Tuesday 22 April 2008

Are you ethically or economically motivated?

James Cook University post graduate president Dennis Guild poses some questions about political motivation.

While collecting data in Thailand recently for my research on Burmese refugees I met with Burmese workers (displaced persons) loading Chinese boats on the Mekong River - bound for the People's Republic of China (PRC).

The workers are paid 100 baht. That's about $4 AUD, for a 12 hour day, well below the Thai minimum daily wage - but sometimes not paid at all.

Interestingly, during last year's uprising in Burma, where demonstrators were murdered by the military regime that caused even more Burmese to flee their homeland (adding to the 150,000 refugees interned in Thai camps along with two million migrant workers/economic refugees), former Prime Minister John Howard and then Foreign Minister Downer, appealed to the PRC government to use its influence over Burma’s junta to ensure human rights of the Burmese people were respected.

However, it seems this is not in the economic/national interest of Burma's neighbours - at least for now.

The current Foreign Minister Stephen Smith recently sent similar diplomatic requests to Beijing, appealing for restraint and respect for human rights for Tibetans over the ongoing unrest in Tibet.

Perhaps its time the world considered its humanitarian obligations as well as the economic/national interest. Most fair minded people believe Tibetans and Burmese deserve a break. But sadly the world continues to make economics a priority over any humanitarian concerns for Tibetans and Burmese who have suffered human rights abuses for decades.

The thirty pieces of silver the world receives from trading with nations that condone human rights abuses is impermanent.

Prime Minister Kevin Rudd recently visited the Emperors of Beijing.
Let’s hope he put his Mandarin to good use – thus encouraging the spirit of reconciliation in our region and beyond.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I could accept the criticism of China over Tibet, if the world expressed the same concern for the fate of the Palestinians and what they are suffering under the genocidal Jewish theocracy of Israel, but of course to mention the homicidal Jewish State's bloodlust is anti Semitism and oh so unacceptable in polite society. At least Tibet is a fashionable and deflective cause.