The State Law and Order Restoration Council (SLORC), Burma's brutal military dictatorship, is turning to "teak wood diplomacy" in an effort to bolster its shaky relationship with the Western nations that control international development funds. The SLORC gave 40 tonnes of valuable Burmese teak to restore a United States battleship in North Carolina. Another 137 tonnes were sold to the U.S."at friendship prices." Britain has also been receiving Burma's teak.
Life on the Line, a film documenting the SLORC's massacre of a Karen village in 1993, argues that Western companies investing in Burma bear some responsibility for the brutality and repression. It is available from Damien Lewis, Bare Faced Productions, Warwick House, 106 Harrow Road, London W2 1XD, U.K.
Burma's Arms Procure-ment Programme by Andrew Selth studies the SLORC's arms purchases to understand the strategy behind recent political developments in Burma. To obtain this Working Paper No. 289 contact the Strategic and Defence Studies Centre, Australian National University, GPO Box 4, Canberra, ACT.2601, Australia; telephone 616/249-3690; fax: 616/248-0816.
Meanwhile, Thai Defence Minister General Chaovalit Yongchaiyedh says China will stop arms sales to the Burmese military.
Source: Burma Alert.
After dramatic protests at the School of the Americas in Fort Benning, Georgia, Rep. Joseph Kennedy has introduced a bill calling for the closure of the school. For 45 years, the school has trained Latin American death squads and dictators in tactics of "managed terror." The bill would establish in its place an Academy for Democracy and Civil Military Relations - getting the military out and civilians in. No guns or weapons would be allowed at the academy.
Source: Promoting En-during Peace Inc.
The Coalition to Oppose the Arms Trade and Project Ploughshares are planning to start Toronto chapters. Call Rachel Tamari from COAT at 905/889-3838. Call Dorothy Fletcher from Ploughshares at 416/484-7228 or Eryl Court at 416/368-3270.
Last November, 10 Innu supporters staged a dramatic civil disobedience action at the British and Dutch consulates in an effort to dissuade NATO countries from renewing an agreement that would allow up to 18,000 military flights annually over Innu lands. Nevertheless, that multinational agreement was signed with little fanfare in February.
In an April trial in Toronto, the defendants spoke of the efforts of various rights organizations to stop military flight training over Innu land. Peter and Elizabeth Penashue, Innu from Sheshatshiu, told the court about the devastating impact of the flights on their land and culture.
Many in the courtroom were astonished and exalted by the Justice of the Peace's decision to dismiss all charges of trespass laid against the defendants.
In his judgment, the J.P. spoke of the work by the defendants and others, "always in a nonviolent fashion to restore basic human rights to the Innu." The defendants, he said, "were not at the consulate for any personal gratification nor to gain publicity." He highlighted the powerful testimony of Elizabeth Penashue and ruled that "the defendants in this case broke the letter of the law by their noncompliance to prevent a greater evil, that is the destruction of the Innu people and their basic human rightsI find their refusal to leave the premises when directed, again within certain limits, is a justifiable noncompliance, where the concept of punishment will be incompatible with social justice."
The ruling is a small but important victory in a 15-year struggle. Even while celebrating, the Innu families currently living in the bush are bracing for another season of military overflights at tree-top levels.
For more information or a copy of the ruling, please contact the International Campaign for the Innu and the Earth at 416/ 531-5101.by Carolyn Langdon
Although the Conventional Weapons Conference has passed a protocol limiting the use of anti-personnel land mines, the protesters who had collected millions of signatures have expressed outrage over the weak response to their demands. Some activists even say that the protocol encourages the development of new landmines. Others see this move as a small step in the right direction. The campaign will continue. Watch Peace for later stories.