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Burma: Giving real hopes or Broken Promises

Burma military regime shed its army uniform and came out as a civilian government has been watched by its people and the world with skepticism. The new, so called, civilian government led by former general U Thein Sein made two unexpected moves that thrilled the nation with joy and hope. One was meeting between U Thein Sein and the opposition democracy icon Aung San Suu Kyi and the other was to halt the controversial Myitsone Dam project during his five years term. Those two moves alone cannot sway away the suspicious mind towards the regime. There is no doubt that U Thein Sein government gives a new hope to the Burmese people who are waiting for real change but their hope will be evaporated if the government does not released political prisoners at the end of this year.

Previous successive military regimes used political prisoners as hostages as well as their bargaining chips. They used UN special envoy Razali Ismail by releasing ten to twenty political prisoners every time before he visited Burma as a positive move for change but the regime never released prominent and well known politicians and activist leaders finally led Razali Ismail failure on his mission for dialogue between the regime and the democratic opposition. The international governments, Burmese political parties and the United Nations have been demanding the release of political prisoners since day one when Thein Sein took the position as the President because releasing political prisoners is the main issue in proving for the genuine change. But the regime did not release them yet.

The Pyithu Hluttaw made a motion to release political prisoners and was endorsed by majority of the elected MPs and the army’s representatives, which make everyone caught by surprise. The Chair of the A Myo Thar Hluttaw (lower house), U Shwe Mahn told the visiting Norwegian Deputy Foreign Minister recently that the political prisoners will be released within days. If U Shwe Mahn really meant what he said, it would be the greatest positive news that the world yearned to hear but if he made a joke about it, the credibility of the new administration would lost again and Burma would go back to a square one.

Under General Ne Win rule, Burmese army transformed from the peoples’ army to a “Military is for the Military(Generals)” motto. The new breed of Burmese generals only knows how to use their power to gain wealth and higher promotion, not for the people at all. This kind of new trend led Burma into a slave nation under military boots. The pride and dignity of the Burmese army has been degraded for many years now, which is such a shame to our generation. Generals used to lie to its people and to the world, honor, pride and sacrifices are not in their sense of the military generals.

Shwe Mahn is from the new breed but if he tells the truth about releasing political prisoners within days, Burmese will see the genuine change soon. If nothing happens within a week, we must realize that the new regime is using the same old tricks, as ever, buying time and torturing the political prisoners mentally, breaking their spirits and hope into pieces. Without releasing all political prisoners there will be no genuine change. Burmese democratic forces need to set a bench mark for finding out whether it is a real change or not by setting up maximum waiting period to the end of the year 2011. After that, if there is no indication of releasing our comrades from various prisons, we all need to decide which path we have to choose. Even though if Daw Aung San Suu Kyi does not support the mass uprising because of her delicate situation she has been facing nowadays. Why not take our own path like in 1988? It is our duty to stand up for similar nationwide movement, that can shake the world again.

Htun Aung Gyaw

October 10, 2011

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