Contact: Roland Watson, roland@dictatorwatch.org


September 9, 2007

Please forward.

We want to comment on General Sonthi’s recent visit to Burma to meet Than Shwe and Maung Aye. We like to think that he delivered an ultimatum not to target North Korean ballistic missiles at Thailand. The congeniality, hand shaking and associated public statements, though, lead us to conclude that this did not take place.

Sonthi launched a coup in Thailand to end the dictatorial rule of the Thaksin regime. Yet he visited the top generals of the SPDC, who are far worse tyrants. Sonthi is a hypocrite. If ever a country needed a military coup to restore democracy, it’s Burma. (Thailand should end its support of the junta, not continue it.)

The people of Burma should seriously consider granting amnesty for crimes committed to Tatmadaw soldiers who are willing to risk their lives to overthrow the SPDC. This idea could be publicized inside the country in fliers and via other communications (e.g., discussions on radio broadcasts)
It is clear that the long-awaited popular uprising is underway. This will likely continue for some months: however long it takes to win freedom. The goal is to create pressure so great that, barring or in advance of a coup, Than Shwe and his family flee to Singapore.

September 18th will be critical, both inside and outside the country. For the former, nationwide protests are being planned. Let the Fighting Peacock lead the way! Outside the country, we heartily endorse U.S. Campaign for Burma’s call for worldwide demonstrations at Chinese embassies.

The risk of course is of a renewed military crackdown. Right now the soldiers of the Tatmadaw do not have a tangible motivation to return their allegiance to the people. The best way to create this would be an offer of amnesty. The intention of considering amnesty should ideally be publicized prior to this date.

There was a limited reaction by the members of the International Community to the events of August 1988. There were condemnations of the massacres then, to be sure, but no formal, organized response. This lack of preparation should not be repeated.

A number of scenarios in the coming weeks and months are possible. These include a violent reaction by the SPDC to increasingly large public demonstrations; Burma becoming unsettled as protests in the streets are supplemented with revolutionary acts, including which target international financial interests (e.g., opposition to the Salween dams); and the possibility of a coup against the SPDC and/or the voluntary relinquishing of power by Than Shwe.

The International Community, but particularly officials at the United Nations, and in the governments of the U.S., E.U., the U.K. separately (it bears singular responsibility because of its prior colonization of Burma), and Australia, should undertake emergency contingency planning, for all of these scenarios. These parties should be prepared to act, momentarily and ideally as a coalition, if the above outcomes occur. For the first, if the SPDC commits mass murder of the protestors, this will create a moral obligation to launch a military intervention.

Closing notes:

We call upon Secretary General Ban Ki-moon to visit the refugee camps in Thailand, as a follow-up to his visit to the camps in Darfur. Once he sees what has happened in Burma with his own eyes, he will understand why there must be change, now. Perhaps then the cause of freedom for Burma will finally begin to get real support from the U.N. Secretariat.

To the SPDC: Yes, we are “destructive elements.” We intend to destroy you! Get out! Now!