Written by U Ne Oo on 2001-01-11
There are news report, from United Nations and other reliable sources,
about some form of talk has taken place between the junta and NLD leaders.
We are a much battered exiled-opposition, who would rather treat any good
news with proper caution and even with cynicism. Nevertheless, a 'good
news' can make you feel 'good', at least superficially. No meant spoiling
the party of the UN Secretary-General and his team, a deeper analysis on
the facts of report shows logical inconsistencies:
- Firstly, the AP reports talk between two side had began in October 2000. If thing were moving positively since then, the Human Rights Special Rapporteur would not have resigned;
- Secondly, if SPDC/SLORC were to make reconciliation with opposition, the progress on other side-issues (SPDC/SLORC considered human rights/humanitarian as side issue), must have already been made. We still have not seen any progress made with ILO in particular. We all are aware about the positive report on Burma by ILO Technical Mission, a contrasted ILO GB decision to take action and how the UN General Assembly has failed to take into account of the ILO inquiry;
- Thirdly, for such news to have positive influence on international community (and the exiles), it has to come from Aung San Suu Kyi and NLD leaders themselves. Otherwise, different interpretations by different people, that include people in the UN and media, tend to exaggerate any positive effect.
SPDC/Slorc and ASSK/NLD has been to this position before. Notably in 1994, the day after Clinton ordered his troops to march into Haiti, the meeting between Suu Kyi and Burmese generals took place. This time, no such event has been around. It however likely that General Khin Nyunt's "Papa" has told him to stage a meeting with opposition in order to get on good terms with incoming Bush administration. Khin Nyunt's "Papa" himself has been trying to do just that on the advise of "Papa's" business partner who live in the US.
Whether any dialog has began in Burma, true progress should be measured in terms of human rights improvements. Are there any release of political prisoners in a large scale ? Does NLD being allowed to conduct their meetings ? How would the ILO missions be cooperated to end forced labor ? How the UN High Commissioner for Refugees and other humanitarian organisation be given unhindered access to most part of Burma ? Are there any drugs being left in junta's military warehouses ? A dialog, in no doubt, is the key to solving all the problems. However, progress on these area are not seen, and a report kept unchecked with ASSK/NLD, we are to assess any report of dialog merely as junta's public relation exercise.
With best regard, U Ne Oo.
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Posted Tue 9 January 01; 02:00GMT
BURMA DEMOCRACY MOVEMENT AND CHANGE OF GUARD IN USA
After unprecedented debated on who should be the winner of presidential election, the George Bush Jnr, the US Republican President-elect will take office by the end of January 2001. With regards to Burma, we heard none of the officials from incoming administration have spell out their policy on Burma. The issues on Burma in US, however may we (democracy activists) feel urgency for attention, have never been high on American foreign policy agenda. Given this US foreign policy climate, the Clinton Administration over the years has been publicly supportive towards Burma democracy movement. Having said that, there had also been a lack of substantive political support towards our movement by the US administration. Our colleagues can recall various policy suggestions made over the years, which have not been supported by the US administration. Incoming administration with respect to Burma in particular and Asia in general is still an unknown quantity. We, therefore, must advocate President Clinton as well as the incoming administration to at least maintain current US policy, and increase pressure whenever possible, on the Burmese junta.
BE AWARE ABOUT "PETTY MINDERS"
Whenever there is an administration change in a democratic country, there will be atleast change of tone - if not substance - regarding with foreign policy. Country like Burma, which is always not at the center of US foreign policy, even such a change of tone in Washington can be significant. It is therefore important for the incoming US administration to keep condemning the junta.
The western politicians of any stripe, elected and unelected, are generally broad-minded in comparison to everyday persons (definitely much more than Burmese generals), and have the objectivity on political issues. Such broad-mindedness and objectivity are the basis for political cooperations. Unfortunately, to my experience (i.e. Australia specific), this has not always been the case. Some politicians (elected/un-elected) cannot raise above the narrowness of the so-called 'partisan view', which can cloud freign policy objectives. Things can certainly get worse if the new administration coming in with different agenda re: human rights in general. Such has been the case in current Liberal government's first term (1996), which came with a specific agenda of 'political incorrectness' (2nd term Liberal government has a lot better attitude towards human rights) . On the other hand, a politician has to have an ego (otherwise wouldn't be able to maintain power) and usually like to put their stamp on the situation; this is not necessarily a bad thing sometime.
The new US President seems to be, at least on the surface, as politically correct as President Clinton. Firstly, a careful arrangement is made to include minority representation in the administration. How much the administration will commit to the global causes for democracy and human rights (which Burma is a small part) is still to be seen. We don't know for sure how new US President will behave and how will he wield his power in next four years. nevertheless, one thing about the new president is that, if he ever misbehave during his term in the office, we may be able to complain it to his father.
With best regards, U Ne Oo