Burma. According to CountryAAH, major public holidays in Myanmar include Independence Day (January 4) and New Year (January 1). UN envoy Razali Ismail resigned in January after not having been granted a visa to Burma in almost two years. He had urged the outside world to subject the undemocratic military junta to stronger pressure. Nigerian UN diplomat Ibrahim Gambari was later allowed to meet isolated opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi on two occasions. But despite receiving a visit from a foreigner for the first time in a couple of years, the junta in May extended her house arrest by another year. The same fate hit her party mate Tin Oo. Similarly, the junta continued to arrest and imprison opposition activists.
In October, the long-standing negotiations for a new constitution were resumed. The delegates are handpicked by the junta and the goal of the talks is to give the military a permanent grip on political power.
In the autumn, the UN Security Council raised the situation in Burma for debate, which means that the repression in the country is gaining more international attention. In April it was reported that the army had launched an offensive against the Kareen minority people. According to human rights groups, around 2,700 villages in eastern Burma were destroyed and up to 11,000 people were displaced. The Karen people are one of the few ethnic minorities that still opposes armed resistance to the regime, since most other ethnic groups have been forced to submit. The army offensive was described as the toughest in nine years.
There are a few gaps in the isolation of Burma. The President of India came on official visit in March and signed an agreement on the purchase of natural gas. A gas pipeline will be built to northeast India, possibly via Bangladesh. A diplomatic success for Burma was also that the think tank Financial Action Task Force praised the regime for its progress in the fight against money laundering.
The government’s political harassment did not subside in the following months. During a celebration of the Armed Forces in March 2000, Than Shwe declared that the opposition would be “eliminated” if it threatened “the stability of the country”. At the same time, Than Shwe called for national unity and for the partisans fighting at the border to sign a ceasefire agreement “and quickly joined the army”.
A demonstration against the military junta led to Suu Kyi and several members of her party being placed under house arrest. International protests prompted the military government to deny that this move had been taken. Instead, it stated that political leaders had “asked for permission to stay in their homes” while allegations of terrorism in the opposition party were being investigated. After a few weeks, the military in September lifted restrictions on Suu Kyi and reopened the phones to her home.
The head of intelligence, Major Khin Nyunt, visited Thailand in September 2001, which he declared was an improvement in bilateral conditions. He also stated that Burma’s fight against drugs would remove the country from the so-called “Golden Triangle” by 2005. At the beginning of the year, Burmese and Thai troops clashed at the border, and the two countries had mutually accused each other of supporting the Shan militia, there is a producer of opium. By May, however, the relationship had improved as a result of a growing number of North American Special Forces, whose stated purpose was to train Thai forces in the fight against drugs.
Since the university has been closed since 1988 in an effort to prevent demonstrations facing the government, doctors and other highly educated have not been trained since. The number of Burmese people has therefore reached 1 million. and child mortality has reached 33%. Western sources claim that the country’s soldiers are no longer paid in money but in drugs, and that the country’s main source of income is the illegal sale of opium.
In November 2001, Chinese President Jiang Zemin visited the country – the first Chinese state visit since the junta’s takeover of power. In January 2002, the junta announced that it would start building a nuclear power plant with support from Russia. The US and the EU maintained that they would not raise economic sanctions against the country until there were certain signs of a democratization process.
After 19 months in uninterrupted house arrest, Suu Kyi was released on May 6 and again allowed to participate in political activities, which was interpreted as the beginning of a democratic opening. The UN intervened as a mediator and proposed as immediate steps the release of the country’s estimated 1500-2000 political prisoners. The US perceived the opening as a result of the many years of embargo that had a major impact on tourism and the country’s trade in oil, gas, timber and minerals. But the junta apparently did not believe that its opening was offset from abroad, and in April 2003 the EU decided to extend its austerity towards the country. In May 2003, therefore, the junta again tightened its course against the opposition: Suu Kyi was detained and put in so-called “security detention” indefinitely. At the same time, an NLD cortege was attacked, at least 4 were killed and 130 disappeared. In July, 13 human rights activists were detained after handing a complaint to authorities over the events in May. Amnesty International expressed its dismay that the detainees were subjected to torture and mistreatment by security forces.
A report by the United Nations Human Rights Commission in December 2003 criticized the circumstances of the Special Rapporteur’s visit to Myanmar in March 2003, where evidence was found of eavesdropping on the reporter’s conversations with inmates at the Insein prison. In its report, the Commission condemned the occurrence of executions, the soldiers’ sexual assaults, the constant use of torture, the detention of political causes, the confiscation of land and the use of children for forced labor for the military. It also criticized the lack of freedom for assembly, association, utterance and movement. Young people, especially young women under 25, are not allowed to leave the country. At the same time, the Commission called on the government to set up an independent judiciary, reinstate democracy and approve the election results of 1990.