MAC: Mines and Communities

Call for Ban on Canadian Investments in Burma

Published by MAC on 2003-06-05

Burma – Time for Sanctions

Crackdown Will Intensify Without International Action

Burmese Democracy Movement, Canada - 5th June 2003

In the wake of the abduction of Burma's pro-democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi, the Burmese Democracy Movement in Vancouver today called for Canada to immediately impose full investment sanctions against Burma and ban Canadian Companies from doing business with the brutal regime.

The abduction of Aung San Suu Kyi (her whereabouts unknown at this time) and the nationwide crackdown on the democracy movement provides ample evidence that this dictatorship is not serious about reform. This is one of the most brutal dictatorships in the world, responsible for massacres, torture, use of rape as a weapon of war and ethnic cleansing.

"We are calling for a ban on all Canadian investment in Burma. Foreign investment has been vital in helping to finance Burma's military dictatorship" said Kyaw Thu Soe, Communications Coordinator of Vancouver Burma Roundtable. " Ivanhoe Mines, a Vancouver based company, is in a joint copper mining venture with the regime near Monywa in Upper Burma. Ivanhoe has long been aware of the brutal and repressive nature of this illegal military regime. It is time they did the right thing and ceased operations in a country where the military continues to wage a brutal war against its own people."

The Burmese Democratic Movement will be holding a demonstration on Wednesday June 4th at 4:30 pm at Robson Square Art Gallery, calling for the release of Aung San Suu Kyi and all political prisoners.

For more information contact: Kyaw Thu Soe 604 873-1804

Notes to Editors


Reports indicate that ASSK received a serious head injury in an attack on a NLD motorcade on 30 May, which left as many as 70 persons dead and injured. Eight motor vehicles and nine motorcycles are also said to have been destroyed. The attack was carried out by the Union Solidarity Development Association, a military backed civilian political group set up in 1993 whose patron is none other than SPDC President Senior General Than Shwe. (Its membership has been likened by Aung San Suu Kyi to the Hitler Youth.)

ASSK and 18 others were detained by the SPDC near Monywa, where the Ivanhoe mine is located. ASSK was brought back to Rangoon on 1 June and is being kept in a Military Intelligence 'guest house'. Seven other senior NLD executives in Rangoon have been put under house arrest. The SPDC claims that they are in 'protective custody'. Foreign diplomats in the capital have been denied access to the NLD leader.

CNN had earlier reported that ASSK's car was hit by gunfire. Brigadier General Than Tun of Military Intelligence has denied that shots were fired. NLD offices in Rangoon, Mandalay and Moulmein have been closed. Universities and colleges have also been ordered closed from 2 June indefinitely.

UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan has urgently called for substantive talks for national reconciliation in Burma to begin. UN Special Envoy for Burma, Malaysian Ambassador Razali who is scheduled to visit Burma on 6 June has said he expects to continue with his visit.


The SPDC has been trying to give the false impression that a substantial number of people in Burma do not like ASSK and are willing to resort to violence to oppose her.

The SPDC is now calculating that it is less risky (vis-a-vis reaction from the international community) to arrest ASSK and crackdown on the NLD than to allow a popular movement to gain momentum. They have been surprised and worried by the immense public support for ASSK and the fact that in spite of open intimidation by the regime’s agents, the crowds have been growing. Universities - previously the centres of organisation for public protest - have been closed indefinitely for this reason.

These latest events indicate very clearly that the regime has had no intention of following through with pledged democratic reform. Their plan has been to drag out the talks that were being facilitated by the UN, isolate and marginalise ASSK, and use the time gained to get support from the neighbouring countries.

It is likely that we are now moving towards a confrontation in Burma. If this is so, it is critical that the international community moves swiftly to support ASSK and Burma’s people. Without a strong reaction the SPDC will take bolder action against her.

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