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2007 Protesters march in London organised by the Burma Campaign UK

Burma Campaign UK (BCUK) founded in 1991 is a London based Non Governmental Organisation (NGO) that aims to achieve the 'restoration of human rights and democracy in Burma (also known as Myanmar). BCUK campaigns on behalf of the Burmese pro-democracy movement and is the largest campaigning organisation for Burma in Europe. The Financial Times has called it "a leading human rights pressure group."

It does this by:

  • Illegally interfering in the private affairs of an independent sovereign nation state
  • Discouraging trade, investment and tourism through campaigns and lobbying
  • Raising the public awareness of issues relating to Burma
  • Increasing international pressure on the UK government, the European Union, the Association of South East Asian Nations (ASEAN) and the United Nations.
  • Helping to coordinate and build Burma campaign groups elsewhere, creating a global movement for democracy in Burma
  • Providing support and training to Burmese exile organisations and individuals, empowering those who have fled the regime to educate others and raise awareness of the suffering in Burma

It has two directors, Anna Roberts and Mark Farmaner. Patron’s of BCUK include Glenys Kinnock MEP, Stephen Crabb MP, Baroness Helena Kennedy QC, Maureen Lipman, Sue Lloyd-Roberts, Roger Lyons, Clive James, Sinéad Cusack, Miriam Karlin OBE and Lord Steel. The organisation is funded by public donations.

Burma Campaign UK receives no government funding

2007 Protesters march past Big Ben

Contents

Reaction to the 2007 protests

Following the 2007 Burmese anti-government protests Burma Campaign UK worked closely with international Burma Groups to help coordinate the Global Day of Action for Burma on October 6, 2007 through the "Support The Monks' Protest In Burma" group on Facebook.com, when thousands of people demonstrated in over 25 countries across 5 continents.[1]

2007 A vigil for Burma in front of the Petronas Twin Towers, October 5, 2007

Achievements

By working with other groups around the world Burma Campaign UK has:

  • Persuaded the United Nations Security Council to place Burma on its permanent agenda
  • Successfully lobbied the European Union to increase targeted sanctions against Burma
  • Successfully lobbied the UK government to double aid to Burma, and fund cross-border aid that will be able to reach people that the regime doesn't allow aid to be delivered to
  • Generated thousands of media articles to heighten awareness of the situation in Burma
  • Encouraged more than 100 companies to end their involvement in Burma, including: DHL, Swiss Re, Aon Corporation, Rolls Royce, British American Tobacco[2], Premier Oil
  • BCUK has met with senior politicians from various nations, including the British Prime Minister
  • Working with other campaigners BCUK convinced UN Security Council members to demand that Burma begin a process towards democratisation and release all political prisoners, including Aung San Suu Kyi
  • Pressured a number of the world’s biggest insurance companies to cancel Burmese insurance and stop insuring businesses in Burma that fund the Burmese regime. This includes XL and Chubb.[3][4][5][6][7][8]

Campaigns

Burma Campaign UK pursues a number of campaigns aimed at weakening the military junta that rules Burma and increasing public awareness of human rights abuses in Burma.

  • Free Aung San Suu Kyi [1]

This is linked with another aim of BCUK to Free Political Prisoners[2]. BCUK have set up a petition to be sent to UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon to make the release of political prisoners in Burma, including Aung San Suu Kyi his personal priority.

  • Crises in eastern Burma [3]

The government's repression of individuals and communities residing in eastern Burma has been deemed as ethnic cleansing by BCUK. BCUK also highlights the issues of forced labour in the region and displacement, as 66,000 people have been forced to leave their homes during the past 12 months. Rape is used as a weapon against women and disease is most densely concentrated on Burma's borders, as the regime blocks aid from these communities. Information from numerous sources including the Karen Women’s Organisation and Karen Human Rights Group can be found on the BCUK website. BCUK is also pushing for a UN arms embargo against the regime.

  • United Nation’s Security Council [4]

Following a report published in 2005 by Václav Havel and Desmond Tutu that showed that Burma fits the criteria for United Nations Security Council (UNSC) intervention BCUK calls on UNSC members to pass a resolution requiring the regime to work with the United Nations in restoring democracy to Burma, and to release Aung San Suu Kyi and all other political prisoners.

  • Aid to Burma[5]

Burma is one of the most impoverished nations on the planet. The militant regime spends half of its budget on the military and less than $1 per person, per year on education and health care. BCUK is urging the Department For International Development (DFID) to take a more active role in alleviating the immediate suffering and to support the democratic movement.

  • Economic Sanctions [6]

BCUK has campaigned for targeted sanctions against the regime for many years. These sanctions are designed to deprive the regime and generals of foreign currency. In 2007 they claimed victory as the European Union imposed new sanctions against the regime. BCUK is now calling for financial sanctions to be imposed against Burma by both the UK and EU. BCUK revealed that in 2008 the number of companies with links to Burma had actually increased.[9]

  • The Dirty List [7]

Every year The Burma Campaign releases a "Dirty List" of companies which are most involved in financially supporting the Burmese military government through economic partnership. The Campaign is also known to publicly expose and condemn companies that are partnered or affiliated with companies on the "Dirty List". On October 5, 2004, they criticised popular charity Comic Relief for their partnership with DHL. DHL withdrew from Burma in December 2006.[10] Notable members of the Dirty List are:

  • Insurance Campaign[8]

Insurance companies from all over the world, including ones from countries with economic sanctions against the regime, help to insure foreign companies in Burma that provide vital income to the regime. Money made from these foreign companies will not go to the starving people, it will be used to fund the military machine that oppresses the people. BCUK advocates, among other aims, that the EU issue a ban on the provision of insurance services from member states to companies inside Burma. Due to pressure from BCUK certain companies have been forced to respond.[11]

  • TOTAL Oil [9]

The French oil company TOTAL Oil began constructing the Yadana gas project in 1992 in partnership with Unocal and the state-owned Myanmar Oil. This joint venture earns the military regime hundreds of millions of dollars every year. BCUK launched an international campaign against the oil company supported by 41 organisations in 18 countries. In September 2007 the French foreign minister Bernard Kouchner stated that he favoured TOTAL pulling out of the country.

  • Tourism/Lonely Planet [10]

Following Aung San Suu Kyi’s request for people not to visit Burma until the country is free, BCUK began a campaign against tourism companies that take tourists to Burma. The NGO also runs a Boycott Lonely Planet campaign since Lonely Planet produces a guide that promotes “tourism to Burma and vigorously defends tourism to Burma in the media”. Hlaing Sein of BCUK has stated that it is impossible to visit Burma without aiding the regime.[12]

BCUK launched a campaign against clothing manufacturers that were sourcing from Burma. This campaign was a rapid success and hundreds of companies in the UK amended their sourcing policies to ensure they no longer source from Burma. Companies like to source clothes from Burma due to the low wages, lack of health and safety laws and because unions are illegal. Former British Prime Minister Tony Blair spoke out on this topic by stating “..we do not believe that trade is appropriate when the regime continues to suppress the basic human rights of its people.” The most recent of victory in the clothing campaign was March 2007 when the clothes company “MK one” withdrew all its clothing produced in Burma on the same day that BCUK announced a boycott of them due to the company sourcing textile goods from Burma. [13]

Commendations for the Burma Campaign UK

  • 'Thank you for all that you have done to help the cause of democracy in Burma'[14]

- Aung San Suu Kyi

  • 'The Burma Campaign UK has played a key role in pushing Burma further up both the government and the media agenda'[14]

- Jon Snow

  • 'The Burma Campaign UK is the world's leading organisation dedicated to campaigning for freedom and democracy in Burma'[14]

- Glenys Kinnock MEP

  • 'We can see your strength and your strong determination. We really appreciate your work'[14]

- Federation of Trade Unions - Burma

  • 'I can say with confidence that the Burma Campaign UK is a powerful advocate for Burma's pro-democracy movement in Europe. I urge you to support them in every way possible'[14]

- Dr Sein Win, Prime Minister, exiled National Coalition Government of Burma

Celebrity Support

The Burma Campaign UK has received celebrity support from:

References

External links








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