By Kristy Tridhavee
Impunity Watch Senior Desk Officer, Asia
YANGON, Myanmar – The United Nations [UN] special envoy to Myanmar reported that its last visit to the country was its most disappointing yet because senior government leaders refused to meet with them. Ibrahim Gambari, a representative from the envoy, commented, “Whereas each of my previous visits produced some tangible result that could be built upon, it is a source of disappointment that this latest visit did not yield any immediate tangible outcome.”
The only thing the UN special envoy was able to do was leave a list of UN recommendations for international monitoring that would enhance the “credibility and inclusiveness” of the democracy project the military junta says it is undertaking. The Myanmar government has begun to implement a seven-step process called “a road map to democracy.”
Critics, however, believe the plan will only guarantee continued military dominance. The “road map to democracy” calls for elections in 2010 and bars participation by Aung San Suu Kyi. Aung San Suu Kyi is a leader of the National League of Democracy, and she has been under house arrest for 18 years intermittently. During the UN special envoy’s visit, Ibrahim Gambari met withAung San Suu Kyi, and during the visit she urged that there could be no reconciliation until she was treated as partner in the dialogue.
US Ambassador Zalmay Khalilzad also expressed disappointment with the constitutional and referendum process. The draft of the constitution had yet to be distributed, and there are laws prevented debate concerning it. The UN will attempt to introduce a draft statement based on its concerns and lack of progress on important issues. However, U.N. Ambassador U Kyaw Tint Swe said that “no Security Council action is warranted with regard to Myanmar.”
Thai Prime Minister Samak Sundaravej made his first visit to Burma and made controversial comments, which were quite contrary to the UN’s reactions. During his weekly TV program, the prime minister said, “Killings and suppressions are normal there but we have to know the facts.” He went on to praise the Senior General Than Shwe. He then went on to add, “And Senior (Gen) Than Shwe practices meditation. He says he prays in the morning … and the country has been in peace and order.” Senior General Than Shwe ordered troops and riot police to fire at peaceful street protestors, which were lead by thousands of Buddhist monks.
For more information, please see:
Inter Press Service – Thailand Queers ASEAN’s Burma Pitch – 19 March 2008