Friends For Burma

Canadian Friends of Burma is asking Canadians to redouble their efforts to free Burma's democratic leader and Nobel Peace prize winner, Daw Aung San Suu Kyi, and other political leaders.

The appeal comes in the wake of the State Law and Order Restoration Council's (SLORC) attack on Manerplaw, a jungle outpost that was the centre of democratic resistance to the illegal military regime. SLORC'S ground attacks and shelling of Manerplaw show the falsity of its claims that it has ceased hostilities against the ethnic peoples of Burma.

Manerplaw, near the Thai border, was the headquarters of groups who oppose the SLORC, including a coalition of ethnic minorities, the student-based opposition, the Karen National Union, and Aung San Suu Kyi's parry, the National League for Democracy. The party includes elected members who were prevented from taking office despite an overwhelming victory at the polls, and who were later denied access to Manerplaw through Thailand by the Thai government.

Up to half-a-million Burmese were already seeking refuge from SLORC repression in neighboring countries, some 75,000 of these in Thailand. The Burma Border Consortium, a Bangkok-based international relief agency, estimated that 5,000

to 10,000 more refugees would enter Thailand after the Manerplaw attack. But the Thai government, anxious to appease the SLORC, has declared it can no longer receive Burmese refugees arid intends to send back those already in Thailand.

Canadian Friends of Burma is urging the Canadian government to: stop the flow of arms to SLORC; impose sanctions; assist Burmese refugees; urge the Thai government to withdraw its threat to repatriate Burmese refugees; and request that the United Nations demand that the SLORC enter into talks with Aung San Suu Kyi, other political leaders, and leaders of the ethnic minorities.

For information phone (613)237-8056 or 233-7133.

"We must persevere in the struggle ... and learn to liberate our minds from apathy and fear." -- Aung San Suu Kyi.

Source: Canadian Friends of Burma

Military Misbehavior

We received a copy of a letter sent Dec. 6 to David Collenette, the Minister of National Defence, by David Gordon of Toronto. Gordon wrote to report the "despicable behavior" of a group of Canadian soldiers he observed in November on a train from Toronto to Wainwright, Alta. Here is a version of the letter edited to delete some of the most offensive language and actions of the soldiers:

"Although I have never met a member of the military, I have always believed that the Canadian army represents the best of Canadian values. It has always been associated with positive duties such as peacekeeping and famine relief.

"The behavior documented below involved about 10 soldiers. I was so upset that I took notes."

Gordon goes on to give evidence of "aggressive, obnoxious, misogynist, racist, and homophobic behavior.

"The soldiers, as their alcohol consumption increased, could not say two words in a row without loudly using obscenities. They reassured each other that they were not 'faggots.' They gleefully compared their penises to rifles. They reminisced about visits to Montréal strip clubs. And one soldier, while denying he was a racist, said he had a 'problem with Indians.' I cannot begin to describe the tone of vicious hatred in his voice.

"What does it say about a nation when its army is perceived by citizens as an instrument of fear and intimidation? I have come to believe that the army nurtures violent and hateful values while values such as compassion, thoughtfulness, decorum, and civility are eliminated.

"I now understand how members of the Canadian Army could murder prisoners in Somalia. I now believe that this was the work of individuals displaying normal behavior for the Armed Forces. I now believe that the Canadian Army is not an organization of protection, but of violence and hatred. I believe it has no means to self-regulate inappropriate behavior, so that when some members behave inappropriately (public obscenity, murder), no others can or will challenge this. And I believe that the recruitment and training of soldiers creates individuals who value only raw power and hatred.

"The experience has made me a firm believer in deficit cuts to the military."

Killer Cards

Trading cards featuring mass murderers will soon be banned by Ottawa. Recently a standing committee on justice and legal affairs recommended that the government expand the obscenity provisions of the Criminal Code to prohibit the importation, distribution, or sale of goods or materials which glorify and exhibit cruelty and violence.

According to the Criminal Code anything that has undue exploitation of crime, horror, cruelty, and violence can be deemed obscene, forfeited to the state, and made illegal.

As a result of these cards turning up at flea markets, a movement started across Canada to ban the products.

Debra Swainson, the manager of Slider's House of Cards Inc. in Courtice, said these cards exploit the victims and that they definitely should be banned.

Swainson said she will never sell them in her stores and that her wholesalers don't even carry them.

Source: André Emond, The Durham College Chronicle

Nukes On Way Out?

On Nov. 18, a resolution was passed in the First Committee of the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA), requesting the International Court of Justice (ICJ) urgently to render its advisory opinion on the following question: "Is the threat or use of nuclear weapons in any circumstance permitted under international law?"

The vote was 77 for, 33 against, with 2 1 abstentions. Canada abstained on the vote. The resolution had been submitted to the First Committee by the 111 members of the Non-Aligned Movement.

The resolution has implications for disarmament and security. UNGA has repeatedly called for the elimination of nuclear weapons as the only guarantee against their use. A finding from ICJ that nuclear weapons are illegal would be a major step towards their abolition. The UNGA resolution will also support efforts to implement Article VI of the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) which calls for complete nuclear disarmament. This could also contribute to an extension of the NPT in 1995.

Groups should continue to collect declarations of conscience to go to ICJ. Canada has collected almost 25,000 so far.

For more information contact: The World Court Project, c/o Physicians for Global Survival, (613)233-1982; Marion Frank,; or your local peace group.

Source: Marion Frank, Canadian Peace Alliance coordinator for the World Court Project

Canadian Helps Landmine Victims

Dr. David Aston of the Canadian War Amputees Rehabilitation Society (CWARS) has established a vocational training school for adult victims of the 4.5 million landmines scattered throughout Cambodia.

The program, co-sponsored by Canadian Friends Service Committee (CFSC), is intended to lift morale and train the amputees to support themselves.

The school is located in the provincial town of Pursat, 200 kilometres northwest of the capital, Phnom Penh. The first 25 students were expected to take up residence in January. The curriculum includes basic arithmetic and literacy, hairdressing, bicycle and motorcycle repair, and basket-making.

The Governor of Pursat provided a former school for CWARS' use, and a grant from the Canadian Embassy paid for its renovation. A United Nations Development Program grant was used to purchase locally-made furniture, and sewing machines for a tailoring class. UNICEF trained teachers and provided teaching manuals and work books.

Dr. Aston is training Khmer staff to take over the administration and management of the program.

Source: Susan Reesor, CFSC

Feds Reject Nuclear Ship Review

On Jan. 10 the Federal Court of Appeal rejected the Vancouver Island Peace (VIP) Society's appeal for a public environmental review of visits by nuclear warships.

Floating military nuclear reactors continue to endanger over two million in Victoria, Vancouver, Vancouver Island, and north of Haida Gwaii/Queen Charlottes and Prince Rupert. A public review of these visits has been requested twice by the British Columbia government.

Justices Stone, Marceau, and McDonald told the VIP Society that Parliament didn't have nuclear ships in mind when it enacted the Environmental Protection Act, the Atomic Energy Control Act, or the Canada Shipping Act. The VIP Society argued that these laws were meant to protect the public from the sort of environmental dangers posed by nuclear ships.

The judges also upheld the notion that Cabinet can pass Orders-in-Council by "Royal Prerogative," without the scrutiny of Parliament and without any limitation by such statutes as environmental safety legislation.

The Department of National Defence has released an internal "environmental assessment." Unfortunately, it was produced without any public input.

On Feb. 3, the VIP Society announced that they would appeal the court's decision. Director Fred Knelman will also critique the Defence Departments s environmental assessment.

Meanwhile, a U.S. nuclear-powered Trident submarine has come to the Nanoose base. With a huge arsenal of nuclear weapons, it is the most destructive warship known to have come to the base.

For information contact: Fred Knelman at (604)658-2740.

Source: VIP Society

Peace Magazine Mar-Apr 1995

Peace Magazine Mar-Apr 1995, page 28. Some rights reserved.

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