No legitimacy to the butcher military junta

Until 12 years ago, before 8-8-88 nation-wide uprising, Burma was not well known to the international community. Unfortunately, or fortunately, after the bloody massacre on 8-8-88, Burma has lost the talents of many people including students and professionals, who have fled the country. Nowadays Burmese activists are dispersed all over the world, and thus through their efforts Burma is under stern scrutiny by the world community.

The brutal actions of the military junta have been condemned by the international community through repeated Consensus Resolutions by the UN General Assembly and the UN Commission on Human Rights. Canada has also shown concern over the deteriorating Human Rights situation in Burma.

The following are some of the actions taken by Canada to help Burmese people in their struggle for restoration of peace and democracy in their country:

  • Canada imposed selective economic measures against Burma in August 1997
  • Canada has provided $14.4 million in aid to Burmese refugees in Bangladesh and in Thailand

Canada has undertaken several bilateral measures including:

  • the suspension of bilateral aid in 1988
  • the termination of military sales
  • the suspension of diplomatic and commercial presence in Burma
  • the suspension of support for Canadian firms doing business in Burma, including export programs and commercial promotion

Canada maintains a dialogue with Aung San Suu Kyi through Canada's Ambassador to Burma, who is a resident in Thailand.

There are reliable reports that business and investments in Burma ended up helping out only to the relatives and friends of the military bullies. Donors, humanitarian aids agencies, and NGOs who want to work in Burma, have to sign the "memorandum of understanding" with the junta. Though the content of it has not been made public, it is known that all their movements will be monitored and curbed under severe restriction. If there should be offshore campus of Canadian Universities established in the near future as suggested by Myint Shwe, nobody can deny that it will be subverted for the sole use of military's elite.

The NLD has pointed out the fact that, ".. lack of good governance is at the root of the Burma's troubles, and until and unless determined steps are taken to effect political change, measures aimed at economic or humanitarian relief will merely be of a stop-gap nature.", the truth of which is proven by the present situation observed in Burma.

While humanitarian assistance and strict ethical standards for international involvement must remain a priority, we should avoid any actions that will give legitimacy to the junta. By having no embassy in Burma, the Canadian government has acknowledged the fact that the "butcher regime" is not the legitimate government. This kind of action by the international community will only hurt the regime more than it hurts the Burmese people.

Dr Khin Saw Win (Alice)

This commentary is based on a posting Dr. Khin Saw Win made in the soc.culture.burma newsgroup and the FreeBurma Yahoo! Group on 2000-08-19. The posting was a rebuttal to posting written by Myint Shwe on 2000-08-13. The posting has been edited for inclusion on the Burma Watch International Web site.

Date last changed: 2007 September 25

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