Burma: Where do we go from here?
An opinion piece calling for unity, peace, and understanding between all ethnic minority groups in Burma.
It is obvious that the past and present generals have failed Burma and her people. In spite of the fact that Burma has rich natural resources, they have made the country one of the poorest in the world. During their occupation they have perpetrated the most atrocious human rights violations against the population. The extent of suffering inflicted on innocent citizens, and the number they have killed and murdered without crime or reason is unimaginable. Daily the soldiers with guns go on a rampage in every town and village to force the people to labour.
The peoples of Burma pleaded to the United Nations, the superpowers, China, Russia, India and ASEAN countries for help. But International countries are unable or unwilling to do anything other than coax Than Shwe and his generals to reform.
From what has been seen recently Burma is not going to get practical help from the United Nations and there will not be an invasion on humanitarian grounds by the superpowers. It is now up to the people of Burma to fend for themselves. […] They will have to unite behind the common goal of liberating the country from the dictatorial regime which rules by the gun.
For such a unity to take place all nationalities will have to first get rid of their preconceived ideas and change their mental attitude towards each other. The regime has for four decades divided and ruled, while at the same time has by force tried to assimilate the different nationalities into one Burman nationality. This has created enmity, misunderstanding, grudge, and prejudices against each other. The extreme Burman nationalists have used Burman nationalism, chauvinism and superiority complex as their inspiration; while each of other ethnic nationalities, in order to survive reacted by building a stronger cohesive group excluding other nationalities. This has led to the development of a strong sense of ethno- and religious nationalism of its own. All nationalities must realise that narrow ethno- and religious nationalism is the obvious cause of conflicts between nationalities.
Whether we like it or not all the ethnic nationalities of Burma, because of their geographical situation and history cannot do without with each other; therefore for the common good of all concerned they will have to reconstruct a meaningful relationship that is sincere and worthy of trust. They could begin by treating each other as equal partners, learning by mistakes from past and moving forward towards a better future. All will have to learn to rid themselves of the desire to dominate and control, and recognise and respect each other’s freedom of choice. Human relationship is not easy but good relationship can be achieved by trying to understand each other’s feelings and points of view; and not by force but by voluntary participation. After all, the ethnic nationalities joined the Burmans to form the Union of Burma by their own free will. Bogyoke Aung San understood when he said, “the right of Secession must be given, but it is our duty to work and show our sincerity so that they do not wish to leave”.
An amicable relationship between all ethnic nationalities can create the man power that is needed to defy the SPDC [State Peace and Development Council]. This has to be very well planned and organized with the creation of a network throughout the country. Our hope lies in the Sanghas of Burma, the Burmans, Shans, Mons, Arakans etc, and leaders of all religious groups. These religious leaders are revered and respected by the population. They have the power and ability to teach morality, and to uphold the concept of loving kindness, and thus can unite the people. They are also experienced organizers and have the capability to mobilise the population. If the religious leaders were to lead, the people will flock after them.
The 19th of July is Martyrs Day in Burma, when in 1947 Bogyoke Aung San and his colleagues were assassinated. They had great hopes for the future of Burma. To let the evil dictatorial regime continue to bully the citizens will mean that their aspiration and sacrifice will have been in vain. The SPDC generals, besides being greedy and selfish are nothing more than cowards, afraid to give up their guns and power and live like ordinary folks. They are the greatest bullies of all and not unlike the bullies in the school playground. A school boy likes to bully those weaker than him. He stops only when the victims have the courage to stand and fight back. Likewise, the SPDC generals will continue to bully citizens until the victims have enough strength and courage to defy and stand up to them. It will not be easy because the generals have the advantage of possessing guns and ammunition.
Manpower and strength can be created if all the ethnic nationalities can unite under the common goal. Such unity can only happen by reconciliation of all peoples of Burma by rebuilding trust, and respect for the individual freedom of choice of religion, culture and political views. Enmity, hatred, grudges and prejudices should be overcome by forgiveness and loving kindness. This conciliation and understanding between all ethnic nationalities of Burma can be the only weapon to dismantle the SPDC, to have true democracy and a lasting peace in Burma.