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has anyone been birding in burma/myanmar? (1 Viewer)

maersk

Well-known member
id love to see the kachin state, but i doubt id ever be able to go because ofthe present political situation....

same reason i probably wouldent go to tibet until china changes its polices against the tibetan people.
 

Hanno

Ho Ho Ho
Why would you not go to Myanmar because of the political situation. If the government there is still in power, it is not because of a few tourists, it is because there are enough countries willing to do business with the generals, contrary to what they state publicly.

Tourism is one of the few incomes that the average Burmese still have, by going there you support people that did not elect the regime; they just try to make a living.
 

Andy in West Oz

Now of the east!
If you have any questions, fire them my way if you like as my wife spent some time over there for work last June. She should be able to help.
 

John Cantelo

Well-known member
Why would you not go to Myanmar because of the political situation.

I'm not sure that it's worth opening a debate with anyone who could even think the above let alone state it. Burma is in the grips of one of the vilest governments in the world. Its people have been treated appallingly. Its democratically elected leader is under house arrest. She and many opposition leaders have appealed for tourists NOT to go there. Much of the tourist infrastructure has been built by and for the economic benfit of the military regime. Reports suggest hotels roads etc to serve tourism have been built by slave labour. Attracting tourism seems part of their plans to edge towards respectability and to earn dollars. Why not go there? Its called having a conscience,

John
 

Hanno

Ho Ho Ho
Well, I suggest you don't come over here, it is a Socialist country, bird in China as it executes people, as does the USA. give most of Africa a wide berth, and quite a few other countries I could mention.

Vietnam had an embargo against it for many years, the only people that starved were the "little" people, the rulers were doing just fine, thanks to all the dealing and wheeling going on at their level (including with the UK, I may add).

It is not called a conscience, it is called making uninformed, blatant statements from afar.
 

Hanno

Ho Ho Ho
And here some quotes from Aung San Suu Kyi's website:

ASSK: Well, the foreign companies who build the hotels will benefit from it, but the people will only get tips from the tourists. Our country is beautiful, and I hope foreigners will come. But this year may be a little too son. (In an interview from 1996)

A tourism boycott launched in Europe in 1996 has undermined a $100 million service industry that employs hundreds of thousands, but has failed to deter foreign investors. There are still 30 tour agencies and several airlines in Burma, while one firm that left has actually decided to go back. Rangoon is experiencing a hotel-building boom ahead of a pending ASEAN summit that will bring enormous publicity for tourism sites in Asia. (Asia Times Online 2003)

nstead, 40,000 garment workers -- mostly young women -- lost their jobs within a month because of the latest sanctions, and 60,000 more might lose their jobs, according to the State Department. Many of those workers turned to the sex trade to make up for their lost income, the State Department said.

Tourism has plummeted, hurting countless craftsmen, taxi drivers, restaurant owners, independent travel agencies and others who depend on tourist dollars for their livelihood. The ban on financial services under sanctions imposed by the Bush administration made the use of credit cards impossible, hitting hotels and jewelry businesses especially hard.

After decades of isolation, many of Myanmar's 42.5 million people want more foreign engagement, not less. Lu Maw, a comedian in Mandalay, said meeting foreigners gives him an opportunity to educate them about his country.

"I want to give information," he said. "If you don't come here, I can't give you information."

Lu Maw -- a Suu Kyi supporter whose brother Par Par Lay was imprisoned for six years for telling a joke at an event held by Suu Kyi's party -- disagrees with the National League for Democracy when it comes to discouraging tourism.

"You stay at a family hotel, eat at a family restaurant. Your money doesn't go to the government," he said. (Cox News Service 2003)
 

John Cantelo

Well-known member
After recent developments does anyone still think it’s OK to visit Burma as a tourist?

I’m afraid that, due to my incompetence, I was unable to locate the quotes Hanno used in his posting above so I’m not sure about the context in which they were made. However, a quick look at the website of pro-democracy Burmese campaigners (e.g. www.burmacampaign.org.uk) make it abundantly clear that she, and other reputable groups, still support a boycott.

From such sources it is clear that the ruling junta in Burma wants more tourists to come to Burma for the hard currency they bring (which is disproportionately spent on the organs of repression) . They also hope that a large influx of international tourists will give them a veneer of respectability and credibility for a military dictatorship with one of the world's worst human rights records. Aung San Suu Kyi, the NLD and Burma’s exiled government have all asked tourists not to visit Burma. In 1995, for example, Aung San Suu Kyi told visitors that "… it is too early for either tourists or investment or aid to come pouring into Burma…" and that she “… would like to see that these things are conditional on genuine progress towards democratization." This was reiterated in 2002 when she said: ""Our policy with regard to tourism has not changed, which is say that we have not yet come to the point where we encourage people to come to Burma as tourists." She has also stated that the junta's efforts to attract tourists "is responsible for a lot of forced labour….." Tourism in Burma provides the dictatorship with millions of pounds every year. Far from helping the situation, there is clear evidence that the development of tourism has escalated human rights abuses.

Many thousands of Burmese people have been forcibly evicted from their homes to make way for tourist projects. Many of the roads and railways that tourists travel on or the airports they pass through, have been built using forced labour. More than one million people have been forced out of their homes in order to ‘beautify’ cities, suppress dissent, and to make way for tourism developments, such as hotels, airports and golf courses (see the above site for details). To take but one example - in 2001 US State Department reported that in Mrauk U, a popular site of ancient temple ruins, “the government used forced labour to prepare the city for expected tourist arrivals.” This position, that is boycotting tourism in Burma, is backed by most (all?) democratic governments – in February 2004 UK Foreign Office Minister Mike O’Brien said that "because there are kickbacks and investments by generals in hotels and other parts of the tourism industry, people who go on tourist trips to Burma are in a sense actively supporting the regime and enabling those generals to receive financial advantage from it.”

Naturally, those in the tourist trade argue that such a boycott would harm ordinary Burmese people and sometimes claim that such a move is counter to what the Burmese themselves want. The fact is a very small percentage of ordinary people in Burma benefit from tourism. The uncomfortable reality is that the greatest obstacle to prosperity for people in Burma is the regime itself – which is clearly using tourism to its own ends. The Observer newspaper reported in 2003 that "…. the military junta and their cronies are benefiting directly from recent tourism developments. A list of owners of the hotel plots at the newest beach resort in the country, Ngwesaung, reads like a Who's Who of generals and their cronies". Support tourism and you support the regime. There is simply no way to operate in Burma or holiday in the country without providing income to the regime. The claim that the people of Burma do not want such a boycott seems to come from those who promote tourism in that country or whose contact with the Burmese is largely through those who work in the industry (e.g. hotel owners). It’s difficult to know what the Burmese people actually want regarding tourism - and their government clearly doesn’t intend to ask them – but the call for a boycott comes from Burma’s elected leaders. Some argue that the mere presence of tourists will, by some mysterious process of osmosis, help democracy and also prevent abuse. Aung San Suu Kyi has said, of such an argument, that “Burmese people know their own problems better than anyone else. They know what they want - they want democracy - and many have died for it. To suggest that there’s anything new that tourists can teach the people of Burma about their own situation is not simply patronising - it’s also racist.” Although the final comment may overstate the case, it's abundantly clear that she does not want the development of tourism under the current regime.

A couple of final points. Hanno implies that, because I live far from Burma, I am unqualified to write about the issue. Not so. A close family member spent many moths working in a Burmese refugee camp where the residents left them in no doubt as to both the vileness of the regime and that they, ordinary Burmese people, did not want tourists to visit their country. He also suggested that if you boycott Burma then you would also have to boycott many others countries. Each case has to be judged individually and there are certainly many other countries I would think hard and long about before visiting them as a tourist. Burma’s situation is, though, unique. The Burmese regime’s abuse of human rights is directly connected to the tourist industry and the generals and their cronies are the biggest beneficiaries of tourism which is helping sustain an illegitimate regime. Unlike other countries, Burma has a democratically elected government which has specifically asked all tourists to stay away,

John
 
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