Archive for the ‘Modern Asian History’ category

Burma Review back on Web: burmareview.com is now burmareview.org

September 23, 2008

Burma Review is back on web at blogger.com / Google facilities as – burmareview.org / burmareview.blogspot.com web site. The journey of Burma Review was started on 5th of December 2006 at wordpress.com as burmareview.wordpress.com and later

shifted to the domain name: burmareview.com (which has been now taken by the other interested group to destroy the purpose of the concerned domain name, so now please don’t visit burmareview.com, the story of losing domain name on word press would be explained on other occasions, the forces behind it could be well understood) The old posts of Burma Review will remain available at bumareview.wordpress.com

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Lessons of Burma Uprising 2007

December 22, 2007

BY: Richard, Editor, Burma Dialogue (www.freesuukyi.org/blog )      

While we sit back and watch the junta predictably jump back and forth concerning the NLD and Aung San Suu Kyi’s level of involvement (http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/asia-pacific/7150488.stm)  in the masquerade they call a “road to democracy” we can at least say those who stood up will be remembered in the back pages of Time’s internet pages(http://www.time.com/time/specials/2007/personoftheyear/article/0,28804,1690753_1690758_1693514,00.html).    

Once again ASEAN, the UN, the US and the EU all seem to be under pressure to bring the regime under grand consequence, or the future will simply have no hope for us humanitarians. If my sarcasm is not obvious let me point it out for you. Negligence is the statue in which we embark to resolve.    Though we have done one thing I suppose. The United States passed a Bill(http://uk.reuters.com/article/oilRpt/idUKN1962807620071220) ending financial support for the flow of Burmese rubies and timber.  China will be happy to oblige. The real Burma timber market is going to China anyways.  The always reliable Telegraph (yes, more sarcasm) stated that in 2007 blogs (http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/main.jhtml;jsessionid=FXQWANC3XA4L3QFIQMFCFFOAVCBQYIV0?xml=/news/2007/10/01/wburma201.xml) helped the Burmese revolution.

They stated three, only one of which is actually a blog.    What the uprising of 2007 has taught me is that, it is not the action or inaction of any government or institution that plays any real role in the fight for freedom for the people of Burma. It is the individual, inside or outside of Burma that makes the case for his and her own freedom according to that which they are prepared to lay down. I have done a little here and there. I would like to do more. But no one has done as much as those in Burma, who were seen publicly, had their pictures taken and their names put on a list for questioning and imprisonment as thoroughly as the Nazi’s did it.    

But Time hides such human courage in the back pages, and names Putin, one of the junta’s largest supporters “Man of the Year”. It is clear we are on our own in this fight. I’m not saying anything new. Others know and are simply waiting for the right….Time.    

(The End)  

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Time has come for UN to act firmly on Burma

December 4, 2007

Burma’s ruling military junta officially known as State Peace and Development Council (SPDC), bolstered by the recent successful trip of the two ASEAN member nations – Cambodia and Vietnam of their Seven-step road map of democracy organized a Press Conference (No. 2/2007) yesterday, which has been published in today’s official media – The New Light of Myanmar;  once again reiterated that, they believed August-September 2007 people’s revolution “were the results of timely conspiracies of  western powers and anti-government groups inside and outside the country as well as at the border.”  Most interesting part of today’s published press conference is related with the news of fine contradictions of Junta appointed Daw Aung Suu Kyi’s liaison minister for Labour’s – U Aung Kyi’s statement with the statement of Information Minister – Brigadier General Mr. Kyaw Hsan’s statement in the same news report published on page number ten. While answering to the question of Nikei Newspaper correspondent, that, “Is there prospect of the negotiation between NLD led by Daw Aung San Suu Kyi and the government or is there any progress for the negotiation?”, the Information Minister replied that, “Before thinking about the prospect of the negotiation, we should see the progress in the meetings of Minister U Aung Kyi and Daw Aung San Suu Kyi first. Regarding the negotiation, the Government issued the announcement No 1/2007. Daw Aung San Suu Kyi has not yet responded to the announcement. The announcement No 1/2007 is the basic for all,” proving that the media reported three meetings of liaison minister’s talks with Daw Aung San Suu Kyi has not resulted in any positive outcome and progress.        

It is important to note that, earlier Burma’s ruling military junta had announced on 4th of October 2007 through their announcement No. 1/2007 (published on 5th of October of the New Light of Myanmar) that, “If Daw Aung San Suu Kyi declares to give up exerting efforts for Confrontation, Utter Devastation, and Imposing All Kinds of Sanctions including Economic Sanction against Myanmar then the Senior General – Mr. Than Shwe will personally meet her.” 

However, it is noteworthy that till now only one statement of Daw Aung San Suu Kyi has been published in the world press through the efforts of the United Nations Special Envoy of Burma – Mr. Ibrahim Agboola Gambari issued at Singapore on 8th of November 2007, in which she clearly welcomed, “the appointment on 8th of October of Minister Aung Kyi as minister for relations,” and said that, “Our first meeting on 25th October was constructive and look forward to further regular discussions. I expect that this phase of preliminary consultations will conclude soon so that a meaningful and time bound dialogue with the SPDC leadership can start as early as possible.”  She further reiterated in her 8th of November statement that, “In the interest of the nation, I stand ready to cooperate with the government in order to make this process of dialogue a success and welcome the necessary good offices role of the United Nations to help facilitate our efforts in this regard.”

However, today’s published statement by the Information Minister indicates and proves that, Junta’s intention of negotiation is nothing but fooling the world community, UN and ASEAN member nations, whereas Daw Aung San Suu Kyi seriously wants to cooperate with the military junta towards genuine democratic transformation.       

In the same news report published today, when Reuter’s news Agency correspondent – U Aung Hla Tun asked liaison Minister for Labour – Mr. U Aung Kyi, that, “Is there time frame for Daw Aung San Suu Kyi to respond to the announcement No 1/2007 as she has not yet responded to the announcement? Can we expect that she will respond to the announcement? I want to know the progress of the meetings between U Aung Kyi and Daw Aung San Suu Kyi”, the liaison minister replied that, “I met with Daw Aung San Suu Kyi for three times. We have made progress at the meetings. The first meeting was aimed at gaining understanding between us. The second meeting was to discuss frameworks for the future. The third meeting was to discuss the facts that should be included in the framework. We will release information related to the meetings when necessary. Regarding the time frame, we will continue to hold meetings with Daw Aung San Suu Kyi. We need to consider “what” to discuss and “why”. We are choosing “What” and “Why”. So, we will take “Where”, “How” and “When” into consideration in the future”, indicating the whole structure of negotiations is an attempt  of buying time to go-ahead with their planned seven-step roadmap of democracy and well designed move to suppress the democratic forces led by Daw Aung San Suu Kyi.     

If after two months of the appointment of liaison minister, Daw Suu Kyi is not allowed freely to meet world press and still suffering under house arrest and SPDC is still wavering on “What”, “Why”, Where, “How”, and “When”, then the time has ripped now to act sternly on Burma with firm hands by the United Nations and ASEAN?       

(Note: For reader’s clear understanding of the issue, please find below the announcement No. 1/2007 as well as the statement of Daw Aung San Suu Kyi released on 8th of November by the UN Special Envoy of Burma at Singapore on 8th of November 2007) 

   

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DOCUMENT No. 1: Daw Aung San Suu Kyi’s Statement released at Singapore by the UN special envoy – Mr. Ibrahim Gambari on 8th of November 2007.  

As you know, I have just completed a mission to Myanmar from 3 to 8 November, where I met today with Daw Aung San Suu Kyi. In my capacity as Special Advisor to the Secretary-General for Myanmar. I was authorized by Daw Aung San Suu Kyi to make the following statement on her behalf:  

  1. I wish to thank all those who have stood by my side all this time, both inside and outside my country. I am also grateful to the Secretary-General of the United Nations, Mr. Ban Ki-moon, for his unwavering support for the cause of national reconciliation, democracy and human rights in my country.

  2. I welcome the appointment on 8th of October of Minister Aung Kyi as minister for relations. Our first meeting on 25th October was constructive and look forward to further regular discussions. I expect that this phase of preliminary consultations will conclude soon so that a meaningful and time bound dialogue with the SPDC leadership can start as early as possible.

  3. In the interest of the nation, I stand ready to cooperate with the government in order to make this process of dialogue a success and welcome the necessary good offices role of the United Nations to help facilitate our efforts in this regard.

  4. In full awareness of the essential role of political parties in democratic societies, in deep appreciation of the sacrifices of the members of my party and in my position as General Secretary, I will be guided by the policies and wishes of the National League for Democracy. However, in this time of vital need for democratic solidarity and national unity, it is my duty to give constant and serious considerations to the interests and opinions of as broad a range of political organization and forces as possible, in particular those of our ethnic nationality races.

  5. To that end, I am committed to pursue the path of dialogue constructively and invite the government and all relevant parties to join me in this spirit.

  6. I believe that stability, prosperity and democracy for my country, living at peace with itself and with full respect for human rights, offers the best prospect for my country to fully contribute to the development and stability of the region in close partnership with its neighbors and fellow ASEAN members and to play a positive role as a respected member of the international community.

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DOCUMENT No. 2: SPDC’s Announcement No. 1/2007 issued on 4th of October 2007 published on 5th of October 2007 in the New Light of Myanmar:   

The Government of the Union of MyanmarAnnouncement No. 1/20078th Waning Day of Tawthalin, 1369 ME

(4th October 2007)  

1. In the Union of Myanmar, the Government and the people are striving hand in hand to build up a new democratic nation. 

2. However, starting from 28th August 2007, there occurred demonstrations of some monks. The demands made by the demonstrators in the beginning were only to bring down commodity prices but later the demands made by them were nothing to do with monks and it was found to be the wishes of a political party and other organizations aspiring to create unrest. Unrests occurred due to the attempts of those who want to grab power through short-cut and that of some foreign nations to destabilize the nation. 

3. The unrests are now totally under control by authorities for ensuring stability and the rule of law, with the cooperation of Sanghas and people who do not want any unrest. 

4. Due to lopsided broadcasts by some international media, some member nations of the United Nations Organization were worried about Myanmar’s situation and the UN Secretary-General sent his Special Envoy Mr Ibrahim Agboola Gambari to Myanmar to make urgent investigation and submit a report. 

5. Myanmar is grateful to some member nations of the UN for their understanding upon Myanmar’s situation and their principled stances. 

6. Mr Gambari arrived Myanmar on 29th September. He witnessed the situation has returned to normalcy and he had an opportunity to pay a courtesy call on State Peace and Development Council Chairman Senior General Than Shwe. Mr Gambari also had opportunities to meet with those worthy to be met for enquiring the situation. 

7. At the courtesy call, State Peace and Development Council Chairman Senior General Than Shwe mentioned Mr Gambari that Daw Aung San Suu Kyi has been exerting efforts for Confrontation, Utter Devastation, and Imposing All Kinds of Sanctions including Economic Sanction against Myanmar. If she declares to give them up, the Senior General will personally meet her. 

8. At present, the people of various States and Divisions all over the country are convening mass rallies to support the National Convention and welcome the forthcoming Constitution as well as to denounce recent unrests. 

9. Hence, the Government, with the support and in response to confidence and aspiration of the people, will continue to build up the nation into a discipline flourishing genuine democratic one in accordance with the seven-step Road Map.  

By order,

(Signed)Thant Shin

ColonelSecretary

The Government of the Union of Myanmar    

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The World Must Not Give Up!

December 4, 2007

By: Min Khin Kyaw 

(The author is 88 Generation leader, poet and artist)  

I have been inspired by the international pressure on the junta so far. More recently, both England and France and the US keeps reminding the dialogue must go ahead and for that the pressure on the junta is not waning. Unfortunately, the junta is still refusing to negotiate with the United Nations – let alone with democratic movement as more arrests have been there. And sending troops to KNU and tensions with others insurgent groups also indicates the resurfacing disagreement of the junta over the political developments – is another rejection of the totalitarian rule.

We have seen in Singapore that, how the junta has tried to treat – Mr. Gambari like other special UN envoys to Burma. Unlike previous envoys, he seems to possess a special quality but he still has to outwit the junta even though the international pressures are supporting his mission.   We certainly have to see the dialogue between Daw Aung San Suu Kyi and U Than Shwe. This is the tasks and main objective. However, he has no motive for dialogue and not even responding to let her see her team again. So it’s sure she will not be released – despite EU and ASEAN has asked in Singapore summit. It’s crystal clear that the junta will not give up its ground even an inch.    

Instead of worry, we only have one condition – to push ahead no matter what. I want to see people more united and trying to do just for that. As long as the general population of Burma can boycott the authorities in various ways or showing defiance, I hope the authorities themselves will become inspired and sometimes in the future they would side with the people. The monks must keep leading the way of defying.   

On the other hand, Mr. Gambari must not give up despite knowing how the scenario between him and the junta will develop. I think both NLD and the generals must give their roadmap plans to Mr. Gambari: what to discuss and how to discuss with a timeframe so he will be able to develop a workable structure; and also he can discuss the plan with the concern parties including ASEAN countries. Even if the junta wouldn’t give its plan to Mr. Gambari, as it’s about to push the seven step roadmap ahead as China seems to be happy with it, Mr. Gambari should get the plans of NLD and develop it into the framework for discussion.   It seems the neighbours of the junta are giving no real pressure, although they warmly welcomed Mr. Gambari. I think he has more works to do with them. If necessary, he should ask them to speak with the junta as far as the region concerns; if they don’t, then there is no real pressure – especially from China  

Apart from above, we need that the international community should ask junta to pardon all activists arrested recently.   

ASEAN with Burma Issue  

It is good that, ASEAN still thinks that there is a chance for good change. However, the idea of giving humanitarian aids to the junta, the Cambodian view as a member of ASEAN, is just another repetition. But the lesson of the past is forgotten, that, if a support is not for itself, the junta simply doesn’t accept?

I think, it appears as ASEAN is still hopeful that humanitarian effort of the good offices would be accepted. As ASEAN insists the junta needs support – then, ASEAN has to push the junta to accept such supports and if it ever happens, this effort of ASEAN will not be forgotten. It’s true the people of Burma need humanitarian aids: medical supply and education about various diseases, especially HIV; and the sooner this happens, the better. Therefore, both UN and ASEAN should insist the junta to do just for this.

However, the forced closure of a monastery that provided HIV patients is a contradiction to this idea unfortunately; and also the effort HIV doctor Ma Phyu Phyu Thin was disrupted and now she is detained despite the wishes of international community to keep restraints in further arrests. Yet, ASEAN can do the push and it will be a good task for ASEAN to seek this through firm realistic commitment. But what if the junta denies again? Before any attempt, ASEAN should have alternative ideas.  

If ASEAN is happy about this idea, it must develop the plan agreed by its members as soon as possible. It must include the consideration of refugees along the borders, Burmese workers in ASEAN countries and political developments with various insurgent groups who will have to give up fighting, when they get peace and security of their peoples.   

And ASEAN should consider how politics of all ethnic groups can be improved by humanitarian efforts; it’s true that the ethnics are desperate to get attention from regional countries. As soon as an agreement for peace between the junta and the ethnic groups, especially the Karens, as a fresh fighting between the two sides is looming, the dream of a democratic country of united ethnics of Burma will become closer to be true.   Politically, ASEAN has to be more careful than ever as the seven step roadmap effort of the junta is a serious issue. As the junta is denying to see and free political leaders to participate in the process of reconciliation and composing future constitution, there people cannot accept any development that made by the junta alone with its 54 misrepresentatives of the people. Hence, ASEAN must not show any gesture that can be interpreted as agreement or support to the foul effort of the junta.   Even though Democracy in Burma and peace in the region will certainly benefit every country that has relationship with Burma, as long as the ASEAN is more content with current situation than to be busy with an attempt for a better future, Burmese people will not have equal share of any good things in the region. 

Business with the Junta  

Once again, the debate of doing business with the ruling military junta has re-emerged that, it is ethical or not? And the case of TOTAL is always remain a good example! Recently the management of TOTAL has argued that, “We feel the country would have evolved much more if more responsible companies had remained… Development of human rights goes along with the development of the economy.”   Then how many people are currently employed by TOTAL and how much do they get paid has to be answered by TOTAL? It is also necessary to know that, how much junta receives every year from TOTAL and how much does the junta spends for the people from that income? In the areas where TOTAL operates, do all people get the similar benefits or how have they been affected because of TOTAL’s operations or are they affected to get worse? Now how can TOTAL calculate it gives better life for the people where it operates?  By the argument ‘Development of human rights goes along with the development of the economy’, TOTAL has to come up with a statement how it can improve the entire Burma with its operations with the junta that the junta will comply with the idea of development. And TOTAL has to provide evidences that the junta is doing just that.   And also, as TOTAL has argued for all business tied with the junta by its statement on economy provides human rights development, TOTAL has to prove that all other companies are doing the same to develop the local communities.

But how long will the people of Burma have to wait for the human right development made by this kind of business-bound efforts. Can TOTAL calculate year-by-year improvement that happened in past few years? How many years have passed and what have happened for the sake of the people and are they sufficient enough to be desirable?   And does TOTAL care about entire Burma or just a local where it operates? It’s clear that by its own words, TOTAL cares only about its operation but ignoring the entire Burma and the concern of wider community.  

We all know that many people were forced to move and lost their livelihoods as consequence of business projects. Now also, the dam projects in Burma will make everything bad luck to the local people. TOTAL cannot deny this. Even in China, dams are causing problems every year. There is no regulation in Burma that the project must conduct properly so it will be worse. As doing business in Burma, anything happening in Burma is directly related to TOTAL whilst the entire country is fighting against the junta which TOTAL is supporting. But not only TOTAL, all other businesses that link with the junta are a main concern of income for the junta. As TOTAL and all other companies in Burma cannot improve Burma in a few years, they must leave; the reason is once there is no income, the junta will fall in a year.   

If TOTAL (and any other companies) is really concerned about human rights, it must work with democratic side and oppose the junta. Unless TOTAL changes side, its argument is only a self-serving rhetoric. TOTAL, as a major gas company has to explain, why the junta imposed the price hikes on fossil fuels that caused the recent political movements?

(The End) 

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