Saturday, August 29, 2009

Myanmar, the regime’s policy of "divide and conquer" against minorities

By Tint Swe

The "Biblical" exodus of the minority Shan is the latest chapter in a government policy that creates divisions in the country to later guarantee - with weapons - unity. The twenty-year strategy of agreements, concessions or repression of various groups is at a crossroads, in view of the general elections of 2010.

New Delhi (AsiaNews) - In recent days, AsiaNews reported on the “biblical” exodus of thousands of Burmese civilians, at least 30 thousand according to the latest data, who have crossed the border between Myanmar and China to escape the ongoing conflict between government forces and of the ethnic Shan rebel groups. The military junta in Myanmar - the nation consists of the majority Burmese and many ethnic minorities - has launched an offensive on rebel movements, the military means to force them to surrender in view of the general elections of 2010 and to cooperate with the government in defence of the borders national.

We publish the analysis of Tint Swe, a member of the Council of Ministers of the National Coalition Government of the Union of Burma (NCGUB) composed of refugees from Myanmar after the 1990 elections won by the National League for Democracy and never acknowledged by the junta . Fled to India in 1990, since 21 December 1991 he lives in New Delhi, and is a member of the NCGUB where he holds the post of information officer for South Asia and East Timor

Recent developments in the Sino-Burmese border are the result of a twenty-year agreement between the Burmese regime and the armed ethnic groups. The internal rebellion or civil war had no end, neither under democracy, nor martial law.
This regime has made a strategic choice, creating a so-called cease-fire agreement with different ethnic groups. And the first group to have signed it was also the first to experience the unfortunate consequences. This group is the Myanmar National Democratic Alliance Army (MNDAA).

The strong army of 450 thousand has neither the ability nor the desire to break the insurgency with the guns.. For this reason it uses all available means, lawful or unlawful, without distinction. If you are strong, you get more concessions in return; otherwise just get the crumbs.

The China factor has played a leading role in quashing, at the end of the Cold War, the once strong Communist Party of Burma (CPB). When the Chinese government put an end to political support and material assistance, the Communist Party was no longer able to maintain its leading role among the various ethnic groups not belonging to the majority Burmese. This gave the newly installed military regime the perfect opportunity to pursue the policy of "divide and conquer”.

To MNDAA was followed by a number of other rebel movements related to various ethnic groups. In this way the regime has had the opportunity over the past decade to show the world, and the country itself, that it alone can ensure peace. As a result the SLORC - the original State Council for the Restoration of law and order - has become the State Council for Peace and Development Council (SPDC).

This gave the junta the opportunity to implement the next step in strengthening power. While it orchestrated repression after repression, the junta finalized the drafting, writing and approval of a new constitution, with all it has cost.

This is why 2010 is D-day. The time has come to address the issue related to the cease-fire and the rebel groups. The plan to turn them into border guards has not gone as smoothly as hoped. The smallest folded, but the larger groups continue their resistance.

This explains the regime’s decision to adopt the same tactic used previously for the Karen. The Karen National Union (KNU), the strongest political movement, has been infiltrated by the regime, it was bought and sold and then divided from within. The result was the birth of DKBA in 1994. The strange acronym stands for the Democratic Karen Buddhist Army, consisting of a fringe group from the Karen National Liberation Army (KNLA), the armed wing of the KNU. The result: Karens had to kill Karens.

Now MNDAA represents the last show of the pre-election campaign ahead of the 2010 vote. Kokangs must kill Kokangs. The State Council for Peace and Development has needed less than a thousand soldiers. Ten thousand civilians have fled to China. Now China has to decide whether to support the armed resistance of Kokang Chinese or Burmese army.

(With the collaboration of Nirmala Carvalho)

Sent at 10:59 PM on Saturday

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