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Solving the Burma problem.


    Underlying  all of Burma's present problems which culminate in ethnic
strife between the dominate Burman majority and virtually all ethnic
minorities is centuries of ethnic tension between the two blocs.  Rather than
take measures to resolve the differences or to find ways to live together in
the same territories the dominate Burman faction has found ways to exasperate
the differences, further alienating the minorities.  

One such item is the refusal to allow the minorities to teach their youth in
the parent language of the youths.  In the initial stages of learning it is
true that the parent language may be used, but as the children advance in
standards they must learn a second language and frequently this is also
coupled with a third language English in order to make learning of skilled of
subjects such as math and science viable.  The theory here is that by
requiring a universal language for exchange of ideas it would unify the
nation of Burma.  That assumption is questionable as the minorities view this
as an attempt to BURMANIZE their cultural.

While this is only one example, others exist which impress the minorities
that the Burman dominated government lacks sensitivity to their position
within Burma.  This increases tensions with the result that for 50 years or
more sopradic  and intense armed conflict has resulted between the Tatmadaw
attempting to enforce the government's will and minority resistance forces.
 Because of the dominate power of the Tatmadaw and the central government
most of the damage to villages and people has been done in ethnic minority
territory.  The result has led to severe abuses of Human Rights by the
central government and the Tatmadaw that has appalled the world community,
but seems to have had no abatement by the central government.  Judging from
the repetitiveness of these attacks and their repeated abuse the impression
left is that the government and the Tatmadaw encourages and condones these
abuses as a means to intimidate minorities.

This indictment is not just this authors position, but is also noted by the
International Community by repeated Resolutions calling upon the government
of Burma or what stands for a government the SLORC (State law and Order
Restoration Council) to cease these abuses and to adhere to the Universal
Declaration of Human Rights and the Convention of Civil and Political Rights.
 No progress is discernible as of this writing.  In fact the intensity of the
fighting would seem to have increased because of the guerrillas type warfare
now being waged.

How is this situation to be remedied - a situation that has been going on for
two generations?  Certainly there must be a drawback by all sides in the
struggle, but that doesn't mean that the parties must give up their rights to
protect themselves.  A truce in place is a first requirement while
negotiations go on to find a solution to the problems.  This truce must be a
good faith process by all parties and towards that end a third party may be
needed to oversee its implementation.  Unfortunately while this position is
acceptable to the minorities it is not acceptable to the SLORC and the
Tatmadaw which view it as a way to allow the minorities to recuperate.
 Someone needs to make a first move. Whether this will occur is questionable,
but in the meantime a fresh approach to the resolution of the problems has
been offered by the minorities which has merit to resolve the issues.  The
insistence by the SLORC and the Tatmadaw that no political resolution can
occur until the minorities lay down their arms is totally unrealistic and
blocks any resolution by negotiation.

       The fault therefore to the lack of progress must lie at the feet of
those who have the power to make a change for negotiation. The SLORC. The
refusal of the SLORC to allow this to take place raises a serious question
concerning the sincerity of the SLORC  and the Tatmadaw.  Why do they refuse
to negotiate? It  seems to this author that the reason is that to negotiate
must mean to the SLORC that it will have to give up some of its power and
position in the political and economic areas to accommodate the minorities
and those who also advocate the rule of democracy, who are in most instances
one and the same people.  That this is the prevailing will of the people of
Burma  was amply demonstrated in the 1990 election. Had the SLORC and the
Tatmadaw honored those results the problems facing Burma then and now would
have been well under way to resolution.  The failure for a political
resolution is therefore the SLORC's and purely the SLORC's.

         Furthermore an effort was made by the DAB ( Democratic Alliance of
Burma) representing  all non-SLORC and Tatmadaw factions to come to grips
with the great diversity of the ethnic factor. The DAB proposed that the new
Constitution for Burma be based upon a federated principle which would allow
states to be semi-autonomous, but remain with in a Union of Burma granting to
the central governmental authority certain powers and retaining the remainder
for their states. The effort here was to allow for self expression by the
minority people within their areas and to also allow the Burman majority to
have a number of their own states and thereby balance the power. 

       A similar move had been envisioned for the Union of Burma in the 1948
Constitution, but this author in reading over that Union of Burma
constitution and checking for its implementation in minority areas found no
willingness to carry out a federated scheme. Not so surprisingly the SLORC
rejected out of hand the DAB effort to find a compromise position. Instead
the SLORC and the Tatmadaw have insisted that they retain a controlling
position within the new constitution which they are directing to be drawn up.
It is quite instructive to this author that this SLORC effort does not
conform at all to rules of democracy and I would suggest that it never will
as the SLORC and the Tatmadawa will be relegated to a secondary political and
economic position should democracy actually prevail.

         A federated system would in fact give all a basis for governing that
would require all elements to meet together to pass such laws and rules as
may be required for the welfare of Burma and to allow for a maximum of
control to the states in their jurisdictional areas . BUT should this happen
the SLORC and the Tatmadawa lose out in  --- all of the minority states. This
is a reality they will have to accept for their past abuses and errors in
trampling on minority rights. However,  there are plenty of Burmans of the
majority faction who can and would work with the minorities to create a
peaceful society in Burma as all need and want peace.  It is only the SLORC
and  the Tatmadaw which do not want peace except on their terms- A position
hardly conductive to true peace.

       Those leaders of the SLORC and Tatmadaw which would not wish to remain
in Burma if the forces of democracy take over, should be allowed to migrate
to another country. This may be somewhat difficult, but one nation where they
may find a grudging welcome would be their strongest ally- China. The other
suggestion is to grant them amnesty for past misdeeds. This may be more than
the people of Burma could stomach.