Japanese Aid to Burma Only Adds to Confusion
By U Sein Friday, April 9, 2004

August 23, 2001—The news of the Japanese Government’s aid of ฅ3.5 billion (US $28 million) for the Lawpita hydropower plant renovation in Kayah (Karenni) State in Burma was very surprising news for Burmese democracy groups and the international community. The current situation of Burma’s political crisis is really critical and confusing. On one side is the powerful military junta, which never cares about violations of rights. On the other are the democracy groups and their international circle of sympathizers. Where the Japanese Government stands is not so clear. Those who can’t refuse to help others are noble; but is giving a gun to a bloodthirsty killer really helping? We understand and follow the saying "be generous to your enemy", which is a principle advocated by Daw Aung San Su Kyi, the leader of the National League for Democracy (NLD). Though we know we should follow this rule, it is very difficult to forgive the violations and perpetrations of the junta. During the 1988 democracy uprising in Burma, unarmed students, monks and other protesters were killed in the thousands by the Burmese army. Some of these prominent events are coming back in sight as some of the records and documents have become published, but not all. In these documents, it is shown that some of the students fell down bloody on the roads of central Rangoon wounded in the head, chest, back and other organs. Knives labeled "Made in Burma" did not make these wounds. The Burmese army used G-3 and G-4 guns, which were made from technology imported from Germany. Similarly, the Burmese army was transported from the countryside to the human killing fields of central Rangoon by Hino trucks. These Hino TE-11.6 ton and Ranger-3 ton trucks were assembled using "Made in Japan" technology and machinery. The Hino trucks can very clearly be seen in the background of some of the photographs that record the 1988 massacre. Discriminating between sweet and foul smells, the German Government avoided the foul smell of Burma’s junta after 1988. Why can’t the Japanese Government take a similarly decisive stance? The Japanese Government continues to reward the junta, instead of using a pattern of rewards and punishments, as is usually done with an internationally condemned military junta. Without any good results in the dialogue process, why do they want to offer rewards to the junta? Such rewards can have a negative effect on the dialogue process. There is nothing to say about China, which is supporting the junta, because it isn’t a democratic country. But why does Japan, which is a powerful Asian democratic country, not act any differently than China? The Japanese people, government and labour unions should know the following events happening inside Burma: First: For security reasons, the Burmese junta laid ten to fifteen thousand landmines in the area of the Lawpita power plant. The villagers near the plant are suffering as a result of the junta’s army and their arms. But does the well-wishing Japanese Government have any plans to supply electric power to the villagers in these areas? Second: For security reasons, the military headquarters, military bases, military units and detachments all over the country have privileged access to electric power. They are using electric power not only as household power but also as industrial power in the above mentioned army compounds. Though it is very difficult for private businesses to get electric power, it is very easy for army authorities in every township. Third: In every kind of business, you normally get a bigger discount if you buy or use more of a service or product. Contrary to this principle, under the current regime in Burma, if you use more electric power, the unit price goes up. Is the Japanese Government ready to work together with the military junta under such a disordered system? Fourth: Under the current "VIP" system in Burma, the homes of generals, ministers, division and township officials, and all senior administrative military officers receive electricity free of charge. Will the Japanese Government help to eliminate such a system in Burma? When can we look at the electric power bills of houses belonging to VIPs in their Electric Power Corporation (EPC) Township account offices? Electric Power could bring prosperity to the people of Burma. However, not only electricity, but also all other resources are useless to the people unless we dismiss the ruling junta’s system. In this case, it is necessary to consider the speech of Daw Aung San Su Kyi, who is selfless in her fight to implement democracy in Burma. In answering a question concerning the current state of education in Burma, she said that the destitution of the education of youth is not caused by the lack of school buildings; it is because of the deterioration of the education system under the ruling junta.

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