Silk Diplomacy or Slippery Diplomacy on Burma Crisis?

Yesterday, the Thai Prime Minister, Mr. Surayud Chulanont had proposed a four party mediation to solve the impending Burma crisis to the visiting UN envoy – Mr. Ibrahim Gambari. The proposal seeks to engage members of ASEAN including Burma, China, India and United Nations to solve the political and economic crisis on the pattern of North Korean six-party mediation. Thailand, through this proposal, which had been popularly known in Asia for its swift silk diplomacy in maintaining independence even during colonial days, appears that, it wants to propose a slippery road for Burma’s long cry for democracy.       

Although, the Thai Prime Minister was honest in admitting before Mr. Gambari’s visit on 12th of October in a weekly television programme Perd Baan Phitsanulok, that, “I cannot preach too much about democracy if our government is not an elected one. If the Burmese junta shoots back with the question, who put me in this position, what would I say? He further explained honestly that, “Please don’t forget that I am not an elected prime minister.”        

Moreover, the said Thai proposal had been not new of multi-party talks, which was also earlier indicated by Mr. Surayud on 12th of October by limiting the role of the United Nations in Burma crisis. But, now question emerges that, if United Nations is unable to solve the Burma crisis then, how come China, India and ASEAN will solve the question of freedom of Daw Aung San Suu Kyi and other political prisoners? It has been said many a times that, presently, ASEAN hasn’t got any rules to expel its any errant member nations and China closeness with the military regime is a well known fact. The proposal has other limitations too, that it has not spelt out any clear points, that, how UN or ASEAN will take part in the negotiations? Whether the office of UN Secretary General will represent the UN in Thai Proposal or United Nations Security Council will represent the UN or any representative like Mr. Gambari would represent the UN? Likewise, ASEAN Secretary General will represent the ASEAN or any representatives nominated by ASEAN will represent the four party talks? However regarding ASEAN, there are indications that all ten member nations will participate in the Thai proposal as it has been said that, Burma is included in ASEAN. But if Burma’s military regime gets the chance to be represented on negotiation table then why largest democratic groups representation NLD or NCGUB etc. of Burma are left out?  Although, the UN Secretary General’s Special envoy on Burma – Mr. Gambari had not spell out any thing on Thai proposal. And, if China can participate separately in mediation, apart from her status of permanent membership of UNSC, then why not  USA and UK together with EU?       

Since last weeks, one of the positive and realistic approaches to the problem has come from the British Prime Minister – Mr. Gordon Brown, that, if military junta agrees towards genuine democracy, then, G-7 group of industrialized nations, EU, Portugal, China, India, IMF, World Bank and ASEAN could work towards economic recovery of the country and Britain would take lead in the concerned rebuilding of Burma. However, Burma’s yesterday’s official newspaper – The New Light of Myanmar’s (16th October 2007), once again reiterated that it doesn’t care for the response of international community and United Nations Security Council presidential text of 11th of October 2007.  Furthermore, it intentionally tries to convey repeatedly with the support gained from Russian and Chinese veto in January 2007, that, “there is no one in Myanmar who is in prison for political reasons” (The New Light of Myanmar, 16 October 2007, page-6), as if Daw Aung San Suu Kyi and other thousands behind bars had been there for ‘trading or committing crime’ in Burma? Yes, in the eyes of military junta, which SPDC accepts nakedly before international institutions like UNSC and ASEAN in their official newspapers, that, those who speak freely are criminals, those who gather to question government policies non-violently are criminals?      

The whole world knows that, curfews in Burma are only for those who questions lost legitimacy of the military government of May 1990 elections and freedom of Daw Aung San Suu Kyi. Does world community has become blind that, they can’t see regular photographs appearing from 1st of October in the New Light of Myanmar in support of Junta sponsored  support rallies for National Convention with thousand arranged chairs in Stadium? Everybody knows that a person who participates in rallies does not come with Chairs, arranged tables with table clothes? Even if one looks minutely to the photograph of pro-junta rally in support of proposed National Convention can easily identify the same size and stand with new flags. Whether any common mass has got the factory to prepare new flags and same size of flag stands? The spontaneous peoples support could be seen in August-September democratic monks and peoples protests, where new flag stand or flags and arranged chair had been missing from the protests scene and streets. Earlier, BBC had also reported that, Junta orders with threatening messages to family, organization, factories to send given number of people to send them for rallies in support of National Convention. Common people in Burma knows that, no-body or UN is presently coming as their saviours, so follow the authoritarian dictates, otherwise they will loose another family member.       

Moreover, today’s official newspaper – The New Light of Myanmar (page no. 1), clearly accepts that, “Those who led, got involved in, and supported the unrest which broke out in September were called in and are being interrogated,” and “Out of 2284 persons who were called in from Yangon up to date, 2094 were already released on pledge and there are 190 persons left. Similarly, out of 643 persons who were called in from the states and divisions so far, 365 were already released after they had taken the pledge and there are 278 left. Some are still called in for questioning and those who should be released will be released.” And naturally interrogation with the protestors had been not going on with serving coffee and tea but with threatening and third degree treatments. In addition, those who had been released are common masses and not the leaderships as demanded many a times by the former Secretar-General of the United Nations (UNSG) or present UNSG. Moreover, on 2nd of October 2007, Human Rights Council special meetings had also endorsed the right to peaceful assembly. Does, vetoing nations of January 2007, China and Russia are not seeing that, junta is not allowing this right, which they endorsed on 2nd of October and is engaged in taking threatening pledges from protestors?        

Even Gandhi ji had stated many times during Indian independence movement that, common mass has not got immense strength to fight for longer times, so we need rest for the movements. He further stresses that, it doesn’t mean that movement and masses have been marginalized. So how long, world community would wait for proposal’s like silk diplomacy to act on Burma? Or, it wants to wait for the moment to see Burma, once again bleed like – Rwanda, Ivory Coast etc. to discuss the matter in air-conditioned meeting halls of United Nations Security Council? If UNSC and United Nations can’t solve the Burma problem as spoken by the Thai Prime Minister then, what is the need of maintaining such an international institutions with huge costs, let it also fail like ‘League of Nations’?        



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