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’.”
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”.