“The United States and other nations must continue to question the legitimacy of Than Shwe and the regime. They should not believe his promises to hold free and fair elections this year” (The Burma-North Korea Axis, Mr. Aung Lynn Htut).
The report “The Burma-North Korea Axis” (June 19, 2010): the Association of South-East Asian Nations (ASEAN) has to shoulder a heavy responsibility for Burma’s intransigence, political manipulation and blatant violation of human rights. Its initial acceptance into the ASEAN circle inadvertently legitimised the junta which had seized political power by force; while the association’s conformity to national sovereignty and adherence to the policy of non-interference has had considerable ramifications.
To date, the military government remains firmly in power; and resorts to the use of force without qualms to quash protests violently and bloodily. With activists dealt with and Aung San Suu Kyi – who as the leader of the victorious National League for Democracy (NLD) party had rightfully been elected as the Prime Minister in the 1990 General Election – still under house arrest, the ordinary Burmese struggles with poverty with no rights whatsoever to speak of.
If the United States (USA) intends to continue its engagement with the Burmese junta regime, the Obama Administration’s strategy of “pragmatic engagement” would only fuel the ambitions of Than Shwe and his “government”. Beyond the resumption of diplomatic relations with North Korea and the endeavours into nuclear and chemical weaponry, any ease in regional or international diplomatic pressures would only embolden Than Shwe, and provide impetus to satisfy his ruthless desires. The Burmese must be empowered to eventually break free from the spiral of violence, unjustified military control and the denial of any human rights whatsoever.
A version of this article was published in the International Herald Tribune, the Global Edition of The New York Times.