Burma Times- By Mike Joseph 04, April 2014
With more than a quarter-century of narrow authoritarianism political and socio-economic conditions inside Burma have steadily deteriorated. Military leaders continue to govern the country suppressing domestic political opposition to its rule and committing gross violation of human rights. Today, Burma stands as one of the least developed countries in the world and the political and economic backwardness in the country are in a deplorable state as a result of poor governance. While there is widespread recognition within the international community that Burma is desperately in need of political and economic reform, a concrete solution is yet to emerge regarding how best to approach the country to encourage meaningful change.
Burma’s ruling military junta, which has long remained in power through force and fear, prominently follows the concept of social inclusion and exclusion, through which the ruling elite decides which individuals or groups will ultimately participate in the functioning of the society and which out of them will get to define the status quo. Without much anticipation, the Buddhist population can be clearly proclaimed as the bourgeoisie, influencing the course of social and political flow of events while others are reduced to the status of proletariats, experiencing utmost inhumanity at the hands of bourgeoisie. In order to substantiate the argument, consider the brutal genocide of Rohingya Muslim in the Arakan state where thousands have been displaced and hundreds have been slaughtered in waves of violence by Buddhist majority. The Rohingya have been the victims of violence and institutionalized discrimination that has gone unmitigated and unpunished by a government that seems content to allow such acts to be carried out. Christians have also faced this wave in the form of threats, intimidation, and discrimination, including the burning of churches.
The claim of Buddhist majority in Burma is that it’s a Buddhist country and both the Christians and Muslims in the country must get used to this. Any religious sentiment with its strong sense of the sacred and profane, and its clear identification of members as insiders and outsiders, is vulnerable to cynical human rights exploitation, which is evidently the case in Burma presently. Political reform in Myanmar is of paramount importance. Regardless of the structure of any future political setup, the military will be at the center of the country’s politics and Burma cannot move beyond the ruling elite until the country changes its Constitution. The Burmese Constitution gives the military a quarter of the seats in parliament and thus a veto over constitutional reform, control of the powerful National Defense and Security Council, and complete immunity from civilian oversight and moving ahead with the present constitution would imply moving ahead with human right violations, slaughter of every other community other than Buddhist. If there is no willingness to amend the Constitution, it clearly means there’s no willingness to create peace, equality, stability and development.
At present, there is no concrete evidence to suggest that Burma’s leaders will respond positively towards the movement to attain democracy and amending Burmese constitution. Democracy should continue to be a focal point of all International organizations encouraging Burma’s movement against the totalitarian regime. Opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi, will remain an important figure for achieving the dialogue necessary to bring about national reconciliation of the military, democracy groups, and minority nationalities. Greater emphasis should be put on reaching out to other democratic forces, including civil society groups, and ethnic minorities and ensuring that they put internal pressure on the government. Burma should eventually transform into democracy which seeks the just and equitable distribution of powers, rights and prerogatives.
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