Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Leaked Document Reveals Burma’s US Policy

The Irrawaddy News

Burma’s military leaders know they cannot stand alone in the world, but will react according to each situation with a view to balancing their relations with the world’s superpowers, said Home Affairs Minister Maj-Gen Maung Oo at a meeting of his ministers in July.

According to a confidential document acquired recently by The Irrawaddy detailing the minutes of a July 6 meeting, Home Ministry officials were briefed on relations with the United States, China and Indonesia, as well as the junta’s policy toward the 2010 elections, the National League for Democracy (NLD) and how the junta would react to future demonstrations.

According to the leaked minutes of the meeting, Maj-Gen Maung Oo told Home Ministry officials that in reaction to the global influence of the US and the West, Burma would continue to pursue “strong relations” with China, but that didn't mean that the junta was pro-Beijing. “In the modern world, we cannot stand alone,” Maung Oo reportedly said.

The leaked document also revealed that the regime plans to deploy riot police in the event of future protests or civil unrest.

“The international community criticized us for using the armed forces to crack down on [last September’s] demonstrators,” the home minister is quoted as saying. “Therefore we need to reorganize our riot police.”

He also warned officials to be prepared for the coming elections in 2010.

On foreign policy, Maung Oo criticized the US for “using humanitarian issues and democracy as a policy to overthrow governments that it disliked.”

Maung Oo slammed the US for using the UN and the “Responsibility to Protect” paradigm as part of an agenda to accuse the Burmese government of “Crimes against Humanity.” He also said the UN and associate international non-governmental organizations (INGOs) were “puppets” of the US and the CIA.

According to the minutes of the meeting, Maung Oo forewarned his subordinates of the possibility of a third UN Security Council resolution on Burma and subsequent economic sanctions and an embargo.

“In the event of a third presidential statement,” Maung Oo said. “There could be a resolution that the 192 members of the UN will have to follow—led by the US.”

According to the 14-page document, Maung Oo went on to accuse the US, the UN and INGOs of pushing Burma to the top of their agendas. On the Cyclone Nargis disaster, the home minister accused US relief items of providing aid to the victims “just for show” and said the US only delivered drinking water, instant noodles and medicine.

The minister is reported to have accused international aid agencies of spending humanitarian aid money on themselves and not on the cyclone victims.

We told them to send construction materials instead of instant food,” Maung Oo continued. “But nobody did.”

He also expressed the regime's skepticism and resentment that aid was not delivered through government channels, so the authorities could not see what was being delivered.

Regarding the US naval ships’ inability to deliver aid to cyclone survivors in the Irrawaddy delta, Maung Oo is reported as saying that the Burmese junta denied the request because the regime believed the US military would find an excuse not to leave until after the 2010 elections.

He also pointed out that although the Burmese government calculated that about US $11.7 billion was needed in relief after Cyclone Nargis, the Tripartite Core Group—comprising the UN, Asean and the Burmese regime—only approved about $0.9 billion in aid, which was 12 times the difference of the junta’s calculations.

The ministry’s minutes of the July 6 meeting also make reference to the opposition National League for Democracy (NLD). Maung Oo reportedly said the regime was “not scared” of the opposition winning the election, but said that they would have to be careful because the party was backed by the US, British and French embassies.

According to the leaked document, the home minister also referred to the diplomatic standoff between Burma and Indonesia. He reportedly confirmed that there were currently no relations between the two countries at an ambassadorial level and that the first step was for the Indonesian parliament to endorse Burma's ambassador to Jakarta.

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