Contact: Roland Watson, firstname.lastname@example.org
ALERT: PRO-MILITARY REGIME BURMA CONFERENCE IN WASHINGTON
April 8, 2011
(Note: We are pleased to report that we have passed 10,000 downloads of the Burmese translation of Lessons in Democracy, and also 10,000 downloads of the translations for Zimbabwe. For Burma, copies of the translation have additionally been printed inside the country, and in Japan, and the work is also available in its entirety on other websites. We believe we have made a significant contribution to what is now a vibrant discussion in Burma about the nature and functioning of the democratic system.)
Everyone in the Burma pro-democracy movement should be aware that there is a conference in Washington, D.C. on Monday, April 11, that has a distinct bias in favor of the military junta that continues to rule Burma. The conference is "Myanmar and the Two Koreas - Dangers and Opportunities," at the Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies.
While a few of the participants clearly oppose Than Shwe's regime and want the truth about its cooperation with North Korea on nuclear and ballistic missile programs to be revealed, others are known to be soft on Burma, meaning that they want to end the economic sanctions, accept the election result, and begin development. Indeed, SAIS itself (where U.N. envoy Gambari has taught), David Steinberg of Georgetown University, and the International Crisis Group, are considered by many Burma activists to be enemies of the pro-democracy movement.
The plan of the conference appears as much about the election and economic development as it does Junta-NK relations. Notice that the conference title uses "Myanmar." Also, the title of Panel 1, "Politics and Economics in Myanmar under a New Administration," headed by Steinberg, implies that the recent "election" in Burma actually signifies change. Make no mistake about it: Election or not, there is no new Administration in Burma. Than Shwe is still completely in charge. Thein Sein is his puppet.
Also, the editorial in the Irrawaddy today about recent Burma articles in Canada's Globe and Mail newspaper exposes Khin Zaw Win - who is on this panel - as a regime apologist.
Another participant is Joseph Yun, from the State Department's East Asia and Pacific Bureau. It has been reported that the U.S. is about to appoint Derek Mitchell as the Special Envoy to Burma, which position was authorized under the Tom Lantos JADE Act. Mitchell comes from the Department of Defense, rather than State. This is an interesting choice. It implies that military issues with Burma are now more important that traditional diplomatic.
Everyone will be watching very closely to see what agenda the new envoy pursues.
Dictator Watch filed a Freedom of Information Act request last year for the Report on Military and Intelligence Aid to Burma that is required under the JADE Act, which following the appointment of the envoy will be the only provision of the Act that has not been fulfilled. We just learned from State's FOIA office that they recently sent a "search tasker" to EAP, asking it to comply with our request (which was formally accepted by the office last June 7th). The Burma report is annual, covers weapons of mass destruction, and by this point three different versions should have been prepared. If I were the new envoy, I would want this report issue resolved (under the law, it must be published on State's website), before I took the post. Someone at the conference should also ask Mr. Yun why EAP and State refuse to follow American law, both the JADE and Freedom of Information acts.
The overall objective of the conference is "to inform U.S. policy." We in the pro-democracy movement must recognizee that the regime appeasers who want to open Burma to economic development, and to forget about freedom for the Burmese people, are working aggressively to further this end behind closed doors.