Burma’s protests

Soldiers and police have baton-charged Burmese protesters who tried to stage a further day of marches in Rangoon. This sparked global protests .

The military junta in Burma isn’t new to repressing protests. During the cold war such practices used to be seen as an internal matter as countries like the USA tried to distance themselves from it considering it politically unrewarding. Its allies like China used the pretext of sovereignty.

As it seems in politics, principles are set aside in favour of interests. The most realistic in reaction to what is taking place was Russia when it said that Burma didn’t pose a threat to any country. All the countries reluctant to impose vigorous sanctions on the military junta are worried about their interests.

The protesters stand defenceless. They have as arms just marches and the media reporting about them. The military junta has the deadly weapons to crush them. There is one thing that can turn the soldiers into supporters of democracy is by succeeding in converting them onto fervent Buddhists, ready to obey monks and not the military. As the army didn’t spare even the monks by brutally repressing them, the civilians there are likely to be in the grip of military power. There is no force to overthrow it as the outside world is divided about what action to take.

The world leaders can stand against the military because of its undemocratic practises. By they won’t stand in the way of each other’s interests. The USA is free to do what it likes in Iraq. Other countries are free to support which regime they like.

A revert to civilian rule is unlikely. The military are reluctant to give power. A top general can accept a return to civilian rule provided he becomes the head of state at least for two terms as it was the case in Nigeria. In Pakistan Pervez Musharraf is fighting to remain in power at whatever cost. Even if he loses the next elections he will stay the head of the army. It’s a dream only. The military junta in Burma should come to a compromise for a smooth transition to civilian rules. The Head of the army should share power with democratically elected parties to allow the next elections to be run for the formation of a civilian government. But it seems that generals used to the comfort of sweeping powers will find it difficult to return to their barracks. Blood for them is a routine. They won’t mind spilling as much of it as a possible to get rid of hard opponents and through violent scenes they discourage any new challenge at least for a very long time. In Burma it took this spectacular uprising almost 19 years as the latest took place in 1988.

As history shows, there are people who are unfortunate. Their ordeals become just a spectacle and they go down history as a parenthesis or a food for thoughts for movie makers, writers and journalist to depict this country to the outside world. As time passes, the protests fade and then the country falls in oblivion until new sparks of bloody protests grab the headlines.


  1. Bunc said,

    September 29, 2007 at 1:19 am

    What is happening in Burma is both inspiring and terrifying.
    Inspiring because a downtrodden people have started to rise and try to assert their rights in the face of a brutal military dictatorship.
    Terrifying because the Jnta has already resorted to dealy force and we all know that they will go further if they have to to protect their illegitimate rule.
    From my reading it seems that China and India have the best chance of influencing the regime away from violence and towards liberalisation.
    Sadly it seems that both China and India though will block anything that might bring pressure on the regime. Meantime the UN huffs and puffs and has meeting which simply demonstrates its powerlessness.

  2. Abdelilah Boukili said,

    September 30, 2007 at 3:11 am

    Thanks Bill for your comment.

  3. Looney said,

    September 30, 2007 at 11:41 pm

    I like your comments.

    Some observations:

    The military junta in the Soviet Union was overthrown eventually, but not by some sort of religious uprising.

    I remember Burma before the military takeover. It was a land of warlords and corruption with a weak government. This country has a lot of potential, but a civilian transition may not be a panacea.

    The Pakistan comparison has some similar features, but also some differences. Somehow I find a Buddhist theocracy less threatening than an Islamic one with nukes and a huge military.

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