Leadership quality of the Myanmar Military Generals

 Leadership quality of  the Myanmar Military Generals

KJ John | Apr 1, 08

Modified and edited the original letter, Leadership for the times” by KJ John in the Malaysiakini .

I have edited and adapted to the Myanmar context from the original article. I hope that KJ John  and Malaysiakini could understand and forgive us for this. They should even be proud that they could contribute a very good article for the fellow Myanmar/Burmese citizens.

True leadership is_

  • the art of setting new directions
  • and then creating the environment for that vision to become possible; not just plausible.
  • Nurturing the right climate for ideas and ideals to flourish

It is just as important as the new directions set.

Follower-ship consequently is_

  • the discipline of acknowledging visionary leadership
  • and the requisite obedience to new and shared directions.

Together they make up what is called_

  • a purpose-inspired life of leadership
  • and follower-ship.

Peter Vaill, my doctoral chairperson, calls this ‘Managing as a Performing Art’ (also the title of a book).

Frankly, both models are only partially relevant under current conditions of rapid, turbulent change; when small ripples become tidal waves of change being washed in, and without any human ability to control them.

Allow me to give ‘my three sen’ worth of advice to Myanmar Military SPDC leadership on differing styles of organisational leadership models that appear to be practiced.  

Unfortunately, within Myanmar Military Generals, the current models of leadership and managing are what I have in the past referred to as ‘cat or dog loyalty models of blind obedience’.

As the Burmese saying goes_

Yae Boo Pauk Tar_ Ma Low Chin Boo.

Yae Par Dar Bae_Low Chin Dae.

Yes! In the Military_

  • the leaders never accept the excuses.
  • Orders must be obeyed and fulfilled.
  • Rank and file must be willing to sacrifice their lives on the line of duty.
  • Soldiers must be like robots.
  • If the owner/handler/player click the button, whether right or wrong button, the robort must obey like a character in the video-game.
  • No reasoning nor analysis of correctness or morality or religious views of the nature of job or consequences of the order and results need to be considered.
  • Order is order.
  • Do or die in the battle field or face the consequences of punishments or court-martialed.

Because more than 70 percent of the electorate are living in urban areas, the  governance of Myanmar would be decided on modern and urban issues. That is enough reason for a predictable and fundamental change in scenario and landscape of today’s Myanmar politics.

The information age contributed to a fundamental and radical change in people’s expectations and perceptions. Urban voters were concurrently informed, misinformed and dis-informed. But, it appears like no one from the military government either heard or really understood this.  

Today, all of that is water under the bridge in urbanised Myanmar towns. These are so-called developed states in urbanisation terms. The arrogance and abuse of power in most states and local military authorities would ensure the outcome of the coming referendum.

Models of leadership

With this as the context, allow me to reflect on the two most prevalent models of leadership visible within all organisations, whether in the corporate or political world or civil society or in the military dictator governments.  

The one demands what I call ‘the cat loyalty syndrome’.

A syndrome is almost like a theological conviction about a truth that the beholder believes in and expects from the rest of the world.

The cat loyalty model demands the symbolic and implicit obedience and loyalty of a cat to the house.

This model of leadership demands that the person is loyal to the home or the institution that one belongs to, and claims full cat-like commitment to it.  

  • Most cats are in fact comfortable in the house
  • even after the owners move out.
  • They simply can carry on with life even with the new owners.
  • To the cat, that house is its home
  • and there is little or no loyalty to the master or owner of the house.
  • Owners can come and go.

This appears to be the prevalent model of leadership in SPDC leaders, demanding absolute obedience to the Tatmadaw and its current leader. Questions over their morality and ethics are a secondary matter.

The ‘dog model of loyalty’ puts a premium on loyalty explicitly to the master, but not so much to the house or organisation. But the more important question is: who is the real master? If one served long with General Ne Win or Senior General than Shwe, then one must always be almost loyal to them, in spite of differing circumstances or different worldviews one holds.

It is a lifetime personal loyalty to the person and relationship, and not so much to the authority or the position of the person. The result is almost blind loyalty to all instructions of the master and almost zero public disagreement with that person. Any disagreement must be handled in the privacy of the relationship.

Maybe Senior General than Shwe, as a strong military-type, also expects this kind of blind loyalty from all the generals.

Under conditions of turbulence, old-style captains cannot expect blind obedience. Truth is what will help all to move forward. Under whitewater conditions of extreme turbulence, what we need is a newer model of leadership, not that of a calm captain of an ocean-going vessel.

Vaill would argue that all leadership today is currently operating under whitewater conditions. Because of the Internet and the convergence of new technologies, leadership models must change to reflect new realities. He might ask, for instance: What is the real meaning of leadership under whitewater rafting conditions?

Message for Senior General than Shwe:

Robert Greenleaf’s ‘servant leadership model’, which emulates the ‘work with me and not for me’ motto should actually be the right one to replace Than Shwe’s ‘Listen to me, obey my orders’ military doctrine. There were many good speeches and slogans but things were done wrongly on the ground.  

  • Myanmar Military should work with the people.
  • Myanmar Military should work with all the opposition groups.
  • Myanmar Military should work with the NLD including their present leaders including Daw aung San Suu Kyi.
  • Myanmar Military should work with all the Ethnic Minority groups.
  • Myanmar Military should work with all the Religious Minority groups.

Senior General, you need their cooperation, their advise, their blessings to face the whole world. Their experience can tell you the truth about what is happening on the ground.

  • You need to work with them and not ask them to work for you.
  • You need to work with them  and no need to lock them up in the jails.
  • You need to work with them  and no need to lock them up in in their houses as house arrests.
  • You need to work with them  and no need to be afraid to talk to them.
  • You need to work with them  and no need to be afraid to start a dialogue with them, discuss and negotiate with them.
  • You need to work with them  and start a  national reconciliatory process which could eventually protect you, other SPDC generals, families, friends and cronies.

They will not and cannot do this as if you refuse to allow them or rufuse to listen to them or you recognize and respect them as the valuable personalities in their own rights. And they have as much if not more experience to provide leadership under whitewater conditions.

The ‘servant leadership model’ requires one to become chairperson of the board but not try to lead like an Old Captain. The person does not table papers but listens to ideas and steers the discussion towards a consensus decision.

Peter Drucker calls this ‘wise leadership’.

My three sen worth of suggestions for Sr General Than Shwe:

  • Let the people ask any question they choose and encourage open dialogue.
  • Do not protect anyone, let each carry their own weight or sack them if need be.
  • Ask all your generals to sincerely work with you and not for you.

You must start out right with good intentions, by making everyone  in SPDC to declare their assets publicly.

The people will judge you in the coming referendum and election by what you do and not just what you say.

Integrity means both –

  • doing what you say
  • and then preaching only what you have already practiced.

Let me end with a quote from John F Kennedy, who in his first speech as US president said: “Ask not what the country can do for you but ask what you can do for the country.”  

Myanmar Tatmadaw should review both the cat and dog loyalty models, and try to distinguish how every public servant and military official can serve first the public and national interest (defined as the interest of all the people of Myanmar, not just any one group regardless of how we carve the cake).

 

A digitally enhanced Myanmar opposition

A digitally enhanced

Myanmar opposition

By Paul Watson, Los Angeles Times Staff Writer
January 7, 2008

Excerpts_

YANGON, MYANMAR — During 45 years of military rule, Myanmar’s generals drilled fear and suspicion so deeply into the minds of their people that when their opponents tried to harness the rage seething on the streets last fall, no one knew whom to trust.
The generals quickly took advantage, crushing the pro-democracy demonstrations, killing at least 15 people and jailing thousands. It was a brutally simple strategy that had worked before.

But this time may be different. An information revolution has come slowly to this poor, isolated country, and the military government may have inadvertently handed its enemies the keys to organizing a more effective underground movement.

Protesters had difficulty communicating until they landed in jail, where they traded e-mail addresses and cellphone numbers. Many are out again, building a network for what they call a new revolution.
There seemed little chance of getting organized until more than 2,000 protesters, arrested and jammed into crowded jail cells, met one another and overcame their distrust. Now, most of them are on the streets again, carefully building a network for what they call a new revolution.

Their digital tools are e-mail and text messages, which are more powerful than a megaphone, and cellphone cameras that are so common that thousands of people are potential journalists.

Most spent only a few days in jail, long enough to overcome distrust, make new contacts with the underground, and organize more cells that now communicate through coded messages, Internet drop boxes and old-fashioned couriers.

Secret couriers, who already run messages between exiled opposition leaders and supporters in Myanmar, could smuggle video and photos into Thailand to be sent across the Internet from there.

1948-2008 Burma/Myanmar? Independence Day

1948-2008 Burma/Myanmar

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Is this Independence?

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That wasn’t a real protesting by true monks. It was set up by the military Juntas to lodge a wedge between Buddhist and Muslims in Burma.

I was there in Mandalay when that happened. The Buddhist monks sheltered the Muslims in their monestries while other bogus MI monks are destroying the mosques. The whole world and many Burmese citizens know who were the people doing that.

At last 3 agent provocator, Military Intelligent monks were caught by the civilians who were trying to protect their homes and the monks rioting in  the city against Muslims were not the real monks.

They just shaved their heads with the boots underneath the robes, using walki-talkies exclusively used by the Myanmar Tatmadaw and sometimes seen using or ridiong the motorbikes which practice is strictly forbidden by real monks.

Why the people did not join them if that is a clash between Muslims and Buddhists? We all, Buddhists and Muslim friends were still hanging out and helping each other.

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LOOK! There was an MI Myanmar Military Intelligence Agent Provocator with long hair holding a very long stick.

People saw the military issued singlet under wear under some of the fake monks. Sometimes we could see the military boots they were wearing. What a shame Phut Kyar Killer Tatmadaw.

The Outsiders: Burmese Muslims

The Outsiders

By Harry Priestley/Rangoon
January 17, 2006

Read here

In a country where discrimination against minority groups is a fact of life, Muslims are bottom of the heap.

There is a saying that if you lose control of your bicycle in Burma’s western Arakan State, you shouldn’t worry as it will stop when it hits a kala.

Kala is Burmese slang for outsider, or alien, and although Caucasians are sometimes referred to as white kala, the term is more commonly used for anyone dark skinned, usually of Indian origin. While some shrug the term off, others consider it abusive and degrading: an insult to people whose ancestors may have fought for the country and who consider themselves wholly Burmese.

However the name is interpreted, the fact remains that Burmese Muslims of Southern Asian descent—there is also a small community of Chinese Muslims, the Panthay, with roots in southern Yunnan province—are treated very much as outsiders. Some Buddhist Burmese complain that Muslims refuse to integrate, or sneer at their religious practices. Others will look you in the eye and tell of a Muslim master plan to convert Burmese women to Islam, raise children and, eventually, take over the country.

A Buddhist taxi driver in Rangoon rolled his eyes when I asked him whether he liked Muslim people: “They kill cattle,” he said, referring to Eid Al Adha, the Muslim festival of sacrifice. “We need cattle to work in the rice fields, but they kill them.”

The ceremony is an important date in the Muslim calendar, commemorating Allah’s challenge to Ibrahim, and the meat from the sacrificed animal is shared among the community. Although the meat is gratefully accepted by Muslims and non-Muslims alike, many Buddhists find the ceremony offensive.

“We definitely have an image problem,” admits Ahmed, a local Muslim leader speaking after Friday prayers at one of Rangoon’s downtown mosques. “We encourage people to be discreet, so as not to offend others, but I think sometimes we make local people feel like they are living with strangers—the way some of us dress, the way we speak, our activities. We are partly responsible.”

The “some of us” here illustrates the divide even within the Muslim community. As Moshe Yegar points out in his 1972 study The Muslims of Burma, there are deep-rooted differences between the Rohingyas of Arakan State, the fundamentalist “Indian Muslims” who are mostly based in Rangoon and those who have striven for total integration: “These are different groups that do not identify with each other, do not share the same goals and aspirations, and hardly ever cooperated in any of that community’s struggles.”

The first Muslims to settle in what is now Burma are believed to have been Persian and Arab mariners who landed on the Arakan coast back in the 8th or 9th century and, according to records, their descendents served under King Anawrahta (1044-1077) and his son King Sawlu (1077-1088). The 12th and 13th centuries saw the arrival of more seafarers, as well as an influx of Muslims from present-day Bangladesh—the Rohingyas. The kingdom of Arakan fell to the Burmese toward the end of the 18th century and was ceded to the British 40 years later, during the first Anglo-Burmese war.

When the British embarked on their annexation of Lower Burma in 1824, they brought with them significant numbers of migrants from South Asia, a number of whom assumed key posts in business, politics and the civil service. Many retained their positions following independence in 1948, and during the fifties and early sixties there were several notable Muslim MPs and ministers.

But when General Ne Win swept to power on a wave of nationalism in 1962, things began to change. Expelled from the government and army, Burmese Muslims found themselves ever more marginalized. The position of Muslims in society and the legacy of independence heroes such as Abdul Razak, better known as Saya Gyi U Razak (see box), who was assassinated along with national icon general Aung San, was slowly being eroded.

A 2002 report from New York-based Human Rights Watch (“Crackdown on Burmese Muslims”) notes: “There is no written directive that bars Muslims from entry or promotion in the government…but in practice that is what happens.”

“There is definitely discrimination in the workplace,” says Aesop, a local Muslim businessman. “There are no Muslim headmasters or directors of companies. No professors. There are sergeants and corporals in the army, but nothing above that.”

While all but the elite must wait for the wheels of bureaucracy to slowly turn in Burma, many Muslims feel the wheels turn more slowly for them. As Aesop says: “Our citizenship rights are denied. Identification cards—which show you are Muslim—are confiscated or not granted in the first place. Without an identity card you can’t travel, conduct business or study. It’s a form of ethnic cleansing.”

A recent article in the government newspaper The New Light of Myanmar (“Myanmar [Burma], Where all Citizens Enjoy Freedom of Worship,” December 2, 2005) trumpets the country’s cordial relationship with the Muslim population, who officially make up 3.78 percent of the nation’s 54 million citizens, though other estimates put the figure as high as 16 percent. It also rather confusingly claims that “unlike in some countries, there have occurred no conflicts nor riots based on religious or racial disputes in Myanmar. Whenever there was a racial tension due to an instigation or a wedge driven among the religions, the government has always settled the disputes in coordination with respective racial or religious leaders.”

While this ties in neatly with the guidelines for Burma’s ongoing constitutional convention—which espouses “freedom of conscience and the right freely to profess and practice religion subject to public order, morality, or health”—it may surprise those who hold the government responsible for the waves of anti-Muslim violence that have erupted in recent years.

The Human Rights Watch report also details events from 2001, when angry mobs attacked Muslim homes, businesses and mosques in Sittwe, Taungoo and Prome. Anger at the Taliban’s destruction of Buddhist monuments in Afghanistan, or the conversion to Islam by local women marrying Muslim men may have proved the catalyst for violence, but many of the attacks, which resulted in the destruction of hundreds of properties and dozens of deaths, were first blamed on Buddhist monks. Reliable reports, however, suggest the ringleaders were in all probability disguised government agents sent in to stir up trouble.

Heavy restrictions were placed on the towns where conflict arose. Evening curfews were imposed and group prayers of more than five people were banned. Existing laws meant that permission to build new mosques, or even repair those damaged during the riots, was consistently denied.

The same is true in the new satellite towns that have sprung up on the outskirts of Rangoon. When the government forcibly relocated thousands of residents from rundown inner city neighborhoods in the early nineties—ostensibly to demonstrate its commitment to urban development, but in reality to sell off vast swathes of land to private developers—no provision was made for any religious practice, other than Buddhist. One almost completely Muslim neighborhood in Tamwe Township was scooped up en masse and dumped in a new location outside Pegu. Permission for the building of mosques has been turned down time and time again and Muslims are forced to pray privately and behind closed doors.

More and more, Muslims are being encouraged to shut themselves off from society at large, to become more self-reliant, to become more insular.

Bus driver Mahmood sends his son to a Muslim school, where he studies the Koran every day. Mahmood does not describe himself as a particularly devout Muslim but, with a young family to support, he cannot afford the fees to provide all his children with a state education. The school is funded by a group of private Saudi Arabian companies and is free to any child with a basic knowledge of Islam.

“I’m so happy for my son,” says Mahmood. “His future is safe.”

Muslim schools funded privately from overseas are increasingly common in Rangoon and, with the Burmese economy currently in tatters and the education system in freefall, they are proving an attractive proposition. The image of Muslims “looking after their own” is gaining admirers on a wider scale, too. “It’s not unheard of for poor Buddhists to convert to Islam to take advantage of funeral services, which the local mosques pay for,” says one Rangoon journalist. “Now some Buddhist organizations have even started similar services.”

But while foreign bodies continue to lend financial support at a community level, many are asking whether the world’s Muslim community could do more to help its Burmese brothers.

“Our only real contact with the Middle East is with the Hajj [the pilgrimage to Mecca or Medina that Muslims are expected to complete at least once in their life],” says Ahmed. “In the Middle East, they don’t know where Burma is. Their only point of reference is “that lady” [Aung San Suu Kyi] or the place where bogus monks throw stones at mosques.”

With the denial of citizenship, restrictions on religious practice, professional discrimination and a growing sense of alienation, one might expect Burmese Muslims to be easy prey for extremist groups operating in the region.

Separatist clashes in Indonesia’s Aceh province and the southern Philippines, together with continuing violence in Thailand’s Deep South have thrown Islam into the Southeast Asian spotlight as never before. Paramilitary groups such as the Malaysian Mujahideen Group (KMM) and the pan-Southeast Asian Jemaah Islamiyah—whose latest series of suicide bombings left at least 19 dead in Bali—have been linked with Osama bin-Laden’s al-Qaeda network and are believed to be laying foundations for a hardline Islamic state, comprising parts of Malaysia, Indonesia and the Philippines.

For now, though, disaffected young Muslims are more likely to flee the cities and join ethnic resistance groups. The All Burma Muslim Union, which the government routinely brands “Muslim terrorist insurgents,” actually operates alongside the largely secular Karen National Union and, despite a swelling of its ranks following anti-Muslim riots in the eighties, remains a very minor force. Extremist Muslim groups simply do not appear to exist in Burma.

But many feel it is only a matter of time. “If the persecution continues,” says Ahmed, “Burma could become a breeding ground for terrorists.”

Open letter to H.E. Professor Sergio Pinheiro

Open letter to H.E. Professor Sergio Pinheiro

To

Professor Sergio Pinheiro
(Brazilian law professor and
human rights investigator)
Special rapporteur of the
U.N. Secretary General on
human rights in Myanmar

 

Dear Mr Sergio Pinheiro,                                       

                                          Thank you for the great job you are going to do for the Burmese people. Instead of pressing SPDC generals to investigate the fatal crackdown on protesters in September, please may you kindly start an investigation yourself as the Myanmar SPDC top generals had all the knowledge of those and they had ordered the killing. 

We all Burmese people and some of the world observers already know that allowing you, Sergio Pinheiro, Special rapporteur on human rights in Myanmar of the U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki Moon and Mr Ibrahim Gambari are just the stage-shows to deflect the public and international outrage after SPDC Military had brutally suppressed, assaulted, arrested, tortured about six thousand and murdered few hundred of peaceful demonstrators and revered monks.  

SPDC and Than Shwe could be able to defuse the anger of the world and save the faces of their friends; China, Russia, India and ASEAN esp. Singapore and Malaysia, who would applause and go on supporting and exploiting Myanmar for another few decades. Procrastination and buying time is the ultimate goal of the SPDC Junta. At the same time, the SPDC media is repeatedly declaring that Myanmar Military Government   is steadfastly going to continue the cracking down on democratic forces until the opposition is totally eliminated or annihilated or totally uprooted. 

When Mr Ibrahim Gambari was asked by the reporters, why instead of looking around the killing field in Yangon, why did he went to Shan State and other irrelevant places, he replied that he had no  power nor mandate to go anywhere he like to investigate but just a guest of the SPDC and had to follow their arrangement.  

According to the unconfirmed reports, up to 8,000 people may have been rounded up around Yangon. This could not be independently confirmed but dissident groups have said that up to 6,000 people have been arrested since troops put down the uprising on Sept. 26 and 27 when they opened fire on crowds. The government says 10 people were killed but others say up to 200 people died in the crackdown on demonstrators who were largely led by Buddhist monks. Part of the proof is already in the photographs and videos came out from Burma and splashed in all the media worldwide.

But the SPDC Myanmar Military Junta had tried to destroy the evidences, repaired the monasteries, arrested, intimidated or killed the witnesses, confisticated all the films, audio and video evidences. So, to safe time and to make your job easy, instead of investigating all the cases of assaults, brutality and killings, please may you kindly just investigate one case which could represent all the atrocities of the SPDC on the unarmed peaceful civilians without provocation or threat of violence. 

Just investigate the murder of Japanese reporter for Tokyo-based APF News, Kenji Nagai’s case thoroughly from all the angles as if you are the investigation officer for a serious crime. If you could have the help of CIA, FBI or CSI team (Crime Scene Investigators) you could easily bring those Criminal SPDC Junta to the International Criminal Court for cold blooded killing of this Japanese photo-video Journalist.  

Footage capturing the last, terrible seconds of Kenji Nagai’s life has been aired on Japanese television and you could easily get to the root of the truth behind the 50-year old photo-journalist’s murder by Burmese troops.  

You should ask the detailed analysis of that video-clip and photos from the Japanese authorities. You could get the confirmation that the person in the pictures and video was the authentic pictures of Mr. Kenji Nagai.  

You should record the Japanese experts who had examined the footage and contradicted the official Burmese explanation of Nagai’s death – that he was killed by a “stray bullet”. 

You should record the Japanese investigators, who were seen in the news photographs at the crime scene. 

You should investigate how they get those pictures and video. And the person who shoot them. (You should plan and give the complete witness protection to the whole family of the Burmese photographer by taking the whole family back to USA immediately.) 

You must record the doctor at the Japanese embassy in Burma who confirmed that a bullet entered Nagai’s body from the lower right side of his chest, pierced his heart and exited from his back.  

You should insist to give a chance to record the interview with the “soldier” who shot Mr Nagai and if possible the squad or platoon involved.  

If you were not allowed to see the killer soldier and his troop, please kindly made sure, you get the black and white reply on paper. Who refused your request? 

You should try your best to get the most important fact, who had given the shoot to kill order? 

You need to make sure whether it is true that that even five generals including Yangon Division General were sacked because they refused to shoot the unarmed civilians and monks. If that was true, it is clear that the person who had given the order was higher than generals and Yangon Division Commander General and the five generals.

Only after the incriminating video-proof surfaced, the SPDC is trying to give excuses like a common criminal, they officially change the shooting to an accident.

What did SPDC mean by saying it was an accident? The SPDC soldiers were trigger happy and were ordered to freely shoot Myanmar citizens but they thought that the Japanese photo-journalist was a local Burmese Chinese and accidently or wrongly shoot and killed? Even if the victim in the shooting video was not a foreigner but local Myanmar citizen, it is still a crime to kill an unarmed civilian without provocation. SPDC Generals and especially Senior General Than Shwe is responsible to answer and clarify at the ICC. You should try to prove that there is Criminal Intent by SPDC.

The doctrine of transferred intent is another nuance of criminal intent. Transferred intent occurs where one intends the harm that is actually caused, but the injury occurs to a different victim or object. For example, SPDC soldier shoot the Japanese Photo-journalist “accidentally” because he thought that it was a local Burmese-Chinese.  The concept of transferred intent applies to homicide, battery, and arson. Felony murder statutes evince a special brand of transferred intent. Under a felony murder statute, any death caused in the commission of, or in an attempt to commit, a felony is murder. It is not necessary to prove that the defendant intended to kill the victim.

And the _

  1. arresting of the local journalists,

  2. cutting off the phone lines,

  3. vcutting off the internet internet

  4. Searching and

  5. confiscation of the cameras and hand phones capable of taking pictures

  6. are also clear case of trying to cover-up their crimes.

Above acts should be considered as the part of the cover-up scheme. This is the typical scenario of committing the Eighth Stage of Genocide, cover-up and denial.The whole SPDC from the Senior General Than Shwe to the soldiers who had done the shootings are all equally guilty of this killing

The “soldier” who shot Kenji Nagai was curiously wearing the slippers. I think this is the first time our world had witness a regular government soldier without boots. (Even there were reports that SPDC soldiers entered the monastries and pagodas without taking off their shoes.) May be there is some truth in the repeated rumors that SPDC officers trained the convicted criminals to shoot the rifles (or semi-automatic machine guns) and given the stimulants like Amphetamines or Ecstasy pills to commit the atrocities like killing the monks and civilians. There are also repetitive reports that the SPDC soldiers are given the same stimulants like Amphetamines or Ecstasy pills to commit raping of ethnic minorities.

If that is true, the one who ordered or give the command to shoot and kill would be more guilty then the actual perpetrators. This is a very important point for you as a prosecutor at ICC.  

Command responsibility, sometimes referred to as the Yamashita standard or the Medina standard, is the doctrine of hierarchical accountability in cases of war and serious crimes. The doctrine of “command responsibility” was established by the Hague Conventions IV (1907) and X (1907).  This The Hague Conventions IV (1907) was the first attempt at codifying the principle of command responsibility on a multinational level.

The “Yamashita standard” is based upon the precedent set by the United States Supreme Court in the case of Japanese General Tomoyuki Yamashita. He was prosecuted, in a still controversial trial, for atrocities committed by troops under his command in the Philippines. Yamashita was charged with “unlawfully disregarding and failing to discharge his duty as a commander to control the acts of members of his command by permitting them to commit war crimes.”

It was not until after WWI that the Allied Powers’ Commission on the Responsibility of the Authors of the War and on the Enforcement of Penalties recommended the establishment of an international tribunal, which would try individuals for_

  1. “order[ing], or,

  2. with knowledge thereof and

  3. with power to intervene,

  4. abstain[ing] from preventing or

  5. taking measures to prevent,

  6. putting an end to or repressing,

  7. violations of the laws or customs of war.”

Introducing responsibility for an omission; Command responsibility is an omission mode of individual criminal liability:

The superior is responsible for_

  1. crimes committed by his subordinates and

  2. for failing to prevent or

  3. punish (as opposed to crimes he ordered).

The Yamashita courts clearly accepted that a commander’s actual knowledge of unlawful actions is sufficient to impose individual criminal responsibility.

Additional Protocol I

The first international treaty to comprehensively codify the doctrine of command responsibility was the Additional Protocol I (“AP I”) of 1977 to the Geneva Conventions of 1949.

Article 86(2) states that:

The fact that a breach of the Conventions or of this Protocol was committed by a subordinate does not absolve his superiors from …responsibility …

  1. if they knew, or

  2. had information which should have enabled them to conclude in the circumstances at the time,

  3. that he was committing or

  4. about to commit such a breach and

  5. if they did not take all feasible measures within their power to prevent or repress the breach.

Article 87 obliges a commander to

“prevent and, where necessary, to suppress and report to competent authorities” any violation of the Conventions and of AP I.

In Article 86(2) for the first time a provision would “explicitly address the knowledge factor of command responsibility.”

The term “command” can be defined as_

A.  De jure (legal) command, which can be both military and civilian. The determining factor here is not rank but subordination.

Four structures are identified:

  1. Policy command: heads of state, high-ranking government officials, monarchs

  2. Strategic command: War Cabinet, Joint Chiefs of Staff

  3. Operational command: military leadership; in Yamashita it was established that operational command responsibility cannot be ceded for the purpose of the doctrine of command responsibility – operational commanders must exercise the full potential of their authority to prevent war crimes, failure to supervise subordinates or non-assertive orders don’t exonerate the commander.

  4. Tactical command: direct command over troops on the ground

B. De facto (factual) command, which specifies effective control, as opposed to formal rank.

This needs a superior-subordinate relationship. They are:

  1. Capacity to issue orders

  2. Power of influence: influence is recognized as a source of authority in the Ministries case before the
    US military Tribunal after World War II.

  3. Evidence stemming from distribution of tasks: the ICTY has established the Nikolic test – superior status is deduced from analysis of distribution of tasks within the unit, it applies both to operational and POW camp commanders.

Additional Protocol I and the Statutes of the ICTY, the ICTR, and the ICC makes prevention or prosecution of crimes mandatoryThe Nuremberg Charter determined the basis to prosecute people for:

  1. Crimes against humanity: murder, extermination, enslavement, deportation, and other inhuman acts committed against any civilian population, before or during the war, or persecutions on political, racial or religious grounds in execution of or in connection with any crime within the jurisdiction of the Tribunal, whether or not in violation of the domestic law of the country where perpetrated.

The jurisdiction ratione personae is considered to apply to “leaders, organisers, instigators and accomplices” involved in planning and committing those crimes.

You should also try to prove the Malice of the SPDC. It is a state of mind that compels a person to deliberately cause unjustifiable injury to another person. At common law, murder was the unlawful killing of one human being by another with malice aforethought, or a predetermination to kill without legal justification or excuse.

The whole world knows that you would be able to show the proof of the Motive of SPDC.  As Motive is the cause or reason that induces a person to form the intent to commit a crime. It is not the same as intent. Rather, it explains why the person acted to violate the law. The knowledge that SPDC will receive the permanent dominance of Myanmar Military upon the death of the demonstrators is clearly the motive for those murders or massacres. But anyway the proof of motive is not required for the conviction of a crime. The existence of motive is immaterial to the matter of guilt when that guilt is clearly established. However, when guilt is not clearly established, the presence of motive might help to establish it. If a prosecution is based entirely on circumstantial evidence, the presence of motive may be persuasive in establishing guilt; likewise, the absence of motive might support a finding of innocence.

Instead of proper apology, or an acknowledgment expressing regret or asking pardon for a fault or offense from the SPDC Generals we are getting the excuses, to explain (a fault or an offense) in the hope of being forgiven or understood. SPDC falsely hope to be freed from the crimes, as from an obligation or duty. But sadly those were even not the explanations offered to justify or obtain forgiveness, nor reason or grounds for excusing: Senior General Than Shwe and other top generals must know that Ignorance is no excuse for breaking any law, local or ICC.

An excuse is essentially a defense for an individual’s conduct that is intended to mitigate the individual’s blameworthiness for a particular act or to explain why the individual acted in a specific manner.

To be excused from liability means that although the defendant may have been a participant in the sequence of events leading to the prohibited outcome, no liability will attach to the particular defendant because he or she belongs to a class of person exempted from liability. In normal circumstances, this will be a policy of expediency. Hence, members of the armed forces, the police or other civil organizations may be granted a degree of immunity for causing prohibited outcomes while acting in the course of their official duties, e.g. for an assault or trespass to the person caused during a lawful arrest. But in the Cases of the Crimes against Humanity, Genocide and Ethnic Cleansing or the Massacre of peaceful demonstrators and the point-blank shoot to killing of the Japanese Photojournalist cases at the ICC the above excuses are not valid at all. 

As a Law Professor, I hope you should told SPDC on their face to understand that they could not claim for the Diplomatic Immunity as they are not diplomats. It is for the exemption from taxation and ordinary processes of law afforded to diplomatic personnel in a foreign country only.

You should warn SPDC Generals that they should also understand that they could not claim for the executive privilege, exemption of the executive branch of government, or its officers, from having to give evidence, specifically, the exemption of the head of the government from disclosing information to inquiries or the judiciary. Claims of executive privilege are usually invoked to protect confidential military or diplomatic operations or to protect the private discussions and debates of the president with close aides. Efforts by various the head of the governments to gain absolute and unqualified privilege have been rejected by the International Criminal Courts.

So, Mr Sergio Pinheiro, as you had made the remark while delivering his annual report on the human rights situation in the country, adding events that occurred since issuing your last written report in August. From Sept. 26-28 when authorities used what you, Pinheiro called “excessive force,” including firing on and beating protesters, to rein in the large crowds. But your good self, Mr Pinheiro, could not present exact figures for how many had been killed and arrested, you cited other reports that between 30-40 monks and 50-70 civilians had allegedly been killed and 200 beaten. “It is difficult at this stage to provide you with accurate numbers of persons killed and arrested as well as those who are still detained,” you had said, adding that you hope to travel to the country to make a more accurate assessment based on witness testimonies and meetings with authorities.In accordance with a resolution passed by the Human Rights Council earlier in the month, you will urge authorities to carry out a set of actions, including conducting “independent and thorough investigations into the killings and enforced disappearances” as well as taking “action against those responsible.”

You said you will also press officials

  1. to reveal the whereabouts of missing persons,

  2. take steps to unconditionally release all detainees,

  3. grant amnesty to those who have been sentenced,

  4. allow them access to humanitarian personnel, and ensure for their physical and psychological safety. 

You and others in the international community have repeatedly expressed concerns about the fate of thousands of protesters who have reportedly been detained.

Thank you for calling on officials to “immediately and unconditionally release the detainees and political prisoners” including General Secretary of the National League of Democracy Aung Sang Suu Kyi, who you had noted had been held for exactly 12 years under house arrest.

“The stability of Myanmar is not well served by the arrest and detention of political leaders or by the severe and sustained restriction of fundamental freedoms,” you had further stated. “There will be no progress in Myanmar’s political transition unless ordinary people have space to express their views and discontent peacefully and in public.”

“My task is to offer an honest, complex, objective picture of the crisis … the excessive use of force, what’s happening in terms of detainees, the number of deaths,”you had said.

You  said that you would then present a report with your recommendations to the Geneva-based Human Rights Council on December 11.

According to you, ”I have reports that the chase of bystanders or people involved in the manifestations continues. I think that the situation of fear prevails. I don’t think that the repression has finished,” you said.

You said that reports of deaths, torture and disappearances of those taken into custody continue to come in. “What annoys me is that the repression has not stopped a single moment — this is what annoys me — despite all the universal appeals,” you rightly  told reporters at the United Nations, during a press conference at UN Headquarters, you said: “I don’t think that the repression… has finished,” adding that a “situation of fear prevails” in the country.

“I will ask free access, the secretary general will ask free access,” Pinheiro said, adding that visiting prison cells to speak to detainees was “a requirement.”

We hope you would not forget the above noble quotes and remarks you had given infront of the international media.

We hope and pray that you would not be constrained by the military junta,by hook or by  crook, but be able to go where you want in Myanmar as you had vowed.

 

Thanking You

Yours Humbly

 

Dr San Oo Aung