Thursday, April 21, 2005

Myanmar's military regime uses chemical weapons

From BBC:

According to accounts from Karen fighters, who have been engaged in a long-running war with Burma's military government, the attack took place just inside the Burmese border, around 16km (10 miles) from the Thai town of Mae Hong Son.

They claim that clouds of yellow vapour began pouring from shells fired at their positions and soon after this many of them felt sick, vomited blood and were unable to walk.

Some later suffered from blisters and acute diarrhoea.

The president of Christian Solidarity Worldwide, Australian physician Dr Martin Panter, has since flown to the area and examined five of the men.

He concluded that their symptoms are synonymous with exposure to some form of chemical attack.

At the moment, the government is pursuing a free trade deal with Myanmar as part of a package deal with ASEAN. I think it's time they stopped.


Surely the best way to bring democracy to Myanmar is to trade as much as possible with them, gradually opening up the country?
After all, sanctions have hardly worked there have they?

Posted by Anonymous : 4/21/2005 11:01:00 PM

I think there's a small amount of merit in that argument, but it relies upon the local government moving in the right direction in the first place (and in effect cooperating in its own subversion). Myanmar isn't. And indeed, with this latest incident, seems to be getting worse.

Using chemical weapons is the sort of thing which should draw a strong response from the international community. Unfortunately, Myanmar has already drawn such a response for its human rights violations and continued imprisonment of Aung San Suu Kyi. There's not much else diplomatically that can be done to them. But we can at least refuse to reward them for being monsters, and make it clear that trade will be linked to progress towards democracy.

Posted by Idiot/Savant : 4/21/2005 11:18:00 PM

Progress toward democracy.. don't you mean towards free elections?

A few western countries could do well to make progress towards democracy in the wider sense of the word, as in 'rule by the will of the majority'.

Posted by Anonymous : 4/22/2005 01:20:00 PM

At a minimum, yes. But as you point out, democracy means a little more than that.

Interestingly, Phil Goff has remained silent. Just the other day he was promising to remain "an outspoken critic of the military regime in Myanmar as long as human rights abuses and the suppression of democracy continues". I think his silence over this incident shows how seriously that promise should be taken.

Posted by Idiot/Savant : 4/22/2005 04:44:00 PM

Another report of a 'Yellow Rain' attack. Many scholars (but not all) believe that the yellow vapour is actually bee faeces from large swarms, after feeding on crops contaminated with fungus. There have been similar reports throughout SE Asia, dating back to the Vietnam War, and in Afghanistan. However, no Soviet weapons containing the T-2 mycotoxin have been declared.

Posted by Anonymous : 4/22/2005 07:07:00 PM