Toward Democracy, Human Rights and Federalism

Friday, February 3, 2012

Dr Tint Swe: Burma's military junta survives thanks to world’s hypocrisy

Thursday, July 30 2009, 03:10 PM EDT

Dr Tint Swe, a member of the NCGUB -- formed by elected representatives from Burma after the elections of 1990 -- describes the situation of his country on the eve of the verdict in the trial against Aung San Suu Kyi, with an eye on the elections in 2010.

The situation in Burma goes from bad to worse. The free market economy, foreign investment and trade with China, India and the countries of South Asia cannot bring Burma out of the least developed country (LDC) status even after over 20 years. The military is prepared for the next phases, which is to legalize their grip on power by holding a new election in 2010. Ethnic groups are subjected to tremendous pressure to be transformed into border guards. This process is being done by hook or by crook. UN Secretary General’s two-day visit to Burma last month could bring only a lip-service that said the regime would grant so-called amnesty before the election i.e. more criminal and less political prisoners will be released.

We then need to add a few more important facts about my country. Burma has become a nuclear power while the population's living conditions are extremely poor. The country is selling natural gas to Thailand and China while people have to cut wood from trees to cook. According to 2005 UNDP survey one third of the population live below the poverty line. Inflation is adding to the economic burden, with the price of rice, for example, up by 30 percent over the past year alone. But the regime is rich enough to construct a series of secret underground tunnels reportedly built with North Korean help.

There are clear differences between the positions of the Indian government and the movement for democracy in Burma. One of them is the controversial roadmap of the regime. The roadmap was unilaterally withdrawn and abandoned by the military in 2003 just after Suu Kyi was ambushed and put under house arrest for the third time. The National Assembly was reduced to a façade. The constitution was entirely flawed. Neither a civilian nor a woman can become the president. The referendum was a huge scam and as will be the elections of 2010.

I want all countries to stop selling arms to Burmese regime because arms are meant for killing pro-democracy activists and ethnic peoples. I want India to refrain from defending the regime at the international forums; at the United Nations, at the International Labor Organization, and at the UN Commission on Human Rights.

In 2007 while thousands of monks were protesting, India was only country which sent a cabinet minister to sign a memorandum with the regime. And earlier, India fully supported that roadmap as expressed by Indian President Dr. A.P.J. Abdul Kalam on March 9, 2006 during his visit to Burma. Moreover, India sent a cabinet minister to the funeral of Burmese Prime Minister who was known for his bloody hand in crackdowns on pro-democracy activists

The constructive engagement approach championed by the Southeast Asian bloc (ASEAN) proved ineffective. At the same time western sanctions were eased for humanitarian reason. But those same people did not criticize the military regime which deliberately blocked international aid during devastating cyclone Nargis when 140,000 died. The blame game does not help poor people of Burma. Now the new American administration is reviewing its Burma policy. My question why not India!

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