Letters to the Editor — August, 2011
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Saturday, June 15, 2024

Letters to the Editor — August, 2011

By THE IRRAWADDY Monday, August 29, 2011

(Page 3 of 20)

Our public response led to feedback from other Danish funded Burmese organisations whose concerns were outlined in the editorial Burma Betrayed? (see link: http://www2.irrawaddy.com/opinion_story.php?art_id=19764).  It also led to a report on the incident in the Danish press (see link: http://www.kristeligt-dagblad.dk/artikel/384710:Udland--Danmark-beskyldes-for-at-svigte-Myanmars-demokrater )

The Irrawaddy hereby stands by our response to this unfortunate issue. To end the matter however we would note that the Ambassador appears to have missed the main point of our concern and has failed to address the issues raised in our letter and editorial.

The Irrawaddy was not ‘dissatisfied’ as stated in the Ambassadors letter, because of the decision not to include us in the Danish 2011 project portfolio. Rather we were astonished to learn of the underhanded process of distributing an inaccurate and accusatory email to a number of our donors - prior to our annual donor meeting - without our knowledge or capacity to respond.

Should this email have been forwarded via private communication to The Irrawaddy with an option for reply or resolution, all parties would have benefited. We hope to see more professional communication from the Embassy – both in private and public – in the future.

Thank you.
The Irrawaddy

Monday, November 04, 2010
Danish Ambassador Responds to “Burma Betrayed?”

With reference to your editorial “Burma Betrayed?” published online Oct. 19th, the Danish Embassy in Bangkok would like to offer some clarifications regarding a number of apparent misunderstandings concerning the Danish support to the Burmese people in general and to The Irrawaddy in specific:

First and foremost, there should be no doubt that Denmark has politically as well financially supported the people(s) of Burma in the face of both military repression and natural disaster for more than two decades—and will continue to do so.

Denmark remains strongly committed to promoting a process towards democracy and national reconciliation in Burma. In solidarity with the Burmese people, Denmark has repeatedly stated its deep concerns about the perpetual severe human rights violations taking place in Burma. Regarding the elections scheduled for November 7th, we have continually called for free, fair and inclusive elections as well as the immediate and unconditional release of all prisoners of conscience, including Daw Aung San Suu Kyi. We are deeply concerned that the government has not taken the necessary steps to this end and will continue to engage closely with other international partners, including Burma’s neighbours, to promote a democratic and peaceful solution to the benefit of all the people of Burma.   

Danish assistance to Burma has seen a steady increase over the past years both in terms of financial resources allocated, the number of projects supported and the number of beneficiaries reached. We are in 2010 disbursing more than US $10 million for a range of more than 25 projects run by almost as many partners. The Danish assistance is targeted at Burmese people inside as well as outside Burma, including refugees and migrants. And the assistance is varied in scope encompassing both social sectors such as health and education, livelihood support to people and communities struggling to maintain a life in dignity and decency as well as support to activists, academics, journalists and others who—from both inside and outside Burma—strive to promote democracy, human rights and national reconciliation.

Add to the above the humanitarian assistance provided in the aftermath of Cyclone Nargis in 2008, where Denmark provided assistance for a total worth of approximately US $14 million, placing Denmark, a small country of just over 5 million people, amongst the most prominent humanitarian donors at the time.

Turning specifically to Danish support to The Irrawaddy, it serves to mention that total Danish governmental support to The Irrawaddy over the past 6-7 years has come to a total of some US $650,000.  

While recognizing your right to disagree with the Danish decision not to enter into a new agreement with The Irrawaddy for 2011, allow me to outline the reasons behind: First, the clear focus of Danish support to The Irrawaddy over the past three years has been on assisting The Irrawaddy working towards increased—not full, but increased—financial self-sustainability rather than continuing to rely almost completely on donor funding.

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