Yawdserk spurns surrender-to-stand-for-elections advice
Suggestions from ‘friends’ in Thailand not to oppose the draft charter drawn by Burma’s ruling junta but surrender and fight it out in the planned 2010 elections have been turned down by the leader of the anti-junta Shan State Army (SSA) South during an interview by the Shan Herald yesterday.
The following are excerpts from the interview:
The May referendum
Let us stop deluding ourselves by the generals’ seemingly soft tactics. Their soft tactics are, as a rule, followed by stiff ones. The heart of the matter is that they will never, never give up their power unless overthrown.
[Regarding this statement, Yawserk has a seconder in Ruth Dreifuss from the ILO, who, according to AP, 25 March 2005, said: There is always a promise to do something, a few little steps, then a terrible backlash. – Editor]
No, I have yet to see the draft. But right from the start it’s been quite clear to me that a constitution drawn in an undemocratic manner can never be a democratic one. Anyone who understands democracy, anyone who loves one’s country therefore can never support it. The RCSS (Restoration Council of Shan State, the political arm of the SSA) is firmly against it.
The core of the draft is that the military will continue to rule the country and enslave the people. Ordinary people, even if they don’t understand politics, will never accept it. Any support coming from them will only be out of fear.
To the people of Shan State, Panglong (the agreement in 1947 that united Burma with non-Burman states) was the first great con. The May referendum is likely going to be the second one.
Options for the ceasefire groups
When it comes to the armed ceasefire movements, the regime’s aim is to cut off flesh (i.e. politics) from the bone (i.e. military) when they offer 3 choices to them:
- To surrender and set up political parties
- To become special police forces
- To become part of the junta’s Tatmadaw (armed forces)
In what way have they benefited the people since 1989 when they stopped fighting? To me, they have only been more successful in benefiting the junta’s armed forces. Pick up any choice given and they are bound to dwindle away to nothing. What this country will become rests not only on the decisions of the Burmese generals. It also rests on their (ceasefire group leaders) shoulders too.
My sincere exhortation is that they stand firm in their founding principles to free the people from bondage and are ready to fight for them.
What should the rest of the opposition do?
- We must unanimously reject the junta’s draft
- We must lead the people to oppose it
- All exiles must also hold rallies to oppose it
- The opposition groups must join hands to form an all-encompassing alliance
Surrender to stand up for elections?
We cannot copy the Thai experience. In Thailand, former rebels can become elected members of parliament and even government leaders. Politicians from outlawed parties can form new parties (following referendum adopting the new constitution) to enter elections and participate in the formation of a new government. That is because the kingdom, apart from the armed forces, has other robust institutions like the monarchy, academics, business and media.
Burma has none of them. Anyone who is planning to return to become an elected government minister must be dreaming.
However, I’m not blaming these friends from outside Burma including (UN envoy) Ibrahim Gambari. Their suggestions are all well-meant. But I think we know our country better.
The Shan State Army “South” is one of the three major armed movements fighting against the Burmese military. Others are the Karen National Union (KNU) and Karenni National Progressive Party (KNPP).
The ruling junta has announced that preparations for a referendum to adopt its draft constitution in May is underway. It has yet to publicize the draft.