Saturday, February 26, 2005

Trials of Total, and pro-Boycott Burma Activism

Quotes of the Day:

"It is not simply Total Oil that is on trial; but the pro-sanctions, pro-isolation Burma activism itself is being tried in the court of empiricism."
"It is only fair to ask - To whom are we, Burmese dissidents - and our outside supporters - answerable when we make consequential mistakes? And who pays the price for our mistakes and failures, especially when we are obviously not affected by the policies which we advocate?"

- Trials of Total, and pro-Boycott Burma Activism

"Whether or not the campaign to oust Total from Burma is successful, the results either way will not advance the cause of freedom and democracy for the Burmese people and an end to human rights abuses, any more than the sanctions campaign over the past 17 years has achieved any success towards achieving this goal. The current regime is as hard-line as ever, and the Burmese people continue to suffer."

- Derek Tonkin[UK Diplomatic Service - retired]

"I am very concerned that Total Oil is in a joint business venture with Burma's brutal military dictatorship. By working so closely with the dictatorship you are funding a regime that imprisons and tortures political opponents, has been condemned by the United Nations for its widespread use of forced labour and that uses rape as a weapon of war in its persecution of ethnic minorities."

- On-line petition for Total divestiture from Burma

This FBC Posting contains:

1). Trials of Total Oil, and pro-boycott Burma Activism
2). A Divestment Campaign against Total
3). Total on Trial: An Alternative View

Trials of Total, and pro-boycott Burma Activism: Compiler's Note

Zarni, Free Burma Coalition

Generally, activists are thought to be well-meaning individuals who exhort others to "do the right thing." But there are some serious problems with simply doing the right thing oneself or campaigning for the right thing to be done, in the evangelical sense of that phrase.

The most obvious one is the fact that different sets of logic and rationality can be used to either justify or invalidate a given line of social action, and hence the cliche "reasonable people may/can disagree."

In the case of the existing, divergent voices clamoring for change in Burma, presumably reasonable people disagree as to what type of international policy (read Western - because there is evidently an Asia-wide Burma policy concensus among governments that matter in that country's internal affairs) should be adopted. The resultant debate (or lack of it) should be pursued on the basis of empirical evidence in terms of the effiacy of certain policy, adopted or advocated for.

Activism, both pro- and anti-investment, pro- and anti-isolation, must be evaluated in the same way all policies are supposed to be evaluated: their demonstrable effectiveness.

The trial of Total Oil in the court of public opinion is not simply Total's alone. It is, in a way, the trial of Burma activism itself, the kind that believes depriving, in effect, the country of Burma (and her voiceless majority) of both meaningful and substantial interactions and engagement with the world at large.

If the argument that trade and commercial interactions have not benefitted the people of Burma since the generals launched their "Burmese Way to Capitalism" scheme during post-1988 popular uprisings, then an equally convincing case can be made that our pro-isolation and pro-disinvesment activist policies and strategies have accomplished nothing, insofar as the goal of democratic change in Burma is concerned.

Speaking from my own experience, it is definitely a bitter pill to swallow to admit the demonstrable failures of the boycott campaigns of which I was a participant, as a behicle for advancing the cause of freedom in my country.

It is understable that an entire generation of Burmese dissidents, both within Burma and in disapora, may find it hard to admit that their (our) activism, however admirable and glorious it may be, has accomplished very little. Not surprisingly, it is a lot easier to continue to stay with the pact which, deep down in its collective heart, no longer believes in the effectiveness of their (our) boycott activism. But it is always easy to go along with the crowd and thus relieve oneself of any responsibility for the policy or strategic failures, that prick our conscience, collective and individual and that challenge us intellectually.

Let's look at what we have accomplished over the past decade, embracing a particular line of activist action, against an objective set of criteria. Such a set, albeit not exhaustive, may include:
1). change in the regime's behavior or policies;
2). improvement in the life of average Burmese citizens;
3). comparative strength, viability and sustainability - politically, militarily, geo-strategically, financially, and human resource-wise - of the parties in conflict; and
4). the general state of affairs in our country, a deeply troubled nation-state.

Some argue that the generals are devouring their own flesh and blood - or simply put "killing each other." Further, they argue that the regime is at its weakest and may soon collapse on its own weight and owing to its own fierce internal struggles.

One then feels compelled to ask the following question -
Why is that such regime could destroy one of its pillars of power and support and yet continue to hold onto to power, in spite of our collective activism, both within Burma and internationally, especially when we are presumbly 'good guys on the right side of history' supported by a consetllation of the rich and powerful nations on earth?

A short answer is this:

A weak regime protected by strategically placed, powerful polities and economies, can not be forced out of power by a weaker force of fractured political activism whose main pillar of support has, in effect, been relocated outside Burma, specifically Western capitals. This is something anyone who knows a thing or two about the state of the movement would readily, if quietly, admit.

The truth of the matter is not many objectively thinking Burmese, either "back home" or in diaspora, are pinning the hope on either our economic activism or "the movement" to set in motion any meaninful process of social change in our birthplace.

Many Burmese citizens may - and do - derive naturally pleasure from the knowledge that their hatred toward the ruling State Peace and Development Council (SPDC) is popularly shared globally in the form of boycotts and dis-investment campaigns abroad. But the efforts to free a nation or bring about social change require more than quiet pleasure shared in whispers in Burma and activists' piety (toward their/our own activism).

A virtuous action may be judged not only by the tone of its moral indignation, which typifies our activist literature but also against some objective yard stick of its utilitarian efficacy.

We Burmese would do well to reflect our strategic choices, and perhaps entertain the following - might I add shocking - thought.

It is not simply Total that is on trial; but the pro-sanctions, pro-isolation Burma activism itself is being tried in the court of empiricism. Confronting our own failures and shortcomings and bearing responsibilities for the wrong choices we have made is hardly tantamount to call for submission or surrender.

Even Gotama Buddha is said to have made the wrong choices (for instance, eating only the falling fruits that remained in the small circle inside which he sat, engaged in Vipassana) as he sought to extinguish the grand illusion of "I".

And we ego-celebrating mortal beings should, at the very least, have a healthy degree of humility to grapple with the unbearable self-critical thought: what if we as activists are continuing to make same, old wrong strategic choices?

The current generation of Burmese activists (and the public at large) are paying the price for glaring strategic failures of the previous generations as well as those of our own.

It is only fair to ask - To whom are we, Burmese dissidents - and our outside supporters - answerable when we make consequential mistakes? And who pays the price for our mistakes and failures, especially when we are obviously not affected by the policies which we advocate?
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http://www.burmacampaign.org.uk/pm/weblog.php?id=P152

To Total Oil

I am very concerned that Total Oil is in a joint business venture with Burma's brutal military dictatorship. By working so closely with the dictatorship you are funding a regime that imprisons and tortures political opponents, has been condemned by the United Nations for its widespread use of forced labour and that uses rape as a weapon of war in its persecution of ethnic minorities.

Burma’s democracy leaders have asked companies not to invest in Burma. I urge you to end your business partnership with Burma's military dictatorship and pull out of Burma now!

Thank you and I look forward to hearing from you.
//end (on-line petition) text//
=========================================================
TOTAL Oil & Burma – New Report & Campaign

21 Feb 2005

On Monday 21st February the Burma Campaign UK publishes a hard-hitting new report exposing how oil giant TOTAL plays a crucial role in funding and protecting Burma’s brutal military dictatorship.

The report Totalitarian Oil – TOTAL Oil: Fuelling the oppression in Burma, coincides with the launch of a global campaign against the company, supported by 40 organisations in 18 countries.
French oil giant TOTAL is the fourth largest oil company in the UK, and the fourth largest oil company in the world.

+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

Burmese Perspectives

Guildford UK - 23
February 2005

Total on Trial The European-wide campaign launched on 21 February 2005 to induce the French oil and gas company Total to withdraw from Burma will have delighted those aggressive State companies in China, India, Thailand, Malaysia and South Korea who are currently showing such keen interest in exploiting Burma's offshore natural gas reserves.

China already has exploration and production interests in Burma through the China National Petroleum Corporation, China Petroleum and Chemical Corporation (Sinopec), and offshore specialists China National Offshore Oil Corporation (CNOOC). There are plans to construct a natural gas pipeline into China's Yunnan Province. India's ONGC Videsh and gas transmission specialists GAIL have teamed up with South Korea's Daewoo International and the Korea Gas Corporation to exploit the 6 trillion cubic feet gas discovery in Block A-I, while India is discussing with Bangladesh an international gas transmission pipeline to take the gas from Burma to India. Thailand (PTT EP), Malaysia (Petronas), and Japan (Nippon Oil) are likewise heavily involved in Burma, with pipelines from both the Yetagun and Yadana fields already pumping into Thailand. Asian interest in acquiring Total and Unocal assets

These Asian companies must now be looking with close, acquisitive attention at the Total-Unocal involvement with Thailand's PTT EP and Burma's Myanmar Oil and Gas Enterprise (MOGE) in the Yadana field. Reports have already emerged of CNOOC interest in acquiring Unocal's South East Asian interests generally, and no doubt Unocal, and possibly China itself, have already consulted Total about these developments. Both Total and Unocal are likely to get a good price for their Burma assets, should they choose to sell, for whatever reasons.

Just as Premier Oil sold out to Malaysia's Petronas, who then sold on part of these assets to other Yetagun consortium partners, so a sale of Total or Unocal interests in Yadana would have not the slightest effect on production or earnings. Revenue to the Burmese State will continue to flow at the precisely the same rate, whether Total and Unocal remain in the consortium or not. The only difference is that Total or Unocal would no longer be "contaminated" by association with the military regime.

The balance of Western interest would seem to be in favour of Total staying in Burma, in order to preserve a Western presence there and to maintain a channel of influence with the military regime. Isolation and ostracism of the junta is strongly opposed by Burma's neighbours, so that for Europe to go it alone would make no impact at all.

Though our Asian-Pacific competitors would welcome Total's departure from Burma on purely commercial grounds, their Governments might have some misgivings about any increased polarisation between Europe and Asia over Burma, dramatically illustrated at the ASEM Summit in Hanoi in October 2004. The regime itself is hardly likely to lose any sleep if yet further Western assets fall into the hands of their regional supporters. This additional Asian acquisition of Western interests will further bind Burma's neighbours to supporting the military regime.

More generally, Burma can dispense with any further investment from the West for a long time to come: it is simply not needed. Likely French Reactions to a departure of Total As for France, it will cause considerable surprise in Paris, if not mirth, to hear that the departure of Total would be likely to result in a "more progressive French foreign policy that would be supportive of such a [UN mandatory] sanctions policy" (Burma Campaign UK - "Totalitarian Oil").

In the light of France's opposition to sanctions policies generally, its current endeavours to entice a reluctant UK into supporting an end to the arms embargo on China, the known Asian attachments of President Chirac, and the continuing presence in Rangoon of an enterprising commercial and economic mission, the prospects of such a basic realignment of French policy even in the event of Total's withdrawal would be close to the traditional snowflake's chances of survival in the nether regions. Determined to develop its commercial relations throughout Asia, and especially with China, France is most unlikely, in that event, to support any proposal within the EU to ratchet up sanctions against Burma yet again. UN Security Council action against Burma is not a policy which France is likely to support except as a last resort and only in close concert with its partners in Asia, and for the present this possibility can be discounted altogether.

President Arroyo of the Philippines, the most democratic of all South East Asian countries and currently a Member of the UN Security Council, has made it clear yet again this week after talks with Burmese Prime Minister Lt Gen Soe Win that the Philippines intend to remain engaged with Burma in economic matters and that sanctions is not on their agenda.

China and Russia, UNSC Permanent Members, remain implacably opposed to sanctions. It is wishful thinking for activist groups like the Burma Campaign and Christian Solidarity Worldwide to believe that France would be likely to change their policies. In fact they know this full well already, but self-evident political realities have never tempered their messianic assertions.

A Total withdrawal would be detrimental to the cause of freedom and democracy in Burma.

Whether or not the campaign to oust Total from Burma is successful, the results either way will not advance the cause of freedom and democracy for the Burmese people and an end to human rights abuses, any more than the sanctions campaign over the past 17 years has achieved any success towards achieving this goal. The current regime is as hard-line as ever, and the Burmese people continue to suffer. Activist polices serve only to entrench the junta in power, delay the advent of democracy, lessen Western influence on the regime and promote the industrial and commercial interests of our competitors.

Some activists have at long last acknowledged the futility of these policies, but their enlightened recognition is not yet generally shared. It is after all difficult to admit that you have been wrong all the time.

Derek Tonkin[UK Diplomatic Service - retired]

Derek Tonkin - Heathfields, Berry Lane, Worplesdon, Guildford, Surrey GU3 3PU UKTel: + 44 1483 233576 - Fax: + 44 1483 233161 - Mobile: + 44 7733 328832E-mail: d.tonkin@btopenworld.com

Friday, February 25, 2005

Burma's Ethnic Question - The Unfinished Business of Guns and Histories

Quote of the Day:

"One needs to have a (big) stick handy before joing the debate about the history (of Pagan)."

- A Burmese saying

This FBC Posting contains:

1). 'Democracy' vs 'ethnic rights' ?: The Unfinished Debate
2). 58th Mon National Day - General Statement
3). 57th Chin National Day Message by Pu Valthang

Burma's Ethnic Question - The Unfinished Business of Guns and Histories

Zarni, Free Burma Coalition

It is to be expected that the issue of ethnicity continues to play a major - or more accurately, the major - role in Burma's national politics. Fictions and facts, myths and realities, perceptions and mis-perceptions have become intertwined in the minds of successive generations of those who were born in a place territorially demarcated as Burma today. No one is claiming God is on their side; but everyone resorts to history - how their respective pasts are recorded, revised, and remembered.

Burma's ethnic disease -both the dominant one and the others - is infectious, and no one has been immune to it. Some are able to take a step back and reflect on their own (taught) prejudices while others find ethnic sentiments to be too powerful not to embrace. Underneath the beautifully worded chronic affirmation of liberal-sounding principles and policies lurks these powerful 'primodial feelings'. It is highly debatable whether ethnic consciousness is 'primodial' as some anthropologists and political scientists have asserted (e.g., Clifford Geertz) or whether it is a result of a conscious political socialization, however rudimentary and 'primitive' the process may be.

But the first order question - whether ethnicity consciouness is an manufactured item or genetic(born) - appears less important and less pressing than what one does about it as the ethnic flame rages on at the core of Burma's politics.

As such in this posting, I have included a few relevant/representative items - a political statement by a coalition of Mon organization, the text of a speech by a Chin dissident, and some interesting on-line exchanges between a few individuals on the question of the Rohingyas in Arakan or Rakhine state.

Some readers may find some items rather extreme and frightening. For instance, the one where Hitler's Final Solution was openly held up as a model for protecting racial and ethnic purity of people or peoples considered indigenous to the land.

My purpose here is not to 'shock and awe' the readers, but to offer a glimpse of what goes on in the opposition in exile on the question of ethnicity, ethnic rights to self-determination, and so on, both among those who hold leadership positions in their respective, disaporic (sp? real word?), ethnic communities and those who are 'ordinary' members of the opposition in general. The views expressed in all these pieces are fairly representive of where Burma's peoples, especially the ones who are politically aware or minded, are mentally, emotionally and intellectually.

The classic, if misleading, debate about the two seemingly opposing priorities or missions - democracy versus ethnic self-determination - has, over the past 50 years, been a major cause of spectacular failures to forge any type of genuine solidarity - both in spirit and organizationally in the country's modern political history. The late PM U Nu and his armed resistance movement parted way with their resistance brothers (and sisters) - the Mons, the Karens, the Shans,etc. - in the early 1970's over this issue, and collapsed thereafter.

There is a Burmese saying, which goes something like this - "one needs to have a stick handy before joining the debate about the history of Pagan or Bagan, (the origin of the ethnic Burmese)." In other words, the differences about people's strongly held historical views are expected to end up in physical fights.

Indeed sticks (and histories) are perhaps the first and last refuge of the scoundrels.

The Burman-identified leaders of Burma's Armed Forces have evidently taken that to heart: they are fully equipped to debate the issue of ethnicity, in the Burmese Way. On their part, the ethnicity-based political organizations have long felt necessary to approach the issue in a reciprocal fashion, taking up arms or retaining arms. Even the mainstream opposition leadership that was born out of multi-ethnic, anti-Ne Win uprisings of the 1988 has not been immune from this common dis-ease. As far as opposition groups, the outlook toward this ethnic question evolves, progressive or regressive - depending on the policy and behavior of Burma's main political player - the military leadership - at any give time. But having a much bigger stick, the generals are not adjusting their views toward ethnicity or the manner in which they will debate with anyone on it.
++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

Rannin Soe<ranninsoe@yahoo.co.uk> wrote:

Dear Mr.Tin Aung,

we are fighting for democracy and human rightotherwise. we are not interesting your capmpaign.All of yoursaying fighting for democracy buy you are campaign for Etnic rihgt.

with best wishes

Ran Nin SoeThe Netherlands
+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++
From: "Rannin Soe" <ranninsoe@yahoo.co.uk>
Add to Address Book Date: Thu, 10 Feb 2005 19:26:38 +0000 (GMT) Subject: [NLDmembrsnSupportersofCRPPnNLDnDASSK] They are not fighting for Human right.
Dear Thiha Aung,

We respect Human Right but they are not fighting for Human Right.They are fighting for occupid our land by Islamic Back bone.
Do you know what is called Rohingya?
Who are Them?Where they come from?And what they Demand?

I believe you already know what is called Jeehad ( killed for all of non Mulslim ).
Mujaheed Protest to Muslim and fighting for non -Muslim.My friend they are fighting for Indepedent make a Islamic State.How can Bangali fight to Burma/Arakan?They are Islamis behind the Mask. For Example more than ( 200 )Bangali gave name as Rohingya Themself chacking for Asylum.

They can't speak any language from Burma Ethnic groups.So how can we accept they are from Burma.If you want to say Human Right please tried to know about what is called Rohingya.
You can lie to Burmese people about ( Rohingya behind the Mask ) but please don't tried to lie us.

1947 The Mujaheed Party, ArakanJeehad CouncilON August 20, 1947, the Mujaheed Party, Arakan was formed under Dobboro Chaung Declearation. It was led by Mr. Jafar Hussain popularly known as Jafar Kawal. The Mujaheed Pary of guided Jeehad Council consists of the then Rohingya elders who supported Jeehad movement in Arakan.

1964 Rohingya Independent Force (RIF)Rohingya Independent Force (RIF) was formed on 26 April 1964 at Maungdaw, Arakan under the leadership of Master Sultan Ahmed and Mr. Jafar Habib popularly known as B.A. Jafar. In 1969 the name of RIF was changed into AIR ( Rohingya Independent Army) and led by Mr. Jafar Habib.

1973 Rohingya Patriotic Front (RPF)On 12 September 1973 near Sack Dala on Burma-Bangladesh border the name of AIR was changed into Rohingya Patriotic Front (RPF) and led by Jafar Habib. After the independence of Bangladesh there were many changes in RPF and finaly in June 1974 RPF was reconstituted and was led by Mr. Jafar Habib, President, Mr.Nurul Islam, Vice President and General Secretary was Master Shabbir Hussain.

The Chittagonian Bangalis are tring to -

1-To have recognition of Rohingya as a nation withing Burma by changing the Real History of Rakhing State.
2-After cecoming as a nation of the country a muslim state will be created with Islamic Back bone.
3-Aftersuccessful completion of above plan, with the help of outside ( Islamic Redical countries ) aseparate state sovereign power will be established.Later it will be made a confederation state with Bangladesh.

with Best Wishes
Ran Nin Soe
++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++-

Tin Aung <aungtintoronto@yahoo.ca> wrote:

Dear all,

> > Rohingyas are ethnic or not. > >

Let me touch this question as much as I can. > > I also wanted to attract more reasonable, candid,> broad mined, far sighted, constructive and facts> bearing discussion from others. No hateful message,> please.> > I don’t know whether the Rohingya existed from the> time of immemorial or not in Arakan. This> questionable assertion should be left in the hands> of respected historians. Instead of challenging each> other to prove and end up with angry words, we> should invite the historians.> > What I do know is they’ve lived in Arakan from> several hundred years ago. Were they the intruders> from Bangladesh? Well, everybody is entitled to his> or her own view as long as resonable.> > If we think of a geo-political point of view, people> from the border areas are always criss-crossing both> sides. Wa from the North, Salone (Spelling might be> wrong) from the south, Rohingya from the west are> some examples. Wa was recognized recently as an> ethnic by military junta.> >

My lay man’s point of view regarding ‘ Rohingya> should be recognized as an ethnic in our country’ is> as follows:> > 1. They have lived there for several hundreds of> years.> > 2. They have their own language.> > 3. They have their own culture.> > 4. They have a sizable population.> > 5. Rohingya was already recognized as an ethnic by> the parliamentary democracy government of Burma.> > 6. There was a Rohingya broadcasting programme along> with other ethic programmes aired by the government> radio station.> > 7. Cancellation of Rohingya radio programme and> retracting the ethnic Rohingya status was a> deliberate act by a wicked military regime to subdue> the people of Arakan, creating the constant fighting> between each other.> > Why don’t some people want to recognized Rohingya?> > Allow me to address as much as my small knowledge> goes.> > 1. Rohingyas are secessionists.> > Once, there were many ethnics who pronounced that.> Now, they denounced it. Nowadays, I don’t think any> reasonable person can argue that today Rohingyas are> secessionists.> > 2. Rohingyas are Islamic extremists and they want to> create the scary state.> > Well, If you connect the dots, it is one of the> greatest concerns of the world including all Muslim> counties except for Iran (Iran is seen as a> fundamentalist country by consensus; but some might> argue that).> > The truth is that terroists come in all colours,> follow all religions.
> Although extremists are very few, they exist in> every segment of the society like common criminals> even in the western democratic countries.> > I believe that the separation of church and state,> guarantee for basic Human Rights, democratic> principles and collective work of our peace loving> people, we can bury these poisonous ideas.> > 3. We can never accept them as Rohingya.> > It is equivalent to call African origins as Niggers> once in western countries. The name, Nigger has> historical context as the name, Eskimoes. But they> clearly stated that they didn’t want to be called by> those names. The names were changed.> > It doesn’t matter Rohingyas settled in Arakan a> thousand years ago or a hundred years ago, the fact> of the matter is, if not millions, several hundred> thousands of Rohingyans exist now. They want> everybody to call them Rohingya. > Even they were historically called as Bangali or> Kala, what is wrong with that today, if they wanted> to be called Rohingyas. It is not a wise idea at all> to refuse to address the will of Rohingyas and treat> them as sub-human or surbodinates by saying that you> must be called what we want. The adamant, outright,> refusal doesn’t serve the interest of Rakhaine, but> will undermine its own interest.> > This is a critical time for soul searching.> > Does anybody sincerely believe that under the> democratic Federal constitution, he or she can say> no to Rohingya rights, including the name?> >

I urge the people of Arakan to build the unity and> fight the common enemy.

> > Fighting each other only serve the SPDC.
> Aung Tin, Toronto
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Posted by
KAOWAO NEWS GROUP
Email: kaowao@hotmail.com, kaowao_news@yahoo.ca
58th Mon National Day - General Statement

The International Committee for the Mon National Day (ICMND) is united in celebrating our 58th National Day. Celebrating the Mon National Day with music and dance is banned in major cities in Burma despite these activities being peaceful and unrelated to political conflict.
The Mon people have lived in lower Burma and Thailand for over two thousand years and peacefully co-existed with other ethnic groups where we preserved our language, culture and traditions. We were once one of the leading civilizations in Southeast Asia with a social and institutional foundation we received from the teaching of Buddha Gotama. Our political sovereignty was destroyed, our cultural heritage was damaged and our language was assimilated by the Burman nationalist elites many decades ago.
We have struggled for over 247 year to regain the peace, equality and prosperity we had enjoyed under our royal institution before the Burmans and the British occupied our land and sovereignty. The Mon people have paid a heavy price for the cause, being killed, persecuted, raped, displaced and discriminated against in our homeland by the military led government of Union of Burma/Myanmar. Moulmein, the capital of Mon State, no longer exists as the symbol of the Mon community under an oppressive Burma military regime.

Meanwhile, in Burma we are unable to teach, read and publicize Mon language newspapers, magazines and radio broadcasting in our community. Teaching the Mon oral and written language is banned at public universities and public schools in urban areas. Mon children are only able to read and learn the Mon language in rural areas that are under the control of the Mon leading political party. We believe that we should be able to teach, read and learn our cultural heritage freely in our homeland.

It is time for all world leaders to play a proactive role in a Burmese political settlement, to pursue regional stability and economic prosperity for all the citizens of Burma.

We are committed to unconditional peace and an end to the civil war in Burma, with a guarantee of civil and political rights, social and economy rights for all, according to the new constitution of Federal Union of Burma. The current assembly of the National Convention of Burma is not legitimate until all elected MPs are invited to debate the future constitution. As long as only the military leaders control the executive power of Burma, the concept of human rights, freedom, liberation, self-determination and federalism is dead and civil war remains as the only political instrument for disadvantaged people.

International Committee for Mon National Day
Euro-Mon Community (Denmark, Finland, Norway, Sweden, the Netherlands)
58th Mon National Day Committee (Akron, Ohio, USA)
58th Mon National Day Committee (Australia)
Mon Canadian Association (Toronto, Canada)
Mon Canadian Society (Alberta, Canada)
Mon Community (North Carolina, USA)
Monland Restoration Council (MRC-USA)
Mon Unity League (Thailand)
Mon Workers Association (Malaysia)
Mon Workers Union (Thailand)
February 24, 2005
*************************************************
From: "hre mang" <hremang@yahoo.com>
Date: Sat, 19 Feb 2005 11:30:27 -0800 (PST)

Subject: [NLDmembrsnSupportersofCRPPnNLDnDASSK]
57th Chin National Day Message by Pu Valthang

THE MESSAGE OF THE 57th ANNIVERSARY OF
CHIN NATIONAL DAY CELEBRATION

The background history:
The Chin people belong to the south Mongoloid racial group and are linguistically a branch of Tibeto-Burmans or Chin is a group of tribes of Mongol origin, occupying the southern most parts of the mountain ranges separating Burma from India, from the Chin hills in Britannica by encyclopedia.

In 1102 B.C Western Chou Empire had been comprised by CHIN, CH"IN, CHI, CHU and SUNG tribes in Wei valley of CHINA. In 700 B.C that Empire splited up into great five provinces. Later on among them the CH"IN province became strong and occupied the CHU province and then established CH"IN pinyin QIN dynasty. That dynasty king, king Shi Huang Ti founded the term CHINA in his period and built the Great Wall of China. HAN dynasty succeeded CH"IN dynasty in B.C 210, HAN dynasty ruling in B.C 210-226. SHANG dynasty succeeded HAN dynasty in B.C 266 did not mention the period of that dynasty.

CHIN pin yin JIN dynasty comprised two distinct phases, western CHIN dynasty and Eastern CHIN dynasty in CHINA. Western CHIN dynasty started from A.D 265 up to A.D 317, and the Eastern CHIN dynasty ruling (317-420) AD. That dynasty was succeeded by SUNG dynasty in AD 420. (From CHIN in Britannica by encyclopedia, founded 1768 15th edition page 217-219)
Some Chin groups had migrated to the YUNAN state of China later on. In that state Chins had been fought by TAI people who had already been there before Chins. That war Chins were defeated. Some Chins fled up to Korea through the North-East of China and some Chins moved down through Park-way mountain range which stretches out from China country to Chitagong hills tract of Bangladesh country. (In The Tai and the Tai kingdom by Dr.Ko koi page 87 and in the History of Manipur by Ibal Hal Singh page 142-143).

Ibal Hal Singh said that the arrival of Chins into Burma might be about A.D 700.

Ladies and gentlemen, it is a great honor to be invited here today. I am honored, patrons, special guest and my fellow Chin crowds been here. Today is Chin national day, it is the only significant day for Chins in histories and political means.

The brief history of Chin national day:

Chin national day was founded on Feb 20, 1948 by more than 5000 meeting members under the leadership of the late U Vom Tu Maung the first Chin affair Minister of Burma. Union of Burma was comprised with eight great territorial lands under the agreement of Pang long. The Pang long agreement had been enacted by the representatives from four territorial lands. They were Chin, Kachin, Shan and Burmen on Feb, 12 1947 before hands of getting independence from the British government. That means to get independence immediately by Chin, Kachin and Shan from British government. (Refer from the preamble of Pang long agreement). Among eight nationalities Chin and Burmen, have national day. Burmen are much greater in population than Chin. Burmen takes advantage upon its population and acting seem to be the owner of the whole Union of Burma. Burmen do not want to have two national days in one country. Burmese government tried to change Chin national day with any another name since 1962 after the falling of government power into military regime under the leadership of Gen, Newin. Gen, Newin empowered himself as the head of the country and formed the cabinets under his leadership. He ruled the country with the affair policy within (1962-73). His government did triY to change Chin national Day into Chin affair day. Again in 1974 the Junta changed the country government policy as the people council under the controlling of Burmese way of socialist party. Gen, Ne win become the president of the country and named seven territorial lands to be the so-called seven states and Burmen territorial land had been divided into seven divisions. After then the Chin land also got the new name Chin state in 1974. From that year the Junta again tried to change Chin nation day as Chin state day. In 1980 the Junta ordered the regional authority to celebrate Chin national day into Chin state day. At that year on Chin national day I wrote a denied letter to Gen, Newin the president of Burma that I do raise the objection about Chin national day replace with Chin state day. In the next year U Mang Lian (MP) wrote to Gen, Newin with the same idea of Chin national day concerned. Unknown name from Tidim Township wrote to Gen, Newin that he raised the objection of replacing Chin national day into Chin state day. From 1984 Chin national day has been celebrating as regular as before for a couple of years. But now Junta authority forces Chin people to celebrate State day instead of Chin national day in Chin land.

Chin state day is not only concerned with the land which is bounded with the boundary but with all Chin people who are living in Chin state, outside Chin state and in overseas. Chin national day is the only what the Chin people have as the _expression of our national identity as Chin. If Chins lost Chin national day, also will lose our identity .If we lost our identity there will be no more Chin on earth.

Ladies and gentlemen, right now we are celebrating Chin national day, but in Chin land our fellow Chin people are celebrating Chin state day under the soldiers’ boots, and in front of the gun points. Have you ever thought about that, how to preserve our identity, our culture, our customer, our literature and language. I would like to say that please do not forget yourselves, who you are? Where do you come from? And where you will be? Your land and your people beckon you. God bless Chins and God bless Americans.

God bless Chin people,

Pu Val Thang

Note: Pu Valthang is a former prisoner during U Thant ayi akhin in 1970s, and was former teacher in Burma. After joining the Chin National Front, he served as the General Secetary untill he left the party in 1992. He was also jailed in Bangladesh during his political movement as the GS of CNF.
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From: "Tin Aung" <aungtintoronto@yahoo.ca>

Date: Wed, 23 Feb 2005 01:41:32 -0500 (EST)
Subject: [SYCB] Excessive patriotism can lead to xenophonia.

Dear all,

While the vast majority of our comrades are putting their effort to uproot the SPDC, as much as they can, some of us are busy with identity.

I ought to say that identity talk is important too, however.

Meanwhile, lone gentleman suddenly came up with, I would say, a kind of extreme patriotism, saying such as anybody whose citizenship status should be down graded if he or she married foreigner, all Burmese citizens must take DNA tests to prove their purity as an ethnic and chase out all Chinese and Indian origins.

That gentleman also pointed out that if we don’t protect the ethnicity by making the law to punish the intermarriage (sounds scary), the ethnics would disappear (sounds more scary).

Here are my suggested questions we should ask ourselves.
1. What kind of country are we going to make? Are we not ready for the 21st century yet?
2. What I.D Amin did in Uganda and at what price? What were his real intentions behind?
3. Do we really want to create a new dictator bred from xenophobia in our land?
4. Had we not learned enough lessons from the dark part of human history such as apartheid era is South Africa or some evil emperors tried to wipe out some human beings?
I fully understand the desire to protect the identity. There are many subtle ways to prevent the intermarriage such as discouragement or disapproval by the society, but to ban by law, it is disgusting.

Preserving identity can only be achieved by educating the people, not by fascist law that comes with expense of basic human rights.

If anybody has a vision of the future of our country, think of a united one that comes with justice, equity and liberty which is ready to compete with other countries. Not one that we intimidate each other, suspect each other, hate each other and destroy each other which leads to be a parmanent member of the world poorest countries.

We’ve already lived with fear for almost two generations. After the SPDC, we don’t want to live with another kind of fear,
No fear monger, hatemonger.
Aung Tin, Toronto.
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"moe kyaw tun(kma)" <k_m_aung@yahoo.com> wrote:

Hitler is evil only for jews. He got good vision for his own people. Because of his partiotic propagations, german race became more cautious about foreign illegal immigrants problems and thats why until now majority germans are not welcoming foreigners for residing in their country. Thats why german can now proud of being monoethnic country. Their strong partiotic spirits and intelligent mindsets help their country to recover within short time after World War II. Patriotism and ethnic identity are very important for a country in long run. If you learn about G8 (G7+ russia), all are found as monoethnic ones except USA and Canada which two are formed with white immigrants from Europe on virtually no man land.Please check our nearest neighbours. Why china and india now developing very fast and china even faster. There are very few ethnic problems facing in china. Almost all minorities except a few percentage had been successfully absorbed into main stream han chinese and therefor they can do development job efficiently. In india, different states got various ethnicity and they speak loudly about their voices. This is infact obstacles in development. I don't want to elaborate too much about that. You can carefully study these cases. What are the most developed countries in South East Asia. Sinapgore in which chinese dominate in almost all areas and act as monoethnic country, but they cleverly disguised as cosmopolatan country giving equal rights to others. In reality, there is no equal rights. If others ask for their rights, they(chinese) simple turn down by democratic means( by voting out). The second most prosperous country in south east asia is Malaysia, where chinese and indian are positively discriminated by constitution.

In Thailand and Indonesia, minority (chinese) control around 70-80% of business. And now these countries are legging behind malaysia although they were wealthier than Malaysia in the past century(during the era when no chinese were there).

What I mean is the country should be monoethnic and majority race should control almost all so that the country can be developed easily. If the minority could grib firm power in politic or economy, they will do for their own( this is common sense, people will do for their own first, then family and then friends, as mentioned in Buddha' teachings or Confucian's teachings.)
Therefore, there should be no compromise on rights of ethinc rakhine who is the decedents of Tibeto-Burman tribes( not Bangali or Indo-Aryan).If not, so called Rohingas or Bangalis who are traditionally better in saving money than ours will dominate all our economy first, then our political power will be bought our through some corrupted Arakanese and then they will import their culture also. This evidences can easily be found in modern Burma(Myanmar) where Chinese gradually control our economy and then politic. There are many majors, generals and high ranking official of chinese decedents in myanmar now and they help lobbying government to do favours for china. Now , they even trying to import chinese culture.
" Save our Land even as Hitler if necessary....instead of losing out in foreign hands "

Tuesday, February 22, 2005

Burma/Myanmar as a Brothel (of Natural Resources)

Burma/Myanmar as a Brothel (of Natural Resources)

This FBC Posting contains:

1). Compiler's Remark: Burma as a Brothel
2). Thailand scouts for energy
3). China builds Myanmar's largest hydropower plant
4). Campaign launched to pressure Total into leaving Myanmar


Burma/Myanmar as a Brothel (of Natural Resources): Politics of Economic Development

Zarni, Free Burma Coalition

"Development economics" as a field is considered a relatively new discipline (perhaps less than 50 years old). Burma produced its share of "world class" economists such as Dr. Hla Myint who held endowed chairs at both Oxford and LSE and who later served as head of Rangoon University (during General Ne Win's Caretaker Government ?). Some contemporaries or those slightly junior to him with Burma connections such as Amartya Sen who stressed the link between (economic) development and freedom have gone on to win international accolades including Nobel prize for economics.

But the progressively more strident emphasis on the advancement of the material - as opposed to intellectual, spiritual or philosophical - well-being of societies through technological advancement, industrialization, and Capital accumulation began way before the post-World War II birth of development economics.

Despite divergent forms of governance, many governments,that manage transitional economies in newly industrializing nations such as China, India, Thailand, and so on, drink from the very ideological well-spring - the generally unquestioned faith in Economic Development, narrowly defined.

The resultant race to the bottom for non-renewable resources, market shares, stable and secure transport/trade routes, is, in the final instance, what shapes foreign policies of governments in pursuit of development or greater development.

Global civil society, especially in the so-called global South which by and large has long been fragmented along race, class, ethnic, gender, and ideological lines and which have been kept weak and weakened by political repression resultant, in part, of typical post-colonial mess, appear to be no match for dealing or addressing the excesses of these global economic processes.

Despite annual activist social fora and resistance led by a disproportionately small band of internationalists and progressives in "the Global North" - which includes rich, technological advanced, G-7 nations of the West (save Japan) plus others - not much headways have been made in questioning, let alone slowing down or re-shaping, the maddening pursuit of "Big is Beautiful" ideology, that is, more fuels, more consumption, more TVs, more cars, more food, more power, more money, more guns, more nukes, and so on. The elite want more things, great, fine, big and so on. They pursue them - at all costs. For they measure their success or worth against the yardstick of those (in the technologically more advanced, culturally/ideologically more prestigious, economically better endowed and militarily stronger West, who have things greater, finer, bigger, etc.)

In this line of business, contrary to the massively popularized role given to the so-called Free Market as the engine for economic growth, political states have been placed, both historically and in contempory world, in the driver's seat in nations' pursuit of economic and other interests. One must not be fooled by the neo-liberal high priests who rescribe, for those nations that are still on their way up the economic ladder of the State, to abandon it.

Such policy constructs as "privatization," "structural adjustment," "devaluation (of local currency)," etc. serve as useful pills to sedate - or strong-arm, as the case might be - the politically stubborn States and their indigenous urban elite.

Be that as it may, the following articles indicate, that Asia's giant economies are repeating the 'tried and true' historical patterns toward industrialization and economic development. Though late bloomers in this unstoppable race for economic growth, they are folloowing a similar path which G-7 nations have already travelled - scramble for natural resources, military defense of their newly acquired and ever expanding markets and other strategic interests, and forming alliances and blocks to herd off rivals and comptetitors.

We can moralize about, and agonize over, this historical process which has assumed different names, forms and strategies over the past 500 years since the days of Columbus, the Dutch East India Company, the British Raj, the International Bank of Reconstruction, etc. To be sure, there are differences and ruptures with the past's approaches. Nontheless, the pattern and the larger goals remain, more or less, the same - establishment of one's security - however defined - and projection of one's influence onto others.

Regardless race, ethnicty, class, faith and creed, the countrymen and -women of Burma - or Myanmar, if you like - will have to face this overwhelming reality.

The (Burmese) society at large, as well as both the ruling junta and the counter-elite, are between rock and a hard-place. They (we) will have to make tough choices in terms of dealing with the corporate/capital-driven economic development while attempting to tackle the unfinished business of pushing for ethnic equality, human rights, democratization, and so on.
As long as indigenous parties in conflict insist on establishing the primacy of their own corporate, communal and individual/personal concerns over that of others', our Burma will soon be - or perhaps more accurately, is being - turned into "a brothel of natural resources." Not out of conspiracy or malice toward us, the Burmese, but for their own internal logic and national self-interests, other nations will suck what is left unrotten in our country - trees, fertile soils, water ways, coast lines, minerals, non-renewal resources, and so on.

Those that came before these nations travelling on this route have done the same - grind anything weak and small on their march toward power, wealth and domination - albeit under different forms with various justifying ideologies.

Why should we expect the current giants and/or regional power-houses to behave any different from the past masters of Development and Civilization?

The question for Burma is not whether we should remain isolated in our own national or ethnic or political or ideological shells, as it were, - but how are we going to deal effectively, pragmatically, and strategically with this historically rooted process that has been thrust upon us.

The late despot General Ne Win tried to do just that - isolate Burma for his own ends, leaving a generation of Burmese, both civilian and "trousered men," ill-equipped to deal with the outside world.

History is said to repeat itself although under different circumstances and with slight variations. By having made wrong strategic choices, our anscestors a hundred years ago failed to meet the challenges they didn't seek out.

A century later, we are faced with similar historic choices.

We can be reasonably sure that General Ne Win would have blessed the current pro-isolationist, strategic choice of the opposition. He would indeed be applauding us for having worked tirelessly to isolate Burma, her vital institutions and her civil society - notwithstanding our self-professed higher and nobler aims than those held by the late despot.

History always comes with ironies. And the greatest irony of a social movement that toppled, in effect, Ne Win and his rule is that it has come to embrace, perhaps unwittingly, the General's strategic choice of dealing with contemporary challenges - further isolation of the country from the outside world.

The saddest thing is we have been forced to market this choice as "freedom struggle."
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Feb 23, 2005Thailand scouts for energy

SINGAPORE - One of Thailand's major challenges in the next decade will be meeting the increasing demand for power. To do so Thailand will have to import more energy - an issue with business, economic and political implications - and recast relations with countries in the region, such as Myanmar and Cambodia, with whom it has not always seen eye to eye.

Energy import options include liquefied natural gas (LNG) from various possible sources - the Middle East, Indonesia and Australia; hydropower from neighbors in the Mekong Delta; and more natural gas from Myanmar. Energy demand should also be an incentive to resolve a long-standing maritime boundary dispute with Cambodia in the Gulf of Thailand. This has long prevented exploration and development of a very large oil and gas prospective, a 30,000 square kilometer area in the northern Gulf of Thailand known as the Overlapping Claims Area.
Thailand's power-generating capacity currently is overwhelmingly based on natural gas - more than 70% of the generation is gas-based - supplied mainly from Thai fields in the Gulf of Thailand (operated mostly by Unocal of the US) and also from Myanmar, from the Yetagun and Yadana fields in the Gulf of Martaban (operated by Malaysia's state-owned Petronas and France's Total, respectively.) Some 25% of Thailand's total gas supply is now provided by Myanmar.

But the existing power and fuel supply system is inadequate to meet the emerging scale of demand. Thailand's economic growth has returned to the high levels experienced before the 1997 financial crisis, as reflected in energy demand projections. With government planners anticipating an annual gross domestic product (GDP) growth 6% to 2015, there is an ever-widening gap opening up between expected gas demand - mainly for power but also for industry boilers - and supply from existing fields and fields under development in the Gulf of Thailand and the Gulf of Martaban.

Gas demand is projected by the partly state-owned and now listed Petroleum Authority of Thailand (PTT) to grow by an annual average of 8% from 2004 to 2012. Average consumption would rise from about 2.9 billion cubic feet at present to about 5.2 billion cubic feet. The prospect of a growing gas deficit comes on top of the problem of an already large oil deficit. The Gulf of Thailand produces little oil compared with its large gas output. In 2004, Thailand imported 950,000 barrels per day of crude and products against domestic production of 80,000 barrels per day of crude. This deficit is projected to grow further.

Thailand does have a large refining capacity, and the government believes that this may enable the country to become a more important oil products exporter, even if local crude production is small. As far as power demand and associated fuel supply are concerned, the Thai government must now make long-term decisions to meet the future shortfall. A range of options includes new development in the Gulf of Thailand and construction of a fourth major transmission pipeline from offshore platforms to shore. But there is debate as to just how much additional gas can be supplied on top of the existing levels.

Important additional gas supply should flow from the Thai-Malaysia Joint Development Area (JDA) in the lower Gulf of Thailand. A gas pipeline is being constructed from the JDA to northwest Malaysia, and a link is under development from the north into the Thai system. Another long-term possibility is supply from Vietnamese fields adjacent to the Thai maritime border in the Gulf of Thailand.

Another solution could be to import LNG. Thai Energy Minister Prommin Lertsurideh discussed this possibility along with oil imports in December, when he visited Iran, where several ambitious projects are being pursued by Tehran. Despite US economic sanctions on Iran, non-US oil majors, including Shell, Total of France and Petronas, are all jockeying for a role there. Apart from Thai interests, India and China have recently signed preliminary agreements with Iran for large volumes of LNG.

LNG imports to Thailand are not new. In the mid 1990s, when gas demand grew quickly driven by power generation fuel needs, Thailand signed a memorandum of understanding for LNG imports from Oman. The plan was put aside after the 1997 financial crisis.

Another option before the government is to shift power generation reliance away from gas. Hydro energy is currently favored over turning to coal-fired generation. Coal, which would have to be imported from Indonesia and Australia, has been rejected - at least for the time being - because of the derailing of two large planned coal-fired independent power plant projects by community and environment group protests in 2002.

Hydro projects can also be difficult to advance in Thailand right now because of community and environmental concerns. As a result, Thai planners are looking at more reliance on imported hydropower from Myanmar, Laos and Yunnan in China. Thailand already imports a small amount of hydropower from Laos.

Myanmar is emerging as a possible critical source of energy for Thailand. The governments of the two countries are proposing to jointly construct a 7,000-megawatt hydropower plant on the Salween River, part of which forms the border between Thailand and Cambodia. The significance of this is underlined by the fact that Thailand's total power generation capacity is currently 24,000 megawatts. Another possibility is to take more gas from the Gulf of Martaban.
Several companies, including Thailand's partly state-owned and listed upstream PTT Exploration and Production Co Ltd, are exploring in the Gulf of Martaban. Others include Malaysia's state-owned Petronas and China's state-owned China National Offshore Oil Co Ltd (CNOOC). For Myanmar's military regime, the energy sector has become a critical source of foreign exchange. Gas exports to Thailand are worth US$1 billion a year and represent 40% of legal exports. Apart from royalties and taxes, Yangon gains revenue through participation of the state-owned Myanmar Oil and Gas Co in these operations.

Elsewhere in Myanmar, another Chinese state-owned oil company, PetroChina, is operating onshore. The idea of a Sino-Myanmar oil pipeline has also been put forward to provide southern China with an alternative to importing oil via ship through the Malacca Strait. Offshore to the west near the border with Bangladesh, a consortium including India's Oil and Natural Gas Corporation (ONGC) and the Gas Authority of India, and South Korean companies Daewoo and Korean Gas Corp have declared discoveries of large reserves of natural gas. In January, a meeting of ministers from India, Bangladesh and Myanmar in Yangon put forward the idea of a pipeline to India via Bangladesh.

Interest in Myanmar by Thailand, India and China as a source of energy points to the fact that US economic sanctions and pressure elsewhere in the West on companies who do or may wish to do business in Myanmar because of the regime's human-rights abuses and failure so far to allow democratic processes have had little effect on Asian oil and gas companies. They now have both the technical expertise and the finances to operate in ways they arguably could not have done a decade or so ago.
http://atimes.com/atimes/Southeast_Asia/GB23Ae03.html
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China builds Myanmar's largest hydropower plant

SINGAPORE, Feb 22 (Reuters) - China has built a 280-megawatt hydropower plant in Myanmar, the largest of its kind in the impoverished Southeast Asian nation, an official Chinese industry Web site reported on Tuesday.

Local firms in China's southwest Yunnan province, which borders Myanmar, completed the project this month that would generate 910 million kilowatt hours (kwh) of electricity a year, the State Power Information network reported on its Web site (http://www.sp.com.cn/).
It did not give the cost of the plant, but said the project was financed and built by the Chinese firms.

China, one of Myanmar's largest creditors, has stepped up energy investments in the country since last year.

State-run Sinopec Group and offshore oil major CNOOC Ltd. <0883.hk> were awarded a total of four blocks to explore for oil and gas in Myanmar last year.
02/22/05 06:10 ET

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http://www.turkishpress.com/business/news.asp?id=050221185131.p96l21xa.xml

PARIS (AFP) - Some 40 organizations launched an international campaign aimed at pressuring the French oil giant Total to pull out of Myanmar, where they said the company's activities support a military dictatorship, a French activist collective announced.

The campaign is led by the International Federation for Human Rights, Actions Birmanie of Belgium and the French collective, which is called "Total pollutes democracy."

"Total must pull out of Burma (Myanmar) not only for having taken advantage of army-imposed forced labor, between 1995 and 1998, for the construction of the Yadana gas pipeline but also because it fills the coffers of a predatory regime," Olivier De Schutter, secretary general of the International Federation for Human Rights, told a press conference.

"It is not possible to pretend, as Total does, that you can deal with Burma without enabling the junta to increase its power.

"The entire economy is in the hands of a small group of soldiers who do nothing for the population," he charged.

"Forty percent of the budget is allocated to military spending; 0.4 percent to health and education, according to the United Nations Development Program."

If Total withdraws from Myanmar, according to the French collective, "one would hope that France would finally support the adoption of significant economic sanctions against the Burmese junta, as the democratic movement in the country has asked."