Tuesday, February 01, 2011

Burma: How Free is Burma's Suu Kyi?

Source: Robert Weiner Associates

Former White House National Drug Policy Spokesman, Robert Weiner, and National Security Analyst, James Lewis, in the Honolulu Star Advertiser, assert that the media in the U.S. and around the world have misinterpreted the "release" of Burma's Aung San Suu Kyi. Weiner and Lewis contend that she is not "free" because she cannot run for or win office despite her earlier election (which the junta blocked) as the country's national leader -- and that real change in Burma is only possible if the drug-funded junta is ousted and drug transportation, with Hawaii as a main port, is eliminated.

Weiner and Lewis ask, "How free is Suu Kyi? Is she free to run for office in non-rigged elections and assume the prime minister role she was denied? Free to call for a civilian government, a legal product-based economy, and a halt to the drug trade funding the junta and killing thousands in Burma and around the globe?"

Weiner and Lewis point out, "She still can't run for office or speak freely. Arresting and releasing her is a drama the regime continues to play time and again. She has been under detention in recurring waves for over 15 years."

"Suu Kyi has been careful not to verbally challenge the military leadership of Burma. Yet she has said, 'Real freedom is freedom from fear.' Is she really free if she is living in fear?"

Weiner and Lewis encourage Suu Kyi to "take a page from other historic leaders and enter exile – maybe as Burma's Political Dalai Lama."

"Laundered money – paid with drugs that go through Hawaii – cements the junta's power. With worldwide drug money filling the sanctions gap, the junta leaders live quite a luxurious lifestyle." Citing government reports, the authors explain that, "Hawaii is a major transshipment port for ice methamphetamine."

"Burma is a tale of drugs, ransom, and sanctions -- and Hawaii is at the center of it."

"To achieve real change in Burma, Suu Kyi and other opposition leaders must be allowed to campaign and run for office, and the drugs funding the junta and transiting through Hawaii must be eliminated."

Looking for solutions, and as a gesture for the junta's providing Suu Kyi some freedom, Weiner and Lewis assert that, "The U.S. should respond by filling the empty special envoy post in Burma and providing anti-narcotics targeted and monitored aid, but not providing other assistance. The former U.S. Political and Economic Chief in Rangoon, Leslie Hayden, reported that providing anti-narcotics aid to Burma would pressure the regime into 'concrete results' and would slow the flow of drugs. Full commercial sanctions lifting, however, would be an undeserved boon to the junta."

"The U.S. can exert pressure to keep Suu Kyi unincarcerated and help keep Burmese methamphetamine and heroin off America's and Europe's streets. The U.S. can support training, crop substitution, and intelligence sharing, including an opium crop survey disbanded since 2005. Knowledge is power," the authors state.