Letter: Interpreting Burma-speak

From Mr John Boorman

Sir: Since my letter urging people to boycott the Burmese (Myanmar) tourist drive (6 July), Aung San Suu Kyi has been released, a welcome first step towards Burma's return to the civilised world. But there is a long way to go, as U Myo Nyunt of the London Embassy of Myanmar illustrates in his preposterous response (letter, 10 July). For those unfamiliar with the Orwellian-speak of Burma's military dictatorship, may I interpret U Myo Nyunt's letter?

He says, "We in the union of Myanmar are currently involved in the formidable task of seeking national reconciliation [waging war on the Karens and others], accepting the ethnic minority parties back into the legal fold [raiding the refugee camps in Thailand and driving the inmates back into Burma] and drawing up a new constitution on the basis of an elected National Constitution [a total sham, which includes a clause stating that no-one married to a foreigner can take part in politics - in other words Aung San Suu Kyi].

"We do not accept that Myanmar has a problem of human rights. The people who are in jail, we can sympathise with them, but they have been jailed for unlawful acts [like being elected as a member of parliament for a party opposing the military government]. There is no such thing as 'slave labour' in Myanmar: those referred to by Mr Boorman are giving their labour voluntarily and patriotically for the love of Myanmar [yet they still need soldiers pointing guns at them to heighten their patriotic fervour].

"Regarding Aung San Suu Kyi, Mr Boorman is misguided in stating that she is the elected leader [the party she led, the National League for Democracy, won 85% of the vote in 1990]. She did not take part in the elections of 1990, since, for her own benefit, she was kept away from the subversive elements at work at the time in Myanmar [imprisoned for 6 years].

Yours faithfully,

John Boorman

Anamoe, Co Wicklow

13 July

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