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Burma: Monks Condemn Germany’s Sanctions Line

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By Jospeh Allchin

Two monks representing the All Burma Monks Alliance (ABMA) will present an open letter to the German foreign ministry today and lead a silent protest outside its Berlin headquarters.

Ashin Sopaka, who will present the letter alongside Ashin Kovida, told DVB that he was calling on the German people to oppose their government’s alleged lobbying of other EU nations to remove sanctions on the country. “They are more interested in business with this regime; they said this is a new government so they want to work together – this is their interest. That’s why they want to lobby and work with the junta, and they don’t want to hear criticisms from other countries.”

Activist group Burma Campaign UK corroborates that the German government as well as Italy and Spain have been lobbying other EU nations to support the removal of the EU’s weak sanctions on Burma. This allegation also appeared in a leaked Wikileak cable, where a British diplomat told his US counterpart that the Germans had “‘heard what they wanted to hear’ about the situation in Burma and therefore ‘have subsequently started discussions within the EU about relaxing the current measures’.”

Burma
Burma

Since the junta held an election in November last year there have been renewed calls for an end to sanctions. Sopaka however told DVB of the protest: “We want to tell the story that is going on behind – how they organised the election and formed the new government. We want to tell them that they changed only their clothes, their uniforms, from soldiers to normal; they didn’t change their policies. We want to tell them that there are more political prisoners now, and the monks are still in jail.

“We wish that they stay with the EU common position; that is our hope. I hope they understand and hear our voice.”

Germany has a long history of business dealings with the Burmese junta, and following the September 2007 monk-led protests German campaigners noted that slain Japanese journalist Kenji Nagai was in all probability murdered by a German-made G3 assault rifle, which has been the primary battle assault rifle of the Burmese army since the 1960s. Moreover, in a major investigation by DVB a Burmese defector alleges that the German machine parts company Deckel Maho Gildemeister (DMG) had supplied parts for Burma’s nuclear program.

Reflecting what activists allege to be an attitude of appeasement by the German government, a large EU delegation of some 30 diplomats met with Aung San Suu Kyi in Rangoon to discuss sanctions. This was also joined by a plea from parties, including the National Democratic Force (NDF), which split from the National League for Democracy (NLD) in order to take part in last year’s elections, to remove sanctions.

Sopaka will lead the silent protest today outside the foreign ministry in central Berlin from 2pm to 6pm.

The junta meanwhile responded to the NLD’s continued support of sanctions with the threat that the party, including Aung San Suu Kyi, could meet a “tragic end”.

Democratic Voice of Burma

Democratic Voice of Burma

The Democratic Voice of Burma (DVB) is a non-profit Burmese media organization committed to responsible journalism.

2 thoughts on “Burma: Monks Condemn Germany’s Sanctions Line

  • Avatar
    March 22, 2011 at 2:56 pm
    Permalink

    These monks should be meditating and talking about peace. Why are they complaining? Can’t they just act peaceful and let lay people do their business whoever they want to do business with.

    If they want to be involved in politics, they should de-robe and become lay people.

    May Buddhism be pure!

    Reply
  • Avatar
    March 23, 2011 at 2:09 am
    Permalink

    This is not the first time vile Burmese monks have engaged in politics.

    The democratically-elected government of U Nu (1948-1962) also faced down militant monks in the pay of politicians. The men in saffron robes would stage sit-downs outside government offices and disrupt work.

    Fed up with their puerile antics, the devout prime minister thundered:

    “If they don’t respect the precepts of Buddhism (which prohibits lying, slandering, gossiping and spreading rumours), then they are fake monks.’’

    It’s a shame the Burma debate has been allowed to be hijacked by self-seeking activists in the West who continue to claim largesse in the name of democracy.

    Apparently, the Western nations dish out more than $20 million annually to self-styled Burmese dissidents in exile.

    The real reason behind the attack on Germany was the fear of losing the hard-earned European taxpayers’ money once EU-Burma ties become normal. The so-called pro-democracy and human rights movement over the years has become a growth industry and a meal ticket for opportunists. The pigs can’t do without the swill.

    The *toughest sanctions in the world* imposed on Burma for two decades are nothing more than a collective punishment of the long-suffering Burmese people.

    It was wrong of Aung San Suu Kyi/NLD to lead the call for sanctions, maintaining that engagement with Burma’s generals can only strengthen them. Turn the screws of hardship tight enough, the argument goes, and eventually the oppressors will either back down or be overthrown by their victims.

    It’s a lovely rhetoric but how utterly naive. It reveals Suu’s ignorance or denial about Burma’s dark past and her utter lack of concern for her fellow countrymen.

    The nation-wide uprising in 1988 was about economic freedom — and the people won. Only to see Suu and her die-hard Communist allies beg the ignorant West to impose sanctions, thus holding the economy hostage. It’s no secret that the NLD harbours ex-communists in its ranks.

    From 1962 to 1988, the private sector had ceased to exist and resembled that of communist states under the stifling Soviet-style economic system. Tens of thousands of people were jailed trying to eke out a living in the harsh economy.

    To rid the country of *capitalists* large denomination banknotes were declared invalid three times in 26 years. The cancellation of ALL banknotes sparked the nation-wide uprising in 1988 that spelled the end of Marxism in Burma as a plausible alternative to democracy and capitalism.

    Unlike the ruinous socialist era, no one is jailed today for making an honest living. Those feeling the wrath of the state today are the yesterday’s men in the NLD and ex-communists who made our lives hell. Call it karma.

    Sure, dealing with Burma under former generals won’t be palatable. But decades of not dealing with Burma have led the West, and left the Burmese people, nowhere.

    Only aid program, trade and investment, and educational links will in the end help undermine the foundations of authoritarian rule. The Thai generals in the 1970s, the Marcos regime in the 1980s and Suharto’s in the 1990s are good examples.

    Sincerely
    Rich Mookerdum
    Burmese-born journalist
    [email protected]

    *For more perspectives on Burma, please visit: http://www.economist.com.hk/user/truthburma/comments.

    Or, Google *rich mookerdum*

    Reply

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