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Asian Tribune is published by World Institute For Asian Studies|Powered by WIAS Vol. 12 No. 1920

Gambari Burma Mission Not Accomplished, UNSC should intervene more directly

By Zin Linn, Burmese Journalist in exile

UN special envoy Ibrahim Gambari's latest shuttle diplomacy ended in disappointment. He could not meet senior leaders of the ruling Junta. And also the detained opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi. When Gambari flew in, expectations ran very high. The visit came at a time optimism was waning about talks between the Nobel Laureate and the Generals who had unveiled a new statute after staging a referendum in May. The international community hoped that he would succeed in persuading the military to open a genuine political dialogue with Aung San Suu Kyi and ethnic groups to create a national reconciliation process that could lead to a genuine democracy.By Zin Linn, Burmese Journalist in exile

Bangkok, 25 August, (Asiantribune.com): UN special envoy Ibrahim Gambari's latest shuttle diplomacy ended in disappointment. He could not meet senior leaders of the ruling Junta. And also the detained opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi. When Gambari flew in, expectations ran very high.

The visit came at a time optimism was waning about talks between the Nobel Laureate and the Generals who had unveiled a new statute after staging a referendum in May. The international community hoped that he would succeed in persuading the military to open a genuine political dialogue with Aung San Suu Kyi and ethnic groups to create a national reconciliation process that could lead to a genuine democracy.

Gambari failed to have meetings with the senior general. The Nobel laureate was to meet him on Aug20. But she did not 'show up'. The meeting was organised by the Junta. Obviously, Suu Kyi did not want Gambari to overstate that his mission was going well.

This was Gambari's fourth trip to Burma since the deadly crackdown on anti-government demonstrators led by Buddhist-monks last September.

Burma came under military rule in 1962. The regime has earned the dubious reputation of being one of the world's worst human rights violators. It brutally suppressed pro-democracy movements in 1988, May 30, 2003, Depayin conspiracy and Saffron Revolution in Sept 2007. There were many more sporadic crackdowns. The junta has arrested over two thousands political dissidents including Suu Kyi, who has been confined to her residence for most of the last 19 years.

The regime has held a unilateral referendum at gun point on May 10 and 24 this year and pronounced mandate for the statute which made the military the final arbiter of the destiny of the Burmese people. The new elections planned in 2010 will legalize military rule. Needless to say, the processes will not be free and fair. Just like the referendum held at gun-point. The socio-economic atmosphere is deteriorating. The junta will not be able to manage the socio-economic situation, which is deteriorating fast. It will soon come face-to-face with a "desolate" future if it continues to reject the national reconciliation process being urged by the opposition the National League for Democracy (NLD) and the United Nationalities Alliance (UNA).

NLD and UNA point out that the 'ratification' of the constitution staged by the Junta is invalid. Both assert that the ratification was carried out against the will of the people and without observing internationally known norms for referendums. The junta does not show respect the statement issued by President of the UN Security Council issued in October, 2007. The regime also has also negated successive resolutions adopted by the UN General Assembly (UNGA) calling for return of democracy in Burma through a tripartite dialogue between the Junta led by Senior General Than Shwe, democratic forces led by Aung San Suu Kyi and representatives of ethnic nationalities. From turn of events it is clear that Yangoon has no plan to heed the UN call and to release political prisoners, which is a pre-condition to facilitate the tripartite dialogue.

These realities and Junta's adherence to the Seven-step road map towards 2010 elections make the Gambari mission almost nonsensical. Also bring upfront the question: Is Ibrahim Gambari the right person for the delicate job in Yangon.

Pro-changer's reply is a resounding no. "No he's disqualified."

Gambari cannot hope to achieve a breakthrough when he obeys regime's to-do list and spends most of the time with pro-junta groups or their puppets. He should demand to meet the representatives of the group of 92 MP-elect, who had sent letters to UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and Security Council. And he should, at least, urge the junta to release two of the group- U Nyi Pu and Dr. Tin Min Htut, who were arrested on 12 August. At least three prominent members of these MPs who are denied their rightful place in Parliament, U Pu Chin Sian Thang, U Thein Pe and Dr. Myint Naing, are accessible in Yangoon but the UN Special Envoy did not try to contact them.

Instead, Gambari met with the leaders of the ruling junta which has identifies itself as the Union Solidarity and Development Association (USDA). It is a gang similar to Hitler's 'Brown Shirts', which carried out an assassination attempt on Nobel laureate Suu Kyi on May 30, 2003. Scores of her supporters were slaughtered during that pre-meditated attack.

What was more, when UN envoy met with the NLDs, he told them the 2010 elections would be free and fair. But when asked for his 'opinion' on the 1990 elections, he ducked for cover. Furthermore, he even did not recognize the purpose of his current mission was to facilitate resumption of a political dialogue that was postponed in the wake of a cyclone.

Hopefully, Ibrahim Gambari will re-evaluate the purpose and direction of his mission as the Secretary-General's Special Envoy. He should not consider advocating or supporting the military dictators' sham constitution and sham 2010 elections. It will damage not only his mission but also the dignity of the world body.

Is it too much for the democratic forces in Burma to expect that the United Nations will quickly come to grips with the Yangon crisis in a more direct manner?

Zin Linn: The author, a freelance Burmese journalist, lives in exile. He is vice-president of Burma Media Association, which is affiliated with the Paris-based Reporters Sans Frontiers.

-Asian Tribune -

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