Written by U Ne Oo on 2001-05-22
Dr U Ne Oo
18 Shannon Place
Adelaide SA 5000
22 May 2001
The Right Hon Tony Blair
British House of Common
London SW1A 2TT
United Kingdom of Great Britain
Dear Prime Minister:
re: Premier Oil PLC to withdraw from Burma
I am a Burmese national currently residing in Adelaide Australia. I write to you in relation to the operation of Premier Oil PLC in Burma and I request the British Government demand immdediate withdraw of Premier Oil PLC from Burma. Enclosed are my letters to Mr Alexander Downer, the foreign minister of Australia, and Secretary Robin Cook. As noted in these letters, the Premier Oil PLC's involvement in the human rights training program in Burma amounts to the Premier Oil directly assisting Burmese military junta with strategic and political assistance. The action by Premier Oil PLC has reached far beyond the acceptable conduct of an apolitical enterprise. I therefore request the British Government put strong resolution that the Premier Oil PLC be immediately withdraw from Burma.
Sd. U Ne Oo.
POSTED SAT 19-MAY-01 11:00PM
Following is reply letter from the Australian Department of Foreign Affairs, regarding with the human rights training program in Burma. As usual, there has been no admission by the government that the Burmese junta used Australian initiated human rights program for propaganda purpose. The government policy has already done damages and we must later deal with this matter with Australian government.
The other note of interest is Mr Sidoti's involvement with the Premier Oil. According to Foreign Affairs, Mr Sidoti went into Burma in his private capacity in February. Obviously, he has no business commenting on Australian govenment's program nor to seek Aung San Suu Kyi's opinion about them (note: in his BBC interview, it is unclear whether he was discussing with ASSK about "He and Premier Oil's private program" or "Australian govt' program").
I have no taste to attack Mr Sidoti. But with regards to Burma, the lines are clearly drawned for NGOs and no one should cross them. Main culprit in this case is Premier Oil PLC, which is lending its hand to junta with propaganda and the company must pay for its misdeeds.
In recent days, the Premier Oil seems to have made a pre-emptive move against activist protests. Please help write to Premier Oil PLC and British Government, ask Premier Oil to immediately withdraw from Burma. Consult with local Burma Campaign group webpage on Premier Oil protest (www.burmacampaign.org.uk), who have been working hard on this issue over many years. LETTER FROM AUSTRALIAN DEPARTMENT OF FOREIGN AFFAIRS
FOREIGN AFFAIRS AND TRADE
RG Casey Building, John Mc EWen Cres
Facsimile: (+612) 6261 3111
10 May 2001
Dr U Ne Oo
18 Shannon Place
Adelaide SA 5000
Dear Dr Ne Oo
Thank you for your letter dated 20 April 2001 concerning Australia's human rights training program in Burma. I have been asked to reply on behalf of the Minister for Foreign Affairs.
Australia's overall approach to Burma has arisen from the need to find a way forward after the repeated failure of isolationist and sanctions-based approaches. These approaches over ten long years have not led to any change whatsoever in the political situation, neither have they contributed to any improvement in human rights in Burma. There can be no argument about the extent of human rights abuses in Burma. The Government's human rights initiative aims in a small incremental way to try a different approach to help improve the lot of ordinary people in Burma.
Australia's immeidate objective with the initiative for a human rights institution in Burma is the engagement of the regime's key figures in a process of dialogue. As you are aware, two initial workshops were delivered in July last year on Human Rights and Responsibilities, the third, an International Law Overview, took place from 9-19 October (2000). The workshops were delivered in Burma to middle level civil servants. Our assessment of these first workships concluded they had achieved their modest objectives, in that Burmese participants freely discussed human rights issues and international law. Mr Downer agreed in mid-December that we might proceed with next steps in the human rights intiatives, and issued a media release on this decision on 12 January 2001. We are now examining the scope for several further activities to be carried out later this year.
Your letter also refers to former HREOC Commissioner Chirs Sidoti, who visited Burma to conduct human rights training for Premier Oil, in February 2001. Mr Sidoti was employed by Premier Oil in an entirely private capacity. The training conducted for that company had no connection whatsoever with Australia's human rights initiative.
Sd. David Jessup
ASEAN, Burma Cambodia section