What Really Happened with Ban Ki-Moon’s Trip to Burma

Ban Ki-Moon’s recent trip to Burma highlights the failure of current (UN) Burma policy more than anything else we’ve seen in recent years.

First, he was denied permission to visit Aung San Suu Kyi after asking on two occasions. When the Secretary General of the United Nations is denied permission to see the democratically elected leader of the country you can see what an iron grip the military regime has.

Second, Ban only had one meeting with the country’s political groups, including Suu Kyi’s National League for Democracy. All ten groups were allowed to meet with Ban for an hour and only had two minutes to present their stances. Ban did not get a chance to meet with the NLD privately. Since they presented their points in the presence of the military party they obviously were not given the chance to openly challenge the junta. This very careful monitoring by the military regime points to the power the junta wields within the country as well as ineffectiveness of the current UN policy.

It’s clear that the UN’s policy of trying to cultivate a friendship with the military regime is not working considering the flagrant disregard and restrictions they placed on Ban Ki Moon’s visit. It is clear to me that more drastic action is needed by Ban through the UN Security Council in order to work towards democracy and human rights in Burma.

Last month, a Dear Colleague letter was circulated in the U.S. House of Representatives that is now with President Obama. The letter calls for the UN Security Council to create a Commission of Inquiry into War Crimes and Crimes Against Humanity in Burma. This would be the first step towards stricter Security Council action toward Burma. Similar process have taken place for Darfur and the former Yugoslavia which led to the creation of tribunals. This letter represents that Ban Ki-Moon should now be considering after his disappointing visit to Burma. Clearly, examining the military junta for crimes against humanity is long overdue and necessary after Ban’s attempt at engagement was rebuffed.

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