Monday, March 10, 2008
GAMBARI IN BURMA, DAY THREE
urma's military controlled broadcaster (there is no other kind), "MRTV-3 International" covers the third day of UN envoy Ibrahim Gambari's current mission, in which he attempts to promote the values of inclusion, fairness and international norms to the junta in their conduct of the constitutional referendum process. It was another day of rejecting all his concerns and suggestions, on the basis of "national sovereignty."
In the first short clip, he is shown meeting with representatives of political and ethnic groups, and no relevant information is offered in this "state journalism." His important meeting on Saturday with members of the National League for Democracy is simply thrown in together with these other groups, including the Union Solidarity and Development Association -- the junta-sponsored civilian militia which joined in the violence against the people and monks last September. The USDA is also responsible for ambushing Aung San Suu Kyi's motor convoy in May 2003 at Depayin, in north central Burma, which was a bloody massacre with hundreds of casualties. The junta hopes to convert the USDA into a political party, and the group has apparently been given broad authority in conducting the referendum in May.
There is a brief view of his meeting with Aung San Suu Kyi, also on Saturday.
The next clip comprises most of what was the second propaganda rant in two days. Here Gambari is shown meeting members of the "Referendum Convening Commission" while the news reader delivers the junta's absolute rejection of the envoy's appeals to abide by international norms. The lies are flying thick and fast here, especially in the depiction of NLD's untenable position early in the constitutional process. The regime had done everything possible to marginalize and minimize NLD input until it was impossible for them to continue with the charade. There was nothing democratic about the Constitutional Drafting Committee's work, controlled as it was by the junta itself.
Also, notice that when Mr. Gambari inquires about the "measures being taken against those who criticize the draft constitution," he is again blatantly lied to, and is told that no such thing ever happened. As reported here last week, even off-handed comments about supporting NLD, made by some car brokers to USDA members, has resulted in the three people being hauled off to jail.
Excuses are given for the authorities' rejection of the standard practice of having international independent observers during the referendum. It will be a certainty that Mr. Gambari's own words have been twisted and spun to the authorities' liking. I chopped out about 4 minutes of fluff from the first half, to get it under the YouTube limit.
Mr. Gambari hasn't had a single success during this current mission; every suggestion for improvement he offered was rejected outright. He was insulted and blasted for "bias" by the Information Minister, and lambasted at length in the state controlled press. The regime will stick to its guns (in every conceivable sense), ensuring that no outsiders will be present to witness the referendum farce, or any atrocities which will be committed upon the population if things get ugly. In essence they are telling Gambari, and by extension the UN and the rest of the world, that it's their sovereign right to screw over their people any way they see fit.
Gambari was scheduled to leave on Sunday, but it's just come over the wires that he will depart this evening. He held further meetings with diplomats this morning, and had another session with Burma's Information Minister, (a Comical Ali clone who denied any popular protests last year, but then said they were "trivial"). Gambari had a second meeting with Aung San Suu Kyi within the past couple of hours. I expect he knows that he won't be back.