29 September 2007

everybody needs a little time away

The actions of the police in Canberra against the protesters at the Burmese Embassy got me very angry and I guess that showed in how I wrote the post last night. Didn't anyone think for two seconds about how such aggressive actions would look against people who, particularly as they are Buddhists, are usually pretty passive in their protesting? And how it sits against what those people were actually protesting about?

In the absence of other suggestions or ideas - and believe me we know here at Chateau VVB how resistant the junta in Burma is to any sort of pressure - I'm increasingly drawn the need for a widespread boycott of the Olympics in Beijing as a way of pressuring China to pressure Burma. No-on else has the leverage (yeah, that word just wrote itself, I meant " ability to influence') on Burma that China does. Any change that we can exert on Burma will have to be done at one degree of separation.

Anyway, we cannot live by anger alone so, while keeping up the pressure, let me tell you about how I was leaving the Gold Coast during the week when I, and a number of other cars got overtaken, undertaken and generally blown into the weeds by a highly enthusiastically driven
Aston Martin roadster. The driver had his pedal to the metal and this thing just really got up and boogied as he wove around a few cars to get to clear road. So: I want one. And although it's my birthday today, the fambly didn't quite rise to the occasion, in Aston Martin terms.

And I just discovered Blogger Play, which will give you a running slideshow of recently uploaded photos to blogger blogs. It really is addictive but even moreso because I had Pink Floyd's Run Like Hell from Pulse on as the background - no, foreground - music. Just magic.

Just back to Burma, it's on the news behind me. Even though the junta has shut down communications - a typical response - this time, unlike 1988 when we were there, the world has been given an insight into how Burma operates. Just remember, though, this sort of stuff happens daily there. There is a pervasive secret police operation and paid informers network, so ordinary Burmese people have to be ultra careful abouyt what they say to whom.

Oh, and now the news is having a big go at the government about the level of advertising (one of their number, didn't turn around to hear which one) reckoned people would be focusing on the football. Quite so, but the extent -and cost - of the the onslaught is being increasingly registered.


Mark Lawrence said...

Hi Phil,

Happy belated birthday! Sorry for the late regards. I hope the day was great, despite the roadster disappointment. (Geez, it's hard to get families to take hints, sometimes…)

I like your idea of a boycott to pressure the Chinese, but I think it should also target the Burmese regime and other companies that profit from operating in Burma.

For many years in the 90s, Student Unions in Australia boycotted a certain soft-drink company because it had bottling operations in Burma. The relatively recent widespread boycott and ILO campaign Triumph bras and their operations in Burma were also very successful – Triumph pulled out of Burma.

I do wonder if a Beijing Olympics boycott is too far off to garner the necessary attention and immediacy. But perhaps the effectiveness of such a boycott lies in people talking about and threating it now.

BTW - I agree that the brutality against the protesters in Canberra was appalling (I hadn't heard about it until reading your blog), but I'm not surprised. The federal conservatives have mainly been pretty antagonistic to the Burmese refugees – possibly because so many of them were student activists and fought in the resistance against the military junta. Perhaps Foreign Affairs made their feelings known to the ACT cops. Or ASIO had briefed them... ?

But you're right - the Burmese should have every right to protest in Australia against what's happening in their homeland – with our support, not violence!

phil said...

Mark - an Olympic boycott would be hard to pull off but seems far more likely to influence evenst than any actions taken directly against Burmese interests.

The Stanhope government in the ACT is by a long shot the most leftist in the country so it's hard to see their hand in the actions of the police. If anything DFAT should be pro-Burmese people: there are many officers in that department who, like me, have served there over the years and understand the realities of the situation.

The Olympics Blogger said...

We do not support boycotting the Olympics

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