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Burma honors its fallen martyrs amid political insecurity

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Zin Linn
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Burma's Independence has been blended together with blood and lives of the nation's top leaders.

July 19 has been known as Martyr's Day in Burma and citizens will commemorate their independence heroes as always amid political insecurity. On 19 July in 1947, seven independence leaders of Burma were assassinated by a group of armed men while they were holding a cabinet meeting at 'The Secretariat' or government house in downtown Rangoon. The assassination plot was made by Galon U Saw, a former prime minister of British colonial Burma.

The assassinated cabinet ministers were General Aung San (father of Aung San Suu Kyi), Thakin Mya, Dedoke U Ba Cho,U Razak, U Ba Win (oldest brother of Aung San and father of Dr Sein Win, the leader of the National Coalition Government of the Union of Burma), Mahn Ba Khaing and Meng -pawng Saopha Sao Sam Htun. Cabinet secretary U Ohn Maung and a bodyguard called Maung Htwe were also slain in the killing.

Most Burmese people believe that the then British authorities had involved in the assassination plot behind the curtain; two British officers were also arrested at the time and one of them charged and convicted for supplying arms and munitions to U Saw. Six months after the assassination, Burma gained its independence from British colonialist.

Trying to gain political power by means of gun or bloodshed is an unacceptable practice, Aung San Suu Kyi highlights time and again publicly. She also believes in non-violent politics to stop the bloodstained politics. That's why she repeatedly voices that political problems must be solved out by means of political methods. Hence, she always states practicing dialogue is the best way for conciliatory conclusion in political dealings. She offers dialogue to the incumbent junta since September 1988 after founding of her party, the National League for Democracy. But, the authoritarian generals turn a deaf ear not only to the Lady but also to the ethnic leaders so far.

As a result, the socio-economic atmosphere of the country is worsening day-to-day because of political instability. The junta may not be able to manage the socio-economic situation, which is deteriorating fast. It will soon come face-to-face with a bleak future if it continues to refuse dialogue or the national reconciliation process being urged by the opposition the National League for Democracy (NLD) and the United Nationalities Alliance (UNA).

The regime has also ignored calls from the international community, especially from the UN, US and EU, to release over 2,100 political prisoners for meaningful dialogue with the oppositions. In addition, the groupings urge to review the 2008 Constitution, which will not bring real changes to the Burmese citizens. People are convinced that, like the referendum held at gunpoint, the secret ballot will not be free, fair and inclusive. The junta may not be able to deal with the worsening socio-economic situation if it continues to turn down the national reconciliation process being urged by the opposition NLD and the UNA as well as the UN. Without National Reconciliation settlement via dialogue, Burma may not rise above the current political and economic melancholy.

The remarkable withdrawal of the key opposition party-- the NLD -- from planned elections this year has added to the awareness that the votes would bring no change to Burma's political surroundings, other than a magic show of the generals who aim changing into civilian clothes to maintain authority. The withdrawal decision is in line with people's opinion that NLD must flex its muscles to confront the unreasonable laws forbidding the Lady from participating and call for her expulsion from the party.

Actually, the 2010 election planned by Burma's ruling junta seems to be a trap for overemotional politicians. Several Burmese politicians are eager to run in the incoming elections hoping a considerable political space. However, they are now stuck in the entanglements when the 'Election Commission's Directive No.2/2010 dated 21 June, 2010' came out in the daily papers. The analysts view the junta's poll process as "deceit' for there will be more and more complicated regulations before the unknown election date.

Political parties in Burma that want to assemble and give speeches at a designated place must apply to the Election Commission (EC) for permission at least seven days prior to the event, according to state-run media. The new 'EC Directive No.2/2010 dated 21 June requiring political parties to provide the specific place, date, starting and finishing time, and the name and address of speakers. The EC will issue a permit or reject the request at least 48 hours before the requested date.

It looks like creating hindrance towards the political parties on purpose. But, the junta-backed USDP has none of such obstacle. The election date has not been set and the regime has maintained tight restrictions on political opposition in the country and has not granted any operational breathing space for political parties to have a word with the public.
"The nearer the election, the more difficulties we have," U Thu Wai, the chairman of Democratic Party (Myanmar), spoke out to the media.

Meanwhile, the Obama administration on 12 July criticized the upcoming general election of Burma as scheduled is "flawed" and that the military government has not taken any step towards establishing democracy in the country.

"We think that this is a flawed electoral process," said State Department spokesman P. J. Crowley.

On the other hand, the State Peace and Development Council (SPDC) is building a multipurpose network of tunnels, bunkers and other underground installations where they and their military hardware can be hidden against any external airborne attack, including most likely from the United States. At the same time, military junta has formed a strategic missile force that works with North Korean contractors. Burma's missile force is armed with two types of surface-to-surface short and medium range ballistic missiles, such as the Scud-type Hwasong-6 from North Korea, and 122-mm and 240-mm multiple rocket launch systems brought in from China and North Korea.

Moreover, Burma's ruling junta has been in progress with a clandestine program to develop nuclear weapons in a high-stakes bid to put off supposed unfriendly foreign powers. In fact, there has never been a serious threat of foreign invasion. To sum up, the junta taking example of North Korean style strategy - is strengthening its military might to maintain its political-power everlastingly. According to military experts, Burma spends 40 to 60 percent of the national budget for the armed forces.

In contrast, 0.4 percent of the national budget is spent on health-care, while 0.5 percent is spent for education, according to a report released in 2007 by the International Institute for Strategic Studies, a think-tank based in London. UNICEF reported that SPDC spending on health care in Burma amounted to U.S. $0.40 cents per person per year in 2005, compared to U.S. $61 in neighboring Thailand.

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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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