Editor’s Note: Today’s post if the third and final of a series on Tea Circle. You can find the first and second parts of Myanmar’s Peace Process: Disarmament, Demobilization and Reintegration, Borderland Economies, Service Delivery, and other Post-Panglong Concerns here.
DDR processes are only one aspect of the state building process that will need to occur in EAO areas; durable peace will only arrive when communities in EAO areas discern value in citizenship, and so a distrusted state must deliver health, education, and other services, and offer impartial protections, including the provision of land tenure. Education is particularly important: successful reintegration and enhanced livelihood security in EAO areas are fundamentally a question of human resources, the foundation of which is public schools. Across Myanmar, the educational system is in need of repair, and this is doubly so in many EAO areas. Education is supposed to create citizens as well as workers literate in a common language. A lack of vocational and technical training centers, not only in areas accessible to EAO populations, but in Myanmar as a whole, is also an urgent issue. These matters warrant much greater exploration— exploration that is beyond the scope of this analysis, however. Afghanistan amply demonstrates how both DDR and alternative livelihood programs fail when they are standalone programs occurring in areas lacking the administrative, service-oriented, and coercive presence of the state.
The process of state building in insurgent areas will occur through an inflow of Bamar civil servants into these areas to deliver services, and this will also lead to resentment. As a rule of thumb, many EAO host populations will not possess the requisite human resource capacity to completely staff education, health, and general administrative posts. Business and capital, some of it exploitative, will follow. Migrants historically dominate local markets in newly colonized areas; Chinese already play this role in Kachin, while Naga markets in Northeast India are dominated by Marwaris and Biharis, and Han Chinese in Tibet. This can also cynically play into conflict resolution efforts, if it gives struggling ex-EAOs entities to levy extra legal taxes on.
Myanmar’s ethnic minorities—and for that matter, China’s Tibetans, Indonesia’s highland Papuans, Thailand’s hill tribes, and others—know that uncontrolled in-migration will reduce them to minorities, with their cultures and lands subsumed by newcomers. James C Scott’s engulfment— defined as the settlement of loyal (read: docile) populations with an existing “national” identity in areas where such identity was lacking among indigenous peoples— may occur as a part of an unstated but overarching government strategy to dilute the concentration of peoples with separatist tendencies in sensitive areas. Rich historical precedents exist, such as Manchu/ Qing settlement of Han Chinese colonists and soldiers in Southwest China:
Han settlement into areas where they are not a majority has been a Chinese government policy that transcends types of rule, and its continuity from empire to republic to communist dictatorship to the present appears unbroken. Significantly, however, the greater the disruption of the previous demographic status quo, the greater the volatility, as is demonstrated by contemporary anti-state violence in Xinjiang and unrest in Tibet. Controls on migration will likely be sticking points in future negotiations, between the Union and the KIA, KNU, MNDAA, NDAA, and UWSP in particular.
Lessons from Thailand:
The future settlement of conflicts in Myanmar’s EAO borderlands, either through Panglong or another forum, cannot be predicted, but the contours of a long path can be inferred from the recent experience of Northwestern Thailand, which only became integrated into the modern Thai state beginning in the 1960s. While Afghanistan’s experience demonstrates how reintegration and alternative livelihoods standalone programs not synchronized within a larger state-building and service delivery exercise can often prove futile, Northwestern Thailand’s integration into the Thai state confirms this. The region’s hill tribe regions were developmentally and administratively ignored until the Communist Party of Thailand (CPT) based itself there: hill tribe members served as CPT foot soldiers, and the exponential increase in poppy cultivation in hill tribe areas made many Thais perceive them as threats to the state. The government’s defeat of the CPT involved coaxing CPT members to surrender, but unlike Myanmar, the Thai state’s relatively strong position made the process a simpler one than the current context of EAO areas. In Thailand’s opium-growing strongholds, much of them in then-CPT areas, poppy cultivation dropped from 12,112 hectares in 1961 to 281 hectares in 2015, and the opium trade shifted almost entirely to Laos and Myanmar.
The historical success of Northwestern Thailand’s incorporation into the state through both counterinsurgency and alternative development in formerly insurgent areas is not attributed to any one factor, but to a combination of many. Opium poppy cultivation there was not halted because substitute crops earned the same income as opium. In the Thai case, nothing equaled the price of opium to smallholder farmers, especially those without land tenure and the consequent inability to invest in longer-term crops: in 1984, 15 years after alternative crops and extension services were introduced, cultivation was again peaking, and the Thai authorities introduced forcible eradication and arrests in response. But alternate crops did provide income, especially through Arabica coffee. Despite the interference of middlemen and exploitative contract farming— problems for farmers across Thailand and Myanmar, not simply in opium cultivation areas— farmers did earn a living. But the end of illegality was aided by much more than new crops and price guarantees, and the presence of state security actors. The means by which this once remote area of Thailand was truly integrated into the state was through the provision of health and education services, the extension of roads, the provision of land tenure, and the assignment of civil servants to administer areas they were previously absent from— both the presence of the state, and people’s perceptions that its presence was worthwhile.
This success took generations. Myanmar’s will as well: if Panglong 21 is a success, then it will only be because it serves as the foundation upon which services and protections for EAO communities are built. If Panglong 21 is the end of a process, rather than a beginning, then it will fail.
The negotiated assertion of the power of the lowland state into state-resistant areas continues with the Panglong 21 peace process. Myanmar’s borderland insurgents have replicated lowland state coercive power in order to fight the state. The egalitarianism discussed by Scott and others mainly exists in those armed communities which continue to resist the state, as they form and fracture over time. Many of these insurgents historically protected their communities from Tatmadaw incursions distinguished by violence, flight and impunity. Like states, they also tax and control the communities they protect. Many have resorted to criminal activities to survive, and also, profit.
EAO communities have been caught between a rock and a hard place. Panglong 21 offers them a chance to be relieved of the pervasive insecurity and occasional violence they have been subject to for generations. It offers many of those who represent them less: what we witness in the insurgent offensives that began in Shan in November 2016 may be the last gasp of certain smaller groups and the beginning of serious negotiations between larger entities and the government. That process will see EAOs surrender some powers while retaining others: outlaws will legitimize, and a certain amount of post-conflict criminality from former militia and EAO structures will be tolerated as the price of peace. The peace process, if it works, will not be the end of an era of instability, but rather, the beginning of a different type of insecurity, and expectations must be managed. Transitional justice and other demands will prove to be illusory.
No one should underestimate the long task ahead of both the government and the insurgents; it will take a generation, at least, before insurgent populations will find a place in licit economies, and before adequate services are provided. No particular program or step serves as a “magic bullet”. The same infrastructure that will allow troops to travel quickly to quell unrest will also serve to reduce costs for farmers to get their produce to market and reduce times for people to access emergency care. That access, to name one example of many, gives people a vested interest in the state. And in many an EAO territory, that interest is lacking. It is exactly this type of social capital that the state needs to invest in EAO areas that will guarantee peace after Panglong. The state’s presence will be measured not in terms of soldiers but by health, education, markets and opportunities.
Source : goo.gl/JskbQK
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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