History of Struggle for Democracy in MyanmarThe history of the struggle for democracy in Myanmar
Burma's fight for democracy: Critical assessment
The following is an extract from "Burma's struggle for democracy": Maung Zarni's "A critical appraisal" with Trisha Taneja, the third chapters of the new WPF Advocacy In Conflict book: Alex de Waal's critique of trans-nationalism with Jennifer Ambrose, Casey Hogle, Teisha Taneja and Keren Yohanne (London: Zed Books, 2015).
It' s a commonplace that anti-authoritarian movement and organisations have a tendency to reflect their adversaries in thought, working methods and policy and, above all, to become tolerant of any viewpoint other than that of management. Indeed, the decision to make Aung San Suu Kyi an democracy symbol has had important and potentially disastrous consequences for both the national and global component of the democracy drive.
Burma's democracy movements, supported by a very different group of voters, have no consistent opinions and rules, and there is much to say for the association around a sole leaders. Having been placed in a situation where it cannot do anything amiss, other policy changes that do not coincide with its public view are generally seen by its followers as a straightforward threat to its leaders.
Throughout her years of opposing the government, anyone who dares to criticise Suu Kyi has been condemned as an apologetic act for the government and seen as an act of hereticism that has led to outrage, conviction, defamation and threat to society. Efforts to unify Burma's democracy under Suu Kyi's leadership have slowed the opposition's own expansion by restricting its communications with global players to one conduit and one embassy, even when domestic and geo-political changes require a change in strategy.
Controversial critics criticize the Burma democracy move for its inflexibilities and lack of understanding of the need for a change of paradigms (Hlaing 2007) and for domestic rivalry and fractionalism (Taylor 2009). However, none of these mistakes, characteristic of exiled and opposing motions, fully explain why the opposing motion remained fighting and undergoing the process of Georgia's transformation, which adopted the guise of democracy and respect for and coopted the icons of democracy's struggle against a new policy of basic continuity with its forerunner.
Burma's multinational intercession has shown important strength and is in some ways an important example of the general context supported in this book, which is capable of bringing about beneficial changes while at the same time staying anchored in fragmented domestic situations. Bangladeshi Burmese international campaigners have been a source of resources and have supported a major protagonist of a local government.
Widely held respect internationally for Suu Kyi's leaders certainly contributed to aligning world politics with the internal conditions and procedures for political and democracy reforms, and finally legitimised Suu Kyi's longstanding persistence in dialog with the government. But the transformation of Suu Kyi into an internationally prominent figure and the promotion of her National League for Democracy (NLD) as a key player in the process of transformation made trans-national groups of activists rigid and incapable of responding to evolving reality.
Her unquestioning commitment to Aung San Suu Kyi has enabled Western (especially American) players to select and strengthen a unique Myanmar tale, thus isolated other facets of a multi-faceted Myanmar policy struggle. Eventually, when policy changes occurred in a strongly altered global environment, the unique story prevented an efficient answer to the challenge of freedom, democracy and inequality.
Burma's democracy drive therefore exemplifies the transformation of multinational advocacy movement, which - despite its open show of support for a nation on the horizon - has illustrated a transmission of powers to define the agendas from nation to west and has indeed further fuelled the continuing policy crises, military conflicts and atrocities.
In this section, we will review the history of Burma's activist movements and opposition to consecutive Burma militia regimes, as well as consider the incidents that resulted in the development of a Western-political oriented pattern of trans-national intercession, and the consequences of this pattern for Burma's politico-clash. During the 25 years of the Burma Global Crisis Initiative, the strength and weakness of trans-national militancy was symbolised by the character of Aung San Suu Kyi.
Looking at this history of militancy, it becomes clear that "The Woman" was created by West and Burma militants as icons of democracy and respect for mankind, and that this production is one of the greatest policy crises that the nation has seen, leading to missed opportunity and waste.
Meanwhile, the West's commitment to Burma has linked politics tightly with intercession and helped the shifting interests of the country's elite and global economy, rather than contributing to the realization of the prerogatives of all the people of Burma, as well as the members of already marginalised societies. The non-democratic civilisation and the strategic lack of differentiation in the management of a pro-democracy opposition that has been internationalised as Burma's unique vote explains why a move that has so many committed dissidents and electoral districts on the ground has so pitifully collapsed - at great expense to the people.
The tragedy is that the company is trapped between strategic non-competent and strategic unaware leaders of the opponents and the dominating cliques of dark general and ex-generals.