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Council of Union of Burma calls for a real sanction from the international community.

The cyclone hit and junta’s handling in the aftermath has even intensified and justified the opposition struggle against the ruling Thatmadaw and its desperately-determined referendum Saturday. Maung Maung, secretary general of the National Council of Union of Burma--- an anti-junta umbrella organization including ethnic groups, has called for areal sanction concertedly coordinated by the international community.

So far, only the U.S. has imposed financial sanctions against the Burmese regime, said Mr Maung Maung. The European Union (EU) has only banned visa for Burmese military and senior government officers but not real economic sanctions, he said.“Our sanction strategy has yet to be fully implemented coherently by members of the international community. I know we now all tired but there seems no other way to clip the wings of the generals,” he said. He was confident that the secretly-webbed people poll watch network inside Burma would be ready to reveal the flaws and defects of the referendu  process and its preceding junta-dictated constitution drafting if the international community renews true support to them.

But a Burmese veteran journalist said talking about strengthened sanctions in light of the 70,000 casualties after the Nargis disaster was irrelevant.The international community should take the opportunity to press for some open channels for external aid relief delivery and the junta themself should consider this as a step towards some coordination platform between the world and the Burmese ruling government. Aid workers have yet to travel into the country freely and more independently not only to deliver the relief but also to verify the casualties and other necessary follow-up implementations.

The swollen figures of casualties released by Naypidaw on one hand reveals the government inefficiency in addressing and dealing with the natural disaster, but on the other hand is a channel for the regime to get rations from relief, therefore the aid community is negotiating with the stubborn junta for the accountable and transparent aid relief dissemination and if possible for some room to have a say of the post May 10 referendum process. But the world has already faced huge challenges a stand-by request of immediate US$7.5 million aid due to the increasing food price for the refugees along the Thai-border and now the fresh call for aid to support the victims and the cyclone recovery inside Burma.

For Burma’s neighbours, especially Asean and Thailand, there are other possible and practical ways not just delivering the aid to Burma, but to stop their harsh policy against the Burmese migrant workers. After all, these migrant workers are the main financial suppliers to the real people, the grass-root and the individual people, inside that country. In light of this disaster, they should be able to work in Asean countries more freely and be treated more humanely so that they could send  money and more aid back home. The Nargis cyclone could be considered a blessing in disguise as it helps bring back the world's attention to the repressive government from the Beijing Olympics—Tibet crack down.

China, India, and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) should by now help persuade the Junta to be more practical to open 'line of communications' with the world. These Burma's allies should not bluntly endorse whatever results of the 10 May referendum without ensuring the credible and transparent process of the ballot cast. In fact, they should make sure the priorities for this country should perhaps help the victims and the rice-growing areas in their recovery process. Asean should come up with a common voice on this matter. It is also time for the international community and th  anti-junta forces, especially those in-exiles, to come up with a new strategy or reconsider their four-decade-old style of fighting for democracy in Burma.

In fact individual members of those opposition forces inside the country such as National League for Democracy (NLD) and the ethnic armed groups are thinking of the next options or steps if their “Vote No” campaign turned out to be ineffective to topple the regime. They are thinking of transforming themselves to fight within the available process provided by the junta---that is an election in the next two years. Then it is time for the real dialogue not only between the junta and those anti-junta forces, but in fact among the opposition spectrum themselves.

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