May 24, 2021 10:08 am
For four months now the Burmese military have taken power and subjected the population that still resists to a ferocious repression. International divisions prevent any effective action to restore constitutional order in the country, and so the generals feel they have their hands free to crush any resistance.
The latest episode is the order of the electoral commission, controlled by the military, to dissolve the National League for Democracy, the party of Aung San Suu Kyi that had won a clear victory in the legislative elections of November 2020. Confined to house arrest and deprived of freedom of speech and movement, the Nobel Peace Prize winner will have to appear before a court on May 24, accused of electoral fraud.
This is obviously a pretext to legitimize the coup and definitively exclude it from political life.
The extent of the repression is considerable: over 800 dead in just over a hundred days, 4,300 protesters arrested and without any legal assistance, more than 125,000 teachers (or a third of the total) suspended for participating in acts of civil disobedience.
Burmese boys die on the barricades
These numbers give an idea of the resistance the military is facing. Demonstrations and strikes continue daily despite the danger.
The risk of a civil war is real, because many young people are now convinced that civil disobedience will not be enough to overthrow the generals and join the armed guerrilla.
The armed groups are joined by young people from the cities who oppose the army
For decades in Burma there have been numerous armed revolts of more or less active ethnic minorities. When in power, Aung San Suu Kyi had initiated negotiations and had managed to put out some, though not all, outbreaks.
Today these armed groups welcome young people from cities who oppose the army and want to escape persecution. There have been several armed attacks against the security forces in recent days. On 24 May a police station in the east of the country was hit, killing 13 people. Another attack near the Chinese border resulted in about twenty victims.
Today there is a real risk of witnessing an increase in violence, against civil opposition but also against armed groups. Some analysts speak of the threat of “Syrianization” of the Burmese crisis.
The problem is that the UN Security Council is divided on the Burmese affair as on all current issues, due to the opposition between the United States on the one hand and Russia and China on the other. The same passivity is present within Asean, the Association of Southeast Asian countries, which hides behind the principle of non-interference. The French oil group Total, for its part, has refused to stop paying taxes to the Burmese government.
This mix of indifference and realpolitik leaves Burmese alone and unarmed against an army ready to go all the way in repression.
(Translation by Andrea Sparacino)