What is the height of Indian hypocrisy
From Satya Sagar, 10/01/2007 - ZNet
While the Burmese military is brutally cracking down on the popular uprising - against its citizens who are demanding democracy - what is the world doing for many.
The trend so far shows that the answer is quite simple: nothing.
It does nothing beyond the usual condemnations and pious appeals to have "a peaceful dialogue" or the position expressed in international forums to want to support the Burmese people.
Nothing is done - except to send a UN envoy who is a "lame duck" to negotiate with the paranoid Burmese generals. Negotiate what? About the funeral of the innocent victims who were mowed down like rabbits on the streets of Yangon?
After all, it is not that there were no options for action. How about to start with the withdrawal of the seat of the United Nations, which Burma's illegitimate military regime still holds? Instead, the seat should pass to the elected Burmese (exile) government. And why should Burma continue to be a member of ASEAN (Association of Southeast Asian Nations) or ASEM (Asian-European Meeting)?
How about sanctions against foreign companies doing business in Burma? That would affect dozens of Western companies - not to mention Asian ones. Why should large oil companies such as Chevron (USA), Petronas (Malaysia), Daewoo International Corp (South Korea) or French Total (France) continue to operate in Burma without being punished for supporting one of the most terrible dictatorships in the world?
The answers to these elementary questions are no less elementary. After all, Burma is about huge natural resources and significant investment opportunities. Which government in the world really gives something to the penned-up citizens of Burma who are desperately fighting a quasi-fascist regime that is open to foreign capital but narrow-minded towards its own people?
After the (current) bloodbath in Burma, France's new president, Nicholas ‘Napoleon’ Sarkozy, cockily appealed to French corporations to freeze their operations in Burma. Shortly afterwards, however, his foreign minister, Bernard Kouchner, made it clear that the French oil giant French Total (the largest European company operating in Burma) would not withdraw from Burma. It is feared that they will be "replaced by the Chinese".
British Prime Minister Gordon Brown also said he was “outraged” at the condemnable conduct of the Burmese government. He is silent about the British companies that are happily investing in Burma. Between 1988 and 2004, UK firms invested over £ 1.2 billion in Burma. This makes the UK the second largest investor in this supposedly isolated country. The sun of the British Empire was setting and on its retreat it seems to have frozen the conscience of the (British) politicians.
The Japanese government also made a monumental mark of hypocrisy. She shed crocodile tears because the Japanese journalist Kenji Nagai was shot in cold blood by a Burmese soldier while he was photographing a group of protesters fleeing and falling to the ground. The Tokyo government took courage and called for "an explanation." The answer was “Oops… sorry” from the Burmese Foreign Minister. Secretly he must have said to himself: “Easy game, Moroni San”.
When asked whether aid should be withdrawn from the murderous Burmese regime, the Japanese government made it clear: “It is still too early” for such a decision. Probably politely waiting for the Burmese regime to murder an entire Japanese press workforce before reacting. If Burmese die, it will have no consequences anyway.
Most predictably, of course, was the rhetorical response from US President George Bush. He announced a series of sanctions against the Burmese military leadership and added, incredibly, "I urge the Burmese soldiers and police not to use violence against their own fellow citizens".
Wait a minute, weren't these soldiers and police officers trained to shoot their fellow citizens? Aren't they getting paid for it? What did Bush want to say? As usual, only Bush knows this himself - and his creator, from whom he claims he receives direct instructions from him.
But even if he had chosen them better, Bush's words would be implausible. They come from the mouth of a warmonger responsible for massive killings in Iraq and Afghanistan. The Bush administration destroyed international human rights norms. In doing so, this government has taken the right to teach others - even if the regime is as shabby as the Burmese junta. A sad situation.
But what about Burma's old friends - Thailand, Singapore, and Malaysia? In a surprise conviction of their ASEAN member Burma, they expressed “disgust” at the use of lethal force against innocent civilians. Your declaration is undoubtedly to be welcomed, but it comes two decades too late to achieve anything.
Burma’s military rulers have used ASEAN’s dubious policy of “constructive engagement” to consolidate their domestic regime and regain international recognition. In the early 1990s, when the Burmese generals were almost down, it was ASEAN that offered them security and friendly support. The organization scolded those who called for democracy for Burma - these people had no idea of “Asian values”.
That leaves China and India - two gigantic neighbors of Burma, which the junta has long showered with investments, aid and arms sales. The world expects both countries to use their “influence” on the generals.
China's active support for the Burmese regime does not come as a surprise, given its own repression of democratic movements and the shooting at civil resistance protesters at home. I don't think the Chinese seriously fear that the Burmese democracy movement could trigger a second Tiananmen in China - at least not in the short term and not as long as the consumption boom keeps the Chinese population hypnotized.
The Chinese are very pragmatic and think about how to secure their investments in Burma. Perhaps one day they will be the first to (actively) overthrow the Burmese junta - if they get the feeling that the rising tide of democratic protest could prevail. The future Chinese attitude towards Burma will certainly look like a yo-yo that dances up and down - depending on which cat (black or white) is catching the mice.
Of all the countries in the world, India has the most shameful attitude towards Burma. India was once the land of Mahatma Gandhi. Today there are politicians in power whose morals would drive even a snake oil dealer crazy. India takes every opportunity to call itself the "greatest democracy in the world" and does not mention that it is a "lowest category" democracy - as everyone can see.
Why else would the Indian government send its oil minister, Murali Deora, to sign a gas exploration contract with the Burmese military junta at the end of September? At that point in time the regime was already planning the murder of its own citizens.
In the past few years, India has supported the Burmese military with weapons and military training - as if this military had not already hit the people precisely enough with its bullets. And there were other nice deals.
That was by no means always the case. At the time of Indian Prime Minister Nehru, Indian Burma politics was in its “idealistic” phase. Burma's premier, U Nu, was a close friend of Nehru. Their policies were shaped by mutual trust and cooperation. In 1962 U Nu was overthrown by a military coup. The Indian government - and the successor governments - were against this dictatorship on principle.
In 1988, at the height of the pro-democracy movement in Burma, All India Radio even referred to General Newin and his people as “dogs” in its Burma program (which of course was a great insult to the latter). In 1992, the government of R.V. Narasimha Rao to power. Since then, India has been wagging its tail.
The “pragmatic” phase of Indian Burma politics began in the early 1990s and continues to this day. The (moral) principles were thrown overboard and everything was done to advance the strategic and economic interests of India. Another excuse for ingratiation with the Burmese military junta is the alleged “Chinese influence” in Burma, which must be countered.
Over the years there has been little evidence that this “amoral pragmatism” will benefit Indian interests more in the longer term than the “muddling through idealism” of the past. If you take a closer look at the matter, the current Indian politics rather shows that realpolitik is nothing more than varnish. The only winner is the Burmese regime itself.
Take, for example, the myth that India is a counterweight to China. Indian defense analysts claim that China has set a foot in the door in Burma over the past two decades. It installed military installations in Burma that are directed against India and exerts considerable influence on the Burmese regime and its strategic thinking. The uprising of the Burmese in 1988 gave states like China or Pakistan the opportunity to move closer to the Burmese generals.
For defense analysts - not just Indian - with their skewed perspective, the world is a geopolitical chess game. In doing so, they forget that the decision of the Indian government at the time to support the pro-democracy movement was by no means an ignorant “mistake”. This official attitude reflected the clear attitude of the Indian citizens to support the Burmese people.
The second myth that spurs the Indian Foreign Ministry to serve itself to the Burmese generals is the following argument: With Burmese help, India could massively reduce the arms and drug smuggling that is fueling the uprisings in the Indian northeast. However, this presupposes that the Burmese junta is both willing and able to control the activities of Burmese drug smugglers along the border and militant Indian ethnic groups. As for drug smuggling from Burma, there is indeed cause for concern: groups close to the Burmese regime are benefiting directly from the trafficking.
With its current policy, the Indian government has not achieved any of its strategic goals with regard to Burma. Instead, India has alienated itself from the Burmese pro-democracy movement and millions of Burmese supporters around the world. There are sections of the Indian population who do not care or are ignorant of their government's policy towards Burma. But your silence is by no means an agreement.
India is a democracy not because our elite politicians, bureaucrats and “defense analysts” will so good-naturedly, but in spite of these people. Another reason is the strong aversion of the Indian people to any kind of dictatorship. It is high time the Indian government respected the feelings of its constituents and stopped abusing the term “national interest” to support the Burmese military dictators.
As for the Burmese people, the world's (conscious) inability to face the brutal Burmese rulers shows that the Burmese will ultimately have to rely on their own strength to achieve democracy.
The people of the world will of course support them as best they can. On the other hand, it is unrealistic to expect that the governments of the world will help to overthrow the Burmese military regime. To expect this would be as unrealistic as hoping that the regime would resign on its own. The struggle must go on, there is no alternative.
Source: Source: ZNet Germany from October 16, 2007. Original article: Global Hypocrisy on Burma. Translated by: Andrea Noll.
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