Wed, 24 May 2000

Fight for democracy

Ten years ago, Burma (Myanmar) elected a new parliament and government. Military authorities crushed the victory. Instead of honoring the election, most of the world has favored the dictatorship. It is time the military abided by its pledge to institute democracy.

In 12 years, the junta has made Burma the poorest state in ASEAN, offering no hope out of poverty. It has made Burma an international pariah, directly helping to traffic drugs to Thailand and the rest of the world. It has brutalized its own people with imprisonment, torture and forced labor on a scale seldom seen in the least-civilized nations. Through these and other tragedies, the junta has been totally unaccountable to its people, to its neighbors and to the world community.

(U.S. Secretary of State) Mrs. Albright is not the only one unable to discern the military junta's alleged movement towards democracy. For nearly a decade, the brutal soldiers controlling Burma have claimed there is such a movement. It has been a lie. The lie on democracy is not the only one, of course. The regime has promised to combat drug trafficking, while profiting and encouraging drug manufacturing and smuggling. This lie is Thailand's top national security concern.

It is time the regime respected the demand of its people for a democratic and accountable government. The form of government is the business of the citizens. The people in Burma spoke a decade ago. Voters had clear choices, and they made them. The Rangoon regime will get no respect until it makes clear and solid progress towards implementing those choices.

After 12 years in office, the Rangoon junta must start to consult all its citizens on the nation's problems. After 10 years of brutal suppression, the Burmese dictatorship must move quickly, and openly, to a democratic system.

-- The Bangkok Post