Behind the curtain of progress

Human Rights Watch (HRW) Asia Division only recently published the report “Untold miseries – Wartime Abuses and Forced Displacement in Burma’s Kachin State” on the situation in the Northern state of Burma. Civil war is still raging this part of the country and the government and Kachin Independence Organization army have been restricting access to UN agencies in order to deliver humanitarian aid to the affected people. Here we are speaking of more than 75,000 people in desperate need of food, medicine and shelter. Little success has been seen lately when a small UN convoy was granted access to remote areas in the Kachin state to deliver the desperately needed aid to these internal displaced persons (IDP). So despite the ongoing process of transformation in the Central and Eastern part of the country, the reforms have not yet reached the war torn parts of the Kachin state and its ethnic minority. Francis Wade is now even questioning the role of the UN and it’s suitability to be the main organization to deliver help in this matter. He is arguing that the UN has to stop being ambiguous and start to become more frank about the matter and open to cooperation with local groups in order to give such groups a more important role to provide assistance.

If Burmese officials are serious with their intentions to transform the country towards a more democratic future and peaceful development, the assaults have to be stopped immediately – on both sides.

Furthermore it is important to raise further awareness in the international arena. Lately, the news coming from Burma was rather of positive nature than negative and this led to the discussion of lifting sanctions imposed by the US and the EU. Given the fact, that behind the curtain, there is still a civil war raging the country and killing thousands of people, it is unacceptable to consider any release of the sanctions imposed. As the icon of the democratic movement Aung San Suu Kyi stated once, Burma is not yet on the road to democracy.

In order to move further towards the road to democracy, we need to see more of these stories “Burma Frees Political Prisoners” rather than stories told in the report and pictures of Burma’s “Untold Miseries”. Democracy is still far off the horizon and the military is still pulling the strings in the political arena.

Democracies will not be established overnight, so it will – of course – take time. The intention to form one has been shown by the government, but has not been sincere enough. If they had been a 100% sincere and thinking about future generations, the officials had implemented laws and regulations that ensure democratic liberties according to international regulations and standards. But this has not taken place yet, and is not about to happen either.

The by-elections are only a couple of days away and it is still very uncertain what the outcome will be like. The National League for Democracy is most likely to win this by-election – or is this really going to happen? – though as mentioned in a post earlier, the share of the contested seats in parliament will not undermine any power of the military, ahm, civil government of Burma. So the army, ahm, civil government has even allowed election observers into the country to monitor the process. ASEAN, Australia and other countries welcomed the move and stated that they will send officials to do this job.

What is going to happen in the election, we will see on April 1st. Until then, it’s only hope for the better and that the country continues to progress towards the road to democracy.


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