Burma Partnership, Strengthening Cooperation for a Free Burma
Signup Now!
Join our mailing list for latest news and information about Burma.

Woman dissident peels mask off today’s Myanmar

Originally appeared in SHAN

March 9, 2012

The onion, with its brown, red or white skin, looks inviting outside. But try peeling off its layers inside one by one and you might end up drying your tears. That’s the message Khin Ohmar, prominent woman activist in exile, was putting across to her listeners yesterday at Chiangmai University.

Only she wasn’t talking about onions, but of Burma today.

During the past year, the new pseudo-civilian government, in a series of amnesty order, had been releasing political prisoners, signing ceasefire agreements with non-Burman armed movements and harping about a political dialogue that will top up with a Panglong-like conference.

“The government’s demand to the international community is, ‘We have fulfilled your benchmarks. So it’s time to lift your sanctions,’” she said.

But, if one looks deeper, one will invariably find that things are not as they appear to be, such as:

  • Aung San Suu Kyi’s release on 13 November 2010 was carefully timed to deflate criticisms against its rigged elections held on 7 November, six days earlier
  • Myitsone dam project, whose suspension was ordered on 30 September, is still in operation
  • The National Human Rights Commission (NHRC), set up after UN special rapporteur Tomas Ojea Quintana’s visit last year, was made up of leading defenders of the regime’s dismal human rights record
  • More than 800 political prisoners still remain behind bars after the release of about the same number
  • The ceasefire talks and agreements were stage-managed media and diplomatic offensives; they lack of transparency, accountability and equal footing; and are an attempt to cover up ongoing militarization
  • Draconian laws still in effect against media freedom

“They are not reforms,” she said, “but perform (ances):

  • Military led, non-participation by the people
  • Lacks institutional and legislative changes
  • Only responses to achieve legitimacy of the military led government.”

Nevertheless, she also believed that it was time to seize the momentum gathered through regime relaxation on restrictions, and push for real change.

The following are the new benchmarks she has proposed:

  • Release all remaining political prisoners
  • Declaration of nationwide ceasefire and troop withdrawal from conflict zones
  • Inclusive and meaningful political dialogue “outside the parliament”

Her presentation coincided with the International Women’s Day. “A nice way to celebrate the event,” one woman listener enthused.

Other panelists include Dr Thein Swe, Faculty of Economics, Payap University; Aung Naing Oo, Vahu Development Institute; and Supalak Ganjanakhundee, The Nation newspaper. The discussion was organized jointly by Best Friend Library and Faculty of Social Sciences.

Update (8 March 2012)
Khin Ohmar, Women’s League of Burma (WLB), disagrees NLD leader Aung San Suu Kyi is a Lone Ranger as alleged by Aung Naing Oo of Vahu. “The 88 Generation Students are her core support for the by-elections,” she says. (SHAN) Of course, she could have said the 88’s were her Tontos, but it’s likely she has never watched The Lone Ranger series – Editor

View the original article here.

This post is in: News Clip