Will Burma Never Make A “U” Turn Move?
Former military man turned head of USDP and state, President Thein Sein promised that Burma would not make a “U” turn in its reform process during a tour to five European countries in late February and early March 2013. Even though Thein Sein’s government bullied the whole world with the most imaginative flavor of effectively welldesigned bogus, he could not hide all their empty promises and dirty acts, including wiping out ethnic groups one after another. Let us get straight to highlighting how international communities and the citizens of Burma are being misled.
In order to get credit and approval from international communities, Thein Sein’s government boasts that they have succeeded in taking remarkable steps by having so-called ceasefire agreements with ethnic armed groups and a bogus democratic flavor. These steps were just a show as can be seen by observing several occasions of wars between the Burmese military and Kachin Army and Shan in the name of the “Myanmar Peace Initiative Movement,” which is fully supported by the Norwegian government. Meanwhile, Kachin armed groups are being cast out of their own territory while the government is still giving its word to international communities that there is a ceasefire agreement with the ethnic armed group. The same situation applies to Shan and other ethnic groups. While still in the process of being plugged out one after another, the governments speaks of ceasefire agreements, peace and stability.
International communities do not see the real interests of innocent civilians and ethnic groups in Burma but only see their own profitable business dealings with civilian-dress military men. In the long run, it will not only damage the interests of local innocent people but will also spread a degrading moral attitude beyond Burma. Within Burma, the status and reputation of international communities’ roles and responsibilities is being discredited.
Lack of leadership skills and a lack of willpower to cooperate among ethnic groups simply lead to the fall of every ethnic group. Even though there were times when the combined strength of all ethnic groups was much greater and more advanced than the military forces, ethnic armed groups have never fully cooperated enough with each other to overthrow the military. This simply proves that there is a lack of leadership, lack of strategy and extreme egoism.
Divide and Rule Policy Effective to Demolish Ethnic Groups
Opposition groups were divided by the military regime from the time that revolution first began. Ethnic groups were never able to reach an agreement in order to cooperate for a common interest in the process of revolution. Even Thein Sein’s trip to Norway proved how his government manipulates opposition groups in Norway by inviting NLD-LA, one of the most active opposition groups, to make a peace deal in Burma prior to this trip. NLD-LA was kept waiting for several weeks at the Thai-Burma border until Thein Sein’s European mission was completed. Therefore, main members of the NLD-LA group living in Europe were unable to make any major protest during Thein Sein’s visit. Thein Sein and his team were reluctant to face any demonstration without including major political activists, and they even succeeded in abolishing the NLD-LA Norway branch by their cronies in Norway. The NLD-LA group returned from the meeting in Burma with empty promises and no remarkable progress, but Thein Sein returned to Burma with a big smile.
Let us go back to the history of civil war: whenever a war broke out between any ethnic armed group and the military, only one ethnic armed group at a time engaged with the Burmese army in self-defense. Other ethnic armed groups were either under a ceasefire agreement or had already fled from their base.
Opposition groups and ethnic armed groups failed to apply the right strategy again and again from the beginning. According to the 2008 constitution, the constitution requires a majority of more than 75 percent to pass legislation while 25 percent of seats are reserved for the military. Amending the constitution requires a vote in which more than 50 percent of elected officials support the amendments. In the 2008 constitution, there is no intention to implement a federal system and no guarantee for the rights of ethnic groups and civilians. Knowing the totally unacceptable flaws of the 2008 constitution, the NLD party led by Aung San Suu Kyi contested it by election in April 2012.
The 2008 constitution was written under the former military government in which current president Thein Sein was Prime Minister, and the USDP was set up largely as a civilian proxy of the military. “At present, the constitution is the most difficult constitution in the world to amend, the most difficult,” Suu Kyi told reporters. “If we want to amend the constitution, we have to change the process of amendment.” However, Suu Kyi also said that the party which she leads, the National League for Democracy (NLD), and the USDP had agreed to work together on drafting the amendments. “If they really want to change the constitution, there’s no reason not to fully cooperate with them,” Suu Kyi said. “All together we can cooperate. The USDP made a proposal to organize the committee to amend the constitution. We did support that proposal.”
The strategy which Aung San Suu Kyi and the NLD is using is a dangerous game in politics. Since 2012, after Aung San Suu Kyi contested to win by election, the political environment in Burma has totally changed, but the word “change” simply doesn’t mean the right direction or even a better one. After analyzing all the information, it seems that military men will continue to dominate politics in Burma in
the name of democracy. The same group is dominating and taking control of every major decision-making body of the government in the name of “reform.” This strategy will never bring genuine democracy and peace to Burma. In this case, why would Thein Sein and his government want to make a “U” turn since, in the name of democracy, this “change” has turned them from illegal rulers to the legal rulers of the country. In conclusion, the same wicked civilian-dress military men will forever dominate the country by granting unimportant positions to power-hungry, immature politicians and selfish opposition groups.
Under the name of democracy and peace, more and more ethnic groups are being wiped out from their own territories. Most of the land of innocent civilians is being confiscated in the name of development projects, for which international communities’ cooperation with the civilian-dress military regime is directly responsible. The fact is that nothing must be compromised if we really want to find the truth. The truth is to grant rights to those who are entitled to have their own rights. As long as no one steals the rights of another, there will be peace.
Burma’s President Thein Sein and his Ministers and Staff members during a visit to Norway
Burmese people protest during Thein Sein a visit to Norway
Jonathan Thang is an Associate Editor at the Global Digest magazine, and also a leader of Matu Burma Foundation based in Norway. He has an MA in Economics.