Dictators in Burma.
Burma’s dictators really don’t care what anyone thinks of them. They will imprison, shoot and kill anyone that opposes them.
As we’ve seen in the past companies are only too happy to go along with them, if there’s money in it.
The dictators in Burma feel they have a free hand to kill or brutalise anyone in the country, safe in the knowledge that as long as China supports them they can do what they like, the Irish Times reports:
“THOUSANDS OF refugees from Burma have fled into Thailand after fighting between ethnic rebels and Burmese government forces at the border following Sunday’s election.
The poll has been widely dismissed as a sham to boost the ruling military junta. Rights groups and commentators had widely predicted that the elections would increase conflict and instability in Burma, and on Sunday, rebels from the Karen ethnic group seized a police station and a post office in the border town of Myawaddy. At least 10 people were wounded on each side of the frontier in the fighting.
Thai officials said there were further skirmishes at the Three Pagodas Pass and streams of refugees headed into Thailand.
“There have been at least 10,000 refugees who have fled to Thailand,” Col Wannatip Wongwai, commander of Thailand’s Third Army Region responsible for security in the area, told the Associated Press. “As soon as the situation is under control, we will start sending the refugees back to Myawaddy.”
Burmese government troops appeared to have retaken control of Myawaddy, and the rebels of the Democratic Karen Buddhist army held just a few positions on the outskirts of the town.
Ethnic minorities account for about 40 per cent of Burma’s population and they said in the run up to the elections that they were unhappy at having the military regime impose its rule, warning that civil war could be the outcome. Absurd restrictions on eligibility made it impossible for pro-democracy groups to make themselves heard in the elections, which were the first in 20 years and came after 48 years of direct army rule.”
Update 1: The Sydney Morning Herald gets to the nub of the issues:
“Despite the repeated condemnation by the various human rights groups, the UN, US and EU imposed economic sanctions and lately protestations even by some ASEAN countries, Burma is no longer a pariah country.
According to Mizzima (a dissident Burmese newsagency based in India), from 1988 to early 2009, Burma attracted foreign investments worth $US15 billion. According to Irrawady, another dissident newsagency, it sharply fell in 2009-10 to $US315 million. But in 2010-11, the Burmese junta expects foreign investors will commit to projects worth about $US16 billion (mostly in oil and gas, and electricity generation). China and Thailand continue to be the biggest investors followed by the UK (about $US2 billion) and Singapore.
More than 30 companies from Australia, China, France, India, Japan, Malaysia, Singapore, South Korea and Thailand are now engaged in oil and gas exploration and production. Mining, manufacturing and tourism are also attracting investment. The number of tourists visiting Burma is also on the rise. In past five years, Burma’s economy grew an average by about 6.5 to 7 per cent.
Burma has China to thank for providing a model of economic development. China’s massive economic growth has been a potent force counteracting the dissemination of such democratic values as rule of law, freedom of speech and independent judiciary.
This model requires a three-pronged strategy: pursue economic development to gain legitimacy; keep the politico-cultural resentments tightly reined by using lethal force if necessary (Tiananmen square, repression of Tibetans and Uighur rebellions, and use of force against peaceful Buddhist monks in 2007 in Burma); and not interfering in any nation’s domestic affairs however repressive the regime.
This model of power suits undemocratic and corrupt political regimes – almost all such countries have excellent relations with China. Besides Burma, Vietnam, Cambodia, Laos and numerous Asian and African countries are following this model.
China has been courting Burma for more than two decades by supplying arms, training its defence personnel, provide cheap/interest-free loans and helping build Burma’s industrial base and infrastructure. In return, Burma has allowed China to build naval and electronic reconnaissance facilities on its Great Coco Island (18 kilometres from India’s major naval and satellite launching facilities in Nicobar Islands). Burma’s ports offer China’s emerging blue water navy a multi-directional access to both the Pacific and the Indian Oceans.”
Update 2: There’s more going on:
“The violence in eastern Burma, which killed at least three civilians, erupted after a widely criticised election, marred by complaints of intimidation and the ongoing detention of democracy icon Aung San Suu Kyi.
Thai officials said at least 20,000 people fled across the border from Myanmar to Thailand to escape the conflict.
The military’s political proxy, the Union Solidarity and Development Party, claimed a landslide win on Tuesday, saying they had won 80 per cent of the seats, although there was not yet any official announcement.
The junta refused to allow international monitors or foreign journalists into the country for the first election to be held there in 20 years.
Burmese journalists working for overseas media also faced restrictions on visiting polling stations.”