UN-led Asian dialogue for Myanmar

UN-led Asian dialogue best way to push for change

 

By_Dr CHANDRA MUZAFFAR,
President,
International Movement for a Just World. 

 

OF THE various proposals made so far on how one could coax the military junta in Myanmar to heed the voice of the people, the most feasible is perhaps the one that seeks to convene a conference of heads of Asian governments to be held under the auspices of the United Nations.  

The conference, which will be attended by

  1. all Asean member states,

  2. as well as China,

  3. India and

  4. Japan.

The conference, would have as its immediate objective, the commencement of a serious dialogue between the junta and Myanmar’s popular and respected dissident Aung San Suu Kyi. 

The dialogue would seek to achieve the following goals:  

  • THE immediate and unconditional release of all political prisoners, including Aung San Suu Kyi herself;  

  • AGREEMENT on a transition plan which would witness the sharing of power for a period of time between the junta, on the one hand, and Aung San Suu Kyi, her National League for Democracy (NLD) and other citizens’ representatives, on the other, leading eventually to a full-fledged democratic system;  

  • THE legitimisation of all political parties and political party activities;  

  • THE determination of a date for holding free and fair elections to a national legislature; and,  

  • A PLEDGE from the armed forces of Myanmar and all other groups and parties that they will accept the electoral verdict and respect the people’s choice.  

    No one should expect the junta to agree to a dialogue with the above aims – unless it is compelled to do so. Myanmar’s fellow Asean members and China, India and Japan are in a position to force Myanmar to act. They do not have to resort to conventional trade or investment sanctions, which from all accounts are not effective.  

    What they should do is:  

  • FREEZE the bank accounts of the senior members of the junta and their families which, according to some reports, are still being maintained in leading banks in some Asian cities;  

  • STOP the sales of military equipment to the junta; and,  

  • STOP the sales of communication equipment, which may be used for the junta’s surveillance of protesters and dissidents.  The question we have to ask is whether Myanmar’s Asian neighbours are prepared to take any of the measures outlined here.  

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