
refused UK visas.
Asean's treasured rule has always been not to interfere in the internal
affairs of its members. The coup in Cambodia forced it to break that rule
by refusing Cambodia's entry to the grouping and intervening diplomatically.
A similar approach to Burma could fend off future difficulties. Asean was
lucky with Cambodia because that country's political turmoil blew up before
it was able to get into the group.
Burma is in, and political turmoil could be on the horizon: its currency
recently devalued by half while the price of staples such as rice has risen
dramatically and 30 universities and colleges have remained closed since
December for fear of civil unrest.
Asean needs to abandon its failed policy of "constructive engagement" with
the SLORC and instead initiate a policy of "constructive intervention" as it
did with Cambodia. If Asean is expected to take all the flak for admitting
Burma, it should expect something from the SLORC in return.
This should come in the form of serious dialogue between the SLORC and
Burma's democratic leaders. Asean will not be expected to do public U-turns
or lose face. The most important measure will be moves towards democracy.
Sooner or later, Asean will see such intervention in its own interest.
In the meantime continued and increased pressure will strengthen the
possibility of that intervention. This is where Britain can take a lead.
Robin Cook's tour of Southeast Asia has brought up the issue of human rights
in the region. The Government can take steps now: it should seek to have
the European Commission proceedings against the American government at the
WTO terminated, it should argue for the continued denial of World Bank and
IMF assistance to the SLORC when those institutions meet next month, it
should work closely with Scandinavian countries and design firmer sanctions
against Burma for the EU.
The Government says it has not ruled out the possibility of economic
sanctions; as it prepares for its presidency of the EU what better time to
rule sanctions in. With South Africa we were wrong, with Burma we can be right.
John Jackson is a founder member of the Burma Action Group and an adviser on
its campaigns policy
THE ECONOMIST: SOUTH-EAST ASIA IN DENIAL
October 18, 1997
Just as South-East Asians are trying to believe that their smog-filled air
is now clearing, so they dare to think that the worst of their currency
troubles are also dispersing. Certainly, some of their governments seem to
be taking economic action.
This week Thailand unveiled its plan to meet the terms of a $17.2 billion
bailout by the IMF; the Fund's officials arrived in Indonesia to help with
restructuring; and Malaysia was set to announce a budget for its newly
straitened circumstances. Yet the region's policy-makers are still avoiding
the central issues, hoping for a quick fix. Like the fires that smoulder on
in Indonesia, South-East Asia's economic troubles need monsoon treatment
rather than a brief downpour.
Worryingly, some politicians still deny the causes of the crisis, which lie
at home, not abroad. The finger-pointers' champion is Mahathir Mohamad,
Malaysia's prime minister, who in his latest outburst hinted at a Jewish
Such accusations are disturbing, but not surprising. For a decade or more,
South-East Asian leaders have been persuaded of their own invincibility by
the formidable performance of their economics, and by projections_many by
westerners_that their spectacular growth would continue forever. Whenever
criticisms were levelled, about, say, authoritarian governments, cronyism or
social inequity, these were swept aside as the whingeing of the liberal
representatives of a decadent order. Unfortunately, just as the miracle of
Asian growth was oversold, so its decline is now being undersold (see page
27): the current problems are, says Singapore's prime minister, Goh Chok
Tong, mere "hiccups". Really?
The crisis certainly does not have to end in disaster. However defiantly
some of their political superiors may be talking, officials in the four
countries worst affected_Malaysia, Thailand, Indonesia and the
Philippines_are trying to reshape their economies. Some even believe they
will bounce back stronger than before, and they could be right: Mexico has
rebounded from the currency crisis that laid it low in 1994. But Mexicans
had lived through similar batterings in the past, and had some idea how to
survive them. They were also prepared for the necessary belt-tightening and
reform that had always followed. Most South-East Asians are not.
Moreover, Mexico's currency troubles started to affect the real economy
pretty quickly; the impact in South-East Asia is likely to come more slowly.
Indeed, the full effects of the currency crisis_now four months old, at
least in Thailand_have yet to hit. Austerity programmes have barely begun,
jobs still have to be shed and companies that are technically bust but
slogging on will inevitably go out of business.
The extent of the pain to come is unclear: many foreign-currency loans are
yet to fall due, and the value of shares and property pledged as collateral
for those loans (and sometimes pledged several times over) has fallen. All
this means South-East Asia's difficulties may well get worse before they get
better. They may also spread. On October 14th, Vietnam became the latest
country in the region to have to devalue its currency.
Optimists would feel more confident if they saw action to tackle the most
serious problems. One is the tendency to keep awkward facts secret.
Thailand's politicians long denied their country faced any financial
difficulties. Indonesia is widely believed to have twice as much foreign and
private debt outstanding as the official figures suggest.
Then there is the influence of vested interests. Thailand's politicians
promised this week never to be so naughty as to interfere in reform at the
behest of patrons. They had perhaps been stung by the recent resignation, in
protest at just such meddling, of a senior official overseeing reform. But
few believe the link between politics and patronage has been broken. In most
parts of the region, it has been the well-connected who have got the plum
concessions and the juiciest contracts.
No secret of this was made during the boom, when some businessmen would
boast of their political connections. Now such cronyism is less fashionable,
yet the cartels and monopolies it bred_notably in Indonesia, around
President Suharto's family-are still there.
THOSE THE BOOM BYPASSED
In time these links between the rich and the powerful will have political
consequences. They might have done already, had high economic growth not
acted as a buffer against the sense of injustice felt by many South-East
Asians. These people are not the new rich; they are the still poor, who live
in urban shanties and slums or scratch a living in the countryside. Many
already believe they have missed out on the boom.
Now there will be more of them. The inability of political systems to hear
their voices carries enormous risk. They will be tempted to seek scapegoats,
perhaps among the ethnic Chinese who hold so much of South-East Asia's
wealth and who have suffered so much terrible violence in the past.
If South-East Asia can at least avoid igniting this ethnic tinder box, then
it may benefit from one lesson learnt from similar troubles in Latin
America: that regions need not behave regionally. Just as Argentina and
Brazil are different from Mexico, so Malaysia may be different from
Indonesia, which may be different from Thailand. Countries that are open,
honest and responsive to their citizens' concerns are likely to be the ones
that flourish. The ones that flounder will be those that wait for the rain
to wash their problems away.
BOSTON GLOBE: QUINCY TAKES A WORLD VIEW
October 18, 1997
By Theo Emery, Globe Correspondent
City councilors in Quincy, a city traditionally more concerned with potholes
and pocketbooks than foreign policy, will cast their eyes overseas Monday
when they vote on a proposed ordinance targeting the government of Burma,
which has been repeatedly accused of human rights violations.
If the selective purchasing ordinance passes, the vote will mark this
working-class city's first sojourn into the international human rights
arena. It will also vault Quincy ahead of Brookline and Newton as the first
municipality to follow the state government's example in sanctioning
corporations doing business in the southeast Asian nation.
"The whole effort was a genuine grass-roots effort," said Councilor Paul
Harold, sponsor of the proposal. "We can help a country that is in need of
help. I had a chance to visit South Africa during apartheid, and I'm very
much aware of the impact of leading the way for other communities and
building the case for change in Burma."
While acknowledging that his South Shore city of 87,000 has typically "not
been on the cutting edge of radical social change," the Rev. Sheldon W.
Bennett, pastor of the United First Parish Church, said residents are keenly
aware of the city's historical role in fostering democracy.
Early US presidents John Adams and son John Quincy Adams were both born in
Quincy and were members of First Parish Church's congregation. A dozen or
so members of that congregation have played pivotal roles in shoring up
support for the Burma ordinance.
"Quincy stands for liberty and institutions of democratic government," said
Bennett. "It's important that we take a leadership role in upholding those
values. The City Council is responding to issues that touch on those themes."
Since 1988, Burma, which is also known as Myanmar, has been ruled by the
State Law and Order Restoration Council, the ruling junta that annulled a
1990 landslide election of the opposition National League for Democracy,
headed by Nobel Laureate Aung San Suu Kyi. Since then, the council's
well-documented human rights abuses have made Suu Kyi an international
symbol of human rights and democracy.
Quincy's support for democracy in Burma has surprised even boycott
advocates. After presenting councilors with a petition of more than 1,000
names, they saw the ordinance win preliminary approval Oct. 6 on an 8-1
vote. It is widely believed the ordinance will pass on Monday, and Quincy
Mayor James Sheets said yesterday he will sign the law when it reaches his
Councilor at Large Tim Cahill cast the only vote against the ordinance. He
said it runs contrary to the sentiments of this solidly Democratic,
socially conservative city. Cahill noted there are more than 250 companies
doing business in Burma and Quincy contracts yearly with some 13,000
vendors. This could create a "logistical nightmare," he said, that will
distract officials from the more mundane business of running the city.
"It's a feel-good measure," said Cahill. "It's not what I was elected to
do. When small city governments start to act like they know better than the
president or the State Department, people laugh at that. We have to look
out for our own citizens. I don't see how this really is going to help the
people of that country."
Unlike the statewide selective purchasing law, which financially handicaps
but does not completely exclude companies competing for contracts, the city
ordinance would deny contracts to companies that are unable to present
documentation certifying that they have no investment or business in Burma.
Among companies that could not do business with Quincy if the ordinance
passes are Texaco and Atlantic Richfield.
Most advocates of the ordinance agree it is largely symbolic, with minimal
financial impact. But with Quincy poised to join 12 other US municipalities
that have leveled sanctions against Burma, the true impact of such laws is
as an example for other communities, said Simon Billenness, senior analyst
at Franklin Research and Development Corp., a Boston investment firm, and
an advocate of Burma sanctions.
Newton's Board of Aldermen is to discuss its own selective purchasing
ordinance on Wednesday. On Tuesday, Brookline selectmen unanimously
approved their own version of the selective purchasing law, clearing the
way for delegates to Brookline's Town Meeting to vote on the law Nov. 4.
"This clearly shows that sanctions on Burma have solid support in the Main
Streets of Massachusetts," said Billenness.
ANNOUNCEMENT: ARCO WEEK OF ACTION OCT. 25 - OCT. 31!
October 20, 1997
from: No Petro-Dollars for SLORC and Project Maje
ARCO (Atlantic Richfield Co.), based in Los Angeles, is one of two
American oil companies remaining in Burma. In November, an ARCO board
meeting may determine whether ARCO leaves Burma or continues in its
business venture with SLORC. Therefore pressure is needed this month to
convince them that staying in Burma would be the wrong move! This
pressure can use three approaches:
1. Informing the members of ARCO's Board of Directors:
Please send them letters to convince them that dealing with SLORC is bad
for business, bad for ARCO's image, and harmful to the people of Burma.
Activists everywhere should send these letters! A list of Board members, with
addresses, is included at the end of this alert. ARCO Board members are
located in LA, San Francisco, Chicago, Maryland and Philadelphia; they
have academic connections with Occidental, U of Maryland, UC Berkeley,
Stanford, Dartmouth, Princeton and U of Chicago. If you are in any of
those places/colleges, contact Project Maje for action ideas.
A week of action on ARCO will take place Saturday October 25 to sunday
During that week, demonstrations should
take place at as many ARCO gas stations as possible. ARCO has gas
stations (often with AM/PM mini convenience stores) in California,
Arizona, Nevada, Oregon and Washington states. If you are in one of those
states, plan a gas station demo for that last week of October. Remember,
a demo can be as small as one person to hold a sign and one person to
hand out flyers. At the start of your demo give a letter to the station
manager, asking them to inform ARCO that the Burma involvement is a
problem for their business (contact Project Maje for suggested letter
text). You can use a Halloween theme, with skull masks/makeup, signs
linking (N)ARCO and SLORC heroin death business; and hand out small
wrapped candies with ARCO flyers. Contact Project Maje for flyer text. BE
SURE to take photos of your demonstration; have them developed right
away, and send a demo photo (labeled with time and place) to each of the
Board members immediately afterwards.
3. Petition drive:
Burma activists in states where there are no ARCO gas
stations can gather petition signatures during the week of action. Create
a petition stating that ARCO's business in Burma involves them with a
brutal regime accused of large-scale heroin dealing; the signers of the
petition ask ARCO to leave Burma immediately, and will not use ARCO gas
stations or AM/PM mini-marts (when they are in those regions) until ARCO
is out of Burma. (Petition text at end of this alert). Activists can
"trick or treat for Burma" by tabling or circulating the petitions and
giving a small wrapped candy, or plastic spider to anyone who signs the
petitions. BE SURE to send your signed petitions to: Mr. Mike Bowlin,
CEO, ARCO, 515 S. Flower St., Los Angeles CA 90071; IMMEDIATELY on
List of ARCO Board members:
Inside (for these, use ARCO address: 515 S. Flower St., Los Angeles CA
90071): Mr. Lodwrick Cook; Mr. Anthony Fernandes; Ms. Marie L. Knowles;
Mr. William E. Wade.
Mr. John Gavin, President, Gamma International, 550 S. Hope St., ste.
1950, Los Angeles CA 90071-2604
Dr. Hanna H. Gray, Professor Emeritus, University of Chicago, 5801 S.
Ellis, Chicago IL 60637
Mr. Philip M. Hawley, 444 S. Flower St., ste. 2280, Los Angeles CA 90071
Mr. Kent Kresa, CEO, Northrup Grumman Corp., 1840 Century Park East, Los
Angeles CA 90067
Mr. David McLaughlin, CEO, The Aspen Institute, PO Box 222, Carmichael
Rd., Queenstown MD 21658-0222
Mr. Frank D. Boren, President, Sustainable Conservation, 45 Belden Place,
San Francisco CA 94104
Mr. John Slaughter, President, Occidental College, 1600 Campus Rd., Los
Angeles CA 90041
Mr. Henry Wendt, Chairman, SmithKline Beecham Inc., PO Box 7929,
1 Franklin Plaza, Philadelphia PA 19102-1225
Petition: For the Withdrawal of ARCO from Burma
We, the undersigned, demand that ARCO cease its operations in Burma
immediately. ARCO's petroleum venture is in partnership with Burma's
SLORC regime, through the Myanma Oil & Gas Enterprise, an agency
implicated in money laundering for Burma's massive heroin trade. The
SLORC, a brutal military dictatorship, is dependend on investors such as
ARCO for hard currency payments which it uses for the purchase of weapons
from China, and for future revenues from the sale of natural resources.
Burma's legitimate government, the National League for Democracy, led by
Nobel laureate Aung San Suu Kyi, has called for foreign investors,
including ARCO, to leave Burma. In support of freedom for Burma, we will
boycott ARCO stations and mini-marts until ARCO severs its ties with
Burma's SLORC regime.
ARCO MUST LEAVE BURMA IMMEDIATELY!
Name Address Signature
For more information contact Project Maje: maje@xxxxxxxxxxx; please
include your fax number if requesting flyer text or gas station letter.
FBC ANNOUNCEMENT: MANUAL AND VIDEO DISTRIBUTION
October 20, 1997
Also the FBC has just published the most comprehensive campaign manual. If
you are associated with an educational institution or simply a community
member with an access to a pbulic library, please advise the librarians to
order copies of "the Free Burma Coalition Manual: How you can help Burma's
struggle for freedom" (Free Burma Coalition, 1997: Madison, WI). Copies
are available for $10 each including shipping and handling.
Please make the check payable to "National Coalition for Democracy" and the
address for sending it:
National Coalition Government of the Union of Burma
815 Fifteenth Street. NW
Washington, DC 20005
"Burma Diary", a Free Burma videodocumentary
The FBC will be distributing copies of "Burma Diary" (55 min) by Jeannie
Hallacy, the best documentary on the lives of student revolutionaries who
have given their education, youth, and families inside Burma. If you
(and/or your group) is interested in obtaining a copy (or copies) of Burma
Diary, please contact the above address. As campaign promotion, we'll be
distributing the tapes at cost (including shipping fee). $10 per copy for
the orders within the United States. If you are ordering it from outside of
the U.S. please add $5 to cover the international postage.
The FBC Conference Report
We plan to post the report of FBC's recent conference at UCLA.
Finally, for the interests of those who wish to learn more about the
possible course of actions which they can take in support of the democracy
movement outside, please visit "Essentials of the Free Burma Movement at the
FBC website at http://wicip.org/fbc
peace, love,and hope,