Contact: Roland Watson, firstname.lastname@example.org
Please see www.dictatorwatch.org for a link to the reports described below.
WE WONT FORGET, AND WE WONT BE FOOLED AGAIN
29 September 2003
(Note: We have posted summary
relief mission reports from Free Burma Rangers teams that recently returned
from humanitarian missions to Naunglyabin, Dooplaya and Pa-an districts of Karen
State, and Lahu areas of Eastern Shan State. The former include information on
a village that was burned, a murder, and a rape (and many other severe human rights
abuses committed by the Burma Army). The last states that over 100 million methamphetamine
tablets are stored in a cave near the Thai/Burma border, and that at least 6 million
of these have already been moved successfully into Thailand.)
Daw Aung San Suu Kyi is now at home in Rangoon, which is great news, that she
is alive. However, she is still under arrest, for doing nothing, other than being
a victim of the Depayin massacre on May 30th.
This massacre, the ambush of Daw Suu and her supporters, has been repeatedly described
as a clash. It was not a clash. In a clash, both sides fight. This
was a premeditated assault, using the element of surprise and a large number of
specially trained forces, with the goal to kill as many people as possible.
Describing it as a clash (numerous eyewitnesses have confirmed the massacre) benefits
the Burmese dictatorship, the SPDC.
The word clash, which has appeared in dozens of articles, is an example
of the habit that journalists have to repeat what everyone else is saying, even
when it is wrong.
In addition, the news media, and also ASEAN, are looking at this latest spell
of house arrest as a breakthrough, as getting the Burma democracy process,
and even the dialogue, back on track. For the media this is just one
more mistake, and for ASEAN just one more lie. There is no process, or dialogue.
In a press release from June we observed that:
1. The SPDC would not free Daw Suu for a long time, since if they did she would
personally be able to confirm the May 30th massacre.
2. The member nations of ASEAN, and the grouping as a whole, would do nothing.
3. The SPDC will never willingly give up power.
4. The anticipated (and now enacted) US sanctions needed to be backed by additional
action; we require an overall plan to drive the SPDC out.
Now, four months later:
1. Daw Suu is not free.
2. ASEAN has done nothing. Its words, from politicians from Malaysia, Indonesia
and Thailand, were nothing more than that: words. Even worse, they were said as
a means to prevent action, to prevent the imposition of additional pressure against
3. Nothing has changed, except that the SPDC has used the four months to gain
additional support, notably from China and India, to strengthen its army and to
continue its attacks against the people of Burma, foremost the ethnic nationalities.
While ASEAN lied, and the world dithered, more villages were destroyed and more
4. Not one single nation, other than the US, acted against the SPDC. As far as
all the other nations of the world are concerned, and the United Nations, it is
acceptable for the Burmese generals to get away with murder. Indeed, many nations,
including the governments of Germany and Australia, actually worked to prevent
the imposition of additional sanctions. That Germany, in particular, with its
horrific history of dictatorial abuse, would prevent the European Union from imposing
economic sanctions against the SPDC, is nothing short of astonishing.
The people of Burma, both inside and outside the country, should make careful
note of this behavior. When your country is free, you should never forget who
came to your aid and who stood with your oppressors. When you are free, and when
governments send envoys, and promote business representatives, to capitalize on
your new economic opportunities, act accordingly. Tell the representatives from
Germany, and Australia, and Thailand, Malaysia, Singapore, Indonesia, Japan, India,
Russia and China, thank you but we do not need your help. You did not come when
we required assistance, during our hour of greatest need, so we do not need, or
want, to have anything to do with you now. We certainly do not want to do business
with you, so you can profit from our freedom just as you once profited from our
slavery. Tell your businessmen to stay home. We will develop the way we want to
develop, on our own, and working together with our real international allies.
In the fight against dictatorship, words are meaningless. Only actions count.
We will hear many words in the coming weeks, from United Nations Special Envoy
Razali Ismail, following his trip to meet his SPDC business partners; at the ASEAN
summit in Bali; and at the APEC meeting in Bangkok. For example, for the second
we are likely to hear something along the lines of the following from Indonesias
Ali Alatas, a former Suharto crony: Thank you, Prime Minister Lt. General
Khin Nyunt [how many countries have prime ministers who are also mass murderers?],
you were so kind and generous not to kill or rape Aung San Suu Kyi [only her supporters],
nor to torture her in prison [the standard treatment for political prisoners in
Burma], but actually to let her serve her [completely unwarranted, indefinite
and incommunicado] arrest at home. You truly are worthy of membership in our august
Such ridiculous nonsense will be repeated again and again, and spread far and
wide through media coverage, with the effect that the general public draws the
conclusion that progress is being made. But we, in the democracy movement, wont
be fooled again. There is no progress. To move forward the movement needs to organize
large-scale protests and boycotts of the SPDCs foreign supporters, and the
US needs to impose additional pressure, in particular on Thailand, to force it
to end its repression of democracy groups based at the Thai/Burma border, and
in Bangkok. (Right now, there is a new group of four hundred refugees in no mans
land just north of the town of Mae Sot, which the Thais refuse to allow democracy
advocates to visit, and the Thais also continue to hold fifteen activists from
the Joint Action Committee for Democratic Burma, who were arrested September 18th
at the Burma Embassy in Bangkok, while peacefully expressing their desire for
freedom from SPDC tyranny.)
We also call upon the US to raise the issue of Burma in the United Nations Security
Council this month (October), when the US has the chair, including motivating
the Security Council to impose sanctions against the SPDC and also to recommend
to the General Assembly that the SPDC be expelled from the UN altogether.
Another individual who believes only in words is Kofi Annan. Dear Secretary-General
Annan, please do the right thing. Please fire Razali, the crony of the SPDC, and
support the above actions: UN sanctions, and expulsion.
Lastly, serious journalists pride themselves on being objective, on presenting
both (or all) sides to a story. Apparently, this means that murderers and their
co-conspirators have as much a right to tell their side as their victims. The
question is: does this extend to reporting obvious lies as if they were true?
Is it legitimate to quote a rapist justifying his crime by saying that the victim
deserved it? During World War II, would it have been appropriate to report Nazi
propaganda that Jewish people were subhuman and deserved to be exterminated? In
other words, are journalists really being fair and objective, particularly in
their coverage of Burma, or are they simply willing dupes of criminals and fascist