DON’T FORGET BURMA Commemorate the six-month-old crackdown on monks in Burma with a rally featuring John Ralston Saul, U Bo Hla Tint, senior minister of the Burmese government in exile, and others today (Thursday, March 27), 5:30-7:30 pm. Meet at the southwest corner of Nathan Phillips Square and then proceed to the council chambers. Free. www.canadiancampaignforfreeburma.org. Rating: NNNNN
Any new developments since the start of the Saffron Revolution?
In terms of protests, not a whole lot. There’s been some postering. The monks have gone out occasionally, but it’s been quiet. The military’s been pretty successful. Still, arrangements have been made to broadcast our March 27 event inside the country via Voice of America and BBC Burma.
Are you closely following events in Tibet?
Yes, China’s the commonality. Burma may not be occupied, but China has huge influence over that country’s military dictatorship, weapons supply and also has blocking power at the Security Council [when human rights issues come up].
Any progress getting Canada to do the right thing?
The Conservative government did what we’ve been asking the Liberals to do for 15 years – impose sanctions on Burma under the Economic Measures Act. Canada now has sanctions against new economic investment there.
Have Canuck companies actually pulled out?
I don’t think there’s been alot of success on that front. Petro-Canada pulled out many years ago when it was still a government-run company. Ivanhoe Mines (founded by Robert Friedland) has been there forever. It shows no signs of leaving and claims its Burma operation has been bought by some sort of trust. I think it’s all just a sham.
Is the new Rambo film, set in Burma, giving activists a lift?
I’ve seen some clips of it and my understanding is there are bootleg copies travelling around Burma. I don’t have a real idea how much it’s able to circulate, but in 2003 I ran into someone from the American Embassy who asked me if I knew anything about the film Burma: Anatomy Of Terror, narrated by Susan Sarandon, which had just come out. I told her I had five copies sitting in my office. I sent a copy to her by diplomatic pouch and she reproduced and distributed it in the country. Stuff gets in.