» 01/31/2008, 00.00
MYANMAR - EU
From Burma, harsh criticism of the EU policy on Myanmar
A long editorial from the news agency Mizzima accuses the official Fassino of carrying out a "megaphone diplomacy" composed of nothing but press conferences and rhetoric, and says the only result has been to make the junta more unyielding. The EU and the UN are now the only organisations that still believe they can have success with the generals. Aung San Suu Kyi warns: talks with the junta can lead only to false hope.
Yangon (AsiaNews) - The "megaphone diplomacy" conducted by the EU official for Myanmar, Piero Fassino, conceals only "his need to create an image of genuine engagement", aimed at "justifying his role as the EU representative". This is the harsh criticism contained in the long editorial published yesterday by Mizzima News, an agency with ties to the Burmese opposition. The article expresses the frustration of the population and of local experts, who are tired of hearing nothing but words and seeing nothing but press conferences voicing good intentions at the end of the various missions of the UN and the EU in the area. Both of these international organisms have always viewed as a somewhat positive development the junta's cooperation in opening talks following the repression of the demonstrations by Buddhist monks last year. But all of the initiatives promised by the generals have been nothing but a facade, nothing but window dressing.
Aung San Suu Kyi herself, the leader of the democratic opposition, has expressed her distrust in this regard, and has urged people to "hope for the best and prepare for the worst". This was related by her fellow party members, the National League for Democracy (NLD), after the generals yesterday permitted her to speak with them. The spokesman of the NLD, Nyan Win, said that Suu Kyi is concerned that the 90 minutes of talks conducted yesterday will give rise only to "false hope". Aung Kyi, the labour minister and the junta's official for relations with the democratic representatives, has met with Suu Kyi four times since last September. Suu Kyi has highlighted the necessity of including in the talks the representatives of the various ethnic groups that have been fighting for autonomy for decades. But she has said she has been frustrated by the lack of discussion with the junta on the crucial question of political reforms.
In recent days, Fassino has gone on a new Asian tour to obtain the collaboration of the regional governments for a solution of the Burmese crisis. Last January 29, he met with the outgoing Thai foreign minister, Nitya Pibulsonggram. And in the press conference following this, he repeated that if the junta does not cooperate, the European Union will consider heavier sanctions. It therefore seems that the European Union is the only one still hoping that the policy of "carrots and sticks" (sanctions and humanitarian aid) will work with the generals, Mizzima News comments. The agency charges that the EU "lacks a coherent strategy, and the awareness that over the past 20 years all of the international attempts to bring changes to Myanmar have failed". The editorialist, Larry Jagan, cites a former high official of the Burmese intelligence service, major general Kyaw Win, who used to say, "The international community must understand that we hate megaphone diplomacy, and that this will not persuade us to do anything".
Democracy and human rights on agenda of UN envoy in Myanmar
The representative of the United Nations will meet with the leaders of the ruling military junta, and with a delegation of Buddhist monks, the force behind the revolt in September 2007, put down with violence. No confirmation of a possible face-to-face meeting with opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi.
Burmese military junta arrests another leader connected to Aung San Suu Kyi
An activist denounces the attempt to "destroy all those who are politically active" before the elections in 2010. Thousands of arrests ordered by the dictatorship against political opponents.
Aung San Suu Kyi meets with UN special envoy Ibrahim Gambari
The pro-democracy leader leaves house arrest for an hour-long talk with the representative of the United Nations. Suu Kyi stresses that the visit of the UN secretary general is "conditioned" on the liberation of political prisoners. From the United Nations, a plan of economic assistance in exchange for concessions on matters of democracy and human rights.
Mandalay, student activist sentenced to 104 years in prison
The accusation is of promoting "political activities" and meeting with a dissident group in exile. The junta is releasing six activists arrested in December during a demonstration. Htet Htet Oo Wai, the woman who had asked for permission to pay homage to Aung San Suu Kyi, remains in prison.
Suu Kyi's house arrest extended by another 12 months
Military junta informed opposition leader yesterday. Aung San Suu Kyi has spent more than 10 of the last 16 years under house arrest.
Defeated on ice, but 'first' in history, joint Korean hockey team players hug
After losing to Sweden in their last match, the Korean team ends up in seventh place. Players burst into tears at their imminent separation. "Politicians made that executive decision [to have a joint team]. Our players and staff are the ones that made it work,” said the team’s proud Canadian coach. One South Korean athlete hopes the country is proud of them. "It was bigger than hockey."
AsiaNews IS ALSO A MONTHLY!
AsiaNews monthly magazine (in Italian) is free.