February 25: KNU Watch Facebook Group member comment on post yesterday (in Burma Coup - 7) suggesting that "this is a perfect time for the ethnic nationalities - finally - to declare independence."

- If ethnic people like the Karens declare independence the ramifications are grave. 1. It may result in a public backlash within Burma and legitimatize the Military as the glue keeping the country together. It will also bolster the same perception outside the country. 2. It will divert focus away from the current singular goal of reversing the coup, likely to cause the protest movement to loose steam. 3. For many ethnic groups, the logistics capability and the ability to deal with consequences of being an independent nation just are not there. That takes time to develop since they have not considered this option as a realistic one for a while. These are just some of the major obstacles I can think of to your suggestion right now.

- My response:

I see your points, but I think it is more complex, and subtle, than this. For 2, I don't view the goal of the protests as reversing the coup. The military was in control before the coup and now this is just fully public. The goal is to end the dictatorship. Nothing less. I think a lot of the protestors see it this way, too, not just putting Suu Kyi back on her throne.

For 3, you are right, there are lots of logistical issues. But remember, the EAO generals have been talking together for years, and even with Mutu killing the UNFC they still maintain regular contact. They can coordinate their actions (and in fact do, such as on arms procurement).

For 1, it wouldn't - shouldn't just be the Karen. I'm thinking of more groups, e.g., Mon, Karen, Karenni, Shan, Ta-ang, Wa, Kokang, Kachin, Naga, Chin and Arakan. Plus, they don't have to be individual declarations. There could be a common declaration to split the country in two, with the ethnic nationalities forming their own federal democracy in their areas.

But Dana, there is a much bigger point here as well. When I say the ethnic nationalities should declare independence this is both an actually suggestion, that they should do it, and establishing a negotiation position - a threat. The last thing we want is for the regime to take the easy way out, to reverse the coup, and put Suu Kyi back, and have everything return to the old status quo, with the Tatmadaw occupying and attacking ethnic areas and the overall goal of Burmanisation resumed.

The coup is actually an opportunity, for the ethnic nationalities to have their grievances heard. And this is happening. Ethnic peoples are marching, and talking about how they are repressed, and some Bamar, particularly young Bamar, are finally understanding what the ENATs have been through. But this needs to scale up a lot. There should be a big discussion now, both in public forums like this and behind the scenes, about what a new Burma should look like. Independence is only one option, but the Bamar should understand that to the ethnic peoples it is an option. I think even the EAO leaders should get more public and talk about the idea of forming a united ERF (Ethnic Resistance Forces), and about declaring independence. Everyone has to make it clear that there can be no going back to the old ways. To the ethnic peoples this is completely unacceptable, and they are even prepared to break up the country if that is what it is going to take to be free.

February 26: They just don't care anymore. They are going to do what they are going to do. You have to throw them out. The people must keep marching, and shut the country down; the EAOs, like the KNU today, must block Tatmadaw movements; and the international sanctions should be 100 times greater. Expel the regime from international funds transfers (SWIFT); confiscate - take! - all identifiable international deposits; force ALL international businesses to leave the country. Make the pain so great that some unhappy Tatmadaw launch their own coup against the top leaders.