Opinion: Asian Countries Need to Stand Up to Myanmar's Junta

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The UN Security Council issued a benign statement of concern over Myanmar’s violent crackdown against peaceful protestors. Asian countries need to step forward and strongly condemn the regime.

By Klaus Dahmann – Pinning hopes on the United Nations Security Council is often pointless. Once again, the council has left the impression that when its authority is needed the most, the highest UN committee remains divided. What sounds good on paper–the task of protecting world peace–has proved in practice to once again be a sham. Myanmar is the most recent example of this.

During the Cold War there were two great powers–the United States and the Soviet Union–which mutually blocked each other on principle. Nowadays, individual interests can water down toughly-worded draft resolutions. The United States has on several occasions prevented a condemnation of Israel’s use of force in the Middle East. Russia’s support of Serbia has pushed a solution to the future of Kosovo far into the future. And now it is China’s “no” that has stopped harsher action to be taken against the junta in Myanmar.

The powerful 15-member council has too often proved to be a toothless tiger. That has something to do with the fact that, with the end of the East-West conflict, the threat scenario has changed radically. The former superpowers are no longer conducting proxy wars against each other in Korea, Vietnam or Afghanistan. Instead, criminal power-hungry politicians who spark local wars, have taken their place. The Security Council then duly notes that the UN may not interfere with a country’s “internal affairs.” That’s what China’s doing in Myanmar — one really can’t speak of a “threat to world peace,” a situation for which the UN Security Council was created, says Beijing.

And that is wrong. The issue is no longer an “internal affair” when a regime, such as the one in Myanmar, uses armed force against peaceful demonstrators, or when it arrests protesting citizens, or when it does not shy away from murder. Then it becomes an issue of defending basic human rights. As the recent days have shown, doing nothing only encourages the generals to use still more force against the demonstrators.

Those who should care the most about the crisis in Myanmar — China and India — have long kept silent about these human rights violations. China, with the Olympics looming, should have every reason to want to present itself as a democratic “Mr. Clean” as does India, which prides itself on being the “world’s largest democracy.” But China and India don’t want to endanger their economic interests in Myanmar, a country rich in raw materials. Now, they have joined other Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) countries in finally issuing a statement on events in Myanmar –but it comes late and is not enough.

It’s necessary to put more pressure on the junta in Myanmar, pressure and the ASEAN states chiefly must be the ones to apply it. Having a cruel, unjust regime in their neighbourhood is a latent risk that also threatens ASEAN security. And a democracy there would be a positive thing for their economic interests. In the long run, ASEAN and not the UN must prove to be a functional organization in the Myanmar case.

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3 Responses to Opinion: Asian Countries Need to Stand Up to Myanmar's Junta

  • Pian says:

    TO ALL
    I know this to be out of place. Please bear with me. I just want to create awareness by choosing the busy forum or the latest.
    Do consider Dr. Martin Bautista for the next elections obviously (a senatorial candidate of ‘Ang Kapatiran’ together with Adrian Sison and Zosimo Paredes). He’s a 45-year-old gastroenterologist in the US who came home after 17 years. You can see from his background that he truly means service. For those who find him to be a hypocrite for working abroad, do understand he’s a family man who needs to sustain his family, that he will be able to keep his independence by not relying on public funds to support his family. He helps his countrymen in his capacity but it’s just not enough for there are millions of Filipinos. It’s a good start in Philippine Politics to have him and his party around.
    I urge you to forward/text/inform all your contacts about them. I believe they only lack exposure that’s why I’m doing this. But I can’t do it alone so I’m appealing to everyone’s help. If all will inform their contacts about them and urge them as well to forward, we might hit a million.
    We cannot afford to be indifferent now if we want meaningful change. Otherwise we only have ourselves to blame. BUT TOGETHER WE CAN MAKE A DIFFERENCE.

  • Danny Arce says:

    If these people you are referring to belongs to
    the category of loyal, honest, and peace loving
    you can assure me that I go with you. See what
    happened now is, almost all our politicians are
    doing nothing just accusing one another. You can never hear anything new for the countries
    improvement. Although GMA is doing good, yet
    they alway criticized her. She is much more better president than any body else. But it would be much better if there is someone who is not prone to self interest and power greed.

  • ej 23 says:

    Pian,

    Do they have a web site? or Does Ang Kapatiran has a web site.

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