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Mon Nov 26, 2012, 02:12 AM

Obama in Burma: Milestone for Reform or Groundwork for Oil-Friendly Junta Rule?



Nov 9, 2012

U.S. oil companies ConocoPhillips and Chevron Corp. (CVX) are scouting opportunities in Myanmar’s oil and gas industry, which accounted for 77 percent of the $3.8 billion in foreign investment the country attracted from 2005 to 2010. Natural gas exports increased to about $3 billion last year and are expected to rise in 2013 as more gas fields and pipelines become operational, according to the Asian Development Bank.
...
http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2012-11-08/obama-asia-trip-to-mark-first-myanmar-stop-by-u-s-president.html

November 9, 2012
"It is poor judgment by President Obama," said Aung Din, executive director of the U.S. Campaign for Burma. "It is too much, too fast, and too generous."

The Burmese military is still fighting and committing atrocities against ethnic minorities in Kachin State, violence directed against Rohingya Muslims in the western state of Rakhine is ongoing, and the Burmese government still holds at least 300 political prisoners, he said.

"I don't know how President Obama can be visiting Burma to strengthen the rule of the Thien Sein government and still see the clear picture of the so-called reform in Burma," he said. "Just wait some time and make some demands."

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In July, Obama announced he was lifting the ban on U.S. companies investing in Burma, including in the Burmese energy sector, which allows U.S. corporations to do business with the Myanmar Oil and Gas Enterprise (MOGE), a move Suu Kyi opposed.
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http://thecable.foreignpolicy.com/posts/2012/11/09/aung_san_suu_kyi_initially_opposed_obama_s_burma_trip


Nov 18, 2012
Rights group: Myanmar forces supported attacks
BANGKOK (AP) - A leading international rights group on Sunday accused Myanmar security forces of supporting some of the brutal anti-Muslim violence last month that forced 35,000 people from torched homes. The government rejected the allegations, which came one day before President Barack Obama's visit to the Southeast Asian nation after a year and a half of unprecedented democratic reforms there.

Human Rights Watch said soldiers in some parts of western Rakhine state also tried to stop Buddhist attacks and protect Muslim civilians, known as Rohingya. But the group said the government needs to do much more to protect the stateless minority, who are denied citizenship because they are considered foreigners from Bangladesh.

The New York-based rights group also released new satellite imagery detailing the extensive destruction of several Muslim areas, including a village attacked by Buddhist mobs armed with spears and bows and arrows where adults were beheaded and women and children killed.

Violence in June, and again in late October, has killed around 200 people on both sides and displaced more than 110,000 people, the vast majority of them Muslims....
http://www.nbc29.com/story/20128602/rights-group-myanmar-forces-supported-attacks (bold text added)


Jul 11, 2012
U.S. to allow investment in Burma oil, gas
Foreign investment goes against advice from Aung San Suu Kyi
The United States is poised to allow U.S. companies to invest with Burma's state oil and gas enterprise as the Obama administration takes its biggest step yet to roll back sanctions, marking a rare break from pro-democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi.

Suu Kyi, the Nobel Peace Prize laureate who has long been the guiding force on U.S. policies toward Burma, which is also known as Myanmar, last month advised against investment by foreign companies with the state Myanma Oil and Gas Enterprise, or MOGE, because of concerns over its accountability and transparency.

Her comments reflected the growing disagreement between human rights groups and business advocates over how the U.S. should proceed in easing restrictions.

While Suu Kyi has cautiously supported suspending sanctions as a reward for Myanmar's shift from five decades of authoritarian rule, she and other democracy advocates are wary about investment in MOGE, which had been an economic lifeline for the former ruling junta....
http://www.cbc.ca/news/world/story/2012/07/11/myanmar-first-us-ambassador.html

November 15, 2012
Letter to President Obama regarding his trip to Burma
Dear President Obama:

We, the undersigned NGOs, are writing to express our grave concern regarding continuing abuses against ethnic groups in Burma and the implications of your planned trip. By going under current circumstances, you take on a lot of responsibility for the future human rights situation in Burma.

We therefore urge you to use your trip to visit ethnic groups suffering under the policies of the Burmese government and to enable the deployment of United Nations mandated observers in Rakhine state where Rohingya have been overwhelmingly targeted in recent weeks.

U.S. policy of lifting economic pressure and restoration of full diplomatic relations with the government of Burma following some economic and political reforms has failed to bring any relief to those lacking humanitarian aid in Kachin state or to prevent further violence and abuses against other ethnic groups, particularly recently against the Rohingya. Some 75,000 people remain displaced in Kachin and Shan states with limited access to urgently needed international aid. At least 180 Rohingya have been killed and over 100,000 displaced as the government has tacitly or overtly supported abuses and the devolution of communal violence into systemic, largely one-sided, targeting of the Rohingya. Rather than acting to quell violence and protect civilians, Burmese officials have promulgated hatred and even encouraged a policy that amounts to ethnic cleansing at the highest level. President Thein Sein asked the United Nations to arrange for 800,000 Rohingya to be placed in refugee camps or removed entirely from Burma.

A presidential visit at this point is a reward too far and sends the wrong message, especially if conducted in ignorance of these immense human rights failures. A change of course is needed, first in the need to avert the most immediate threat of further systematic violence against Rohingya and, second, in reintroducing the threat of consequences in the dialogue with Burmese authorities.
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http://uscampaignforburma.org/statements/2059-letter-to-president-obama-regarding-his-trip-to-burma.html

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Comments:
Obama's Mission to Burma: Making the world safe for oil and gas development $$$, wrong direction, bad for climate change, wrong for human rights and democracy. Good for Exxon and Chevron and the shill politicians who do their dirty work.

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