Gas Week

EWN Publishing

Burma expert says action by young Army officers, not demonstrations by monks, only real hope for change in Burma

Posted by gasweek on 4 October, 2007

Although Burma’s warrior kings were firmly entrenched in power, and not overly worried about condemnation by the West, that did not mean that their position was entirely secure, wrote Bertil Lintner in The Sydney Morning Herald (29/9/2007, p. 27).

Veterans rally: The generals remained profoundly despised by their own people and an entirely new movement began taking shape last year. It comprised veterans of the 1988 uprising, the most prominent of them being Min Ko Naing, a student leader who was arrested in March 1989 and released only in November 2005, after nearly 16 years in solitary confinement.

“No” to injustice: In 1988 Min was a 26-year-old zoology student addressing crowds of tens of thou­sands in Rangoon. When he was released he was 42, and his years in prison had left their mark on his face and body. He looked old and haggard – but his fighting spirit had not been quelled. “The people of Burma must have the courage to say ‘no’ to injustice and ‘yes’ to truth,” he said at a meeting of the newly formed “88-Generation Students’ Group” in Rangoon in August last year. But now he has been arrested, along with most of his comrades.

No sign of “young Turks”: So where is the hope? The bitter reality is that nothing is going to change as long as the military remains united and willing to gun down its own people. A younger generation of army officers who see the need to negotiate with the pro-democracy movement is probably the only hope. But for now, no one is aware of any “young Turks” lurking in the wings, and there are no signs of serious cracks within the ranks.

Change from the barrel of a gun: But if change does come to Burma, it will be because of action taken by such younger army officers, not demonstrations led by monks. The protests can, at the most, per­haps influence sections of the army to re­alise there is no future in supporting the present regime. For, ultimately, there is no place in the modern world for an anachron­istic and atavistic entity such as the warrior kingdom of Naypyidaw.

Reference: Bertil Lintner is a Bangkok-based journalist and an expert on Burmese affairs.

The Sydney Morning Herald, 29/9/2007, p. 27

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