Thursday 11 October 2007

BURMA- Protest against the Chinese Embassy

Invitation To Protest against the Embassy
of the People's Republic of China, Wellington,

March in Wellington to express solidarity with the ongoing peaceful demonstrations of monks, students and political activists against recent fuel price hikes, and ongoing Burmese struggle for democracy and human rights in Burma.

To request Chinese policy-makers to uphold international moral responsibilities in the global arena, especially to be polite and support democracy and human rights in Burma in line with the wishes of the people of Burma.

We, Burmese Democracy Advocates cordially invite all the people who support democracy and human rights living throughout New Zealand to join the Wellington March.

Programme Date: 15.Oct .2007 Monday
Time: 10:00 to 12:00 am
Place: 2-6 Glenmore Street, Kelburn, Wellington,
Postal Address: PO Box 17257, Karori, Wellington, New Zealand Country & Area Code: +64-4 Telephone: 4721382 Facsimile: 4990419 Emergency call: +64-21-528663

Contact Persons (1) Ko Naing Ko 021-121-8118 (2) Ko Sunny Tin Zaw Moe 09- 521-3627 (3) Ko Soe Thein-021- 163-071 (4) Ko Aung Pe Khin - 021- 170-4352 (5) Ko Ko Kyaw - 021-107-3962

Note: Buses are going to leave from Auckland at 6 pm on Sunday 14 Oct, 2007 and will depart from Wellington at 8 pm on Monday 15 Oct, 2007. Meeting points are: Zabuaye monastery in Auckland and the NZ parliament in Wellington respectively.

1 comment:

Joseph said...

Burma: the Politics of Economic Sanctions

Burma: the Politics of Economic Sanctions

Naing Ko Ko[1]


(1) Prof. Dr. Nakarin, Dean,

(2) Prof. Dr. Virot Ali, Assit-Dean,

Faculty of Politics Science

Thammasat University


Ever since the current military regime coup in 1988, Burma (Myanmar, has been ruled by the military junta which is presently known as the State Peace and Development Council-SPDC[2]. Most of Burmese political activists, lobbyists and pressure groups have claimed that the international political intervention to tri-partite dialogue is one of the ways of to liberate the people of Burma. Economic Sanctions Policy- ESP, itself as a tool, is most arguable political issues in not only in Burma but also among in the global political arena including Iran, Haiti, Cuba, North Korea, Libya, Syria and Iraq. Hence, I would like to demonstrate the politics of economic sanctions in Burma political procession by combining and illustrate pros and cons of some views of international policy-technocrats, key foreign policy-makers, and Barkley mafia entire the world.

Origin of Economic Sanctions Policy-ESPs towards Military regime

The root cause of ESP dealt with Burmese regime is a means to protect the restoration of democracy, human rights and civil liberties in Burma. After innocent civilian democracy demanders were brutally killed by the military regime, the US and Western democracies initially expressed "strongly condemn" occasionally. The symbolic imposition of European Council sanctions was adopted on 28 October 1996[3] by the European Parliament. The EU re-amends its sanctions against military junta each year. The EU's sanctions consists of visa ban to top military generals, arms embargo. The original economic sanctions started from the Clinton administration. On May 20, 1997, in response to the Burmese Government's large scale repression of and violence against the democratic opposition, President Clinton issued Executive Order No. 13047 declaring a national emergency with respect to Burma. The order, issued under the authority § 570(b) of the Foreign Operations, Export Financing and Related Programs Appropriations Act, 1997 (Public Law 104-208) (the "Act") and the International Emergency Economic Powers Act (50 U.S.C. 1701-1706) ("IEEPA"), prohibits new investment in Burma by U.S. persons, and their facilitation of new investment in Burma by foreign persons[4].

In August 1997, Canada removed Burma's Generalized System of Preference- GSP benefits. In addition, in January 2003, Burma was excluded from Canada's Least Development Country Market Access Initiative[5]

Not only EU, Canada and US government adopted arm embargo and economic sanctions against the military regime but also a super-national organization, the International Labour Organization-ILO had passed a special resolution adopted by the ILO Conference in June 2000, under article 33 of the ILO Constitution. It is the first time in the ILO's 81-year history that the Conference has had recourse to measures under article 33, a procedure that is designed to be invoked only in the event of a country failing to carry out the recommendations of an ILO Commission of Inquiry, which is itself a procedure reserved for grave and persistent violations of international labour standards[6].

After Daw Aung San Suu Kyi, Noble Peace laureate and members of National League for Democracy were state-sponsored terrorized by the military thugs in Depayin Township, Upper Burma, in 30 May 2004, Bush administration adopted "the Burmese Freedom and Democracy Act- 2003[7]" which immediately prohibits financial transactions with entities of the ruling military junta in Burma and will bar the importation of Burmese products into the United States after 30 days, according to the Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC). Japan has frozen all new development assistance to the regime in response to the May 30 attacks. However, Japan gives some aids to military regime case-by-case basics that go to economic reform.

Theories and hypothesis both Pros and Cons

Recently, Prof. Jeffery D. Sachs, and some pundits around the corners of the world spoke out economic sanctions are not sounded. Prof. Sachs stated that sanctions are mainly a symbolic stand for justice. But they are not symbolic in their effects. They are economically destructive and only occasionally politically productive[8]. They demand a smarter foreign policy to deal with those tyranny regimes around the globe instead of still using economic sanctions. Prof. Sachs gave example of Poland model and economic perestroika first and political galsnost. The steady economic development that is derived from increased trade with the regime will eventually lead to political reforms, this happened in other countries like Taiwan and South Korea. It is evidence that after the President Bush signed the BFDA to ban all import and export from Burma and stop remittance with Rangoon regime. The military junta announced the seven-step- roadmap which demanding military dominated political atmosphere that copying Indonesia model. Now, Indonesia model, as a part of "Asia Miracle" itself unraveled after Tum Yang Kum or Asia financial crisis in 1997. Accountability, transparency and political galsnost are more useful than the so-called casino-capitalism and authoritarianism for building modern statecraft in modern century.

Economic Sanctions Policy-ESP has been handled as a strategy in international political horizon before Second World War. Ever since the League of Nations' economic sanctions against Italy failed to stop the invasion of Abyssinia in 1936, the consensus among pundits has been that applying such pressure doesn't work. It is rarely noted that the league's 1936 action might well have worked if oil had been included on the embargo list and if the United States had supported the sanctions[9]. Others scholars point out that a harsher stance by the United Nation Security Council and advocate the continued imposition of sanctions as the only workable means to push military regime towards democratic reforms. Democracy-Globalizers are nudging "trade and aid or carrots and sticks policy" by multilateral economic sanctions pressure, like South Africa in Apartheid regime. Costs and Benefits Analysis, military force may well be more effective in achieving some foreign policy goals, but it is likely to be more costly than economic sanctions. Policymakers understand that the low costs of economic sanctions sometimes make them preferable to more effective tools, such as military force[10].

SE-Asia and neighboring Counties Approaches to ESP

Even though Western democracies passed the economic sanctions policy to wards military junta in Burma, Japan, Malaysia, and Singapore, Thailand, Indonesia, India, China have approached "constructive engagement" with the regime. Their Foreign Direct Investment and aids and grants have been gone to the military regime since Rangoon established FDI law in 1989. Thailand and Singapore are particular bankrolling to the military regime ignoring Western democracies' ESP on Burma. Especially, present Thai foreign policy towards military regime is more personal business oriented diplomacy rather than dignity diplomacy of previous Chuan administration. Recently, the Bt 600million loan for the Shin Satellite Plc's controversial broadband project in Burma has already been approved, the president of the Export Import Bank of Thailand (Exim) Sataporn Jinachitra said yesterday[11]. Those kinds of loans and grants have no accountability and transparency. Moreover, those loans and grants are violating the ESP of ILO and EU but also no one can monitor on it to economic growth and efficiency. A popular argument against the use of economic sanctions remains the view that the economic growth and liberalization, partly fostered through Western trade and investment, will ultimately promote democratization[12]. The Rangoon military regime favors examples of economic perestroika without political galsnost. Moreover, Asean' authoritarian regimes argued that external pressures, including economic sanctions, would not effective in bringing about democratic change. Those Asean and neighboring regimes practice the doctrine of noninterference in the internal affairs of members.

Apart from it, according to the Federation of Trade Unions of Burma, the regime has also manipulated the attempted constructive engagement of international organizations. They have allowed them to observe the situation, but delay the follow up on specific issues, therefore buying time for themselves and gaining positive publicity for allowing the organization into Burma.

How does the military regime use state expenditure?

As Burma is only ones military hegemonic country in Asean. All most all of production and services of country economy are occupied by the army' run United Myanmar Economic Holding-UMEH and its related cronies and drug-dealers. Domestic and international entrepreneurs want to establish any business in Burma, they must deal with military generals and intelligence. In relation to other economic sectors, the defense expenditure exceeded far greater. The defense expenditure has been increasing steadily from Kt 1.8 billion since 1988/89, reaching Kt 30.9 billion (39 $ million- in FY 97/98)7 in 1997/98, Kt 36 billion in 1998/99. It was 21.18% of state expenditure and 2.36% of GDP in 1988/89, 49.28% of state expenditure and 5.03% of GDP in 1994/95 and 49.9% of state expenditure and 2.24% (7.6%)8 of GDP in 1998/99[13]. As below figure is shown that how military junta has been allocating defense sector among the state expenditures. During the military hegemonic periods since 1988 to up to date, defense sector and military expenditure is more and more than other public sectors. Human Resource Development and literacy is less and less.

Are ESPs creating poverty and starvation in Burma?

The military regime is not only notorious reputation on human rights and political rights but also on worsen mismanagement on public policy and macroeconomic affair. The composition of fiscal and monetary policy by military regime is very poor and structure adjustments are unclear. Military expenditure is about 50 percent while education and health sector expense is leas then 2 percent of state expenditure. Burma was one of the richest countries in SE- Asia and resource rich country itself. The regime is responsible for Burma's socioeconomic deterioration and increasing poverty. According to Asian Development Outlook 2004-Myanamr, public sector spending on health declined to just 0.3% of GDP in FY2002 from 1% a decade earlier, while spending on education also declined as a share of GDP. It is the actions and policies of the regime that has created the grave socioeconomic situation in Burma. Its purposeful ignorance of funding social and poverty-reduction programs has done far more harm to the general population than sanctions could. The gap between rich and poor continues to expand. Military personnel salaries are higher than public civilian salaries, yet in 2000 they were given a 500% increased in their salaries, and also, army personnel get more ration and subsidies form the taxpayer's money. Even though the economy has been recording 10% rates of economic growth in recent years, public expenditure in Burma has been steadily falling. According to the official estimate, GDP grew by 10.0% in FY 2002 (ended 31 March 2003). It is over exaggerated and weaknesses in the data make an objective assessment of the economy difficult[14]. Information of data and figure is incomplete, delayed and difficult to reconcile. Public expenditure in 1985-86 was 62% of GDP, but in 1995-99, it fell to 27% of GDP. Nutrition and life expectancy rates are very low 36% of children under 5 years in Burma are moderately to severely underweight. More children have dropped out of school. By the late 1990s, the regime's expenditure on civilian education equaled only 1.2 % of the country's Gross National Product - compared to 3.8% for developing countries - and had declined 70% in real terms since 1990[15]. According to the World Bank, the government only spends 28 cents a year per child in public schools. Almost 40% of children never attend school. Almost 75% fail to complete primary education in Burma. 98% of schooling children have never finished basic high school. More displacement in ethnic and central areas since 1988 there has been more than a million Internally Displaced Persons[16].The SPDC's continued policies of forced relocation and eviction, land confiscation, economic monopolies, and systematic human rights abuses are the major causes of Burma's massive IDP population.

Impacts of US' the Burmese Freedom and Democracy Act-2003

It is hard to measure the direct economic impact of the U.S. investment ban because, the regime does not allow monitoring independently by the international agencies and scholars. But, the Treasury Department of US reports that it has blocked $13.3 million worth of transactions since prohibiting the provision of financial services to Burma. Of that amount, $1.7 million has been subsequently licensed by the U.S. By July 30, 2003, U.S. banks maintaining correspondent accounts with Burmese banks had blocked the balances in those accounts, an amount that exceeds $320,000. Other measures put in place against the Burmese junta before 2003 include a ban on new investment in Burma, a ban on arms sales to Burma, limits on humanitarian assistance to Burma, and a "no" vote on any loan or assistance to Burma by international financial institutions. It is the Burmese junta's dismal economic policies that have led to widespread poverty and the flight of most foreign investors from the country. Likewise, Burma's dreadful employment situation reflects decades of economic mismanagement by the Burmese government. However, the 2003 U.S. ban on Burmese imports had an impact on at least one sector of the economy: the garment industry. More than 100 garment factories, already in dire economic straits, that had relied on exports to the United States have now closed. There has been an estimated loss of around 50,000 to 60,000 jobs. However, new orders from importers in EU member countries helped remaining factories continue production[17].

On the other hands, some Neorealist and NeoLiberalists argue that the most important economic impact of unilateral economic sanctions is the cumulative weakening of U.S. competitiveness in third-country markets, including those of largest trading partners, like China, Japan and Asean.

Such indirect effects include:

Special advantages created for foreign competitors in both U.S. and third-country markets;

Uncertainty about availability of U.S.-origin goods, services and technology; Unreliability of U.S. firms and their affiliates as suppliers and as business partners;

Retaliation by third country governments and trading partners against U.S. interference in their international market decisions.

Democracy and democratization have become an increasingly importance factor affecting the relationship between military regime and the international community' economic sanctions policy. The issue of democratization is also shaping interregional relations, including multilateral cooperation within South East Asia. As far as military regime grips on power, ESP is dealt with military ruled Burma. Economic Sanctions Policy with Burma issue will be louder and louder in international symposiums, conferences and among the scholars and pundits. I do believe that ESP on military run Burma is sound and works to deal with military junta. I would like to borrow a phase from Prof. David Baldwin, "no matter how useful or useless sanctions eventually turn out to be in Myanmar, one thing is sure: Putting economic pressure on governments we hope to influence or change will remain a potentially useful addition to the diplomatic tool kit. Presidents understand this even if pundits do not".


[1] ID-455668 -PPE-International Program, International College, Rangsit University,

[2] The original name of State Law and Order Restoration Council was changed by the State Peace and Development Council in Nov,1997.

[3] The Council adopted Common Position 96/635/CFSP on Burma/Myanmar (1),

[4] EO 13047 Prohibiting New Investment in Burma. Signed: May 20, 1997. Federal Register page and date: 62 FR 28301; May 22, 1997.[ visited on 15 Aug 2004]

[5] Obstacles to trade and investment, 2003-Country Economic Report of the Economic Intelligence Union, London, United Kingdom.

[6] International Labour Conference adopts Resolution targeting forced labour in Myanmar (Burma)

Wednesday 14 June 2000 ( ILO/00/27 )[ visited on 15 Aug 2004]

[7] EXECUTIVE ORDER, President. G. W. Bush, Blocking Property of the Government of Burma and Prohibiting Certain Transactions,,

[8] Myanmar: sanctions won't work By Jeffrey Sachs, The Financial Time 28 Jul 2004, and London, UK. Prof. Sachs is Dean of Earth Institute of Columbia University and advisor to Mr. Kofi Anan, UNSG.
[9] Sanctions have gotten a bum rap - David Baldwin, August 18, Los Angeles Times. David Baldwin, a political science professor at Columbia University, is the author of "Economic Statecraft" (Princeton University, 1985).

[10] Sanctions have gotten a bum rap - David Baldwin, August 18, Los Angeles Times. David Baldwin, a political science professor at Columbia University, is the author of "Economic Statecraft" (Princeton University, 1985).

[11] Burma loan approved, junta opts for ShinSat by Rungrawee C Pinyorat, Phermsak Lilakul,

issued on Aug 25,2004,The Nation

[12] Southeast Asia's Democratic Moment by Amitav Acharya, p. 424, Amitav Archarya is associate Professor in the Dept of Political Science, York University, Toronto, Canada.

[13] The country Economic Report-2003 by Sein Htay, Economic and Research Department, The Federation of Trade Unions- Burma.

[14] Asian Development Outlook 2004: Economic Trends and Prospects in Developing Asia: Southeast Asia: Myanmar.

Dated on 3 August, 2004, http://www.

[15] Than, Mya. Recent Developments in Myanmar: Impact and Implications of ASEAN Membership and Asian Crisis. In M. Pederson, E. Rudland, & R.J. May (Eds) Burma/Myanmar Strong Regime Weak State? 2000

[16] UNICEF (4 Aug 03) At A Glance: Myanmar Statistics

[17] Report on U.S. Trade Sanctions Against Burma, Congressionally mandated report submitted to Congress on April 28, 2004. (visited date: 15, Aug 2004)