Written by U Ne Oo on 1999-02-18
While almost every western countries seems to be boycotting the INTERPOL Herion Conference in Burma, there has been no response fro response from Australian Government on whether to boycott the meeting or to go ahead with their plan. It has been the case that during previous Labour Government, Australia seems to have taken a softer stance as regards Burma human rights in comparison to US and EU. I think that was perfectly alright because the former Prime Minister as well as Foreign Minister appears to take much more interest in Asian politics (& Burmese politics, of course). Diplomatic and political interaction of Australian and Asian were also quite visible andible and therefore we can hope for getting things done through that channel.
To my opinion, something of different can be said about current Coalition Government. Current Australian government is more interested and much devoted of their energy on fixing things at domestic front. It is also everyone's knowledge that current Australian Cabinet is somewhat hostile to domestic human rights lobbies. I therefore have judged, since early 1997, that current Australian Government could be made a better contribution towards Burma humaurma human rights by imposing a visa ban and trade sanction. As regards Australian's participation in INTERPOL conference in Burma, I just couldn't see any substantial benefit that can be gained by Australian delegation going to Rangoon.
Aside from the meeting venue, the Australian Federal Police had particularly good results last year in intercepting herion: at one time 400kg of pure herion from Golden Triangle were seized at Australian coast. We have no knowledge, though, about how much Australian Law Enforcements have con have contributed towards countering the drug money laundering in connection with Burma.
On putting pressure on SPDC/SLORC, the result of international community's efforts in countering the drug-money laundering in Burma could be as good as the trade sanctions. This is because an estimated 60% of Burma's economy under SPDC/SLORC origniates from drug trafficking. Recent reports are indicating that economic activities, such as construction works etc., in Burma have really been put to a halt. I am just wondering whether this can this can be attributed to the counter-measures against drug-money laundering in Burma. Precisely how the Burma's drug barons have laundered money through their show-case businesses in Burma can be most interesting. I would think that those such information will be much more useful distributing through Internet , instead of having to go to Rangoon to deliver the papers.
With best regards, U Ne Oo.
BURMA-AUST FED: AUSTRALIA REJECTS BOYCOT OF BURMA DURG SUMMIT
DATE: 17:46 11-Feb-99
FED: Australia rejedcts boycott of Burma drug summit BURMA AUST
By Stephen Spencer, Diplomatic Correspondent
CANBERRA, Feb 11 AAP-- Australia today came under fire for refusing to join the United States and anumber of European nations in boycotting an Interpol conference on herion in Burma later this month.
The US yesterday confirmed it would join Britain, Holland, Italy, Belgium, Luxembourg and Denmark in boycotting the conference to avoid compromising tough sanctions designed to isolate the Burmese military military regime.
At least two other European Union(EU) nations are considering joining the boycott, with others under pressure from the US not to attend.
But Australia, which has not imposed sanctions on Burma, will send two Australian Federal Police officers and a Customs officer to the conference.
The Australia Burma Council has written to Foreign Minister Alexander Downer apealing to him to overturn Australia's decision to attend the conference.
The council says Australia's presence would help to legitimise o legitimise the regimme which has been ostracised over its brutal treatment of political opponents and refusal to recognise the 1990 election victory by Nobel Laureate Aung San Suu Kyi.
"Mr Downer must reconsider his position on this mmatter and refuse to allow Australian Federal Police to attend the conference if Australia is to maintain a level of respectability and honour in the international community," the council said in a statement.
The council also attacked the staging of the ocnference in Burma as hypocritical, cititical, citing US claims that Burma, with the compliance of the military regime, was one of the world's major sources of illicit drugs.
Burma is the largest producer of herion in the Asia Pacific region and is directly responsible for approximately 80 per cent of the drug on our shores which kills Australian children every day," the council said.
"Australia spends millions of dollars trying to stem the flow of drugs from the Golden Triangle, yet are prepared to spend more on a conference whicn will embrace the dictatorship of Burma and leave them thinking their propaganda is being believed."