Burmese shrug off military rule

26 Sep

It should not come as a surprise that the Burmese riot police has finally retaliated with violence on the protesting monks. The restraint that the military regime has practised until recently has somewhat bolstered the protestors’ confidence, which had the uncanny effect of causing the mass protests to further swell.

Now that the regime has lost their head by attacking the revered monks, the option of no longer NOT using violence is basically thrown out of the window. The effect of this outright display and actual violence on the protestors and monks is likely to escalate and either:

a) cause the size of the protests to dwindle as the monks or people fear physical retaliation; or

b) further expand because the ordinary Burmese are no longer willing to watch idly while the monks, highly respected in their society are attacked.

The second probability is more likely to occur since the increase in fuel hikes has caused far too much misery to the livelihoods of the ordinary people that they feel they have no choice but to publicly protest; despite knowing the severity of the repercussions.

This is a crucial period where international pressure is likely to play an important role in ensuring that violence is reduced or stopped.

As Bush announces more sanctions against Burma, China has urged the latter for stability.

Yet, asking the Burmese military regime to stop the violence cannot be executed without urging for a process of immediate dialogue.

To this end, ASEAN can and should play a decisive meditative role by urging the Burmese military government to:

a) release Aung San Suu Kyi from house arrest;

b) release the activists and monks who have been imprisoned for participating in the protests;

c) engage in a tri – party dialogue process (consisting of the Burmese military; Aung San Suu Kyi and her National League for Democracy leaders; and ASEAN acting as the arbitrator)

The aim of the dialogue, not only to reduce and stop the violence, could also pave the way for the generals to “relinquish their authority” while allowing the country to transit towards a process of democratisation – from military to civilian rule.

The likelihood of ASEAN to initiate this process is slim considering it has always advocated a “non-interference on internal affairs” approach towards its members.

However, ASEAN also understands that if it does not act to ensure that violence stops in Burma, its credibility as a trade- security bloc which tries to embody a human rights mechanism (with its newly drafted ASEAN Charter) will merely be an empty call.

China and India, which are close trading partners with the regime should also exert pressure on the government.

This is perhaps the tipping point where the Burmese needs more international pressure and aid more than ever, if they ever wanted to shrug off military rule. People in other countries can help by signing petitions or protesting outside the Burmese embassy in their own countries. They could also write to the Burmese government and or their elected members of parliament to urge them to take up the cause of allowing the Burmese their right to freedom of assembly and stopping the violence.

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One Response to “Burmese shrug off military rule”

  1. James Chia September 28, 2007 at 1:42 pm #

    It would be of course good if the military leaders are willing to relinquish their powers back to the people voluntarily but looking at the past and current situations, I think it’s impossible as they would have done so years ago.

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