Contact: Roland Watson, firstname.lastname@example.org
BURMA: A SIMPLE QUESTION
April 18, 2015
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A simple question:
If you are considering a deal with someone, such as to buy a car or a house or to make an investment, and you realize they are going to cheat you - you are absolutely 100% positive that they are going to cheat you - would you make the agreement?
The answer of course is "No." No individual enters into any agreement when they know they are about to be swindled.
A second question, then, but this time not so simple, is why if private individuals won't agree to be cheated, institutions - their representatives - readily do?
For Burma, one example of this is the current nationwide ceasefire negotiation, between the military dictatorship and the ethnic nationality pro-democracy armed organizations (EAOs), where a draft agreement has been prepared and where the EAO leaders are about to meet to consider if they should sign it. Here, it is essential to realize that the agreement settles absolutely nothing. As a "ceasefire," you would assume that it will actually lead to this, to a cessation of conflict. However, this is not the case. A dictatorship general has even said that clashes will continue, which is obvious given the current level of combat and the Burma Army's invasion into the ethnic nationality homelands. Moreover, none of the EAOs' fundamental objectives, including democracy, federalism, and above all else equality, are even touched upon in the deal. They are all to be approached at some future uncertain date.
There is no doubt, at all, that the dictatorship is insincere, no matter the lies that regime propaganda organs continuously spew. There will be no end to the conflict, and certainly no equality or democracy. The dictatorship and the ethnic nationalities, really, all of people of Burma outside of the dictatorship, are oil and water. They can never mix.
Therefore, no deal should be signed. It is not merely a matter of waiting for an election to be held, or the ethnic population breakdowns from the census finally to be released. No NCA should be signed simply because the dictatorship is cheating. Only when this stops will any deal become possible, and since the generals will never stop, there should never be a deal.
The EAO leaders still need to to have a strategy for their upcoming conference, though, to counter the regime's maneuvering. There are two basic arguments not to sign now. First, the EAOs can announce that they will never sign until there are no clashes at all, anywhere in Burma, for one month - or three. (This was foreshadowed in this month's UNFC statement calling for "required implementation.") Secondly, for the deal to be "nationwide," it has to cover ALL the EAOs. Not only should the conference include all the EAOs, they all must sign the NCA as well (which the dictatorship's generals have stated they will not accept). Related to this, the EAOs should abide by their "one for all, all for one" motto. If any group decides not to sign, for whatever reason, no one else should as well.
These easy steps can end the pressure on the EAOs to sign, such that they can move on to the real matters at hand.
The EAOs must abandon their defensive posture, not only on the battlefield but in the negotiations as well. Just as the UNFC last year acted preemptively by proposing a clear and unambiguous Pledge to Implement Federalism, which the dictatorship rejected, instead substituting its worthless Deed of Commitment, so too should the EAOs take the initiative now. The obvious choice is for the conference conclusion to be a call for all the pro-democracy forces in Burma, including student and worker activists as well as the armed resistance, to unite and work together to expel the dictatorship and to achieve freedom and democracy.
The EAO conference is further an excellent opportunity to plan a coordinated military strategy, starting by organizing the Federal Army, if only in private meetings behind the scenes. To this end, one hopes that the conference will last a week!
The importance of this type of preparation is obvious. Again and again we read that "both sides must make compromises." A final question is: What if they don't? What if the military dictatorship never compromises? It is not enough to "hope for the best"! There has to be a backup plan! The conference is an excellent opportunity to formulate and agree on this plan.
Readers will note that I did not include the NLD among Burma's pro-democracy forces. No matter the effort and sacrifices of its many members, the NLD is Aung San Suu Kyi, and she has surrendered and joined the dictatorship. Her ONLY strategy is to hope for the best. In her stupidity, she allowed herself to be cheated. She signed the deal (specifically, the election papers to run for MP). And now, because of her vanity and obsession with personal power, she is unwilling to admit and more crucially correct her dreadful and historic mistake.
The leaders of Burma's ethnic nationality peoples must never follow her path. If they do, the country will be doomed to dictatorship for another twenty if not one hundred years.