The student protest is gathering tensions in Latpadan. An enormous number of security forces are deployed, intended to disperse the protesters.
It was so great that the security forces confronting the ‘angry mob’ during the Meikhtila riot was made to be nothing. There were no sign of attempts to stop the mobs from burning, looting or killing. Back then, our reporter covering the riot was forced to flee even though he was on a fire-truck with a police officer.
Likewise, the ‘angry mob’ showed up during the violence clashes in Mandalay and Lasho. They destroyed and looted, yet the police failed to stop. We have evidences that the police failed and happened to let get away.
Why are they using a great amount of security forces to disperse the peaceful student protesters while they did not stop during the crises where many people were killed and houses were burnt or destroyed?. I now raise the question.
Even though the students from the main student march are asking for educational reforms, the main causes are political repressions of the last two decades. No matter who is behind the protest, it is the same predicament everyone is facing.
By the look of the forces deployed against the peaceful students, it seems they plan to repress the students’ and ultimately public’s new-gained political awareness at any costs.
The demonstrations of 1920, 1936 and 1938 were born of the great desire for independence. Students led the protests. Similarly, 1962 protest for bombing the Student Union building, 1974 U Thant protest and 1976 March protest of Mhine 100th anniversary were led by the students.
The general deprivation led to student protests and the death of Ko Phone Maw in March, 1988. (After the government announced the then-using bank notes illegal, the public suffered a great loss and most of the students could no longer effort education.)
Although it is a student protest, I do not deny the connection to political motives. All of the student struggles against dictatorial regimes have political sentiments. The current protest is no exception.
Apart from pro-dictators, dictatorial elements and elites, no one would object the student protests against authoritarian system. Everyone support the students.
Now, there are tensions between the authorities and students. That is a legacy of the authoritarian regime. However, I do not wish the horrors of 1988 uprising to be repeated. I want a peaceful solution.
Still, the situation seems to be heading to duplicate the incidents from March, 1988. If there is a forceful dispersion against the student protest and a student is severely wounded or killed, the problem will grow. If there is any violence against the students, it could make the blood boil under the hot sun of March.
Me and my organization, the Eleven Media Group, stand firmly against any violence. I do not wish the students to continue matching to Yangon. I want it to be solved in the parliament. I do not want a confrontation. I cannot accept calling the students’ political awareness as communism. I do not wish for bloodshed. That is our attitude.
What is the intention of President Thein Sein behind summoning opposition leader Daw Aung San Suu Kyi during the standoff with the students? She said within political restraints since she is a parliamentarian.
Is it a signal to the students to give in as they did to the public during the Latpadaung crisis?
The public was angered for using flare-grenades against the monks and people at the Latpadaung demonstration camps. But that was before forming a committee to investigate the case and later publishing a report. Daw Aung San Suu Kyi was called to intervene at the time a general uprising was about to happen. There were incentives: amending the constitution, changing the article 436 and article 59 (f) of the constitution. There were public discontents on the report and on Daw Aung San Suu Kyi. It seemed Daw Aung San Suu Kyi was pitted against the public. And there are no amendments to the constitution yet.
Now, when the tensions are rising between the students and government, Daw Aung San Suu Kyi was called for again bubbling about amending the constitution and holding the elections successfully. Will she be instigated against the students as in the Latpadaung case?
To be straight forward, the meeting on March 2nd was not even an actual dialogue. It seems more like the president is giving a briefing to the opposition leader. State own newspapers run the nine-sentence long story with the photo of Daw Aung San Suu Kyi humbly sitting and listening while the president brief her.
The lines read they discussed constitutional amendment and holding free and fair elections successfully. The public desire detailed information. Which sections and articles of the constitutions are to be amended? Would it be article 436 or 59 (f)? What kinds of pledges are given for holding the upcoming elections? Nothing is known.
There is no sign of four-party meetings that Daw Aung San Suu Kyi has long asked for. Not even that of six-party talks.
Including this last meeting with the president, she has been summoned six times. Look back at those times. She was sent for whenever the government is in certain predicament.
President Thein Sein might have given promises or pledges during those meetings. Are they false promises? How many of them are implemented? Only Daw Aung San Suu Kyi knows.
It is not new. Former juntas Saw Maung, Than Shwe and Khin Nyunt also met Daw Aung San Suu Kyi. There were countless formal meetings between Than Shwe and Daw Aung San Suu Kyi. Before the National Conference, Khin Nyunt’s men secretly held meeting with Daw Aung San Suu Kyi in 1993. Khin Nyint wrote about that in his recently published book.
The public has no knowledge of what they said, what promises were given, or what kinds of differences were present at those meetings. Neither the juntas nor the democracy icon mentioned anything about those meetings. However, now is a different scenario.
Since there were no changes after each of the countless meetings, the public sees she was being lied.
Both the government and dictatorial elements should no longer use Daw Aung San Suu Kyi for their own interests.
International community’s view has also changed now. Look China and the United States for example.
China acknowledged Daw Aung San Suu Kyi play an important role in Myanmar’s politics. Chinese government’s mouth-piece Global Times wrote an article titled ‘De-militarizing politics critical for Myanmar’ on February 25.
The author Ding Gang tried to speak to Myanmar and Chinese governments saying Daw Aung San Suu Kyi is a leader in Myanmar’s politics, constitutional amendment is critical, military governance will not return since parliamentary system is taking roots, the military will not be able to build trust with the ethnic groups unless it lessen the holds on politic and economy, Daw Aung San Suu Kyi and her party National League for Democracy cannot be left out while improving Myanmar’s common interest, and it is no longer suitable for the military to control Myanmar’s politics. It is a sign that China is changing its opinion over Daw Aung San Suu Kyi since Global Times used to firmly support Myanmar government.
Just as China begins to change its attitude toward Daw Aung San Suu Kyi, U.S. still firmly believe Daw Aung San Suu Kyi cannot be ruled out of Myanmar’s politics. Other countries have the same belief.
This means the 2008 constitution should be amended in time and the 2015 general elections must be free and fair. If there is no constitutional amendment and/or the government cheats in the upcoming elections, international sanctions will be inevitable. Even now the diplomatic community is saying there will be more targeted sanctions just like the one set on U Aung Thaung.
There will certainly be tighter sanctions if they repeat the mistake form 1990 election in 2015.
Currently, the most responsible persons are the president himself and hardliners from Union Solidarity and Development Party.
International community will not accept a military coup breaking the promise of election. The recent interviews with the Commander-in-Chief show he has no intention for a coup.
Though the president tried to take credit for the ongoing fighting in Ko Kang region, only the military got public support. Moreover, the military knows what they have to do. Public starts to differentiate government and military.
That is why President Thein Sein is responsible to stabilize the current situations. What is the view of the president and deputy chairman of USDP U Htay Oo about the struggle students and the people are facing? The military seems to be withdrawing from politic.
If President Thein Sein and the USDP hardliners are conservative, everything this government did will be for nothing. All the events including the student protest have political motives. This cannot be disgraced by saying it is caused by the communists. To put an end to anti-authoritarian movements, authoritarianism has to be put to an end.
If they are trying to disgrace or suppress each and every appeal, there will be more disgust and revulsion rather than less. Daw Aung San Suu Kyi also has to be open and decisive. There should be no conservatives nor confrontations. Likewise, should there be no secrets.
Even if Daw Aung San Suu Kyi let herself be used, the public do not like her being used countless times. She should tell everything during her meeting with the president, leaving no secret. The people do not like their leader being lied again and again.
If there is any bloodshed resulting from forceful repression against students, Daw Aung San Suu Kyi should not be quiet. The public leader must take responsibility for the public.