Contact: Roland Watson, roland@dictatorwatch.org


October 16, 2005

Please forward.

Note: We have posted the latest humanitarian mission report and photography from the Free Burma Rangers.

Dictator Watch has prepared a new article, Convincing the United States Government. The article describes a major two year campaign to get the U.S. to back democracy in Burma with sincerity, i.e., to support pro-democracy and indigenous resistance groups on the ground inside the country. This campaign failed – the U.S. is not sincere – and the article explains why.

The coming dry season in Burma looks set to unfold another humanitarian tragedy. The SPDC has already begun a series of offensives in Taungoo District of Karen State, including imposing a blockade on the three major roads into Taungoo town. This blockade is preventing local villagers from reaching their fields, and also from shopping for rice. (The villagers in this area grow other crops. They need to buy their rice.) This represents a continuation of the synchronized pattern of attacks in Taungoo and also Naunglybin District. The Karen believe the attacks represent a clear signal from the junta that they do not respect or honor the Gentleman’s Agreement ceasefire.

There are differences of opinion on whether the SPDC will launch a major assault against the Karen and the other ethnic self-defense armies of Burma. Many people believe that such an offensive is unlikely: that the generals do not want the bad press it would attract as they resume their so-called “National Convention.”

We believe this is wishful thinking. The Burma Army has been reinforcing front-line units, and it always launches dry season attacks. The generals are loathe to have their units idle. They launch attacks as much from a desire to control their own soldiers as to pressure the resistance groups. The only question is whether it will be a major and coordinated frontal assault, or the type of selective offensives seen in recent years. Burma Army radio communications intercepted this year, though, which call for all the “insurgents” to be wiped out by the end of 2005, suggest that the former remains a distinct possibility.

Any new attacks will prompt a humanitarian crisis. Burma needs democracy now. This crisis can be prevented, if the SPDC is sanctioned in the United Nations Security Council, and if the United States, and other nations, give the pro-democracy groups on the ground inside the country significant assistance.

Our new article also argues that the people of Burma must do more to help themselves. To this end we are posting the African National Congress publication, Guide to Underground Work, which has already been distributed on a number of Burma lists.

Lastly, we have added another article, Boycott Cool!, to our affiliated site, Activism 101.