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23 April 2013 EU is Ready for Blood Money in a Sham Democracy

The European Union is now joining other Western countries for the return of European businesses in Burma. The Council adopted a new common position lifting all sanctions against Burma with the exception of the embargo on arms. In fact, continuing arms embargo alone will not make any difference to the military strength of Burma as the semi-civilian government will effectively use the revenues it gain from Western investments to buy weapons from other countries solely to persecute its own people. Not only the European Union but all other Western countries misinterpreted the political developments in Burma. The improved relationship between main-stream opposition leaders and the semi-civilian government does not mean that the country has achieved a significant political development. In addition to simmering communal tensions across the country, the fighting in Kachin and Shan states continues. Between 300 and 400 political prisoners remain incarcerated, and arbitrary arrests of student activists and labour right activists continue. On the other hand, the ruling elites and their associates continue cornering the major business and investment opportunities all over the country, and ready to expand them as partners of Western investors. Since the life of ordinary and the working class has not improved under so-called reformist government, the future of Burmese politics is unpredictable. There is always a possibility of popular uprising against sham democracy in the country. Therefore, Western investors should be prepared to face consequences of investing in Burma given the unpredictable political situation. The commercial and investment opportunities that are available in Burma now reflects the situation in 1990s when the military junta made crucial economic reforms inviting global investments in the country. However, more than 50 multinational corporations left the country after a short period of investment, between 1992 and 2000 as a consequence of the juntas continuing human rights abuses, and unsuccessful and unsatisfactory results of their investments. Therefore, Western investors, including those from the EU, need to consider carefully before they take a risk of investing in Burma although their governments end investment restrictions against Burma. As long as the military, cronies and the ruling elites monopolizing the investment opportunities at the expense of people from all walks of life except leading activists and politicians, Burma will certainly be shaken by popular dissent in the future.
Burma Independence Advocates Park House 111 Uxbridge Road Ealing London United Kingdom W5 5LB