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Derek Tonkin: Who is He? What has he been doing with genocidal regimes, the likes of S. Africa, Khmer Rouge & Myanma?

Former British diplomat, Derek Tonkin (Photo: Google)

By Dr Maung Zarni
RB Opinion
May 2, 2016

Beware of Rohingya ID- and genocide-denying Derek Tonkin: 

A Former British diplomat, who trashes Rohingya's legitimate claim to ethnicity & who denies genocide

Tonkin, a retired British diplomat with a history of business and investment concerns, has been engaged in nasty behind-scene and open attacks on me.

He was a British Ambassador to Thailand around the time of 1988 uprisings. He also held Ambassadorship in Vietnam, to the best of my knowledge. 

Before Thailand and Vietnam, Tonkin was in Pretoria, S. Africa, representing Britain when the British Government (along with USA) was fully in support of the apartheid regime and against the ANC and Nelson Mandela. 

In the context of S. East Asia, Tonkin was embroiled in the controversy - alleged or real - as Britain’s point man, setting up a front company through which the British Gov. was providing Khmer Rouge regime security training. (see Black Farce in Cambodia, John Pilger, New Statesman & Society; Dec 11, 1992; 5, 232; ABI/INFORM Global ). 

In the last 3 years, Tonkin has attempted, without any success, to discredit and trash every single international conference on the Rohingya genocide, I have organized - London School of Economics (Apr 2014), Harvard (Nov 2014), Norwegian Nobel Institute (May 2015) and now Wolfson College, Oxford University (11 May 2016). 

I am used to personal attacks and slanders, speaking truth to power: I have been in politics nearly 30 years. That’s not an issue. 

The issue is this: why is a retired British Ambassador Mr Tonkin, in his retirement at the age of 80+, continuing on with his old official work of siding with repressive, and atrocious regimes at the expense of “the wretched of the earth”, as Fanon would call the oppressed? 
12 years ago, I was vilified nationally for saying, in effect, 3 very unpopular and irreverent things: 1) Aung San Suu Kyi can DO wrong; 2) the opposition needed to talk to the Burmese generals; and 3) the sanctions against and isolation of Burma were hurting the people. In those days, that was an act of blasphemy among the Burmese. 

Back then I chose to brake ranks openly with the entire NLD-led Burmese opposition and argued that the orthodoxy of western economic sanctions - with blessings from Aung San Suu Kyi, I came to know the pro-engagement elements in N. America and Europe. 

When I discovered that many of my new international contacts in the pro-engagement campaigns had business and investment interests as their main motives in trying to crack the then "sanctions wall", I walked away from all of them. Surely, I was proven right: just about every single one of them went on to do business with the Burmese generals, served as their presidential advisers or set up shops - consultancy, actual business, etc. - of their own, once the sanctions were lifted. 

Regarding Tonkin, I set up a Track II meeting between Tonkin, with access to the British foreign office and Daw Yin Yin Oo, whose father was Ne Win's legal adviser and the last President of Burma in the midst of 1988 uprisings. Daw Yaw Yaw Oo was herself a Myanmar Foreign Ministry Official. 

In his meeting with Daw Yaw Yaw Oo, Tonkin inquired about the possibility of developing the old horse race course in Rangoon into a commercial property in anticipation of Rangoon's real estate boom. 

Besides, Tonkin would write letters-to-the-editors and other notes which he sent around to Burma policy circles, defending the drilling of oil and gas in Burma in areas where the use of forced labour by the Burmese army was rampant and well-documented. 

He has written notes to prominent academics, NGO leaders, etc., attacking me like a ferocious and angry dog. 

Have a glimpse of what Tonkin stands for and form your own opinion: 

“Is Derek Tonkin Delusional or Simply Silly?”

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