Fri 15 Jun 2007
Filed under: Inside Burma,News
A state-run daily newspaper in Burma oÂn Friday attacked the Washington, DC-based National Endowment for Democracy for inciting civil unrest in the country and planning to control UN agencies and international non-governmental organizations behind the scenes.
â€œNED is ploying a strategic way to isolate Myanmar [Burma] politically and economically, and to get the international community to put pressure oÂn the country,â€ according to an article titled â€œIt Is Not Too Late to Mend,â€ in The New Light of Myanmar oÂn Friday.
â€œNED is conspiring various schemes to incite civil unrest in the nation,â€ the article said. â€œIts wicked schemes include controlling INGOs from behind the scenes, helping operate direct-controlled organizations, persuading international figures and giving operational assignments to the hand-picked persons.â€
â€œIt is not true,â€ Brain Joseph, director of South and Southeast Asia for the NED, told The Irrawaddy by phone oÂn Friday. â€œThe endowment’s support for democracy in Burma is very well known and publicly understood, and that we are very proud of supporting democratization in Burma, and it’s not behind the scenes and not geared toward inciting civil unrest.â€
He added: â€œWe have no policy position oÂn how the UN agencies operate inside Burma, and the same goes for international organizations.â€
The NED was established in 1983 as a private, nonprofit organization â€œto strengthen democratic institutions around the world through nongovernmental efforts,â€ according to the group’s Web site, and that â€œdemocracy cannot be achieved through a single election and need not be based upon the model of the United States or any other particular country. Rather, it evolves according to the needs and traditions of diverse political cultures.â€
The junta’s attack oÂn the NED follows a familiar pattern in state media of accusing Western democracies of trying to colonize Burma by imposing their own ideologies.
For many years, the endowment has provided assistance to Burmese organizations, including The Irrawaddy magazine, â€œto promote human rights, the rule of law, independent media and a strong civil society,â€ which have been absent under Burma’s military dictatorship for more than four decades.
The US has maintained strict economic sanctions against Burma since 1997, and the country was labeled as an â€œoutpost of tyrannyâ€ by US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice in 2005.