Burma

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Burma (also known as Myanmar) is a country on the south border of China and touching the Indian Ocean (Bay of Bengal), with Thailand to the east. The military rules the country and has been accused of massive human rights violations against ethnic groups wanting rights and autonomy. [1] [2]

Overview

Aung San Suu Kyi, a pro-democracy leader and Nobel Peace Prize winner, has been restricted in her activities since the late 1980s. The BBC writes, "Burma is seen as a pariah state by the West, which maintains sanctions; China is its main ally". It also says that the country is riddled with corruption.[2]

Media

The BBC says of the country's media:

The Burmese media have been strictly controlled since the 1962 military coup. Everything from poetry to films is censored, filtering not only criticism of the government but most bad news, including reports of natural disasters and sometimes even defeats by the national football team.
Foreign radio is a key source of information about both the outside world and events at home. The BBC, Voice of America, the US-backed Radio Free Asia and the Norway-based opposition station Democratic Voice of Burma target listeners in Burma.[2]

Public relations stunts in Burma

In 2007, United Nations Special Envoy Ibrahim Gambari visited Burma to gather information and pressure the country on its human rights record. The country still imprisons protesters and political prisoners and military rule continues and the government will not even talk with the opposition. Brad Adams, Asia director at Human Rights Watch, says "The military government has engaged in public relations stunts like allowing Gambari to be photographed with Aung San Suu Kyi, but it has failed to make a single meaningful move on national reconciliation or human rights protections. The government is clearly just trying to buy time in hopes that the world will turn its attention elsewhere." [3]

Public relations by Burma in the U.S.

In 1998, the Washington Post reported how Burma was hiring public relations and lobbying firms in Washington, DC to improve its image. It wrote:

The military rulers of Burma are well aware they have an image problem in Washington. The Clinton administration and human rights groups regularly recount how the generals took office by hijacking a 1990 election, keep hundreds of opponents in inhumane prisons and solicit investments from Asian drug lords. But a bad image can mean big business for Washington's public relations and lobbying firms. Several firms have been conducting a campaign on Burma's behalf in classic Washington style -- producing upbeat newsletters, arranging seminars and interviews and funding all-expense-paid trips -- partly to persuade the Clinton administration to lift trade sanctions against the regime.
For a fee of nearly a half-million dollars, for example, a Burmese company that U.S. officials say is close to the military leadership last year hired a former assistant secretary of state for narcotics control, Ann Wrobleski, and her lobbying firm, Jefferson Waterman International, to communicate the company's "positions and interests," according to the contract. Wrobleski is well known to the regime from her counter-narcotics work, which occurred when Burma was becoming the principal exporter of heroin sold on U.S. streets.[4]

Leaders

  • Than Shwe, Head of state, the country's top military leader

Resources

Related SourceWatch articles

References

  1. Myanmar (Burma), National Geographic, accessed February 2008.
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 Country profile: Burma, BBC, accessed February 2008.
  3. "UN: Push Burma for Real Reform", Human Rights Watch, November 9, 2007.
  4. R. Jeffrey Smith, "Burma's Image Problem Is a Moneymaker for U.S. Lobbyists", Washington Post, February 24, 1998.

External articles

External resources