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ျပည္သူေတြဆီမွာ လြတ္လပ္မႈနဲ႔ တန္းတူညီမွ်မႈ အရင္ဆံုး ရွိေနမွ ဒီမိုိကေရစီ စံႏႈန္းရွိတာ ျဖစ္ပါတယ္။

Indonesia’s ‘credibility to play role’ in Myanmar transition

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Indonesia’s ‘credibility to play role’ in Myanmar transition

Lilian Budianto ,  The Jakarta Post   |  Wed, 04/14/2010 10:51 AM  |  World

A number of observers have suggested that initiatives to encourage Myanmar’s military junta to hand over power to civilians include guaranteeing that they will not be prosecuted after stepping down. The Jakarta Post’s Lilian Budianto talks about the issue with the president of Washington-based National Endowment for Democracy, Carl Gershman, currently in Jakarta for the 6th symposium of the “World Movement for Democracy”. Gershman also said Indonesia could play a significant role in Myanmar’s transition to democracy. Below are excerpts of the interview:

Question: Does providing guarantee that Myanmar’s generals will be free from prosecution after they are not in power help lead to transition to democracy?

Answer: Yes, the generals in Myanmar want to know that they have a future after they are no longer in power.

They want some compromise. Just like in Indonesia; the military was moved out of politics but they retain some influence here.

In South Africa, (in the aftermath of apartheid system), not everybody was punished. Some peopleneed to be punished, such as those who committed crimes against humanity.

There are different levels of crimes but it is important to limit vengeance and retribution because if you go too far, you will destabilize the democratic transition.

Former rulers will fight and so you must find the middle ground. It is hard. Human rights activists sometimes are more interested in retribution than finding the middle ground because it involves compromise. You have to find a balance.

Is it acceptable for the international community to allow perpetrators of human rights crimes to walk free?

It will need compromise and constitutional reforms factoring in how to include the minority and how much power to give to the military (after the end of dictatorship). In Chile in 1989, you had (president Augusto) Pinochet out of office but the military had some influence afterward. In Poland in 1989, some radical activists were against some guarantees that were given to communists. But compromises are sometimes necessary.

You must deal with the past, which can arise in different ways.

What role can Indonesia play in Myanmar?

Indonesia has the authority and credibility to play a role in the transition of Burma considering that it is the largest country in Southeast Asia. It is a democracy ruled by the former military general. Indonesia has the authority to enter Burma more than we do. Indonesia believes in quiet diplomacy.

President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono is a sophisticated man. He doesn’t believe in imposing the will of Indonesia on Burma. Indonesia believes in a quiet diplomacy. He can use that to encourage a change in Burma, Indochina as well. Indonesia has a role to play beyond his border. We are engaging with Indonesia to spread democracy.

The relation between Indonesia and the US is one of the most important relations we have in the world in terms of democracy development. We have difficult relations with authoritarian countries. We must look together for a change to work together in Burma. It is important for the US to work with Indonesia on Burma.

What can push change in Myanmar?

Domestic drive. International push can only provide some aid but the drive has to come from within.

But the domestic factor is too weak?

It is not that the domestic factor is too weak but the military regime is too severe.

You have thousands of people who took to the streets in 2007 for revolutions, but they were repressed. One thing that was different in Burma: In the 1988 uprising, 3,000 people were killed while in the 2007 uprising, 100 were killed. There is space for a democratic voice in Burma.

What options does it have to lead to change?

It is possible that the people, like in the Philippines, have a non-violent revolution. However, that is not possible in Burma.

Indonesia has to play a role. The Indonesian President is from the military. He can show the Burmese that it is possible to make a transition to democracy and you have to pressure them but also enable them see that there is a future. Dictators tend to be very nervous because they committed crimes and are afraid the people will seek revenge.

Written by Lwin Aung Soe

April 14, 2010 at 6:09 pm

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