September 27: No action is more inhuman than the act of cutting off all humanitarian aid to and imposing economic sanctions on a country to cause hardship. In other words, it is the worst violation of human rights that can also be put down as economic terrorism. Moreover, it is an evil act bred by greed and injustice.

In this regard, all the decent eminent scholars of the world are against the acts of the US and its allies of the West imposing abhorable sanctions on Myanmar.

Concerning the matter, I will now recall an article titled ‘US needs to re-think planned sanctions against Burma’ by an economics professor of the Global Environment Bureau of New York’s Columbia University published in The Nation, Bangkok, on 1 August 2003.

The following is a rough recount of the article:

“The act of pushing the nations that are practising isolationism to close their door tighter will only harm the people and will be like warning the governments of those nations to fasten their control over their people. The US Senate and Congress decided to impose economic sanctions on Myanmar. The most distinctive economic sanction in the world was the one imposed on South Africa during the time the country was governed by minority Whites. The world nations stopped doing business with South Africa. Superficially, the sanctions seemed to work and helped accelerate the downfall of the White administration in the country. However, much of the loss that occurred due to the sanctions could not camouflage the big success they had achieved, because it is certain that there were alternative means to topple the White government.

“The failed economic plans of the authorities contributed to the economic difficulties of Cuba, but the US trade sanctions on the country since 1960 are also the culprit of the issue. The economy of Haiti fell drastically when the US imposed economic sanctions on it during the 1990s, with the
aim of setting up democracy in the nation. Iraq and North Korea also suffered from economic sanctions. The wounds inflicted by the sanctions on a country are obvious. But could they realize their aims? Economic sanctions alone cannot bring down a single-party system government.

Instead, that makes the government further tighten its grip over the country. Some of the hardship are the results of the government, but the sanctions offer it the opportunity to put all the blame on foreign countries for its own failures. Although sanctions hurt the economy and public health of the respective countries, they are not able to bring down a government. The sanctions cause internal instability and weaken the government and reduce its revenue. On the other hand, public provision of financial assistance to the opposition parties drops, the opposition parties are cut off from internal support, and the international watchdog’s activities in the country also diminish.

“It is easy to boycott Myanmar, but hard to make political changes there. Gradual shrinking of Myanmar’s economy and cornering her cannot bring political changes, instead they will intensify the suffering of the people. Although the powers that impose the sanctions say they do not mean to hurt the people, they also will not be exempt from responsibility for
creating the public suffering, a consequence of their actions.”

Similarly, Bridget Wells, an associate professor of Advanced International Relations Studies Department of Johns Hopkins University, wrote an article ‘Sanctions worsen Burmese poverty’ in the International Herald Tribute of 9 October 2003.

A brief account of the article is as follows:

“The US President’s act of signing legislation to impose sanctions on Myanmar is to protest the detention of the leader of the National League for Democracy. However, the sanctions will only prolong public suffering. The US policymakers are thinking that pressures on Myanmar military
leaders will lead to the release of Daw Aung San Suu Kyi and later towards flourishing of democracy in the nation. But it is a false assumption. Because leaders do not make democracy, only people do. Sadly, the people suffering hardship and facing insufficiency cannot lend support to the flourishing of democracy.

“Because of the new law on imposing sanctions on Myanmar, the country is likely to lose US $ 356 million in revenues and face dire consequences. Many garment factory workers will lose their jobs, and will have to find new areas for earning their living. The repercussions of the sanctions will reach every sector and part of the nation.”

Dr John Bashle, a long-time researcher of the US, David I Steinberg, a professor of Georgetown University, Dr Robert Taylor, a former British professor, U Kyaw Yin Hlaing, Associated Professor of Political Science, University of Singapore, and Morton Peterson, a senior critic of International Crisis Group took part in the talks on reviewing US-Myanmar relations held in Washington on 25 March 2004.

Dr Bashle said that he assumed that the Myanmar military junta is changing its attitude, that the US should act to serve its own interests instead of imposing sanctions on Myanmar; that US citizens do not wish to see unnecessary increase in the number of enemies because of its strategic interest; that the US should be aware of the fact that Myanmar’s neighbours are doing brisk business with Myanmar, while the US has no investments in the country.

U Kyaw Yin Hlaing said that sanctions do not work, and do not support Myanmar, but only worsens her plight; that it cannot be said the sanctions do not hurt the government, but they do hurt the people more; that if their relatives and friends are included in the victims of the sanctions, supporters of the sanctions will stop supporting them.

Steinberg said that the US government never acknowledges the good part of the Myanmar military junta, that the US has never officially acknowledged Myanmar’s effort to reduce cultivation of opium poppy, reaching of cease-fire agreements and building of infrastructures; that he disagreed with the argument of Senator Mitch MacConnel , adding that sanctions will not change the junta, that the US is isolating the junta instead of helping it to enhance its international relations and contacts, that as the successive US administrations are trying to promote relations with North Korea, they should also do so with Myanmar and that sanctions only hurt US interests.

Dr Taylor said that the military junta has changed a lot and is much different from its situation in 1988, that its political outlook has widened and its efficiency has increased, that it can now handle the situation and solve the problems, that it had made marked changes in administering the country despite difficulties, that it has the ability to solve the internal and international problems and to reach cease-fire agreements.

Peterson said that the military junta has become stronger than it was in the past, that it cannot be brought down with sanctions and that political parties are so weak to set up democracy. In conclusion, Dr Bashle said that all the speakers agreed that Myanmar would reconvene the National Convention and hold elections. Even when the global experts are opposing the sanctions, with sincere outlook, some internal elements are still trying to betray the national cause. They are like maggots in your own flesh.

Thus, its high time they realized the nation’s objective conditions and the Government’s national consolidation endeavours, and join hands with the people to build a democratic nation collectively, that is a historic duty, in accord with the Seven-point Road Map or future policy of the
State. The nation will continue to strive for the flourishing of policy of uprightness along with the global experts who oppose the sanctions.