Why Does The Burmese Regime Crave Lifting Of Sanctions? – OpEd
By Kanbawza Win
The Burmese supremo Than Shwe and his bunch of generals have amassed immense wealth since 1988 but most of them being septuagenarian and octogenarian knew that their days on this earth are numbered. At the same time they realise that the rising tide of democracy cannot be stop, hence, the thought of how to transfer their ill gotten wealth to their near and dear ones become a great problem. They also knew that the Young Turks in the army, who are now much exposed to the outside world, could not guarantee them. Besides the precedents of what they had done to Ne Win is still fresh on them and it can be easily done by the young Generals to them?
One of the best way to maintain their ill gotten goods, once they leave this earth, is to put it in the Swiss banks and in the banks of some other trustworthy Western Banks.Even though they have constructed mansions in China and dumped some of their wealth they are still not at ease, because in their hearts of heart they knew that China could not be trusted as they have seen of what the Chinese have done to Slobodan Milosevic who had transferred his wealth of £145 million in Shanghai and Hongkong Banks with the help of the Chinese embassy in Belgrade (that is why the Americans deliberately bombed the Chinese embassy on May 7th 1999).. Now when the tide has turned the Chinese say that this wealth belong to the people of Serbia and transferred back the money and kicked the Milosevic family out.
The second alternative is to give their offspring a good education in the West but they could not send their children because of the sanctions and a few who mange to escape the scrutiny of West were later apprehended with the help of the Burmese dissidents abroad and forced to return home. The Western Sanctions has clearly spelt out the names of theses Burmese rogues and its accomplice and they could do nothing against the civilized world. The punitive actions of the West has far outweigh the Constructive Engagement of the Asians, who placed their values more on wealth and dictatorship rather than on democracy and human rights in dealing with the pariah regime. Hence the regimes great obsession is to remove the Western sanctions by any means. They also knew that the only way to remove this, Western punitive actions is to yield up their authoritarian instinct. So the leopard has tries their level best to change the spots, but the instinct is such that they still there cannot be hidden.
Currently the United States and the European Union sees encouraging new signs of openness in isolated Burma but after more than half a century of (to be exact from 1962 up to this day) of harsh and tyrannical military rule, under different guise is still a long way to shed its pariah status The latest action of releasing less than one tenth of the political prisoners, the scrapping of the controversial Myisone Dam under pressure can be measure as a sign towards more openness. But their sincerity, openness and good will to the people of Burma can be measured by their actions, like launching an all out war against the ethnic nationalities in their ethnic cleansing polices by not recognizing the Pangolong Concordat of 1947 which made the modern Union of Burma that promise every ethnic people residing in the Union of Burma be treated equally. The military dominated by the Myanmar race is now bent on the exterminating the non Myanmar races by various means including rapes and extra-judicial killing and systematic persecution. What more proof is wanted when it change the country name from the Union of Burma to Myanmar compelling the people and the international community to recognise that dictators can change the name of the country and its flag according to their whims and fancies. This clearly proves that the regime is bent on ethnic cleansing and is endeavouring to make them the second citizens.
Outsiders are not so good at peering inside autocracies of dictators as it usually pretend at reform to tighten their stranglehold with the help of Western aid and trade. The puppet new government under the master mind of Than Shwe has made a well calculated move to win more friends in the West. Secure the ASEAN Chairperson as it endeavours to eliminate sanctions and deflect a call for a UN Commission of Inquiry (CoI) into crimes against humanity?
The sincerity of the regime can be measured in the release of just a mere about one tenth of the 2000 political prisoners and an all out war to the ethnic nationalities, with the help of China and using chemical weapons and weapons of mass destruction. This shows disrespect for the International Community, which is starting to believe in their initiatives for a change to the better. It also tantamount as an insult also to the UN representative Vijay Nambiar the US special envoy Michael Posner (Assistant Secretary of State for the Department of Human Rights and Labour), who are in the country now, and the Indonesia Foreign Minister Marty Natalegawa the current ASEAN chairperson who made a recent visit.
Besides Burma had signed the CWC (Chemical Weapons Convention) in 1993 and by this action clearly proves that the regime is insincere and did not care the perspective of international community. Due to violent military offensives more than 30,000 civilians have to flee and hide for their life. These vicious military offensives with gross human rights violations, rapes of women and destruction of livelihood of the people prove the authenticity of war crimes and crimes against humanity. On the other hand the ethnic nationalities are ready for dialogue if the regime sincerely wants to resolve the political problems. In July this year, the United Nationalities Federal Council (UNFC) wrote a letter on behalf of the ethnic nationalities, urging him to hold dialogue for peace. However, as there has been not only any response but only launching of major offensives with increasing ferocity shows its true colour and ulterior motive of not being sincere to change.
In this window dressing of change the regime has merely changed their strategy, previously their enemy Number One was Daw Aung San Suu Kyi who would threatened their livelihood but now their enemy No 1 has become the ethnic nationalities. The regime continues to solve this ethnic problem through military means for decades without success. This forced the ethnic nationalities no choice but to take up arms in order to defend themselves and with this rate they are doing now it is geared for another hundred year’s war. There can be no peace in a multi-ethnic nation that ignores the fundamental rights of its ethnic nationalities.
On the other hand the regime is almost bending over backwards in wooing Daw Aung San Suu Kyi led National League for Democracy to re-register by changing the party registration law, so that it may lend legitimacy to the regime for more international recognition and lifting of sanctions which the master mind Than Shwe believes could be achieved via Daw Aung San Suu Kyi. But this also means the NLD to abandon the 2009, Shwegondaing Declaration of democratic norms and most importantly the moral obligation and Panglong Agreement of which Daw Aung San Suu Kyi’s father had done. The big question is will the NLD re-registers while the Burmese Army is raping, gassing and murdering the ethnic nationalities? The only thing that Burma’s opposition movement has now is its principles. Once they are sacrificed, though, they will be gone forever.
ASEAN countries under cover of Constructive Engagement, which is in fact exploiting Burma’s human and natural resources is urging the new regime to release the political prisoners to be fully qualified for its chairperson, while some of the international NGOs with an economic eye such as Myanmar Egress and the likes including think tanks like ICG and other academics born with a silver spoon in their mouth like Than Myint U and the self appointed farang expert that knows nothing of the intense suffering of the people of Burma are all cheering the new regime and calling the West to reward the regime.. Again some dissidents who put in their trust to the new puppet choose to go back to lend a helping hand while the bulk of the ethnic nationalities and the entire people of Burma are bearing the brunt of the ethnic cleansing and the tyranny of the regime.
Admittedly U.S. sanctions alone have not yielded satisfactory results in Burma, but also we must know that a persuasive argument have never being tried in sanctions policy involving the full weight of American diplomacy. Certainly, removing sanctions now would do more to bless the superficial changes that have taken place since 2010 in Burma than they deserve. The Burmese Junta still maintain an iron grip on its people, and continues to carry out a foreign policy that is inimical to US interests.
The U.S. already made some concessions in meeting the representatives of the regime but it should simply push the: rule of law, respect for internationally recognized human right standards, and stability, to take demonstrable steps toward developing a genuine democratic system, permitting real political dissent, further loosening restrictions on the people of Burma. A minimum requirement is the release of 2,000 or so political prisoners, many of whom have been tortured and mistreated. The regime also should stop stifling the nation’s media and political parties, protecting basic human rights, combating its drug trade, and make known its nuclear ties with North Korea as the intended nuclear weapons is not for the country’s defence but to use in the ethnic cleansing especially the WA whose armed forced can match the regime’s army.
Then and only then, the West can make a more informed judgment about the proper response of lifting sanctions. Hence the US must continue to deny this regime the legitimacy it craves by continuing sanctions, and remain in place until true democratic reform comes to the people of Burma for Hillary Clinton said. “We want to be guided by our values and our own interest in ways that, regardless of the trajectory over the next decade, people will know the United States was on the side of democracy, on the side of the rule of law….And that will I hope be a strong antidote to the voices of either fatalism or extremism.”