Contact: Roland Watson, firstname.lastname@example.org
Please see www.dictatorwatch.org for links to the report and photography described
BURMA RELIEF MISSION, AND ANALYSIS OF PRIME MINISTER THAKSIN
11 July 2003
If you cannot speak the truth, there is no freedom.
Dictator Watch has posted a report of a June
Free Burma Rangers mission to bring relief to internally displaced persons
in the Eastern Shan State. This report describes: five cases of rape; forced prostitution;
murdered children; forced labor; a new program, begun in June, to press gang 4,000
villagers to join the Wa Army; the expropriation and sale of village houses and
land near the Thai border, for USD 2 million, by Lt. Gen. Khin Nyunt to the Wa,
to facilitate the latters drug operations; and the names and village addresses
of involved Wa drug kingpins.
We also have four new photo essays. The first, Life
on the Run in the Karen State of Burma, provides additional evidence of the
ongoing humanitarian crisis in Tenasserim Division. The rest, from FBR, include
very strong images of burned
villages, wounded children,
and murder victims, from
a number of locations in Eastern Burma. These images illustrate the scorched earth
policy of the SPDC, which policy demands the strongest of international responses.
The United States, the European Union and the United Nations must put an end,
once and for all, to the SPDC and its reign of terror.
If the situations in Liberia, and the Congo and the Solomon Islands, justify foreign
intervention, Burma certainly does as well.
Lastly, we feel compelled to ask the question: is Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra
of Thailand actively conspiring with the generals of the Burmese junta to help
perpetuate their rule? After all, he is first and foremost a telecommunications
tycoon (how, exactly, did he establish his fortune?), and Senior General Than
Shwe and Lt. General Khin Nyunt are only a phone call away.
Unfortunately, all the available evidence suggests that such a conspiracy is already
well underway. This evidence includes the ongoing crackdown, now in its second
year, of activists in the Burma democracy movement who reside in Thailand (Burmese
activists who have been given UNHCR Person of Concern status are now effectively
under house arrest, and plans are being prepared to move them to internment camps
- what irony - these individuals who faced prison in Burma will instead be imprisoned
in Thailand); a campaign to pressure and discredit the UNHCR itself; a bar on
new admissions to refugee camps (or the establishment of new refugee camps, particularly
for Shan refugees); and tacit approval of the enslavement and murder of Burmese
Burmese individuals in Thailand, in all such situations, are locked up and denied
their basic human rights of freedom of expression and association. Indeed, this
extends even to the witnesses of great crimes (e.g., of Black Friday May
30, when the SPDC murdered dozens of members and supporters of the National League
for Democracy). Thaksin is trying to silence these witnesses, to prevent the people
of the world from learning about the crimes.
The overall effect is one of institutionalized persecution, of an entire people.
It is frighteningly reminiscent of the early stages of Nazi persecution of the
The question remains, though, why would he act this way, when it is in direct
opposition to Thailands real interests: to strengthen its own democracy;
to help Burma become a democracy; and then to establish friendly relations between
the two nations?
Through his business deal with the son of Khin Nyunt, Thaksin has a foothold in
Burmas telecommunications and media industries, which though presently small
have great potential when the nation, with the twenty-seventh largest population
in the world, modernizes. There will be billions of dollars to be made in satellite
services, mobile phones, television stations and cable, and the Internet.
However, if Burma when Burma becomes democratic, his prospective
gains will disappear. Burmese democrats are hardly likely to favor bids from a
former oppressor. Thaksins solution, therefore, is simple. The Burmese dictators
must be given all aid necessary to ensure that democracy never takes hold. After
all, if he can shove gas pipelines; dams; a political takeover of the military;
legal extrajudicial execution (during the war on drugs);
an excise tax break for his companies; the transfer of temple land (the Alpine
land scandal); and a corrupted Constitutional Court (which reportedly succumbed
to pressure to find him not guilty of making a false assets declaration), down
the throats of the Thai people, why not help shove dictatorship down the throats
of the Burmese.
And he has the audacity to call this non-interference.
If Thaksin wants to identify the number one source of dark influence in Thailand,
he need only look in the mirror.
The Burma democracy movement has to-date refused to confront him. Partly this
is due to disbelief, that Thai policy could change so quickly and dramatically,
and partly due to fear, that it would be inviting an even greater crackdown. But
once again the movement has engaged in false hopes: the repression came anyway.
When will we learn that you cannot hide from problems, that if you do not stand
up to them they will only get worse?
We must resist him. Just as Thaksin has the right to say and do as he pleases,
so we have the right, the legal right, to oppose him.
One potential means to influence Thaksin is through the United States. Thailand
has a long-standing alliance with the US, and we must highlight this issue. The
US must choose. Does it support Burma democracy, or its key Southeast Asian ally?
To resolve this, it will be necessary for the US to make a distinction, between
Thaksin and Thailand. Thaksin is not Thailand! The US must oppose this man who
is an egomaniac and who seemingly has a lust for money and power so great that
it can never be satisfied; who rules through a gang of sycophants; who will return
Thailand to its dark old days; and who clearly wants to be East Asias next
Were the US to do this, it would demonstrate that it truly is an ally to Thailand,
to the people of Thailand, and it will ensure a strong, positive relationship
with the nation at the meeting point of South and Southeast Asia, Burma, for the
As is occurring now with Australia and the Solomon Islands, the US should form
a coalition of the willing and take control of the troubled former
British colony. (The Solomons, like Burma, are also a former British colony.)
All organizations and elected individuals that represent publics inside Burma,
including the NLD (members who are not imprisoned), other elected Members of Parliament,
the NCGUB, NCUB, DAB and NDF should vote on and then officially request such intervention.
Lastly, for Prime Minister Thaksin, we call upon you to demonstrate that the above
conclusions are not true. Please reverse your course on Burma. It is not too late
to do the right thing, and if you do, the people of Burma will remember that in
the end you did come to their aid. And in Thailand, please listen to the public.
Democracy does not mean that you have the right to decide everything. Consensus
is essential. Democracy actually means self-rule, or rule by the people. If the
public says that they want the Pak Moon dam gates permanently opened, or that
they do not want the Thai/Malaysian gas pipeline, do not oppose them. Your historical
legacy will be determined by what you do now. Also, democracy does not mean One
Party. And, it requires separation of powers. Even though it may appear
to be inconvenient for you, you actually should want a vibrant opposition, an
independent Parliament and judiciary, and a professional, non-political military.