Archive for December 2006

United Nations Security Council and Freedom from Fear in Burma (Part – II)

December 31, 2006

Recently the support given by Nepal to the issue of freedom from fear in Burma, a small member nation of UN and consistent perusals by European Union as well as by US for the restoration of human rights and democracy in Burma gives a strong message to India, world’s largest democratic nation to re-think their Burma policy and shows that, soul of the United Nations charter couldn’t be sacrificed by mere profit theory of business globalization. United States strong vocal support to Daw Aung San Suu Kyi’s struggle of freedom from fear in Burma once again symbolizes – a nation’s tribute to one of its greatest leader Franklin D. Roosevelt’s Four Freedom Speech given to the US Congress on January 6, 1941. In which, F.D. Roosevelt made an historic appeal to the future generations of Americans regarding fulfilling their commitment to the democracies of the world, that, “We Americans are vitally concerned in your defense of freedom. We are putting forth our energies, our resources and our organizing powers to give you the strength to regain and maintain a free world. We shall send you, in ever increasing numbers, ships, planes, tanks, guns. This is our purpose and our pledge. In fulfillment of this purpose we will not be intimidated by the threats of dictators that they will regard as a breach of international law and as an act of war our aid to the democracies which dare to resist their aggression….” (1)

Russian and Chinese opposition on 15th of September 2006 to the Burma’s walk towards freedom in UN Security Council suggests that, probably two great nations of the world wants to forcibly deny the realization of equally great leader like Roosevelt in Russia – Mr. Mikhail Gorbachev’s more light to Glasnost, where, “Truth is the main thing, as Lenin said: More light! Let the Party know everything! As never before, we need no dark corners where mold can reappear and where everything against which we have started a resolute struggle could start accumulating. That’s why there must be more light.” (2) However, world has to see that, whether this more light of truth of freedom could arrive through Russia and China in Burma in 2007 in UN Security Council or not?

One of the strongest weaknesses of United Nations structure in contemporary world is that military dictator also founds safe refuge in its blue wings. However its charter, objectives and principles suggests democratic and humane spirit. Probably these obvious contradictions make plausible to think & work hard towards UN reform and rightly strengthens the point put forward recently by the British Conservative leader and shadow foreign secretary William Hague about UN & Burma that, “the only club in the world in which a country can frequently violate the rules with little or no penalty.” (3)
Why Qatar voted against Burma’s walk towards freedom in UN Security Council 5526th meeting (15 September 2006) could be understood from the fact that, Qatar established its diplomatic ties at ambassadorial level with Burma’s military junta in September 2005. (4) However little earlier in the same year in January 2005, Qatar’s national airlines – Qatar Airways started four weekly services between Doha and Rangoon or Yangon. Although air services agreement between the Government of Burma and State of Qatar was signed on 24th November 2004. In which Qatar promised to work as a brand ambassador of Burma in Middle Eastern Countries. (5) Both countries also witnessed close cooperation with each other in Arabian Travel Mart held in Dubai from 1st of May 2005 to 3rd of May 2005. And for the first time Myanmar/Burma Marketing Committee under the Myanmar/Burma Tourism Board participated in any Middle Eastern Show together with Burma’s National Flag Carrier, Myanmar Airways International, Uniteam Tours and Travel Ltd., Interconnection Travels Ltd. and Asia Global Travels and Tours Co. Ltd. (6)

Qatar also enjoys close cooperation with Burma’s military junta in other regional forums like newly established (year 2002) – Asia Cooperation Dialogue (ACD). So the high level diplomatic game had been already set by the military junta in September 2006, to have Qatar’s vote in UN Security Council 5526th meeting. Although interestingly by this act, Qatar has backtracked from its official position announced in 5th Asia Cooperation Dialogue (ACD) meeting held on 23rd May 2006. It is important to note that Qatar’s Heir Apparent Sheikh Tamim Bin Hamad Al Thani declared his pledge at the official dinner for the ministerial meeting of the 5th ACD on 23rd May 2006 that, “Overall internal reforms that realize the rule of law and respect of human rights and secure popular participation in decision making alongside equality in rights and obligations,” would be the guiding principles of Asia wide cooperation. (7) However it is for Qatar, now to realize that by voting for military junta in Burma three months after their Doha pledge; how much of respect of human rights has been established in Asia wide cooperation?

Qatar’s voting against US freedom move for Burma in UN Security Council is also an important lesson for US diplomats to re-vitalize their Middle Eastern link for new directions. As US has approximately $ 90 billion dollars of investments in the Middle East and Qatar enjoys American private sector investment of three billion dollars, while the rate of US trade exchange with Qatar is around $ 800 million dollars. (8)

On 17th of December 2006, Burma’s Minister for National Planning and Economic Development, U Soe Tha and Deputy Minister for Labour, Maj-General Aung Kyi, made a surprising appearance before world media with equally surprising economic data of development. The important part of the economic development data press conference was the concluding remark of Mr. U Soe Tha that, “We are cooperating with all the UN agencies… & later points that, 14 UN agencies implementing 55 socio economic development projects and the starting point of Maj-General Aung Kyi’s word, “development of employment opportunities and Cooperation with ILO (International Labour Organization.” Military Generals also announced that, country’s industry sector has achieved average an annual growth rate of 11.6 percent in first short term plan, 11.4 percent in second short term plan and it increased sharply to 23.5 percent during the third short term plan together with agriculture sector received an average annual growth rate of 6.4 percent, 7.3 percent and 9.3 percent during the first, second and third short term plans respectively. And more interestingly the goal number one of the regime is to eradicate poverty and hunger. (9)

But one simple question, the world would like to know from the junta that, after such a wonderful growth, which anyone like to happen in Burma, Why this surprising growth is not percolating down to the people? And why ADB’s (Asian Development Bank) economic data has different story to tell about military rule in Burma? Or does this press conference have other objectives to show to the world about economic miracle; expecting impending UN Security Council resolution on Burma in 2007? So it is high time for the United Nations and UN Security Council to cross-check their own data bank that, how many times office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, General Assembly, since United Nations 48th session has ( Since UN Commission on Human Rights resolution 1992/58 of year 1992) passed resolutions (10) against military junta in Burma?


1. Franklin D. Roosevelt’s “Four Freedoms” Speech, January 6, 1941, Living Documents of American History compiled by Dr. Henry Steele Commager (Published by the United States Information Service, USA) 1956, p.70.

2. Mikhail Gorbachev, Perestroika: New Thinking for Our Country and the World, Harper & Row Publishers, New York, 1987, p. 75.

3. Tories Demand Human Rights Focus, BBC News, 12 December 2006.

4. Myanmar Establishes Diplomatic Ties with Qatar, People’s Daily Online, China, 30 September 2005.

5. Myanmar-Qatar Air Services Agreement Inked, Yangon, 24 November 2004, From Myanmar’s Permanent mission in Geneva website.

7. Unofficial Translation of the Speech of His Highness Qatar’s Heir Apparent Sheikh Tamim Bin Hamad Al Thani at the official dinner for the ministerial meeting of the 5th ACD, Doha, on 23rd May 2006.

8. US Investment in the Middle East at Approximately $ 90 Billion, Al-Hayat, 2 April 2005.

9. Myanmar and UN Agencies Jointly Implementing Programs, The New Light of Myanmar, Yangon, 18 December 2006, pp.6-10.

10. Situation of Human Rights in Myanmar, Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, UN, Symbol: E/CN.4/RES/1992/58, dated: 03/03/1992.

United Nations Security Council and Freedom from Fear in Burma (Part – 1)

December 27, 2006

On 1st of January 2007, when the world would be celebrating New Year’s arrival with great gaiety; five nations of the UN community – Belgium, Indonesia, Italy, Panama and South Africa will be taking their two-year elected term of non-permanent membership of the UN Security Council with the departure of Argentina, Greece, Japan, Denmark and United Republic of Tanzania from the Security Council board. The five outgoing member nations of Security Council in 2006 have already played their significant role in starting a journey towards freedom from fear by putting Burma’s long due question of democracy in the permanent agenda on council’s 15th September 2006 meeting. Although the United Republic of Tanzania abstained from the voting but its abstention also paved the way towards realization of democracy in Burma. Now the world has to see that, how Burma’s question and detention of Aung San Suu Kyi – world’s only imprisoned Nobel Peace Prize recipient gets tackled by the new five non-permanent members of Security Council in 2007? Indonesian Member of Parliament, Mr. Djoko Susilo has already made a historical appeal on 15th December 2006 in Asian Tribune, calling Muslims to support strong UN Security Council action on Burma particularly directed towards Qatar and Republic of the Congo to re-think their Burma policy. Qatar and Congo, which had voted against freedom move on Burma in Security Council’s 5526th meeting together with Russia and China, enjoys a new diplomatic relations with Burma’s military junta and are keen to exploit Burma’s energy and nuclear business market.

Russia and China, which are already in the race of capturing as much of the energy fields in Burma would see new competitor as Qatar in near future, if the comradeship goes in tandem in 2007 at the cost of human values and objectives of UN charter in the Security Council. And for uranium rich Congo, Burma could be a major MacKenna’s Gold field to sell its uranium to military junta’s new developing nuclear facilities near Setkhya Mountains and east of Mandalay in Maymyo.

It happened, as it was expected that Burma issue wouldn’t be taken up under Qatar’s Presidency of UN Security Council in December 2006. It is also unlikely that issue of freedom from fear in Burma would be included in January 2007, as Russia has the Presidency of the UN Security Council in that month. However the hope for freedom agenda could be expected in the month of February or March 2007, when Slovakia and United Kingdom consecutively gets the Presidency of UN Security Council. Burma’s military junta’s rich record of respecting human rights & values has already found its place in procedural matters of Security Council. And now it is high time for other big five powers (China, US, France, Russia and UK) to go beyond business propositions of profit maximization practices to include it as a substantive agenda to release Daw Suu Kyi from house arrest, who has already spent longest detention in Asia (to any political person) against the spirit & words of United Nations Charter.

It is for big five powers of Security Council to understand that United Nations various committees, commissions and working group like – United Nations working group on Arbitrary Detention’s recent fact finding mission to Turkey on 20th October 2006 would get real legitimacy, if they go with the true ethos of its establishment of resolution 1991/42 and freeing Daw Aung San Suu Kyi – the symbol of democracy in Asia.


Nepal has shown new light for the World…When others would follow suit …?

December 17, 2006

15th of December 2006 was a golden day in the history of Asia. Nepal – a small land locked country under the shadow of Himalayas had shown democratic nations of Asia, Africa and Latin America, an unfailing courage in setting the examples for world community to re-think their engagement with military regime in Burma popularly known as SPDC (State Peace and Development Council). On this very august day, the House of Representatives in Nepal put forward a proposal for the immediate release of Daw Aung San Suu Kyi and restoration of democracy in Burma, while welcoming Burma’s exile democratic leader Tint Swe in the House.
The speaker of the Nepal’s House of Representatives’, Mr. Subas Nembang remembered Suu Kyi – as a symbol of Asian democracy. Through this act of solidarity with Burmese people, Nepal has become first parliament in the world to table a proposal seeking the release of Suu Kyi, who had already spent more than 4000 days in the house arrest. Later on members of the Ex-MPs’ Club and the South Asian Forum for People’s Initiatives (SAFPI) took out a rally from Maitighar and submitted a memorandum to the United Nations Security Council through the UN House in Kathmandu, requesting the world’s powerful body to strongly think about human rights violation in Burma and take immediate action.

Lessons for China: Moreover it is also a message for China and India to re-think their support to military junta for a few petro-dollars at the cost of more than 1,144 political prisoners, including 14 members of parliamentarian suffering in Burma’s infamous jail. One of the important lessons for China is that their comrade-in-arms, Nepal’s ultra-leftist group CPN (UML) leader Bijaya Subba’s support to Burmese people along with Nepal Congress vice-president Sushil Koirala. Chinese leaders knowingly failed to understand that present military regime’s leadership in Burma not only rejects AFPFL’ (Anti-Fascist People’s Freedom League) & PVO (People’s Volunteer Organization) contribution in making Burma independent from colonial rule but it also equally accuses Burma Communist Party & Red Flag Party for all the misdeeds in Burma, however actually committed by them. (Act of Destruction and Armed Insurrection No Democracy, The New Light of Myanmar, Monday, 3 March 2003). And if the present regime continues unabated in power, it would be not far that, father of Burmese Nation -Aung San would be re-written by military junta as equally destructive personality as they used to write about – Daw Aung San Suu Kyi?

Lessons for India: When Nepal was securing her red-letters day in modern world history by passing a landmark resolution for the restoration of democracy in Burma on December 15th 2006, her largest democratic neighbour – India was unfortunately signing a trade pact with military regime for the development of Sittwe port in Burma on that very day. Through this bilateral agreement, India would invest Rs. 4.5 billion for the multi-model port development project, which would start next month and would be completed in the next three years, according to the press release of Minister of State for Commerce, Jairam Ramesh (India to help restore Myanmar Port,, 16-12-2006). It was one of the great paradoxes of modern world history that, Nepal which has always sought lessons for her democratic future from India, is now showing the light & commitment towards democracy to India. Probably present Indian leaders has forgotten their rich role played in modern Asian history. Nepal might also paying her debt to India by setting a new example, when the flame of democracy in Himalayan kingdom was lit alive by the sacrifices made by India’s Jaiprakash Narayan, Ram Manohar Lohia and Aruna Asaf Ali. The contributions made by Jaiprakash Narayan and Ram Manohar Lohia to Nepal’s establishment of democracy are historic moments in realizing people’s right to choose governments in Asia. Earlier, Indian leaders like Biju Patnaik (former Chief Minister of Orissa State in India) had fought as a pilot for the Indonesian independence & democratic cause.
Probably, Indian Prime Minister and Congress leader, Dr. Man Mohan Singh has forgotten even the words of one of his great leaders of India, Jawaharlal Nehru, that, “We in India have been conditioned throughout our history in a peculiar way. Our greatest leader of modern times was neither a man of wealth nor of military power, nor of position; yet the millions of India bowed their heads before him and tried to follow his great lead. This is the type of man we shall always honour, even in the modern world.” (Jawaharlal Nehru, in his welcome speech to US President – Eisenhower, on a state visit to New Delhi in December 1959). It is for the Indian Prime Minister, Man Mohan Singh has to analyze that, by engaging with military junta in Burma on the pretext of Look East policy, whom he is honouring – Nehru or Gandhi ji (whom J.L. Nehru was referring) or brutal military power in Burma? Or, Does noble laureate Suu Kyi truly following the path of Nehru by accepting Gandhi as her political guide and guru?


India’s Democracy in a Cease under “Car Diplomacy” ?

December 10, 2006

When Hans J. Morgenthau and Quincy Wright (Both famous University of Chicago Professor’s) had been writing their books entitled – Politics Among Nations and The Study of International Relations explaining the theory of Future of Diplomacy and the Art of Diplomacy, they wouldn’t have imagined that one day dynamics of international relations would enter into a new phase of Car Diplomacy by India on the pretext of serving national interest than inherent democratic traditions & political values.

Few days back on 5th of December 2006, an Indo-Myanmar Army Car Rally from Delhi to Burma/Myanmar was flagged off by the world’s largest democratic nation Defence Minister Mr. A.K. Antony. According to the Press Information Bureau (PIB), Government of India, Press Release (December 05, 2006), the rally, comprising fourteen teams including three from the Myanmar Army, will cover a distance of more than 8000 km. and traverse over rugged mountains, dense forest and numerous rivers. And the participants will pass through Indian States of Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Assam, Nagaland, Manipur and enter Burma at Moreh. When the rallyists finally reach Rangoon, a commemorative ceremony will be organised at the famous Taukkyan War Cemetery, where the rallyist will pay their respect to departed comrades with full Military honours. However most important part of the press release was the comment made by Mr. A.K. Antony, a famous congress leader from the South India well known for his honesty and Gandhian practices that, this car rally signifies closer Indo-Myanmar cooperation especially in Defence cooperation and having presence of Burma’s Chief of General Staff, General Thura Shwe Mann. Although India’s interaction with Burma’s military junta presently engaged in National Convention is not new. But strengthening defence cooperation through Car Rally certainly signifies the beginning of a Car Diplomacy in bilateral cooperation between a democratically elected government and the military forces denying the rights to rule to the elected representative of May 1990 elections in Burma. However, interestingly after two days of the inauguration of the rally; when Indian defence minister, Mr. Antony was asked in Lok Sabha about India’s maritime ties with countries of South-East Asian Region by the Member of Parliament Mr. Dushyant Singh, Mr. Antony gave written reply, that Indian Navy and the Indian Coast Guard have taken number of initiatives to enhance maritime cooperation with Thailand, Malaysia, Indonesia, Philippines, Vietnam and Singapore without mentioning the name of Myanmar (Maritime Ties With South-East Asian Region, PIB Press Release, 07 December, 2006).

Indian leaders doesn’t feel always happy to announce vocally their new look east policy honeymoon with Burma’s infamous military junta in Indian Parliament. However the dichotomy between an announcement of a foreign policy at public platform and active policy pursued had already taken Indian democracy in a cease. After all, India which supported the restoration of democratic movement in Burma from the March 1962 military coup to the beginning of constructive engagement with military junta through Look East Policy in 1992 under the former Prime Minister Mr. P.V. Narasimha Rao had already taken casualty of Indian democratic traditions & political values. The constructive engagement policy with Burma’s infamous military junta initiated by Narasimha Rao continued vociferously under National Democratic Alliance government of Atal Bihari Vajpayee. However when Congress regime came into power after 14th Lok Sabha Elections (20th April to 10th May 2004) and Mr. Manmohan Singh became the new Congress/UPA (United Progressive Alliance) Prime Minister of India, democracy lovers of Burma in India expected again support for the restoration of democratic movement like Rajiv Gandhi era. This hope got further strengthened considering Nehru-Gandhi family’s close connections with the family of Daw Aung San Suu Kyi and the death of Narasimha Rao. After four months of power at the centre, senior congress leaders official statement also reflected earlier commitment to democracy in Burma. When ruling Congress Party Working Committee member Anil Shastri (Son of the former Prime Minister of India – Late Lal Bahadur Shastri) strongly favoured restoration of democracy led by Daw Aung San Suu Kyi in a seminar entitled, “Indo-Myanmar Relations: Strengthening Civil Society Initiatives” organized by Mizzima News and the Other Media in September 2004. The present UPA government at the centre led by congress party in India might pursue the policy of engaging military junta for business, trade and short term strategic benefits but they couldn’t disown their own party position that Congress party supports restoration of democracy in all countries, including Burma/Myanmar.

How successful has been India’s new Burma policy of attaining prime objective of minimizing Chinese influence in Burma through Car Diplomacy can be analyzed by India’s Chief of Naval Staff Admiral Sureesh Mehta’s statement on 2nd of December 2006 on Naval day; that, China is creating a maritime area around India that could prove to be inimical to the country’s interest in the future. Admiral Mehta further said that India was surrounded by countries which were inclined towards China, such as Myanmar, and were building up a maritime area. He even opposed the inclusion of Chinese companies in maritime infrastructure projects and said these might misuse sensitive information such as hydraulic data (The Tribune, Chandigarh, India, 3rd of December 2006, also

However India’s jouney of car diplomacy with Burma has started two years back in November 22, 2004, when the Prime Minister, Dr. Manmohan Singh, flagged off the first India-ASEAN Car Rally from the Nehru Stadium, Guwahati , India. Manmohan Singh wanted at that time that Car Rally would capture the imagination of people of India & ASEAN, in demonstrating the essential oneness of integrated region including Burma. As he said in the inauguration and I quote that, “I see this Car Rally as a journey into the future, demonstrating the possibilities that can come about in trade, tourism, and people-to-people contact by bringing our countries together”, unquote (Prime Minister Flags off Indo-ASEAN Car Rally, Press Information Bureau, Government of India, Press Release, 22nd of November 2004). Although the original idea of ASEAN motor rally that would traverse roads linking the ASEAN countries was first mooted and thought by the former Indian Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee in October 2003 at the ASEAN summit in Laos. It was then visualized as an ideology to re-link trade routes among the ASEAN member countries (ASEAN…by road, The Hindu, New Delhi, Sunday Magazine, June 20, 2004, Page – 8). However one important thing Mr. Vajpayee and Manmohan Singh had been failed to understand that each drop of a petrol in car diplomacy might cost many drops of blood of Burmese people suffering under present military junta of Burma known as State Peace and Development Council (SPDC) without minimizing the Chinese strategic influence in Burma as well as betraying the trust of National Coalition Government of the Union of Burma (NCGUB) and the faith of Daw Aung San Suu Kyi in long terms of strategic foreign policy. Although the problem comes of realizing ASEAN+1 without Burma. In which, India could formulate a policy to engage other ASEAN member countries minimizing the intensive level of interaction with Burma’s military regime. And persuading the military junta for a dialogue with Suu Kyi and NLD (National League for Democracy). Otherwise, one day could come in future that the nation may loose valuable European Union Markets and trade benefits with USA, if the people of western civilization (not if the government) starts a movement to boycott those countries goods which interacts with Burma’s military regime through car diplomacy?