Tuesday, 19 November 2019

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Pro-junta group skeptical of US motive on Burma

New Delhi (Mizzima) - Amidst wide ranging speculation and applause over the new US-junta engagement, a group of activists, essentially known as a pro-junta student group, has lambasted the United States for interfering in Burma’s internal affairs and for not having the right motives regarding Burma’s political development.

Aye Lwin, leader of the 88 Generation Student and Youth (Union of Myanmar), a group formed to counter the popular 88 generation students led by prominent student activist Min Ko Naing, on Wednesday said, the US’s new policy towards Burma does not aim at solving political problems but is a reinforcement to further interfere in the internal affairs of the Southeast Asian nation.

“The US has never been nice to Burma. The Americans said they are using the ‘carrot and stick’ policy but in reality there is no carrot but increasing sticks. I do not believe that the US-Burma engagement can bring any fruitful results,” Aye Lwin told Mizzima on Wednesday.

The group, in its National Day statement on Wednesday, urged the current military regime, political parties and all citizens of Burma to uphold the spirit of the National Day, that was laid down by Student Martyrs while struggling for freedom from British rule.

In 1920, students in Rangoon University held their first protest against the British education system and demanded higher education that would help Burmese students to excel in their specific stream of studies.

The Day, which is the first of its kind, came to be marked as ‘National Day’, as it rejuvenates the essence of nationalism among Burmese students and made them conscious of their situation under British rule.

The National Day on Wednesday was observed by Burma’s ruling junta in its new jungle capital of Naypyitaw and also by the main opposition party – the National League for Democracy – in its Rangoon head office.

In recent months, Burma’s strongest critic, United States had announced a change in its policy towards Burma and begun engaging the military rulers, who have seized political power since 1988. Last week, the US sent a high level delegation to Burma and held talks with several Burmese officials as well as opposition parties.

But Aye Lwin said the visit was insignificant as the US delegates were partial and biased as they only met groups they choose to meet and ignored others, who are a wide range of stake holders in Burmese politics.

Though the visiting US Assistant Secretary for State, Kurt Campbell and his deputy Scot Marciel met several Burmese officials including Prime Minister Thein Sein, Minister for Science and Technology U Thawng and also a number of political parties including the NLD, they did not meet Aye Lwin’s group, the 88 Generation Students and Youth (Union of Myanmar).

Aye Lwin said he is skeptical of the US’s new policy towards Burma as it does not have any specific points mentioning the removal of sanctions.

“The US policy towards Burma has never been favourable for the Burmese people. They only wanted to prove they are the sole super power and do not care for the aspiration of the Burmese people,” Aye Lwin alleged.

The US, in September, announced that it had concluded a review of its policy towards Burma saying the US has come up with a new policy of engaging the junta, while maintaining existing sanctions, which, however, can be eased  or further tightened, according to the response of the Burmese military junta.

As an initial step, Kurt Campbell met Burmese Minister for Science and Technology U Thawng in New York and again in the Burmese capital city of Naypyitaw, during his trip.

Meanwhile, US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, who is in Singapore for the Asia-Pacific Economic Corporation (APEC) summit, on Wednesday urged members of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), of which Burma is a member, and regional countries including China and India to encourage the Burmese junta to hold credible and fair elections in 2010.

Clinton also said, she urges the ASEAN, China and India to pressure the Burmese regime to kick-start a process of political reforms by starting to hold dialogues with opposition parties and ethnic groups.

But she reiterated that “U.S. sanctions will remain in place until we see meaningful progress in key areas.”

In response to a question during an interaction with the press on Wednesday, Clinton said China, as well as India and the ASEAN have an important role in persuading the Burmese regime to start planning for credible and fair elections in 2010.

She said she also reminded the APEC ministerial meeting that “I think it’s also important to recognize that left alone, the internal problems within Burma are not confined within Burma’s borders.”

Citing instances of Burmese refugees fleeing out of Burma, taking to boats and ending up in Malaysia, Indonesia and Australia, and crossing the borders into Thailand, Clinton said, “That instability is not good for anyone. Any country that does business in Burma wants to be sure that their investments and their business are safe.”

Meanwhile, on speculations of US President Barrack Obama, who will be joining the APEC summit in Singapore on Sunday, meeting Burmese Prime Minister Thein Sein in the sidelines of the summit, US state department deputy spokesperson on Wednesday told reporters that the US-Burma engagement at this point would not rise to the Secretary or President level.

Philip J. Crowley, state department’s deputy spokesperson in Washington DC on Wednesday told a regular press briefing that there is no likelihood of interaction or meeting between Burmese officials and the US President or Secretary.

A White House spokesperson on Wednesday, however, said, President Obama will urge the ASEAN as well as regional countries to pressure the Burmese regime to conduct credible, free and fair elections in 2010, by allowing all political stake holders to freely participate in the electoral process.


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