Monday, October 08, 2007

John Howard - Condemns Burma Whilst Australian Federal Police Train their Burmese Counterparts

Yet another example of the sheer opportunism at the heart of Howard's posturing. From ZNet:

The current protests and crackdown has created more hypocritical condemnations and “targeted” sanctions (targeted so as not to harm Western corporations). Australian Prime Minister John Howard and foreign minister Alexander Downer have made global headlines with their colourful condemnations of the Burmese junta — described by Howard as “loathsome” — while at the same time the Burmese security forces receive training in “criminal intelligence” from the Australian Federal Police at the Australian-run Jakarta Centre for Law Enforcement Cooperation. This is ostensibly to fight the illegal drugs trade. However, the Burmese military are major participants in this trade.

The Canberra Times reported on September 28 that John Kaye, president of the Australian Coalition for Democracy in Burma, said: “One thing we can do immediately is to withdraw the Australian Federal Police who are currently training police in Burma.” “We can downgrade the military delegation in Australia [at the embassy] from Burma”, he told the paper.

A September 26 statement by the Asian Centre for Human Rights argued that it is “the hypocrisy in Asia-Pacific which endured the military regime in Myanmar [Burma]. Foreign Minister of Australia, Alexander Downer already made it clear that Australia will not impose economic sanctions on Burma.

“The Association of South East Asian Nations (ASEAN) has done little to address the present situation. ASEAN Secretary General Ong Keng Yong merely stated that ASEAN hoped that ‘the situation remains peaceful’. The ASEAN failed to issue a public statement condemning the Burmese junta for using force on the peaceful protestors, including the monks.”

On September 25, Greens Senator Bob Brown, calling for the suspension of military training and trade with the Burmese regime, noted: “Alexander Downer’s fear that the military will subject the pro-democracy protest leaders to ‘very harsh treatment’ is in absurd contrast with the Howard government’s twin policies of training the Burmese military and keeping open unrestricted trade. Mr Downer is all description of the Burmese events and no action.

Alex Bainbridge, a Sydney-based anti-war activist and Senate candidate for the Socialist Alliance, argued that “The Australian government should immediately withdraw its ambassador in protest and halt all cooperation with military regime in Burma … the Australian government should halt the training provided by the Australian Federal Police for the repressive Burmese police force.”

While the Howard government rails against the Burmese junta’s repressiveness this does not mean that its victims are recognised as fleeing persecution. Seven refugees from the Muslim Rohingya community, Burma’s most oppressed minority, have been held by Australia in Nauru since September 2006.

So, whilst noisily attacking the Burmese regime, Howard's government trains the police and locks up those that are trying to flee persecution in Burma. There's words for leaders like John Howard - Hypocritical c....