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Nortel out of Burma

Ask Nortel

For 10 years Nortel supplied equipment, primarily telephone switching equipment, to the SPDC through its 20%-owned subsidiary, the Israeli Telrad. According to the New Light of Myanmar newspaper (military mouth-piece), Telrad signed a contract with the SPDC agency, Myanmar Posts and Telecommunications, as recently as August 1999. Under the contract, Telrad was to supply telephone exchange equipment, cables and telephones. Nortel equipment was also being sold to the SPDC through Thai-based distributor, Loxley.

In March 2000, Nortel sold off its 20% ownership of Telrad to Koor Industries which owned the other 80%. The deal also involved the creation of a new company, Nortel Networks Israel, jointly owned by Nortel and Koor. Nortel confirmed in August 2000 that neither Nortel, Nortel Networks Israel, any other of Nortel’ subsidiaries or affiliates would acquire Burma contracts held by Telrad. Nortel also attained assurances by Telrad that it would not enter into any new contracts in Burma. However, CFOB is still concerned about Nortel because of its continuing connection to Telrad, which has on-going contracts with the SPDC. We still have no confirmation from Nortel that Telrad has ceased selling Nortel equipment to Burma’s regime. Also, Nortel has still not provided confirmation that it has ceased selling its equipment to the SPDC via Loxley.

Write a letter and ask Nortel to clearly confirm if its equipment is still being sold to Burma’s military regime

Problem with Telecommunications

In some countries, cell phones, faxes and email can be a tool for positive change but Burma is not such a case. Most Burmese people are too poor to own a telephone, let alone a fax or computer, and too repressed to make use of them without putting themselves or others in grave danger. Phone line tapping is a common occurrence in a country where a pervasive military intelligence force keeps resistance in check.

Under existing law, possession of unauthorized computer or fax machines is punishable with jail terms of up to 15 years. A Scandinavian Consul, named James Leander Nichols was imprisoned in a prison notorious for torture for such an “offense” where he later died. The military’s telecommunications ministry, Myanmar Post and Telecommunications is the only Internet service provider in the country.

Internet Rules issued by the junta:

  • Any writings detrimental to the interests of the Union of Myanmar are not to be posted;


  • Any writings directly or indirectly detrimental to the current policies and secret security affairs of the government of the Union of Burma are not to be posted;


  • Writings related to politics are not to be posted;


  • Only the person who is given Internet account is to use the Internet; no other persons is allowed to use the Internet;


  • The person who is granted an Internet account is held responsible for all Internet use on that account;


  • A person with an Internet account is prohibited from hacking the web and entering and destroying the security system of MPT;


  • Hacking the web and entering and destroying the security system of other Internet users is prohibited;


  • Persons who hold an Internet account are forbidden to misuse the account of other Internet users;


  • Internet users are to inform MPT of any threat on the Internet;


  • Internet users are to obtain prior permission from the organization designated by the state to create web pages;


  • Applicants for an internet account are held accountable for the veracity of facts contained in the application form;


  • MPT has the right to amend and change regulations on the use of the Internet without prior notice;


  • Application can be filed for compensation for any damage or loss;


  • Internet use will be terminated and legal action will be taken for violation of any of these regulations.








 


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Canadian Friends of Burma, 145 Spruce St. Suite 206, Ottawa, ON K1R 6P1
tel#: (613) 237-8056, fax#: (613) 563-0017