ModernityBlog

“Nearly all men can stand adversity, but if you want to test a man’s character, give him power.” Abraham Lincoln

Posts Tagged ‘Burma

China: Human Rights Getting Worse.

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Liu Xia is a former civil servant, imprisoned in her own home under house arrest in China.

Her crime? Being married to Liu Xiaobo.

Whilst David Cameron is sucking up to the dictators in Bejing, human rights in China are getting worse, as the BBC shows.

The Chinese state is attacking Liu Xiaobo’s family and friends, as the Toronto Star reports:

“Now, with the award of the Nobel, the government has fired up a fresh campaign against Liu, while at the same time targeting his supporters.

Newspapers have carried anti-Liu essays and opinion pieces calling him a “criminal” and “a Western tool” for suggesting an end to the Communist Party’s monopoly on power.

Meanwhile the government has suggested the Nobel is just part of an international conspiracy to bring disrespect to China’s legal system.

And Wednesday it took the extraordinary step of quashing any hope Liu might have had to have his own acceptance speech spoken at the ceremony in Oslo.

Liu’s family said Chinese authorities have cancelled their scheduled monthly visit with Liu, apparently afraid that he might pass on a message to be delivered to the world at the December ceremony.

Liu’s wife, Liu Xia, had said after visiting him Oct. 10 that he intended to draft a message.

But Liu’s two brothers and a brother-in-law told the Hong Kong-based Information Center for Human Rights and Democracy that they expect no further family visits until after the ceremony, thereby ensuring no message gets out.

The government’s vitriol has surprised many observers.

“I think we expected some reaction after the award, but nothing quite as brutal as what we have had,” says Kerry Brown, a former British diplomat and senior researcher at London’s Chatham House, the international affairs institute.

“The Chinese response seems primitive and heavy handed. I am amazed that people we thought so powerful can get so offended.”

While many regard the awarding of the peace prize as “dubious at the best of times,” says Brown, “the Chinese elite are reacting like this actually matters — and evidently it does, to them.”

One of the most recent to feel the government’s heavy hand is Liu’s long-time lawyer Mo Shaoping.

Mo was forbidden to leave the country Tuesday — plucked from a line at Beijing’s sleek Capital International Airport just as he was about to board British Airways flight 038 to London.

Mo and well-known Chinese legal scholar He Weifang were headed to the U.K. to address a seminar hosted by the International Bar Association. The topic: the challenges of being an independent lawyer in China.”

Nor should we forget that China’s political policies, decided by unelected men, are the one reason that dictators in Burma are still in power.

Written by modernityblog

11/11/2010 at 04:40

Dictators in Burma.

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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.”

Read the rest of this entry »

Written by modernityblog

09/11/2010 at 04:51

Big Oil And Dictatorships.

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Large oil companies are often not to choosy who they do business with, be it dodgy potentates in the Middle East, to the repressive Generals in Burma, but with the disaster in the Gulf of Mexico they are, thankfully, coming under more scrutiny.

Time magazine has more:

“To the list of Big Oil companies with p.r. problems add two more: Chevron and French energy giant Total. In a report published on Monday, the NGO EarthRights International accuses the firms of being implicated in human-rights violations in Burma, claiming that soldiers guarding Chevron and Total’s natural-gas pipeline in the country have murdered locals and forced others to do backbreaking, unpaid labor in order to keep the gas exports flowing smoothly. The report also holds that the revenues from the operation have been propping up the country’s oppressive military government for more than a decade, thus fostering harmful political outcomes that affect the entire country.

EarthRights’ complaints against Total and Chevron are not new. Last year, the NGO, which is based in Washington and Chiang Mai, Thailand, published interviews with locals describing how soldiers protecting the pipeline had dragooned them into unpaid manual labor. The pipeline, which crosses more than 40 miles of Burmese territory, is a joint venture among Chevron, Total, a Thai energy company and the Burmese state oil and gas authority. Activists say it is a short section of the pipeline that travels overland through a remote part of the country that has led to ongoing conflicts between residents and the Burmese army’s Battalion 282, the soldiers charged with protecting the pipeline. Until the pipeline was built in the mid-1990s, the area saw little military action. But according to the EarthRights report, in February some soldiers of the battalion murdered two residents in the pipeline area after suspecting them of being linked to an armed militia group. “

(H/T: Andrew Murphy)

Update 1: The EarthRights International report is here, as a PDF.

Update 2: Reuters’ coverage of the BP’s oil spill is good.

Written by modernityblog

07/07/2010 at 16:21