By Roland Watson
March 16, 2014

There is now a desperate push by Burma's military dictatorship, including one of its public faces, the Myanmar Peace Center (MPC), and also ethnic traitors, to complete a nationwide ceasefire by early April. All sorts of announcements have been made saying that this timetable will be achieved. Of course, there have been months of such announcements regarding earlier deadlines, all of which were nothing less than regime propaganda, and which due to the insistence by the ethnic nationalities for achieving a fair deal for their people and for all of Burma, were not realized. The question should now be asked: Why does the regime view April as being so important?

The first thing to understand is that Burma's generals are demanding a unilateral or one-sided ceasefire, in other words, a complete surrender. The push for April therefore is nothing less than a negotiation over the surrender's timing. The regime is yielding nothing! It will not stop Burma Army attacks against the ethnic forces and peoples. Indeed, it has publicly stated, even in the face of unassailable evidence, that it is doing no such thing. Similarly, it will not stop its never-ending commission of gross human rights crimes, including murder, rape, arrest and torture, destruction of villages, extortion of and theft from villagers, etc. Nor will it agree to remove its forces from the ethnic areas, or even genuinely discuss the establishment of codes of conduct, which codes it has already agreed to negotiate and implement in its separate ceasefire agreements with the different ethnic armies. Ultimately, it is demanding that the ethnic forces disperse, give up their arms, and "join the legal fold."

Moreover, the regime refuses to discuss, much less agree to, the different ethnic demands including not only the cessation of attacks and abuses, and creation of codes of conduct, but also the drafting of a completely new Constitution to consign the military to its appropriate role in a democracy, and to establish a truly federal state and federal army.

In view of its continuing if not perpetual obstinacy, there is no reason for the ethnic groups to agree to anything, and given that the rightful representatives of the ethnic peoples can hold off the traitors, they won't.

The ethnic nationalities have now agreed to establish a joint committee with the regime to continue the discussions. From the regime's perspective, not to mention MPC and the traitors, the function of this committee is to prepare the specific terms of the surrender. It is therefore essential that sincere, uncorrupted representatives of the ethnic peoples are appointed to the ethnic side of the committee, not the corrupt traitors, so that ethnic and real Burma-wide interests are served.

This still leaves the question, though, why is the regime pushing for April? The answer to this is simple. The dictatorship knows that the upcoming census will be fraudulent. Its plans for this are already set. It further understands that much of the fraud will be uncovered, and that this will precipitate a popular reaction. In such an environment, an ethnic surrender will be precluded.

The regime has seen that its separate ceasefire agreements effectively defanged the resistance groups. Even in the face of the Burma Army repeatedly breaking and otherwise failing to fulfill the agreements, the ethnic forces, other than in Kachin and Northern Shan States, have done nothing. The dictatorship is confident that with a nationwide ceasefire/surrender in place, the ethnic forces, under the command of traitorous leaders, will also not react to the census fraud.

The ethnic groups should not agree to anything until after the census is completed and the results have been publicized, and further not until after any proposed deal has been presented for comment to the ethnic publics and civil society organizations.

Indeed, for the census, Kachin groups have already said that they will not recognize the results, and Karen groups have called for it to be postponed. Shan and Mon groups are planning their own count, to counter regime lies. Even worse, the regime has announced that Burma's most oppressed group, the Rohingya, will not even be counted.

Burma is still a military dictatorship, with a civilian facade. The recent announcement that the rights of the military to veto any constitutional amendments, will not be changed, not to mention its constitutional ability to act with impunity and with no legal consequences, is proof of this.

This leaves us once again with elementary arithmetic. For Burma to be freed, there must be a new popular uprising, and/or renewed armed resistance. Nothing less will suffice.

For an uprising, a trigger is required. The people of the country, from all ethnic groups, both ethnic nationality and Burman, are very angry, but something is needed to take them over the edge into large-scale action. While it is impossible to predict what will set a subjugated population off - witness Tunisia - a number of potential flash points in Burma are clear:

- If the constitution is not amended to permit Suu Kyi to become President (or for that matter if it is not redrafted to reflect fundamental democratic principles).

- If Suu Kyi realizes the folly of her ways, returns to her real pro-democracy advocacy of 1989, and calls for protests.

- In response to the census fraud.

- In response to fraud in the upcoming election (which personally I give only a 50/50 chance of even being held - at least under the dictatorship's control).

It would be best if the people of Burma became proactive and started demonstrating now, rather than wait for such a flashpoint. They must reject the dictatorship's propaganda, that any peace, including even a unilateral ethnic surrender, is good for the country.

In other words, they should once again protest for freedom and democracy, not only against land thefts and other types of abuse.

To kick all of this off, one can only ask: Where are Burma's revolutionary graffiti artists?