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/* Written Mon 6 May 6:00am 1996 by DRUNOO@xxxxxxxxxxxx in igc:reg.burma */
/* --------" Ethnic Nationalities Unity on Federalism.."--------- */


Encouraging signs have emerged within the Burma's democracy movement in
relation to the unity about ethnic minorities: The ethnic leaders
adherence to the federalism in Burma and their support to National League
for Democracy that was announced in recent postings. This move by ethnic
leaders will certainly help to undermine the SLORC's only remaining
political legitimacy: Burmese military as the sole protector of secession
of the Union. 


Any political grouping or organization have their respective beliefs and
legitimacy. SLORC, like other political organizations 1./, also has its
own "political beliefs". The existence for SLORC as an organization thus
far have been, in addition to these Generals' greed on the power and
privileges, based on such political beliefs - or, rather, delusions - that
their continuation of rulings are of a necessity. 

One of the Burmese military junta's beliefs, throughout its rulings since
1962, is that the military has been sole protector and the guardian of the
Union from the secessions. Because of this political belief, the SLORC is
able to consolidate its power within the military personnels. 

The political campaign or the political battle against such an entity as
SLORC involves removing the fundamental causes of their beliefs. In the
present example is that the ethnic freedom fighters' pronouncement about
the belief in a federal union and non-secession, which exactly may serve
to remove the SLORC's fundamental beliefs and, hence, legitimacy. 


Although such move may lay good ground for the negotiations with the
Burmese military, it is quite unlikely that the negotiations will take
place without pressure. It is precisely because of the attitude of some of
the members of the SLORC towards politics and minorities. Such attitude
originate at the Burmese General's perception about politics in general
and the minorities' rebellions in particular. 

When reassessing last year's (1995) work, it almost entirely devoted to
the peaceful mediation of conflict with the help of the diplomatic
community. International community's efforts to that was made with the
help of mediators such as Sayadaw Rawata Dhamma and Archbiship Andrew Mya
Han. Throughout the year-1995, various diplomats have visited Burma and
put their efforts for such mediation. 

My impression in early 1995 was that the SLORC may have some difficulty,
due to the existence of different factions within its military circle,
about getting into the negotiation. After the SLORC's cabinet reshuffles
in June-1995 and the release of Daw Aung San Suu Kyi in July, my
estimation was that SLORC is ready to enter negotiations. Most vigorous
effort was thus made in order to facilitate necessary help from the
diplomatic community, particularly from the Australian Government. 

Australia have long been interested in Burma and at this time also appears
to have made their best efforts. On early December-95, the Australia's
National Party leader Tim Fischer - now the Deputy Prime Minister -
visited Rangoon. It was, however, found out later that the initiative for
mediation by Australian Government had been rejected from the SLORC's
side. A point to be made here is that the SLORC was given enough
opportunity to resolve the conflict with the help of diplomatic community. 


Further revelation about the SLORC's delaying tactics was made in
Bangkok Post report on 17.3.96. As the KNU negotiators described,
SLORC appeared not having any proper position to enter dialogue.
What the SLORC was doing in regards to negotiation, thus far, has
been trying to hide behind a smoke-screen so as to avoid the diplomats
and U.N. officials.

SLORC's current position may be that they would delay and avoid any
negotiation with the Oppositions, hoping that some un-expected change in
circumstances may come-up so that it can re-consolidate its position. In
SLORC's view, the longer it can hold on to its present position and avoid
negotiations, the better it is having chance for survival and to continue
ruling of the country. 

In addition to the insincerity in dealing with the issues, SLORC has also
proven to be one of the difficult political opponent: it shows no sign of
giving up hope for its unrealistic objective. SLORC's initiative for
ceasefire with the ethnic groups is not aimed at achieving a genuine
peace; it is made with the intention to promote itself as a peace-maker in
order to gain international legitimacy. SLORC's attempts to mordernize the
economy are not aimed at developing the living standard of population; it
made rather to show the population off "how military is capable of
mordernizing". In sum, SLORC has been making every efforts to promote its
internal and international legitimacy. 


>From my understanding, a political struggle or battle - unlike that of
military one - cannot have a clear-cut "win" or "lose" on sight. Since
political battles are fought essentially in peoples' hearts and minds,
only the time at a longer period can tell who is winning or losing. One
can compare the position of Democratic forces vs. SLORC at the U.N. forums
in recent years and that of early 1990s. This is why one always need to
persevere and have patience in a struggle in order to achieve one's

A great many leaders told us time and again that the democratic forces
must be "strong" and "united" to remove the dictatorship from power. My
interpretation to the word "strong" is "politically strong" and "united"
is "politically united". In my view, a thousand people chanting
anti-government slogans cannot be exactly said being politically strong.
However, with the help of a ten people who know what are the moves of
their opponent and know how to make counter-moves will make much a
stronger political entity. This is why the dissemination of good
information amongst pro-democracy groups is vital to build-up the
political movements. 

On the one hand, the political battles seems to have waged differently
from military battles. In military battles, the command from one General
will be carried out by its soldiers. In political battles, the policies
against any such political entity (in our case the SLORC) are carried out
by diverse organizations and numerous individuals, which they may not
necessarily have a formal connections. However, so long as these
organizations and individuals implementing the very same policy, they can
be considered as "politically united". To achieve such unity, the
knowledge and understanding of various policy initiatives amongst
pro-democracy groups are most essential. Such knowledge and understanding
of policies will enable the pro-democracy groups to build-up a unified

With best regards, U Ne Oo.

endnote 1./ SLORC never refers to itself as a political organization (which
in fact showing its political illiteracy.) The political beliefs, however,
are in someway necessary to have amongst SLORC rank and file not to become
trapped into indentifying themselves as a group of 'organized bandits'.