By Roland Watson
August 26, 2007
Recent publications about
Burma by other individuals and groups include:
- A feature article in a new U.K-based online magazine, Defence and Community. D&C covers the humanitarian applications of armed forces.
- An article in LA Weekly (Los Angeles) about an individual who works to free victims of human trafficking and who visited Shan State earlier this year. He reportedly was taken to uranium mines, and he also received information about uranium processing in Burma. If true, this confirms intelligence that we have previously released (see pages 7 and 8).
(Note: We have also received reports that Chinese Scuds have been stationed in areas under the control of the Wa, at Pangsang and Mongyawn.)
- Two short videos from Shan State, one with impressive shots of SSA-South soldiers in formation and on parade, ending with Colonel Yawdserk speaking; and the second about the narcotics interdiction efforts of RCSS-SSA, including the destruction of labs and battles with drug couriers.
The SPDC has drastically raised energy prices in Burma. In response to this, the people of the country have taken to the streets in large groups and at a growing number of locations. This is the most important example of active popular resistance to the regime since 1988.
The junta has used paramilitary strike forces to violently suppress the demonstrations, and arrested what is now approaching one hundred people, including many leaders of the pro-democracy movement.
Some people say that the price increases are intended to distract attention from the National Convention, and also a means to deny a visit from U.N. Special Advisor Gambari. They of course also serve as an excuse to arrest the movement leaders.
While these points may be true, we believe the main objective is to starve the people of Burma into submission. There has been a lot of international pressure on the junta, which the people have heard about from radio broadcasts. They are beginning to be politicized again, which is the first step towards creating a revolutionary momentum for freedom. The junta is attempting to halt this in its tracks. This is a calculated risk, though, since there is nothing that motivates a population to rebel more than widespread hunger. People rise up when they can no longer feed themselves, when if they dont they will starve. The junta may beat the people of Burma down yet again, or it could backfire on them and lead to their overthrow.
The only acceptable option is the second. Forty-five years of suffering is enough. While the arrests are a setback, they also represent an opportunity, which we must face with strength and determination.
A pointed comment that was made in recent days is that when one leader is arrested, two more must take his or her place. It is time for the people to realize that anyone can be a leader; any single individual inside Burma can fulfill this role, and the most important opportunity to do so in ones entire lifetime is at hand.
The protest movement must not be extinguished. Instead, it must grow. In addition, the underground networks in the country should be activated. Not all resistance actions should be out in the open.
There should also be frequent public calls, ideally with fliers posted on walls, to the Tatmadaw, USDA and Swan Arr Shin. (These are beginning to be made.) They should be appeals to cease and desist their violence, and return to having loyalty with the people. They should also include the threat of prosecution for crimes against humanity when Burma is free. People should identify and if possible communicate to groups outside the country the names of the leaders of these mobs and of anyone who joins them. Such individuals will be prosecuted and then imprisoned in the future.
Forced starvation of an entire nation is of course also a crime against humanity, yet one more to add to the growing list of which the SPDC is guilty.
It is significant that the Kachin, Wa and even the New Mon State Party are reevaluating their ceasefires, and that at least the first two have initiated training. (The Chinese are reportedly training the Wa, in Mongton township.) There is no better time than now for these groups to renew their armed struggle (and for the Wa to end their drug trafficking). The Military Alliance should be expanded. If the octogenarians that lead some of these groups refuse, younger officers should break away and join the revolution on their own. (This has already happened with the SNPLO.)
Outside Burma, we must renew our protests as well, in particular against China. It was excellent that activists in Kuala Lumpur and New Delhi recently held large demonstrations against Beijing, but this should only be the beginning. The Olympics are less than one year away, and China is vulnerable now. We can hurt Hu Jintao and his fellow dictators of the PLA, and through this force them to exert pressure on their client, the SPDC. (Great thanks should also be given to the U.S. House of Representatives, for issuing a resolution for the U.S. to boycott the Games. Note: we have added a box of links to organizations involved in the Olympics protest to the Dictator Watch homepage.)
Most importantly, the United Nations must act. A few years ago there was word that the U.N had offered the SPDC a multi-billion dollar assistance package in return for freeing Daw Aung San Suu Kyi. This offer was refused. The new approach put forth by Gambari and Ban Ki-moon amounts to giving the assistance but asking for nothing in return. This is ridiculous. Movement does not equal progress! The U.N. must act, now, in the Security Council, beginning with a worldwide arms embargo against the SPDC; and by initiating the procedure to expel Burma from the General Assembly, to be immediately completed if the junta repeats anything like the massacre of 1988. The United States can act as the sponsoring nation for this. In addition, Asean should take similar steps to expel Burma from its grouping. (The country is already a second-class member, as it has been judged unfit for group leadership. The next and logical step is expulsion.)
One critical point about the U.S.: it is hypocritical for President Bush to publicly support Daw Suu, yet at the same time allow ChevronTexaco to continue its operations in Burma, which are providing the junta with the huge cash stream that it uses to buy weapons to repress the population, and also ballistic missiles and a nuclear reactor.
Some individuals and groups are arguing that there should not be a new uprising: that the risks are too great and that lives are likely to be lost. However, they do not offer an alternative plan of action. (Sitting and waiting is not a plan!) They also conveniently forget (or perhaps they do not care) that lives are being lost, on an almost daily basis, in the ethnic minority areas of Burma, and that in the cities people are being arrested and tortured for exercising their fundamental human rights.
No one is omniscient. No one knows what will happen in the event of a widespread uprising inside Burma. But one thing that is certain is that everyone in the country is faced with a choice. The people can accept oppression and slavery, and starvation, or they can fight back and try to break free.
This has the potential to be a historic turning point in Burma. It is important to remember, though: history waits for no one.