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(en) Australia, Brisbane: WHY ANARCHISTS DON'T SUPPORT AUNG SAN SUU KYI By Black Freighter (ca, de, it, pt)[machine translation]

Date Sat, 28 Aug 2021 09:53:15 +0300

Photo: Anarchists in Yangoon rallying against the military coup earlier this year ---- The February military coup in Myanmar successfully ended the country's experiment with liberal democracy, toppling the government of Aung San Suu Kyi's National League for Democracy (NLD), which won majorities in Myanmar's 2015 elections. While the coup was carried out with surgical precision, the military (Tatmadaw) clearly underestimated the level of resistance that the country's civilian population would put up, including the formation of militia groups and the forging of ties with the preexisting armed forces of Myanmar's insurgent ethnic groups. Having emerged from decades of military rule, Myanmar's people are no stranger to the implications of unbridled dictatorship at the hands of strongmen such as General Min Aung Hlaing and the State Administration Council (SAC).

Yet this resistance is not without its divisions. Unity is difficult for a movement that has emerged among forces that have frequently found themselves at odds. While some in Myanmar have expressed support for the National Unity Government - a coalition formed by the NLD and its parliamentary representatives, this support is far from unanimous. A number of minority groups have long decried the complicity of Suu Kyi and the NLD in the Tatmadaw's genocidal activities. The fact that both the NLD and Tatmadaw are firmly based in the ethnic Bamar majority has been a strong factor in this distrust felt by minorities towards the state authorities and the desire for a federal union that respects minority interests, with the rights of secession and autonomy, is strong. As it stands, the electoral system in place before the coup could be described essentially as a ‘first past the post' - ‘winner takes all' arrangement that favoured the majority Bamar's representatives while ensuring that ethnic political parties were more-or-less excluded from power.1

As early as May 2016, six months after the elections that brought it to power, the NLD's unwillingness to confront ethnic concerns was under fire. At a Yangon meeting of the United Nationalities Alliance, Khun Tun Oo, a former political prisoner and prominent Shan politician, noted that "(ethnicities) voted (for the NLD) with high expectations, and the result is clearly shown in the Rakhine issue ... We can no longer rely on the NLD."2 Throughout its brief tenure in power, the NLD has often faced the accusation of representing only Bamar interests. This was at its most striking when Suu Kyi refused to lift a finger to oppose the Tatmadaw's ruthless ethnic cleansing campaign against the mainly Muslim Rohingya people from 2016, which saw tens of thousands killed and hundreds of thousands displaced, as well as consistent reports of mass rape and infanticide.3

To the contrary, her government put restrictions on access to information, claimed that reports concerning atrocities were ‘fake news', suppressed a film critical of the Tatmadaw, denied Muslims the right to run in elections and flat-out denied that there was any sort of conflict whatsoever.4 Suu Kyi was so concerned with preserving the status quo, in fact, that in 2017 she claimed that "terrorists" were responsible for an "iceberg of misinformation" and thanked the Tatmadaw for upholding the "rule of law"!5 When again confronted on the issue at The Hague in 2019 by the Republic of Gambia and the International Court of Law, she denied the atrocities altogether with the claim that Gambia had delivered "an incomplete and misleading factual picture."6 Oddly, the visible presence of hundreds of thousands of refugees as well as satellite and photographic evidence has rendered her defence of the genocide less than convincing. Suu Kyi has been subsequently stripped of various titles and awards, including her honourary Canadian citizenship, Amnesty International's highest award and the Freedom of Oxford and Dublin, as well as calls to cancel her Nobel Peace Prize and a building named after her at the University of Queensland.

Suu Kyi's international popularity has however enjoyed something of a resurgence internationally since the coup. It is a reality that Myanmar as a whole is a lot worse off with the NLD removed from power. As has been noted by Will Howard-Waddingham, "Suu Kyi may not have been able to resist the genocide even if she had wanted to because it was the military, not her, that held ultimate political power in the country."7 According to this line of reasoning, some have suggested that her only course of action was to maintain her position in government and attempt to keep the Tatmadaw from power for as long as possible. As Howard-Waddingham notes, however, "(c)ollaboration in genocide is a crime regardless of one's power to stop it ... The overthrow and jailing of a democratically elected leader for protecting a group of her citizens could have brought meaningful international attention to the Rohingya's suffering"8.

Potentially fatal for Suu Kyi and the NLD, however, is not the disapproval of liberal democratic institutions abroad but the disillusionment of the Bamar people themselves. The Tatmadaw's indiscriminate assault against thousands of Bamar protestors in urban centres like Yangon and Mandalay has shocked many in the country's dominant ethnic group and brought about a new identification with the plight of its minorities. The experience of slaughter and displacement, once an abstract and far-away concept that few gave thought to, suddenly found itself literally on their doorstep. In the words of one Bamar youth in Yangon, "(s)ince the coup started, we all faced the same thing, the same tragic incidents all over the country ... It doesn't matter if we are Burmese, Kachin, Chin, or any ethnic group. As long as we are living in Myanmar, we have the same rights and we need the same freedom, so federal democracy is a must."9 Cynicism towards Suu Kyi and the NLD is now becoming more common. As Yangon anarchist Kyaw Kyaw notes, "(s)ilence is violence ... The probl


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