An article by Mark Farmaner, Director at Burma Campaign UK, in Huffington Post.
Andy Hall is a migration researcher who defends the rights of migrants in Thailand, including migrants from Burma. He documented exploitation of migrant workers at a factory owned by Wirat Piyapornpaiboon’s Natural Fruit company. Instead of taking action to end human rights violations against his workers, he is taking legal action against Andy Hall. He is suing him on a range of charges, including defamation, saying that he was “broadcasting false statements to public media'” and also demanding damages. If convicted, Andy Hall could be imprisoned for seven or more years and fined more than £6.6m (around $10m).
Join us outside the Thai embassy in London on Wednesday 29th October at 4.30pm, to fight for the charges against workers’ rights defender Andy Hall to be dropped.
Andy Hall is a researcher who defends the rights of migrants in Thailand, including migrants from Burma. He is facing millions of pounds in fines and up to ten years in a Thai prison, just for exposing human rights abuses in a Thai pineapple factory.
4:30pm Wednesday 29th October 2014
Royal Thai Embassy
29-30 Queen’s Gate
Nearest tube: South Kensington
Andy helped expose how a factory in Thailand was committing human rights abuses against migrant workers in its factory. Abuses included child labour, workers being beaten, having documents confiscated, being paid illegally low wages and facing dangerous working conditions.
Instead of the company taking action to stop these abuses, it has launched legal cases for defamation against Andy Hall. If convicted he could face up to ten years in jail and fines of more than £8 million.
This case is a clear attempt to silence Andy Hall and intimidate all those working to protect migrant workers in Thailand, the majority of whom are from Burma. It is an attack on free speech, and threatens work to improve the rights of migrant workers in Thailand.
‘The European Union has refused to back away from plans to submit a resolution to the United Nations General Assembly on Myanmar’s human rights record, despite President U Thein Sein’s insistence that they are no longer needed …
Mr Farmaner said President U Thein Sein’s speech in Milan was part of a “diplomatic offensive” aimed at building opposition to the special rapporteur mandate.
“The government is hoping that if it can stop the resolutions it can stop these reports,” he said. “Rather than end human rights abuses, it is trying to cover them up.”’
Article in the Irrawaddy quotes Burma Campaign UK:
Economic reform has taken preference over political reform in Burma, said an international human rights group campaigning for the release of what it terms political prisoners still jailed in the country.
The Burma Campaign UK is urging Britain’s foreign secretary to pressure the Naypyidaw government as part of its No Political Prisoner Left Behind campaign.
“Economic reform has been given greater priority than political reforms by the Burmese government, yet still Burma is being ranked as one of the most difficult countries in the world to do business in,” campaign director Mark Farmaner told The Irrawaddy.
He was referring to a recent World Bank global study that ranked Burma as one of the worst places to do business because of numerous bureaucratic and legal obstacles. For example, a company wishing to build a warehouse has to go through 16 application processes which on average takes 159 days.
“The real beneficiaries of economic reforms in Burma are the same business cronies who were dominating the economy before the reforms began. The business cronies have key sectors of the economy stitched up, making it hard for foreign businesses or small and medium size Burmese businesses to compete,” said Farmaner.
Burma Campaign UK is petitioning the British government to pressure Naypyidaw to free Htin Kyaw, a leader of the Movement for Democracy Current Force that campaigns against land grabbing. He was arrested in May for protesting without permission and distributing leaflets that criticized the government, said Farmaner. Htin Kyaw is now serving a nine-year sentence in Insein prison.
An article by Burma Campaign UK’s Researcher Alec Scott.
‘In the past 8 years opium production in Burma has nearly tripled. Ninety-seven percent of Southeast Asia’s opium is produced in Burma, with 92% of production located in Shan State in the east of the country. Shan State is mountainous and home to many ethnic peoples, such as the Ta’ang whose villages and pagodas cover the hilltops of the state’s northern townships. This tortuous landscape of tea plantations and paddy farms has become one of the epicenters of the region’s bourgeoning heroin and methamphetamine trade.
In the poor and largely inaccessible villages of northern Shan State’s Namkham Township up to 80% of young Ta’ang men are addicted to drugs, namely heroin and an Amphetamine Type Stimulant (ATS) known as Yabba. “In our Ta’ang area drugs can be found and bought everywhere and many people are becoming addicts. Because of this the education and healthcare situation is getting very low in Ta’ang communities”, explained U Ban Di Sa, the Buddhist monk and founder of the Ta’ang Monk’s Union. U Ban Di Sa accused the central government of being complicit in the drugs trade, saying that “The central government has used drugs as a political tool to maintain their power.”’
Article in the Huffington Post by Mark Farmaner, Director at Burma Campaign UK.
“This week Thein Sein, President of Burma, will be visiting The Hague, in the Netherlands. As a man with a lot of blood on his hands, you might be thinking this is long overdue. But instead of being indicted at the International Criminal Court (ICC) for his involvement in war crimes and crimes against humanity, Thein Sein will be receiving red carpet treatment from the Dutch government.
In a few short years, the Netherlands has gone from a country that strongly supported human rights in Burma, to a country prepared to ignore the multiple violations of international law since Thein Sein became President in 2011, and the numerous violations of international law that took place during the 14 years that he was on the ruling council of the previous military dictatorship.”
Anna Roberts and Emily Butler at the TUC in Liverpool with our photo wall of new supporters for Burma Campaign UK’s Rose-Tinted Glasses campaign!
Supporter Isobel Thompson completed the Ice Bucket Challenge for Burma Campaign UK on her 19th birthday – thanks Isobel!
‘The government policy on Burma is soft,’ says Zoya Phan with a hint of anger in her voice. ‘They are promoting their own trade and business interests. I want to see a more robust policy from [British Prime Minister] David Cameron that challenges the government in Burma and tackles their impunity.’
A member of Burma’s Karen ethnic minority, Zoya was named after Zoya Kosmodemyanskaya, a Russian partisan who died fighting against the Nazis at the age of 18. Unlike her namesake, Zoya, now 33 and living in England, managed to escape the clutches of a despotic invasion and has become the global voice for the Karen community. While she was able to escape a cycle of suffering, hundreds of thousands of her people are still trapped and at the mercy of the military junta.