The Financial Express

Rocky road before Burmese people

Rocky road before Burmese people

Gradually the Burmese military has started to bare its fangs as the civil disobedience movement against its seizure of power by force has been showing no sign of calming down. Such behaviour of the Burmese people who had seen more military than civilian rule since the country's independence in 1948 from the British is hard for it (the Burmese military) to reconcile. Since the saffron revolution of 2007, which was also bloody, the ongoing movement has been the most widely participated and the bloodiest. However, the saffron revolution, so named because the Buddhist monks played a leading role in that movement along with students, civil society and the common people, was concerned with economic issues such as price hike of fossil fuels rather than political ones.

But the present struggle of the Burmese people is a purely political one against the military junta in defiance of the February 01 coup, demanding restoration of the legitimate government elected in office through November 08 2020's general election.

But the Burmese military, called Tatmadaw in local language, did not expect that the protests, which began a day after the coup, would be so protracted in the face of its overwhelming power.  But seeing that rather than dissipating, the movement is gaining strength and momentum with passage of time, the military has decided to quell it by all means. The security forces opened fire on the peaceful demonstrations in different parts of the country killing some 18 people on February 28. Again on Wednesday (March 03) it killed 38 people by shooting live rounds indiscriminately and without warning in to the protesting crowds in Rangoon, Mandalay, Myngyan and Monywa taking the total death toll to 50 within a span of three days since February 28. And Wednesday's bloodbath happened despite the call upon the Burmese junta for restraint from a meeting of the foreign ministers of the ASEAN, the Southeast Asian economic bloc, of which Burma is a member. Ironically, only a few of them pressed for Aung San Suu Kyi's release.

It must be understood here that the deaths were intended, not accidental. Actually, the deaths are a message to the protestors. It is that the junta means business, they are not going to give up and that it would go to any length to crush the movement.

Hence the mindless shootings! The Burmese should not be surprised that the junta can be so bloodthirsty.  For they cannot expect anything better from their military, Tatmadaw, which massacred Rohingya  men, women and children, raped their women in thousands, threw their children in raging fire and burnt down scores of Rohingya villages in 2017 in Northern Rakhine State of the country. In the aftermath of the carnage, nearly a million Rohingya fled for their lives to Bangladesh.

It all happened under the watch of the Burmese people without drawing any condemnation from them. Neither the Burmese people's leader, the Nobel Peace laureate, Aung  San Suu Kyi, could show any sympathy towards those helpless human beings.

To the Tatmadaw the Rohingyas were less than human beings.

The Burmese military's propaganda against the Rohingya people might have then pulled the wool over Burmese people's eyes. But by now it should be clear to them that the military would not treat even the Burmese people differently, if they came in their way.

And all these unprovoked firings on peaceful demonstrators is just an indication of what is coming next.

And there is also hardly any reason for them to fear the international community's reaction against the excesses being committed by it (the Burmese military) against the unarmed civilian demonstrators of Burma. In fact, the Burmese military knows the limit of the international community's response. If truth be told, so far after the coup they did not face any big challenge either from the Western democracies, or from the neighbours.

The junta does not give a damn what the West says. It should be clear by now that mere lip service like sanctions and condemnation from the West are not going to stop the junta from committing the worst form of human rights violation in Burma.

The failure of the UN Security Council to even condemn far less take any meaningful action against the coup leaders two days after they seized power has only emboldened them to go further. The Burmese junta has succeeded in massacring and driving away the Rohingyas from their ancestral homes. So, what is stopping it from believing that it can also crush the Burmese people's resistance against its illegitimate usurpation of state power? Meanwhile, Suu Kyi has also lost whatever international appeal and image she had following her shameless defence of the Burmese military's crime against humanity against the Rohingyas before the International Court of Justice (ICJ). So, her arrest by the junta in the wake of the coup, too, could not elicit any strong response either from the world media or from the international community. So, in a sense, the protests against the junta are taking place without an effective leadership. In fact, since Aung San Suu Kyi and her party, National League for Democracy (NLD)'s stellar success in 2015's general election, the Burmese military had been looking for ways to damage Suu Kyi's international image. And it had no problem doing that as Suu Kyi proved to be an eager partner in all their misdeeds in the Rakhine State as elsewhere. Now that she has all but lost her political capital internationally, except, however, within her own country (she is still very popular in Burma), the junta is free from any major roadblock to its plan to perpetuate its grip on power.  So, to all appearances, the Burmese coup is a fait accompli.

In the given situation, the Burmese people have the only option before them: to be prepared for a long-drawn struggle to wrest their freedom and democracy from its illegitimate expropriators.


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