Gambari misled UNSC: 88 generation students
March 26, 2008
New Delhi – A Burmese pro-democracy activist group, calling on the people to prepare for the worst in ‘confronting’ the junta, today said the UN special envoy to Burma has deviated from his primary objective.
The 88 generation students, in a joint statement released today with the All Burma Monks’ Alliance (ABMA), accused UN special envoy to Burma Ibrahim Gambari, whose mission it is to facilitate political reform through dialogue between the junta and opposition groups, of siding with the junta’s unilateral approach aimed at legitimizing its continued rule.
The group said Gambari misled the UN Security Council during his recent briefing in New York. Despite hoping that Gambari would urge the Security Council to strengthen the Secretary-General’s mandate, 88 generation and the ABMA instead argue he showed signs of support for the junta’s plans.
“From the perspective of the people of Burma, he altered his mission from pressuring and persuading the military junta in Burma to create a credible process of constitution writing and engage in a meaningful and time-bound dialogue with our leader Daw Aung San Suu Kyi,” the statement read.
“Instead, it now appears he is supporting the one-sided acts of the military junta and suggesting that democracy forces surrender,” added the student activists.
While acknowledging that his latest trip to Burma yielded no tangible results, Gambari, on March 18, told the Security Council that his last visit should be assessed within the broader context of efforts over the past two years.
“Two years ago, there had been no dialogue with the authorities and, only six months ago, there had been no mechanism for promoting dialogue between the Government and Daw Aung San Suu Kyi,” Gambari had said, implying that his mission has produced a few results.
Soe Tun, one of the few members of 88 generation group who is still able to operate while hiding to avoid arrest, said, “What we want Gambari to do is to clearly see the situation in Burma and honestly admit that the junta cannot be engaged with this limited mandate and call for the UNSC to strengthen the Secretary-General’s mandate.”
Soe Tun, who spoke to Mizzima from his hiding place, said that with the UN’s impotency concerning the ruling junta, the people of Burma are left on their own in confronting the military regime.
“But we will not give up, we will continue with our struggle until we gain democracy,” said Soe Tun, adding that the group has called on the people to cast a ‘No’ vote in May’s upcoming referendum.
In resisting the perpetuation of military rule in Burma, 88 generation and the ABMA have concluded it is the best to vote ‘No’ against the junta’s draft constitution, which the junta expects to be approved in a referendum in May.
With the junta already announcing a penalty of at least three years detention for those who criticize or disturb the referendum process, 88 generation said the safest way for the people to demonstrate their true desire is to vote ‘No’.
“We are urging the people to express their dissent against the junta utilizing the safest means possible,” Soe Tun remarked, adding that by casting a ‘No’ vote the authorities cannot charge the people with a legal offense, whereas if the people abstain they may be construed as boycotting the poll which may in turn draw the ire of authorities and cause trouble for the people.
He went on to say that the group has initiated a campaign to raise awareness of the referendum and related issues among the population by clandestinely distributing VCDs of speeches and T-shirts that oppose the junta’s scheme.
Meanwhile, a few groups of activists who are clandestinely operating inside Burma said they are taking an extreme measure in opposing the junta, urging people to totally boycott the junta’s seven-step roadmap, including the referendum.
Soe Tun commented, “We welcome such moves, though we are not campaigning for that. We welcome any movement that opposes this dreadful military dictatorship.”
He added that with the ruling junta desperately wanting the people to vote in favor of the constitution, the junta could be aggressive in their campaign, possibly leading to violence and bloodshed.
“We are prepared to confront the worst. We are working for truth and justice, and we will prevail,” the students said.
“With or without the help of the UN Security Council, we are ready to determine our own future. Daw Aung San Suu Kyi recently told us to ‘hope for the best, prepare for the worst’.”