Exclusive Interview with Peter Andre Globensky
Chinland Guardian 22nd June, 2007 (CG Notes: Peter Andre Globensky was the first Director of Advocacy and Programmes at the International Centre for Human Rights and Democratic Development (now Rights and Democracy – Canada ). With aims of soliciting the international support for Burma â€™s democracy movement and putting the issues of Burma at the international political stage, along with the 1984 noble peace laureate Bishop Desmond Tutu, Peter had met Former President Clinton. He was also primarily responsible for putting Burma and Daw ASSK on the international agenda. In particular, he was very much involved in organizing the mission of peace laureates to Thailand (visiting Burmese refugee camps) and Geneva (1993) to seek the release of ASSK and all political prisoners in Burma . Salai Za Ceu Lian of Chinland Guardian conducts this interview. Chinland Guardian: Respected Peter, given your expertise and first-hand experiences of working with the Burma ‘s pro-democratic forces for such a long time, it would be great to hear your view and suggestion which I think would be very relevant for a democratic country like Canada in particular to apply in their efforts to help the pro-democracy movement of Burma. With that in mind, in your view, what do you want the Canadian government to do other than passing resolution or motion in the House of Commons in terms of helping us restore democracy in Burma? Peter Andre Globensky: : Resolutions passed in democratic assemblies like the Canadian House of Commons are somewhat helpful in the fight to restore democracy in Burma , if for no other reason than media-related ones (the movement can point to the â€˜credibilityâ€™ of the issue in that it â€˜made it on to the floor of the House). However, these usually remain purely symbolic and of very limited utility, if there is no action attached to it. The Canadian government still prefers to act multilaterally and rarely takes the lead on an international issue preferring to â€˜be in the middle of the pack.â€™ Unless it is led by a dynamic and forceful foreign minister, DFAIT personnel are a very unimaginative and conservative bunch, although once engaged they are effective negotiators in the background. I would urge Canada to act forcefully and with other like-minded partners in the EU on the ASEAN and APEC fronts and with the government of China . We use to speak of â€˜benchmarkâ€™ diplomacy which I think is still a useful concept: It suggests that if certain progress is not achieved by a certain date, than you begin to ratchet up the pressure to the point of sanctions and asset freezing, etc. Chinland Guardian: As you know, as much as it is important to get the support of the government in power and policy makers of the country, it is also important to win the support of grassroots activists. What do you want to suggest the grassroots activists such as students, religious groups and etcs to do in terms of promoting human rights and democracy in Burma ? Peter Andre Globensky: : More work needs to be done in Canada trying to create the critical mass required to get more churches, the union and student movements and international NGOs engaged in this issue. As we have replaced our gods with the cult of celebrity, trying to reach and move one of them to engage in the cause â€“ particularly since ASSKâ€™s story is such a compelling one – may be a strategy to consider. The sad story of the ruthless suppression of democracy in Burma is that it has been buried under the avalanche of concern and preoccupation with â€˜terrorismâ€™ either real or alleged, particularly after 9/11. And it is a real challenge to get Burma back into the newspapers (the movement also needs a full time communicator with the media!), when it has to compete with the likes of Iraq and Afghanistan . Iâ€™m afraid that a well orchestrated, national and persistent campaign of â€˜public relationsâ€™ on this issue is about the only strategy that will work here. Ask most Canadians over 50 what Burma is and they will tell you â€œit is a close shave.â€ Those in their 20â€™s would be hard-pressed to find it on a map. Communicators need to read Gladwellâ€™s The Tipping Point to better understand how mass information is best communicated and absorbed. However, Mead was correct in suggesting that on most major issues in society, it is only a handful of people who create the required change â€“ the difference between 500 sheep and one shepherd! Chinland Guardian: Thank you for talking to us. Once again, I sincerely appreciate you for your words of solidarity and encouragement at the Free Burma Event night. Peter Andre Globensky: Thank you for the invitation. I very much enjoyed the evening. I hope our paths cross again in the future and continued success with your work.