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'Name change of no consequence; dia
'Name change of no consequence; dialogue needed'
The Asian Age (New Delhi), November 17, 1997.
Bangkok, Nov. 16: Burma activists on Sunday branded changes in the
ruling junta as cosmetic, saying political dialogue with its opponents
was needed to solve national problems.
The Alternative Asean Network on Burma (Altasean) said the Burmese
military remained unacceptable and appealed for the generals to begin
talks with prodemocracy leader Aung San Sun Kyi.
"It is unacceptable that Burma continues to be run by a military junta,
regardless of what it chooses to call itself," said Debbie Stothard, of
the Bangkok-based group which links Burma activists from across
Southeast Asia. "Real change, not a name change is what will help Burma
out of its crises."
On Saturday, the nine year-old junta changed its name from the State Law
and Order Restoration Council to the State Peace and Development Council
and new generals were brought into the top flight.
The SLORC, which assumed power in the midst of a military crackdown
against nationwide protests for democracy in 1988, has been under fire
for human rights abuses and ignoring Aung San Suu Kyi's sweeping
election victory in 1990.
Ms Stothard said the first step towards genuine peace and democracy
would dialogue between the junta, Ms Aung San Sun Kyi's government elect
and representatives of ethnic minority groups.
"If they are serious about 'peace' and 'development' they need to have a
dialogue with Aung San Suu Kyi and the National League for Democracy and
immediately stop the rampant human rights abuses," she said.
Altasean said that the Burmese economy was steadily deteriorating,
despite the junta's enthusiasm for encouraging foreign investment, with
the currency dropping over 100 per cent of its value in one year and 40
per cent inflation.
It slammed the junta for viewing technocrats with suspicion and for
allocating the budget to the military rather than to infrastructure and
human development. (AFP)