Article submitted by: James on 20-Jan-2012  
=== What\'s in the name TS? ===
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==> What's in the name TS?

Dear readers, progressive and conservative,

TS has gone, TS has risen. TS was obstructing progress, humanity,
criticism, democracy, freedom; TS is facilitating progress, criticism,
democracy, release of political prisoners. Well, criticism and
demonstrations are still only tolerated restrictively, democracy
hasn't been fully installed yet and by far not all political prisoners
have been released, but there finally are clear signs of reforms that
give hope to the Burmese people.

Since her release from detention ASSK has become more and more
politically involved again. The planned 4,000-megawatt coal-fire power
plant that was to be part of the $60 billion Dawei port and the
controversial $3.6 billion Chinese-funded hydroelectric Myitsone dam
project have been cancelled as the result of clear environmental
objections by the local people. Quite recently a ceasefire agreement
has been signed with the Karen ethnic minority group.

Now we are awaiting the results of the upcoming by-elections in April,
at which the initially (under TS) dissolved NLD is officially allowed
(under TS) to participate, with high expectations. It may not directly
have a significant political effect but the psychological effect may
be quite significant. The near future may finally be promising for the
Burmese people provided the current regime allows and continues more
similar reforms.

Astonishment

How has it been possible that one man, TS, could have obstructed
progress for such a long time, 19 years of his dominance? And how is
it possible that president TS, despite his military background, may
now rather unexpectedly induce such promising though still initial
developments? Is he sensitive to the economic sanctions and the
preconditions for relieving those? Might he be sensitive to the
foreign, international criticism on the dictatorial rule from
political and humanitarian organisations and HRAs? TS initially also
appeared to be more liberal than his predecessor SM, as he released
several political prisoners and started to relax the restrictions on
the democracy campaigner ASSK [1]. Will the reforms of TS be just
temparary too?

In any case the (Western) world has responded positively to the recent
political and social improvements, the EU plans to establish a mission
inside Burma and the US allegedly will restore top-level diplomatic
ties with Burma. In time the economic sanctions might be reduced or
lifted. How will a country like China respond to all that? We will
keep a close watch on the political and social developments in Burma.

Again how has it been possible that one man, TS, who could not bear to
hear or say "ASSK", could have obstructed progress for such a long
time, 19 years of his dominance? Were his subordinates too afraid of
him, did no one dare to resist him? Was TS regarded a powerful, but
paranoid, astrological magician who could instantly hypnotise, curse
or bewitch his subordinates? Did he have a certain (hierarchical)
authority over his subordinates? Did his subordinates, his fellow
generals, neither trust each other? Were they also afraid of each
other? Did everyone of them mainly cared for himself and not for
others?

Does TS still have influence currently? Is he still in power behind
the scenes? If so, does he approve the steps taken by TS? Did TS step
back by his own or has he been set aside by his subordinates, has
there been mutiny? Has he perhaps been convinced by his military
comrades to take another approach in ruling the country? Has he become
to weak physically or mentally? How is his health (diabetes)? Would he
once again pop up unexpectely and cruelly? Would he then stop and
abolish all reforms made? What is his current position and to what
extent does he still have power [2]?

Prosecution

Once possible should TS, and his military comrades, be charged with
and (fairly) prosecuted for severe human rights violations? Or will
there be an official reconciliation agreement within some time that
excludes prosecution of the junta? I think as long as there is no
agreement like that prosecution of the current and past junta remains
rightfully open as to be judged and desired by the Burmese people,
even if the current government itself would create the conditions that
would make prosecution possible. And I don't think there are physical
or mental obstacles for prosecuting TS presently.

Does the violent abuse of ethnic and religious minorities still take
place? From the news (in the foreign media) it is evident that it
still is going on [e.g. 3, 4, 5] despite TS's order to stop the war
against 'insurgents' [3]. Does that mean that the generals don't have
control over their subordinates? Does that mean that communication is
bad? Does that perhaps mean that the lower ranks are committing
mutiny, that they don't obey? Does that mean that there is a large
social and cultural gap between the military and the common people,
especially in rural and ethnic areas? Does the military spirit and
attitude have to be adapted? Would that need a complete redesign of
the military system and status (from inward directed to outward
directed)? Will that happen? Will there be improvements? Will there be
changes at all? Would the Burmese media once report of the abuse to
citizens committed by the Burmese soldiers next to about sabotage
committed by some minority members?

The absolute termination of the violent attacks of armed military to
unarmed, innocent people or institutions is an important precondition
if it comes to reconciliation and further reforms. As long as this
kind of repression is going on prosecution of the responsible people
is apparent and imminent; a general pardon is indisputable.

Praise

Now should the Burmese people (and we) be grateful to TS for the
positive developments that he started? I think yes and no. Of course
TS may be praised for what he already did and yet may do to facilitate
reforms. One may be quite content with that while expecting more of
the like. So TS might be encouraged to actually undertake more
reforms, to forbid torture of prisoners, to release more political
prisoners, to prevent the army from abusing the civil society, to
allow ASSK to carry out even more political activities and so on. Up
to the current extent one may be rather satisfied about TS and thank
him for what he (and the whole current government) already did and
might be expected to do yet.

But on the other hand what he already did is by far not enough to be
really grateful for. If he wants all credits he should continue to
implement reforms until all (about 2000) remaining political prisoners
have been released, until the army does not execute murder and abuse
anymore, until complete freedom of speech, press and demonstration has
been restored, until intimidation and repression has ended, until all
ethnic and religious minority groups have been recognised and
respected, until the economy will be boosted with money from the
personal richness of the military that they earned at the expense of
the society. Only then one might really give him the credits that he
deserves for what he may have done. It is the humanitarian an (denied)
legal right of the Burmese people to demand such integral reforms, it
is not a gift, it is their stolen property.

Besides TS (as a military) has been a part of the very repressive,
military dictatorship of TS an his junta for many years, supporting
all humanitarian crimes of TS. So at the moment there is insufficient
ground for respecting and praising TS at all. They (the current and
past military junta members) are all the same and ought to be judged.
The fact that TS now implements reforms is on itself quite surprising
and unexpected from someone who in the past has committed and
supported humanitarian crimes as well. So, despite what good reforms
he already introduced until now, one might not expect more of him like
that and he should not be trusted at all. He still is one of the
former junta members being in power illegally, one of the wolfs in
sheep's clothing being 'elected' after extremely rigged and fraudulent
elections. So he should not be praised and thanked at all, it is not
more than his duty to compensate for all past crimes. He still has to
prove he has really changed and desires justice for and reconciliation
with all people of Burma. He must be watched and judged.

Comparison

What is TS compared to TS? Well, TS, as the superior bully, has always
dominated the junta and PM TS was just one of his subordinates, one of
his puppets who had to give the junta a seemingly friendly face. TS
finally had to change his wolf's skin by a sheep's skin at the order
of TS whether he liked it or not. Is TS less responsible for the long
term repression and humanitarian crimes than TS or not? I think they
are equally responsible, even though only one of them pulled the
strings. TS voluntary fulfilled his tasks in the junta.

In any case it clearly appears that now captain TS has abandoned the
ship the new captain TS is sailing another course that captain TS
never would have chosen. So, after all they must have different goals.
Maybe TS has always wanted political and social reforms, but never yet
got the chance to realise his ideas. Now that he has inherited the
power from TS he can do as he likes, but even if he would want to do
so he can't induce changes immediately and drastically. There would be
too much resistance from other government members and maybe from TS
(as long as still capable) as well. So he may have to dose the
improvements carefully and gradually.

Let's give TS (and his government) the benefit of the doubt and the
time to show what he really wants and will accomplish. Let's also
watch TS closely to see how far his power still reaches and to see up
to what extent he still can ruin any reforms. Let's wish the NLD and
ASSK the best outcomes from the nearby by-elections and the
realisation of the henceforth consequences.

Specific references

1. "Than Shwe Explained"; http://everything.explained.at/Than_Shwe/

2. "Is Burma's Strongman Really Retiring?", Robert Horn, Time World,
11 April 2011;
http://www.time.com/time/world/article/0,8599,2064470,00.html

3. "Burma's Christian Civilians Attacked During Christmas", Compass
Direct News, 9 January 2012;
http://www.compassdirect.org/english/country/burma/article_
1339709.html

4. "Burma's military junta accused of torturing and killing ethnic
rebels", The Guardian, 18 December 2011;
http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2011/dec/18/burma-military-junta-
kachin-rebels

5. "Burma army kills two unarmed Kachin women", Kachin News, 11
January 2012; http://www.kachinnews.com/news/2206-burma-army-kills-
two-unarmed-kachin-women.html

General references.

A. "Myanmar's Gorbachev?", Joshua Hammer, The New Yorker, 14 January
2012; http://www.newyorker.com/online/blogs/newsdesk/2012/01/
myanmars-gorbachev.html

B. "A Case of Mistaken Priorities", Aung Zaw, Irrawaddy, 21 October
2011; http://www.irrawaddy.org/article.php?art_id=22305

C. "The Slow Thaw of Burma's Notorious Military Junta", Andrew
Marshall, Time World, 31 August 2011;
http://www.time.com/time/world/article/0,8599,2091229,00.html

James Russell Brownwood
James.Russell.Brownwood@Gmail.com
Justice Reforms Burma
http://jrburma.int.tf (@NLM archives, PGP public key)

Disclaimer: these views are entirely my own and unrelated to my
nationality, my home country and its political stances and they are
independent of and not contrary to my views on other similar events
and human rights violations elsewhere in the world.

The junta in 1990 appeared to fear prosecution and conviction for
humanitarian crimes. The junta obviously has been lying about the 1990
elections purpose. To avoid prosecution for crimes the junta increased
and intensified its humanitarian crimes. The junta implicitly has
admitted the NLD's victory in the 1990 elections. The NLD was right in
claiming its victory in 1990. The junta unjustly and treacherously
kept the NLD from taking over in 1990. What good can be expected from
the junta? By revealing the real truth Tin Aye stopped all
misunderstanding about the junta's real, bad intentions.
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