Prosecution of the Rohingya in Mynamar

The Republic of the Union of Myanmar (Burma). A former pseudo-socialist state, military junta and now a capitalist democracy? Although Aung San Suu Kyi is state chancellor for almost 10 months, her government has done nothing to stop the prosecution of the Rohingya people, by the criminal Tatmadaw (Armed Forces of Myanmar). The victory of Suu Kyi’s party (the NLD) in the 2015 elections ended the rule of the military. But this came at a cost. Because the 2008 constitution gives the Tatmadaw control over important ministries. It allows the militarists who once ruled Myanmar unopposed, to carry out brutal prosecution of the Muslim minority in the Buddhist dominated nation! 

Aung San Suu Kyi is a Noble peace price winner. She has be hailed a champion of human rights by western media outlets. Her struggle against the military junta in Myanmar made her the Nelson Mandela of Asia. In 2008 the corrupt Tatmadaw led by general Than Shwe, decided to fool the world by creating a pseudo-democracy. The nation changed its name from the Union of Myanmar to Republic of the Union of Myanmar. Then they changed the flag and created a political party to serve as the civilian wing of the military. A former general was installed as leader of the Union Solidarity and Development Party. This party won the 2012 elections, which were held in a undemocratic environment. Suu Kyi’s National League for Democracy (NLD) refused to participate in the election back then!

However Suu Kyi soon changed her mind and decided to compromise with the criminals, who had imprisoned her. Suu Kyi accepted the 2008 constitution (created by the military) and the fact that important ministries remained under Tatmadaw control. Also more then 25% of all seats in the Myanmar parliament are reserved for military officials, which allows the Tatmadaw to remain a strong political force. Together with the Union Solidarity and Development Party (USDP), the corrupt militarists control 140 seats (out of 440) in the House of Representatives!

The 2008 constitution was created to keep Aung San Suu Kyi away from the presidency. As a woman married to a British citizen, the military made sure that she was not allowed to become head of state. Suu Kyi got around this loop in the law by installing an NLD puppet as president and creating a new government office: the State Chancellery of Myanmar. She could have excluded the right-wing USDP from power, but did not. Members of the civilian wing of the military remain on key function inside the government. The very fact that Suu Kyi is collaborating with people that have caused so much human rights violations, is a spit in the face of all those NLD activists, tortured and murdered at the hands of Tatmadaw soldiers. Revolutionary socialists also point at the prosecution and human rights abuses by the military and police against the Rohingya people, an Islamic minority!

Muslims make up less the 4% of the total population. There are over 1,3 million of them in Myanmar and they belong to the Rohingya people. The Rohingya are a tiny minority in a nation dominated by very large Buddhist majority. Out of 51 million, 68% belong to the ethnic Bamar people and they are Buddhist. Muslims have always been prosecuted and hatred. During the period of the military junta (1988-2011) the Tatmadaw (led by ethnic Bamar officials) loved to terrorize and intimidate the Rohingya. Like the Jews in Nazi Germany, the Rohingya are seen as dirt and stigmatized because they favor Islam and not Buddhism. The prosecution has not stopped with the rise of the NLD as the ruling party of Myanmar!

Why is Aung San Suu Kyi not stopping the prosecution of the Rohingya? Political opportunism is her reason. Because she needs the political support of the ethnic Bamar. Also her hands are bound to the 2008 constitution, which allows the military to control vital sectors of the government. Even if she wanted to stop the violence, rape and murder of Muslims, she has no legal means to do so. Suu Kyi would have to break the law and that is what the military could use as excuse to remove her from power. Therefore it was foolish of Suu Kyi to compromise with the Tatmadaw five years ago. Myanmar cannot be changed by dancing to the tunes of those who abused power for their own greedy needs!

Revolutionary socialists had no illusions in the compromise between NLD and people like general Than Shwe. On 9 November 2015, Revolutionary Socialist Media wrote an article over the supposed ”return of democracy” to Myanmar. Here is a line out of that article:

9 NOVEMBER 2015

The military might have abandoned their junta, but still rule through the Union Solidarity and Development Party and the fact they own 1/4 of all seats in parliament. These generals are nepotistic and greedy, they don’t care about anybody but themselves. Revolutionary socialists call for the arrest of all former members of the ”State Peace and Development Council”. People like Than Shwe must be trialed for corruption, nepotism and the killing of many innocent people. But is Aung San Suu Kyi willing to go that far? Will she brake the power of the feared Tatmadaw, which has oppressed the people for more then 50 years?    

We can now answer that question. Aung San Suu Kyi has not and will not brake the grip of the military on the people of the nation. Her government has limited powers and does not seem to have the will to brake the status quo. This is why RSM calls for the formation of a new workers party. Today in 2017 it is more the ever vital, that workers of all ethnicity’s unite against the forces of capitalism and militarism. Workers and poor cannot trust the National League for Democracy. They cannot trust Aung San Suu Kyi. All those deaths, all those victims are left in the dirt. Abandoned and betrayed by a woman they trusted for more then 30 years. How long will the NLD be able to remain popular with the masses?

Most people do not seem to care about the suffering of the Rohingya. The western world remains silent. A typical reaction since the Rohingya are Muslims. Many Europeans and Americans have little empathy, when it comes to Muslims suffering from prosecution and terror. Far-right populists like Donald Trump, Geert Wilders and Marine Le Pen want to ban the Islamic religion and think on the same level as the criminal Tatmadaw. Meanwhile soldiers and police officers have started a major crack down in ethnic Rohingya towns. 1.250 homes in five towns are burned to the ground. 92.000 were forced to flee the soldiers who rape and torture as they destroy town after town. The prosecution is both a result of ethnic hatred and religious intolerance. Many Buddhists in Myanmar show little to no tolerance for minorities. The Rohingya are said to be the least wanted and most prosecuted ethnic group in the world!

Since 2014 it is not allowed to speak of the Rohingya as a people. Instead the government calls the Muslim minority: ”Bengali”, as if they are from Bangladesh. Reality is that many have fled to Bangladesh, but the Rohingya are not ethnically from this country. They come from the Rakhine State in Myanmar. This is denied by the (then USDP led) government which claims that the Muslims are foreign immigrants, who settled in Myanmar after the independence of India in 1948. This is historical revisionism in a attempt to remove 1,3 million people and their culture from the history books!

General Than Shwe is gone. His State Peace and Development Council dissolved. Their UDSP president has been replaced by Htin Kyaw (the NLD puppet) on the presidency. But nobody is punished for the mass murders after 1988. Nobody is trialed and jailed for slave labour, child labour and the rape of so many women. All this for what? The criminals walk free and the army remains politically strong! This is why all ethnic groups in Myanmar need a workers party on a socialist program. Socialism is not what has be tried in the past. The pseudo-socialist regime between 1962 and 1988 was based on xenophobia and racism, not revolutionary socialism. Although the nation called itself: Socialist Republic of the Union of Myanmar, there was nothing socialist about it. Workers were slaves to the ”Revolutionary Council” and the Burma Socialist Program Party!

The Bamar make up 68% of the total population, however they still have to share Myanmar with other ethnic groups. The Shan people make up 9% of the population and the Karen people stand at 7%. Because civilian and military governments favored the Bamar majority and excluded others, many minorities took up arms to fight the intolerant regimes. Ethnic conflicts have plagued Myanmar for almost 50 years. There was hope that the fights would end with Aung San Suu Kyi becoming state leader. But after almost one year in office, she has remained silent about the continuing crimes of the military. Right under her nose, the oppression keeps going. The Nelson Mandela of Asia has turned out to be a silent supporter of Buddhist supremacy over Myanmar!

 

Rohingya Muslims demonstrate against their prosecution in Myanmar.

Rohingya Muslims demonstrate against their prosecution in Myanmar.

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