Back to Encourage the UN and ASEAN to Support Aung San Suu Kyi

Dr. Kyi May Kaung addresses Senator Webb

This is a letter to Senator Webb, expressing disappointment on Wednesday's Congressional US Policy Hearing, from a respected friend, Dr Kyi May Kaung. To many of you, she may require no introduction - but to the rest of you, read on and you will learn.

"We must take sides. Neutrality helps the oppressor, never the oppressed. Sometimes we must interfere. . . There is so much injustice and suffering crying out for our attention . . . writers and poets, prisoners in so many lands governed by the left and by the right." Elie Wiesel, Nobel Peace Prize Acceptance Speech, 1986, Oslo.

Senator Webb,

I was disappointed by your Hearing yesterday, which I saw as rather one-sided. No representatives of Daw Aung San Suu Kyi, her lawyer Jared Genser, representatives of the National League for Democracy, or the NCGUB (the Exile Government, elected to their constituencies in Burma in the 1990 elections), Burmese refugees and dissidents, Burmese monk survivors of the 2007 Saffron Revolution, the US Campaign for Burma, scholars who have not advocated removing sanctions, representatives of major non-profits working for change in Burma, other stakeholders or known strong supporters of Aung San Suu Kyi such as Speaker Nancy Pelosi, Barbara Boxer, Diane Feinstein or Mitch McConnell were present. Here is Sen. McConnell’s “two tests for the new US policy from his website:

I request that you place this Statement on the official record of the Hearing of September 30th, 2009.

You conducted the Hearing single-handed and was noticeably harsher in your questions towards Kurt Campbell, who explicated the new US policy and took a measured approach, and towards Professor David Williams, who was the only one among the witnesses who mentioned gross human rights violations in Burma and the stepped up military campaigns against the ethic minorities, being conducted right now as military attacks against the Kokang Chinese, the Rohingya in the west, the Kachin in the north and in addition to the on-going longest civil war against the Karen in the east. In many cases it was the Naypyidaw (former Rangoon government) which violated the ceasefires.

Professor Williams said, “Before the 2010 elections, the mountains will flow with blood.” The continuous and constantly increasing stream of refugees into all the neighboring countries are evidence of this.

Dr. Williams also testified that he thought after 2010 it would not be a civilian government, though it would be civilianized. As Burmese, we have seen too much of the trick of army brass changing into civilian clothes and continuing in power, directly or from behind the scenes, to think much of the promises of the 2010 so-called “election.” Professor Williams concluded by saying “This effort won’t shift the game, it will only give the game away.”

I am relieved that the US State Department’s new Burma policy will in fact be a limited engagement policy, subject to concrete and substantial changes (political and economic reforms of a structural nature) on the part of the Burmese military regime, and that the US government reserves the right to impose or extend sanctions whenever it sees fit.

Please allow me to tell you who I am and my qualifications for talking about Burma.

I am a Burmese-born scholar and long time democracy advocate who has been studying Burma all her adult life. My 1994 Ph.D. dissertation from the University of Pennsylvania was on the detrimental effects of a highly centralized command economy and the political economy of Burma in relation to those of Zaire, the then Soviet Union, India and the People’s Republic of China. I studied the design of political-economic systems and the rundown economies produced by having a dictatorship or one party system. My thesis is on Scholarly Commons

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