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Civil War Knocking At Burma's Doors

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Burma is on the brink of a fresh civil war. Most citizens believe that the junta's 7-step roadmap sanctioning a new 2008 constitution and ordering a general election in 2010 as a declaration of war against the people of Burma.

The junta has not yet given precise dates for the next elections nor did it release the election rules and regulations. This is surprising and indeed intriguing because the first formal announcement about multi-party elections was made on February 8, 2008. According to analysts in Rangoon, the junta wants to do everything that will put the opposition especially on the National League for Democracy (NLD) at a disadvantage.

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Shortly after the Feb 8 statement, the junta's Secretary 1, Lieutenant-General Tin Aung Myint Oo, told the nation in a televised address, 'We have managed to achieve economic and social in many sectors and also in restoring peace and stability. So it is now suitable to change the military administration to a democratic, civil administrative system, as good fundamentals have been established'.

There was utter disbelief and dismay at Tin Aung Myint Oo's claims. How dare he say the situation is peaceful and stable when there are more than 2100 political leaders and activists are languishing in jails? As the anniversary of saffron revolution near, the junta has been going on with its suppressive manhunt toward the monks, students and politicians who support democracy.

Pro-democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi is still under detention. In fact her sentence has just been extended by one and a half years. The leaders of Britain, France and the United States all strongly condemned the latest sentence as a charade of justice and the trial as a cheat. United Nations secretary general Ban Ki-moon is distressed as well. He renewed his call for her immediate release.

Here is a question for the junta's Secretary 1. Are people of Burma able to feel secure in their daily life?

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According to the Peace Way Foundation's findings, the number of Internally Displaced Persons (IDP) continues to grow at an alarming rate. Military operations, development projects and economic hardships are resulting in a situation that is bordering on a catastrophe. International awareness and action for the IDPs remains unmoving while millions of people face starvation, displacement, and no access to basic fundamental services like education and healthcare.

The IDPs live precarious and transient lives in the jungles of Burma's ethnic border areas and in the more urban central plains. They are denied the stability of having a home and a livelihood and are forced into a constant state of movement: never having the opportunity to maintain a home, their farms, access to education and medical facilities and peace of mind. Recent estimation of the foundation says that there are two million of IDPs in the military ruled Burma. In such a situation, no one agrees it's a peaceful country.

Very recently, armed conflict between Burmese troops and the ethnic Kokang, one of four ethnic rebel groups that signed a ceasefire deal in the 1988-89 chapters, broke out and bumped up by the end of the month of August close to the Sino-Burma boundary.

The junta's offensive against the Kokang ethnic ceased-fire group or the Myanmar National Democratic Alliance Army (MNDAA) is a threat to the other ceasefire groups to obey, corresponding to the regime's procedure for the 2010 elections. Actually, it's a tactic of the junta -- pressure the ethnic groups to lay down their arms for the purpose of building a union designed by the junta. But this will be a unity under the military boots that could break at any time.

Burmese junta's new constitution, approved in a May 2008 referendum, was inundated with misleading principles. It says the country must be under only the military command. To bring the country in line with this proviso, the military regime has ordered all armed ethnic rebel groups to become part of Burma's border guard forces ahead of the 2010 election.

The border guard force, which was announced in April 2009, will cut up the ethnic rebels' strength and their military autonomy. In addition, all these border-guard regiments will have to come under the supervision of a Burmese army officer. It was a tactical move to disarm the ethnic rebels. But Kokang, Wah, Kachin, Shan and Mon ceased-fire groups are unwilling to fall a prey to this ploy.

The consequences of ethnic conflicts made by Burmese authorities create challenges for a peaceful Burma. Is it really suitable to change Burma to a democratic, civil administrative system while the ethnic population is under attack? Is the interpretation of junta's Secretary that good fundamentals have been established? The average population disapproves of his analysis as duplicitous.

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The regime is attempting to legalize the military dictatorship with a sham constitution. Most citizens assume the junta's new 2010 election are nothing but a declaration of war against its own people.

Ethnic minorities have been suffering through five decades of brutal military operations. Attacks on these rural civilians continue on a daily basis. There is a constant demand from Burma's ethnic groups to enjoy equal political, social and economic rights. The Constitution must guarantee the rights of self-determination and of equal representation for every ethnic group in the Parliament. It must also include provisions against racial discrimination.

During the June 2004 National Convention, 13 ceased-fire groups submitted a political proposal demanding their equal rights to the plenary session. But, the junta's National convention convening committee outright rejected the proposal by saying it was an inappropriate time and situation to be accepted at the plenary session. When the 2008 constitution came out as a text, none of the proposed political aspirations counseled by the ethnic representatives were included.

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Zin Linn was born on February 9, 1946 in a small town in Mandalay Division. He began writing poems in 1960 and received a B.A (Philosophy) in 1976. He became an activist in the High School Union after the students' massacre on 7th July 1962. (more...)
 

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