Thursday, 25 October 2012

U Win Tin: Without political dialogue the upcoming elections will be nothing. They will be a sham.

- Interview with U Win Tin – Part 3, by Elke Kujper for The Best Friend

We talk about the United States’ recent policy of dealing with the Burmese junta: engagement coupled with sanctions. How does U Win Tin feel about this new approach? According to him, a lot of the sanctions are not very effective and he feels engagement with the military regime will not be very effective, either.

“It has been proven: sanctions are not effective and they know that. But they will keep them as long as there is no improvement in the current situation. Engagement is not effective either, because it has already been used by other countries such as Russia. Political engagement has not been effective with the Burmese government. Nowadays the US government uses this engagement and sanctions approach together. They are attacking us with one gun and one gun is not very effective and then they use another gun which is not very effective. They have two guns and they shoot two times and it is not an effective way. Whether they have one gun or two guns it does not matter. Although I do not think this American action of engagement and sanctions will be very effective, we are still hopeful and if there is no improvement with santions, we will be disheartened and we can do nothing. At least now there are two weapons and they are starting action in Burma so people in political parties, political forces are encouraged and we are rather hoping for something. For something to happen.”

He switches to the subject of the upcoming elections in 2010. “Without political dialogue the upcoming elections will be nothing. They will be a sham. This election is built upon the framework of the 2008 constitution, which will be enacted after this election. This constitution will prolong military rule for many years. There is no people’s right, no democratic right, nothing at all. For instance, according to this constitution (article 6), the military is the leader of the politics. I cannot agree with that.”
“Another difficulty is there is no political will on the part of the junta, no political will at all. They have no idea of the country’s problem and are only thinking of their own will , which is to prolong their rule. They have no plans at all to make any contact, to make any dialogue with political forces or ethnic nationalities. So we use this American initative as a tool to move and go through the election. The election is a sham without any participation of the ethnic nationalities and opposition parties. We need to have political dialogue before the election. With nationalities and with ourselves and opposition forces. That will be the only way.
One of the demands of the United States government and also one of the conditions for the NLD to partake in the upcoming elections, is the release of all political prisoners. Amnesty Inernational estimates there are currenty more than 2,000 political prisoners languishing in Burma’s prisons. Many of them were involved in the 1988 student uprisings and the 2007 Saffron Revolution. Nearly 200 monks and nuns are thought to be imprisoned. U Win Tin feels the US might have some influence on the release of these prisoners. “If the US show some positive thinking and initiative, the military will know how to react to this. One of these reactions can be the release of political prisoners. As a sign of good will they might release some students or so, but but they will not release all political prisoners, because they will keep them as a hostage. They want to show the world that they are not that bad, by releasing prisoners. When I was released in September 2008, they released many prisoners, most of whom were criminals and not political prisoners.”
U Win Tin believes the junta is not interested in the political proces. According to the current electoral law, a person with ties to a foreign country cannot participate in the election. This article was invented to prevent Daw Aung San Suu Kyi (whose husband was British and whose sons live abroad) to play a legitimate role in politics. “The government has no intention to give her a role to play in Burmese politics. She is a very good leader. Daw Aung San Suu Kyi has many activities and much influence, but still she is restricted. She can do a lot and she can assert her experience on the people. But, if she is not allowed to go outside of Rangoon or to meet the press or something, then it is almost impossible for her to play a very big role in politics”.

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Sat 10 Nov 2012
BABSEA 2nd Annual Access To Justice Public Interest Fair
"justify">Get information and help support local community-based organizations, build a network, and find out about job and volunteer opportunities at this fair showcasing the work of NGOs working in Southeast Asia.
Where: Kantary Hills Hotel, 44 Nimmanhaemin Road, Soi 12, Chiang Mai
Time: 11 a.m.–4:30 p.m.
Entrance: free

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