Tag Archives: Myanmar

UN Worried Myanmar Situation Is At Critical Stage

UN special envoy Ibrahim Gambari met with Chinese diplomats in an effort to draw upon their influence with the military junta which rules Myanmar. He told them: “I believe we are now in a critical phas in terms of developments in Myanma, in terms of Myanmr’s relations with neighboring countries, with ASEAN, with the international community.” ASEAN, the Associatioin of Southeatern Nations has been urging the junta to reach out to opposition leader Augn San Suu Kyi in hope of creating conditions for establishing democracy.

Burma’s military leaders have announced a May referendumon a constitution written in secret without any input from opposition leaders. Gambari desperately needs China’s aid due to its wide economic involvement in Burma and its close ties with military leaders. However, there is little interest within the Chinese government to see a democratic government created on its southern flank. The only apparent concern among the Chinese developing Myanmar’s natural resources.

Myanmar Opposition Terms Junta Plans Shameful

Myanmar’s opposition party, The National League for Democracy, staged a protest outside of its headquarters to express dismay at the decision of the nation’s military junta to institute a new constitution and hold elections in 2010. UN Secretary General Ban ki-moon termed the so-called elections a backward step because there had not been any consultation with members of opposition parties nor was there any indication those opposed to the junta would be able to engage freely in the electoral process. Senior General Than Shwe dismissed complaints by the NLD by telling the nation on television, “Subversive elements with a negative attitude are resorting to diverse means and ways to weaken unity among the country’s ethnic groups.”

Whenever, the military junta terms a group or person “subversive” it means they have expressed an opinion that runs contrary to those of the generals who rule Burma. The US State Department correctly termed the entire election process a “sham.”

Southeast Asian Nations Ignore Human Rights Issues

The meeting of southeastern nations resulted in an agreement to establish a human rights body whose function would be to protect outside nations from interfering when one of its member nations denies human rights to its people. The new human rights group would be a toothless body with absolutely no power to interfere in Myanmar’s policies of brutal suppression of those opposing the military junta. The new human rights body would be composed of representatives from ASEAN countries and would draft a “long-term roadmap” about human rights. But, it was made clear the body must show “respect for national independence, sovereignty, equality, territorial integrity and national identify of all ASEAN member states.” It was specifically emphasized that the agency should “be faithful to ASEAN and its common interests and oppose external influence attempting to interfere in the human rights issues of any ASEAN member state.”

The ASEAN report is sickening to those who fight for human rights in the world. Nothing is done to halt the brutal Myanmar military junta and nothing is done to meet the aspirations and needs of the people of Burma.

China Urges Myanmar Leader To Respect UN Pleas

Premier Wen Jiabao of China told Myanmar’s Prime Minister Thein Sein that the people of his nation must make final determinations as to their future, but the “international community should provide constructive assistance.” He urged the Burma leader to work with the UN special envoy, Ibrahim Gambari on finding a peaceful solution. The Association of Southeast Nations (ASEAN)rejected calls by the United States Senate for suspension of Myanmar from that organization and imposition of economic sanctions. Cambodia’s Prime Minister Hu Sen said “Economic sanctions are not good, they will lead to disaster for the civilian population.”

The trouble with China or SEAN is their belief the people of Myanmar somehow are in a position to decide what is in their best interests. In the best of all worlds, if the Burmese people had any say in what goes on in Myanmar, the outside world should stay out of their business, but, in reality, a brutal dictatorship of generals is determining what will occur. Talk is cheap, but action on the part of China can impose real pressure on the military junta. However, that most probably will not happen.

Burma Military Junta Claims Only 15 Killed

The Burmese military government reported a higher death toll during the recent demonstrations for democracy in Myanmar than previously noted. They told Paulo Sergio Pinheiro, a special UN envoy that 114 Burmese nationals and a Japanese photojournalist were the people killed during demonstrations. Pinheio concluded a five day mission to Burma where he was told by the military leaders there were no incidents in which monks were killed. “My visit was not a full-fledged fact-finding mission because five days and I have interviewed prisoners, met monks, it was very much contact with the government authorities which is very useful for me to have a full consideration of all aspects of the crisis.” The human rights investigator is still int he process of examining evidence before he can conclude making his final report.

There is something strange about the claim of the Burmese military since during the demonstrations there were photos of the bodies of dead monks lying in the water and reports from eye-witnesses they saw monks beaten and killed. Perhaps, this evidence was made up by those hostile to the benevolent Burmese military dictatorship, perhaps, it is merely the anger of a few disgruntled Burmese people harboring grudges against a brutal oppressive regime which has denied human rights for over twenty years. I suspect eventually the real death toll will creep up to the hundreds.

Burma Junta Agrees To Talks

The Burmese military junta and opposition parties have agreed to hold “meaningful and substantive” talks to resolve the current political crisis in Myanmar. UN Secretary General Ban ki-mon said his special envoy to Myanmatr, Irbrahim Gambari was able to convince Burma’s military leaders of the importance attached to engaging in dialogue with all political parties in their nation. The UN Security Council has urged Burma’s leaders to work constructively with Suu Kyi, the main opposition leader, in order to move their nation forward toward democracy.

The Burmese military junta is undoubtedly as stubborn and hostile to outside pressure as was Saddam Hussein. George Bush never allowed the UN to pursue its investigation of the supposed WMD preferring military action which became the disastrous Iraq war. Sometimes, it takes time to achieve results, but Bush lacked time or, perhaps, he never intended to pay any attention to the UN.

Burma Freedom Fighter Offers To Dialogue With Military Junta

Aung San Suu Kyi, the Burmese opposition leader who has spent 12 o the last 18 years under house arrest offered to meet with the ruling military junta for a dialogue in oder to break the impasse between the oppressive military leaders and the mass of Burmese people who seek some form of democracy. Kyi said: “In the interest of the nation, I stand ready to cooperate with the Government in order to make this process of dialogue a success.” The statement was read to the world in Singapore by UN envoy Ibrahim Gambari who recently completed several days in Burma trying to talk with members of the junta. Burma State Television said General Aung Kyi would meet with Suu Kyi(no relation). A top level diplomat in Yangoon, commented to the press, “there is no doubt in my mind that this regime has no intention of cooperating with Bambari or starting a process of genuine dialogue.”

The process of attempting to bring about change in Myanmar is hampered by failure of China and India to assume a proactive role in fostering dialogue. As the top trading partners of Burma, these two nations have economic power to move the junta toward some acomodation with opposition leaders.

Sliver Of Light In Myanmar For Easing Oppression?

A slight ray of hope for the people of Burma might be seen in the announcement by the military junta which controls the nation that it would be willing to meet with foreign diplomats and UN officials at his newly constructed capitol located in a remote region of Myanmar. For the first time since 2003, it agreed to meet with the UN’s human rights envoy to Myanmar, Paulo Pinheiro as well as his colleague, UN Envoy Gambari. It is difficult to ascertain the implication of these invitations. On a hopeful note, restrictions are being eased on Suu Kyi, the Nobel Peace winner who has been under house arrest for over a decade. It is too early to determine if these moves suggest a desire to lessen the oppression currently being experienced by the people of Burma.

Noose Tightens Around Throats Of Burmese People

The Burmese military junta is returning to its old stand by terrorist isolationist behavior by announcing the expulsion of Charles Petrie, the UN’s representative since 2003 in Myanmar. The junta was apparently upset at a recent UN statement denouncing the “deteriorating humanitarian situation” in their country. The government also announced it was cutting off communication by Internet users to international web sites in an effort to control information concerning their brutalization of the people of Burma. Ibrahm Gambari, the special UN representative who has been working with the Burmese military junta in an effort to mitigate their oppressive policies, is expected to arrive for a six day visit.

The reality is that Gambari will be unable to exert any pressure on the Burmese military junta without the active support of China and India. These two nations have extensive economic connections with Myanmar and if they decide to exert pressure it will be felt by the military junta. Until that happens, the world will hear much talk, but little action.

US Expanding Sanctions Against Burma Military Junta

US lawmakers are considering a dramatic increase in sanctions against the Burmese military junta whose oppressive rule has crushed people in their country and made poverty the norm in what once was a nation with the capability of having a fairly successful economy. They are proposing legislation which would ban export of gems and timber from Burma, two resources which have brought millions in revenue to Myanmar. It would ban travel by top generals and outlaw the import into the United states of gems and timber from Burma. According to Senator Joseph Biden, “”we ned to bring pressure to bear on the Burmese generals directly responsible for the violence against the peaceful protestors last month, but unilateral sanctions alone will not get the job done.”

The proposed legislation stems from good intentions, trying to do something about curtailing the power of Myanmar’s military junta. The reality is that gems will be sent to Thailand where they will be polished and exported as Thai gems. The reality is that timber can be sold in India for use or for re-export. There are two key players in placing pressure on the military junta — India and China. If those nations used their leverage over Burma’s rulers, change will occur. It is doubtful banning Burmese generals from traveling will have any impact — few of them travel anywhere.