Sunday, September 30, 2007

Burma's tragedy

Yesterday at FCCJ, the Foreign Correspondents' Club of Japan, Tin Win, a former member of the National League for Democracy in Burma, told me that not only the Burmese junta used forced labors but also foreign companies did. Tin Win spoke on the record.

Now a few quotes:

"Japanese foreign minister Masahiko Komura protested in the strongest terms at the killing of the 50-year-old journalist, Kenji Nagai, with his Burmese counterpart at the United Nations headquarters in New York, the Japanese press agency Kyodo reported Saturday. Komura also demanded an account of the circumstances surrounding the journalist's death. As far as could be gleaned from media reports, he was shot at close range and was not caught in crossfire, he said...According to reports in the Japanese daily Mainichi Shimbun, the reporter was filming the protests Thursday at the Sule Pagoda, which has been a focal point for several of the demonstrations in Rangoon, when a military commander ordered soldiers to shoot. Nagai filmed the soldiers chasing protesters and then fled, but was pursued by a soldier who then shot him at close range. A Japanese doctor who examined his body said that the bullet had pierced his heart, according to the reports.


"Lawyer Shogo Watanabe, who represents many Burmese asylum-seekers in Japan, said the Japanese government should strongly reproach the Burmese junta and even try to take the international initiative to get the military government to move toward democratization of the country.

"The junta has put their hands on monks, who are untouchables (in their Buddhist culture), which showed that they will do anything to remain in power," Watanabe said. "But I think the people have stood up with a strong determination (to fight against the military regime.) And they won't stop now because they're afraid they may not have the chance to move toward democracy again for another 19 years, or even forever." (JT Saturday, Sept. 29, 2007 "Scholars split over sanctions")


"On the other hand, Toshiro Kudo, a senior research fellow at the Institute of Developing Economies at the Japan External Trade Organization, opposes isolating Burmese government by imposing strict economic sanctions, calling for continuing dialogue instead. An expert on Asian diplomacy, Kudo said such sanctions will not improve the situation because Myanmar would simply rely on its connections with China, India and Thailand. Japan's decision to cut economic ties with the country will hurt the civilians the most and break its already tenuous connection with the junta. "Once the junta judges that Japan is no different from the U.S., it will close all doors of negotiation with Japan," Kudo said. The close relations between Burma and Japan are based on history, he added, noting that Japan played a role during World War II in putting the country on the path to independence." (JT Saturday, Sept. 29, 2007 "Scholars split over sanctions")


"French oil group Total says it has not made any new acquisitions or investments in Burma since 1998, after French President Nicolas Sarkozy on Wednesday urged the company to freeze investments in the southeast Asian country. Total defended its business in Burma, saying companies that would take their place in the country may be less ethical. The French oil giant directly employs at least 240 people in Burma, and operates the Yadana offshore gas field, selling the majority of its product to Thailand. Chevron, a U.S. oil company, also has a stake in the Yadana project. Critics say the money brought in by foreign investors like Total keeps the current military regime in power. Burma is thought to have substantial supplies of natural gas and oil that have attracted energy companies from China, India, and Malaysia."


"August 11, 2002: Bush’s Advisers Advocate Attacking Saudi Arabia, Iran, Egypt, and Other Countries. A Newsweek article suggests that some of Bush’s advisers advocate not only attacking Iraq, but also Saudi Arabia, Iran, North Korea, Syria, Egypt, and Burma, shocking many. One senior British official tells the magazine: “Everyone wants to go to Baghdad. Real men want to go to Tehran.” [Newsweek, 8/11/2002; Newsweek, 8/11/2002]"

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