|During 2011 and 2012, the government of Burma (Myanmar) has taken significant steps toward democracy and openness. For several years, La'o Hamutuk has worked with Burma civil society groups to encourage this transition. The people of Burma and Timor-Leste can support each other and learn from each others' experiences. The collaboration has included a demonstration at the Korean embassy in Dili in 2005, supporting Timor-Leste's ambassador to the UN when he voted for human rights in Burma in December 2009, a visit to Dili and presentation by Arakan Oil Watch at the July 2010 regional Oilwatch conference, several meetings with Burma activists, and a trip by La'o Hamutuk staffer Juvinal Dias to share Timor-Leste’s experiences with the Karen community and officials on the Thai-Burma border in November 2010.
In March 2012, the Burmese organization Arakan Oil Watch published Burma's Resource Curse: The Case for Revenue Transparency in the Oil and Gas Sector (click here for related materials). In early July, Burma's government invited Jonas Moberg, head of the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (EITI) for meetings in Rangoon (Yangon). Burma's President and Industries Minister promised that the country would soon sign up to EITI. As Burma's oil and gas industry is world-renowned for corruption, secrecy, and violations of human, community and environmental rights, this commitment indicates that things may be changing, even while international companies and institutions re-engage in the long-sanctioned country.
Burmese activists organized workshops in Rangoon at the end of July to share information and experiences on managing oil and gas companies and revenues in Burma, Indonesia and Timor-Leste. The three meetings -- one for political leaders, one for civil society people, and one for journalists -- were held publicly at the Chatrium Hotel, successfully showing that significant progress has been made in Burma's transition from repressive military regime toward more open democracy.
Workshop presentations were given by Fabby Tumiwa from Indonesia, Charles Scheiner from Timor-Leste, David Allan from Spectrum (Myanmar) and Myanmar researcher Kyaw Sein. Click on any graphic below to see it larger, or on links to download each presentation.