Monday, 1st October 2007: Peace Rally for Myanmar
taken from rockybru.blogspot.com:
Rally for Myanmar on Monday
Received sms at 10-to-11 from two journo friends. The message says:
Malaysian Peace Rally for Myanmar
11am, Monday 1st October 2007
at Myanmar Embassy, Jalan Ampang Hilir, KL
Brothers n sisters, lets come in Solidarity to support our incredibly brave frens, d Myanmar people.
Pls forward 2 all Peace Partners God bless.
A History of Tyranny
by Alan Senauke (in 1994)
Under the tyranny of General Ne Win, along with Ne Win’s xenophobic Burmese Socialist Program Party, and the current regime of brutal generals, Burma’s great human and natural resources have been squandered in civil war, spent for weapons of destruction. In recent years Burma has achieved dubious status as a UN-designated “least developed country,” where many of the 40 million Burmese people earn less than $200 per year. In a nation that was formerly known as “Asia’s rice bowl,” even rice with a bit of fish paste is often a luxury. In fact one can’t even find Burma on a map today. SLORC has renamed their country the Union of Myanmar. The ancient capital Rangoon is now Yangon, and many other names have been changed, daily reminders of SLORC’s self-appointed power over many millions of desperate citizens.
Under this same corrupt leadership, Burma’s most famous daughter, Aung San Suu Kyi, winner of the 1991 Nobel Peace Prize, lives under close house arrest and constant surveillance, silenced by an illegal government that fears her message of peace and democracy may be heard and taken up in a country that has long lacked both. Thousands fill unmarked graves. Many more fill the jails without benefit of trial. Along the borders with Thailand, China, and Bangladesh, hundreds of thousands of displaced people find a precarious existence, almost invisible to the outside world.
The roots of Burma’s suffering are deep and tangled. A patchwork region of highly independent ethnic minorities– Burman, Shan, Karen, Mon, Arakanese–were annexed as a province of India after the last Anglo-Burman War in 1886. The customary British colonial strategy of divide-and- rule took advantage of existing differences and tensions. Indian civil servants were brought in to run civil affairs, so a native middle class familiar with Western administration and technology never developed. The timber-rich ethnic nationality areas, circling the more densely populated central region, were administered separately as restricted areas, driving a wedge even deeper between these peoples and the majority of Burmans. This remained the status quo until 1937 and the prelude to World War II.
The war took a terrible toll on Burma, where a scorched-earth policy by retreating British and Japanese forces devastated indigenous agriculture. Initially a core of young Burman intellectuals sided with the Japanese, who courted them with an anti-British, anti-colonial line. A generation of Burma’s future leaders, Aung San (Aung San Suu Kyi’s father), U Nu, and Ne Win took secret military training in Japan, then marched back to their country behind Japan’s army of occupation. (Japanese occupation was bitterly opposed by many of the ethnic groups, whose loyalty had been bought by the British with assurances of future autonomy.) But these young leaders soon found that Japanese domination was even crueler than the British, and began to form the first delicate alliances with both pro-Western ethnic peoples and pro-Communist rebels.
After the war British promises of autonomy were not kept. While Ne Win was consolidating a national army from the anti-Japanese resistance, Aung San was simultaneously negotiating with the British, and with the Karen and other ethnic groups. It was a masterful balancing act, moving towards independence and representative democracy. But this hope was wiped out when right-wing assassins machine-gunned Aung San and six other ministers in July of 1947. His friend U Nu tried to fulfill Aung San’s mission, declaring an independent Burma on January 4, 1948. But neither the ethnic minorities nor the pro-Communist forces who had spearheaded the war against Japan had been offered a place in this government. Within a year they had taken up arms against the new government.
The civil war begun then continues to this day. With rebels closing in on the cities, the army, under Ne Win, took control from 1958 to 1960, and again in 1962. Pursuing his own “Burmese Way to Socialism,” he expelled the Indian and Chinese administrators and managers, replacing them with inexperienced Burman military officers, and closed the door on all Western contact and investment. In 1974 as the insurgency was growing, Ne Win attempted to legitimize himself, imposing a new constitution, sanctioning one-party rule, and eliminating even the most fundamental human rights.
In 1987 Ne Win astonishingly declared the three highest-denomination kyat bank notes worthless and issued 45 and 90 kyat bills, based on his fascination with the number nine. The de- monetization wiped out many people’s savings, and Ne Win’s looting of the economy funded a military that consumed more than 50 percent of the GNP. In 1988, students, monks, and intellectuals spoke out forcefully, calling for an end to war and for a federal democracy recognizing minority rights. All through the spring, demonstrations and the army’s violent response intensified; the death toll ran into hundreds. Universities and high schools were shut down–many are still closed. And for the following year even primary and elementary schools were closed. As the nation ground to a halt, Ne Win made a show of retirement, leading to even greater chaos and repression. His appointed successor, General Sein Lwin, was, if anything, even more hated and feared than Ne Win, having led bloody repressions of urban dissent in 1964, 1974, and in earlier months of 1988.
Two weeks later on August 8, protest reached a peak and was met by a paroxysm of state violence that left more than 1,000 dead–without managing to silence the call for democracy. The army was withdrawn in confusion, Sein Lwin stepped down, and an incredible flowering of free expression and hope ensued. In these brief, promising days a new leader emerged. Aung San Suu Kyi, who had been living with her husband and children in England, was in Rangoon visiting her dying mother. As daughter of Burma’s most revered post-war leader, she wears a mantle of moral authority and fearlessness quite naturally, giving peaceful voice to the people’s yearning for freedom.
A month later on September 18, 1988, realizing that their 30-year grip on Burma was slipping away, the generals declared martial law and established SLORC. The killings began in earnest the next day. Machine guns swept the streets from the tops of buildings and overpasses. Demonstrators and bystanders were murdered without warning, many carried away to mass graves or mass cremations where the cries of the wounded could be heard amid the pile of corpses. No one knows precisely how many died in these few days, but estimates run from 5,000 to 20,000. Many thousands more, particularly students and young monks, fled to the border areas, where they linked up with the ethnic Karen, Kachin, and others who had long been involved in armed struggle against the central government and Burman hegemony.
As SLORC consolidated its power, the generals realized that the nation had almost no cash reserves either to feed or arm itself. After so many years of isolation, they turned to Japan, Thailand, the U.S., and UN agencies for loans and development funds. To curry favor with the West the junta promised timely elections. But SLORC’s numerous delays, rigidly controlled media, and impossible campaign regulations failed to contain the hunger for democracy. Ninety-three political parties put up candidates for election in May of 1990. Of these, Aung San Suu Kyi’s party, The National League for Democracy (NLD), won 392 of 485 seats in a new government; ethnic minority parties opposed to SLORC claimed victory in 65 other contests. SLORC’s National Unity Party won only ten seats, two percent of the contested places.
But a new government was never formed. Within days the military had arrested many elected representatives from the NLD, carrying them off to the notorious Insein jail. Some of them are still imprisoned, some were executed on fabricated charges of treason and insurrections. Others fled to the border region, a second wave of exiles. Burma’s two most respected leaders, U Nu, who led the only attempted democracy Burma has ever known, and Aung San Suu Kyi, were placed under stringent house arrest in Rangoon. Four years later, Suu remains a prisoner, silenced in her own land, revered around the world. SLORC recently extended her sentence for a fifth year, piously asserting that she is free to leave Burma any time she wishes.
Over the last three years SLORC’s policies have carried repression from the cities far into the interior, displacing several million people in countless villages, driving them into exile or into strategic hamlets reminiscent of the Vietnam War. Some of these villagers are pressed into service as porters for the army, used up like pack animals until they drop from exhaustion. There are reports that SLORC has marched villagers into known mine fields to clear a path with their own blood. The seasonal offensives on ethnic insurgents and students have extracted a great price on all sides, but pro-democracy allies have held on against all odds.
International political and economic pressures in 1992 and 1993 again forced SLORC to offer a pretense of motion towards democracy. With much fanfare they announced preliminary meetings to form a new constitutional convention. But few of those elected in 1990 chose to collaborate, and the proposed gathering was strongly denounced by the provisional National Coalition Government of the Union of Burma, headquartered in the Karen border town of Manerplaw. In March of 1993, a delegation of former Nobel Peace Prize laureates, including the Dalai Lama, Desmond Tutu and Oscar Arias, added their own principled protest against this sham of democracy, demanding and failing to meet with sister laureate Aung San Suu Kyi in Rangoon. They got no further than the insurgent border.
read more: here