Burma Partnership, Strengthening Cooperation for a Free Burma
Signup Now!
Join our mailing list for latest news and information about Burma.

‘Boycott Air Bagan’ Campaign Launched in Chiang Mai

By The Best Friend  •  October 28, 2010

On October 28th a group of Burmese and international citizens with a concern for the people of Burma launched a campaign in Chiang Mai, Thailand, calling for a complete boycott of Air Bagan, a Burmese airline with close ties to the Burmese military regime, as well as other businesses that support and sustain the military dictatorship in Burma.

A protest demonstration was conducted in front of Air Bagan’s Chiang Mai office early in the afternoon. Almost immediately after the protest began, the staff of Air Bagan locked the front door and shut off their lights. The office remained closed for the rest of the day.

Air Bagan opened its office in Chiang Mai earlier this year, and has been running twice-weekly direct flights from Chiang Mai to Rangoon. Chiang Mai is a key part of Air Bagan’s plan to increase its international market share after failed attempts to sustain international routes to and from Singapore and Bangkok.

The group also took today as an opportunity to add their voices to those calling for a boycott of the upcoming election in Burma. They displayed posters from Burma Partnership calling for a ‘Real Election, not a Military Selection’. In speeches and interviews with the media, representatives urged all citizens of Burma to protest this mockery of democracy in any way they are able.

The protest action began at The Best Friend Library with a small press conference with several members of the Burmese exile media. The Irrawaddy, Burma News International, Mizzima, and DVB all sent reporters to cover the event, as did a Thai media outlet.

Next, the group travelled to the Air Bagan office on Chang Klan Road in Chiang Mai. They distributed informational brochures in English and Thai to expose the truth about Air Bagan and its owner, Tay Za, a disreputable Burmese tycoon. Among other ties, Tay Za has worked as a broker for the Burmese military in their quest to acquire more advanced military aircraft and weapons.

After blowing whistles, distributing information, reading a statement, and chanting slogans (“Hey, Hey! No, No! Air Bagan has got to go!”) for approximately 45 minutes, the group headed down Chang Klan Road to Loi Kroh Road, a busy street with many foreigners and tourist information centers, all the while passing out brochures and carrying posters of Aung San Suu Kyi.

The group has plans to continue their “Boycott Air Bagan” campaign by continuing to distribute information to Thai travel agencies and tour operators in Chiang Mai, along with Thai-language versions of “Forbidden Glimpses of Shan State”, a report produced by Shan Women’s Action Network (SWAN) about the adverse effects of state-sponsored tourism in Shan State.

Future actions will also focus on distributing information to tourists at Chiang Mai’s busy bus station and Night Bazaar. The group also has plans to conduct more surprise demonstrations at the Air Bagan office in Chiang Mai.

The group, many of whom are members of The Best Friend Library, strongly encourage travel and tour agencies in Thailand to be more informed and selective about companies they partner with in Burma. They also ask all potential visitors to Burma to make informed and compassionate travel choices, as well as to seek out alternatives to traveling with Air Bagan.

The group calls on all people and governments concerned with ending human rights abuses to end all financial dealings with Air Bagan and other businesses owned by Tay Za.

See more photos here.

Download ‘Boycott Air Bagan’ Campaign material here:
Air Bagan boycott poster
Air Bagan brochure in English
Air Bagan brochure in Thai
Air Bagan boycott logo

Tags: , ,

This post is in: Blog

Related Posts