7th July-Never Go Bye ( ၇ - ရက္ဇူလုိင္ မေမ့ႏုိင္)

July 3, 2010
By Kanbawza Win

With President Barrack Obama, the first African American at the helm of world affairs, I used to hum an old favourite Negro song
“Gone are the days when my heart is young and gay
Gone are my friends from the University (substituting Cotton fields) away
I hear a gentle voice calling Old Ba Win (substituting black Joe)” 

Those were the days of the happiest aspect of my life when I was just a fresher at the Rangoon University, which in Burmese we say (တကၠသီလာ ျမကြန္းသာ) literally translated will be a serine paradise island of learning. But that was in 1962 when just barely four months ago when the Tatmadaw (a) Burmese military ogre makes it present felt on 2nd March under the first dictatorship General Ne Win, who took power, killing my childhood friend Sao Myi Myi Thaike (son of Saw Shwe Thaike, brother of Eugene and Harn Yawnghwe).

At that time I was a young boy residing in Taungoo Hall and no nothing about politics but I sense that life is not going to be an easy one. I clearly recollect of how after a hard study in our hostel, we used got hungry about midnight or so and often goes to U Chit shop in the compound to eat. I was rather upset when the law was enforced on the hostel that we could not go out after 9 PM, which later became the embryo of the 7th July incident. At that time I did not know that the order came from the Revolutionary Council itself to provoke the students to confrontation so that they can find a pretext to crack down on the students and closed the University which they construe as a hot bed for dissidents.

Those were the days when only students from the States and Divisions were eligible for hostels and so it was the hostellers that first take up the cudgel against these unjust laws. There was a peaceful demonstration in the University campus on the evening of 5th July, it gathered momentum the next day and suddenly the security personals show up and fired the tear gas to the peaceful students. If it is a hand thrown tear gas it would have no harm, but it was shot from an ejector and one of the projectile hit the groin of Sai Yi Leik, one of my bosom friends from Taunggyi, who has to be hospitalized. This action provoked the entire student body that now came out en-mass and shouted slogans in the campus. The next day 7th July the army commanded by Brigadier Sein Lwin surrounded the University. They were posted round Waing Gale and Hle Htan Waing Gyi a Burmese name for round about traffic but did not come into the campus. Some student from Mandalay Hall facing the University Student’s Union were teasing the soldiers, while those near the students make friends with the soldiers saying that we are making a peaceful protest. But Ne Win and the Junta has already made the fatal decision to wipe out the students dissidents once and for all. Suddenly without any warning butcher Sein Lwin gave the signal and the solders start shooting at us at the point blank range. Those in front were cut down while some soldiers took aim at the students on Mandalay Hall and shoot them indiscriminately like birds, one after another falling down from the verandas of the hostel. Kyaw Lin, the younger brother of Kyaw Min, was hit and yells for his brother who came and helps him as another bullet hit him right in the chest and the two brothers died instantly in each other’s arms. I had learnt something in the UTC (University Training Corps) and lay flat but my roommate Saw Eh Doh ran and was hit on the head with his brains sprinkling on my body. These were some of the horrific scenes still in my eyes and the next day we woke up to a very big explosion only to discover that the Student’s Union was blown up with the student’s hardliners who refused to leave the buildings. The body count by a passerby put the tool as 137 but the Junta say that the causalities were only seven.

Since then, military dictatorship in Burma has closed the universities off and on until 1988 revolution when all the university education was closed down for nearly a decade. The prolonged closure of Universities has affected the future of almost all the young people of Burma. Now we clearly know that successive military Juntas deliberately targeted the University education, the future brain of the country as only then they can control the country. Now it is over half a century that these men in uniform are in power and with the new flawed election with an equally dubious constitution, they will continue to rule the country in different guise. The date 10/10/10 has been chosen, to be consistent with the paranoid generals' fixation on numerology and superstition, but Nobel Laureate Daw Aung San Suu Kyi will be still imprisoned, and the NLD has been denied with unjust laws. It is foreseeable that the Junta will "win" the election and reinforce their power and the tyrant will be even more removed from reality and continues to spread the misery as far and wide as possible. But each act of brutality girds, the people will to resist them with the 7th July spirit.

What, the people of Burma could not comprehend is why the civilized world acquiesce to the crassness of the Generals. Lamentably the world did not know that the Jean is out of the bottle on that 7th July and is going to threaten the entire world with nuclear weapons. Earlier this month, U.S. and UN intelligence officials announced that they believed Burma was importing North Korean nuclear weapons technology. This clearly indicates that some sort of nuclear weapons is going on as North Korea will trade whatever it has be it ballistic missiles, nuclear weapons tech, infantry weapons and such to whoever can pay. The low level war with ethnic nationalities, and those opposed to the military dictatorship, continues rarely appeared in the international media. Several attacks by the Burmese army on civilian population go unreported. So do the air force bombings of rebel camps or villages suspected of being bases. Army patrols and abuse of ethnic nationalities, rarely makes the news. Occasionally, ethnic refugees fleeting to Thailand will report new atrocities. But there's nothing new about the bad behaviour of the troop’s rape, robbery and general destruction in the ethnic areas. It's been going on for half a century. The civilized world led by the West look on with folded arms because the world's most brutal regimes, is also amongst the least well understood.

In terms of trade and communications, the country is as closed as North Korea and nearly as isolated as Afghanistan under Taliban rule. The Junta has the worst images in the world and has very few friends, and even its powerful regional allies of China and India keep a safe public distance so as not to catch any of the generals' political cooties. The civilized world doesn’t care; the rhetoric of R2P has become RIP. However, the 7th July spirits will lives on as generations of brave activists risk their lives every day to move information in and out of the country, hoping to give global audiences a glimpse of the horrifying truth behind the veil, which is an indication of asking for help to overthrow the regime.

No doubt, the opposition have their own failings, mistakes, short comings, the trial and error method, in unifying themselves is still quite a distance as even the ethnic communities of Northern Alliance (different sections of Wa, Kachin) still has to be worked out with the Southern Alliance (Karen, Mon, Karenni, and Shan) drawing in the Western groups (Arakan and Chin) before they were able to find a common ground with the pro democratic groups of inside the country and in Diaspora. But the most important aspect is the encouragement from the international community who will give us marginal material support to overthrow the Junta. Until and unless we manage to find a nixes of these tripod to work together there is little or no hope to overthrow the Burmese Junta.

The Burmese military Jean even though out of the bottle is still not as mighty as it looks, for its nuclear arsenal is still primitive. But the obsession and the intent are clear and there is every possibility that it can get stronger day by day, if the world cannot nib it in the bud. Will the international community wake up to this clarion call and supply the much needed resources to the ethno-democratic forces to fight the Junta and end the scenario?

The people of Burma has realized that cannot look to America or EU, as their rhetoric and their talk seldom match their walk simply because Burma has no major oil resources. President Obama’s promise of “Peace and security of the world without nuclear weapons.” does not seem to apply to Burma as he is bent of engaging the Junta. The people of Burma may have to look to our ASEAN neighbors who can implement things, if they want to see this part of Southeast Asia a more peaceful and nuclear free zone and take a turn in dealing with the pro democratic ethnic movement rather than the Junta. Will their Constructive Engagement Policy be so pragmatic to switch to Realistic Engagement Policy and create a better world to discover whether Daw Aung San Suu Kyi and the ethnics will ever let ASEAN down in the international arena? Will the genuine democratic countries of Philippines and Thailand together with Indonesia and Singapore of the core ASEAN take the lead? Up to this day they still does not have not vision that it is far better to deal with the legally and democratically elected government that will act responsibly rather than deal with the dictators for a short term economic gain and be more like an EU.

Once this is scientifically and systematically pursued and armed the ethno-democratic forces we are quite confident that every single people of Burma will be willing to make a supreme sacrifice for the country and for their younger generations. The emblem of the fighting peacock still flies high as it cut across the ethnic nationalities, different strata, spheres, ideologies and classes for the 7th July spirit is that even though our heads are bloody yet we are unbowed. Dictators may come and dictators may go but the 7th July will go on forever.

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