Wednesday, March 12, 2008
GAMBARI IN BURMA, DAY FIVE
his final day in Burma (Monday), UN envoy Ibrahim Gambari was given a rousing send-off by the darkly comical Information Minister, Brigadeer General Kyaw Hsan ("There were no popular mass protests in Rangoon last September, merely a trivial matter trumped up by meddling foreigners.")
But first we'll take a look at the more important meeting he had on Monday, included in this short clip. Following an after-business "tea party" with the Burmese "Comical Ali" and his "Spokes Authority Fifteen," Gambari is shown meeting foreign diplomatic officials, and then his second meeting with Daw Aung San Suu Kyi. Junta television "MRTV-3 International" was more generous with her on this occasion, showing her image for a full five seconds this time -- about double the normal allocation of valuable air time.
The meeting with "Spokes Authority Fifteen" shows Brig-Gen Kyaw Hsan giving his summation of the visit, as the news reader delivers his speech. Gambari is depicted as giving glowing praise to the junta authorities and thanking them profusely. I'm anxious to see how this squares with his report to the UN Secretary General.
The Brig-Gen is the guy in uniform (his name sounds like "Jo Seh"), and the stern-faced fellow with glasses and white shirt next to him is Foreign Minister Nyan Win. Gambari is thanked for his "constructive suggestions" which the regime has accepted as much as possible -- which is to say, not at all. The lies are thick here, with assurances that those people "antagonistic to the government" have the full rights to campaign and vote freely, even as people are jailed for off-handed public comments against the proposed constitution.
Reminding Gambari of that which had enraged the generals following his previous visit, and for which he was roundly chastised in their meeting on Friday (as well as blasted at length in the state press), the general expressed their anticipation of his "constructive reporting when you arrive back home." That was a warning.
Gambari's reporting in November was deeply embarrassing for the regime, as any truth-telling would be. His act of carrying out Aung San Suu Kyi's statement, and releasing it upon arrival in Singapore, was a central focus of their furious denunciation last week. Senior Thug Than Shwe has continued to refuse to see him. Few people expect him to return. The UN's role in trying to moderate this despicable regime and their "roadmap" for cementing their supremacy in perpetuity, has reached its end.
It's up to the Security Council now, and for anything at all to be accomplished, China will need to come under very strong pressure to stop defending and protecting these totalitarian monk killers. A complete international arms embargo would be a good start. But while China itself is at this moment beating up Tibetan Buddhist monks for peaceful protest, the outlook for action on Burma is not hopeful at the UNSC.