Six months have passed since the Burmese military government's violent crackdown on thousands of monks who took to the streets of Rangoon in peaceful, pro-democracy demonstrations. While the brutality of the assault, subsequent mass arrests and heightened repression received an immediate burst of attention and media coverage around the world, the focus on Burma has waned steadily in recent months. After making a few initial concessions to the international community, such as allowing in a UN human rights investigator and permitting a government meeting with pro-democracy leader and Nobel laureate Aung San Suu Kyi, the Burmese junta continues to stand firm and political activists continue to be imprisoned.
Asia Society and the Open Society Institute convened a panel discussion to revisit the situation in Burma in light of the military government's recently announced "roadmap to democracy," including its intention to conduct a national referendum to approve a new constitution in May, followed by a multiparty general election in 2010. How credible is this development given that the new constitution would effectively bar independent political leaders from participating in the process? The panel also assessed recent efforts at the international and regional levels to advance national reconciliation in Burma. What role can and should international actors such as the United Nations and the United States play together with ASEAN and Burma's influential neighbors?
- Thaung Htun, Representative for UN Affairs, National Coalition Government of the Union of Burma
- Scot Marciel, U.S. Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for East Asian and Pacific Affairs
- Sean Turnell, Co-Founder and Editorial Board Member, Burma Economic Watch; Professor of Economics, Macquarie University (Australia);
- Suzanne DiMaggio, Director, Asian Social Issues Program, Asia Society (welcome remarks);
- Maureen Aung-Thwin, Director, Burma Project/Southeast Asia Institute (moderator).
New York City