Burma’s Dilemma: Reconciliation versus Reconsolidation
Burma’s Dilemma: Reconciliation versus Reconsolidation
Burma was initially a province in the Indian empire but became a self-governing state when it gained its independence in 1948 from the Commonwealth (South 7). The country has faced a series of different types of governance from when it gained independence. Gen. NE WIN subjected the country under military rule right after independence, then due to the influence from Britain colonial mandate he was appointed as the first president of the country (South 11). Later the mandate of leadership that dominated the nation changed to political kingpin.
The Gen. NE WIN leadership was rejected on September 1988 leading to the establishment of military junta that currently refers itself as the State Peace and Development Council (SPDC) (South 17). In 1990 the country held elections that saw a landslide victory for the opposition party; National League for Democracy (NLD) (South 22). However SPDC refused to hand over power and forcefully house arrested NLD leader and AUNG SAN SUU KYI the noble peace prize winner from 1989 to 1995 and 2000 to 2003 (South 22).
The government instills an intimidating mandate which manipulates the economic status of the country, uses strict security measures that ensures necessary information regarding the economy and social welfare of the society are censured, repression of human rights and suppression of minor ethnic groups, as the residents of the country are mainly Burmans, Shans, Karens, Rohingya, Arakanese, Kachins, Chins, and Mons (Alternative Asean Network on Burma 13).
SPDC ruling that is heavily depicted by its harsh aggression and abuse of human rights lead the country into an economic crisis in 2007 as inflation rates were high leading to the increase of fuel prices, which resulted to protests initiated by pro-democracy activists and Buddhist monks (Alternative Asean Network on Burma 78). The government resulted to killing about 13 people and arresting thousand of the protest participants in an attempt of suppressing the demonstration (Alternative Asean Network on Burma 80).
This was later followed by the manslaughter of protestant who were raided from their homes and monasteries because the government is the center of governance and thus controls all political transitions (Alternative Asean Network on Burma 80). Despite this, in 2008 the country was struck by a cyclone that claimed the lives of approximately 80, 000 citizens and injured about 50, 000 citizens (Alternative Asean Network on Burma 86).
This did not stop the government from intimidating holding a referendum in May 2008 to act as a guideline for the multi party elections to be held in 2010 (Alternative Asean Network on Burma 92). The ethno-nationalists and pro-democratic oppositions demands perpetuation of a federal model of democracy which advocates respect to human rights and all ethnic groups in the country. The opposition intends to campaign for national reconciliation among all Burma citizens regardless of their ethnicity by developing strategies to politically address the security of the country.
SPDC seeks to permanently rule through enforcement of legal and military unity in the government’s policies which determines the social, economic, political and cultural stability through reconsolidation. The opposition is under a dilemma of perpetuating peace and security in a country that has faced anti-federalism regime for decades (Mathea et al. 24). The current political system in the country should advocate for national reconciliation in the country to help establish and develop a resilient democracy.
To begin with SPDC should reconcile with the ethnic nationalists and pro-democratic leaders to be able to rationally deal with the current problems in the country that are affecting the welfare of the society, the country and the local community levels. This will help to proclaim a national healing process where communities that mistrust each other will correlate and coordinate to build one large community that perpetuates peace.
Moreover the root cause of the violence in the country which includes violation of the human rights of the minority ethnic groups such as sexual harassment and forced labor, killing and the imprisonment of pro-democratic and ethnicity advocates and the massive internally displacement regimes will be address in an attempt of seeking justice and peace (Trevor et al. 53). The rights of the minority ethnic groups such as equality and freedom for cultural and religious practice should be prevailed and respected.
The political system in the country should also ensure the citizens of Burma have freedom of speech and press to be able to air out their views and grievances which will play a big part in the process of campaigning for peace and stability in the country (Mathea et al. 45). Furthermore, the political system should deal with the disproportion in the livelihood of the community by curbing inflation, poor education, spread of HIV/AIDS, drug problems, increased violence and the nosedived state of the economy which is depicted by the decrease in participation in the stock exchange market and energy supplies.
The political system should foster hope in the country to make the citizens that had been forced to flee the country to return and utilize the economic opportunities availed by the country, for example agriculture and industrial development due to the diverse national resources in the country such as energy sources, precious stones and natural gas among others (Trevor et al. 112).
Alternatively a strong civil society should be built by also including the exiled ethnicity nationalists and pro-democratic activists to transform the values of the country from the cultural relativist to be right-based. The non-interference policy of the government should also be abolished as it has failed to protect the rights of the citizens especially women and children who are mostly victims of military sexual harassment and rape. The government should also implement the concept of multi-parties, to be able to respect the opposition (ASEAN et al.
127-252). To be able to overcome the predicament that the country is facing the government should work hand in hand with the opposition in an attempt of prevailing peace and reconciliation in the country. By so doing the citizens regardless of their ethnicity and gender will be viewed as the stakeholders of the country and therefore develop a profound relationship with the authority that will benefit the country both economically and socially. Word Count: 1041 Works Cited Alternative Asean Network on Burma.
Burma Briefing: Issues and Concerns. Wangthonglang, Bangkok: ALTSEAN Burma, 2007 ASEAN, Institute for Strategic and Development Studies, Institute for Strategic and Development Studies (Philippines) and ASEAN Institutes of Strategic and International Studies. The role of the people in building an ASEAN community of caring and sharing societies: report of the fifth ASEAN People’s Assembly, Manila, Philippines, 8-10 December 2006. Quezon, Philippines: Institute for Strategic and Development Studies, 2007.
Mathea Falco, Council on Foreign Relations and Ebrary Inc. Burma: A Time for Change. NY: Council on Foreign Relations Press, 2003. Trevor, Wilson, Australian National University. Dept. of Political and Social Change, Institute of Southeast Asian Studies and Asia Pacific Press. Myanmar’s Long Road to National Reconciliation. Heng Mui Keng Terrace, Singapore: Institute of Southeast Asian Studies, 2006. South, Ashley. Ethnic Politics in Burma: States of Conflict. Milton Park: Taylor & Francis, 2008.