Supporting Burma's struggle

Wednesday, July 10, 1991

Supporting Burma's struggle

By Dick Nichols

SYDNEY — A July 20 solidarity dinner here may wellmark the beginning of heightened support for the struggle of the Burmese people for democracy, according to Debbie Stothard of Burma Alert!

After featuring as a "flavour of the month" after the August 1988 uprising, Burma's battle to overthrow military rule has largely been ignored. Yet behind the silence, the atrocities continue — as does the battle of the students who led the 1988 uprising and today fight on in Burma's border areas alongside the nation's 20 ethnic nationalities.

According to Stothard, the Burmese dictatorship has been forced to sell off the country's resources at bargain prices to fund its repressive apparatus. Those queuing up for access include BHP (oil), Thai and Chinese logging companies (Burma has the world's third highest rate of deforestation) and Singaporean, Malaysian, Taiwanese, Korean and Japanese fishing companies (which are decimating the marine life that has sustained traditional Burmese communities).

Burmese girls as young as 10 are being sold across the border to Thai brothels by local military commanders.

Income from these sources has enabled the military regime to devote around 50% of GDP to military spending.

The July 20 dinner and talk will highlight the current situation in Burma and help raise funds for the All-Burma Students Democratic Front. For details see page 23.

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