By Kanbawza Win
When will the free world listen to the clarion call of the people of Burma, who have made 730 supreme sacrifices, 3,152 detained and over 870 arrest warrants issued, not to mention the 40 children killed (as according to the Assistance Association for Political Prisoners)? The entire country of 55 million plus people are ardently appealing to the arsenals of democratic countries, knowing full well that the leading authoritarian countries are pouring more oil on this burning inferno, not only by using their veto powers at the UN Security Council but also by supplying more lethal heavy weapons to use it on its own population, whose crime is for expressing their desire in a peaceful way.
Burma being a member of ASEAN, it becomes the bounden duty for that bloc to find the conflict resolution, even though the bloc main aim is to accelerate economic growth, social progress, and cultural development and to promote peace and security in Southeast Asia. This bloc, with a population of nearly 700 million and covers a total area of 1.7 million square miles ASEAN had adopted a unified response to Vietnam’s invasion of Cambodia in 1979, had exercise its greater political independence by establishing the ASEAN Regional Forum, which was able to resolve the conflict in East Timor. Burma, joined the group in 1997, has now become more of a credit than and asset, will be tested on April 24th attended by none other than, General Min Aung Hlaing, the Pol Pot of Burma.
Incidentally, ASEAN is composed of land-based countries, which have authoritarian regimes like Vietnam, Cambodia, Laos, Thailand, and Burma while a more democratic inclined countries like Singapore, Indonesia, Philippines are island countries, couple with peninsular countries of Malaysia and Brunei. Hence even though they belong to the family of Southeast Asia, e.g. the family of fowls, the land-based are the chickens and the island countries are ducks. Marrying a chicken to a duck produces neither a duckling that can swim, nor a chicken that can scratch. That is exactly what the Burmese coup is all about. The thinking of Singapore, Indonesia and Philippines who are desirous to take drastic action are diametrically apposed by the land-based authoritarian regimes of Thailand, Laos, Cambodia, and Vietnam are desirous of remaining true to the cardinal cause of “not interfering in each other’s internal affairs”.
Frustrations with ASEAN’s inertia and incoherence have manifested in such arenas as the recent Quad Summit. If ASEAN cannot stop the carnage by the end of April, to what consider as crimes against humanity in Burma, then external powers like the West must play a greater role to maintain peace and tranquility in that part of the world. Hence, the entire people of Burma are ardently and passionately appealing to the Arsenals of Democracy. The risks of not doing any thing are unthinkable, as Christine Schraner Burgener, the UN representative said: “Failure to prevent further escalation of atrocities will cost the world so much more in the longer term than investing now in prevention, especially by the neighbors and the wider region.”
An average Burmese want the world to witness of how the generals downed champagne in their finest suits, while the people are laying on the streets, clothes dirtied as they drowned in their own blood, as hundreds of people lay dead as the soldier massacre thousands of peaceful demonstrators. But the people of Burma continue to show extraordinary strength and courage. Workers, peasants, the youth, and non-Myanmar ethnic nationalities are finally uniting, and they will not stop fighting until the junta falls. This is entirely the beginning of the people’s revolution. Workers and the youth have begun their combat training and started to make links with ethnic nationalities fighting groups who have helped defend protesters, no matter their ethnicity. The Myanmar majority have united with the non-Myanmar ethnic nationalities, to overthrow the hated junta. The world needs to help the “people’s army”. The three figures salute of the Burmese Civil Disobedience Movement also indicated the 3 As (Ardent Appel to the Arsenal of Democracy) to help fight this marauding Thatmadaw (which in Burmese meaning never satisfied of killing).
The Burmese were very enlightened when Linda Thomas Greenfield the US ambassador to the UN said, “The United States stands with the people of Burma, our allies must too.”. They deserve the Free World support. One, will recollect that when the U.S. government provided sanctions relief in 2012, it was based on the military’s pledge to return to the barracks and support Burma’s burgeoning democracy. Hence this coup flew in direct defiance of this promise.
President Biden had condemned the coup and has also sanctioned against the two largest military holding conglomerates, the Myanmar Economic Corp. and the Myanmar Economic Holdings Limited, suspending all U.S. diplomatic trade engagements with Burma under the 2013 Trade and Investment Framework Agreement. It is heartening to witness that Britain, the European Union and Canada joined sanctions on the junta. The Group of Seven condemned the coup, and the U.N. Human Rights Council passed two resolutions on the human rights situation. Those are good starts.
But the world needs a sustained demand to stop violence and respect the people’s will. In short, the civilized world led by the US should take the initiative to stop the ongoing atrocities and trigger the United Nations’ “Responsibility to Protect” doctrine. The Biden administration had also targeted Myanmar’s hard-currency revenue from exports of gas, jade, and timber. But still in the energy business, like Chevron of US and Total of France, are giving more than $500 millions to the genocidal army. The people of Burma are putting their lives and they deserve concerted international support. The people of Burma have high hopes on the US and its allies will do everything in their power to help the people of Burma’s advocate for freedom and democracy.