Contact: Roland Watson, roland@dictatorwatch.org


May 4, 2006

Please forward.

Note: We have posted three compilations of the photography issued in recent Free Burma Rangers mission reports: IDPs on the run; medical care provided; and Burma Army atrocities. (See also www.freeburmarangers.org)

Turning or tipping points are not always obvious. A system can begin to change, to undergo a phase transition from one form of organization to another, without this being immediately apparent.

For Burma, the phase transition from dictatorship to democracy requires pressure from within. The actions of activists and diplomats outside the country will not be enough to force the SPDC to yield. Over the past five or so years there have been numerous efforts by groups inside to initiate this change. These include formal attempts at dialogue, and also revolutionary activities. For the latter, I am not referring to the self-defense efforts of the ethnic resistance forces. Rather, I mean the small demonstrations and distributions of revolutionary statements and images (e.g., the Fighting Peacock) that have occurred.

Until 2006, these activities were irregular, which meant that they would never be sufficient to motivate the general public to rise up. This has changed this year. The following timeline lists many such activities, all of which have taken place since the end of March.

- The Vigorous Burmese Student Warriors issued a threat to foreign businesses operating in Burma.

- The Rangoon headquarters of the Federation of Chambers of Commerce burned down.

- Students at Pegu University published a poem about the might of the Fighting Peacock.

- At least five small bombs exploded late at night at the Rangoon Post Office and also at electrical transformers and a railway.

- A disgruntled employee burned down Burma’s Kuala Lumpur embassy.

- The NCUB said that the people of Burma need to emulate the people of Nepal, who rose up and successfully pressured their tyrant King to allow Parliament to resume.

- Author Ludhu Daw Ama made a similar comment, saying: “You [the public] have to do something,” and also “I think we have to explode.”

This is not a sporadic series of events. While not directly linked, they are a legitimate trend. There is momentum now, and the pressure is building. Further, the list does not include other activities that may have occurred or which are underway, but which have not yet been made public.

Dictator Watch does not necessarily support all of the above actions. We believe it is essential that revolutionary groups not lower themselves to the tactics of the SPDC. Burma freedom fighters are not terrorists! No lives should be taken, or even put at risk.

However, this does not extend to the self-defense actions of the ethnic forces. These groups have no choice but to fight for their people. And they have been fighting. In particular in Karen State, the SPDC has launched the largest offensive since 1997. There is open but undeclared war. Over eleven thousand IDPs are on the run. The Karen have responded, and Burma Army casualties are on the rise. As a result, Tatmadaw morale in front-line areas, including among the officers, is now at its lowest level in many years.

The situation in Burma is heating up, and this spells opportunity. The SPDC are on the defensive, and have even threatened to outlaw the NLD. When your enemy is afraid, you have the advantage. Now is the time to act. The above series of events must continue. Anyone who is in a position to fund or organize underground pro-democracy actions inside Burma, to engage in any form of political defiance, should do so.