Wednesday, January 2, 2008

Unfortunately censorship, media black outs, mass arrests, torture and killings have led to loss of interest in Burma's problems

Hopefully our interest in Burma will be renewed by news of the repression:

This was an excellent history of Burma on ABC Radio National's 'Rear Vision' programme:

Tragedy in the Golden Land

As protesters, led by thousands of maroon-robed monks, challenge the military junta’s authority, Rear Vision tells the sorry tale of Burma's modern history. [find out more...]
Image: AFP (File Photo)

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

"MY GUN WAS AS TALL AS ME" - Child Soldiers in Burma

It appears from the report that Human Rights Watch have published that the military regime in Burma is having trouble recruiting soldiers - so they abduct children as young as ten years old.

War lords in the Democratic Republic of Congo are appearing before the International Criminal Court in The Hague for recruiting child soldiers. Let us hope for consistency in justice.

If you didn't notice, that boy in the picture is carrying an American M16 assault rifle. Please explain that to me!

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

My Last Conversation With Aung San Suu Kyi (By John Pilger)

My thanks to Jonson Chong who is campaigning for human rights in Malaysia and strongly supports the democracy movement in Burma

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

The junta cannot hide - but will the world look for them?

High-Resolution Satellite Imagery and the Conflict in Eastern Burma

/Geospatial Technologies and Human Rights Project /

Since late 2006, the Science and Human Rights Program of the American

Association for the Advancement of Science has compiled a set of

high-resolution satellite images to document the ongoing conflict in

Karen State and other regions of Burma. This study in Burma follows

similar activities undertaken by AAAS on Zimbabwe, Darfur, and elsewhere as part of its Geospatial Technologies and Human Rights project.

Monitoring human rights violations in eastern Burma with satellite

imagery utilises on-the ground information reported via websites and

email from organizations active in the region. These organisations

include the Free Burma Rangers, the Karen Human Rights Group, and the

Thailand Burma Border Consortium.

Their reporting was reviewed by AAAS staff and compared with a set of geospatial data and traditional maps on eastern Burma to precisely locate villages and areas that may have been attacked. These locations were then compared with existing archives of commercial, high-resolution satellite imagery, and in many cases new satellite imagery was ordered as well. Using these sets of satellite imagery, AAAS staff determined if visible evidence of reported attacks was found.

Continue reading

*More on Human Rights

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

If you equivocate on the death penalty - human rights are imperilled

The most dangerous job in Burma and many other conflict hot spots is the job of informing us what is going on:

The debate in Australia on the death penalty reveals that both Liberal and Labor governments offer little comfort for human rights in the Asia-Pacific region and the world. Both will do nothing effective on the death penalty and a string of other issues.

The usual story is that 'megaphone diplomacy is ineffective. But 'back-channel diplomacy' is done in secret and we, as concerned citizens have no guarantee that anything at all is happening. Click here for the letters sent to Kevin Rudd:

On 9 October 2007 I wrote:

Dear Kevin Rudd

John Howard will be punching the air and laughing at your reprimand of Robert McClelland. Wedge politics Über Alles! We all hoped that you will demonstrate your conscience and good sense - on the death penalty you fail both tests, and you are probably enforcing your leadership through bullying yet again.

If you think the region's governments will listen to you when you lobby them to abolish the death penalty when you don't really believe in the universal abolition of this practice. They will be insulted and you will not succeed. How will that look in your book of ambitions? If you abolish the death penalty the rule applies to drug dealers, terrorists and paedophiles – whether you like it or not.

I think Robert McClelland made some very good points about this requirement for consistency. Far from being insensitive to the families of Bali bombing victims’, I think that you will find that some are already of the view that the death penalty is impotent and creates martyrs. Nor will it bring back their loved ones.

When you listed the countries we should target for abolition I note that Indonesia was not mentioned. Have you also heard that the Indonesian Anti-Terrorist Police has impressed their Western counterparts because they did not execute convicted terrorists? What they did instead was to keep them alive (detained) and treated them well and found out how they think. Some of these former terrorists are doing useful work for the authorities.

Honourable opponent – be honourable. You don’t only need the Hanson vote. But John Howard does.

Willy Bach

Greens candidate for Griffith

PM slams Rudd over death penalty

Dan Harrison and Peter Ker, October 9, 2007 - 10:48AM

Rudd admonishes McClelland over death penalty remarks

Rudd backs death penalty for Bali bombers,23739,22556427-953,00.html

Rudd to rid world of death penalty: book

By Rebekah van Druten

Posted Fri Jun 22, 2007 2:37pm AEST

Updated Fri Jun 22, 2007 3:25pm AEST

On 10 October 2007 I wrote to Senator Andrew Bartlett (Democrat):

Dear Andrew 10 10 07

It is now crystal clear that both Liberal and Labor have been - and continue to - actively hinder the blossoming of human rights practise and abolition of the death penalty in our region and around the world. Citizens of Australia are now deeply ashamed of the position taken by both these parties, unable to justify what is said or omitted in our names and unable to exert our democratic will. We have no choice but to take our own actions of protest. We must remember that the Howard government also voted against the UN ban on torture without consulting the people of Australia. John Howard has enthusiastically called for the execution of Saddam Hussein and the Bali bombers, breaching the abolitionist position and leaving the way for other executions to take place. First in the queue will be the Bali Nine heroin mules.

This realisation has several effects:

  1. That the Australian government’s bleating about democracy is hollow rhetoric without substance.
  2. The monks of Burma will receive no help from any Liberal or Labor government that prefers to maintain the oppressive military junta in power. This will include continued investment by Australian companies and the AFP training torturers in Burma.
  3. That Asian governments, like Singapore and China, where they routinely execute their own citizens, will execute Australian citizens with impunity – since these regional governments will correctly deduce that Australian governments do not speak with moral authority.
  4. That Asian governments will now understand that the Australian government only values the lives of their own citizens – an essentially racist position.
  5. That Australian citizens travelling abroad will now be at increased risk.
  6. That Asian governments will now understand that the Australian government does not care about the democratic rights of Asian countries.
  7. That Asian governments will now understand that the Australian government is willing to muzzle Australian citizens who criticise human rights abuses in Asian countries.
  8. That the Australian government may even reintroduce the death penalty for terrorist offences – and perhaps other offences too.

Sadly, fraternally, in anger and frustration

Willy Bach

Greens Candidate for Griffith

Sunday, October 7, 2007

'Burma: 'I resist in my Mind only''

Scream (Skrik, 1893) is a seminal series of expressionist paintings by Norwegian artist Edvard Munch

I heard excellent programme today at 1 pm on ABC Radio National, 'Burma: 'I resist in my Mind only'' and decided to link it here:

It is when you look at the extremes of fear endured by the Burmese people that you realise how dangerous it is for governments to use fear on their citizenry in order to maximise their control.

I am sure there are people in Australia trying to work out just how far they can go. This is not some kind of conspiracy theory.

I have a copy of Carmen Lawrence's book 'Fear and politics'.

I also attended the Fulbright Conference in 2004.

They were trying to work out how much they could ‘push’ the fear of terrorism in Australia without having us 'turn off' - which is exactly what has happened.

But this fear is viral and has infected the lives of our children. Radio National has run a few programmes on this, possibly on 'Life Matters'.

We now have our Minister for Immigration and Citizenship, Kevin Andrews, pushing a fear of Sudanese/African refugees. I find this particularly disturbing. He needs to explain why he has detained seven Burmese asylum seekers on the remote island of Nauru for several years and why he is seeking a resettlement country for these people other than Australia.

See also 'Fear and Identity – are these the tools of modern politics?'

People of all faiths must stand up for the monks of Burma

On Sunday I went to a Burma democracy protest that was held inside the St Mary's Catholic Church in South Brisbane, Australia. But we would have to ask the question that Dr Sean Foley asks in his letter:

Dear Editor,

The agony of the people of Burma, and especially the monks as your

article points out, has been going on for some time - now weeks.

Maybe I have missed it, but then maybe not. I have not read or heard

one syllable of outrage from Christian church leaders in Australia or

anywhere else. They have been absolutely mute - struck dumb!

I have not been aware of 'good Christians' being part of the roar of

protest that has run around the world. Have you published an article

from the Pope or his ecumenical colleagues demanding that the rights and welfare of their fellow clerics - albeit they are Buddhists - be

respected, released and not tortured?

And if these good Samaritans have been somewhat silent about their

fellow clerics, they have been absolutely silent about the suffering of

the people of Burma in the face of endless brutal repression.

Why is it that Christians find it so hard to speak up in the name of

justice, humanity and human freedom?

Kind regards,


Dr Sean Foley