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
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
- Canada imposed selective economic measures against Burma in August
- 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.