NSCN-IM condemns Imphal militants’ actions
NSCN-IM condemns Imphal militants’ actions Morung Express News Dimapur: According to the GPRN/NSCN (IM), the Peoples’ Liberation Army and the United National Liberation Front are creating havoc among the Naga population in Chandel district, Manipur. The NSCN has stated that both organizations are Imphal valley based militant groups under the umbrella organization of Manipur People’s Liberation Front (MPLF).
A press communiqué made available to the media and issued by Sahini, Secretary in the MIP of the GRPN has cited incidents wherein land mines and other explosive material were planted by the Imphal based underground outfits. Residents of Satsang village in Chandel district had been forewarned not to venture out of their village, said Sahini. "On September 7, at the village, a dog escorting its master Moshil and his sister Toshil, on their way to attend daily chores, tripped over a land mine planted by the aforementioned militant outfits. "The massive explosion killed the dog, and the brother and sister were both knocked down without fatal injuries," Sahini recounted. He has also made mention of another explosion which occurred at Choktong village, Chandel district on September 10 and the indiscriminate firing on a Tata Sumo by Kuki National Army cadres at Sinam village where a Naga woman was injured. The Tata Sumo was reportedly on its way to Moreh. In this regard, Sahini has petitioned : "The Naga people appeal to the world community to do necessary investigation and undo such inhumane acts of terrorizing (the) innocent public which contravenes international norms of human rights to peaceful living and help prevent further recurrences."
IAS officer appointed to probe killing kuknalim.com DIMAPUR, Sept 17: The Governor of Nagaland has appointed DK Bhalla (IAS), Commissioner and Secretary to the Government of Nagaland as a ‘One Man Inquiry’ to investigate into the causes and course of events of Sept 15 where the Nagaland Police bodyguards of Moangkaba Imchen, ADC (J) Mokokchung had fired on passengers of the Tuensang bound Network Travels bus which resulted in the death of Peter Yimchunger and serious injury of Basanta Chetri, handyman of the said bus who later succumbed to his injuries.
A notification issued by P Talitemjen Ao, Chief Secretary to the Government of Nagaland states that Bhalla has been directed to probe the circumstances under which the firing had taken place and who was responsible for the firing including the person/persons who ordered the firing. The Commissioner and Secretary will also look into the state of affairs under which the ADC was provided with armed Police bodyguards and the background as to how the arms and ammunition were issued to such bodyguards. Further, Bhalla has been instructed to look into the issue of the reported inebriated state of the Police personnel and the ADC. The inquiry report is to be submitted within seven days time from the date of issue of the notification. (The Morung Express)
NSF condemns killing Morung Express Dimapur, Sept 17 (MExN): The Naga Students Federation (NSF) while condemning and holding the ADC (J) Mokokchung responsible for the Tuensang-bus killing on September 15 stated that the judicial officer had other court cases pending against him for criminal activity and was also put under suspension. In a release issued by the President of NSF V Phushika Aomi and Speaker WH Maring, the Federation alleged that the officer was suspended after a case of criminal activity in November 1994 and also had other court cases pending against him. While calling for the severest punishment apart from dismissing him from responsibility, the NSF also urged the Government of Nagaland to dismiss the law-breaking officer along with his bodyguards, Imo Ao and Havildar Temjen Ao, immediately. "The officer concerned who by the virtue of his post and responsibility is supposed to have protected innocent lives, instead ordered his bodyguards to kill, (and) thus vividly exposed his criminal attitude" it stated. The Federation further forewarned that it would not remain a silent spectator till the Government takes punitive action against the culprits and that it was seriously looking forward to deliverance of Justice at the earliest, failing which the students community would take up its own course of action.
Kilonser responds Morung Express News September 17 Dimapur: In response to the AZ Jami’s press interview which appeared in a local daily on September 16, Kilo Kilonser of the NSCN (I-M) Rh. Raising has commented, "We do not believe in mudslinging politics. "I appreciate the personal comments made by AZ Jami. However, it should be known that the worth of a man is naturally measured by the yardstick of his achievements and not otherwise."
He has also talked of Jami’s leaving the NNC camp to join the Isak-Muivah faction and his subsequent entry in the fold of the Khaplang faction. "Today he left us to join the Khaplang group on this and that pretext, and people wonder where he will be tomorrow again," Raising added. He further said that AZ Jami should not overrate Khaplang and himself. "It is wise on their part to reduce themselves to their own sizes. Even if we are forced to part with each other on ground of the heinous political sin of S.S Khaplang’s abortive coup attempt, we are ready to forgive everyone provided that they realize their past. However wide and deep the wounds may be, we believe it can be healed through mutual understanding, interaction, admission of mistakes and spirit of brotherhood. I believe a time will come when we are united and the day is not far off," Raising said.
NSCN on Wildlife Sanctuary Preserve Morung Express Dimapur, Sept 17 (MExN): In spite of repeated past endeavor carried out by the concerned department to evict illegal and unscrupulous encroachers it has proved to be futile. Hence, viewing the importance to preserve the lone Zoological Park at Rangapahar, the joint meeting of Steering Committee Executive and the Cabinet was held on 16/09/05 and resolved to preserve the Wildlife Sanctuary at any cost. The house resolved that any further attempt to encroach the proposed sanctuary would be viewed as an intrusion to common property of the Nagas. The NSCN has therefore , warned the encroachers and advised them to evict themselves at the earliest time possible or face the consequences which will be dealt firmly with iron hand. The Press Release issued by the Cabinet Secretary GPRN said.
RESOURCE Peace Processes and Negotiations in NE Speech of Bharat Bhushan during Seminar on "Accords and Agreements, Peace Processes and Prospects of Civil Society Peace Initiatives in the North East Region" on September 8 at Guwahati.
All of you know more about the problems of the North East than an outsider like me. That you have chosen to listen to an interloper like me is a matter of tremendous pride for me and I am thankful for this gesture by the organizers.There are five parts to my presentation, so be prepared to be bored.
First, I will briefly trace how the Indian state deals with insurgencies and its strategies have changed over time.
Second, I will talk about cease-fire agreements and their political benefits.
Third, I will examine the role of civil society in sustaining cease-fires and peace processes and illustrate this with the example of the Nagas and the NSCN (IM).
Fourth, I will briefly delve into the possible misuses of prolonged cease-fire agreements.
And, lastly, I will talk about the pre-conditions for successful and unsuccessful peace accords.
Changing attitude of the Indian state to identity politics:
Despite taking public pride in the plurality and rich ethnic and cultural tapestry of the country, the Indian state has tended to see identity politics and the insurgencies it gives birth to as a threat to its unity and integrity. Suppression and political accommodation have been the two ends of a spectrum of strategies used by the Indian State to deal with such movements. Each strategy reflects a certain notion of the State. Suppression carries within it the idea of a strong and unitary State, which takes its role as the sole repository of violence far too seriously. The strategy of political accommodation premises itself on the notion of a State that is magnanimous and willing to move towards innovative and dynamic political structures. Political accommodation is not "pandering" but is a manifestation of the innate inclusiveness of democracy. The State in India has not uniformly opted for military suppression in dealing with insurgencies. It may be the strategy of first choice in situations where the "battle" can be easily won. Such assessments have often been proved wrong. Yet suppression as a strategy of conflict resolution did succeed, although at considerable cost, in Punjab. However, what cannot be denied is that over time there has been substantial political crafting and adaptation in the strategies used by the Indian State in dealing with insurgent groups. This is evident from the special Constitutional provisions for Kashmir under Article 370, the signing of the Kashmir Accord with Sheikh Abdullah in 1975, the carving out of new states from an undivided Assam, the slew of special provisions for the North Eastern states set out in Articles 371A, 371b and 371C, the creation of autonomous districts and hill councils and the Northeastern Council, the cease-fire and peace talks with the National Socialist Council of Nagaland as well as the suspension of operations agreement with the Karbis, Dimasas, Garos, Bodos and other groups in Tripura and elsewhere in the North East.
All these accords, agreements and processes may have their shortcomings. But what they indicate is a shift from using sheer force and suppression to political accommodation of insurgencies.
These strategies have evolved because there are limits to military suppression in dealing with insurgencies: there is fear of political alienation of the population, a need to maintain the integrity of the electoral process and democratic representation, the fear of civil society, and most importantly, the army and the paramilitary forces have often told the government that political problems require a political solution. While there is a definite movement towards political accommodation of insurgencies through dialogue, the expectations of the State and the insurgent groups often differ from the peace process. These expectations get moderated thorough the process of cease-fire or suspension of operations against each other and the political dialogue they leads to. When a golden mean is reached in terms of each side’s expectations, a peace accord or settlement is signed. The question then is: how to get to that golden mean?
Ceasefire or Suspension of Operations (SOO) Agreements:
One of the first steps in dealing with an insurgency is to get its leaders to sign a cease-fire agreement or a Suspension of Operations (SOO) agreement. Such agreements have been signed by the government in the North East with the NSCN (Isak-Muivah) and the NSCN (Khaplang), the Achik National Volunteers’ Council (ANVC), the Nayan Bashi-led National Liberation Front of Tripura (NLFT-NB), the Dima Halam Daogah (DHD) of the Dimasas, the United Peoples Democratic Solidarity (UPDS) of the Karbis and the National Democratic Front of Bodoland (NDFB). There are also some cautious overtures being made to the United Liberation Front of Asom (ULFA) but they have not resulted in anything as yet. While the agreements with the NSCN (IM) and (K) are called cease-fire agreements, all others are referred to as Agreed Ground Rules for Suspension of Operations.
The primary aim of these agreements is to reduce violence in the insurgency affected area by preventing the two sides from attacking each other. These agreements insist on certain ground rules to prevent recurrence of violence. Thus there is an agreement that the insurgent group’s cadre will stay in camps, that the cadres are prevented from moving about with arms or in uniform, that the insurgent outfit should not undertake any new recruitment and that it should refrain from extortion, etc.
In those cases where the demands of the insurgent group are within the Indian Constitution, these SOO agreements also bind the insurgent groups to respect the law of the land. A mutually agreed Joint Monitoring Group is also set up through these agreements to maintain the suspension of operations and monitor the adherence to ground rules.
It is important to understand what cease-fire and SOO agreements can achieve and what they cannot.
SOOs do not lead to demilitarization, peace accords do. SOOs only facilitate the implementation of ground rules for checking violence. Demilitarization through SOOs is something that even the insurgent groups do not expect. Often there are rival groups opposed to the peace process and the insurgent groups themselves may want the presence of security forces so that those opposed to the peace process do not gain ground control while they are confined to camps.
SOOs also do not mean a surrender of arms by the insurgent groups. Surrender of arms by the insurgents takes place as the last step in the peace process. SOOs also do not mean acceptance of the insurgent group’s demands. So one should not have unrealistic expectations from a cease-fire or SOO agreement. What then do SOOs achieve? They are the first confidence building measure between the two sides in conflict. These agreements facilitate three important things:
1. They reduce mutual suspicion of the two sides and allowing them to reach the comfort level necessary for a dialogue.
2. They have a moderating influence over the underground rebels who are forced to become "reasonable" as they assess what is possible and what is not after interaction with the representatives of the State.
3. They allow the insurgent groups to involve larger population and body of opinion in the peace process as the cease-fire allows them to take the help of civil society and local intellectuals for peace.
Cease fire and SOO agreements help start a process of building trust which ultimately leads the underground leaders to begin thinking that their demands can be met through dialogue. Their initial negotiating positions may be unrealistic. They may begin with demanding complete sovereignty or a separate state. However, what is amazing is that once they choose the political path of dialogue, they continue talking even when sovereignty is ruled out or the difficulties associated with the formation of a separate state are pointed out to them. The most crucial role in taking the peace process forward is played by the third and the largest party to the conflict – the civil society. Only if the civil society supports the peace process between the insurgents and the State, can the process be sustained. Otherwise it cannot survive. SOO and cease-fire agreements provide the opportunity to insurgents to seek the opinion of civil society. This is evident in the way the All Bodo Students’ Union, the Bodo Sahitya Sabha, Bodo women’s organizations, etc. went with the peace process initiated with the Bodo Liberation Tigers. The civil society in Karbi Anglong is also encouraging the pro-talk faction of the UPDS to continue talking to the government. It is also no accident that the ULFA has to go through an Assamese intellectual and novelist in trying to assess the prospects of a peace process. And this is even before a cease-fire agreement has been signed.
What this shows is that there are three and not two parties to these conflicts – the State, the insurgent groups and the civil society. As a cease-fire or an SOO agreement is signed, the civil society assumes a supreme position – its approval or disapproval decides who is right – the underground or the State.
The civil society must, therefore, exercise its responsibility with great care and total integrity. It must oppose violence and must not have double standards. Killing of innocents, school children, innocent bus or train passengers, people going about their business by insurgents must not be judged using a different scale than the violence perpetrated by the security forces. Claiming that the killing of non-combatants in the case of the insurgents is only a mistake while in the case of the State it is repression will not do. The civil society cannot accept arguments for violence by insurgents with a nudge and wink and hope that its views on violence by the State would be taken seriously.
The civil society is like the judge before whom both sides are arguing their case on a day-to-day basis. Whichever side the civil society chooses is the winner because it holds the veto of peoples’ support from the beginning of the insurgency to the day a settlement or an accord is signed.
Role of civil society in the peace process – the Naga case:
In the case of the cease-fire between the NSCN (IM) and the government of India, one can venture to suggest that the biggest contribution in sustaining the peace process has been made by the Naga civil society organizations. In fact it has been a dialectical process – the civil society strengthening the peace process and the peace process in turn giving an unprecedented voice to the civil society. Today, Naga civil society organizations can criticize and give a direction to the peace process. A decade ago people would have been assassinated for being critical of the underground. Today that is no longer possible and the Naga solution is not even in sight. This has become possible because of the cease-fire and the cessation of violence. When I met Thuingaleng Muivah recently I asked him whether there was any tension today between the Naga civil society and the NSCN (IM). I would like to quote his answer in full. He said, "The basic principle that we belong to the people should never be overlooked. We operate in their name for the benefit of the nation. Without the people we have nothing. The involvement of the people therefore is most essential and eventually decisive. "In the last seven years, the most pleasing thing that has happened is the growth of Naga civil society. New intellectuals, new voices have come up. They debate with us, often question us and make suggestions about how to move forward. I am not unhappy even when they are critical. In the ultimate analysis it is people who should decide their own fate. "Through civil society I claim that we have understood people’s aspirations and their desire for peace better. In this way we are often made realistic in dealing with the people and the government of India." Here is an insurgent leader who has carried a gun for nearly five decades singing the praises not only of the critical opinion of the civil society but also of the moderating influence it has had on him and the NSCN. Would this have been possible a decade ago? I think not. There is much that other insurgencies and civil society organizations in the North East can learn from the Nagas. For the first time there is recognition by the NSCN (IM) leadership that for the peace process to continue and for lasting peace itself, the approval of Naga civil society is necessary.
What has the NSCN (IM) done?
Setting aside its initial suspicions, it has encouraged two processes of peace making:
1. The consultation between the armed militants and the Naga and the non-Naga civil society organizations.
2. The dialogue between Naga civil society organizations, the Indian government and non-Naga civil society organizations.
Moving away from the phase of armed struggle, the NSCN (I-M) is now attempting not only to keep the Naga people informed of their negotiations but as its General Secretary Muivah put in an interview: "I asked the people for help -- to give us the benefit of their suggestions and criticisms so that we avoid making mistakes. After all we are responsible to the people and we can neither move ahead of them nor leave them behind."
The civil society organizations playing a contributory role to peace making in Nagaland are primarily the Baptist Church, the Naga Peoples’ Movement for Human Rights, the Naga Mothers’ Organization, the Naga Hoho or the supreme tribal body, the Naga Students’ Federation and the tribal and state organizations of Nagas from Manipur, Assam and Arunachal Pradesh.
The Church orgnizations in Nagaland have been working for reconciliation among the various Naga factions. There has been so much fratricidal killing within the Nagas that unless there is reconciliation within Naga society, the peace process stands little chance of sustaining itself. The Church continues to make this effort although even the process of forming a reconciliation committee has seen some ups and downs lately. The Naga Mothers’ Organization is another civil society group that has been meeting the underground groups in Bangkok and in Myanmar urging them to unite and seek durable peace with New Delhi. The Naga Mothers Organization has also been urging the United Naga Council of Manipur to seek reconciliation with the Meiteis.
There have been consultation between the Naga civil society organizations and the NSCN (I-M) in Bangkok and, earlier this year, even in Delhi and Dimapur. These consultations not only committed the NSCN (IM) leadership to greater transparency in the peace negotiations but also urged them to work for reconciliation within Naga society. A joint declaration by the civil society organizations gathered in Bangkok way back in 2001 emphasized "the need for deepening the healing, understanding and forgiving process in Naga society, traumatized and damaged physically, mentally and morally during the past decades of conflict and struggle."
This was an important development. It sought to underpin the peace negotiations with the consent and support of Naga civil society. And this process of interaction between the leaders of the armed insurgency and the civil society is today a continuing process.
At least two dialogue processes have been organized between Naga civil society organizations and the Meitei intellectuals and organizations to make the dominant ethnic community of Manipur understand the Naga problem. They have not been very fruitful as yet but who knows, they might succeed one day. Outside the state, several other organizations and individuals have been playing a peace building role. These include media organizations and human rights organizations such as "Other Media", South Asian Forum for Human Rights. They have helped set up the Civil Society Initiative on the Naga Peace Process which has examined in detail the cease-fire and the allegations of its violations. These are good beginning and bode well for increasing the understanding between the Nagas and the rest of India. Rita Manchanda’s study of Naga women’s role ("We do more because we can. Naga women in the peace process") is a seminal work which records how women’s organizations have helped sustain the peace process. It has a memorable quote from Neidonuo Angami of the Naga Women’s Organization where she says," Both sides can decide to break the cease-fire. But for whom after all are they talking – for us. We are all stakeholders in peace."
He was not overstating the case. Lasting peace in Nagaland will come only if the peace process is backed by the civil society both in the Naga areas and outside it. What the Nagas have achieved is not only the involvement of their civil society but also of the civil society organizations in the rest of India which is gradually learning to appreciate the complexities of the Naga conflict and their desire for honourable peace.
Prolonged cease-fire agreements: All this is fine but the picture would be incomplete unless one also examines the reverse side of the process and asks: What happens if a cease-fire is a prolonged one? Can it become counter-productive? A cease-fire agreement is a means to an end. A delicate balance is needed between not hastening the pace of the peace process and making the cease-fire an end in itself. The process must not be hurried – enough time must be allowed to the insurgent groups to consult the people and take them along. If they don’t do that then whatever accord is signed will not find wide acceptance. The cease-fire also needs to extend over a certain period of time for another reason -- For controlling rival factions opposed to the peace process as well as other political forces inimical to the peace process. This is an immense challenge and it should not be automatically assumed that everyone wants peace as there are vested interests in continuing the conflict also.
However, there is always a danger that once a cease-fire is declared people may forget what the magnitude of the conflict is – as its dimensions are no longer in focus. A prolonged cease-fire can create a false sense of "balance" in the situation. This an illusion and anyone who takes comfort in it is fooling himself. A cease-fire or an SOO agreement must not, therefore, lead to complacency or be used as part of a deliberate wear-them-out strategy. If there is an opportunity to settle a conflict, then the State must seize the opportunity to resolve it. A greater responsibility also devolves on the State because although the two parties to the conflict sign the cease-fire or SOO agreement as equal partners, this parity is illusory. The reality is that the State is the stronger force. The dialogue for cease-fire and the peace process itself becomes an unequal one – because whatever the insurgent leader says is a firm commitment and whatever the representative of the State says is subject to ratification. The "equality" in the partnership must, therefore, reflect in the mindset and conduct of the State’s emissaries. Successful and unsuccessful accords:
Lastly a few words about what kind of accords succeed and which do not. I think there are some clear principles a successful accord must follow.
No accord that is based on the misconception that the insurgencies in India’s North East are about development or the lack of development can succeed. The lack of development can certainly breed an insurgency but people fight for justice and not for material gains. While nobody wants to die in vain, no one dies for a swimming pool in his house or for three bedroom bungalows instead of a thatched hut. Rebels tend to have bigger causes. They are related to a sense of injustice, wanting control over the destiny of their people and finding better ways of fashioning and administering their future according to their own genius. Only those accords succeed which identify the real underlying causes of the insurgency. Thus no accord with the Nagas can succeed which denies them the right to decide their own future or explore the possibility of living in a single political unit instead of being spread over four states of India. The Assamese may not like it but the Bodos and the Karbis may still feel done down by the policies of Guwahati, just as the Assamese may harbour feelings of injustice against New Delhi. The point is that it is important to address the sense of injustice rather than throw money at the problem in the name of development. If the foundation of an accord is dishonest, then no matter how it is worded, it cannot succeed. Any accord in which a word or a sentence is subject to two different meanings or interpretations also cannot work. The Akbar Hyderi Accord singed with the Nagas in June 1947, two months before Indian Independence, is a case in point. It was a fraudulent document meant to cheat the Nagas. So it did not work. Every settlement or an accord has to be a document of self-respect and cannot be one-sided. The Shillong Accord is dishonest because it is one sided – the Nagas were expected to surrender their weapons and the State only accepted the surrender. Such an accord cannot survive. An insurgency is not made of weapons but of wounded self-respect and a deep sense of injustice. An accord or a settlement is also not signed with the leader of an insurgent group. It is signed to satisfy the sentiments of the cadre of the insurgent group. If their sentiments are not satisfied, immediately a new insurgency begins. Even the ink does not have to dry for this to happen. We have seen this time and again in the North East.
Accords in which the real leaders are kept out also cannot work. The State often tries to create groups that would surrender with much fanfare and accept rehabilitation packages but the insurgency continues with the same ferocity as earlier. Those who want to give up violence must of course be encouraged to do so and enabled to do so. However, we have seen how in some parts of India fake surrenders have become a business. An accord in which the manner of surrender of weapons is not honourable will not work nor would an accord that does not have a long-term vision about the rehabilitation of insurgent cadre. The longevity of an accord is determined by how a society treats its surrendered militants. Finally, it is also wrong to suggest that peace accords favour only one side. If only one side gains then there would be no accord. A peace accord is only a partial accomplishment of the objectives that the insurgent group fights for – it is a political compromise. In a democracy, honourable political compromises are not bad. They are in fact desirable. Peace accords and cease-fires are attempts at finding these acceptable compromises. (The writer is Editor of The Telegraph in Delhi)
Tremor rocks northeast, creates panic By Indo Asian News Service
Guwahati, Sep 18 (IANS) An earthquake measuring 6.1 on the Richter scale shook the northeastern region Sunday, causing panic in the states of Assam, Manipur, and Meghalaya, officials said.
An official with the seismological centre in Shillong, the capital of Meghalaya, said the epicentre of the quake, which occurred at 12.56 p.m., was plotted along the border between Manipur and Myanmar. Police and residents in the region said people panicked and rushed out of their homes.
'Our multi-storey building shook vigorously and we ran out in panic,' said Pranjal Kumar Bhoralee, a resident of Assam's main city Guwahati. There were no reports of damage or casualties so far, officials said. The seven northeastern states - Arunachal Pradesh, Assam, Meghalaya, Mizoram, Manipur, Nagaland and Tripura - are considered by seismologists as the world's sixth major earthquake-prone belt. They have experienced some of India's worst jolts, including one measuring 8.7 on the Richter scale in 1897 that killed 1,600 people. Assam had experienced a massive temblor measuring 8.5 on the Richter scale Aug 15, 1950 that claimed some 1,500 lives.
Myanmar timber to revive plywood industry in NE By Surajit Khaund Assam Tibune
GUWAHATI, Sept 16 – India has decided to import soft wood from Myanmar for revival of the crisis-hit plywood industry in the North East. The Indian Government move came following approval of the High Power Committee of the north-eastern region. A huge consignment of soft wood (Teak and Gurjan) comprising one lakh cubic feet (CFT) is supposed to reach this region within this week. The Ministry of Agriculture Plant Quarantine Division has already cleared the consignment after quarantine verification. It may be recalled that after the Supreme Court ban on cutting of trees in the North East, the wood based industries scattered in various parts of the region have been facing serious problems. But the new agreement is likely to give a boost to the industries in the region. According to available information the six wood- based industries in the state have been covered under the new pact. Now all these industries will be able to import teak and Gurjan wood from Myanmar to meet their requirement. Talking to this correspondent here today, Mrinal Sarma, senior officer of Ministry of Agriculture Plant Quarantine Division, said that the new agreement would give a new life to the crisis-hit plywood industries which remained closed for the last couple years due to shortage of raw materials. “ According to the agreement another consignment of 2500 CFT will reach the region very soon”, he said. In this context, he informed that now-a-days plant quarantine certificate is mandatory for export and import of forest products and therefore all the consignments have to undergo plant quarantine test. Immediately after the ASEAN car rally, trade relations between India and Myanmar have been improving. To keep the momentum going, the Indian Commerce Ministry has taken a slew of measures to boost export and import. Sarma informed that ‘Burmese’ teak has a good demand across the world for its quality and therefore the industries in the region would be able to woo the customers. “We are optimistic that lot of wood based industries would come up in the North East after the new development”, he added. Meanwhile, M/S Kitply Industries have signed a pact No-01/ 2004/2005 (D) (BT) with the Myanmar Timber Enterprise Ahlone, Yangon to import of teak and Gurjan from Myanmar.
US troops appreciate joint training NET News Network Aizawl Sep 17: US troops participating in the 3rd Ind-US joint training at the Counter-Insurgency & Jungle Warfare School (CIJWS) in Vairengte have said they appreciate the training as it would be very useful for anti-terrorist operations. While interacting with journalists from Aizawl for two days in Vairengte on Thursday and Friday, Lt Peter Alimerez of the 1st Bn 294 Infantry, Guam said the tactics that they are learning are new to them and with the facilties that the school provides, it was an excellent training exercise that would give them an edge when dealing with counter-insurgency and terrorism.
"The facilities are top-notch and the tactics are new. The lessons are also very in-depth and they would certainly give an advantage when we need to carry out counter-insurgency and counter-terrorism operations," Lt Almirez said. The 7 US army officers and 35 troops that are undertaking the joint exercise with the Maratha Light Infantry would be used as trainers when they get back to US soil. The joint exercise, codenamed Ex Yudh Abhyas, is aimed at increasing the understanding between the two forces. Brigadier Rakesh Sharma, who took over command of the CIJWS on APril 1 this year, said nearly 3.5 lakh persons have been trained out of this School since its inception in 1970. Of these, approximately 400 are foreigners from neighbouring countries as well as from the African and American continents. A total of 27 countries have made use of the facilities available at the CIJWS till date. Personnel from the Mongolian and Uzbek armies would be coming for training later this year.
"Low intensity conflicts are becoming global in scope and the fight has evolved from the rural to the urban areas. In view of this, the School has adopted many tactics that would avoid collateral damage as far as practicable," Brigadier Sharma explained about the School's tactics. He added that the excellent training provided by the institution is greatly appreciated by the countries that have sent its army and police personnel for training here and other countries have also shown interest in the School. The facilites and training provided by the CIJWS is not found anywhere else in the world and the officers and personnel of this School are proud of the fact that they belong to an exclusive institution that has no contemporary in the world. Chief minister Zoramthanga, who gave a lecture to the two countries' troops on Friday said though he may not be the competent authority military-wise to tell them what to do, he is politically competent to tell them how to deal with insurgents and terrorists as he had been an underground outfit leader for twenty years. He said a tactic called the "carrot and stick system" needs to be employed in the political process when dealing with anti-social elements such as insurgents and terrorists. "I am not the competent authority to tell you how to conduct a military operation, but as a politician and as a former rebel leader for twenty years, I believe I have enough experience to know how to deal with insurgents and terrorists through the political process. In this system, we need to use the 'carrot and stick' system where we sometime cajole these people while we sometime threaten them," Zoramthanga said. Bringing out neighbouring Manipur as an example, Zormthanga said the Manipur government had not done enough to pursuade its numerous underground groups to come overground and said its government needs to apply the carrot and stick system with enthusiasm. According to him, insurgents and terrorists cannot survive without the people s a result of attempts to isolate them as much as possible should be made. The School's motto,"Fight the guerrilla like a guerrilla" is being applied with enthusiasm as a result of which the school has placed much importance to the ability to "identify, acquire and neutralise the terrorist in the split second that the terrorist reveals himself", said Brigadier Sharma. The CIJWS prides itself as it is the most relevant training institution today as it trains personnel for what it terms as "Today's War", which is terrorism and insurgency through its experienced, committed and capable instructional staff.
American oilfield fire fighting group arrives NET News Network Guwahati, Sep 17: Experts from the America based oilfield fire fighting group" Boots and Coots have reached the Dikom oilwell of the state owned Oil India Limited (OIL) to douse the fire which has engulfed the oilwell. Despite 36 hours of hard work, the fire fighters have not managed to douse the flames of oilwell. Two experts from Boots and coots and seven from Oil and Natural Gas Corporation (ONGC) Mumbai have reached the oilwell this afternoon. Nearly 30 fire tenders are working round the clock to douse the fire, which broke out on Thursday. Dikom well produces about 85 kilolitres of crude oil everyday. There was spillage in the well since this Wednesday. As per an estimate oil spillage if continued for nearly twenty fours hours results in losses to the tune of Rs one Crore. Already this spillage has cost Rs 4 Crore to OIL. Senior OIL officials said that there is no disruption in the supply of crude oil to refineries. Drilling in other oilwells is not affected. " We are hopeful of dousing the fire in another 48 hours," he said. Dibrugarh Deputy Commissioner, H. Bora told northeasttribune.com that more than 2000 people residing in the vicinity of the oilwell area have been evacuated to safe places. " We have initiated disaster preparedness measures and are ready for any exigencies. ONGC has also rushed its disaster management team to the site," he added .
US policy on Burma in the Katrina context Love is a Many Splendour Thing
By Prof. Kanbawza Win Prof. Kanbawza Win (Dr. B.T.Win): Incumbent Dean of Students of AEIOU Programme, Chiangmai University, Thailand. Senior Research Fellow at the European Institute of Asian Studies, Under the European Commission, Brussels, Belgium. Earlier Consultant to National Coalition Government of the Union of Burma. Editorial Consultant, “Asian Tribune.” Hurricane Katrina has painted the real picture of the mass suffering of people and for the first time the Americans have witnessed it, while in Burma, the people have been used to this scene as it was repeatedly played again and again for one and half decades of Burmese Military Rule. The only difference is that there is no television camera to beam it to the world for this man made Katrina. The pangs of Katrina if compared to the agony of the Burmese people is equal, for over 3 million people fled the country with one million refugees in Thailand alone (subjected to persecution) and hundreds of thousands of ethnic people are in forced labor as the latest report of the Amnesty International indicates.
President Bush authorized the dispatch 40,000 troops and we witnessed the soldiers helping the people everywhere in the disaster hit area. However, in Burma whenever the people see the soldier approaching their way, they just sprint off knowing that trouble is ahead for they will either loot, rape or forcibly recruited them to be used as porters, as the latest reports of Amnesty International indicates. Here, in America we behold the soldiers giving medical aid to the people but in Burma it is just the opposite and in one occasion in 1988 the soldiers went into the Rangoon General Hospital, shot up the nurses and doctors, a scene, which no Burmese could ever forget. Such is the general character of the Burmese soldiers if compared to an American GIs.
Unlike the Katrina victims there is no relief of any sort, for the poor 3,000 Burmese workers suffered in Tsunami floods in Thailand. Worst many of the families did not even dare to claim the bodies of their loved ones lest they would be arrested and deported back Burma where they will be persecuted or die of starvation. The compassionate and sympathetic NGOs, such as the World Vision that tried to help them were arrested and persecuted. The most paradoxical aspect was that the Burmese workers were even prevented from performing the last rites for their beloved ones. When I was in Phuket area I attended that ``hush hush`` ceremony in the midst of the rubber plantation, where they cried their heart out without anybody hearing. I asked them, what do they wish for in times like this and according to the Buddhist believe, they unanimously replied that in the next life they should be born away from the tyrannical Junta. Because they construed that all these inhuman suffering fell upon them because of the Burmese military regime. But the worst fate was suffered in the coastal regions of Burma where there is no sort of relief, as the military government would not allow any of the international relief to come to their aid. The suffering images of the people beam directly over the television in the Katrina hurricane made the American realize of what the Burmese people are going through. The Burmese army, when it took power in 1988 firing into the crowds killing some 10,000 in six major cities is the same Junta that is ruling Burma. The continuous carnage has been going on for one and a half decades up till now, and nobody heard the clarion call of the Burmese people. Is it time to lend their ears to a pathetic call of the 50 million plus people of a far away country with an entirely different culture? Burma needs America Since "May Flower" carrying the Puritans landed in 1620 seeking, "freedom," has been the cornerstone of American values as it permeates in every aspect of the American society, which is guaranteed in the constitution and protected by the judicial system. This was followed by self-reliance, equality of opportunity, hard work and competition. President George Bush's speech to the Czech Republic last November said `We share the common values of freedom, human rights and democracy,' that was very much echo by the Burmese people both inside and outside the country. Unwittingly the US has won over the hearts and minds of the people of the world particularly the Burmese in this aspect of universal values and now it is left for the US administration to follow up with actions.
Even though "values” is one of the more contentious and frustrating parts of the foreign-policy debate, it has played a pivotal part in themselves and in their influence on the conduct of a nation's affairs. And the Burmese are just waiting of how these values will transcend on to Burma. The people of Burma seem to remember George Washington words, "Observe good faith and justice toward all nations… worthy of a free… nation to give to mankind the magnanimous… guided by an exalted justice and benevolence."
Burma can be considered as the onset of what Samuel Huntington calls the "third wave" of global democratization. The global trend towards democracy is both exciting and gratifying to peoples everywhere, especially to the Burmese who value freedom, but freedom in third world countries are shallow, fragile, and in need of support. Even if Burma gets federal democratic government it still needs to institute the rudiments of democratic institutions. Effective control over the military may need to weigh every policy and action. Political parties lack substantial organization and resources, meaningful ties to major interest groups and grassroots constituencies, and the political skill and experience to govern effectively. Also lacking, typically, is the cultural and civic infrastructure that sustains democracy: a strong positive commitment to democracy that is widely shared among elites and citizens; a variety of democratic associations and interest groups that are autonomous from the state and can hold it accountable; a vigorous, independent, and pluralistic mass media. If so, why should the America bother with Burma? Why spend American energies and resources to promote democracy in Burma? Are just some of the legitimate questions to ask? With the extinction of communism and the waning of the Soviet threat, what should be the purpose of American national interest lie? This debate is as old as America itself, and has been of particular prominence since the US became a global power at the start of this century. This explicitly means not only completing the agenda for strategic and conventional arms control agreements, but also halting the spread of weapons of mass destruction and promoting democracy in the world including Burma.
There are compelling reasons to reject this cold calculus of "realpolitik." One reason is moral. It has to do with what most distinguishes the United States as a people and a nation – the American commitment to political and economic freedom, to openness, pluralism, democracy, and the rule of law is paramount. This is what the Burmese admired and are requesting for help at least just to get their freedom. The US in concert with its democratic allies, has enormous power to aid and empower the struggles for democracy around the world especially Burma. The Burmese people has seen that the American diplomatic pressure apparently played an important role in facilitating the transition to democracy in South Korea 1987, by dissuading President Chun Doo Hwan from unleashing massive repression against the widespread popular mobilization for democracy. Who can forget that it was US criticism of Ferdinand Marcos dictatorship that finally conceded to the presidential "snap election" that unraveled his grip on power? In Chile, when substantive pressure was threatened by the 1985 multilateral loan abstentions -- the dictator quickly lifted the state of siege. The American Administration deserves praise and gratitude from democrats worldwide for forcing Noriega out of power in Panama and Saddam Hussein out of Kuwait. Both the Administration and the Congress are to be applauded for greatly increasing funding to promote democracy and to support new and emerging democracies. We think that it is now the turn of Burma to be helped. U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, meeting her Burmese counterpart U Nyan Win, in New York with member countries of ASEAN just looks at him directly and chided for the need to speed up political and human rights reform. But this is not enough, and will have to be followed up by concrete actions. Ms Rice words will just fall on deaf ears of the Junta as they are bent on keeping the power to themselves - no matter if millions of Burmese people died of starvation, Aids and diseases.
There are several reasons of why the American should be interested in Burma. There are international issues that relate to refugees then there are the questions of illegal labor, health and HIV, and prostitution and worst of all the country was run by narco related economy. All of these have effects on the countries around Burma and so Burma is no longer isolated case. In July, a report by the Council on Foreign Relations, a New York-based think tank, painted a bleaker picture -- that Burma is the main source of all strains of HIV that have spread across Asia, from Kazakhstan on one end to southern Vietnam, on the other. In some northern parts of the country, HIV infection rates were ''as high as 77 percent,'' the report revealed, and added further that heroin routes originating from Burma and crossing the region have been the ''greatest contributor of new types of HIV in the world''. This will get worst with no help from Global Fund.
American Policy Towards Burma Current U.S. policy toward Burma authentically reflects American political values and is morally validated by the long record of human rights outrages by the Burmese regime. Overall US policy objectives in Burma remain unchanged: the immediate and unconditional release of Aung San Suu Kyi, U Tin Oo, Hkun Htun Oo and all political prisoners; the re-opening of all NLD party offices and the start of a meaningful dialogue leading to genuine national reconciliation and the establishment of democracy. The US policy goals include the establishment of constitutional democracy, respect for human rights and religious freedom, the repatriation of refugees with monitoring by UNHCR, the return home of internally displaced persons (IDPs), cooperation in fighting terrorism, regional stability, a full accounting of missing US servicemen from World War II, combating HIV/AIDS, eliminating trafficking in persons, ending forced labor, and increased cooperation in eradicating the production and trafficking of illicit drugs. In fact US officials persistently requested meetings with Aung San Suu Kyi and U Tin Oo. The Junta prohibited US and other diplomats in Burma from visiting them either. It also published a series of newspaper articles attempting to intimidate diplomats, including American Embassy personnel, who visited NLD headquarters or met with other pro-democracy leaders. It is understood that the United States will continue to maintain extensive sanctions including an arms embargo, bans on new investment and imports, an asset freeze, and a prohibition on the exportation of financial services to Burma and the provision of financial assistance to the military regime. The Department of State maintained visa restrictions on the Junta members; Government ministers and other senior Burmese Government officials; military officers above the rank of Colonel; all officials of the Union Solidarity and Development Association (USDA); civil servants above the rank of Director General; and managers of state-owned enterprise and this will remain. Until there is significant progress toward political transition and genuine respect for human rights or until a democratically elected government in Burma requests that they be lifted. In 2004-2005, the US provided $2 million to address the growing HIV/AIDS epidemic in Burma by funding international non-governmental organizations to undertake prevention and care activities. It also seeks greater commitment to more effective prevention, treatment, and care programs, including for pregnant mothers and high-risk groups. In addition, the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria - which receives one-third of its funding from the American government - has made grant commitments totaling $35 million over two years to fight the three diseases.
Pressure from the United States and other nations has not yet eased repression in Burma, and therefore will have to work out more aggressively. While people can differ about some aspects of the sanctions debate, there is no denying that the aim is to compel the regime to change. The most important aspect was that it must not make it impossible to provide humanitarian aid to the Burmese people who are really in need. The country is indeed suffering a humanitarian crisis, including an uncontrolled HIV/AIDS epidemic, a deteriorating health care system, and growing malnourishment and the outdated education system. There is a clear consensus that it needs help from the outside world to meet basic humanitarian needs. But this not indicates that sanctions stands in the way. Indeed, UN agencies like UNICEF and UNDP along with a number of non-governmental organizations are present in Burma. It must be through the military that aid should be channeled. The only restriction they impose is that no aid can be channeled through the Burmese government and the military sponsored agencies. It is not the international community’s fault that aid does not reach to the desired needy people of Burma but rather a series of Burmese military government's policies that stunt development and impede the relief of suffering. So much so that Global Fund stop the funding and hurt the people. Hence the cause of Burma’s humanitarian emergency is not a lack of aid but that of the military regime that is hampering the aid. There are additional issues about the private sector, about how it will or will not operate-questions about how to change a centrally planned economy into a more open one. Burma is not a communist economy but a centrally planned one nevertheless, and one that has had a stormy relationship with the private sector. The Junta’s dismal economic policies have resulted in widespread poverty and the flight of most foreign investors. But Washington must ask itself whether current policy meets two other tests. Firstly, does it have any realistic prospect of success in altering the character of the Burmese regime? And secondly does it jeopardize the US strategic and foreign policy interests in Southeast Asia, particularly as they relate to China and ASEAN? The most important external pressure exerted on Burma is China. China has moved into Burma in a way that has upset the other neighbouring countries. China has built a great deal of infrastructure-road infrastructure, airport infrastructure, bridge construction, and China has modernized the Burmese army in terms of equipment. The Chinese have also moved into Burma economically. Northern Burma is tied to the Yunnanese economy. For officials in Washington, Burma is something of a foreign policy free good comparable to Cuba and in contrast with China or North Korea. Beijing’s increasing military, political and economic prowess may create a situation that would leave the United States without stable or reliable allies in this vital region, which is essential to America’s economic stability and national security. The people of Burma are ready to help the Americans in their pursuit of international terrorism and the spread of nuclear weapons and they expect the American to help them in throwing off the tyrannical Junta who does not care for the spread of AIDS and the gap between rich and poor
Burmese Doubts President George W. Bush speech at his second inaugural address pledged that "all` who live in tyranny and hopelessness can know the United States will not ignore your oppression or excuse your oppressors. When you stand for your liberty, we will stand with you." And not only in spirit: "We will defend ourselves and our friends by force of arms when necessary."The Burmese ethno-democratic forces were encouraged and invigorated by those words coming from the leader of the free world, and the Greatest superpower. However, the president did not utter a word about Burma on his trip to Southeast Asia.
The Burmese people knew that American government has a long and sometimes questionable actions of encouraging opposition groups, only to stand by and watch tanks or helicopters mow them down. In 1956, Secretary of State John Foster Dulles pledged to the opposition in Hungary "to all those suffering under Communist slavery, let us say you can count on us." But we witness thousands of Hungarians were slaughtered. In 1991, during the first Iraq War, the first Bush administration pursued a "murky" policy by encouraging the Shiite Iraqis to rise up against Saddam Hussein, but never help them when the Shiites were slaughtered, and the Bush policy was roundly denounced as morally bankrupt. Now Bush II has pledged in an open forum "all who live in tyranny and hopelessness." How will it apply to the Burmese scene is still to be seen. We just hope and pray that President Bush is not just perpetuating the legacy of broken promises. Supposing Taiwan decides to declare its independence, will the United States"defend our friends by force of arms." If so, will it even serve the US national interest? Bush has expanded the National Endowment for Democracy, which helps opposition groups across the globe. It provides training, funds, and other support to them including many Burmese opposition parties. Sometimes, we ploy with the imagination that President Bush didn't really mean it and is just a throwaway speech, a chance to rattle on about lofty principle and encourage the democracy promotion project. Imagine he intends to adhere to real politik with countries where the US have an interest in stability. Bold pronouncements and faltering action is what the Burmese are afraid of the Bush administration. Is it right to encourage and fund opposition groups, to pledge openly that the United States will stand with them, and then to step aside when it matters? Take, for example, the Orange Revolution in Ukraine. These are just some of the thoughts, which an average Burmese harbors and the Bush administration has to prove it otherwise in the wake of Katrina tragedy.
Burmese Military Version The Burmese military is determined to retain power at any cost even killing millions of people directly or indirectly by diseases. It may civilianize but it will not have a civilian government it does not control. The Military it has expanded in numbers and armaments have increased-some US$2 billion worth of new arms since 1988. It has effectively neutralized a large part of the ethnic nationalities opposition. There have been about 17 cease-fires that are fragile, but now the military is not losing troops except on Karen front. The Communist Party has disintegrated. Hence the military is in a strong position. The NLD is in a weaker position than it has been in the past. The military is out to destroy the National League, to isolate Aung San Suu Kyi from the League and to make sure they never come to power. The military thinks it has the moral authority to interfere in society in a way that would suits their need. It intervene in the media, control what you read, what you say, with whom you associate in all aspects. It affects the economy, civil right, human rights and it means. The military believes that it is the only group holding the country together. ``The monarch of all I survey attitude``. A self-fulfilling prophecy. It has destroyed all the other groups that might have done so. Then it believes that foreigners are out to divide the country. Historically this is substantiated as the British supported the Karen; the Americans the KMT; the Chinese the Burma Communist Party; the Thai four or five different groups to create buffer states between conservative Bangkok and radical Rangoon; the Bangladeshis supported the Rohingyas, and the Nagas and Mizo operated on both sides of the India border. So they say look, all you guys are out to destroy us. The NGOs operating inside Burma are just meddling in their affairs and letting the cat out of the bag. Who knows they may be looking just for a pretext to destroy Burma, hence thy put on restraint to them.
But times have changed. None of the separations are viable. The ethnic nationalities now, don't want independence but they want some form of federalism. The military is stuck in an earlier view of Burma-a view of two generations ago. It also believes that the ethnic nationalities want to split off and become independent and it doesn't really trust them. But the most important aspect is that the military really believes that the National League for Democracy is a tool for foreigners. In so far as there is foreign support for the National League for Democracy, the argument makes some sense to the military. No doubt Daw Suu is tough, strong, brave and very determined to do what she thinks is in the interests of the country and what she believes in, but the military doesn't believe in that. It seems that the military has changed its position. It has now become an ideology. One has had a different set of ideologies over time. When the military came to power in 1962 the economy was then in the hands of foreigners and socialism was the natural way to get the Burmese back into control of the country. There was a parallel development in Tanzania. Then there was an odd combination of Buddhism and Marxism; the focus was then the Burmese Socialist Party. It was rigidly socialist. All of that failed and now the Burmese military has created itself as the ideology holding the country together. If one read the Burmese language press, one will get the feeling that the military is now calling itself the cohesive intellectual and ideological focus of that society. And it is rewriting history to demonstrate that this is true. It believes that civilians have been corrupt, incompetent, and should in no way control society any longer. It believes that the role of economic development in the private sector is to enable the government to continue its control. There is nothing inherent in the private sector or in a liberal market economy of value in itself. It is a means for the military to retain power. It very strongly feels the threat of retribution if it relinquishes power-the Pinochet syndrome. The military feels the threat of losing the perquisites of power from which it now benefits.
Ethnic Nationalities The ambiguity in the date for the resumption of National Convention deliberations, so trumpeted by the Junta, is symptomatic of the confusion the process has generated abroad, where the demand for hard information and precise dates is heard. The insistence on clarity is, of course, a political weapon used by those excluded from the constitutional drafting process inside and outside the country. The "Divide and Rule" policy over the ethnic nationalities has been successful as some of them enter ceasefire with the Burmese army while other continues to fight. The Ethnic Nationalities became the main criteria of eventually establishing a civilian administration, following years of military rule is simply that if the convention should fail and no agreements are reached, the prospect of renewed armed conflict cannot be excluded. There is thus a lot at stake for the people of the country, as well as to the ethnic nationalities. It is known that the 28-armed groups have put forward 18 separate papers on aspects of power sharing between their regions and the central government. But most of the ethnic delegates are more experienced guerilla fighters than constitutional lawyers and of course many of them did not reflect the people's wishes. However, they are still under the umbrella of ENSCC and some main ethnics such as the Karen, Shan and Chin are still fighting the military government. While the West and the Burmese Diaspora insist that Daw Suu and the NLD must be a part and parcel of the that the convention, the ceasefire ethnic nationalities at the convention see the crucial question as being how they will share constitutional authority with the armed forces, hence, to the ethnic leaders, the offer of - 25 per cent of the seats in any future legislature to be held by the armed forces, and other measures to protect the autonomy of the armed forces as well as its concerns for the integrity of the state - is a deal worth doing, at least as the next step in Burma's journey to constitutional government. For them half a loaf is better than none. In addition Burma's neighbors have a stake in the outcome for stability in the country's border areas is critical for the security of the wider region. As long as the threat of the break-up of the Union of Burma is posed by potential insurgency, many people inside and outside the country will concede the need for a strong, authoritarian government. On the other hand the NLD believe the military is out to destroy them, and wants to split Aung San Suu Kyi from the National League from Democracy. Not surprisingly, the National League for Democracy calls for continued sanctions, but not now on all humanitarian assistance, as long as the SPDC organizations do not benefit. Daw Aung San Suu Kyi since then has modified her position on humanitarian assistance. The League has responded to the military by creating a set of confrontations with the military to gain support. All this created very strong international and national support for the NLD. The economy is very weak but unlikely to collapse. The NLD is sustained by international support; but the more international support it gets, the more it is accused of being the axe-handle of foreign imperialists out to destroy the country. Hence this was the backdrop of the current Burmese scene. By the end of this year there is every possibility that the rubber stamp National Convention will be completed and if successful the pro democracy forces led by NLD will be acutely marginalized. The dictatorship of the Burmese army will become legitimate government and will have more teeth and force.
Federal Democratic Republic The American devotion to democracy is one of our greatest (if most intangible) assets in world affairs. This is only one respect in which the commitment to promote democracy abroad has real political and strategic -- not just moral, idealistic -- ramifications.Freedomwill not be completely secure anywhere in the world so long as it quashed or threatened in any part of it. Burma, a remote country in Southeast Asia is struggling for democracy and federalism. This is truer today, in a shrinking world, than ever before. But it has always been the case that despots and tyrannies have seen democracies as a threat to their own hegemonies of power, and have tried to undermine them. As long as there are military and ideological challengers to free states, democracy will not be completely secure. A more democratic world will be a safer, saner, more prosperous, receptive, and friendly world for Americans. Democratic countries do not go to war with one another. Democracies do not sponsor terrorism against one another. They do not build weapons of mass destruction to use on or threaten one another. So what kind of Burma do the Americans want? Democratic countries form more reliable, open, and enduring trading partners with one another. They offer in the long run better and more stable climates for investment. They are more environmentally responsible because they must answer to their own citizens who organize to protest the destruction of their environments. They are better bets to honor international treaties, because they value legal obligations, and because their openness makes it much more difficult to breach them in secret. Precisely because within their own borders they respect competition, civil liberties, rights of property, and the rule of law, democracies are the only reliable foundation on which we can build a new system of international security and prosperity. We want our beloved country Burma to be in that category. By the same token, the absence of pressure can be taken as a sign of tacit support from which an authoritarian regime may draw strength and this is what the Junta's apologist are striving for. Americans take pride in being democratic and believe it is the best form of government. And they know that a world free of corrupt, abusive, cynical, and unpredictable dictatorships will not only be a better and more decent world, but also a safer one. Even those who do not want or admire democracy may reconcile themselves to it if they believe there is no other way to remain in power, or to increase the international standing of their country. It is by now widely accepted that the democratic requirement for membership in the EEC was "an important incentive for the consolidation of democratic processes in the Iberian Peninsula," Greece, and now Turkey. Some African regimes are liberalizing now not only because of indigenous pressures but because they rightly perceive the climate of international opinion. This kind of pressure should be maintained formalized and escalated in the case of Burma. All aids, with the exception of emergency humanitarian aid, should be conditioned on respect for human rights and movement towards democracy. Implementing stringent sanctions is the most effective policy in seeking political change in Burma. Like many other military regimes in Southeast Asia’s history, power and access to riches go hand in hand. The same is true for Burma, except military control is even more formal. The Union of Myanmar Economic Holdings (UMEH) and the Myanmar Economic Corporation (MEC) are the two major industrial conglomerates controlled by the military, and they have managed to dominate many of the key economic sectors of the country. The junta’s domination of the economy is intended to enable it to outflank any sort of pressure to share political power. For a regime whose power is based on the repression of human rights and political aspirations of the people, economic growth and prosperity is seen as an alternative source of legitimacy. Economic sanctions and campaigns against foreign investment in Burma have effectively prevented this strategy for political legitimacy from succeeding in Rangoon.
Moreover, sanctions create pressure against the SPDC’s base of its political power by threatening the military leadership’s relationship with the middle and lower level officer corps. In an army where forced conscription and child soldiers are common, maintaining control means keeping the loyalty of the officers. Economic sanctions reduce the size of the "economic pie" from which the SPDC can slice pieces for its patronage networks, and creates additional hardship for low- and mid-level military families. Furthermore, when the economy is weakened by sanctions, pressure grows on the Burmese army to rely increasingly on seizures of land and property, and forced labor projects—mostly agricultural—to supplement the incomes of officers. Economic repression in these areas creates additional popular resentment against the military, and builds support for political change. The dearth of foreign investors also has a psychological effect that strikes at the Burmese army's perception of self as highly competent managers of national affairs, creating further pressure for change from the general populace and, potentially, from within the military. Sanctions have forced the Western Companies to force out and the Junta reliance on the Chinese firms is increased. Rather than a negative, this trend should be viewed as positive, since it serves to increase resentment of the general populace, as well as nationalistic Burma Army officers, against the leadership of the SPDC that is making policy. Steinberg points this out, when he says, "If the Burmese perceive that Chinese control is too great, they may take out their anger against their own government…" If Chinese economic investments are threatened, and international opinion continues to move strongly against the SPDC, it cannot be discounted that behind-the-scenes Chinese government pressure may be forthcoming to improve political conditions as a way to defuse building anti-Chinese pressure. Extension of economic sanctions also provides critical bargaining leverage to internal Burmese democrats, led by the NLD. In a bargaining situation where the NLD has only principles and popular support (one which is ignored by the regime, and the second which cannot be mobilized without casualties), the power to reduce the burden of international sanctions is a significant bargaining chip. Most observers agree that Aung San Suu Kyi’s words matter greatly in Western capitals, and influence North American and European policy toward Burma.
Global Village Burmese people has hope that the UN would one day act to end their sufferings under the repressive military regime in Rangoon has proved to be wrong, even though it is heartening to hear the UN Secretary General Kofi Annan's opening speech at UN Summit in New York when he comment that “Burma is a country where political freedoms continue to be unacceptably restricted.” But the Security Council did not even mention Burma. Now the honest has fallen on the US. As the world shrinks and international exchanges intensify, "Freedom" will not be completely secure anywhere in the world, so long as it quashed or threatened in any part of it and in this aspect Burma is a major threat to the world. But it has always been the case that despots and tyrannies have seen democracies as a threat to their own hegemonies of power, and have tried to undermine them. As long as there are military and ideological challengers to free states, democracy will not be completely secure. A more democratic world will be a safer, saner, more prosperous, receptive, and friendly world for Americans. The world will not be safe where most people are getting poorer and persecuted poverty further exacerbated by global warming and global trade alike. The democracy movement of Burma both inside and outside the country today is still weak, fragmented and overburdened.
Hurricane Katrina has amply demonstrated that we are in one world no matter whether one is big or small a minor or a super power. In a remarkable role reversal, some of the world's poorest developing nations are offering help. El Salvador offered to send soldiers to help restore order, and offers of aid have come from Bosnia, Kosovo and Belarus. The former Soviet republic of Georgia has donated $50,000 to the Red Cross, and beleaguered Sri Lanka, which has received $133 million in tsunami relief from the United States, has donated $25,000 to the Red Cross and even North Korean express their sympathy. The leaders of Cuba and Venezuela, both at odds with the United States, pledged support. Cuban President Fidel Castro offered to send 1,100 doctors, each carrying emergency medical supplies amounting to tons of relief aid. Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez offered to send fuel, humanitarian aid and relief workers to the disaster area. French President Jacques Chirac, one of Europe's most outspoken critics of Bush, dispatched a handwritten note to the White House expressing his "deep distress." French, Italian, German, Russian and Chinese officials have offered millions of dollars in aid. All these demonstrate that there is love. In the case of Burma, US can do a lot other than half-hearted sanctions (allowing the American Oil Companies to work in Burma). The U.S. must develop a proactive policy to deal comprehensively on Burma. The U.S. needs to expand efforts to de-legitimize the Burmese Junta internationally and must work with allies to apply economic and political pressure on the junta. The U.S. should support stronger action at the United Nations as expelling them from the UN or taking the problem to the Security Council. It should toughened multilateral sanctions, in concert with the ILO and call for governments to critically review their relationships with Rangoon. Given the flood of heroin entering the US from Burma, the administration should invoke a national security exemption (citing the Government Procurement Agreement) with regard to the World Trade Organization to fend off future attempts to overturn selective purchasing laws. Grassroots activists will certainly continue a concerted campaign of trade-related tactics to target US, European, and Asian companies invested in Burma, and the US government should not put obstacles in their way, based on misguided appeals to free trade One of the first steps the US should take is to increase resources for cross-border humanitarian assistance (food and medicine) to the internally displaced population while marshalling greater international attention to the plight of the ethnic peoples of Burma. Washington should also proactively work with the Royal Thai government to broaden its definition of a refugee, allow Shan camps to be established, and ensure that no involuntary repatriations occur. US policy correctly urges a tripartite dialogue between equals—the Junta the NLD, and ethnic leaders. As Daw Aung San Suu Kyi wrote that dialogue should be aimed at achieving a “negotiated settlement acceptable to major political forces in our country". The main issue for U.S. foreign policy towards Burma is to use more forceful political economic and military leverage to accomplish a sustained dialogue leading to a just settlement. In this aspect it is to be noted that the Junta will never negotiate unless from the position of strength. So the US must strengthen the ethno-democratic forces in several ways including showering resources to the multi ethnic unified forces to stand up to the onslaught of the Burmese army. Daw Suu has amply said that the question of sanctions could be easily thrashes out once the NLD and the Junta sits down and talks but the Junta refused. Hence to bring these men in uniforms to the negotiation table the ethno-democratic forces needs a certain amount of leverage and a fang to show that it can bite. Other than the moral aspect the NLD inside Burma cannot do much because of the severe restrictions. The choice is now on the peripherals and the Burmese Diaspora. In the meantime the EN groups has grown and it seems that soon they will be in a position to take the initiative as they infuse more intelligentsia community into it. It is still to be seen of how they will co-operate with the numerous Burma groups.
The US must spend more, to assist new and struggling democracies and to support the development of democratic institutions in government, politics, and society. All three forms of aid for democracy -- development assistance, political assistance, and short-term economic relief -- are urgently needed in the struggling countries and Burma is not the exception. All require higher levels of funding than this country has been willing to commit in recent years. Hurricane Katrina has amply demonstrated, not only the sufferings of an average Burmese but also by the international response to the tragedy of a superpower, which we are all in the global village. We as human beings are bound by the strings of love, for after all "Love is a Many Splendour Thing" With not so much effort it is high time for the American to show love to the persecuted people of Burma and lead the international community to a more holistic life .- Asian Tribune -
Frans on 09.18.05 @ 02:28 PM CST [link]