US Democrats Claim Policy Success in Burma

By Lalit K Jha 5 September 2012

CHARLOTTE, NORTH CAROLINA—The United States’ ruling Democratic Party on Tuesday urged the Burmese government to take “additional steps” to ensure a better relationship with the US, while at the same time claiming that its policy of sanctions and engagement had contributed to the current program of democratic reform in Burma.

The statement was released as part of the party’s platform at the Democrats’ National Convention in North Carolina where the party approved President Barack Obama’s second run for the White House in November.

The message acknowledged the historic reform in Burma, terming it as one of the success stories of the Obama administration’s foreign policy.

“Across the globe, people are demanding more from their governments—and, when they do, they will continue to find support and partnership in the United States,” the statement said. “For example, in Burma, we successfully employed a combination of sanctions and engagement to encourage the government to open up political space and release political prisoners.”

Known simply as “The Platform,” the official 40-page policy document of the Democratic Party continued: “Our historic opening to Burma will continue to incentivize [sic] a democratic transition, a deeper engagement with the United States, and national reconciliation among Burma’s many different ethnic groups. And because human rights violations persist, we will continue to speak clearly about the additional steps that must be taken for the government of Burma to have a better relationship with the United States.”

At its national convention in Tampa last week, the opposition Republican Party made no mention of Burma in its platform.

Meanwhile, the United Nationalities Federal Council (UNFC), a coalition of ethnic groups fighting for equality in Burma, alleged in a letter to US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton that the Burmese government’s “war of aggression” has intensified in Kachin State.

The UNFC noted the importance of political dialogue between the Burmese government and non-Burman ethnic groups in steps to establish a durable peace, and brought to Clinton’s attention the exploitation of Burma’s natural resources in the “name of development.”

UNFC leaders also requested the US government “to make sure that US companies investing in Burma do not fuel human rights abuses as committed by the Burmese governments and do not undermine the expectation of the ethnic nationalities for equality, self-determination and long-lasting peace.”