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Archive for January 12th, 2008

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PDF: the-goal-a-transition-to-democracy.pdf

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Written by Lwin Aung Soe

January 12, 2008 at 7:53 am

The goal: A transition to democracy

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By R. NICHOLAS BURNS

www.state.gov

Posted on Fri, Jan. 11, 2008

Three months have passed since the world called on Burma’s dictators, Gens. Than Shwe and Maung Aye, to end their brutal crackdown on tens of thousands of peaceful monks and other demonstrators and to begin a genuine dialogue with Burma’s democratic and ethnic minority leaders — with the goal of a transition to democracy. The time has come for them to act.

With the strong backing of the U.N. Security Council, U.N. special advisor Ibrahim Gambari has made two trips to Burma, also called Myanmar, since the crackdown to try to facilitate a dialogue. Through him, democratic leader and Nobel Peace laureate Aung San Suu Kyi has reaffirmed her willingness to participate in a ”meaningful and time-bound” dialogue to be joined by representatives of the country’s ethnic minority groups.

Arresting activists

This is a rare opportunity to help put Burma on the path to democratic civilian rule and to greater stability and prosperity. But while the regime initially made a few unremarkable gestures, such as appointing an official to interact with Aung San Suu Kyi and allowing her to meet once with a few democratic colleagues, it has since halted even this hint of progress and, in fact, has moved backward.

It has continued to arrest activists and harass Buddhist monks, recently closing a monastery that served as an AIDS hospice. Aung San Suu Kyi remains under house arrest, and the junta has refused her request to have two colleagues serve as liaisons to the government. On Dec. 3, senior regime officials delivered their harshest comments yet, rejecting any role for the opposition in drafting the constitution, blaming Aung San Suu Kyi for the lack of progress on a dialogue and describing the September demonstrations it suppressed as “trivial.”

The United States does not regard such violence and the beating, detention and reported torture of peaceful protesters, including monks, as trivial. As first lady Laura Bush has said, “it seems the generals are indifferent to the Burmese people’s suffering, but the rest of the world is not.”

Dialogue would enable the Burmese people, through legitimate political and ethnic representatives, to discuss with the regime ways to broaden the political process — including participation in the drafting of a constitution. This way the results will have legitimacy and popular support, allowing the full array of talent available in Burmese society to tackle the country’s many problems.

The greatest threat

While the regime argues that it is the only force capable of keeping the country unified and that any change outside its control risks turmoil and instability, the reality is that the regime and its policies are the greatest threat to Burma’s unity, stability and prosperity.

The military rulers have brought about a steady decline in living standards and a deterioration in educational and public health systems. They have caused a continuing flow of refugees, narcotics and dangerous diseases into neighboring countries, and have so distressed and frustrated the people that they took to the streets by the thousands despite the risk of brutal suppression.

This is a horrendous track record, but Aung San Suu Kyi and other democratic leaders have nevertheless said that the Burmese military has an important role to play in a peaceful transition to democracy. With Than Shwe and Maung Aye showing no willingness to move in this direction, many in their regime should be increasingly uncomfortable with their policies and the country’s direction.

The United States wants to see a strong, prosperous, stable and free Burma. We are convinced that the only way to achieve this objective is through the sort of broad national dialogue that Gambari is trying to facilitate with Security Council support. That’s why it is critical that China, India, the ASEAN countries and Burma’s other neighbors use any and all influence to support the U.N. effort and press the regime to initiate a dialogue. It is also why the United Nations should quicken the pace of its diplomacy.

Release Aung San Suu Kyi

As part of this effort, the United States will continue to target regime leaders and their cronies with sanctions. President Bush has promised that our country will continue to pressure the Burmese dictators to ensure that there is no return to business as usual. The world must not turn its back on the people of Burma and allow the regime’s disregard for human dignity to continue. Together, we must apply sustained and strong pressure while making clear that a successful dialogue leading to a political transition would enable Burma to make a full return to the international system.

There are steps the junta could take immediately that would signal its seriousness — releasing Aung San Suu Kyi and others, allowing them freedom of association and ending the ongoing crackdown. Meanwhile, Gambari plans to return to Burma soon. It is time for the generals to tell him — and the Burmese people — that they will begin a genuine dialogue and take the steps necessary for it to succeed. The time has come to ask the senior generals: What are you waiting for?

R. Nicholas Burns is U.S. undersecretary of state for political affairs.

©2007 The Washington Post

http://www.miamiherald.com/851/story/375058.html 

Written by Lwin Aung Soe

January 12, 2008 at 3:18 am

World Focus on Burma (12 Jan 08)

  1. Border Trouble
    Tehelka, India –
    The people of the alienated region of India, which is surrounded by Bhutan, Tibet, Burma (Myanmar) and Bangladesh traditionally pursue a policy of hatred …
  2. Shot at American life
    Fort Wayne Journal Gazette, IN –
    Many came from a refugee camp on the border of Myanmar, formerly called Burma, and Thailand and had never seen a basketball game before moving to this …
  3. Six Film Clips from RAMBO!
    IESB.NET, CA –
    On the nearby Thai-Burma (Myanmar) border, the w
  4. Africa: The Return of Rambo
    AllAfrica.com, Washington –
    … traded his guns for a fishing reel, the world’s longest running civil war rages into its 16th year on the nearby Thai-Myanmar (formerly Burma) border. …
  5. Crackdown in Burma: Targeted Sanctions Needed
    Human Rights Watch (press release) –
    These entities include several Burmese government companies whose earnings benefit the military, such as the Myanmar Oil and Gas Enterprise (MOGE), …
  6. Burma’s Gem Trade and Human Rights Abuses
    Human Rights Watch (press release) –
    The military-owned Union of Myanmar Economic Holdings Company (UMEH) operates as a conglomerate that owns many businesses in Burma, including in the …
  7. Burma: Boycott Gems Funding Military Repression
    Human Rights Watch (press release) –
    The upcoming gem auction is organized by the Union of Myanmar Economic Holdings Company Ltd., a military conglomerate. Shares in the holding company are …
  8. Japan, Mekong foreign ministers to meet in Tokyo on Wednesday+
    TOKYO, Jan. 11 (Kyodo) – Japanese Foreign Minister Masahiko Komura will host a regional meeting in Tokyo on Wednesday with his counterparts from Cambodia, Thailand, Vietnam, Myanmar and Laos to strengthen Japan…
  9. Myanmar’s ruling junta warns public to be vigilant after bomb …
    PR-Inside.com (Pressemitteilung), Austria –
    AP YANGON, Myanmar (AP) – Myanmar’s ruling junta warned the public to be vigilant and report suspicious activities following a bombing that killed one woman …
  10. Healthcare Help for the Burmese
    40 percent of their adult population is infected with latent TB and Hepatitis. We’re talking about the Burmese refugee population in
    Fort Wayne and it will soon get some big help when it comes to healthcare. ..
  11. Let 2008 be year of resolve
    Canada, in recent years, has been more about aspiration than determination. We wish to reduce our greenhouse-gas emissions, and to lead the struggles for freedom, prosperity, justice and peace. This year, Can…
  12. Myanmar sailor missing from sunken cargo ship found dead
    Philippine Star, Philippines –
    SEOUL (AP)-A Myanmar sailor missing from a cargo ship that sank off South Korea’s south coast last month has been found dead, a Coast Guard official today …

Written by Lwin Aung Soe

January 12, 2008 at 3:02 am