I’m very proud to be here today, on behalf of the greens and the Western Australian community, to stand with you in support of the people of Burma.
A nonviolent revolution has begun in this country. There is no going back now - the events of the last month have permanently changed the internal political situation in Burma. The monks have taken a stand, and in attacking them openly, the military regime has sealed its downfall.
The monks who are leading this uprising and their supporters have now placed themselves at enormous risk The last great expression of democracy in Burma was crushed in 1988 by the dictatorship. The world stood by and did very little of practical help. When the military closed the borders and cut the telephone lines it seemed as though the curtains had been drawn and the military was left to act with impunity.
Things are different this time. When the large scale demonstrations began a fortnight ago, a thousand citizen journalists beamed the images to the rest of the world. Bloggers were adding moment by moment updates to news wires. The military has lost control of the story.
Last week, after the damage was done, the military shut down the country’s internet service providers. This comes from a newspaper article quoting a source inside Burma - ‘’We have done enough, we can no longer move around, it is over to you, we cannot do anything anymore. We are down. We are hunted by soldiers, we are down.’’ The whole world is watching. We know what is going on there. And this knowledge means we have no choice but to act.
Governments from Tokyo to Washington have condemned the Burmese military. The United Nations Security Council meets tonight to hear from its Envoy who recently visited the country. But talk is not enough. Even as Governments around the world express their concern, they turn a blind eye to the corporations who continue to profit from Burma’s rich timber, mineral and oil and gas resources.
Companies like Chevron, Marubeni, Suzuki, and a whole host of tourism companies. Perth’s own Clough group, which has ties to the Liberal Party, has financed a company called Twinza Oil which signed a deal with the Burmese military last November. Directly after this rally we are hand-delivering a letter to the Clough Group demanding they suspend operations there until the rightful democratic Government is restored. One country deserves special mention.
The vice president of the European Parliament is lobbying to ensure that all EU countries boycott the
Beijing Olympics. The consensus around the European Parliament is that China is the key. China is the puppet master of Burma… The Olympics is the only real lever we have to make China act.”
China is Burma’s biggest trading partner. They have supported and sheltered the military rulers of
Burma. There is much we can do in Australia to put pressure on the Government of China to uphold their role as citizens of the world. Because this is not Burma’s problem. This is planet earth’s problem.
Every one of us here now has an opportunity to ask how we can help finish what the monks and the students and their supporters have begun. The next days and weeks are absolutely crucial. We are with you, and we will stand with you until you have restored democracy to your country.