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Burma Solidarity Actions

IMC UK | 02.10.2007 17:32 | World

The military in Burma (Myanmar) has been unleashing its troops on unarmed demonstrators in a bid to stamp out mounting protests against the junta’s stifling rule, and price rises that have made life for broad layers of working people unbearable. The country's military junta continues to escalate its attacks against the area's ethnic minorities. The All Burma Monks Alliance, supported by the National League for Democracy and the Burmese people in general, have vowed to continue protests.

There are ongoing daily protests outside the Burmese and Chinese embassies in London, where 200 or so protesters rallied on September 27th. Meanwhile a Total petrol station, the largest supporter of the Burmese military regime, was blockaded in Bradford for over an hour. Students there also mandated their Students Union to investigate alternative suppliers after learning the union has an account with Total. The oil company's HQ has also been targeted with a die-in on October 2nd and another Total petrol station, this time in Oxford, was targeted on Saturday.

There have also been calls to petition the UK government to boycott the Chinese Olympics due to China's support of the military regime in Burma, a call to wear red shirts in solidarity.

On September 30th, an emergency national demonstration took place with around a thousand people gathering in Trafalgar Square before marching down Whitehall and on to the Buddhist pagoda in Battersea Park. In Sheffield the Karen community protested on Monday 1st October.

Ongoing protests in solidarity are expected to continue, both in the UK and around the world. Burma's generals appeared to have cut public internet access today to prevent more videos, photographs and information about their violent crackdown getting out.

While the repression of protests in Burma are condemned by the UK government, a protest against the Iraq war that has killed 1.2 million called for the 8th October is banned.

The march over Chelsea Bridge
The march over Chelsea Bridge

The National Coalition Government of the Union of Burma ( is headed by Sein Win (PND) and includes representatives of many opposition parties of Burma (NLD, PND, CNLD, DOKNU, ALD), along with independents and representatives of the Karenni, Shan, Chin and Arakan peoples against whom the Junta is waging genocidal war with the assistance of the drug lords operating in their lands. The opposition parties cling to fragile legality under the Junta whilst the radical resistance groups are able to take more risks; the monks are the least touchable of all Burmese citizens as harming a monk is an unforgiveable crime for many Burmese. There is no desire to establish a Buddhist theocracy and the people of Burma are united in their determination to achieve a democracy with equal rights and freedom for all.

Aung San Suu Kyi is the head of the NLD opposition party and has been under house arrest more or less continuously since the landslide victory for the democratic opposition in the election which followed the 1988 uprising, during which between 3,000 and 10,000 people were massacred. Her detention is renewed annually by the Junta. The 2006 renewal was met with much speculation and rumour as there were strong signs that she would be released and all of Burma expected it. It later emerged that she had been offered a gagging deal, which she refused. Previously she has refused Junta offers to allow her to leave Burma to visit her husband on his deathbed and see the grandchildren she has never met, knowing that the result would be exile.

Her father who led the struggle for democracy after the end of British rule, earning a status similar to that of the Dalai Lama in Tibet; Bogyoke Aung San was assassinated by armed paramilitaries on July 19th 1947 when Suu Kyi was two years old. The Junta fear her influence and determination to see Burma freed; Than Shwe, the current number one in the Junta, imprisoned the Burmese Prime Minister (and member of the Junta) Khin Nyunt and his family in 2004 for supporting formal involvement of Daw ("Ma") Suu in Burmese politics.

One of the greatest fears for a Free Burma has always been descent into civil war, with the Junta's decades of genocidal violence against the ethnic minority groups who are, of course, now heavily armed in their own defence against the Burmese army and their proxy paramilitary forces which control the heroin trade. The fact that attempts by the Junta to provoke fighting between the Burmese protesters and the ethnic groups have failed is hopeful; the news that the Karenni, Shan and the other ethnic minority peoples of Burma, have united behind the Burmese protests in the cities is immense. Statements released via the Free Burma Rangers may be found here:

The news up to the blackout and key communications from inside before and after is summarised below. Sources are many; information has been gleaned from the Burmese resistance channels, including various blogs, Irrawaddy, Mizzima, DVB, and a wide variety of other news sources worldwide; information from the resistance is contrasted to relevant mainstream media reports where useful.

Burmese resistance channels:

- unrest is a permanent condition in Burma, trumped only by fear. The situation has been threatening to boil over since 12th January 2007 when China and Russia used their vetoes in the UNSC to prevent UN intervention on behalf of the enslaved people of Burma. The uprising was triggered by massive increases in fuel prices, making food impossibly expensive for people who are, in the vast majority, living close to or below the absolute poverty level ($2/day). It is widely believed in Burma that this crisis was caused by IMF advice to the Junta on "economic reform". The Burmese government is ranked the worst in the world on objective indicators:

- as has been well reported by the mainstream media, the protests have been simmering since early September 2007 and have been led by the monks; it is harder for the Junta to use violence against the monks given the respect they command amongst the people. They were rapidly joined by crowds of people, linking arms along the route or standing in their doorways to pray. The monks vowed not to stop marching until the Junta were gone.

- monks rounded up, beaten, killed or kept under guard in their pagodas; reports of massacres and mass arrests at more radical monasteries; monks reported to be collecting weapons for use in self-defence against the troops.

- furious and growing crowds on the streets.

- ASEAN has expressed "revulsion" at the violent Junta response in an unusually strong statement; analysts also say that statements from the PRC have been "strong for China". Daily protests continue in ASEAN countries to keep the pressure up for decisive action. The Burmese resistance calls for people worldwide to keep the pressure up, particularly on the ASEAN nations, and especially China.

- "several" commanders have refused to order their troops to shoot protesters; some have been beating soldiers who refused to shoot; Junta have flown down troops from the north previously engaged in genocide against the ethnic Karen People; very nasty troops indeed.

- The Karenni have said they stand for freedom with the protesters in the cities, as have the Shan and the powerful Shan State Army-South; messages of love and solidarity have been issued by many other ethnic groups; most were expected to remain neutral or even turn on the Burmese protesters. Paid thugs have been dressing as monks and ransacking ethnic holy places but noone has been taken in.

- at least 3 regiments have mutinied and are fighting government troops and/or protecting protesters. 10,000 troops have been reported marching south and seem likely to be intending to join the protesters as the Junta have been flying their reinforcement troops in.

- The Burmese people know that this time, unlike 1988, the world is watching. Until midday local time they had good internet access and know that the UN envoy is about to arrive. They still have shortwave radios getting broadcasts from the resistance radio in Norway; even the army listen to this. The people are optimistic and determined; they cannot believe that the world will let them down if they can only hold their position vis-a-vis the Junta. Others are joining them all the time, in anger at the murder of peaceful protesters.

- The UK Ambassador reported earlier that he thought Aung San Suu Kyi was still safe and under house arrest as there were still troops in the street outside; there are reports that Than Shwe has been deposed and the media report that troops loyal to his successor, Maung Aye, were now guarding Daw Suu Kyi's house. The Junta is at war with itself; they each command the loyalty of different troops. Than Shwe's family is known to have already been flown to safety; resistance channels are reporting on their known whereabouts.

- Maung Aye is said to have started talks with Aung San Suu Kyi, the leader of the NLD, who has the trust of the other opposition parties and support from the more radical resistance groups. Many Burmese do not believe that the reports of talks are true; the Junta routinely use infiltrators and rumour to disrupt and control protest. The Junta earlier stated that DASSK had been removed to the dreaded Insein prison, but this was certainly false given subsequent reports.

Post-blackout news via Burmese Resistance channels

- little news getting out via mainstream media since the news blackout; reports of sporadic internet access and some telephone landlines being usable; mobiles are rare at a cost of $1800. It is critical that this information is spread far and wide, regardless of caution from conventional news channels. The massacres of 1988 were not known about for months, far too late for the Burmese People; we must not let them down again. The resistance are asking people to contact their national embassies in Rangoon (Yangon) asking them to provide open access WiFi communications for news, photos and video to get out.

- the radical resistance, based around the 88-generation and student activists overseas, have issued an ultimatum to China, alongside bitter criticism of the non-interventionist policy of ASEAN and the abuse of the UNSC veto by China and Russia to prevent action by the UN. If the PRC fail to act, they are asking for a global boycott of: Beijing Olympics 2008; Total, Unocal, Petrona, Finas, Elf, Daewoo and all products "made in China" or "made in Russia". The full text of the communique may be found here: The same blog also carries an announcement of a general strike from Monday (1st October 2007); a call to government workers to join the strike reminds them that they are paid with money stolen from the People and of the distinction between state and government.

- unconfirmed report that Than Shwe has shot the leader of a coup and previous 2nd in command, Maung Aye. Mainstream media reporting serious internal disagreements within the Junta but no mention of a shooting.

- UN envoy Gambari and officials are reported to have met with Aung San Suu Kyi for 20 minutes, according to internal resistance sources (in contrast to the 1 hour 15 minutes reported in the mainstream media). Than Shwe and other top Junta members are reported by the mainstream media to be refusing to meet with the UN delegation; the envoy is said to have cancelled plans to leave until the meeting takes place. Gambari is widely regarded as ineffective both inside and outside Burma (as noted by both resistance and mainstream media).

- there are reports of massacres of protesters but no estimates of the extent of the brutality. A transcript of a very emotional report phoned through to the outside ( suggests that injured protesters are being cremated alive along with the bodies at Yae Way crematorium with a number of witnesses amongst the staff present. The caller makes a desperate plea to ensure that this news is reported by the global mainstream media, mentioning BBC and CNN in particular.

- many reports of monks being murdered, with some senior positions being filled by Junta placemen (many senior abbots have long been bought off with bribes and luxury goods to keep the monasteries under control).

- mass detentions of monks, with 4 main detention centres identified by a resident to the external resistance: Kyaikasan Horse Racing Ground; Yay-Kyi-Eine former Military Intelligence headquarters; GTI (Governmental Technical Institute), Insein; GTC (Government Technical College).

"People from all different walks of life in Burma have to join in with this fight. Everyone, including government employees and soldiers. Because it's only a handful of [military] uniformed people who are destroying our country while the rest of the soldiers [of the lower ranks] are being mistreated in the same way as civilians and ethnic minorities.” --Padoh Mahn Shah, Secretary of the Karen National Union (1st October, 2007)



Protest Total Oil this Friday

03.10.2007 10:52

CALL TO ACTION: 'Die-in' and demo at London TOTAL Oil HQ over Burma links
8:30 - 10:30 am
33 Cavendish Square, London, WC1

Show your solidarity with the protestors in Burma - join the action!

A mass action has been called to take place at the headquarters of TOTAL
OIL in London on Friday October 5th from 8:30 - 10:30 am. A demonstration
and a mass die-in will take place outside of the central London office to
express our outrage at Total's involvement with the military junta in

All are welcome to attend - bring placards, instruments, noise and props
if you can. A symbolic 'die-in' will be happening. A similar action
happened on Tuesday, October 2nd at the same location with 20 activists

Across France and in other parts of the UK pressure has been mounting
against Total in a number of solidarity actions.
It is important to continue pressure on this company to demand Total's
withdrawal from Burma.

TOTAL Oil's business partnership with the Burmese government is providing
vital funding that enables the brutal military dictatorship in to oppress
48 million people.

An uprising against the junta in Burma, led by monks, has been met wtih
violent repression. Security forces and armed military troops have
launched a violent crackdown on demonstrators, most of which is not being
reported due to a state-imposed media freeze. Some estimates suggest that
thousands could be dead and many more imprisoned.

We demand that the company immediately halts its operations in Burma and
announces a full divestment from the country until human rights abuses end
and a democratic regime is in place.

This action is called by people who met at a Burma solidarity march and
decided that we needed to do more by targetting the companies that have
blood on their hands.

Nearest tube: Oxford Circus
For more information see:

Further information on actions against Total Oil:

TOTAL Oil has had a joint business venture with the Burmese government
since 1992. Its major project is the Yadana gas project in southern Burma,
which earns the military regime hundreds of millions of dollars every

Four Dutch political parties, including the Dutch Labour Party, part of the
governing coalition, last week called for a boycott of Total:

The French CGT union called for Total to halt all gas extraction and
freeze all transfers:

Meanwhile, there have been demonstrations and calls to boycott in
Bradford, Bristol,
and Nottingham in the UK in the last week:
Anglicans call for boycott:



Hide the following 26 comments

From Iraq To Burma: Hypocrisy Rules the West

02.10.2007 23:13

Shame has vanished from Western "civilization." Hypocrisy has taken its place.

On September 28, British Prime Minister Gordon Brown could be heard on National Public Radio decrying the use of violence against democratic protesters by the government in Burma. Brown declared the British people's revulsion over the violence inflicted by the Burmese government on its people. But Brown said nothing about the violence the British government was inflicting on Iraqis and Afghans.

George W. Bush also struck the blameless pose when he declared: "The world is watching the people of Burma take to the streets to demand their freedom, and the American people stand in solidarity with these brave individuals."

Bush and Brown do not have the same sympathy for the peoples of Iraq and Afghanistan. Neither Bush nor Brown stand in solidarity with those who are demanding their freedom from foreign occupation by American and British troops. Indeed, Bush and Brown, as commanders in chief, are on a killing spree that makes the government in Burma look extremely restrained by comparison.

Why were British soldiers sent to kill Iraqis and Afghans? September 11 had nothing whatsoever to do with the UK. No doubt but that the corrupt Tony Blair was paid off to drag the British people into Bush's Middle East war for American/Israeli hegemony, but Brown has done nothing to terminate Bush's use of the British military as mercenaries.

The NPR announcers also supported the Burmese people, but they, too, show little disturbance over Bush's five-year old wars that we now know were based entirely on lies. Al Qaeda is not the Taliban, and Iraq had no WMD. Neither country was a threat to the US. Now that we know this, why does the media still give Bush and Brown a free pass to use violence against Iraqis and Afghans?

To cut to the chase, what is the difference between Bush and Brown on one hand and the murderous Burmese government on the other? Bush and Brown are actually worse. They pretend to be democrats concerned with what people actually want. The Burmese government doesn't pretend to be anything but a military dictatorship. Moreover, the Burmese government is clean by comparison as it hasn't committed acts of naked aggression--war crimes under the Nuremberg standard--by invading other countries and attempting to occupy them.

Despite all the killing Bush has accomplished, he thirsts for yet more blood. Iran is in his and Israel's sights. All indications are that Bush is going to attack Iran. Propaganda, demonizations, and crass lies are pouring out of the Bush regime and its media and academic propagandists such as Columbia University president Lee Bollinger. Both parties in Congress have lined up behind the coming attack on Iran. The despicable senator Joe Lieberman even snuck language into a bill to give Bush the go ahead.

Who is going to stop Bush from a third war crime? Not his vice president, Not his national security adviser, not his secretary of defense. Not his secretary of state. Not Congress. Not the US military. Not the corporate fat cats. Not the Israel Lobby. Not the bought and paid for "allies." Not the anti-war movement. Not the American people. Certainly not the media.

Americans are content with whatever crimes their government commits as long as the justification is Americans' safety.

Americans' willingness to murder others out of fear for their own safety is a result of September 11. The antiwar movement is impotent, because it has accepted the government's 9/11 story. To oppose a war when you accept the government's reason for the war is an indefensible position.

The Bush regime knows that if people will believe its 9/11 story, they will believe anything. Propaganda silences facts, and Americans fall for one set of falsehoods after another. The alleged 9/11 hijackers all came from countries allied with the US, principally Saudi Arabia, but Americans believe the government's lies that Afghanistan, Iraq, Iran, and Syria are responsible. Americans have been convinced that without "regime change" in these countries, the American superpower will remain helpless in face of stateless Muslims armed with box cutters.

Americans have been brainwashed to believe that Muslims hate us for our "freedom and democracy," whereas in fact the problem is the US government's immoral foreign policy and interference in the internal affairs of Muslim countries. Bush's message to the Middle East is clear: Be a puppet state or be destroyed.

In the meantime, to prevent democracy and civil liberties from getting in the way of making Americans safe, Bush has set aside habeas corpus, due process, right to legal representation, privacy, and the separation of powers mandated by the US Constitution. Otherwise, Bush says, we will lose the "war on terror."

Bush says he has made Americans safe by ridding them of these constitutional impediments to their safety. And once American bombs fall on Iran and Syria, those countries will be free and democratic, too, like Iraq and Afghanistan.

In leading Americans to this conclusion, Bush has sunk the United States to a new low in human intelligence and morality.

* Paul Craig Roberts was Assistant Secretary of the Treasury in the Reagan administration. He was Associate Editor of the Wall Street Journal editorial page and Contributing Editor of National Review. He is coauthor of The Tyranny of Good Intentions.He can be reached at:

Paul Craig Roberts
- Homepage:

Powerful ad going out from tomorrow

03.10.2007 03:23

In the FT worldwide Wednesday and South China Post Thursday
In the FT worldwide Wednesday and South China Post Thursday

petition also:


Who are the NED ?

03.10.2007 16:03

"While the repression of protests in Burma are condemned by the UK government, a protest against the Iraq war that has killed 1.2 million called for the 8th October is banned."

More people have died in Iraq than Burma over any recent tiem-period, and we are collectively more responsible for those deaths. Our own rights to protest have been limited even as we 'export democracy' to other nations, and the Burma crisis coverage in the mainstream has been a welcome relief to our regimes elite. Every Soviet news source trumpeted the massacre of civilians by British troops on Bloody Sunday, while ignoring or minimising the Soviet regimes simultaneous abuses. The test of a free press in a true democracy is whether it is able to criticise it's own state and it's own state allies as harshly as it can criticise others.

In a recent thread it was mentioned that the National Endowment for Democracy (NED) is supporting various Burmese dissident groups. Proof of that support, including for groups linked to in this article, is easily found on the internet. This is relevant because the NED is a US government propaganda campaign which promotes US foriegn policy rather than real democracy, often funding coups against democratically elected independent governments and funding any undemocratic opposition hoping to undermine such democracies.

The Burmese junta is obviously not worthy of any support, but it is worrying when Indymedia main features are uncritically singing from the same hymn-sheet as the CIA.

When a scandal in the 1980s revealed the CIA's 35 years of international manipulations, President Ronald Reagan established the National Endowment for Democracy as a more discreet and less controversial instrument. It had the same purpose - to destabilise unfriendly governments by funding the opposition.

The National Endowment for Democracy (NED) was created in 1983, ostensibly as a non-profit-making organisation to promote human rights and democracy. In 1991 its first president, the historian Allen Weinstein, confessed to The Washington Post: "A lot of what we do today was done covertly 25 years ago by the CIA" .

Long before the NED was created, the same newspaper had revealed in 1967 how the CIA funded foreign trade unions, cultural organisations, media, and prominent intellectuals. As Philip Agee, a former operative with the Company told me in an interview in 2005: "The CIA used known American foundations, as well as other custom-made entities that existed only on paper."

The NED consisted of four core organisations responsible for its management. One already existed: the Free Trade Union Institute was a branch of the AFL-CIO trade union federation and was later incorporated into the American Centre for International Labour Solidarity. The others were the Centre for International Private Enterprise, an affiliate of the US Chamber of Commerce; the National Republican Institute for International Affairs; and the National Democratic Institute for International Affairs.

Although legally an NGO, the NED was funded from the State Department budget, subject to congressional approval. As well as allowing the government to disclaim any formal responsibility, this offered a further strategic advantage. As former State Department official William Blum said: "Notice the non-governmental - this helps to maintain a certain credibility abroad that an official US government agency might not have."

In October 1986 the Reagan administration was shaken by the revelation that it had illegally funded the insurgency against the Sandinista government in Nicaragua, using money from cocaine trafficking. By coincidence, the operation, coordinated by Colonel Oliver North and authorised by the National Security Council (NSC), was called the Democracy Programme. The NED played a key role. But the investigation was more interested in the funding of the Nicaraguan counter-revolutionaries, the Contras, than in the involvement of this "NGO", although the NED was supervised from its creation until 1987 by Walter Raymond, a senior CIA officer and a member of the NSC's intelligence directorate.

The Cuban American National Foundation (CANF) was an extremist anti-Castro organisation set up by the NSC at the same time as the NED. The foundation's president, Jorge Mas Canosa, said: "The NED inherited Ronald Reagan's Democracy Programme and provided funding to many Latin-American groups, including the CANF." Convinced that the road to Cuban freedom lay through Nicaragua, the CANF committed itself to the anti-Sandinista struggle. Mas Canosa said: "This collaboration began when Theodore Shackley, the CIA's former deputy director of operations and head of its covert operations section, asked members of the foundation to support Central American policy."

In 1987, during the Contra scandal, the NED funded a front of anti-Sandinista organisations, including the permanent human rights commission of Nicaragua. This support helped Violeta Chamorro, Washington's preferred candidate and the owner of the "independent" newspaper La Prensa, to win the presidency in 1990...

The NED's talent for channelling money, establishing NGOs, electoral manipulation and media brainwashing owed much to the long experience of the CIA, the State Department's foreign aid agency USAID, and members of the conservative elite associated with US foreign policy (including John Negroponte, Jeane Kirkpatrick and Francis Fukuyama). Terrorism apart, the Reagan administration used the same methods in eastern Europe, where it conducted "a non-governmental crusade for human rights and democracy which avoided accusations of imperialism by presenting itself as a direct response to the needs of dissidents and reformers worldwide" (8). Here the gap between rulers and ruled made it easier for the NED and its network of organisations to use money and advertising to manufacture thousands of supposed dissidents. After regime change, most of these individuals and the groups to which they had belonged evaporated...

The collapse of the Soviet Union was a prelude to the NED's global expansion. It mobilised its money and expertise to intervene in the social, economic and political affairs of 90 countries in Africa, Latin America, Asia and eastern Europe. As Gerald Sussman pointed out, "electoral interventions are critically important to US global policy objectives". "Democracy building" by the NED and other US organisations has been refined: "Compared to the surreptitious and nakedly aggressive manner in which the CIA typically carried out its destabilising forays from the late 1940s through to the mid-1970s, current forms of electoral manipulation are conducted largely as spectacles of spin and moral drama"

During the 1990 elections in Haiti, the NED invested $36m in the candidacy of Marc Bazin, a former World Bank official. Despite this, Jean-Bertrand Aristide was elected, only to be overthrown in 1991 after a media campaign funded by the NED and USAID.

In its first 10 years, the NED distributed $200m among 1,500 projects to support friends of the US (10). Since 1988 it has taken a significant interest in Venezuela. Philip Agee said: "There was a quiet operation against the Bolivarian revolution. It began under President Clinton and intensified under George Bush Jr. It's like the campaign against the Sandinistas, but so far without the terrorism or the economic embargo: promote democracy, keep an eye on elections and support public life." The US lawyer Eva Golinger discovered from official documents that between 2001 and 2006 the NED and USAID gave more than $20m to Venezuelan opposition groups and private media (11). On 25 April 2002 The New York Times revealed that Congress had ordered a quadrupling of the NED budget for Venezuela just a few months before the failed coup against President Hugo Chávez...

But the NED's most consistent campaign has been against the government of Cuba, where it is believed to have invested some $20m over 20 years in an attempt to promote a "democratic transition"; $65m more has been contributed by USAID since 1996. Despite continued insistence upon the supreme necessity of democratic elections, official documents clearly specify that those elected must be to US governmental liking. Almost all the funds are in the hands of organisations based in the US and Europe. The governments of Poland, Romania and the Czech Republic receive a significant proportion of it in return for leading international pressure on Cuba. According to Laura Wides-Munoz (Associated Press, 29 December 2006), the NED paid them $2.4m in 2005.

Washington's idea of democracy is elections and business walking hand in hand. In his January 2004 State of the Union address, President Bush announced that he would be asking Congress "to double the budget of the National Endowment for Democracy, and to focus its new work on the development of free elections, and free markets, free press, and free labour unions in the Middle East"; ideological work would accompany military action. Hitherto the NED's involvement in the region had been minimal. It moved into Afghanistan in 2003. According to its website, it decided "to establish and strengthen business associations inside Afghanistan to ensure a more sustained and diversified effort to build democracy and market economy"...

According to William Blum, the NED's basic philosophy is that societies "are best served under a system of free enterprise, class cooperation... [and] minimal government intervention in the economy. A free-market economy is equated with democracy, reform and growth, and the merits of foreign investment are emphasised. NED's reports carry on endlessly about democracy, but at best it's a modest measure of mechanical political democracy they have in mind, not economic democracy; nothing that aims to threaten the powers that be."...

As Blum put it: "What was done was to shift many of the awful things [done by the CIA] to a new organisation, with a nice sounding name. The creation of the NED was a masterpiece. Of politics, of public relations, and of cynicism."

“The promotion of ‘low-intensity democracy’ is aimed not only at mitigating the social and political tensions produced by elite-based and undemocratic status quos, but also at suppressing popular and mass aspirations for more thoroughgoing democratisation of social life in the twenty-first century international order. Polyarchy is a structural feature of the emergent global society.” (William I. Robinson, 1996, Promoting Polyarchy, p. 6)

The US-based National Endowment for Democracy (NED) is the central coordinating organisation involved in the global “promotion of democracy” (or rather polyarchy) (For further details see ). As noted in the preceding article, US “democracy promoters” have recently been implicated in a series of “revolutions” across Eastern Europe, which began in Serbia and have spread like wildfire through Georgia, the Ukraine, and Kyrgyzstan. This article examines each of these so called “colored revolutions” in turn to illustrate the substantial role the US has played in promoting polyarchy.

Former U.S. president, Ronald Reagan, created the National Endowment for Democracy (NED) in 1983, during a period in which military violence took the place of traditional diplomacy in order to resolve international matters. Thanks to its powerful ability of financial penetration, the NED’s goal is to weaken governments that would oppose the foreign hegemonic power of Washington. In Latin America, the two targets are Cuba and Venezuela.

For example, the NED financed and continues financing the Venezuelan opposition, responsible for the coup d’état against President Chávez, April 2002. Since then, the Venezuelan oligarchy has organized, with the help of Washington, several unsuccessful destabilization attempts, since the failure of the recall referendum, the popular legitimacy of Mr. Chávez has been only reinforced. In 2004, thirteen groups opposed to the Bolivarian government received 874,384 dollars from the NED. In 2003, 15 splinter groups opposed to the Venezuelan presidents benefited from subsidies from the NED for a total of 1,046,323 dollars.

The United States is using a quasi-governmental organization created during the Reagan years and funded largely by Congress to pump about a million dollars a year into groups opposed to Venezuela President Hugo Chávez, according to officials in Venezuela and a Venezuelan-American attorney.

Some 2,000 pages of newly disclosed documents show that the little-known National Endowment for Democracy is financing a vast array of groups: campesinos, businessmen, former military officials, unions, lawyers, educators, even an organization leading a recall drive against Chávez. Some compare the agency, in certain of its activities, to the CIA of previous decades when the agency was regularly used to interfere in the affairs of Latin American countries.

“It certainly shows an incredible pattern of financing basically every single sector in Venezuelan society,” said Eva Golinger, the Brooklyn, NY-based attorney who helped obtain the documents through Freedom of Information Act requests. “That’s the most amazing part about it.”

One organization, Sumate, which received a $53,400 grant in September, is organizing the recall referendum against Chávez, Golinger said. The head of another group, Leonardo Carvajal of the Asociación Civil Asamblea de Educación, was named education minister by “dictator for a day” Pedro Carmona, a leading businessman who briefly took over Venezuela during an April 2002 coup against Chávez, she said. A leader of a third group assisted by the National Endowment for Democracy and its subsidiary organizations, Leopoldo Martínez of the right-wing Primero Justicia party, was named finance minister by Carmona, she said.

“How can they [the National Endowment for Democracy] say they are supporting democracy when they are funding groups that backed the coup?” asked Golinger, head of the pro-Chávez Venezuela Solidarity Committee in New York...

The NED’s work in Venezuela is not the first time it has provoked controversy. In the 1980s it generated criticism by funding organizations opposed to the Sandinistas in Nicaragua, prompting accusations that its whopping $10.5 million in grants in a single year in the impoverished Central American nation “bought” the 1990 election that led to the Sandinistas’ defeat.

Many analysts contend the National Endowment for Democracy was created in 1983 to replace some CIA activities--covertly supporting political parties, unions, newspapers, book publishers, student groups, and civic organizations--after the agency’s work was reined in by Congress following revelations it carried out everything from assassinations to economic sabotage.

The group’s involvement in Venezuela “is in keeping with a pattern from NED’s very origins when the Reagan administration used it to do overtly what it was trying to do covertly in Nicaragua--undermine the Sandinista revolution,” said Peter Kornbluh of the National Security Archive in Washington. “The difference of course is that Chávez was elected and the Sandinistas were a revolutionary government.”

But in actuality, influential, US-financed agencies describing themselves as "pro-democracy" but viewed by critics as decidedly anti-democratic, have their hands all over Iraq's transitional process, from the formation of political parties to monitoring the January 30 nationwide polls and possibly conducting exit polls that could be used to evaluate the fairness of the ballot-casting.

Two such groups -- the National Democratic Institute for International Affairs (NDI) and the International Republican Institute (IRI) -- are part of a consortium of non-governmental organizations to which the United States has provided over $80 million for political and electoral activities in post-Saddam Iraq.

Both groups publicly assert they are nonpartisan, but each has extremely close ties to its namesake American political party, and both are deeply partial to the perceived national interests of their home country, despite substantial involvement in the politics of numerous sovereign nations worldwide.

NDI is headed by former Secretary of State Madeline Albright, who took over the chair from former president Jimmy Carter. Republican Senator John McCain chairs IRI. Both groups have highly controversial reputations and are described throughout much of the world as either helpful, meddlesome, or downright subversive, depending on who you ask. In some places their work has earned praise from independent grassroots democracy advocates, but in many Third World republics, both groups have been tied to alleged covert plans to install US-favored governments...
NDI and IRI are two out of four core organizations of the National Endowment for Democracy (NED), a self-described "nonprofit, non-governmental, bipartisan, grant-making organization" the stated purpose of which is "to help strengthen democratic institutions around the world." Created during Ronald Reagan's first term as president to enhance overseas political influence weakened by Jimmy Carter's 1977 ban on CIA democracy front groups, NED's reputation as a promoter of democracy never truly thrived outside the United States.


Powerful ad, powerful ad-men

03.10.2007 16:37

What choice ?
What choice ?

I can't remember this is the FT.

Exactly how did the impoverished monks afford an advertisement in the Financial Times ?

not FT - global citizen's community

03.10.2007 17:33

You could always try checking the link provided. Res Publica and are behind it. They do a lot of good stuff. Just my personal opinion, of course.



03.10.2007 18:13 formed Avaaz too, with it's endless, futile petitions masquerading as activism. have raised millions of dollars for the US Democratic party.
They have also tried to deradicalise the peace-movement in the US, refusing to call for a withdrawl from Iraq which is kind of odd for a supposed peace group.

Is that the good stuff you approve of ? Cos President Clinton was a war-criminal as surely as Bush is, and the Democratic Party is just the other side of the coin of the Republicans.

Just my personal opinion of course.

- Homepage:

day of action Saturday

03.10.2007 21:22

A Day of International Action for a Free Burma
Saturday 6 October 2007

█United Kingdom█

6th - Birmingham is organising a protest for the global day of protest check this link for more info

Cardiff Anarchy Network will be holding a protest
outside of a Total garage on Cathedral Road, Cardiff, 11am Saturday 6th October.
Assemble: 10.30am outside Glamorgan Staff Club, Westgate Street. Bring banners, placards, and whatever else you expect to find – wear saffron or dark red if you want to.

Saturday 6th October in Edinburgh's Meadows
A Run for Relief in Burma event (see followed by a lunch which will be addressed by Zoya Phan, Burmese refugee who now works for Burma Campaign UK.

A Protest is being organised for this Saturday check details
12:00pm - 4:00pm
Millenium Square

Saturday 6th October
Assemble at *Tate Britain* at *11.00am*, nearest tube Pimlico. March to *Trafalgar Square* for a rally at 12.45pm

A slight hiccup at the of two things, either a FREE BUS to AND from london arranged for those who want to come or a protest will go ahead in Manchester itself!!

Get in touch with Johnny Chatterton if you want a place on the free bus!!!

Being organised

For non-facebook info see:


Purity vs pragmatism

03.10.2007 22:16

Junta response to 1988 uprising
Junta response to 1988 uprising

People will never be free from tyranny unless they unite to fight against it. If your principles cannot allow you to work with others who hold different views, then local actions where you can make a difference without needing mass support amongst the general population are the obvious thing to focus on.

Some struggles require mass support to have any chance of succeeding and so pragmatism is necessary. You do not have to engage with these tainted movements, but it seems a little inhumane to choose to spend your time undermining another people's struggle to free themselves from a slavery you do not have to endure.

But again, that's only my opinion.



03.10.2007 23:25

Anti PRopaganda
Anti PRopaganda

"Some struggles require mass support to have any chance of succeeding and so pragmatism is necessary. You do not have to engage with these tainted movements, but it seems a little inhumane to choose to spend your time undermining another people's struggle to free themselves from a slavery you do not have to endure. But again, that's only my opinion."

No, that is my opinion too. I just don't accept it is applicable to this debate on IM-UK. Most of us here are mature enough to recognise a US funded PRopaganda campaign when we see it, and we are also mature enough not to oppose it's supposed aims out of knee-jerk 'purism'.

I'm sure we are all down on 'minions of colonialism', which is why you can post that photograph without worrying it will be taken seriously. It is obvious politically motivated PR only an idiot could fall for, even though it is intrinsically true. The same goes for most western media coverage of Burma in the past weeks. It is obvious PRopaganda and the funding and the motives behind it aren't even hidden. We all agree that we should take action against the dictatorship and in support of the people there. I think we should also try to agree that any truly independent media has to offer alternative opinions from our own hypocritical state and mainstream media PR, that we have to point out that life in Burma isn't much more pleasant than life in Thailand or Iraq. Which circle of hell would you choose to live in as a peasant ?

I think we have to support the genuine domestic opposition in Burma. I also think we have to point out to that grassroots opposition that they have jumped from the frying pan into the fire, that they are being sacrificed in a geopolitical power struggle totally unconnected to their own struggle.

I think as activists our primary responsibility is to be pragmatic. I think as citizen-journalists we have to be purists. I won't accept BNP articles here even if they are factually true. Is that 'purism' ?

On another thread ( ) FTP said "If anyone has ideas for actions against appropriate targets, and appropriate aims for them, I'm all ears." I have already suggested opening up the protests from just the Chinese embassy to others such as the Indian, Thai, Bangladeshi, and US embassies. I have also suggested hitting every company on the Burma Campaigns 'Dirty List', not just Total but the USuk ones too.

This is not a Purism v Pragmatism argument. It is about thinking globally and acting locally, about making people realise seemingly black and white issues such as this are more complicated than we are led to believe, and that some of the blame lies closer to home than our mainstream press are permitted to admit.

Surely the fact the Burmese protests have been classied as Saffron has more to do with CIA simplifications rather than the crimson colour of the monks robes ?

For example, what sort of Demokracy(TM) was the Orange revolution :,,2182263,00.html


Exposing the National Endowment for Democracy

04.10.2007 00:06

A collection of articles can be found at :

The 2nd Raman article mentions NEDs interest in Burma in 1999:

The following conclusions emerge from a study of the grants and the statements/Congressional testimonies of the office-bearers of the NED and its associate organisations:

While their activities now have a much wider geographical spread in Asia, covering even Sri Lanka and Nepal, the main focus continues to be against the military regime in Myanmar and the Chinese administration in Tibet and on Cambodia. Another developing target of the NED seems to be Dr.Mahathir Mohammed, the Prime Minister of Malaysia.

Their activities are so designed and implemented as to be in consonance with the foreign policy and strategic objectives of the US Government in this region. It has been mainly active against those countries/areas and regimes which are perceived as unfavourable or detrimental to US interests and not against those considered essential to US interests. For example, while they have been active against the military regime in Myanmar, they were not equally active against the former Suharto regime in Indonesia or against the damage caused to democracy in Pakistan by the military-intelligence establishment.

After the reversion of Hong Kong to China in June, 1997, they have been looking for surrogates in India who could help them in their activities against the present regime in Myanmar and against the Chinese Administration in Tibet.

The article goes on to outline which Burmese organisations benefitted from NED largesse.

William Clark's article is also worth a read, and includes this info:

Former CIA personnel in NED

Many of the historic figures involved in the CIA's covert actions have, at some point, been members of the NED's Administrative Council, or of its board of directors: among them Otto Reich, John Negroponte, Henry Cisneros and Elliot Abrams. Currently it is presided over by Vin Weber, founder of the ultraconservative Empower America association and fundraiser for the presidential campaign of George W. Bush in the year 2000. Its executive director is Carl Gershman, a former Trotskyite responsible for the US Social Democrats and a member of the neo-conservative trend.


Interesting stuff

04.10.2007 03:23

Thanks for that ftp.

Orwellian as it is, I'm not sure you can automatically assume that any organisation which receives NED funding is editorially controlled by them or cannot be a genuine grassroots organisation. In today's reality compromise is pretty much forced on everyone needing money to do what they need to do. A shortwave radio station is not that cheap to run even with a largely volunteer staff; they say $100k/year on the DVB site. DVB and Mizzima are certainly more mainstream than the resistance blogs, as is Irrawaddy. It doesn't alter the fact that they're amongst the few means of getting information in and out of Burma, and even then they fail to get much substantive coverage in the alternative media let alone the mainstream. I cannot find a Burma section on ZNet. This shocks me.

Your concerns are clearly valid, but as a pragmatist I take a fairly simple view on these things, the same as I do with the mainstream media. Don't trust them; do make use of them. Sometimes we do need the mainstream media to report things in order to be effective. Maybe it's not a great example to use given that it failed anyway, but the Feb 2003 Iraq march would never have been so big had the mainstream media not supported it and pre-advertised it with maps and details for those not hooked into activist channels.

I haven't had a chance to plough through all of the material you've linked to on NED, so I'll reserve judgement until I know more about the contractual details of the funding and evidence of influence over their activities.

Again, thanks for the info.


Not only Burma, but also....

04.10.2007 09:28

No doubt there are other violently oppressive pariah regimes in the world hoping that the Burmese one does not receive too much international condemnation. That sort of thing might catch on, and then where would they be, sat down there in the med sunshine.

mail e-mail:
- Homepage:

pragmatism and empire

04.10.2007 10:47


Essentially, you seem to have come to the conclusion that one murderous regime (in fact the more murderous regime) is preferable to another murderous regime.

The first comment posted to this article made this point:

"To cut to the chase, what is the difference between Bush and Brown on one hand and the murderous Burmese government on the other? Bush and Brown are actually worse. They pretend to be democrats concerned with what people actually want. The Burmese government doesn't pretend to be anything but a military dictatorship. Moreover, the Burmese government is clean by comparison as it hasn't committed acts of naked aggression--war crimes under the Nuremberg standard--by invading other countries and attempting to occupy them."

One of the major effects of the transition to a neo-liberal economy is the inevitable breakdown of community into individual consumer units. Thats how they can best control us.

Pragmatism doesn't sit well with the mission statement of this site:

"The Indymedia UK website provides an interactive platform for reports from the struggles for a world based on freedom, cooperation, justice and solidarity, and against environmental degradation, neoliberal exploitation, racism and patriarchy. The reports cover a wide range of issues and social movements - from neighbourhood campaigns to grassroots mobilisations, from critical analysis to direct action."

"we reject all systems of domination and discrimination"

"we understand that by lobbying there will be no radical change. As a collective our attitude is assertive, and where necessary confrontational"

Adopting the position of "I'd like top see a revolution, but in the meantime I'll accept piecemeal reforms", probably just delays the whole thing.

It brings to mind a statement on urban75 that caught my eye:

"I love pacifism, it keeps fascists in power"

I kinda think liberal reformists do the same thing.

And "better our murderous regime than theirs" isn't pragmatic, its ideological.......



Callout: Cardiff Burma/Total Demo

04.10.2007 13:35


French oil company Total is one of the biggest foreign investors in Burma. It has been propping up
the violent and oppressive regime there for years. It has even used army-imposed forced labour to
construct a gas pipeline accross the country.

People in Britain have been protesting outside Total garages and offices all week with demos in
places like Bradford, Oxford, and London - now it's our turn!

Protest at the Total Garage, Cathedral Road, Cardiff, 11am Saturday 6th October.
Assemble: 10.30am outside Glamorgan Staff Club, Westgate Street to march on the garage.

As the media's attention span wanes, and a spectacle-weary public grows tired of seeing South East
Asians getting battered and shot on primetime TV, a full-scale state and military backlash against
Burma's people is underway. Demonstrators are being routinely rounded up, put in prison, and quite
probably tortured, and more monks are being murdered and beaten every day.

Let's target the companies that prop up Burma's murderous military dictatorship and let them know
that they can't get away with supporting despots with impunity.

Bring banners, placards, and whatever else you expect to find - wear saffron or dark red if you
want to.

This demonstration is called by the South Wales Anarchists - all are welcome, and please spread the
word to your networks!

Get good and reliable news about Burma at:


ch evr on too !

04.10.2007 14:25

. . . . see comments 23/4/5/6/7 with the schnews response bit
keep it up,
but moreso !!!!
arguments, disagreements ACE when we support each other, strengthen each other as we PUSH

. . ., .

ch evr on too !

04.10.2007 14:25

. . . . see comments 23/4/5/6/7 with the schnews response bit
keep it up,
but moreso !!!!
arguments, disagreements ACE when we support each other, strengthen each other as we PUSH

. . ., .

Burma is already being exploited by a neo-liberal economic system

04.10.2007 15:21


Essentially, you seem to have come to the conclusion that one murderous regime (in fact the more murderous regime) is preferable to another murderous regime.

The first comment posted to this article made this point:

"To cut to the chase, what is the difference between Bush and Brown on one hand and the murderous Burmese government on the other? Bush and Brown are actually worse. They pretend to be democrats concerned with what people actually want. The Burmese government doesn't pretend to be anything but a military dictatorship. Moreover, the Burmese government is clean by comparison as it hasn't committed acts of naked aggression--war crimes under the Nuremberg standard--by invading other countries and attempting to occupy them.""

Perhaps that's why we're talking at cross purposes. I'm not interested in assigning moral blame I'm interested in a free Burma. It's obvious where the blame lies, with the British then the US and USSR and now China and Russia, for encouraging this brutal regime to flourish. I'm interested in the practicalities of how Burma can be freed. The US are the most disgusting empire since the British. It doesn't change the strategic tactics for the opposition in Burma.

The other important difference is that you will not get imprisoned or executed for posting this. In Burma you would. The Junta are currently the direct oppressors of the people there. They are brutal and shameless and control the flow of information in and out. The people have to find enormous courage to protest. The campaign groups all agree that China is the key. The undoubted immorality of the US isn't relevant to their struggle right now.

"One of the major effects of the transition to a neo-liberal economy is the inevitable breakdown of community into individual consumer units. Thats how they can best control us."

The IMF is in there. Western oil companies have it all sewn up already. They are already in the grip of a neoliberal economic system so extreme that 50 million people are living in abject poverty whilst the profits are enjoyed by the Junta and a few dozen crooked businessmen. If that's not an example of a neo-liberal economy, I don't know what is.

I see nothing in the indymedia mission statement that is incompatible with promoting action for Burma. I see nothing illogical in promoting the actions that the Burmese resistance and Burma campaign groups have been requesting for weeks before the MSM picked up the story.

As I have already said, pragmatism is critical for a campaign that can only succeed with mass global support for revolution. That doesn't mean every activist has to be a pragmatist, it means that those who choose to campaign for Burma need to support the strategic decisions of the Burmese people. Westerners wanting to interfere in struggles elsewhere must first ask what the internal resistance groups are asking them to do. The Burmese resistance groups are united. They want us to use the Olympics to pressure China into acting.


Hacking Opportunity - Direct Action

04.10.2007 16:04

Please see this public Newswire post:

This is just about the only direct action that non-Burmese people can take against the Burmese junta.



Burma: a view from within

04.10.2007 23:56

Minor correction to the feature (from the above link). The initial protests began in mid-August with members of the radical resistance. These were small due to the ban on gatherings of more than 5 people, one of the many ways the junta prevent political organisation. See link for more details.

- Homepage:

Newspapers too cowardly to publish paid appeal ad

05.10.2007 05:21

Today, our petition to China and the UN Security Council to stop the brutal crackdown on peaceful Burmese protesters is being delivered to the world in a full page ad in the Financial Times worldwide -- but the ad was rejected by other newspapers like the South China Morning Post and the Singapore Straits Times. Our message is an invitation to China to do the right thing in Burma, not an attack -- yet even that seemed too much for media that fear Chinese reprisals.

We won't let our voice be silenced like this. We're taking our message to the streets, in an international day of action on Saturday -- details are on our petition page, and below. And we're redoubling our efforts to make our voice louder: our petition is approaching 600,000 signatures, closing fast on our 1 million goal.The petition link is below - send this email to all your friends and family and help us reach 1 million voices by Saturday!

To organize an event for the global day of action, just follow the steps below. To attend an event, scroll down our petition page at the link above for a list of events around the world. Here's some simple steps for organizers:

Choose a public place or landmark in your town, and organize friends to go there all wearing the same maroon red clothing as the Burmese monks. Tell local media about your plans, and email the details and contact information to -- we will try to advertise your event on our petition page.
Ask people attending your event to share their feelings on this crisis and the need for action, and then tie a red ribbon or piece of cloth around fences or trees to leave a more lasting sign of your support for the Burmese.
The worldwide outcry to save Burma's peaceful monks and protesters is one more sign of how the world is getting closer, feeling increasingly responsible to each other, and for each other as human beings. We're bringing a voice of humanity to this desperate situation, and we must not be silenced.

With hope and determination,

Ricken, Paul, Graziela, Ben, Sarah, Iain, Galit, Pascal, Milena and the whole Avaaz Team.

PS – Here are some great links for local reporting on the current situation in Burma:


dodgy sources....

05.10.2007 06:31

Avaaz recommend:

The National Endowment for Democracy like them so much they fund them!
Who are the NED?



06.10.2007 10:35

When everything started to kick off in Burma this website's top story for three to four days was the No Borders camp. Then somebody listed something about wearing red shirts on the newswire. Then everything started to snowball. Now you're all treating Burma as this season's Tibet. Please. Burma has suffered decades of military oppression, people have died for their liberties. Don't make Burma another trendy activist cause to wear on a tee-shirt. Demonstrate because you understand, not because you think it's just another thing to appear 'alternative' about.

Maung Maung

Audio from Burma Rally - London - Saturday

06.10.2007 16:54

Download: rally pastiche - mp3 24M

This is the useable audio that I had after the Rally - forgot my damn windshield - and the batteries died. Gives a feel of the rally though.


maung maung

07.10.2007 00:44

good point , couldn't agree more x


EU States Will Be Making A Decision On 13/10/2007

13.10.2007 15:42

The link below is from the AVAAZ site and is about giving assistance to every repressed person in Burma. EU States will be making a decision on Monday 13/10/2007, regarding their position on Burma. The links that follow were provided in a group email from AVAAZ and refer to the situation in Burma. There are mixed feelings from everyone about the nature of governments, but the situation in Burma is happening right now and right now governments are in a position that can make a difference. If you are the kind of person that is anti-government, then this is a way to put pressure on EU governments to support the repressed in Burma. If you are the kind of person that is pro-government, then this is way to request the EU governments to support the repressed in Burma. It does not require anybody to go against their beliefs.

By every individual and organisation indicating their support of the uprising of the people of Burma to hold their government accountable, we may encourage repressed people in other countries, such as Zimbabwe, to stand up and do the same. If you click onto the link, you will see an area where a standard message has been created by AVAAZ. By clicking on the area, it allows one to type in a message. I am presuming that when you hit send, the addition goes through as well. I have am hoping that AVAAZ do provide more information regarding adding one’s own message. I have included my addition in the hope that it will inspire everyone in terms of the larger issue here … the issue of world wide government corruption.

Send the message-

Suu Kyi refusing to surrender to Than Shwe on sanctions -

A comprehensive background on Burma sanctions; excellent answers to common questions -

A statement supporting sanctions by the National League of Democracy spokesperson -

The European Union statement threatening stronger sanctions if the Burmese government resorted to violence -

The Addition:

To The EU States

Below is a standard message that was created by AVAAZ and I in no way oppose it, but I would like to make an addition. There are mixed feelings around the world about the competency and the intentions of governments to create a stable world for its population. Governments are to blame for creating more violent conflicts than any other individual, group or organisation … including religions. However, governments do exist at this point in time and it is your responsibility to sort out the mess that you have created across the globe. It is the government of Burma which is practicing a variety of unjust policies and unfortunately it is only other governments, such as the EU States, that can communicate this concept to them. As I’m sure you must be aware, all governments practice unjust policies, but the EU States claim to be bound to the Democratic Doctrines. As a citizen, as a human, as an inhabitant of this world, I am reminding you that you have a duty to perform … A duty described by the promise of governance by government.

It is time that you and your colleagues begin to live up to that promise and do the job that you have committed to doing. It is time that you and your colleagues stop defending an elite group that are destroying this world through their Multi National Corporations and start being more concerned about the rest of the Earth’s population. It is time that you and your colleagues remember what it means to be human and prioritise what is important for the wellbeing of this planet. It is time that you and your colleagues realise that you are public servants and that this is not a moderate request. It is time that you and your colleagues are made aware that by not doing the above, the people of this world are going to hold every one of you accountable.

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