11/24/2009, 00.00
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Useless UN and ILO rituals bring no change, Burmese dissidents says

Tint Swe, a member of Burma’s government-in-exile, says that reports on forced labour and non-binding resolutions against the junta are ineffective tools against Myanmar’s military leadership. The support of China, India and Russia guarantee impunity to country’s junta. The people of Burma are under no illusions.
New Delhi (AsiaNews) – For Tint Swe, the latest criticism of Myanmar by UN agencies is a useless exercise. A member of the National Coalition Government of the Union of Burma (NCGUB) set up by Burmese refugees who fled the country after the 1990 elections, Mr Tint said that the recent UN resolution against Myanmar and the report by the International Labour Organisation accusing Myanmar of using forced labour and child soldiers are rituals that will not effect change in his country.

“The people of Burma are not excited by news from the UN,” he said. “As long as power is in the hands of the military junta, UN bodies will have to go through the annual rituals.”

The reasons for the condemnation “are always the same”, namely “grave concerns” over the fate of Aung San Suu Kyi, who was tried and convicted again this year, as well as concern over “arbitrary detentions, enforced disappearances, rape and other forms of sexual violence, torture and cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment”. Yet, nothing has changed.

Myanmar’s military rulers have benefitted from the support of countries like “China, Russia, Libya, Sudan, Syria, Egypt, Zimbabwe, Venezuela, Cuba, and Libya”. Other member-states like Indonesia, Thailand, Malaysia, Vietnam and Brazil have openly disagreed with the UN resolution.

“Approving a resolution against Myanmar in an international forum is a routine practice that might embarrass the junta, but will not bring any change to the country,” the NCGUB member said. “So far, more than 30 [of them] have been approved, but none are binding.”

What is new is the focus on next year’s parliamentary elections in Myanmar. The United Nations has urged the country’s rulers to ensure that they are “free, fair, transparent and inclusive”.

Yet, as pressure from the General Assembly on member states grows weaker, hope for the country’s democratisation remains slim.

“On the same day the International Labour Organisation criticised Burma’s widespread and documented forced labour practices, [. . .] India promised Senior General Than Swe that it would defend his country at the UN and ILO.” (NC)

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