Bigotry, the conviction that a group bears collective guilt for a perceived offense, can have many foundations. These include differences in skin color, ethnicity, and religious belief. For the last, the nature of the actual belief system is irrelevant. That others think differently is enough to justify persecution against them.
Presently, there is widespread bias against Muslims. While it is true that certain fanatical cults such as ISIS and al Qaeda self-identify as Muslim (and which self-identification is false, even though they – supposedly – follow the Koran), this in no way implicates all Muslims.
With a population over 1.5 billion, one out of five people on earth practice the faith. To think that all of them are fanatics is not only ludicrous, it is the most pervasive form of bigotry in the world today – other than on the basis of skin color.
There are many types of terrorism. There is the terrorism of cults such as ISIS, and on the opposite end of the spectrum the terrorism of right-wing extremists, who typically act as “lone-wolves,” including followers of neo-Nazism, the Klu Klux Klan, and more generally who identify as white supremacists and anti-Semites.
The worst terrorists of all, though, who generate the most fear, and who perpetrate crimes against humanity against the largest number of victims, are state actors. In this group would go the dictators of such countries as North Korea, Syria, China and Burma, who terrorize their populations every day and who have been doing so for many decades. Anyone who opposes in self-defense such state terrorism, and who limits their actions to armed rebellion against state agents, but not civilians – innocent targets, is a pro-democracy rebel, not a terrorist.
For Islam, the United States clearly does not consider every Muslim to be a terrorist. Many are in fact allies. U.S. soldiers from Special Forces up to larger units from the Army and Marines and also the Navy and Air Force are presently fighting side-by-side with anti-terror/pro-democracy Muslims in Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria, Libya, Somalia, Yemen and likely other countries as well. The U.S. also has bases in additional Muslim countries, including Kuwait, Djibouti, Qatar and Turkey.
The situation at the moment in Burma is very unusual. The regime’s military and police are State perpetrators of terrorism. This has gone on for over fifty years, notably in the East and North of the country. Since 2012, there has been a State campaign of terror in the West, against the small Muslim group, the Rohingya. The Rohingya have been terrorized so severely that they are experiencing nothing less than genocide.
Historically a peaceful people, now – one might say finally – they are beginning to stand up for themselves. They have established a self-defense unit, the Arakan Rohingya Salvation Army (ARSA). This group is essentially the same as the KIA, KNLA, TNLA, and Burma’s myriad other ethnic armed organizations (and should likewise be invited to participate in the nationwide peace negotiations).
The military dictatorship is dominated by Buddhists from the ethnic group, the Burmans. (By no means are all Burmans racist.) The dictatorship hates Muslims, and has been slaughtering the Rohingya. It calls the ARSA “terrorists” (and also the EAOs that are active in Shan and Kachin
States). The generals have been helped greatly in this propaganda through the words and actions of Aung San Suu Kyi, also a Burman Buddhist, who while formerly a democracy campaigner herself has now abandoned fundamental political change and indeed the idea of having any moral foundation at all, in her quest for personal power and self-gratification.
The United States has been put in a difficult position. It has opposed the Burma dictatorship since its bloody massacre of students and other activists in 1988, and supported Suu Kyi who came on the scene at that time. Now, both are bad, partners in crime. What will the U.S. do? Will it actually begin to cooperate with the military regime, and assist the genocide, out of loyalty to Suu Kyi; or, will it condemn the terror against the Rohingya and even potentially begin to help its, and the country’s other, ethnic nationality pro-democracy armed groups?
If it is doing this in Syria and Iraq, why not Burma?
The Peace Process in Burma is never, ever going to be successful from good , excellent, constructive theory, advice or opinion from any body or organisation. The Peace process in Burma could be very simple, but as the years go by it has become more and more complicated and has become a major problems, which many are trying to solve.
In order to help Burma become a genuine Democracy all Western Governments and Communities must understand the early history, ideaology, psychology and doctrine of the Tatmadaw. Peace or War lies entirely in the minds and hearts of the Tatmadaw Generals. Peace must come from within themselves because unless they are at peace with themselves they cannot make peace with others. Individually. No doubt they call themselves Buddhists, but as members of the Institution they follow a different doctrine that allow anger, suspicion, resentment and violence to implement their actions.
The Bamar Military Instititue was founded by a group of Bamar Politicians (Doe Bamar) with very strong feelings against the colonisation of the Bamar Heartland by Britain, as seen by their frequent remarks, “colonization is evil, and that the British colonization of Burma was a shock to their system, damaged their psyche and shattered their pride.” They are unable to forget and move forward. The fear of being colonised by Foreign Power has left a scar in the hearts and minds of Bamar Nationalists: phobia, suspicion, anger, hate and resentment. These negative feelings have also been directed against other ethnic nationalities of Burma because they felt and still feel being let down by the latter, due to being manipulated by the British to resist, and not to conform to the Bamar political Institution’s Ideology.
Although Bogyoke Aungsan was one of the members of the Institution, by the time he came to Panglong in 1947, he had altered his view and attitude towards other ethnic nationalities.
He came with a purpose, to win and influence the Shan, Kachin and Chin to join the Bamar people as equal partners in the formation of the Federal Union of Burma before becoming independent from Britain in 1948. But other Bamar Politicians, were suspicious and regarded the signatories of the Panglong Agreement as their enemies. Bogyoke Aung San was assassinated by one of his own colleagues, and U Nu and his supporters altered the real Panglong Agreement. Ten years later, in the form of the Tatmadaw, the Bamar Military declared war on the Shan and other ethnic nationalities because they were phobic that the Shan and Karenni would secede and break up the union according to the secession clause that gives them the right to secede after ten years. The Shan and other Ethnic Leaders did not at any time, not then and not now attempt to secede other than try to make the Union more democratic, equal, just and fair. Bogyoke Aung San and the Shan Leaders brought all the ethnic States including the Bamar Heartland together, why should they want to break it up again? It does not make sense. The Bamar Military Dictators used violence, terror and human rights violations against other ethnic nationalities to prevent something that is non- existent, for the last 5 or six decades, and is still continuing until today. Is it surprising that there are so many resistant armed forces in Burma? The greater force used, the greater the resistance. It is also ironic that the same negative behaviour of the Tatmadaw members is now imitated by some of the ethnic armed groups. It is the duty of the Tatmadaw to show good examples to all armed groups.
With regard to the right of secession by the Shan and Karenni States, a Bamar politician asked Bogyoke Aung San in 1947, “ What if they( other Ethnic nationalities) should use their rights to secede?” To this Bogyoke Aungsan replied, “the Bamar people will have to try very hard, so that they will not want to secede and will want to stay in the Union”. The Tatmadw did try hard, but by using a wrong method.
By using force and threats and holding other ethnic nationalities to ransom with the following:
1. Not to secede
2. Not to disintegrate
3. Agree to co-operate in a joint economic and narcotic programs
4.Formation of political parties and to contest election
5. Accept 2008 Constitution and legally amend it as necessary
6. One National Armed Forces
the Bamar Military/ Politicians- will also drive other ethnic nationalities further away.
Instead, of threats and violence why not work for Peace with loving kindness, friendship and compassion like true Buddhists. This way the Tatmadaw and the other ethnic nationalities can begin to build better relationship, followed by mutual understanding, trust and respect. The Tatmadaw must stop being xenophobic and Panglong phobic, and have more confidence in themselves that they can achieve Peace without violence.
It is up to the Generals of the Tatmadaw whether it is to be Peace or everlasting War. For the sake of the whole country they should end the ongoing rights abuses, and change the way they interact with civilians particularly in the ethnic borderlands which belongs to the original indigenous people. The Tatmadaw Institution should reform and transform into a professional army, accountable to the elected Government. This way it can prove to itself and the world that it is a genuine protector and defender of the country and its peoples and thus restore its damaged reputation.
A Country is stable, secure and great only when all sections of society, Government, Army and civilians work harmoniously together, and without mis- using power. Nobody should be above the law of the land. In a modern, civilized world using absolute power like the ancient kings, killing all their opposition will only create disharmony, instability and insecurity which makes a country weak, and what the Tatmadaw is most afraid of. The Bamar needs other ethnic nationalities desperately to be strong to be able to challenge the changing world, but they cannot win them over by the using the same method the Tatmadaw Institution has used in the past decades
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