Tuesday, October 9, 2007

Refusing Conditional Talks, NLD calls for Open Dialogue

***Don't forget, the 10 ONLINE PETITIONS FOR BURMA HERE.***

The National League of Democracy (NLD) issued the following statement today in response to Than Shwe's offer to meet with Aung San Suu Kyi on the condition that she ends her call for international sanctions against the ruling junta:
"The success of a dialogue is based on sincerity and the spirit of give and take," said the statement by the National League for Democracy. "The will for achieving success is also crucial and there should not be any preconditions."
Whether the junta is making a genuine effort towards national reconciliation or is just stalling for time, the NLD's answer puts dictator Than Shwe in a difficult position. Perhaps he was hoping that the 12 years of incarceration have dampened Suu Kyi's indominable fighting spirit, that while on the cusp of a peaceful revolution, she would readily trade her moral authority and political courage for mere token concessions rather than risk more killings. Suu Kyi knows far well that giving in will just play into the junta's hands, allowing the ruling elite to continue to stall on its promises for political change and social rejuvenation.

Enters Than Shwe's dilemma. For if he fails to concede to the demand for open dialogue, his retroactive reaction will undoubtedly stoke the dual flames of internal dissension and international disapproval. However, if he gives in, it's a sure sign that his power and influence over the domestic affairs of Burma are not immune from international pressure, and any deviation from this 15 years of subscription to hardline, iron-fisted rule may serve as the harbinger of his political demise. Most likely, regardless of which choice he takes, it will bring about unfavorable consequences for him. Already, his power base is eroding.

Today, the British Broadcasting Corporation reported that a diplomat at Myanmar's embassy in London resigned to protest the military's use of force to quell last month's uprisings. Ye Min Tun said,
"I have never seen such a scenario in the whole of my life. The government is arresting and beating the peaceful Buddhist monks," he told the BBC. "I think that my fellow colleagues will make their decision on their own -- but I can't say that anybody's going to follow my way."
British government records have Ye Min Tun listed as a second secretary on the embassy's staff roster.

This comes after Hla Win, a mid-ranking major and former intelligence officer, defected after the crackdown began. He is the most senior official to defect so far, and his claims have many fearing that the death toll may have surpassed that of the 1988 uprising:
“Many more people have been killed in recent days than you’ve heard about. The bodies can be counted in several thousand.” He fled to Thailand after refusing orders to raid two monasteries, kill the monks, and dump their corpses deep in the jungle."

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