Mon 15 Jun 2009,
Not surprisingly the Burmese military regime’s State Peace and Development Council (SPDC) announced that over 92% of voters said ‘yes’ to the creation of the militarized constitution in May 2008, even while the whole southwestern portion of Burma had been hit by Cyclone Nargis. Before the constitution was confirmed, the regime disallowed any public debates on the constitution so the referendum was not actually free and fair.
Now the regime’s SPDC plans to move forward with their militarized constitution by ignoring the main causes of the country’s political problems. The SPDC constitution will politically favor the military administration, allowing it to maintain a hold on its power by taking parliamentary seats and cabinet positions legally. This constitution does not intend to deal with democratic reform and demands from the ethnic groups for their right to self-determination.
How can the political transition by the military be smooth while thousands of political prisoners and the democratic leader, Daw Aung San Suu Kyi, are in jail? How can Burma have a peaceful political transition process while there is armed conflict and civil war continues in most ethnic areas? The SPDC believes that in order to hold a smooth 2010 election, they will have to ban the main opposition party, the National League for Democracy (NLD), and imprison its party leader, Daw Aung San Suu Kyi. They think that in this way they can solve the problem and can move on with the election process. Additionally, along with forcing the confirmation of the constitution, the SPDC is now trying to force the ceasefire ethnic armed groups to re-form their armed forces into border guard forces by consolidating each group into the Burmese Army. At the same time the SPDC has not arranged any political negotiations with the remaining non-ceasefire armed groups.
If Daw Aung San Suu Kyi and the hundreds of political activists (including members of the 88’ Generation Students) are in jail, the democracy movement in Rangoon and other cities will be hidden, but those remaining political activists outside jail will not stop their activities. Many of these pro-democracy activists realize that the current constitution will not guarantee democracy and will only strengthen the military rule for the future. Therefore they may continue to fight to obtain ‘genuine’ democracy with free, fair elections and freedom of expression.
Even now, as the military regime plans to change the ceasefire ethnic armed groups into border guard forces, many disagree with the regime’s plan. Some groups have announced that if they are forced to form a ‘border guard force’, they will resume their armed fight against the Burmese Army. It would be a renewed and widespread civil war. The military alliance of ethnic armed groups will grow and they will fight against the regime from various fronts, and in the end the Burmese Army will launch offensives against these ethnic armed groups, and brutally mistreat the ethnic civilians in the area.
2009–2010 are dangerous years. The political situation could turn out badly. The people in general have demonstrated that they have no interest in the SPDC’s political change, and believe that the regime is just trying to put old wine into a new bottle. The international community has no coordinated strategy on how to handle the problems in Burma, and the regime itself does not listen to the outside world. In the end, the people of the country are sure to face more suffering.