Burma, Myanmar, India and us
Are we going to let India lead us by our noses once again?
In these hours not that dissimilar from that night on 3 June 1989, hours before the Tian-an-men massacre in Beijing, it may be difficult to think of how to realistically support the demonstrations in Burma, apart from sending more and more appeals for calm to a Military Junta probably second to none in matters of bloody-thirsty repressions and the political and economic strangling of a country.
Still, it is possible to perform three not-just-symbolic gestures:
(1) Categorically refuse the use of “Myanmar” in place of “Burma”.
Even if “quasi-etymologically correct”, “Myanmar” is the invention of the Military Junta, forced upon the country in 1989 with no democratic process at all. If the Burmese will want to change the official “foreign” name of their country to “Myanmar”, they will be able to do so after getting their country back from the usurpers.
More: a couple of years ago the Foreign Minister of Burma protested for the use of “Burma” by the US State Department: all more the reason not to use “Myanmar”.
(2) Let’s publish the names of the dictators.
For way too long the Military Junta of Burma has been treated as a shapeless entity, not as a group of ferocious dictators (humanity-free to the point of denying Aung San Suu Kyi the chance to meet her dying husband for one last time).
Here then some of the persons who should be answering charges in a court of law, instead of commanding Burma against the will of its people:
General Than Shwe – President
General Soe Win – Prime Minister
General Major Nyan Win – Foreign Minister
If we force as much publicity as possible on the names (and pictures) of those in charge of Burma, they won’t be able to hide themselves with the anonymity they have so far much cultivated.
(3) And finally, we should not let India lead us by the nose once again.
Not only many European Governments have underplayed the scandal of the Dhruv helicopters, built also using European supplies and then supplied to the Burmese Junta against every EU embargo rule. It’s worse than that: while outside the Burmese monks were demonstrating, Indian Oil Minister Murli Deora was busy signing a US$150-million agreement for natural gas research in Burma: a clear sign of support of the Junta on the part of a “democratic” Government.
This behaviour is part of New Dehli’s strategic myopia, with India so scared by rebellions in the Northeast to the point of propping up the Burmese Military Junta to get their help in preventing an escalation of those conflicts. And it is based on the apparent impunity when a State goes against rules established by other democratic countries.
If that way of thinking would be intolerable when done by communist China, all the more so for India.
Foreign and International Trade Ministers from all the EU countries (and elsewhere) have a clear duty tonight to apply all possible pressures: including a protest against the present Indian acquiescence, and possible future complicity with the Burmese Junta, before things turn to the worse.