Friday, October 05, 2007

Specific steps that can be taken to encourage change in Burma

First, is it worth targeting the 300+ US companies that still do (huge amounts of) business with Burma? Yes. However, it is not clear how long such a move will take to have effect. The first thing to do is to publish the list of such companies and then to put pressure on the biggest ones to actually WITHDRAW from Burma as, e.g., Apple, Motorola, Hewlett Packard, Phillips Electronics and Eastman Kodak have done – but we have 300+ to go – from the US alone! Then there are Chinese and Indian companies, and companies from South-East Asia....

Second, as far as I am aware, the following countries have complete or partial bans on "their" companies doing (additional) business with Burma:
European Union
As most other countries have NO companies doing business with Burma, it will not hurt their economies at all to pass legislation banning their companies from doing business with Burma. This is likely to have much more moral force than mere NGOs pronouncements.

Third, it is unclear to me that China (and India) will heed the world's calls for suspension of arms sales to China. In any case, the SLORC (under its newer name of the "State Peace and Development Council" or SPADC) already has more than enough arms to keep the Burmese nation in captivity for many decades, at least. Suspension of arms sales, IF it succeeds, will therefore do nothing more than apply more "moral force", which has so far been shown to be ineffective. That is why it seems to me that the best step to take is to help the democratically-elected leader of Burma to set up a government in exile, and to declare the SLORC/ SPADC to be a terrorist organisation, as well as all commercial and financial bodies related to it, such as UMEH. China and India should be asked to provide facilities and financing for the real government of Burma to start operating at least in some shadow fashion.

I repeat that IF the above steps do not produce results, the only meaningful pressure that I can see possibly being applied on China is the boycott of the Olympics. I have come across lots of "intuitive" statements that we should not go for a boycott. But I have not read any rational arguments against a boycott (other than the specious one that the Chinese and Indians cannot force regime change in Burma – we don't want them to force regime change, we simply want terrorists to be put under lock and key so that the democratically-elected leader can lead in a democratic way). Perhaps someone can please provide some of the other arguments against a boycott – I am quite prepared to reconsider my position. What boycotts should be applied to India is an open question, and I will be pleased to have suggestions. However, it is clear to me that China and India hold the key.

Next, can someone please clarify the procedure for members of the junta to be held chargeable for genocide under international law?

Finally, I have had most people respond positively to my suggestion that it would be helpful to have a list of the places where demonstrations are going on at Burmese, Indian and Chinese embassies. But no one has actually started such a list, as far as I am aware. Sphere: Related Content

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