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Support Rights and Democracy -- and Bring Back Burma's Name

June 16, 2003

"Court Is Villagers' Only Hope" (Commentary, June 9) presents an unlikely solution to the problem of how to end the murders, rapes, tortures, atrocities and human rights abuses, and for the restoration of democracy, in Burma (illegitimately called Myanmar). The current administration and Supreme Court in the U.S. have a dismal track record when it comes to supporting human rights over big companies, especially oil companies. Restoring democracy in Burma would be infinitely easier than in Iraq, where the threat of a fanatic Islamic takeover looms as a strong probability.

It would be mostly a matter of subduing the despotic military and placing the overwhelmingly duly elected leader, Nobel laureate Aung San Suu Kyi, in office. There are no religious fanatics with which to deal. However, without a large pool of oil as motivation, it's unlikely that President Bush and company will effect this. Hence, the best that decent-minded Americans can do is refuse to do business with the French oil company, Total, and our own Unocal, which are backing that tyrannical regime.

Shelley Martin

San Pedro


In 1989, the Burmese dictator, Gen. Saw Maung, changed the name of Burma to Myanmar, and its capital from Rangoon to Yangon. This outrage has never been accepted by Suu Kyi, or any Burmese nationals worldwide. I commend "Freeze Myanmar Assets" (editorial, June 11), in support of economic sanctions against the despotic Burmese government; however, you could show better wisdom. The Times should discontinue referring to the nation as Myanmar and once again use the proper names, Burma and Rangoon. Using the name Myanmar only gives legitimacy to a heinous and unpopular regime.

Bob Flewin

Los Angeles

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