[Date Prev][Date Next][Thread Prev][Thread Next][Date Index ][Thread Index ]

A Junta By Any Other Name Would Sti (r)

ALTSEAN-BURMA (Alternative Asean Network on Burma)

For immediate release: November 16, 1997


Bangkok, Sunday: A network of Asean-based Burma activists today reiterated
their call for Burma's military junta to start meaningful dialogue with the
country's government-elect led by Ms Aung San Suu Kyi.  The Alternative
Asean Network on Burma (Altsean-Burma) was responding to news that the State
Law and Order Restoration Council (Slorc) had reconstituted itself as the
State Peace and Development Council.

"It is unacceptable that Burma continues to be run by a military junta,
regardless of it chooses to call itself.  REAL change, not name change is
what will help Burma out of its crises.  It could call itself the 'warm and
fuzzy council' but a junta by any other name would stink as bad," said
Altsean-Burma Coordinator Ms Debbie Stothard.

Ms Stothard emphasised that the first step towards genuine peace and
development was meaningful dialogue with government-elect led by Ms Aung San
Suu Kyi.  Such talks which should include representation of the ethnic
groups, should lead towards a stabilisation of the crisis and a transition
to civilian rule. Ms Suu Kyi led the National League for Democracy (NLD) to
a landslide victory in Burma's last elections (1990).  The junta responded
by harassing and jailing elected MPs.

The country's economy has steadily deteriorated, despite the junta's
enthusiastic wooing of foreign investors.  Burma's economic crisis has seen
the kyat (currency) drop its value by more than 100% in the past year and
40% inflation. The junta views technocrats with suspicion and refuses to
redirect funds from military expenditure towards infrastructure and human
development.  The consequences of Burma's recent flood disaster are expected
to have a drastic impact of the country's capacity to feed itself.

"Changing the name of the country and the later, name of the junta, won't
make the crises go away. The peoples of Burma and the world are not so
easily deluded.  If they are serious about 'peace' and 'development', they
need to dialogue with Ms Suu Kyi and the NLD and immediately stop the
rampant human rights abuses," emphasised Ms Stothard.

This junta has been widely criticised by the international community,
including the United Nations General Assembly, for its poor human rights
record.  Abuses including extra-judicial killings, torture, forced labour,
forced relocations, harassment and jailing of democracy activists,
recruitment of child soldiers, military offensives against ethnic groups and
religious minorities, have been widely documented.  Schools were closed for
an extended period this year, and universities have been closed for almost a

A L T S E A N - B U R M A
*tel: [662] 275 1811/693 4515 *fax: [662] 693 4515 *e-mail: altsean@xxxxxxxxxx