Myanmar's Black Hole: the Military as the Greatest Obstacle against Reforms, Peace and National Reconciliation (Draft Essay) by Maung Zarni (2010)

Introduction

Burma’s military, both the despotic leadership and its institutional instrument of power, namely the Tatmadaw or the Royal Army, remains enigmatic, in spite of it being in power for half-a-century (since 2 March 1962). It is the black hole of understanding in knowledge produced about Burma

The world knows a lot about Aung San Suu Kyi – her political beliefs and stance, her inspiring personal tale, and her pedigree. Even her aesthetic tastes are well-publicized, and so are the abuses and acts of persecution towards her. And yet the world knows surprisingly little about the country’s dictatorship, despite its half-century of military rule and the exceedingly negative impact that has had on Burmese society, culture, economy, politics, and foreign relations. This is not surprising since dictatorships typically thrive on secrecy about their modus operandi, and the resultant confusion amongst the oppressed. The Burmese dictatorship is no exception in this respect. In contrast, iconic dissidents such as Aung San Suu Kyi and opposition movements can only sustain their relevance and popular support by making their views, stances and strategies accessible to their friends and supporters, as well as opponents and detractors. Systems of political repression strive to paralyze the domestic public and its international supporters, while liberation struggles seek to mobilize both.



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