Burma Campaign UK’s Director, Mark Farmaner, spoke at an event entitled “How to achieve justice for Rohingya”, organised by Justice4Rohingya yesterday at the London Central Mosque.
Burma Campaign UK welcomed Saw Wee Eh Htoo, an environmental activist from Karen Wildlife Conservation Initiative, whose visit enabled us to discuss the current environmental and human rights situation in Karen State.
While in the UK, Saw Wee Eh Htoo attended a London conference on illegal wildlife trade, and met British Parliamentarians and the Karen Community Association UK.
Mark Farmaner, Saw Wee Eh Htoo, Zoya Phan, Anna Roberts
The Financial Times reports on the message to the European Union from human rights campaigners, including Burma Campaign UK, that cutting off trade preferences for Burma would do little if nothing to sanction military leaders, while further inflaming societal tensions.
“If broad-based sanctions harmed average citizens, which is likely, then domestic anti-Rohingya sentiment would escalate,” said Matthew Smith of Fortify Rights, and Mark Farmaner, of Burma Campaign UK, called the EU’s potential review of trade preferences for Burma “crazy”.
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The Irrawaddy reports on the response to the European Union’s threat to remove “everything but arms” (EBA) trade privileges from Burma.
The European Burma Network of eleven groups based in the UK, Belgium, Ireland, Sweden and Germany, including Burma Campaign UK and Burmese Rohingya Organization UK, warned the EU that “such a move risks having a disproportionate impact on ordinary people who have played no role in human rights violations against the Rohingya and others, and in fact themselves suffer from a lack of human rights and genuine democracy in Burma.”
A announcement by the European Union that it is considering suspending trade privileges for Burma has alarmed garment firms, which say hundreds of thousands of jobs are at risk.
Frontier Myanmar reports that the move has also puzzled human rights activists and campaign groups, few of whom have lobbied for broad economic sanctions.
Burma Campaign UK director Mark Farmaner told Frontier “It is ridiculous that the EU has rejected sanctions against military owned companies, rejected banning all training of the military, won’t support a UN arms embargo, and won’t even support referring the situation to the International Criminal Court, but is considering imposing a kind of sanction which will mainly affect ordinary people.”
The EU is considering ending Burma’s tariff-free access to the world’s largest trading bloc in a significant ramping up of pressure against the regime, reports the Dubai-based National.
Campaign groups criticised the plan as it would not hurt senior military figures responsible for the ethnic cleansing of the Muslim minority and will hit thousands of young women working in the clothing sector.
“It makes no sense on any level,” said Mark Farmaner, director of Burma Campaign UK. “There’s almost 20 things they could do to target the military that might make an impact. Instead they are considering something that no-one is calling for.”
Reviewing Aung San Suu Kyi’s record in office, the New York Times says Burma is in danger of again becoming a pariah state. It highlights missed opportunities such as the failure to abolish hundreds of repressive laws like the Official Secrets Act, which was used to prosecute the two Reuters journalists. Now she is under intense pressure to pardon them.
“That she has yet to release Wa Lone and Kyaw Soe Oo adds to the growing evidence of her having strong authoritarian tendencies and little interest in media freedom and freedom of expression,” said Mark Farmaner, director of Burma Campaign UK.
Burma’s powerful army should be removed from politics, UN investigators said in the final version of a damning report reiterating calls for top generals to be prosecuted for genocide against the Rohingya Muslim minority.
Their presence in parliament gives them an effective veto on constitutional changes, making any transition to full civilian control extremely difficult. Three key ministries — home affairs, border and defence — are also in their hands, giving them carte blanche to conduct security operations with little oversight.
Malaysia’s Sun Daily quotes Mark Farmaner from Burma Campaign UK: “It is impossible to remove the army out of political life without changing the constitution, and the military have a veto over constitutional changes.”
The UN’s Independent International Fact-Finding Mission on Myanmar calls for the Burmese military to face the International Criminal Court, criticises Aung San Suu Kyi for failure to use her position or her moral authority, and chides the UN for its failure to address human rights concerns.
Reporting on Asia-Pacific affairs, the Diplomat says “Yet hitherto, as Mark Farmaner of Burma Campaign UK has pointed out, no world power has come forward to state their acceptance of the Fact-Finding Mission’s recommendations and seek their immediate implementation.”
At the press conference launching the report, Christopher Sidoti of the UN Mission said of the UK’s wish to see the outcome of Burma’s own domestic investigations: “Expecting justice and truth from any Myanmar domestic process is simply naive. There is no will and no capacity.”
Doug Janke, Head of Development, on Burma Campaign UK’s stall at this week’s Trades Union Congress in Manchester. Thank you to the TUC for supporting human rights and democracy in Burma.