SAVE BURMA; Day of Action 5th Oct

5 10 2007

Dear readers,In support of the Burmese people’s struggle for freedom in the face of a violent crackdown by the Burmese junta:

This blogger and fellow SG-based Malaysian blogger Satya will be staging a two-man satyagraha (peaceful demonstration) outside the Embassy of the People’s Republic of China on Tanglin Road, Singapore later this morning (Friday 5th Oct) from 11am -2pm.

gandhi_studio_1931.jpg

[ Mahatma Gandhi – pioneer of the satyagraha (‘Gandhigiri’) philosophy; photo from Wikipedia ]

Due to the great difficulty in obtaining official approval for public protests in Singapore (the SG government is equally as uptight about public protests as Malaysia is, they’re just less triggerhappy) and the extreme urgency over the ongoing violence in Burma, we have decided to circumvent the problem of the permit by staging a very small but (hopefully) high-impact two-man protest instead.

We have prepared a short memorandum to be submitted to the Chinese Ambassador and local media, if they show up. Download the memorandum here: save-burma.pdf

Why target the Chinese Embassy and not the Burmese?

Simple: the Burmese military junta is very similar to North Korea right now: isolated, paranoid, delusional and violent. International expressions of revulsion… are unlikely to have any effect on the Burmese government.

However, the Burmese military junta is still heavily dependent on China for political, military, economic and ideological support; Burma is virtually a client state of China (as is North Korea). Chinese support (in conjunction with petrodollars) is propping up the junta as part of a new ‘Great Game’ between China and India to assert strategic influence on Indochina. Despite attempts in recent years at hedging the country’s dependence on China, the Burmese government would probably collapse if the Chinese abruptly withdrew their support.

In other words, China has a great deal of leverage over Burma if it wishes to exercise it.

Obviously, China is highly reluctant to do so, but this is where international attention and pressure can be strategically brought to bear with the greatest effect. China is vulnerable to negative publicity right now because it MUST maintain a squeaky-clean public image for the upcoming 2008 Beijing Olympics. Therein lies our leverage.

By linking the violence in Burma to China’s own human rights record and the upcoming Beijing Olympics, we can gain some leverage over China. Bluntly speaking, I believe that we – the people of the world – can conceivably press the Chinese government to take meaningful action against the Burmese junta. I do not think they can afford to have the glamour of the Beijing Olympics ‘tainted’ by association with the blood of the Burmese protestors.

It is not desirable to politicise the Olympic Games; that statement notwithstanding, the Games have always been politicised to some degree, and I believe that this is the only way to force China to take real action.

ASEAN, as we have seen, is about as useful as having an extra toe growing out of your forehead. And, short of a military action, even the United Nations has very little influence over the Burmese junta.

Which leaves China.

Avaaz, the NGO that is organising the worldwide petition and newspaper ad campaign for the Burmese people, has also identified the same strategic issue, i.e.: to move Burma, we must press China.

Press hard. Burmese lives depend on it.

—————————————-

Just received the followup email from Avaaz, organiser of the worldwide petition to China and the UN Supreme Council to take action against Burma over the violent crackdown. The email is reproduced below, (red highlights added by me):

——————-

Dear friends,

Today, our petition to China and the UN Security Council to stop the brutal crackdown on peaceful Burmese protesters is being delivered to the world in a full page ad in the Financial Times worldwide — but the ad was rejected by other newspapers like the South China Morning Post and the Singapore Straits Times. Our message is an invitation to China to do the right thing in Burma, not an attack — yet even that seemed too much for media that fear Chinese reprisals.

We won’t let our voice be silenced like this. We’re taking our message to the streets, in an international day of action on Saturday — details are on our petition page, and below. And we’re redoubling our efforts to make our voice louder: our petition is approaching 600,000 signatures, closing fast on our 1 million goal.The petition link is below – send this email to all your friends and family and help us reach 1 million voices by Saturday!

http://www.avaaz.org/en/stand_with_burma/w.php

To organize an event for the global day of action, just follow the steps below. To attend an event, scroll down our petition page at the link above for a list of events around the world. Here’s some simple steps for organizers:

  • Choose a public place or landmark in your town, and organize friends to go there all wearing the same maroon red clothing as the Burmese monks. Tell local media about your plans, and email the details and contact information to dayofaction@avaaz.org — we will try to advertise your event on our petition page.
  • Ask people attending your event to share their feelings on this crisis and the need for action, and then tie a red ribbon or piece of cloth around fences or trees to leave a more lasting sign of your support for the Burmese.

The worldwide outcry to save Burma’s peaceful monks and protesters is one more sign of how the world is getting closer, feeling increasingly responsible to each other, and for each other as human beings. We’re bringing a voice of humanity to this desperate situation, and we must not be silenced.

With hope and determination,

Ricken, Paul, Graziela, Ben, Sarah, Iain, Galit, Pascal, Milena and the whole Avaaz Team.

PS – Here are some great links for local reporting on the current situation in Burma:

http://www.irrawaddy.org

http://www.mizzima.com

Avaaz.org is staffed by a global team of campaigners operating on 3 continents. We have administrative offices in London, New York, and Rio de Janeiro. Please direct mail to our NY office at 260 Fifth Avenue, 9th floor, New York, NY 10001 U.S.A.

 

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2 responses

5 10 2007
Stu

Way to go Ghl & Satya, well done, I wish you well in you peaceful demonstration. Everyone needs to play their part to effect positive change in Burma. China, and Singapore have much to answer for, they have all been profiting most from the intense suffering of the Burmese people. The Malaysian national oil company PETRONAS as well as other oil majors are benefiting too.
“Current investors in Burma’s oil and gas industry include firms from Australia, the British Virgin Islands, China, France, India, Japan, Malaysia, Singapore, South Korea, Thailand, Russia, and the United States. (including UNOCAL (now Chevron) of the United States and Thailand’s state-controlled PTT Exploration and Production Co Ltd (PTTEP). The Yetagun consortium, led by Malaysia’s state-owned PETRONAS, includes Japan’s NIPPON OIL as well as PTTEP. PTTEP, a subsidiary of the largely state-owned PTT Public Co Ltd (PTT) of Thailand, buys the gas for export to Thailand; all thses companies are supporting the regime in Burma. A consortium of South Korean [Daewoo International] and Indian state-owned firms, in partnership with the Myanmar Oil and Gas Enterprise, has made a large gas find off the coast of Arakan State in western Burma. Known as the “Shwe” gas project. Two Chinese companies that have shown strong interest in the proposed new Burma-China pipeline projects are Sinopec and China National Petroleum Corporation (CNPC). Both are Chinese state-owned oil companies and are involved in gas exploration in Burma as well. They also are official “partners” (major sponsors) of the 2008 Olympics in Beijing and are under increased scrutiny for the human-rights impact of their investments in Sudan and Burma. All right thinking people should boycott the 2008 Olympics in Beijing.” * this information was sourced from: HUMAN RIGHTS NEWS http://hrw.org/english/docs/2007/10/01/burma16995.htm

8 10 2007
David

How about inviting the US to bring democracy to Burma the way she did to Afghanistan and Iraq ?

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