Trade and human rights

I was relieved today that my colleague Kennedy Graham put out a media release challenging our Government to raise human rights concerns with the President of the country formerly known as Burma.

I went to that country last year. I was impressed by how many people spoke to me about their hope for peace and democratic reform. The people I spoke to within the country and those living in exile as refugees in Thailand do not yet trust the Government. They have not seen evidence of change. Despite ‘our lady’ now being in Government, the war is not over.

In mid January the Government declared a cease fire in their war against the Kachin peoples, a minority ethnic group in the north, yet in late January there were still reports that the war was continuing.

The Karin people I spoke to talked about an increased military presence in the Karin areas in the south. They want to trust the peace but do not yet.

This week the Islamic Human Rights Commission put out a media release alerting the world to what they fear is an escalation of tensions against the Muslim minority Rohingya people, who are not recognised by the ruling Government.

It is not yet time to treat this Government as an equal trading partner. We cannot put our trade interests before the lives those ethnic minorities living in war and fear.

8 Comments Posted

  1. Historic fear of Chinese hegemony, the US ‘pivot to Asia’ and the benefits of globalisation in China and Vietnam have finally woken the Burmese elites from their slumber!

    Whether Aung San Su Kyi can rise to be a significant political force remains to be seen.

    At a pragmatic level it is clear that one thing above all others motivates the opening to development – political and economic corruption!

    Established models for the regime may be China, North Korea – as indispensable Chinese ally – and a Vietnam aspiring to nuclear weapons status as a US China foil!

    Perhaps if Burma can be made to engage with its colonial past, in the form of reparations process along the lines of a Hong Kong return, some of the negative developmental potential (under the wing of China), may be eventually offset?

  2. Wow that site also quotes Ayatollah Komeini on Human Rights. You know, the regime that kept the Shah’s old torture chambers running.

    Is it really reliable? It looks very dodgy.

  3. About half a Million Rohingya now in Bangladesh and we all are quote aware that how they are living. This just not human form. No enough supports form International community, on the other hand Bangladesh Govt. acting controversial. I have read sometime in News paper that many of Rohingya people are crossing the Sea by a simple boat for the destination of Malaysia to get a job and food for their family. The story is they dye often very pathetically sinking in the sea. Now, where the humanity standing?

  4. Burma has been a burning problem in this area. Karen & Rohingya are two apples of discord existing for long; and are getting intensified day by day.

    The Green absolutely has the right to deal with human rights violation. Pollution nowadays not only confined within carbon emission only.

    There are more complex socio-economic pollutions in today’s global village making living unsustainable. Many of us may not familiar with it. But many are struggling for survival in polluted areas.

  5. Photonz, I could draw the opposite conclusion from this sequence of events just as easily. Did the release of Aung San Suu Kyi in Nov 2010 not precede the improvements?

    I doubt that trade with Burma is in any way actually related to the direct suppression of minorities of that government. The trade sanctions too were not apt to any great effect.

    They simply were a means short of war to continually remind the ruling military that democracy is not compatible with keeping people imprisoned for their political views.

    The trade improvements are a reward I think, for change. Not entirely wrong to offer carrot, but also wrong to fail to remind them that they aren’t doing as well or as much as they could.

    They are much like this government in that they have a talent for finding sub-optimal solutions.

  6. Jan says “We cannot put our trade interests before the lives those ethnic minorities living in war and fear.”

    Opening up Burma seems to be leading to huge improvements in a very short time that were not achieved in years and years of boycotts.

Comments are closed.