World attention is focused on Rangoon and the
trial there of Burmese opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi and a man who
appears to be responsible for her appearance in court - the American
intruder John W Yettaw.
John W Yettaw
Exiled Burmese and Mrs Suu Kyi's colleagues accuse Mr Yettaw of
recklessness and plain stupidity. Her lawyer has called the American "a
Mr Yettaw is by no means the only fool in this bizarre affair,
however. Consider for a moment the question: who is behind the affair,
and why did junta leader Senior General Than Shwe dare to go this far?
Gen Than Shwe, it must be remembered, was implicated in the Depayin
massacre in 2003, when Mrs Suu Kyi's motorcade was attacked by
pro-regime thugs. In September 2007, he was again implicated in the
killing of monks and activists who peacefully took to the streets.
The September crackdown and subsequent arrests could not have occurred without Gen Than Shwe's approval.
Under Gen Than Shwe's command, Burmese army forces have been guilty
of countless crimes against ethnic minorities. The reports of forced
labour, conscription, extortion, torture and other human rights abuses
On this record, Gen Than Shwe is the one who should now be standing trial.
The general commits his crimes with impunity, in the knowledge that
previous protests quickly died away. The former psychological warfare
officer knows how to manipulate international opinion and is fully
aware of the meaning of global hypocrisy.
Perhaps Gen Than Shwe anticipated the short-lived outcry and outrage
that greeted his action against Mrs Suu Kyi. He was confident he could
get away with the preposterous charge that has now been brought against
her - knowing that his confidence could be placed in a company of fools.
They include hypocritical leaders in the West and Asia and officials
sitting comfortably in their UN offices in New York. They acted
swiftly, trotting out their customary condemnation of the regime - like
so many times in the past.
These people - not just Yettaw - should be nailed. The UN "special
envoys," including Ibrahim Gambari, even UN Secretary General Ban
Ki-moon himself, all those who put their name to statements hailing
Burma's "progress" and calling for a "new page" of national
reconciliation to be turned.
When these crackpots take the podium, don't they consider consequences of what they say?
Nail, too, their "partners in crime," who insisted all along that
the generals were just misunderstood men who were willing to cooperate
with the international community. These misguided experts, scholars,
diplomats and apologists - where are they hiding now?
Until Mrs Suu Kyi's arraignment in the prison court, they had been
loud enough, defending the regime's human rights record and belittling
Mrs Suu Kyi and her movement. The question of Aung San Suu Kyi's
relevance in Burmese politics crops up constantly in discussions I
participate in. Perhaps Gen Than Shwe has now shown those who doubt Mrs
Suu Kyi's relevance that she remains a force to be reckoned with.
Ironically, Gen Than Shwe has caused them to lose face, as they can no longer even justify a policy of engagement.
We have no shortage of fools - not only activists but also some
diplomats, government officials and self-appointed experts on Burma.
They talk nonsense on Burma - a Western ambassador recently told me:
"You'll all be going home after the 2010 election." What naive rubbish!
Instead of writing an open letter to Mrs Suu Kyi, British Prime
Minister Gordon Brown would do better to address large oil companies
like US-based Chevron, French Total, Malaysia's Petronas and South
Korea's Daewoo International Corp, which do so much to prop up Gen Than
Shwe and his regime. US President Barack Obama and French President
Nicolas Sarkozy could offer moral support by wiring letters to the
leaders of China, India, Russia and Thailand, countries which are among
the principal backers of the regime. The truth is that Gen Than Shwe is
still in the driver's seat. Asean, the UN, China, and the rest of the
world are again just reacting to Gen Than Shwe's latest dirty trick.
All the statements of support for Mrs Suu Kyi and condemnation of her
tormentors will soon evaporate into thin air. Global outrage will then
turn into global hypocrisy.