Burned out yesterday and the night before. Dealing with an American feeling slighted because events are happening on their religious day off. I don’t want to say what I’m really thinking as my identity may come to light (not that I’m trying hard to hide).
Anyway, here’s a dilemma for the Burmese in the US: Especially among the established pro democracy leadership among them (“Gen X” if you will), they are fixated on restoring DASSK and the NLD to power under the already questionable constitution which is presently being leveraged to fail the entire process and, as it was deliberately written, guarantee some kind of hold by the military in perpetuity.
But let’s focus on the words “DASSK and the NLD”: Both have put forth the same position as the military, that the Rohingya are a visiting people with no rights. You could be 2nd or 3rd generation or beyond that within Rakhine state and under the current law as supported by DASSK and the NLD, they are stateless persons in perpetuity. That is not the world standard. Rakhine state is not a refugee camp.
Almost everyone else on the planet who has heard of Myanmar knows this much: their government is acting toward the Rohingya in a way that appears genocidal. DASSK brought in international lawyers who cynically did what lawyers cynically do: attempted to swap out the word “genocide” for the phrase “ethnic cleansing.” One phrase has ramifications under international law, the other does not.
So the world is ready to listen to the Muslims of Myanmar who are ready to tell the world that this regime is a very bad stand in for democracy as far as the Rohingya are concerned. The only request being made by Rohingya in exile is that the people of Myanmar recognize their rights not to live as stateless persons. If they do this and demand that the NLD do the same, the Rohingya and other Burmese Muslims can get into the corridors of power and diffuse the cynicism with which people who had previously supported DASSK now view her.
I was asked to speak. I said I need time to formulate my thoughts. The reason - I’m ready to speak this uncomfortable truth for people who may not feel ready to hear it. And I would encourage the young people who already understand this to take full control of the movement here. Very uncomfortable for people my age (myself included, if I cling to my ego because none of these kids know who I am).
I’m already having these conversations with people in power or close to it. So, I am going to try to cut down on my BB Sludgy commentary obsession and maybe help get something else accomplished while also “laying low.” Dynamic, charismatic leaders in the making are out here, and really all they need is for someone to sweep the stage and invite them up.
One remarkable thought for the moment: you might notice I’ve said all the doctors and nurses have walked off the job and at other junctures I’ve described people being seen at the hospital. Nothing is ever 100% in any situation like this. So, I want to relay some lovely posts and footage of unionized strikers and citizens kneeling next to work transport buses. They are apologizing to those who remain on the shuttle in their company dress crossing the line and continuing to go to work. We are sorry for inconveniencing you and for the present struggle.
Please think about that.
There is so much Buddhism and psychology going on there. It humanizes them. It says “you will always be part of us and we are all your family.” It does not permit them to wall off what is going on in the country or see those walking off the job as the opposition. It allows that what is going on is not okay, and that their own decision in that moment is okay insofar is it is -their decision-. And it calls for open dialogue and soul searching. It also creates allies within the parts of the country that are still in motion who could provide crucial intelligence.
In 1988, my friend was a chemist, the head and the union head of the salt factory in Sagaing Division. When they all walked off the job, he knew where the money would have gone so he took all of it out of the safes. He left the country on foot and over several days and what he describes as climbing up and down “80 mountains,” he arrived in Thailand where he gave all the money to democracy groups. To stay solvent he invested some of it in a hot dog stand. (I can’t -not- point out here that he was still essentially in the salt business). That little operation kept him and his wife alive and healthy, and they would nurse my future brother in law through a nasty bout with malaria before all three made their way to the USA.
Edit: I had intended to post photos of the current scale of the demonstrations in another thread, which I saw on my phone. I do believe over a million people have been marching; however on examining these on the wide screen I use for doing photoshop work, I am suspicious of some of the photos. As I’ve written before, the truth becomes murky dealing with all sides there and you have to poke at it from numerous angles before you have a sense that you’ve go the entire picture in hand. I think this one from Mandalay is legit, and I also remind the reader that people in Mandalay DESPISE the regime at probably a higher percentage than those who put up with them in the other cities. Most of the old guard generals and their spoiled families live in Yangon, not Mandalay. The children of Mandalay residents, some as young as 8 years old, were forced to work in 95 degree heat all summer ahead of Visit Myanmar Year to dredge the moat and spruce up Mandalay Palace for tourism. Or you could “pay a fee” to avoid the forced labor. The regime dressed this up as charitable labor for earning Buddhist metta. So here’s Mandalay:
At any rate, internet blocking has been extended (now from 1 a.m. to 12 p.m.), the ISP’s literally apologizing to their customers and letting them know they have told the government that this violates the rights of their customers.
Finally, I had promised an update re Mask Lady.
Okay one other thing. Unfortunately it appears Biden is seriously looking to ASEAN as a potential partner in resolving what’s happening in Myanmar. This is in my view a huge mistake. Indonesia is already pushing some bullshit solution by which ASEAN would “hold accountable” the government if it doesn’t do new elections within a year. That is to say, Indonesia wants to have ASEAN agree with the Coup government in usurping the results of a free and fair election with the guise of having another one. But ASEAN will never hold them accountable in any way whatsoever. It will help to know the history:
- ASEAN was formed as an economic block to form a power base to compete with the growing power of China as well as the EU and others outside the region. So it operates only in the self interest of the other ASEAN nations.
- From the outside it appears to have the trappings of a model UN but in actual practice, it is a trading bloc. All they care about is keeping the resources and goods coming. The actual ASEAN charter “aimed to create a single free-trade area for the region.”
- They accepted Myanmar into ASEAN in July 1997, two months AFTER the US announced sanctions on the repressive military regime. So they have never cared about democracy in Myanmar and actually leveraged this moment of tension with the US to gain access to those sanctioned resources and strengthen the economic prospects of ASEAN’s dominant member nations. As an example, teak from Burma routinely made its way through Thailand and Indonesia for country of origin laundering to get around sanctions and boycotts.
- ASEAN has a core “principle of non-interference” which means for an ASEAN partner they will never stand up against the wishes of whomever is in power, and will instead only lobby on their behalf (which is why they are pushing the same “solution” proposed by the Temporary Coup Regime of Myanmar).
I sincerely hope the US doesn’t fall for this. It would be better to say and do nothing than to accept a plan that yet again ignores the results of a free election, unless that plan is to also go back to ground zero and toss the constitution with it’s promise of eternal Tatmadaw power into a dumpster.