Contact: Roland Watson, roland@dictatorwatch.org


November 1, 2011

Please forward into Burma.

It is always the case that when you are inside a situation it looks different than from the outside. However, neither is unequivocally right. Both sides contain information, and together they constitute the whole.

I imagine in Rangoon now that things appear a bit easier. At least some people in the regime seem to be listening. Perhaps it even seems a little less dangerous for the ordinary people of Burma to speak their mind.

The view from the outside is quite different. If the NLD decides to re-register as a political party, without having had any of its demands satisfied, this will be seen as capitulation. If the NLD re-registers while the Burma Army is raping, gassing and murdering the ethnic nationalities of the country, this will appear at a minimum extraordinarily insensitive. 

If it then goes on to promote representatives for Parliament, it will be difficult not to view it as part of the regime itself.

The NLD leaders in Rangoon probably view re-registration as a tactical ploy - an attempt to open up more democratic space. They should be aware, though, that there are no guarantees that it will work and also that there will certainly be large costs.

There is no cost at all in continuing to stand firm on its demands and to hold the high ground.

It is not uncommon in prolonged democracy struggles for some factions to take softer and even pro-regime positions. What generally then results is that the opposition splits, with the real freedom movement continuing its fight but with a diminished capacity, and with the softer factions being incorporated into the regime or disappearing into irrelevance.

A deal is being struck in Burma, right now. Biased interlocutors from the U.S., U.N., Europe, Japan and Asean, who only want a semblance of peace to be established so that unrestricted economic development can begin, are arriving daily. It must be difficult to resist their entreaties. (Note: There's a Burma/China conference in three days at Georgetown University, which State Department personnel will attend, and which is sponsored by Chevron and Caterpillar.)

The regime itself of course has launched an all out war against the Kachin people, and with the direct assistance of China. With the dry season at hand there is little doubt that the Burma Army will resume full-scale offensives in the remote and unreported areas where the other ethnic nationalities live. 

The one thing that Burma's opposition movement has now is its principles. Once they are sacrificed, though, they will be gone forever.