By Burmese Bloggers without Borders
Recently, everything seems rather quiet in Burma. Observers are even beginning to wonder whether things have come to a standstill after the military regime has brutally suppressed the protests in a similar way to 1988 movement. After the military regime took over power in 1988, the junta gave false hopes to the people by organizing elections and acted as if they would hand-over the power to the winning party. However, current situation differs in a way that the people will no longer be deceived by the junta in the same way.
Some explanations can be given as to why monks are leading the protests. During the democracy movements in 1988 and 1996, the university students led the protests. However, as time passed by, the national spirit of new generation of students has been systematically suppressed under General Khin Nyunt's (chairman of the Burma Education Committee) organized projects. Many universities and colleges were built in far-flung places of different cities and the hostels were closed down for the sole purpose of dispersing the students. In universities, students were even required to wear school uniforms, as if in high school, and break times had to be strictly adhered to. As a result, the political awareness within the students diminished, especially for the students who were not from the major cities. On top of not being given a chance to seek knowledge from various external sources, the students also had to contend with inadequate teaching facilities as well as obsolete educational syllabus. Hence, the educational standard in Burma merely dwindled away as years went by and this new generation of students currently seems to lack the leadership skills to inspire the movement.
With regards to leadership of the monks in the protests, the monks have always played an important role in Burma’s historical movements. There are mainly three societies who have power in Burma:- Religion, Students and Soldiers. At this point, soldiers are weapons of military regime, and the monks have to take a bigger role in leading the movement due to the weakened students' impact. Monks are the religious personnel who are highly revered by every Burmese. As such, people had never imagined that the peaceful protest of monks would be brutally cracked down by the junta like this.
In stark contrast to people’s expectations, when the junta accused the monks of being bogus monks and took extremely brutal actions to suppress them, the future of Burma became rather frightening. In a country, where natural resources as well as the spirit of the people are being stripped off slowly, the people have been managing to hang in there simply because of the teachings of Buddha. Only the pagodas and amicable sense of Buddhism have remained as part of Burma to be shown to the outside world. Based on the events from 1988 movement, it can be ascertained that the military regime will do whatever they can to hold on to their power. If the movement were to fail again this time, Burma may even end up losing the essence of Buddhism and may just end up under the complete dominance of the junta. As such, the minority groups in Burma will be thrown into even more difficult time. If we have to wait for ten to twenty years more for any significant change to take place in Burma, the whole country may end up in ruins. Time is crucial for Burma’s freedom.
In the words of Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon commenting on the visit: "You cannot call it a success." Intervention by international community may also not have much impact in undermining the military junta’s power over Burma. After all, China, Russia, US and UK seem to be competing against each other for power struggle. Since UN still may not have any concrete plan on how to handle Burma’s situation, it is important for us to note that we will have to be prepared to depend on ourselves to work towards Burma’s freedom.
It is pretty clear that in order for any change to occur in Burma, there must be movement both from within and outside of Burma. In fact, this is no longer merely about Burma. The whole world is watching to see whether a democracy can be successfully attained under the control of iron-fisted and ruthless junta. Therefore, it has become a momentous time not only for the history of Burma but also for the history of the world.
Thus, we would like to get your kind attention to the following:
People inside Burma
Keep it up! International Communities are supporting you all. Keep fighting for peaceful protest.
Political and Ethnic Organizations inside and outside Burma
Unite and make clear strategic decisions in order to remove the military regime.
Academic on Burma
Focus upon real civilians' perspective and understanding. Use your expertise and contribute better suggestions for the liberation of Burma
United Nations, International Organizations and Governments
Please act effectively and productively to put pressure on the military regime to stop repressions, and to make dialogue with opposition groups.
Dissident Groups and World Communities
Stay in touch with news updates, provide donations and get involved in Burma campaigns with your respective organizations.
Every minute and every second of your participations and movements will make a better life inside Burma especially for monks and people who have been under the threat of military regime.
Let us get involved in World's Campaign for free Burma on October 6, 2007.
By Burmese Bloggers without Borders