Iraq: making the conflict Finnish
Years go by and you hardly hear anything about it - and then it starts getting in the news every day. Thats how it is with Burma right now. At the weekend we had President Bushs significant other - Laura Bush - saying that the United Nations had got to do something about Burma.
Then Gordon Brown made similar noises about how the UN Security Council has got to act over protestors getting arrested.
While we can quibble about how these diplomatic-political bandwagons start rolling in the first place, theres no doubt that human rights have been trampled in the Union of Myanmar (to give the country its official name) for the last two decades.
Its right that we stand up for the peaceful protestors getting arrested in their hundreds.
Whats really sinister about the present crackdown is that on top of fuel price protestors a whole layer of veteran democracy activists are being re-imprisoned. The so-called 88 Generation Students Group, those that supported Aung San Suu Kyi as she had her election victory snatched from her in 1990.
Take action here for one Burmese prisoner of conscience who has been in prison for over 14 years.
Meanwhile, after the massively reported (1679 articles on Google news) pull-out of British troops from the city of Basra in southern Iraq theres been pretty astonishing news of how a secret Iraqi peace conference has been held in Finland.
Apparently bringing together key Iraqi political groups and South African and Northern Irish politicians like Martin McGuiness, the idea - were told - was to transfer some of the conflict resolution skills from these other locations to present-day Iraq. (Listen to McGuinness on Today: 7.30 clip).
Brilliant idea if it works - hopelessly naïve if it doesnt: I guess this will be historys judgment. There does seem to be something particularly Scandanavian about trying to give peace a chance: the Oslo accords, Norway and Sri Lanka, the so-called Helsinki Agreement.
Anyway, I can personally attest to Helsinkis attractions. Check out these starkly beautiful holiday snaps.
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