Pa­tri­ar­chal Tra­di­tions vs the Mil­i­tary Caste – Myan­mar

Weekend Mirror - - EDITORIAL - By Eddi Rod­ney


who are con­ver­sant with East or South Asian po­lit­i­cal trends would be aware that Burma, In­dia and Sri Lanka formed part of the Bri­tish Em­pire up un­til im­me­di­ately af­ter the Sec­ond World War when In­dia gained its In­de­pen­dence in 1947 (Burma’s self-rule as com­plete in­de­pen­dence was sealed on Jan­uary 4, 1948).

What may not be as well rec­og­nized is that the ‘di­vi­sion of labour’ in Burma re­flected the mi­gra­tion of sev­eral thou­sands of Ben­galis and other Hindu cen­tred peo­ple from In­dia into Burma, where these peo­ples con­sol­i­dated a ru­ral as well as ur­ban petit bour­geoisie to­gether with an in­creas­ingly in­flu­en­tial Chi­nese mer­can­tile class.

Un­der the weight of a ru­ral pa­tri­ar­chal sys­tem many Ro­hingya re­mained un­der­de­vel­oped and op­pressed; and it is against this dia­lec­tic with Moslem in­sur­gen­cies trending in Bangladesh, Kash­mir, Thai­land as well as In­done­sia that the Yangon based mil­i­tary elite de­clared a cam­paign against so called Ro­hingya ex­trem­ists.

It is not sur­pris­ing that Aung San Sui Kyi has been un­able, un­will­ing to con­demn the mil­i­tary/po­lice vi­o­lence and mas­sacres car­ried out against the Ro­hingya, es­pe­cially since the Au­gust 25 guerilla cam­paign was ini­ti­ated by a mixed col­lec­tion of lo­cal and for­eign Moslems in var­i­ous parts of the coun­try.

The Myan­mar mil­i­tary con­tin­ues to wield ex­tra­or­di­nary pow­ers. Credit banks and fa­cil­i­ties, con­struc­tion firm and trans­porta­tion net­works have been as­so­ciated with mil­i­tary own­er­ship and con­trol.

Ad­di­tion­ally, sim­i­lar to else­where in Asia re­li­gious ex­trem­ists have is­sued xeno­pho­bic calls for ex­pul­sions.

Ro­hingyas have very lit­tle hopes for gen­uine re­forms. The sys­tem ex­cludes them from par­tic­i­pat­ing in crit­i­cal so­cial ac­tiv­i­ties.

Ed­u­ca­tion, gen­der, health and em­ploy­ment op­por­tu­ni­ties are rou­tinely de­nied.

And whilst In­dia’s Prime Min­is­ter Naren­draModi was re­cently as­sured of the rights of its ci­ti­zen’s pro­tec­tion by Aung San Sui Kyi, no one is aware of whether sim­i­lar as­sur­ances have been sought or pro­vided to the Saudi aris­toc­racy con­sid­ered as “the pro­tec­tor” of ad­her­ents of the Wa­habi and all other Believ­ers in the teach­ings of Mo­hamed – the Last Prophet on Earth”.

Myan­mar, some as­pects of the mil­i­ta­rized bour­geoisie dic­ta­tor­ship

With the his­tor­i­cal ex­cep­tion of post Meiji Ja­pan (re­flected in Tokyo’s 1934 Amau State­ment – mod­eled on the Mun­roe Doc­trine of US im­pe­ri­al­ism) and the DPRK (or North Korea), the most pow­er­ful mil­i­ta­rized dic­ta­tor­ship, based on the con­sol­i­da­tion of hege­mony over the state ap­pa­ra­tus has devel­oped in Myan­mar ( for­merly Burma). At an em­piri­cist level, this East Asian par­a­digm rep­re­sents a his­toric process that wit­nessed Myan­mar, a main­land coun­try of some 676,652 sq km be­ing trans­formed into a ter­ri­tory where the na­tional bour­geoisie col­lab­o­rates with the mil­i­tary backed oli­garchy to main­tain a Bud­dhist spir­i­tual dom­i­na­tion over the pro­le­tariat and rev­o­lu­tion­ary peas­ants.

In fact, it is im­pos­si­ble to com­pre­hend the Myan­mar ‘com­plex­ity’ with­out first in­ves­ti­gat­ing the emer­gence of the ‘mul­ti­po­lar’ pro­vin­cial (or state) blocs based on eth­nic af­fil­i­a­tion or her­itage. In terms of an ‘Asian” in­flu­enced ‘so­ci­ol­ogy’ this process is not ex­clu­sively a re­sult of di­vide and rule en­gi­neered by ex­ter­nal colo­nial forces; but was part of the ter­ri­tory’s evo­lu­tion dat­ing from we could sug­gest, the dis­so­lu­tion of what the his­to­ri­ans de­scribed as Pa­gan Burma-along the Ir­rawadyRiver – by the end of the 13th cen­tury.

And that ‘ long wave’ of eight cen­turies has been char­ac­ter­ized by lit­er­ally scores of lo­cal and ter­ri­to­rial wars, con­flicts of pro­vin­cial re­sis­tance and re­for­ma­tions based on the de­vel­op­ment of a cen­tral­ized po­lit­i­cal class ei­ther in Ran­goon or Yangon.

The Ro­hingya in­habit the Rakine state or prov­ince geopo­lit­i­cally ad­ja­cent to Bangladesh. The bulk of the Ro­hingya are ru­ral vil­lagers. How­ever, sim­i­lar to other mi­nori­ties in East Asia these com­mu­ni­ties mi­grate, or form part of di­as­pora-in­flu­enced neigh­bour­hoods (mi­grat­ing to Bangladesh be­ing the most favoured op­tion.

Dur­ing the pe­riod of Bri­tish colo­nial­ism (18861948), it is claimed that for what­ever rea­son and faced with a pro-Ja­panese stance adopted by the pre­dom­i­nantly Bud­dist po­lit­i­cal move­ment, the Ro­hingya sided with the Bri­tish. It is also pos­si­ble that sec­tions of Ro­hingya were re­cruited to fight against Ja­panese oc­cu­pa­tion. How­ever, there are other states or prov­inces of eth­nic mi­nori­ties such as the Arakan, the Karen, the Mon, the Kashin as well as the Shan.

Armed i nsur­gen­cies for greater au­ton­omy and eco- so­cial free­doms have been made or launched by the Karen, the Kashins well as the Shan through or­ga­nized lib­er­a­tion move­ments.

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