Burma: Let us give Bogyoke Aung San a Second Chance

By Kanbawza Win | February 21, 2013

How can it be possible to give a dead man (assassinated in 1947) a second chance? No! It was to his ideas and vision that the Union of Burma was born on 12 February 1947 just before his untimely dead when the ethnic nationalities join a major ethnic group call themselves as Burman now call Myanmar to take independence from Britain soon after the 2nd World War.

Because of the successive military regimes backed by the Myanmar Tatmadaw that hates democracy, human rights and federalism it seems that country would be balkanize on the ethnic lines. Since, 1940s most of the Non-Myanmar group are suspicious about the treacherous leaders of the Myanmar group of seeing of what the Myanmar Tatmadaw has done to the ethnic Karen, so much so that Bogyoke Aung San has to put in the clause that stated that after independence if the Myanmar ethnic did not treat the other ethnic groups on equal terms and if the latter is not satisfied they can seceded from the Union.[1] Obviously many of the ethnic nationalities such as Karen and Karenni refused to attend while the Myanmarnize groups like Rakhine and Mon were not simply invited. Smaller groups like the WA, Pa O, Palaung and many more even did not know about it.

Bad Myanmar

But the successors of Bogyoke Aung San were all categorize as bad Myanmar ethnic group, because it at once start its Myanmarnization policy over the non Myanmar ethnic nationalities. However, the simple leaders of the Non-Myanmar groups, at that time still believe in them and as practicing in a democratic system they soon demanded a federal system after ten years, to be exact in Dec 1961 at the Taunggyi Federal Conference when the ethnic point out the defects of the Union Constitution.

The then Prime Minister U Nu and all Myanmar ethnic national leaders understood that Federal Bill will be passed without difficulties and the Myanmar will have equal status with non-Myanmar. The Myanmar nationalists, who were high-ranking officers in Burmese Army, realized that the only way to safeguard Myanmar domination over non-Myanmar ethnic nationals is removing the democratic regime by force.

Therefore, the Myanmar Tatmadaw took the power on March 2, 1962.[2] And since then the Myanmar chauvinist policy have been imposed up to this date under different pretext with different administrations. This is the crux of the Burmese problem. Most, if not all the bad Myanmar ethnic leaders are from the military who are ill equip to lead the country and their only obsession is to build the 4th Burmese empire over the Non Myanmar ethnic nationalities and could not comprehend equality, liberty or fraternity, the foundation stone for democracy. Their only believe is in the theory of Mao Ze Dong that “Power comes out of the barrel of the gun” and this is what they have done to the country for more than half a century.

The attitude of these bad Myanmar is somewhat like the attitude of the bad Caucasians over the Non Caucasians in Europe and America. To be a Myanmar is to be a Buddhist and could not comprehend other race or religion among their midst. That is why they burn more than 63 Christian churches in Kachin states and uncountable mosques in Arakan state. [3]

The Myanmar Tadmadaw mindset, are:
  • We work harder than others for the sake of the country.
  • We sacrifice our lives to work for the sake of the country.
  •  Our comrades are injured or killed by our enemies.
  • The enemies who injure or killed us are supported by a part of the population.
  • We must follow orders, live under the discipline of the army at all the time.
  • We are soldiers serving the country 24-hours a day.[4]

Hence from the Tatmadaw soldier’s view, ordinary people and civil servants live more easy-going lives and do business just to enrich themselves. The end result is that soldiers believe they have the sole right to hold state power due to their hard work and sacrifices. When the army cracks down on peaceful demonstrators, they viewed them as lazy opportunists who are asking for rights without working hard and sacrificing like them, the latest being the Letpadaung mine incident.

Foreigners work and think smarter than lazy Burmese people, and these are the reasons developed countries are ahead of Burma seems to be the Tatmadaw’s logic and rationale. When ordinary people go abroad to seek job opportunity, they see them as betraying the country and opting for a foreign one the soldiers are disciplined because they are simply reaping the advantages from performing well. Clearly, the Generals followed the dictum of Mao Ze Dong:

“Crack down on the extreme minority, leave the educated to live in illusion, and label the majority of ordinary people as supporters.” [5]

The Tatmadaw believes that the ethnic nationalities are inherently inferior (culturally/socially) and would split from Myanmar authority if given the chance. The Tatmadaw also believe the ethnic nationalities are distrustful of the Myanmar majority (including the military) and fear of Myanmar domination.

On the economic front reforms and liberalization are secondary to maintenance of political control, or indeed as a means to such control. The primary function of an improved economy is greater military power, general political acquiescence of the population to Tatmadaw control through military delivery of greater economic rewards for loyalty, and improved political legitimacy, and not directly the betterment of the human condition. To this end, Tatmadaw believe they must control the economy and have set up direct and many indirect mechanisms.

The Tatmadaw view any form of pluralism within the administration at any level, in the dissemination of information, and among non-governmental organizations as a threat to the state and their control. The Tatmadaw have no intention of giving up essential power even though a civilian facade for their control is established. The military have no intention of granting to ethnic nationality groups any significant degree of power at the national level, although some modest local self-government will be given to some groups with which cease fires have been arranged.

Viewed in this vacuum, it would seem to demonstrate that the leaders of the new government, who were also leaders of the old regime, have changed their way of thinking. But in reality there is still ample evidence that the current government is willing to be just as brutal and repressive as the old regime when it suits its purposes e.g. the hidden genocide in Arakan State and the using of chemical weapons in Kachin State. All these indicates that Thein Sein and his colleagues have made reforms to date because it was in their self-interest to do so, not because they believe what they did in the past was wrong. So how can anyone say for certain that they would not reverse course and clamp down again.[6]

Recognizing this is not an attempt to undercut the reform process or a refusal to acknowledge the significance of the reforms that have been made thus far. To the contrary, it is necessary to ensure that the movement towards meaningful change in Burma continues. Just as we need to applaud what has changed, we need to understand what has not, and the most important thing which has not yet changed is the mindset of Burma’s ruling leaders. The reason this is placed at the top of the “to do list” is because once the paradigm of power held by the ruling hierarchy changes, then all of the other reforms that the Burmese people seek and deserve will follow.[7] Until and unless the military leaders clearly demonstrate an understanding that the human rights violations of the past and present are wrong and destructive to the interests of Burma, then all of the reforms must be seen as fragile and in risk of being reversed.

Good Myanmar

If one were to ask a simple ethnic villager or local headmen, if he had ever met a good Myanmar 99% of them will reply No. For they have only seen the Tatmadaw soldiers who all are categorize as cut throats, bad hats, rapists, looters, arsonists and so on because of the three cut policy. Worst are the lieutenant captains most of whom are identified as rapist because of they have the knowledge of the unwritten Tamadaw policy that if the women is pregnant then that child will have a Myanmar gene, a sure way of ethnic cleansing.

Another factor is when the central government sent officials to govern the Non Myanmar they sent the worst persons that cannot be used in their department and these people continue behave as usual throwing a bad light on the Myanmar. Very few educated well informed ethnic nationalities accepted the fact that there is also good ethnic Myanmar. But in politics one must have a vision, far sighted and consider the pros and cons for the possible effects in the future.

To be fair and square there are many mistakes on the side of the ethnic nationalities also especially old ethnic leaders, as most of them are racists e.g. when in 1988 the cream of the Myanmar society the University students came over to KNU, instead of arming them to fight the common enemy, the KNU sees them that they are also Myanmar more intelligent and educated then their youths.[8] The end result was that the KNU was beaten and driven out from their

Headquarter, in Manerplaw and the subsequent power struggle between the student’s groups follows leading to its disintegration. A good number of them have betrayed the cause and is now are now ranked as VIPs cooperating with the quasi civilian government.

Leaving this contemporary events, one will have to see of who are the good Myanmar? No doubt it was and is the 8888 Generations who have kept the movement alive all these years in spite of torture and imprisonment, followed by the NLD led by Daw Aung San Suu Kyi. They vividly see the vision of Aung San and many of them have made a supreme sacrifice. The only daughter of Aung San clearly visualise that it is her historical, if not God’s given, duty to finish the task of her father who was cruelly cut short at a young and tender age.

The basic aim is to solidify the Union of Burma with love, sincerity, equality and fairness and not the tyranny of the majority of the Myanmar over the Non-Myanmar as what the quasi military is heading for? Daw Aung San Suu Kyi and the 8888 Generations leaders together with the entire people of Burma both the Myanmar ethnic group and the Non Myanmar ethnic nationalities, except the Myanmar Tatmadaw led by the selfish Generals, wants to live together in a single country where there will be love, peace, tranquility, and equal opportunities as the architect of modern Burma Aung San had envisaged. What more proof is wanted when the Generals refused to join the talk led by Aung Min with UNFC at Chiangmai.[9]Surely the good Myanmar clearly saw their mistakes and is ready to mend their ways but it was the Myanmar Tatmadaw, the bad Myanmar that got the upper hand. This is the current situation as I see it, which I visualise that many will not agree with me.

Tripartite Dialogue

A 'Tripartite Dialogue' is usually understood to mean a dialogue amongst three parties: the military government (SPDC), the democracy forces (NLD) and the ethnic nationalities. The term 'Tripartite Dialogue' was first used in the 1994 United Nations General Assembly resolution because most external actors thought the problem of Burma can be resolved by solving two issues- the issues of democracy versus military rule. 'Tripartite' was used to indicate that a third party or issues must also be. The underlying intent was to emphasize the fact that the Burmese problem is a constitutional problem - not an ethnic problem which can be resolved at a later date once democracy is established.

The question of democracy, military rule and the constitutional arrangement with the non-Myanmar ethnic nationalities are intrinsically intertwined and cannot be resolved one without the other. It is just two sides of a coin. The Non Myanmar make up more than 40% of the population and the ethnic states occupy 57% of the total land area. The ethnic nationalities are not fighting and killing each other, requiring a strong army to maintain law and order. The ethnic nationalities had live peacefully and work well together. The common enemy is the Myanmar Tatmadaw. Solving the constitutional crisis will strengthen the unity of the nation. It will end the current ethnic violence.[10]

This is what the ethnic nationalities are lobbying for. Now in the coming ceasefire parley between the Kachin and the Myanmar Tatmadaw to be exact on the Feb 20th it should be a Tripartite Dialogue i.e. Daw Aung San Suu Kyi should be accepted by the Kachin for the former SPDC is represented by U Aung Min of the President’s Office. This is because when it comes to military affairs the President Office had inevitably kow tow to the Myanmar Generals controls by the unseen hands of supremo Than Shwe who is still very active in a murkily-defined National Security Council.

After all, it was he who fixed the outcome of the election in the November 2010, and handpicked Thein Sein to serve as the current president to use soft power to win the hearts and minds of the Burmese people and the international community.[11]Everybody needs to know that the Myanmar Tatmadaw is a state within a state. The army would not care the President when he announced the ceasefire several times and carry on the fight as usual.

Even yesterday at the meeting of UNFC and U Aung Min, when the reporter asks whether the occupational Myanmar Tadmadaw will withdraw from the occupied KIO’s outposts, he said it is the decision of the army.[12] This clearly indicates that the President is under the army. The Myanmar Tadmadaw still runs the country as a means to avoid power struggles.[13] So we need to bring in the democracy group led by Daw Aung San Suu Kyi and the 8888 Generations leaders (one has to remember that it was Min Ko Naing and his comrades that visited the Kachin State at the height of the military offensive) and kick out the psychopaths groups like Euro Burma, Peace Committee, Myanmar Egress etc to gain the trust of the Kachin and entire people of Burma. Then only and only then, there will be the beginning of the tripartite, dialogue.

Daw Aung San Suu Kyi

If emotion got the better of meticulous reasoning one can see the writing on the wall. No doubt there is a sense among many senior guerrilla leaders that Daw Aung San Suu Kyi is too closely aligned with the quasi government. [14] On her tour outside of Burma Daw Aung San Suu Kyi didn’t have a single word to spare for the fate of some 100,000 ethnic Kachin people fleeing the war between Burmese army and Kachin rebels or the sectarian strife in Arakan. The war has been going on for 20 months, Beijing has also forced thousands of refugees who tried to escape the fighting by crossing the border into its territory back into the war zone. The Kachin activists point out that no one is in a better position than Daw Aung San Suu Kyi to publicize their dire situation. “We have trust in you that you will recognize the urgency and importance of this request and not refuse the invitation.”[15] America's self-proclaimed "principal interlocutor" is also the most famous person on the planet to do the job.

Burma is a multi-ethnic country and the Myanmar Tatmadaw has entered the ethnic regions, militarized the government, and plundered the country’s natural resources, much of which is located in the non-Myanmar regions. The central government has tried to forcibly assimilate the local populations while committing heinous human rights violations (including large-scale murder, rape, and forced relocations, all well documented). So one cannot claim that there are “two sides” to these conflicts that are equally worthy of consideration. The ethnic groups’ struggle for political autonomy and self-determination is a justified reaction to domination and repression by the Myanmar ethnic majority which also includes Aung San Suu Kyi is the raison d'être.

But one needs to understand another perspective from the side of Daw Aung San Suu Kyi who has been house arrested for one and half decades is because she has taken a confrontational stance. If she confronts the Myanmar Tatmadaw again she can easily be arrested again, and that will be the end of Burma’s Glasnost, for in her hearts of hearts she know that the generals of the Myanmar Tatmadaw are power maniacs and they have relented only because of the threat of China. Nobody can say that they will rather choose to the Chinese stooge and let the country be one of the autonomous regions of China like Tibet, carry on their luxurious life at the expense of the people and the country as what they have done for more than half a century.

The opposition both the democracy movement and the ethnic nationalities are not strong and worst are hopelessly divided among themselves. Besides globalization and the digital world is catching up and the trans-national corporations that concentrates on profit can soon be on the side of the Junta. She knew that she is very much marginalized and the only choice is the evolution theory of setting up things, so she joined the Thein Sein group and became part of the government. And within one year the Burma changes for the better is everybody’s knowledge. If Daw Aung San Suu Kyi is not pragmatic and continue to remain a hard line democracy icon, the country will not change much as of now. Thanks to her vision and steadfastness.

Now it became the hard part of tackling the problem of the other side of the coin i.e. the ethnic nationalities rights. No doubt this is the crucial problem as I have indicated earlier but techniques and tactics come into play. The Myanmar Tatmadaw, the psychopaths, the cronies and the ruling USDP are all eager to maintain the illegal Nargis Constitution of 2008 whereas

Daw Suu, the 8888 Generations, the ethnic nationalities and the entire people of Burma including those in Diaspora want to change as this is the basic of democracy. The Nargis Constitution rammed through in 2008 is anathema to ethnic nationalities, since it mandates central government control over ethnic lands and to alter it requires a 75 percent vote plus one, even while the army controls a mandated 25 percent of Parliament. "If the Constitution isn't changed, the Karen won't join the 2015 (presidential) election -- all (ethnic minorities) agree on this."[16]All ethnic nationalities want a federal system like the U.S., or better yet, Switzerland -- where ethnic cantons have autonomy within a federal structure. But Myanmar fear that the issue of control could unite the non-Myanmar ethnic nationalities -- and this "petrifies Myanmar who does all they can to prevent unity, because they realize that the power of ethnic leader’s lies in collective action."[17]

The country’s transition is very fragile, and we have to be careful how to move forward. The democratic opposition has already made many compromises, and it will have to make many more. That is entirely logical, and to some extent it is justified by the current political situation where the quasi military regime is far stronger and the Tatmadaw is more ruthless. But what the pro-democracy movement cannot do in this situation is to surrender its core values. It cannot give up the principles for which it has fought for so long and which continue to define it or otherwise the Non Myanmar ethnic nationalities will abandon them.[18]

To this Daw Suu has approached stealthily, she knows the working of democracy and that the Myanmar Tatmadaw will loath to share power with any one since they have usurp for more than half a century and for them the Nargis Constitution is a fait accompli for them But by her actions some of the well meaning Burmese generals have swayed as she is no longer a threat to the Myanmar Tatmadaw whom she has at one time call it my dad’s army and if the coming elections of 2015, if the NLD, 8888 Generation and particularly the ethnic based parties can come up together with a solid unity and voted en masse for Daw Aung San Suu Kyi, I am quite positive she can get more than 80% to change the illogical Nargis Constitution of 2008.

Then and only then Daw Aung San Suu Kyi will be in a position to change the country back to the Union of Burma where it will be the real Democratic Federal Union what we in Burmese say Sit Hman Thaw Pyi Htoung Suu Thamada Myanma Naing Ngan .(ppfrSefaom jynfaxmifpkorRw jrefrmEdkifiH ) Let us be patient, far sighted, visionary and join hands with the good Myanmar to overcome the bad Myanmar led by the evil Myaanmar Tatmadaw who are against the very grain of democracy and the Union of the country, because time is not on their side and let us give Bogyoke Aung San a second chance.

(This is a very controversial article and I am quite positive, that Myanma Tatmadaw cyber warfare units, even though they hired Russian and Singaporean experts still has connections with the Chinese army experts (People’s Liberation Army Unit 61398 based in the suburb of Shanghai) will hack my computer for the fourth time again.) bathannwin@gmail.com

End Notes

[1] Chapter X of the Union Constitution under the heading “Right of Secession” the statement that “every state shall have the right to secede from the Union” and one of the conditions laid down is that the right of secession may be exercised only after ten years from the date on which the Constitution comes into operation. Can Refer to the First Constitution.
[2] Constitutional Crisis in Burma by Chin Human Rights Organization
[3] Research by Kachin Women Organization and confirmed by the Kachin Baptist Convention
[4] Saw Htun “The Military Mindset” in the Irrawaddy 13-3-09
[5] Refer to the writings of Mao Ze Dong
[6] Moe; Kyawzwa, The Fragility of Reforms in “The Irrawaddy” 16-12-2011
[7] Ibid
[8] At that time the main mentors of the KNU was the late Padoh Than Aung and Bo Mya where I talk with them
[9] Yan Naing;Saw, Army officials won’t take part in meeting with UNFC Irrawaddy 18-2-2013
[10] www.ibiblio.org/obl/docs/EnsccTRIPARTITE%20DIALOGUE.htm
[11] Zaw;Aung Recent Moves Renew Doubts about Burma’s Reforms Irrawaddy 19-2-2013
[12] Yan Naing; Saw, Government and Rebels Groups Discuss Aids for Ethnic Areas Irrawaddy 20-12-2013
[13] Weiss; Stanley: A nation at war with itself. The Huffington Post 18-2-2013
[14] Patrick Winn; Kachin Guerrillas turn down Suu Kyi’s offer to broker peace. 14-2-, 2013
[15] Zin, Min; What Aung San Suu Kyi Didn’t Say Irrawaddy 5-10-212
[16] Weiss; Stanley: A nation at war with itself. The Huffington Post 18-2-2013
[17] Ibid
[18] Yan Naing: Saw. Road to Kachin Peace is Long and Rocky, Observers Say Irrawaddy 15-2-2013

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