Burmese Action at World Social Forum
Mungpi , Mizzima News (www.mizzima.com)
19 Jan 2004
Burmese delegates attending the World Social Forum (WSF)
in Mumbai have exposed the ongoing and serious violations
of human rights being committed by the ruling Burmese military
Junta in a series of seminars and panel discussions.
Nearly 100,000 people from over 100 countries across the
world have descending on the Mumbai suburb of Ghatkopar in
one of the largest ever gatherings of non-governmental organisations,
civil societies and organisations working for the improvement
of human society. World Social Forum 2004 began on the 16th
The goal of the WSF is to create a better world for all people
to live in. "Another world is possible" is the slogan
of the festival.
The Burmese delegation have organised presentations on topics
such as the role of women in the democracy movement, the exploitation
of natural resources by the military, the lack of media freedom,
the current political situation, sanctions and the impact
of tourism in Burma.
"The Women’s League of Burma are trying our best
to influence political change in Burma,” said Nang Hseng
Noung, secretary of the WLB. The role of women in the democracy
movement was highlighted at a seminar conducted by the Women's
League of Burma under the banner of "Burma under military
Prominent speakers, included Soe Myint, Aung Naing Oo, Aung
Thu Nyeing and Naing Kasauh Mon, led an open discussion on
the current political situation in Burma.
At a panel discussion held on the impact of tourism in Burma,
WLB member Ms Charm Tong, highlighted the negative aspects
of the tourism trade. "Tourism has resulted in many people
being displaced from their homes and much of the hard work
done [by the regime to promote tourism] had been performed
by forced labour", she said
The current political situation was described in a presentation
by Mizzima news editor-in-chief, Soe Myint, at a seminar entitled
‘Voices on Democracy’.
Ms Sally Mawlay, representing Burma Relief Centre, spoke
about the exploitation of natural gas reserves in Burma by
foreign oil companies at a workshop called "Globalisation,
human rights violations and gas pipelines in Burma".
Ms Mawlay explained that the natural gas pipelines are the
biggest foreign investment projects in Burma, providing funds
directly to the military regime to support its military infrastructure
and to buy weapons to use against their own people. She claimed
that the pipeline projects had resulted in the forced relocation
of entire villages, increased extrajudicial killings, torture,
rape and extortion by pipeline security forces and increased
Other Burmese participants at the World Social Forum worked
together to provide information and free literature at the
Burma Information Centre.
It is the first time that Burma's democracy issue has been
highlighted at the WSF since the festival began in 2001. There
are approximately 30 participants representing Burmese organisations
at WSF 2004.
*In other news, Mizzima has learned that Dr Tint Swe, Member
of Parliament and a minister of the exiled government, spoke
at the Association of the Peoples of Asia (APA) on January
17. He warned India not to trust the Burmese military's proposed
‘road map’ to democracy.