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Dr.Sein Win's Discourse on TV Conference

(June 03, 2005)( S.H.A.N. & Burma's News Published by Burma's Chinese 貌强 )

   Defending the non-violent nature of Burma's National League for Democracy -a discourse

   By Dr. Sein Win (boxun.com)

   Dr. Sin Wein Prime Minister in Exile of the National Coalition Government of the Union of Burma was addressing on a Conference on Cross-border Satellite Television in Closed Societies on the subject of the case of Iran and Burma.

   The Conference was held on 24 may and sponsored by Free Voice and HivocsAmsterdam, The Netherlands.

   The full text of his discourse is given below :

   Good morning, Ladies and Gentlemen,

   Firstly, I would like to express my gratitude to Free Voice and Hivocs fororganizing this conference particularly at a time when Burma is entering the most critical period. Presently, the people of Burma are doing their best tosurvive the impact of socioeconomic hardships resulting from badgovernance and are politically frustrated and living in an atmosphere offear and uncertainty. Tragic and sorrowful experiences recently shocked them as three bombs exploded five minutes apart at three city centers in Rangoon, killing 20 people and injuring more than a hundred others.

   As is their practice, the ruling military clique was quick to blame itspolitical opponents immediately and tried to hide the actual casualtyfigures. It said 11 people died in the incidents and prevented healthprofessionals from revealing the facts to the media. It was several daysbefore journalists outside the country could verify the details of theincidents. As usual, journalists inside Burma were not allowed to go to the crime scenes, or meet the victims or witnesses, or write stories which are different from the version given by the authorities.

   Trying to make political profit out of the situation, the regime allegedthat democratic forces in exile, including us, and armed ethnic groups atthe border were behind the blasts. A few days later, it alleged thatThailand and the CIA provided the technological support and finance to thesaboteurs. The regime's allegations were so preposterous that no independent expert accepted its explanation.

   We, the NCGUB, have always strongly upheld non-violence as the means ofstruggle and fervently believe that political dialogue is the best optionfor national reconciliation in Burma. Daw Aung San Suu Kyi, leader of theNational League for Democracy and the democracy movement, has alwaysinsisted on setting a precedence of bringing about peaceful political change in Burma and we are totally committed to this belief.

   We believe that all parties in Burma should strongly denounce theseterrorist acts and condemn those responsible for taking the lives ofinnocent people. The military clique should also avoid exploiting thesituation to gain political benefit. Instead we call for the setting up ofan independent investigation commission consisting of criminal and legalexperts and punish those responsible according to the law.

   The bomb blasts had hurt the citizens of Thailand, Malaysia, and Republic of Korea and these countries have offered their help and cooperation. Experts from these countries should, therefore, be invited to take part in the investigation. But, the regime has not indicated that such a transparent investigation process will ever take place.

   There are speculations that the explosions are probably the manifestation of intensifying internal conflict within the Burmese military elites. Whether these are the acts of the remnants of former military intelligence purged by the combat wing or that they are consequences of infighting by factions within the army, they are a very dangerous threat to the country. If we let this culture of violence continue to flare up, the country is bound to head toward total devastation. Never has there been such a perilous moment in our history. We need to reverse that trend by building national reconciliation through dialogue and compromise. In order to alleviate the suffering of the people, a common course of action need to be found immediately to rebuild the nation.We support the NLD's concept of mutual forgiveness as the starting point.

   The regime, however, has disregarded that offer and the Senior General Than Shwe, the head of the military regime, seems to believe that everything is under control and that the military will be able to hold on to power by means of terror. He is prepared to crush dissent either within the army or the public regardless of the consequence. The way the combat wing has handled the military intelligence officials, who were their former comrades, is unbelievably ruthless. One or two officials were reportedly killed during torture in the course of interrogation. Hundreds of former intelligence officials, their relatives, and business cronies were summarily tried in Insein Prison and sentenced from 20 to 200 years in prison on charges of corruption, possession of foreign currency, and insubordination. The rank and file within the army, we have been informed, is feeling very insecure.

   There have been three serious purges in the military since 1988 and thosepurges have transformed the Burmese military regime from a collective to an authoritarian or a personalized authoritarian rule. Power is nowconsolidated in the hands of Sr. Gen. Than Shwe, and the rest of the members of the ruling council -- State Peace and Development Council -- as well as those of the ministers and ministries have been reduced to enforcing policy dictates from above. The style of micro-management in an arbitrary manner has caused policy paralysis and the regime has time and again been failing to take policy initiatives to respond to the rapidly deteriorating socioeconomic conditions of the country.

   Since the major reshuffles within the military establishment, the regime has withdrawn from its previous practice of limited engagement with thedemocratic opposition, ceasefire groups, and the international community. It has become more entrenched and hostile toward them.

   The State-controlled media has also stepped up its attacks on the NLD andthe western democracies which champion the cause of democracy in Burma, and western-style democracy is being debunked as unsuitable to Burmese society and that federalism, it says, will only lead to the disintegration of the Union. The generals insist that the only option for Burma is to build a "discipline-flourishing democratic state" controlled by the military and that objective will be pursued through their "Seven Point Road Map".

   Senior Gen. Than Shwe told the UN Secretary General as an aside at a recent meeting of Asian-African Summit that national convention will be resumed in November and hinted that it will be followed by referendum and new election.

   Despite having such a plan, there is no sign that the military will bereleasing Daw Aung San Suu Kyi or that a political dialogue under themediation of the United Nations will be revived. There is no plan, so far,to transform the national convention into a more inclusive process bybringing the NLD and other ethnic-based parties into the process or toaccommodate the federal principles proposed by cease-fire ethnic groups assuggested by United Nations.

   What we are seeing today is increased hostility against the democraticopposition and ethnic nationalities. The retired intelligence officer whosought political asylum recently in United States revealed that Sr. Gen.Than Shwe had issued an order to annihilate the NLD by 2006.

   Facts so far have proved his revelation to the public to be true. Newspersistently suggests that NLD members are being subjected to intimidation,harassment, and arbitrary arrests. During this year, five MPs from the NLDwere arrested and given harsh prison sentences. Prison conditions haveworsened for the 15 MPs and other political prisoners languishing in Burmese prisons. The small breathing space that was developed for many years following the ICRC's visits to prisons has disappeared as the regime's policy has shifted toward a more radical stance against the opposition.

   Harsh treatment of political prisoners by the prison authorities became soacute that prisoners in Insein Prison went on hunger strike on 28 April anddemanded that they be given their rights in accordance with the prisonmanual. After 12 days of hunger strike, prison authorities and securityguards brutally beat up political prisoners, strike leaders were placed insolitary confinement, and other prisoners transferred to countrysideprisons.

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