In the aftermath of the rare double veto to reject the United Nations Security Council resolution on Burma we have seen the expected flury of comment and criticism. That South Africa sided with Russia and China to oppose the resolution is one part of this episode that has elicited special attention.
Inside Burma only a handful of the country’s diverse “civil society organisations” have come out publicly against the resolution which was backed by the United States, Britain, France, Belgium, Italy, Ghana, Panama, Slovakia, and Peru.
In support of the stances taken by China, Russia and South Africa, today’s The New Light of Myanmar carries translated statements from the Kachin Development and Security Army (abbreviated by the paper to KDA – I assume this previously unknown organisation was what we once called the Kachin Defense Army) and the Myanmar Writers and Journalists Association (more political context on this organisation is available here, here and here).
This KDA is the Kachin Independence Army’s former 4th Brigade. It co-administers Special Region Number 5 in the northern Shan State. Interestingly, and as an aside, a simple search for “Kachin Development and Security Army” yields no results. Although I am not certain, I assume this is because a recent re-branding has taken the organisation away from the more macho sounding “Kachin Defense Army”. As New Mandala readers know, politico-military organisations in Burma do sometimes change their names for public relations points.
The KDA has some harsh words for the UN Security Council resolution and its backers. Part of its statement reads (my emphasis added):
“4. Because of their envy of Myanmar’s gradual developments, the US and Britain gave a reason that Myanmar affairs is not just internal problem, but has become a threat to regional peace. But the neighbours confirmed that Myanmar affairs cannot pose a regional threat. The slanders of the US and Britain and the neighbours’ statement are contradictory. The KDA, on behalf of the entire Myanmar, thanked the People’s Republic of China, the Russian Federation and the Republic of South Africa for their support for Myanmar as those countries understood the realistic situation.
5. KDA believes that the Myanmar affairs should be addressed within the nation by the national races. We cannot accept foreign interferences in this matter. We of the KDA pledge to take part in the task of implementing the seven-step Road Map and firmly believe that the best way to solve problems is through the holding of discussions at the National Convention.”
As has become clearer over the passed few months, the authoritarian apparatuses of mainland Southeast Asia’s dictatorships are well-equipped to deflect critical attention. Censorship – such as the General’s apparent efforts to stop Thaksin from being heard in Thailand – is but the crudest tool available to military-backed regimes.
In the Burmese case, it is hardly surprising that tame pro-regime groups have been trotted out to echo the stance of China and Russia.
That South Africa – which only assumed its seat on the Security Council at the start of 2007 – has provided further succor to Southeast Asia’s most repressive regime is, however, cause for much further reflection.