It is our aim to write from a Caribbean perspective. However, major developments around the world cannot be ignored. The case for democracy in Myanmar (Burma) demands attention. Aung San Suu Kyi has led a non-violent campaign against a military dictatorship in Myanmar (Burma) ever since 1988. She is presently under house arrest, basically for having won the elections against the military junta in 1990.
The country’s Buddhist monks are staging yet another uprising these days. The immediate cause is a sudden fuel price hike, but the movement pro democracy is the real underlying issue. In Burma the monks have proved to be very effective political activists. This in itself is a very important development. Once the Buddhist clergy involve themselves in politics, some change is likely to occur. If the monks persist, the generals will cave in, sooner or later.
UN push for change
Just after Burma’s regime announced that its national constitutional convention had agreed on “basic detailed principles” for a new governance system, UN envoy Mr. Ibrahim Gambari urged the military junta to reopen constitutional talks with ethnic minorities and opposition groups before an eventual referendum on the draft constitution.
As it now stands, the draft looks set to enshrine military dominance over the country, albeit with elections intended to add a façade of democracy. Mr Gambari said the UN was “concerned about the exclusive nature of the process to date, and about reports of provisions that would seemingly run counter to the objectives of national reconciliation and democratization”.
He urged the regime to “improve the outcome of the convention in ways that are more inclusive, participatory and transparent”, although analysts see little prospect that the regime will make any concessions or changes to the guidelines, which are due to be written into a formal constitution.
The UN is powerless
The UN is doing all it can, given its limited power and a split Security Council. The question is not only how to “free Aung San Suu Kyi (the opposition leader) and political prisoners (among whom Buddhist activist monks)”. The question is how Burma (Myanmar) can reform its economy from a socialist oriented system toward a market economy functioning under full democracy, which means – among other things – sending the generals back to their barracks.
Now, the phrase ‘market economy’ is just a euphemism for ‘capitalism’, but we presume that this is where part of the problem lies. The military junta wants to move toward a market economy, but is confronted with an economic recession (partly due to sanctions by Western countries), which make them cling to the socialist model.
Alliance of All Burmese Buddhist Monks
We have a lot of respect for these monks who are protesting peacefully under the banner of an invisible organization called ‘Alliance of All Burmese Buddhist Monks’, whose leaders remain underground It appears that great things are about to happen in Burma. It does not take many spiritual men to bring down dictators. It takes spiritual determination. If there is anybody who can do it, it’s the clergy. Mark our words.
Our daily video gives an impression of the Monks’ Protests.