Contact: Roland Watson, roland@dictatorwatch.org


June 1, 2016

Please post and share:


The Myanmar Times has a report today on the long-delayed religion and ethnic population breakdowns from the 2014 Burma national census.


According to U Myint Kyaing, from the Ministry of Labour, Immigration and Population, the religion data will be released by August. However, the ethnic information will continue to be withheld. He said that the ethnic data would only be published after discussions with ethnic leaders; that there were "unspecified problems"; and that "the discussions will likely take some time."

This is an outrage. It is completely non-transparent and undemocratic. In fact, the U.N. Population Fund, which organized the census, backed its full release last October.

The census is still being censored. This is extremely significant. The ethnic nationality peoples and their leaders should view this with the gravest of concern.

Aung San Suu Kyi is clearly responsible. She controls the government and makes every important decision. This raises the question: Why doesn't she want the results published?

Under her timetable, the data will not be available before any new peace talks and also the hypothetical Second Panglong Conference. This in turn harms the ethnic armed organizations (EAOs). If the census shows that the ethnic populations are larger than the rough estimates offered by the so-called majority Burmans, the ethnic negotiators will have a stronger bargaining position. Indeed, if - as some people suspect - the ethnic nationalities as a whole comprise greater than 50% of the population, meaning the Burmans are not the majority, this would provide great support to the ethnic demands for constitutionally-enshrined federalism and self-determination.

It seems as if Suu Kyi is trying to push through a deal, as soon as possible, even if it is bad for the ethnic nationalities. The best way to do this, she apparently believes, is to keep the EAOs at a disadvantage - to follow the dictator's playbook.

All of this further raises the question of how the Burman-dominated NLD government can properly represent the ethnic peoples, as is already being debated following its refusal to appoint ethnic party leaders in Arakan and Shan States, and through refusing ethnic MP requests to help IDPs in those states.

Suu Kyi is Burman; the NLD is Burman; and the military dictatorship is Burman. With the census results still blocked, it is not unreasonable to suspect the worst. Suu Kyi and the generals are running the country for the Burmans' benefit. She is helping Than Shwe transition the nation to the next generation of Burmans Uber Alles.