Myanmar Under Siege: Give Suu Kyi some Respite!
The Myanmar Government appears to be coming under a siege mainly by the international organizations and some western countries. If their idea is to throw Myanmar back into the arms of the Chinese, they are perhaps already succeeding. Even if the Government and the people want to get out of the stranglehold of China, the mission of these agencies is to ensure that it does not happen.
First, was the highly critical report of the UN Sponsored Fact- Finding Mission on the Rohingya Issue. The Report was not expected to be favourable, but what was surprising was that the report was unusually severe and controversial words like “genocidal intent”, “War Crimes” were freely used. It even went to the extent of asking other countries not to provide arms to the Myanmar Army.
Suu Kyi was blamed for not using her “moral authority”. The Outgoing Human Rights Chief Ali Hussain added his bit to declare that Suu Kyi should have resigned! Good that he has himself left his job
Then came the report that the Rohingya incidents are being taken up by the International Criminal Court, where Myanmar has not so, far accepted its jurisdiction. Yet a case is being made out that since some part of action took place ( no one knows what these were) in Bangladesh which is a signatory, a specious case is being made that the court has jurisdiction.
The most recent one is the conviction of two Reuters Correspondents Kyo Wa Lone and Ko Kyaw Soe Oo to seven years in jail by the Yangon Northern Court Judge for possessing Secret documents and thus culpable for “state Security Breach”.
There is no doubt that the case was badly handled by the prosecution with prosecution witnesses stumbling while giving evidence. It is also admitted that the two correspondents who had been sent by the Reuters secretly investigate the Inn Din Killings were lured into a trap laid by the security forces and caught with official documents. This was admitted by one of the Prosecution witnesses himself.
Yet what is not understandable is -How can the journalists sponsored by the Western Media violate the local laws to obtain some information when investigation on these incidents were being conducted at various eves by the Government and other international entities? Would they have made a similar attempt in a country like China where it is well known that the minority Uighurs are being suppressed?
Instead, the State is being accused of waging a war against the media!
Suu Kyi in one of her meetings in Vietnam strongly defended the jailing of the two Reuters correspondents.
During the four- day visit to Singapore Suu Kyi made very significant points on the 2008 Constitution, the role of the Army , relationship of the Government with the Army etc. These appear to have been lost sight of. It looks that the West as well as international agencies have not understood the internal political dynamics of Myanmar where the Army has a stranglehold on matters relating to Defence, Internal administration and on border management.
When Suu Kyi was asked in Singapore on amendment of the Constitution, she made a clear statement that the undemocratic provisions in the Constitution that gave rights to the Myanmar Army (Tatmadaw), needed to be changed by negotiation and that she would rely on step by step negotiation towards national reconciliation.
To another question whether there is a possibility of an Army Coup she said that this question has to be put to the Army. In one of the commentaries in a media, it was said that if the Tatmadaw sticks to the Constitution, there could be no seizure of power. This appears to be a very naïve assessment- constitution or no constitution the Army will grab power if needed as it had done before under NeWin!
However, Suu Kyi can take some satisfaction on the developments in the ethnic conflicts that have afflicted the country since independence.
First, was that for the first time, in the first week of September, the Representatives of the Peace Commission formally met three members of the Northern Alliance – the Arakan Army, the Ta’ang National Liberation Army and the Myanmar National Democratic Alliance Army. These groups have not signed the National Cease fire Agreement. The Representatives of the two major groups the KIA/KIO and the Wa State Army were also present.
These groups all operate on the China border and the meeting took place in Yunnan with Chinese support. This was a first and an historic occasion. Though there were no substantial progress in the talks, the fact that a meeting took place officially is a positive indicator.
Ten Ethnic Groups that have signed the Cease fire Agreement met separately for two days at Chiangmai on September 7, to draw up a strategy to move the peace process forward and to engage with the other armed groups that have not signed the cease fire agreement.
These are positive developments, but the Elephant in the Room is the Myanmar Army- the Tatmadaw who will have to stop fighting the Kachins and even with some of those groups that have signed the ceasefire agreement. Unless the Army relents there could be no progress on ethnic reconciliation which was one of the priorities of Suu Ky’s government.