Burma Campaign UK today publishes a new Briefing Paper: Political Events In Burma – New Or Recycled?, analysing recent events in Burma, many of which have been hailed as ‘new’, ‘unprecedented’ and ‘progress’. The Briefing Paper finds that most of what has taken place in recent months is not new at all, and that Thein Sein is borrowing ideas from his predecessors, Than Shwe and Ne Win.
Given the track record of the dictatorship, the international community should be extremely sceptical about current events.
- The dictatorship has repeatedly lied to the international community before, and repeatedly broken promises that it has made that it will reform.
- The dictatorship is repeating initiatives already taken, and they did not lead to change on those occasions.
- Concrete steps, such as the release of all political prisoners, ending military attacks against civilians, and repealing repressive laws, have not taken place. In fact, human rights abuses are increasing.
The Briefing Paper looks in detail at the series of initiatives in recent months, highlighting how many have happened before, and in fact, in some ways, Thein Sein has taken a harder line than Than Shwe.
The dictatorship craves legitimacy. It was hoping that elections and the release of Aung San Suu Kyi would be enough to persuade the international community to start to relax pressure. However, economic sanctions have not been relaxed, and even ASEAN delayed a decision on Burma assuming chairmanship in 2014. Now it is trying a new charm offensive, but has so far not taken any significant and concrete actions.
“Thein Sein is recycling old initiatives from his predecessors, not taking any new steps,” said Mark Farmaner, Director of Burma Campaign UK. “He combines the hardline policies of Than Shwe with the pragmatic public relations of Khin Nyunt. There is an opportunity for the international community to turn words into action, but it will take pressure, setting clear benchmarks and timelines. Now is not the time to repeat the past mistake of adopting a wait and see policy.”
For more information contact Mark Farmaner on 44(0)2073244710.