Contact: Roland Watson, firstname.lastname@example.org
April 1, 2005
This is not an April Fools joke.
Morten Pedersen of the International Crisis Group and Robert Taylor of the Institute
of Southeast Asian Studies have released a new report about Burma that states:
The military will remain in power for the foreseeable future. They
call for the name Myanmar to be used, high-level diplomatic visits
with the dictators, and an end to sanctions.
This report will be discussed at a meeting in Brussels on April 5th. The United
Nations resident do-nothing in Rangoon, Charles Petrie, and also Derek
Tonkin, former U.K. Ambassador, will attend. Groups that are fighting for democracy
in Burma have been excluded.
Previously, Dictator Watch characterized the pro-engagement crowd, including the
U.N., E.U., Australia, Japan, and academics such as David Steinberg, as supporters
of appeasement. Now, there can be no doubt as to their true intentions. For reasons
including naiveté bordering on idiocy, and also personal gain (freedom
to travel to Burma, funding, and economic spoils), they are calling for nothing
less than total surrender. Even worse, this message is not only for the international
community in its relationships with the junta: it clearly applies to the people
of Burma as well. Pedersen and Taylor want the people of Burma to give up and
accept that they will always be subject to mass and arbitrary imprisonment, theft,
forced labor, rape and murder.
It is obvious that they have never been political prisoners or had sisters or
daughters raped and killed. Their ability to discount human suffering, to act
as if it is unimportant, even meaningless, is appalling.
You never surrender to tyrants like Than Shwe and the SPDC. You keep fighting,
no matter how long it takes: ten years, fifty years, or more. You never stop until
you are free.
Burma will be free!
What is most galling is that the junta is now under greater pressure than any
time in the last ten years. ASEAN is pressuring the SPDC, and this will continue.
If Burma runs the group next year, there will be a thousand What is wrong
in Southeast Asia editorials, and to the member nations this must be prevented.
Some people believe ASEANs position is changing. This is not true. The objective
of its other members is to avoid bad press. For years, having Burma in the group
diverted attention from them. But now, it is attracting attention; hence the issue
must be resolved. Burma cannot be allowed to run ASEAN next year.
We in the Burma democracy movement can use this situation to our advantage, as
a foundation on which to create additional pressure. We are close to the tipping
point. Pedersen and Taylor want to give up.
The International Crisis Group deserves special condemnation. Its mission is to
prevent and resolve deadly conflict. How does surrendering to those who
are responsible for a conflict resolve it? ICG needs a new Burma expert.
Please send them an email with your views (I did) to www.crisisgroup.org (in the
navigation frame click on Contact Us, and then the email link for Brussels).
The report was commissioned by Europe. It is clear that the E.U. is looking for
justification for doing business with the regime, and more deeply it wants to
satisfy the interests of China (e.g., Jacques Chiracs determination to end
the arms embargo). Europe does provide significant funding for Burma, for refugees
and also to a number of pro-democracy groups. However, some people believe that
the latter is a means to buy silence. Europe will not address the real problem,
the junta, and such funding gags potential critics.
The worst genocide in history was committed in Europe, by the Germans, and the
rest of the Continent allowed it to occur. The French Vichy Regime, and others,
even participated in it. Now, Europe likes to suggest that it is the most advanced
or civilized part of the world. However, a significant aspect of such civilization
is to confront severe wrong doing, wherever it exists. Europe was silent on Bosnia,
and Rwanda and Burundi, and the Sudan. It also is not responding to Burma, where
at a minimum the SPDC is perpetrating genocides precursor, ethnic cleansing.
Europe, which experienced genocide, should be a leader in confronting the crime.
The hypocrisy is astonishing, and it is made even worse by the fact that most
such nations were former European colonies (Rwanda and Burundi Germany
and then Belgium, Sudan U.K., Burma U.K.), and that the internal
conflicts that led to genocide were abetted by the way in which Europe withdrew.