Razali’s Yangon visit to kickstart stalled political dialogue in Burma an unmitigated failure although world relieved he was allowed to meet re-arrested Aung San Suu Kyi
by Lim Kit Siang
(Petaling Jaya, Tuesday): The visit of the United Nations special envoy to Burma, Tan Sri Razali Ismail to Yangon to kickstart the stalled political dialogue for democratization and national reconciliation between Myanmar’s military junta and the pro-democracy forces and ethnic nationalities has been an unmitigated failure, although the world is relieved that he was allowed on the last day of his five-day trip to meet Burmese opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi to give first-hand news about the Nobel Peace Prize Laureate since her re-arrest in the May 30 incident 12 days ago.
According to news agency reports, Razali said Suu Kyi was “well and in good spirits” and had not been injured, although he did not say where the meeting took place. Asked if she talked about the May 30 incident, he said: “She has a version and I’ll take that into account.” He refused to say anything more.
A fortnight before his tenth visit to Burma, Razali had expressed confidence of kickstarting the stalled political dialogue in Burma to bring about national reconciliation between the military junta, Suu Kyi’s National League for Democracy (NLD) and the ethnic minorities.
It is a measure of the total failure of Razali’s earlier objective for his 10th visit to Burma that his entire five-day visit had been reduced to a desperate marathon plea to save “face” for the United Nations by being given permission to have access to Suu Kyi – ignoring the plight of other pro-democracy activists who were detained in the crackdown, including Tin Oo, 75, NLD vice chairman, who was reported to have been assaulted in the May 30 incident, and the more than 100 party activists who had been arrested, not to mention the reported scores who were killed during the junta-inspired ambush on Suu Kyi’s motorcade in northern Burma. Meanwhile, the stalled political dialogue which was to be kickstarted by Razali’s visit is in complete tatters.
The international outrage at the latest human rights violations by the Myanmese military junta – in sharp contrast to the weak and even the lack of response of the ASEAN governments - and the flagrant reneging of the international commitments of the military junta to embark on the road to democratization and national reconciliation have upstaged the agenda of the ASEAN Ministerial Meeting in Phnom Penh on June 16-17, as ASEAN will become an international laughing stock if the latest human rights violations and democratic backslidings in Burma do not become the centrepiece of the Phnom Penh meeting.
ASEAN should stop being the weakest link in providing support for the United Nations and its special envoy to pressure the Myanmar military junta to respect international opinion and the fundamental rights of the Burmese for democratization and national reconciliation.
The ASEAN Ministerial Meeting in Phnom Penh should make a major policy shift to provide the strongest backing to the United Nations to demand the immediate and unconditional release of Aung Sn Suu Kyi and her supporters; a full, independent and international inquiry into the May 30 incident as well as the beginning of a serious and genuine political dialogue towards democratization and national reconciliation in Burma.
In fact, the suspension of the Myanmar military junta from ASEAN should top the agenda of the ASEAN Ministerial Meeting in Phonm Penh.
* Lim Kit Siang, DAP National Chairman