BurmaNet News, July 28, 2004
editor at burmanet.org
Wed Jul 28 12:58:22 EDT 2004
July 28, 2004, Issue # 2526
the government has attempted to address poverty, in part through
investments in infrastructure. Yet without access to international aid,
these efforts have fuelled inflation and macroeconomic instability.
- Jeffrey Sachs, Myanmar: sanctions won't work, July 28, Financial Times
Myanmar Times: $36m in grants to combat disease due to flow in
Nation: BIMST-EC: linking South and Southeast Asia
AFP: Six Asian states convene to tackle human trafficking crisis
OANA: Indon Minister believes Myanmar issue will not affect Asem in Hanoi
Mizzima: India, Burma sign MOU to develop railways
Barnet Times: Protests at shopping centre over Burma exhibition
Pioneer Press: Myanmar refugees fill schools
OPINION / OTHER
FT: Myanmar: sanctions won't work
USCB Action Alert: Email/Fax/Write to the American Museum of Natural
July 26 - August 1, Myanmar Times
$36m in grants to combat disease due to flow in - Kerry Howley
The first of US$35.6 million in approved grants from the Global Fund to
fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria is expected to begin flowing into
Myanmar in September under a process that will see a major expansion of
The $35.6 million, which includes about $7 million to fight tuberculosis,
$9.4 million to combat malaria and $19.2 million for the campaign against
AIDS, will be disbursed over two years.
Mr Thomas Hurley, the Global Funds Geneva-based team leader for East Asia
and the Pacific, said he hopes the grant for tuberculosis funding will be
signed by the end of July and begin being disbursed on September 1. The
grants for HIV-AIDS and malaria could take effect as soon as October.
The United Nations Development Program will be the principle recipient of
the funds, which will be distributed to government agencies,
non-government organisations and international organisations. The list of
partners includes Population Services International, the Myanmar Red Cross
and Red Crescent Society, and the Myanmar Maternal and Child Welfare
As a recipient of the funding, Myanmar will join more than 100 nations
that are part of a global experiment to halt the spread of three deadly
diseases. The Global Fund is a public-private partnership that receives
most of its funding from donor governments. It has pledged $5.4 billion to
poor and middle income nations, and is accepting even more requests in a
fifth round of calls for funding proposals.
The fate of the funds is generally decided by a country coordinating
mechanism which operates like a board of directors. In Myanmar, the CCM
comprises members of the Ministry of Health, the Department of Health, the
International Health Division and the Myanmar Red Cross.
Were trying very hard to be country driven, said Mr Hurley.
Our philosophy is that the countries themselves have a much better
knowledge of how the funds should be spent than we do. Provided they put
together a proposal that passes the technical review, we more or less
support the wishes of the CCM.
The World Health Organisation in Myanmar was instrumental in preparing the
original proposal to the Global Fund two years ago, and will act as a
technical advisor as the funds start coming in. Dr Agostino Borra, the
WHOs country representative, says the funds answer a longstanding need in
Myanmar and elsewhere.
For twenty years, people have been crying out that these three diseases
are under-funded. This will help, he said.
Dr Borra said the funds would not lead to major strategic changes in
Myanmars fight against these three diseases, but would add resources to
what we are already doing. Programs such as the national Tuberculosis
Control Program, which is under-funded, will be expanded and provided with
While the grants will not initiate an overhaul of existing healthcare
policy, the Fund has already has some effect on the way Myanmar fights the
three diseases. The national malaria policy advocates use of artesunate
combination therapy as a first line of treatment, a considerably more
expensive and effective treatment than chloroquine, which was used
formerly. Experts say the change was made partially in anticipation of
Global Fund grants.
Worldwide, 54 per cent of the Global Funds money is targeted to the fight
against HIV/AIDs, and the AIDs provision is by the far the largest of
Myanmars three grants. Mr Eamonn Murphy, the country coordinator for
UNAIDs, says the grant will allow the Fund for HIV/AIDS in Myanmar (FHAM)
to expand its programs.
It will add significant resources to the response, he said.
Mr Murphy said the grant would be used to strengthen prevention programs,
increase access to treatment and provide training for using antiretroviral
He said FHAM has been forging ahead with an expansion of treatment options
regardless of Global Fund involvement.
Were not waiting for the global fund to move on that, he said.
Dr Borra said that the HIV/AIDs grant proposal did not earmark funding for
ARVs, but when Myanmar reapplies for more grants from the Global Fund, the
country will request funding specifically for the drugs.
The proposal was prepared two years ago, when ARV treatment per person
per year was $12,000 - we couldnt dream of asking anyone for that much,
Now the price has fallen to $250 per person per year, so its possible.
In the next round we will concentrate more on ARVs.
The Global Funds grants are performance based, and countries are required
to achieve certain objectives to acquire the full grants.
The WHO will share the responsibility of demonstrating efficacy and
accountability. Dr Borra said the WHO in Myanmar would hire two more
experts to help oversee the implementation of the Global Fund grants.
Healthcare professionals say that while a shortage of funds impedes
treatment of HIV/AIDS, malaria and tuberculosis in Myanmar, the grants are
not a panacea on their own.
If the Global Fund provides funds, the correct implementation of the
activities are as important, said Dr Frank Smithuis, the country manager
for Artsen Zonder Grenzen (Medicins Sans Frontieres-Holland).
It is not only money that matters.
July 28, The Nation
BIMST-EC: linking South and Southeast Asia - Sihasak Phuangketkeow
When it comes to the key regional cooperative frameworks to which Thailand
belongs, the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean) and the
Asia-Pacific Economic Co-operation (Apec) immediately come to mind. Less
familiar is the BIMST-EC, which brings together seven member countries:
the original five members, Bangladesh, India, Burma, Sri Lanka and
Thailand and Bhutan and Nepal, which joined the grouping more recently. On
July 30-31, the leaders of BIMST-EC will meet in Bangkok for their first
summit to provide political impetus to and to set the future direction for
the cooperative initiatives under the grouping. It is therefore timely to
take a look at how BIMST-EC came about and what it has achieved so far.
On June 6, 1997, BIST-EC (Bangladesh, India, Sri Lanka Thailand Economic
Co-operation) was created through a Thai initiative. When Burma, which is
also known as Myanmar, joined on December 22, 1997, the group was renamed
BIMST-EC. In 2003 the membership expanded to include Nepal and Bhutan but
the BIMST-EC name was retained.
The grouping covers a population of almost 1.3 billion and is endowed with
a wealth of natural and human resources yet untapped. Its aim is to foster
socio-economic cooperation among its members and to serve as a means to
link South and Southeast Asia. The group has identified six priority
areas, each of which is overseen by a member country. They are: trade and
investment (Bangladesh), technology (Sri Lanka), transport (India), energy
(Burma), tourism (India) and fisheries (Thailand). One of the grouping's
major achievements has been the signing of the Framework Agreement on a
Free Trade Area (FTA) at the ministerial meeting in Phuket on February 8.
Negotiations on tariff reductions are to start in September and are
scheduled to be completed by the end of next year with the goal of
realising a free-trade area by 2017. India, Sri Lanka and Thailand are
spearheading the process of achieving trade liberalisation by July 2012,
while Bangladesh, Burma, Nepal and Bhutan will gradually liberalise by
2017, out of respect for the member countries' different stages of
BIMST-EC is an integral part of Thailand's policy of forging closer
economic links with our neighbours in South and West Asia. South Asia is
home to one fifth of the world's population and, interestingly, almost all
the countries in the region are going through a process of economic reform
Thailand's trade with the BIMST-EC countries amounts to over US$3.3
billion (Bt136 billion) and is growing. At the same time, the countries of
South Asia, particularly India, are adopting a 'look east' policy of
closer partnerships with the nations of Asean. The convergence of the look
west and look east policies comes at a time when the region's security,
political and economic outlooks have been marked by positive developments.
India, the emerging regional economic power, is igniting the economic
dynamism of South Asia as it achieves one of the fastest economic growth
rates in Asia. It is therefore not surprising that the member countries
recognise the enormous benefits to be derived from closer economic
co-operation within BIMST-EC.
The expansion of transportation links among member states is a general
policy of the grouping. One of the major projects is to extend land
transportation links along the existing East-West Economic Corridor under
the framework of the Greater Mekong Sub-region cooperation (GMS), which
stretches from Da Nang and Lao Bao in Vietnam through Dansavanh and
Savannakhet in Laos and Mukdahan in Northeast of Thailand, to connect with
the planned India-Burma-Thailand Highway link from Mae Sot in Thailand
through Burma and India. There is also a trilateral project to connect the
road links from Thailand to Burma and onward to Bangladesh and to
establish another economic corridor by building a highway from
Kanchanaburi in Thailand to the planned deep-sea port in Dawei in Burma,
which would link up with seaports in India, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka.
Thailand is also playing an important part in promoting new coastal
shipping routes among BIMST-EC members. India has proposed improving
intra-regional sea transport by developing feeder services from major
ports along the Bay of Bengal rim to a central hub in the Bay of Bengal,
perhaps in the Andaman and Nicobar Islands. With regards to air
transportation, Thailand hopes to promote Chiang Mai as an aviation hub
not only for the Greater Mekong sub-region, but also for direct air links
with major cities in South Asia. A major step in this direction is the
inauguration of direct air services between Chiang Mai and Chittagong.
These transportation linkages between the two sub-regions, once realised,
will facilitate the movement of goods and passengers and will help
generate greater business opportunities in trade, investment, and services
as well as tourism.
The role of the private sector has also been instrumental in facilitating
the expansion of trade and investment within the BIMST-EC region,
particularly the establishment last year of the BIMST-EC Chamber of
Commerce and the initiative to create a BIMST-EC Business Travel Card
similar to the Apec Business Travel Card to make business travel in the
region more convenient.Another prominent project worth highlighting is
making 2004-2005 'Visit BIMST-EC Year'. Thailand has played a major role
in promoting this project by organising familiarisation programmes for
tour operators and promoting new forms of tourism, like pilgrimage tours
of Buddhist religious sites and new cruise and yacht tours through
Thailand, Burma and India. By combining tourist destinations, it is hoped
that a larger number of tourists within and outside the region will be
drawn to the various tourist attractions.
It has been noted that cooperation under BIMST-EC has been slow. But since
2002, when the annual meeting of BIMST-EC was raised from the deputy
minister to the foreign minister level, the process of cooperation has
gained momentum. Steadily, BIMST-EC has made much headway since its
inception. As the leaders gather in Bangkok at the end of this month,
BIMST-EC is poised to move to a higher plane of cooperation. The much
anticipated Bangkok Declaration to be issued at the end of the meeting
will provide the roadmap for BIMST-EC to advance and provide the building
blocks for wider cooperation in Asia.
Sihasak Phuangketkeow is the director-general of the Ministry of Foreign
Affairs' Department of Information.
July 28, Agence France Presse
Six Asian states convene to tackle human trafficking crisis
Bangkok: Senior officials from China and five Southeast Asian nations
gathered in the Thai capital Wednesday to thrash out a new framework for
fighting human trafficking in the region.
Representatives from Cambodia, China, Laos, Myanmar, Thailand and Vietnam
were due to hammer out an inaugural agreement to address the problem that
sees some 800,000 men, women and children trafficked annually across
borders in a billion-dollar illicit trade.
It was the first time the countries came together to combat what
Thailand's minister of social development and human security, Sora-at
Klinpratoom, described as a "modern-day form of slavery".
"We must admit that the problem is a major one, and that it has huge
impacts on the rights and livelihoods of our peoples," he said in an
"The long land-borders that our countries share, and the geography of
those border areas, makes it almost impossible to control these movements.
"Accordingly we have to work together, as good neighbours, to solve these
The meeting is working on a memorandum of understanding that is expected
to be signed by ministers of the six nations in Myanmar's capital Yangon
The countries of the region have been strongly criticized for failing to
recognize the scale of the problem.
In June the United States downgraded Thailand on its human trafficking
watchlist for failure to make progress in stamping out the global scourge.
Thailand joins other Southeast Asian nations placed on the so-called "Tier
Two watchlist" including Laos, the Philippines and Vietnam, while
neighbouring Myanmar remains at Tier Three, the lowest level.
Earlier this month US President George W. Bush announced that 50 million
dollars would be given to eight countries including Southeast Asia's
Cambodia and Indonesia to fight trafficking.
The projects will focus primarily on fighting sex slavery, the
fastest-growing category of trafficking, according to the US State
July 28, Organisation of Asia-Pacific News Agencies
Indon Minister believes Myanmar issue will not affect Asem in Hanoi
Jakarta: Indonesia's Foreign Affairs Minister Hassan Wirajuda said on
Wednesday the Asia-Europe Meeting (ASEM) in Hanoi, Vietnam will be held in
October as scheduled, despite the Myanmar issue. "My impression is that
the ASEM will be held in October as scheduled. I believe that ASEM
participants, both from Asia and Europe, are aware of the importance of
dialogs through ASEM and will not rule out ASEM merely because of the
Myanmar issue," he said.
On European Union envoy, Van der Brook's recent visits to Vietnam and
Japan, Wirajuda said Vietnam is the coordinator of ASEAN members and Japan
is the coordinator of East Asian nations.
As chairman of the 37th ASEAN Ministerial Meeting (AMM), Wirajuda earlier
denied an allegation that ASEAN members have adopted a soft stand on
Myanmar. Since the 36th AMM in Phnom Penh and the 9th ASEAN Summit in Bali
last year, the ASEAN stand on Myanmar has remained unchanged - to press
for the release of democratic leader, Aung San Suu Kyi, and the adoption
of a smooth and open democratization process in the country, he said.
It must be admitted that Myanmar has made progress in its democratization
process, as can be seen from its adoption of a road map and its pledge to
implement a national convention this year, he said. During the 37th AMM in
Jakarta, Myanmarese Foreign Affairs Minister U Win Aung said his
government has given Aung San Suu Kyi a chance to contest the general
elections to be held after the enactment of Myanmar's new constitution.
Wirajuda confirmed that the Hanoi meeting will thoroughly discuss the
Myanmar issue, particularly regarding the continuation of the cooperation
between Asia and Europe.
He said ASEAN members and 10 other Asian countries participating in the
ASEM have the same principle - not to impose certain conditions for the
expansion of ASEM membership.
July 28, Mizzima News
India, Burma sign MOU to develop railways
India and Burma yesterday signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) under
which New Delhi will make available a Line of Credit (LoC) of 56.358
million US dollars (Rs 265 crore) for strengthening rail system in the
The LoC is to facilitate on the Burma Railways- enhancement of passenger
services on the Rangoon-Mandalay trunk line and tracks upgradation ,
signaling and communication systems and maintenance facilities.
The MoU was initialed by Ms Mitra Vasisht, Joint Secretary, South East
Asia, Ministry of External Affairs, and U Kyi Thein, Burma Ambasaador to
India, in the presence of Minister of State for Railways R. Velu and
Burma's Minister for Rail Transportation Major. Gen. Aung Min.
A separate agreement was signed betwen Burma Foreign Trade Bank and Bank
of India and for the operations of the LoC.
Indian Railways will supply a pacakge of ten 1350 HP locomotives, 48
passenger coaches and capital spares having a total value of 28 million US
dollars as the MoU.
''India and Myanmar share strong religious and cultural ties and the
influence of Buddhism in South East Asian countries is well-known'', Mr.
Velu said to the reporters.
EXIM Bank General Manager P R Dalal said under the agreement, the bank
will reimburse Indian exporters 100 per cent of contract value, upon
shipment of equipment and goods and provision of services.
The credit is available up to 10 years and will attract an interest rate
of plus 0.5 per cent, he added.
India had supplied 68 metre gauge coaches to Burma during the mid-60s, ten
in-service metre gauge diesel elctric locomotives and high frequency
Burma, which is a member of BIMST-EC (Bangladesh, India, Burma, Sri Lanka,
Thailand-Economic Cooperation) Group, has a total of 4525 km of rail
July 28, Barnet Times
Protests at shopping centre over Burma exhibition
About 80 pro-democracy activists held a noisy demonstration outside the
Oriental City shopping centre in Colindale to protest against an
exhibition promoting the country of Myanmar, formerly known as Burma.
The protesters, who describe themselves as being from the Burmese
Democratic Community, urged bosses at the centre in Edgware Road last
weekend not to allow the Myanmar Association UK (MAUK) to hold a
promotional exhibition at the there.
Since 1988 the country has been under the rule of a military junta which
has attracted international criticism for its human rights abuses. America
has imposed sanctions against the regime.
Dr Win Naing is the European representative for the National League for
Democracy (NLD), which urges people not to visit Myanmar as a way of
expressing their opposition to the military regime. He said: "Burma is in
economic, social and political crisis. The regime spends more than 50 per
cent of its budget on the military, far more than it spends on health, so
the people are now facing starvation. There is inflation of 400 per cent.
"Our leader, the Nobel Laureate Daw Aung San Suu Kyi, is under house
arrest and has been for most of the past nine years."
He asked in a letter to Ronald Lim, Oriental City's chairman, that
Oriental City not be used as a 'dirty doormat for the ambition of the
ruthless military junta in Burma'.
But Mr Lim said his role at Oriental City was merely to promote culture.
"The protesters came to see me and explained their views. I sympathise
with what is happening there. But my job is to promote culture - that's
what Oriental City is all about. It requires me to work with the
authorised representatives of governments.
"In this case the Myanmar Embassy is the authorised representative of the
government of Myanmar and has been accepted by the Queen. Who am I to say
I can't work with them? By promoting the culture I am helping their people
"I appreciate they may have something against what is happening there but
they are hitting the wrong man," he said.
A spokeswoman for the Myanmar Embassy in central London had no comment on
the protest and said the MAUK was independent from the embassy. No-one
from the MAUK was available for comment.
July 28, Pioneer Press
Myanmar refugees fill schools; They add to ranks of recent U.S. arrivals -
The Hmong aren't the only refugees from Thailand who are showing up to
register for classes in St. Paul public schools.
In the past several weeks, about 120 refugees from Myanmar formerly
known as Burma have come to St. Paul from urban areas in Thailand. The
St. Paul school district's Student Placement Center has registered about
50 students from the refugee families.
With hundreds of other refugees arriving this summer from Somalia and
Ethiopia, the influx is reaching the point where it's expected to ease the
St. Paul school district's continuing enrollment decline.
The refugees from Myanmar have fled the country over the past several
years to escape persecution by the military dictatorship that rules the
The bulk of those coming this year to St. Paul arrived in May and June.
"I think the schools were shocked because we've gone from nothing to
something in one month," said Joel Luedtke, director of refugee services
for the Minnesota Council of Churches. "We weren't expecting that."
His agency, which sponsors some of the refugees from Myanmar, saw 48
arrivals in June, though the pace has slowed since then. Whatever the
number of schoolchildren among the 120 who have settled here so far this
year, the St. Paul public schools are likely to receive most of them.
"We've never resettled a client anywhere other than St. Paul," Luedtke
said. A total of about 200 refugees are expected in the city.
The immigrants are ethnic Karen refugees, who had lived in a portion of
Myanmar near its border with Thailand. With a population estimated at 7
million, the Karen (pronounced ka-REN) are one of the largest ethnic
groups in Myanmar, a former British colony. After World War II the Karen
wanted the British to give them an independent country. The British gave
Burma its independence in 1948 but the ethnic Karen territory remained a
part of the country.
Wilfred Shwe, a Myanmar refugee who's been in Minnesota since 2000, tells
of fleeing the jungles of Myanmar and going over the border to Thailand to
reach a refugee camp. The government in Myanmar "just kills our people,
rapes our women, destroys our rice fields," said Shwe, who is also
chairman of the Karen Community of Minnesota. "It was very hard to survive
in the jungle." About 300 refugees from Burma are in the St. Paul area
already, he said.
An estimated 140,000 ethnic Karen refugees have fled Myanmar, with most of
them settling in the camps across the border in Thailand.
The military dictatorship renamed the country Myanmar in 1989. The United
States government continues to call the country Burma.
The St. Paul school district trimmed its budget for the 2004-05 school
year recently and let about 80 teachers go, spurred largely by a projected
enrollment decline of about 900 students. That decline doesn't factor in
the continuing arrival of Hmong refugees from a camp near Bangkok, which
is expected to bring 5,000 more Hmong to the St. Paul area by the end of
OPINION / OTHER
July 28, Financial Times
Myanmar: sanctions won't work - Jeffrey Sachs
The long saga of failed sanction regimes against Cuba, Haiti and Iraq -
where sanctions gravely worsened an already bad situation - should give
pause to the US and European political establishments. The US Congress
recently voted overwhelmingly for a one-year extension to economic
sanctions against Myanmar (Burma). In this context, sanctions are mainly a
symbolic stand for justice. But they are not symbolic in their effects.
They are economically destructive and only occasionally politically
America's misguided sanctions against Myanmar, for example, have done
nothing in the past year to resolve the country's political and economic
crisis. A smarter policy toward Myanmar is needed. The military regime and
the National League for Democracy (NLD) headed by Aung San Suu Kyi, the
Nobel peace prize laureate, are stuck in an impasse. Sanctions are
supposed to tilt the political balance towards Ms Suu Kyi, but have failed
throughout their off-and-on application over nearly 15 years. In the
process, they have systematically weakened the economy by limiting trade,
investment and foreign aid. Yet weakening a country's economy does not
necessarily weaken a regime relative to its political opposition. Often,
the impasse is merely deepened. Civil society and the political opposition
suffer from brain drain, a squeeze on financial resources and reduced
contacts with the outside world, while the regime is able to blame foreign
meddling for policy mistakes. Hardliners on both sides, meanwhile, gain
the upper hand over moderates, blocking changes that might otherwise be
A smart policy for Myanmar would start by recognising some realities. The
country is a complex melange of more than 100 ethnic groups. The British
imperial government that ruled Burma from 1886 to 1948 pursued a policy of
divide and rule, discriminating against the dominant Burmars in favour of
selected minority groups. These invidious policies led to intense distrust
between the different ethnic groups on independence in 1948. The
consequences were worse than in other post-colonial settings. Burmese
independence was followed by decades of armed insurrection by at least 18
ethnically based armies. The insurgents often funded their activities
through narcotics trafficking. The situation was exacerbated when Ne Win,
Burma's ruthless and incompetent dictator, thrust the country into radical
isolation under his supposed "Burmese way to socialism" drive in 1962.
The socialist disaster finally fell to a military coup in the late 1980s
that installed the current regime. By then, Myanmar, which had been
economically level with its neighbours in the 1950s, had fallen far
behind. But the military regime began to open the country to trade and
liberalise markets and in 1997, Myanmar joined the Association of
Southeast Asian Nations. The domestic political situation, however,
continued to suffer from the regime's crackdown on the opposition
following the NLD's election victory in 1990. The military saw those
elections as the start of a constituent assembly to write a new
constitution. Ms Suu Kyi viewed the NLD's landslide victory as an
immediate mandate to govern. The regime annulled the election results and
moved against the NLD.
For the past 14 years, US foreign policy has remained fixed on the clash
between the regime and the NLD. Yet there has been some internal progress.
The government successfully negotiated an end to 17 of the 18 major armed
insurrections. It has also skilfully negotiated with thousands of peasants
to cut poppy cultivation and shift to alternative crops, cutting narcotics
production by about 75 per cent over just a few years. Finally, the
government has attempted to address poverty, in part through investments
in infrastructure. Yet without access to international aid, these efforts
have fuelled inflation and macroeconomic instability. Sanctions have also
helped crush an incipient manufacturing export sector with resulting
significant job losses.
It is time for the west to look to Myanmar's next elections, not backward
to 1990. Sanctions should be lifted because they do not work. All parties
should be encouraged to look for step-by-step change. In Poland's smooth
transition from communism, for example, the popular Solidarity movement
judiciously agreed to several years of power-sharing with the Communist
regime. Myanmar could start on such a constructive path with Ms Suu Kyi's
release from house arrest and the NLD's agreement to a gradual political
opening and participation in the current constitutional convention.
The US and Europe should listen more closely to Myanmar's neighbours,
which are keen for Yangon to consolidate the delicate peace processes and
create a dynamic of political accommodation under a new constitution.
Lifting sanctions and giving aid to fight poverty and disease would not be
a concession to power - but steps towards democracy and prosperity.
The writer is director of the Earth Institute at Columbia University
July 27, US Campaign for Burma Action Alert:
Email/Fax/Write to the American Museum of Natural History today!
1) The American Museum of Natural History (which is located in Central
Park, New York) has planned an expensive trip to Burma from October
10-26th, 2004. This is in direct defiance of Burma's democracy movement
led by 1991 Nobel Peace Prize recipient Aung San Suu Kyi, whom has called
for a boycott of all travel to Burma. It also shockingly undermines the
mission of the Museum itself, by glossing over the realities of Burma in
favor of an idealized, completely false reality. As if that weren't bad
enough, the trip feeds into the ruling military regime's modern form of
slavery, which the United Nations has linked to the military regime's
Are the ruling regime's torture chambers, prisons, and forced labor camps
are on the trip itinerary? NO.
Will participants be speaking to Aung San Suu Kyi? NO, because she is
Will participants be speaking to the thousands of women who have been
raped in a brutal ethnic-cleansing campaign against Burma's ethnic
Does the Museum admit any of this on its website? NO. Instead, its
website glosses over the harsh realities of life in Burma, calling on
participants to join the tour so that they can see "smiling villagers
showing off their hand-thrown pottery," and "explore Burma's charming
capital city of Rangoon, the stupa- and temple-studded region of Pagan,
and indescribably beautiful Inle Lake, with its iconographic leg-rowing
fishermen." For a Museum that is supposedly committed to bringing
education and TRUTH to the world, this is shocking.
2) Send an email to: Ellen V Furter, President, downs at amnh.org
Or, write to her at:
American Museum of Natural History
79th Street and Central Park W
New York, NY 10024
Or, send a fax to: 212-313-7990
3) Sample Script
Please DO NOT cut and paste this email, it is much more effective if you
write your own. But here are a few suggested points:
Dear President Furter,
I am writing/ calling to object to your organization's planned visit to
Burma this October.
--I am shocked to discover that the American Museum of Natural History
would be planning this trip, since it is so contradictory to its mission
of promoting education and greater awareness of what is happening in the
--This trip will give participants a gross misconception of conditions in
Burma by promoting historic and natural sites while ignoring what many
consider to be the single most brutal military regime in the world, that
utilizes slave labor camps, political prisoners, and the regime's other
--Tourism is an important source of income that Burma's military regime
needs to finance its terror and subsidize the wealth of its leaders.
--The military regime receives a lot of money from visa fees and
government-controlled tourism entities as well as license fees from
--According to the International Labor Organization, a United Nations
agency, Burma's regime uses forced labor - a modern form of slavery - to
develop its tourist infrastructure.
--Many thousands of Burmese people have been forcibly removed from their
homes to make way for tourism developments or as part of so-called
--Burma's 1991 Nobel Peace Prize recipient Aung San Suu Kyi has called on
tourists to avoid travel to Burma until there is freedom and democracy in
the country. By traveling to the country, you are directly defying the
calls for support from this world hero.
--I will be boycotting the Museum in New York and TELLING ALL OF MY
FRIENDS AND FAMILY to do the same.
--Other: According to Amnesty International and the United Nations Special
Rapporteur on the Situation of Human Rights in Burma, there are over 1,400
political prisoners, including 14 elected members of Parliament, who are
locked up behind bars by the regime. Millions of Burmese have been
pressed into what the International Labor Organization, a UN agency, calls
"a modern form of slave labor". Burma is ranked "Not Free" by the Freedom
House's annual report. Burma's dictator Than Shwe was ranked the fifth
most repressive dictator in the world by Parade Magazine. Human Rights
Watch has documented the Burmese regime's conscription of up to 70,000
child soldiers, far more than any other country in the world. According
to the US Committee for Refugees and Refugees International, there are
between 600,000 and one million internally displaced persons in Burma,
hiding in the jungle and being hunted down by the regime's soldiers and
killed on a daily basis.
4) After you send your email or call, please let us know, by emailing:
info at uscampaignforburma.org
More information about the Burmanet