Interview with Chairman of Global Peace Malaysia (English)

Interview with Mr. Ahmad Azam Abdul Rahman,

Chairman of Global Peace Malaysia (GPM)

 _ interviewed by Dr San Oo Aung

 

Introduction

Mr Ahmad Azam Abdul Rahman is the Chairman of Global Peace Malaysia, GPM, a Humanitarian Mission across Borders.

He is also the President of the consortium of 77 NGOs.

He is also a Member, founding Executive Committee Member of the Union of World Islamic NGOs.

In addition, he is the Board Member of Kuala Lumpur Society for Transparency International.

He is an Executive Committee Member of the International Movement of Just World.

He was the member of Malaysian Youth Consultative Council appointed by Youths and Sports Ministry.

He was the President of ABIM, Malaysian Muslim Youth Movement.

Burma Digest’s representative in Malaysia, Dr. San Oo Aung, recently got a kind permission to interview this great humanitarian who has a lot of interest in Burmese Politics.

Burma Digest is gathering the views of third persons to break the ice in Burma Politics and to boost the real and rapid progress in the democratization process of our country.

 

[This interview in video format will be available later.]

BURMA DIGEST: Dear brother we are glad to be here, with you today.

Abdul Rahman...Thank you very much.

 

Question…Brother, what is your opinion regarding the possible chances of changes in Burma towards democracy.

Answer…I think, basically, no one country in the world would like to be forced to change the way they do things. So when there is an element of forcing you to change according to your standard or your values, I think naturally there will be an element of resistance.

In the issue of Burma, we have to look from that angle as well, how to change it in a way that is acceptable (to all) and that could be difficult.

We can put pressure but when there is an element of force, then the people would cling to themselves and would resist.

So we have to bring in all kind of approaches to bring change and to bring democracy in Burma.

 

Question… Brother, you are interested in Burmese Politics and had organized protests at Burmese Embassy in Kuala Lumpur. And had organized press conferences in KL against the admission of Burma into ASEAN. At the press conference, you had revealed the various evidences of the atrocities committed by the Myanmar Military Government on its religious and ethnic minorities. You had even been to Burma Bangladesh border to help the Myanmar Rohingya Refugees. And you are the prime mover and campaigner in Malaysia to recognize the Rohingyas from Burma. Could you explain about your political activities?

Answer… Well my first contact with Burma was when there were the Rohingya refugees 10 of thousands in early 1990. We were shocked why their own citizens are disowned and rendered stateless citizens, just because their skin colour is not the same or they speak different language. 

Because of that, Malaysia has to, in a way, suffer to take care of their problem of Burma . We have to take care of their problem till now. 

I was in ABIM as the President then. We started to have a programme how to help them. The only way to help them is to send them back to Burma and let Burma accept them as their own citizen and treat them as their own. And it is the only way.

 

Question…Any progress in solving their problem? 

Answer…It is very unfortunate that there is only very little progress. In the case of Rohingya, they (Military Junta) disowned them. So it is a pity and I am quite surprise why they (SLORC/SPDC) are behaving like that. They were there, born there and the history had shown that they are the part and parcel of Burma.

 

Question…You had lobbied against accepting Burma into ASEAN. Kindly explain your political activities and reactions. 

Answer…Being an NGO, we don’t have the authority at the Government. The only weapon that the NGO has is that to let it known that you are unhappy with your government. 

We don’t know why they (SLORC/SPDC) are treating against their own people against the decency of normal human being.

So we organize to demonstrate the reasons why Burma should not be accepted into ASEAN. ASEAN has an accepted way of Governance. Anyway, they had been accepted. 

We still have to put some pressure with the hope that they will change , they will have some consideration to accept common principles agreed by ASEAN.

 

Question…What is the reactions of your government and their reasons?

Answer…We were called by the Malaysian Foreign Ministry, when we started to attack on Burma.

(They said)

  1. If you push Burma, in any way that reasonably is not acceptable to them, they will cling to themselves.

  2. They will close all the avenues for change.

  3. So you have to know when not to push them, try to convince them, and try to help them so that there will be a level of confidence building.

  4. So you have to develop a careful building mechanism to trust us and

  5. Maintain a level of dialogue and conversation.

 

At the same time, (I believe that) atrocities on their own people must be highlighted, because it is in a modern world, we cannot do what we like to human beings. There are some levels of human dignity on its citizens by any government in the world.

 

Question…So what should we do to change or win over these Generals’ hearts and minds?

Answer…If you look at the Burmese Generals as the power that be in Burma, if they are not exposed to Intellectual Conversations, invited more on the dialogue, they could not be pulled out of the cocoon of Burma. If not this ailing generals, their sons or their grandchildren will see the light one day.

I hope I can see some degree of changes. And naturally the next generation of generals will change. I don’t think the next generation of generals will be the same as this first generation generals.

 

Question…So you mean it will be a very long struggle and we have to wait for the future unfolding of events.

Answer…I will like to see the struggle shown by (Nelson) Mandela (of South Africa). He was in jail, could not get out for two decades.

I am sure, after the second generation of leaders, they will have more tolerant views on things.

Of course, we want to see the changes yesterday!

But it is impossible.

We have to go step by step with the systemic efforts and at the end to institute changes over time.

But we don’t know when it will happen. We could not predict when the Soviet Union will collapse in 80’s 90’s. We don’t expect but it had happened.

But there must be a group of people trying to highlight these issues and trying to put pressure in a way for the changes to occur, whether they succeed or not.

 

Question…What is ASEAN doing to change Burma, is that just a drama or a staged show?

Answer…It is a dilemma.

  • If we isolate Burma,

  • if they are not allowed to develop,

  • there will be no interaction.

  • If there is no two-way interaction with the people of Burma,

  • they all will be in their own cocoon.

We want them to be changed anyway. Want to include them in a very part and parcel of the ASEAN.

Then the first thing to do is, we have to open up the doors for interaction and negotiation. May be the first generation generals are very stubborn with their own way of thinking.

But I believe the younger people will see how beautiful KL is, how Thailand is developing fast and the rapid growth of other countries. So the younger generation may have different appreciation on looking things.

 

Question… West’s economic sanctions were busted by China, Thailand, India and ASEAN’s own agenda. What do you think?

Answer… There are pros and cons of economic sanctions.

Economic sanctions can only work if every body agree or do at the same time.

If one country instituted the economic sanctions and other country is benefiting from it, that would be a failure.

There must be a consensus if we want to see the changes in Burma.

If we want to see that kind of sanctions (successful), they have to be done consensually. Then no country could take advantage to others’ sanctions.

 

Question…How about Daw Aung San Suu Kyi, Noble Peace Laureate; she was in jail repeatedly and is now under house arrest?

Answer…I think she is the symbol of resistance and to what is happening to the Burmese people. Burmese abroad and other NGOs must share the same principle of continued highlighting her plight and the issue of democracy in Burma.

Just like what happened to Mandela, the struggles have to continue and the changes have to be planned very well. If no immediate changes in this first generation generals, the 2nd and 3rd generation generals have to change definitely. We must have optimistic views that there will be definitely some changes.

 

Question… Asean’s way of no-interference is ineffective, should they change their stance?

Answer… The main question is the confidence building mechanism had to be instituted first. The idea of non-interference is to respect the way we do things, that no body should interfere us.

I don’t like people interfering in how I run my own family. Likewise if any other country wanted to initiate change in Burma and telling them what to do, how to run the country, definitely they won’t accept it. So the position or the policy of noninterference is the idea of friends to respect each other in the way of doing things.

  • But at the same time, we are concern also.

  • We cannot blinded our eyes with what is happening in Burma.

  • So the level of building confidence is important.

  • The trust is very very important.

  • And those who are very close to Burma, benefiting from trade like China, Thailand and Singapore, having business and interest must play their role of opening up Burma.

 

Question… What is the role of UN, UN Tribunal or International Criminal Court’s action on the Burmese Government? Or we just need to keep quiet while Burma events unfold itself.

Answer…It is also a dilemma. If we charge one of the Generals in International Criminal Court of Justice, definitely, they are going to be afraid and will hang on to the power at what ever cost it may be.

So efforts to bring changes have to tackle subtly with controlled pressure, to get desired affects. Again, I wish to stress the building of confidence to those who like to see changes in Burma.

 

Question… Opposition has no much trust on the Burmese Generals as they are clearly buying some more time only. And the generals also do not trust them. Your views?

Answer…The Generals know that_

  • the opposition is going to take power away from them.

  • So it is the natural thing that they are buying time.

  • They are going to do what ever they can to hold on to the power.

  • They will hang on to power at whatever cost.

  • They will kill their own people.

  • People will be put into prison.

There is no straightforward simple answer:

  • You need to continue with the straight form of various opposition activities

  • You need to exert Economic Sanctions.

  • You must exert multiple approaches on how to bring the changes.

  • We never know which will be effective to bring up the changes in Burma.

 

Question…Burmese Junta is killing Ethnic Minorities; Karens, Shans and Rohingyas. They are jailing Daw Aung San Suu Kyi, Shan leaders, and NLD leaders. They are practicing forced relocation, forced labours and forced conversion of religions. What is your view on these atrocities?

Answer…Yes, these are the things they are doing, and it is not acceptable by any standard. If you kill the Ethnic Minorities just because they are different from you, grant or made laws making Rohingyas stateless persons because they are different from you, it is wrong.

You are transferring your problem to the other country. Malaysia and Thailand suffer because of this attitude. It is not acceptable.

How to make them realize and to change them is not easy.

 

Question…Regarding ASEAN Integration, are you modeling EU and is Burma a thorn in ASEAN?  Could ASEAN Integration benefit the people or it is just for the benefits of governments only?

Answer… EU Integration or development is not for every country. Those who are not ready yet could come in later.

  • If you are not ready, want to take time like Burma,

  • if they do not change,

  • they will be left out from benefits of ASEAN Integration.

Naturally, the future leaders (of Burma) would not want to be left out.

They will like to be included. Time frame depends on their (pace of) change.

 

Question…Is there any possibility of future Academicians, Professionals, workers and students easier to come and work or study here? In other way will there be any easier Immigration Policy?

Answer…There are influx of migrants/workers, 10 of thousands of Rohingyas, other groups from Burma, Philippines and Indonesia. Malaysia also has a certain kind of policy so that it may not affect the demography and social dimension of itself. Again, Malaysia has a selective policy of supporting but understandably generally very strict policy of giving partial preference to certain other countries.

 

Question…Malaysia is accepting and even granting scholarships to many Burmese and Rohingyas in the International Islamic University and other Private Universities. Is there any chance of accepting more liberally and also into the schools?

Answer… Previously Rohingyas were not allowed to study in Government Primary and Secondary Schools. Just imagine that after 10 years, those Rohingya children without reading and writing skills would give more problem, bigger problem to our country.

So we are in the process of granting them a status so that they could stay, work and attend schools in Malaysia. This started last month but there are some teething problems but it is a right action.

  • Yes, but we cannot accept or open up free for all.

  • The feeling of the Malaysians Vs foreigners must be considered.

  • It could create Anti-other races feelings.

  • There must be a balance.

 

Question…The opposition and the Generals do not trust each other. There is a stalemate or deadlock in Burmese Politics. What should we do?

Answer…I have my trusted person. You yourself would be like that. Burma (generals) will also have some trusted countries that they trusted them as very close like e.g. China. China could play some role to try to change Burma.

 

Question…Could OIC play some role in Burma?

Answer…Burma is not an OIC member. Until and unless the OIC put the Rohingya problem as a minority affair problem in the OIC Agenda, OIC could not do any thing officially.

 

Question…Which country’s model should Burma take as a role model? Indonesian Military taking 30% of MPs or South Africa model?

Answer…You could take any model, Indonesia, South Africa or even European Countries.Every nation has its own peculiar system and way of doing things.

  1. Thinking Groups for change (Think tanks) in Burma must look all the models.

  2. Military must be given a role to play.

  3. Even the opposition has to realize and accept the fact that the Military has a role.

  4. All Civil Society must also be given the role to play.

  5. Must develop and convinced the idea that every body has the role to play.

  6. All the citizens must be given the role and proper recognition.

  7. That is the best way to convince all of them to bring them to come forward to change.

 

Question…Is there any real hope of change or we all are just day dreaming for a false hope?

Answer…

  • I believe strongly that they are going to change.

  • I believe that the present ailing generals would be replaced by younger generation generals who see the changing world’s happenings.

With more tourism and travel (to and fro) the more they see what happening in the world.

 

Question…What is the role of people to force the change?

Answer…If the people refuse to cooperate:

  • any government will surely collapse. See the Shah of Iran backed by America using all the facilities killing his own people.

  • But the soldiers also have families and relatives who are the part of People.

  • Ruling Junta, elite have to change if the people oppose them.

  • So the people should be alerted and open up their awareness (of their power).

 

Question…We Burmese are familiar with the Buddha’s teaching. Could you kindly share us an advice as a conclusion based on your Islamic back ground?

Answer…Yes, I would finally like to advise one thing.

When our Prophet conquered and entered Medina, in Arabia:

  • he had practiced the CONCEPT OF POWER SHARING.

  • He understood that no one race alone should or could rule the country.

  • He accepted that no one race is superior to another.

  • There is no superior race and every body is same.

  • So the first foundation of Islamic state is the Multi Racial Society.

So my advice to non Muslims and Muslims, who wish to change to democracy_

  • Whether (you are) Academicians, Professionals, Politicians, Oppositions… all must unite.

  • Don’t form different groups but unite into a big single group.

  • In any struggle for change to democracy, no one race can live and fight alone.

  • Don’t discard the other races with the mentality to form one superior race just because they are not like you.

  • If not your struggle and policy will definitely fail.

So I think this is the spirit of human dignity and the feelings of human beings regardless of race and religion.

That should be the basic of any struggle.

 

BURMA DIGEST… Prophet Mohammad had said_ “The ink of the scholar is more valuable than the blood of the Martyr.”

So thank you very much brother, for sharing your valuable and lovely thoughts, ideas and advices. Thank you very much.

Abdul Rahman…Thank You.

 

[Author’s Note: The facts or ideas in this interview may not represent the concepts of Burma Digest Team and some of the opposition groups may not be agreeable to all of these. We are just presenting the alternative views, facts and ideas of the third party, interested and trying to help our country.]

 

Comments:

Ko Ko said _

Very good…at last I know now there are still many Malaysians who understand our country’s  problems…Thanks Abdhul Rahman for your every action taken against the Burmese Junta…

Dr Zafar Shah said _

Dear Respected brother, TQ and salutes for helping us against the evil Junta. We are amazed and respect your wide influence and contacts in the Islamic World. Please may you kindly contact your affiliated NGOs and OIC Governments not to lend any political support to the Myanmar Government at UN especially in UN Security Council meetings.

Bo Aung Din said _

Yes Mr Ahmad Azam, you are right. China could play some role to try to change Burma. In addition, I think Russia, India, ASEAN e.s.p. Thailand, Singapore (you had already rightly pointed out some)  are also important to persuade or pressure Myanmar to change. Nowadays OIC Islamic countries have a lot of interaction, trade and influence on the above nations.

Dear Sir could you kindly lobby through your brothers-in- Islam, NGOs, OIC and contacts to pressure the above nations to persuade Myanmar Generals to change their heart.

But in the mean time to vote against Myanmar Junta in every UN voting and not to use VETO to protect them.

Maha Bandula said _

TQ for the interview Saudara Ahmad Azam. Mr Ibrahim Gambari, UN Under Secretary and Mr Zaid  Ibrahim (Datuk) were at UN with  Laura Bush to campaign actively for Burma.

Please kindly persuade your best friend, Mr Anwar Ibrahim (Datuk Seri), Former Deputy Prime Minister of Malaysia, to act as  a PEACE MAKER to negotiate between all the parties in Burma/Myanmar.

He is the best person to do this as he has a very good cordial relations with World Bank and IMF, US, the Western Governments, OIC  leaders and Japan and personally knew some of the top Generals of Myanmar.

Mohd Yahya Bin Ahmad (Deputy Secratay-General, Rohingya Informatin Center, Malaysia) said _

Dear.Saudara Br.Ahmad Azam Bin Abdul Rahman, Assalamualaikum Wr.Wbr. First of all we wish to inform that we are extremely thankful to Allah SWT) as Whose blessings enable you to write on Rohingyas’ historical facts. Some incontrovertible evidence for your kind information, you have been advocating the Rohingya issue aggressively in Malaysia since 1990 with the support of the Muslim Youth Movement of Malaysia. We know Saudara and many Malaysians are still understand our Rohingya problems

…Thanks also for your every action taken against the Burmese Junta

…Dear Respected brother, We are amazed and respect your wide influence and contacts in the Islamic World. Please may you kindly contact your affiliated NGOs and OIC Governments not to lend any political support to the Myanmar Government at UN especially in UN Security Council meetings. Thanks a lot.

SHWE BA  said _

Dear Sir, you may wonder why many of the above are requesting you to lobby OIC, Islamic NGOs to lobby for Burma. Just see the following news, as I am sure no main-stream media had publish this in your country.

Burma issue at the UN Security Council. Sep 16, 2006; which said _

A divided UN Security Council voted yesterday to add Burma to its agenda, deeming the military-ruled country a threat to regional and international peace and security, despite a strong opposition from China. Ten nations; the United States, Britain, France, Argentina, Denmark, Greece, Japan, Ghana, Peru and Slovakia voted in favour of adding Burma to the council agenda, while China, Russia, Qatar and the Democratic Republic of Congo voted against it, saying Burma has made strides in solving its problems. Tanzania abstained.

Please kindly help to lobby QUATAR and other OIC members to support the UN’s action on Myanmar. In addition, please kindly pressure or persuade China and Russia not to use VETO to protect or shield Myanmar in UNSC.

Analysing Burma’s Democracy Revolution,Part 1 (in Burmese)

Comments

Aung Myint Kyi said _

I like your idea because we do not need to mention violence or non – violence which  one is better when we perform for democracy in Burma . Thank you for reminding all revolutionist so that  they can make less mistake. I agree that pre-thinking is the best for future.

Thiha said _

I’d like to suggest that to all revolutionist. There’s not important to WHO’S RIGHT but WHAT’S RIGHT.
Then we could get what we should do. Even we’re different race or religion but that’s doesn’t matter what we are. We should realize that what we are looking for. Our GOAL’S TOO.  We’re only ONE NATION. We shouldn’t compare to each other but compare to Internationally. Nowdays our nation’s very poor in the region. That’s nobody can deny. Please think about what we should do, please don’t think about what I can do. I agree that pre-thinking is the best for future.

Analysing Burma’s Democracy Revolution,Part 2 (in Burmese)

Comment:

Ko said _

               That is the best idea.

Thiha said _

I’m thank U to BURMA DIGEST Organization for our younger generation can know about our country’s past. Then we couldn’t mistake twice and shouldn’t again as well.

 

Analysing Burma’s Democracy Revolution,Part 3 (IN BURMESE)

Analysing Burma’s Democracy Revolution, 4 (in Burmese)

Analysing Burma’s Democracy Revolution, 5 (in Burmese)

Translated by Ohn Kyaw Myint

Analysing Burma’s Democracy Revolution, 6 (in Burmese)

Idealist said _

I like that article very much. It should become a book. We have to have clear views about what we are doing and how will we get that. We have to be clear what we are doing and assess our own progress. There should be a group or an umbrella organization which can play on the level ground with other competitor. A wise or wise leaders who can stimulate and direct the force effectively. There should be high moral standards and critical thinking. I am sure opposition has public support but need a charismatic leaders who can actually stimulate and lead the country. And a dream and a plan. It is inevitable that some change will happen sooner or later. The thing is are we going to dictate the future or are we letting other forces to dictate our future.
The schemes in the article are very good. It should be made available to people in every corner of Burma.
We are willing to create a democratic government so it is not so important who will be in government. Everybody will have a chance to try to involve in politics freely from that point onwards. It is also important how to protect our forces. if anyone stand on our side and failed, we should guarantee their security. Even with the enemies, we should give amnesty for them.

Let’s show our hatred to SPDC (in English)

Let’s show our hatred to SPDC

For everything there is a season,
And a time for every matter under heaven:
A time to be born, and a time to die;
A time to plant, and a time to pluck up what is planted;
A time to kill, and a time to heal;
A time to break down, and a time to build up;
A time to weep, and a time to laugh;
A time to mourn, and a time to dance;
A time to throw away stones, and a time to gather stones together;
A time to embrace, And a time to refrain from embracing;
A time to seek, and a time to lose;
A time to keep, and a time to throw away;
A time to tear, and a time to sew;
A time to keep silence, and a time to speak;
A time to love, and a time to hate,
A time for war, and a time for peace.

(Ecclesiastes 3:1-8)

We all know that many of our opposition members are talking about civil disobedience and looking forward to see a miracle to happen on 666. Professor Dr. Salai Tun Than had bravely called the start of the battle. We have to support and help him.

The started revolution fire of Dr. Salai Tun Than must not die!

In civil disobedience, we need to choose methods to deliberately break some SPDC laws. Some of the easy less risky nonviolent actions we could choose are:

  1. Material defiance (This will be explained in detail in the later part of this article.)
  2. slow-downs
  3. deliberate inefficiencies
  4. non-cooperation of civil servants
  5. political non-cooperation
  6. assistance to persecuted people
  7. refusal of collaboration
  8. maintenance of autonomy of independent organizations and institutions
  9. go slows
  10. blockades
  11. Women and girls refuse to make friend with the SPDC soldiers and collaborators.

This is the time to show our hatred and disapproval to the illegal rulers of our country. Showing our hatred to SPDC and cohorts is another option for us in civil disobedience campaign. It is disgraceful to be associated with the SPDC government. Myanmar/Burma needs self consciences people that hate the cruel government. We all have an obligation to devote our life to fighting for justice, but we also have a responsibility not to give injustice our practical support by keeping quiet, remained submissive, obedient, loyal and subservient.

Philosopher-cum-thinker John Saul in his book, ‘The Unconscious Civilization’ wrote: “Conformism, loyalty and silence are so admired and rewarded.” Yes those keep quiet could be rewarded for their well behaviour or decorum. They could get some left-overs after the SPDC Cohorts’ big feast. Hatred in our heart and mind is not very effective although it is better than loving to cooperate as the collaborators hoping to get a chance to lick the left over bones!

Nowadays the popular saying is “To walk the talk” but I hereby wish to state that “We need to walk our THOUGHTS”. We are already talking about starting a civil disobedience. We should plan and consider various methods as a “diversity of tactics”. To be effective, tactics must be carefully chosen, taking into account SPDC and Burmese political and cultural circumstances, and we need to plan different tactical approaches as part of a larger plan or strategy to overthrown them.

Nonviolence civil disobedience is good during the colonial days but it tends to give very slow results or used to achieve political changes much later only. And we all know that Colonial Masters were gentlemen, respect the Human Rights and there was the Rule of Law then. SPDC thugs are inhumane, never respect Human Rights and they rule by the law of jungle. They even fail to observe the International Law of engagement, in the Ethnic Minority areas, which is the guiding principle of each and every war. For the SPDC, might is always right and power and law come out from the barrel of the gun only. Worse of all is even that the law of the jungle coming out of the SPDC guns are ever changing according to their whims and fancies.

During times of war, hatred becomes quite respectable, even though it has to masquerade often under the guise of patriotism. (Howard Thurman)

Some of our readers may think that as my name is Shwe Ba, I am advocating the violent methods of Shwe Ba movies as there were even a popular catch phrase for the old Shwe Ba’s films was ‘Shwe Ba ah they cha’ and ‘Shwe Ba_ah sa daw nar myi’ at first Shwe Ba had to suffer at first in the hands of villains but at last Shwe Ba always win. (My friend Bo Aung Din already explained about this in his Compassionate letters to Nan.)

Without something to hate, we should lose the very spring of thought and action. (William Hazlitt)

Don’t be afraid to go out on a limb. That’s where the fruit is. (H. Jackson Browne)

Security is mostly a superstition. It does not exist in nature, nor do the children of men as a whole experience it. Avoiding danger is no safer in the long run than outright exposure. Life is either a daring adventure or nothing. (Helen Keller)

With courage you will dare to take risks, have the strength to be compassionate, and the wisdom to be humble. Courage is the foundation of integrity. (Keshavan Nair)

So I hereby wish to propose one method of civil disobedience to show our hatred to the SPDC and cohorts. This is defined as material defiance under nonviolence civil disobedience.

A. Target the following persons and properties:

1.       SPDC army vehicles.

2.       Police cars.

3.       Kyant Phut and SPDC Government affiliated organizations’ vehicles.

4.       SPDC propaganda sign boards around the country.

B. What to do? Try to vandalize or deface or spoil or ruin or damage or dent or scratch or disfigure or mutilate or graze or sabotage them by any of the following means.

1.       Throw dirty water or mud.

2.       Throw old engine oil.

3.       Throw animal blood.

4.       Throw eggs, better if rotten.

5.       Throw tomato, better if rotten.

6.       Not very nice to write but if dare to do, throw waste or organic waste or even shits packages or urine packages.

C. Those who are brave enough, target any SPDC soldier, police, Kyant Phut or their relatives and do the above acts.

You can do it in the markets, on the roads in the town or on the rural roads or while they are guarding at the gate posts.

There may be some revenge mass punishments on the people around that area but those sabotaging acts of hatred may start the circle of hatred.

Their ammunition and firing power is too big to fight one by one as noble Knights. At least they may know that we, most of the citizens hate them and are against them. No need to be ashamed. Anyone doing these is not cowards. We all would regard those acts as very brave acts against the very powerful enemy.

There came a time when the risk to remain tight in the bud was more painful than the risk it took to blossom. (Anais Nin)

So we all citizens of Burma should not just quietly let the iron grip of SPDC squeeze and crush us. Let free the democracy to blossom with our safe civil disobedience struggle. Now SPDC is attacking relentlessly on NLD and Ethnic Minorities. “The best defence is attack”. That was a very popular saying in football. Our best defence for now is to attack back. These SPDC thugs are very brave to attack Daw Aung San Suu Kyi and NLD because they are strictly adhering to their non-violence methods.

One doesn’t discover new lands without consenting to lose sight of the shore for a very long time. (Andre Gide)

Non-poisonous snakes are not even respected by the children. If we are weak, we are always exposed to the exploitations of the bullies and thuds. See what SPDC and Kyant Phuts are doing on NLD leaders including Daw Aung San Suu Kyi. We have to prepare and strengthen our-selves physically, intellectually, economically, socially, mentally, spiritually etc.

We must always hope for the best and prepare for the worst.

If something went wrong and we failed – don’t blame others. Accept it gracefully.

There is a saying, “the success has a lot of fathers and the failure is an orphan.”

Almost all the people will deny their responsibility. We have to accept the failure with the open mind. No need to make a witch hunt or search for the scapegoat. After accepting the failure, we have to search for the real cause, without bias. What, where, when, why and how it fails.

Who is responsible is not important. Even if some-one accidentally or intentionally triggered our downfall or failure, it is very difficult to blame or change that person. Don’t be a paranoid.

It is our struggle. It is our interest to make sure that, that person could not damage our struggle, in any way. We have to make sure that, that won’t happen again. It is our responsibility to smooth out all because it is our own struggle for our success.

From all the failures and disasters, we must learn the lessons. These are blessings in disguise. Make those failures pillars for our success. Try! Try! Try! Again and again and again till we succeed. Never give up the hope. Thomas Edison had failed about five hundred thousand times before he successfully invented an electric bulb. Don’t stop trying. Think and analyze what went wrong. Correct it. Improve it. Prepare your-self. Try again.

Victory is for those dare to try again and again. Perseverance is the key-word for success.

Easy success is actually neither very sweet nor precious. Victory gained after a lot of struggles are really sweat and gratifying. Don’t forget that easy to get Iron and Copper are cheap.

Gold, Diamond and Ruby are precious because it is rare and difficult to get.

Actually power comes from within. If we all have confidence, self respect, and if strongly believe that we are not a simple weak person, but we are brave willing to work hard and ready to sacrifice, one day will surely progress, there is definitely a very bright future of crowning with the success. Inner spiritual strength is more important and always guides the outer physical power. Even if we are weak physically, inner spiritual and mental strength and power will guide, train and convert it to become powerful. 

The important thing is this: To be able at any moment to sacrifice what we are for what we could become. (Charles DuBois)

We must take some risk to get to our destination of Democratic Secular Federal Union of Burma.Even if you think my plan is some form of violence and could not accept, just read this great Philosopher’s thoughts:

“A life spent making mistakes is not only more honorable but more useful than a life spent in doing nothing.” (George Bernard Shaw)

 SHWE BA

………………………………………………

Comments

Rahmat said _

Well done respected Mr.Shwe Ba You have discovered the first step toward victory, in other word you have solve the half of the problem and the other half would be the effective action .

As a Burmese intellectual you have perform your obligation very well . I hope all Burmese Intellectuals united, irrespective of their race and cast to bring justice, peace, stability and prosperity to the people of Burma .
 

Dilemmas of Revolutionaries (in English)

Dilemmas of Revolutionaries 

Revolution! 

What is revolution? What is the aim and objective? What are the Tactics and Strategies for revolution?

Violence or nonviolence? What is the goal? What is the plan for the final push, knock-out strike or lethal last assault to grasp power? What is the plan to control the country after the revolution? What type of government and system? What could we, citizens expect? What are the plans after revolution? What do you promise for each and every actor/participant/citizen after the revolution? What are the rewards for us? How and who and how long would you rule the country after revolution? How are the statuses of each and every citizen?

Yes, we must convince ALL the people and the rest of the world with our aim, objective, goal and the proper plan to rule the country. Rules and regulations must be clearly indicated, discussed, agreed in advance. Then only we could get the full support from all the sectors.

‘Nga Myin Ngar Saing – Sagaing yok yok, Nga Hlay Ngar htoe-Pago yawk yawk’ meaning if we would do something just for the sake of doing would not achieve any meaningful thing.

Bodawpaya (1791 to 1819) give a lot of favour to U Paw Oo and one of the ministers openly complaint to His Majesty about the unfair treatments. So Bodawpaya summoned that Minister and U Paw Oo and ordered to go to Sagaing Mayor’s house to look at the new born puppies (dogs) and to report back to him. He arranged the separate audience in the open court.

When the complainant minister came back, he was asked about the number of dogs, colour of different dogs, gender etc. That minister had to go back to Sagaing many times to get the correct answers. But U Paw Oo could amazingly answer all the questions without needing to go back to Sagaing. Then only, His Majesty Bodawpaya told that Minister in front of all the audiences that His Paw Oo was different from him so he had to give more favours. So I wish to request that our revolution leaders would kindly follow the wisdom of U Paw Oo, plan and execute their task properly and wisely not on ad hock basics. Since then the Burmese saying,’ sagaing khwe kyi khine tha lo’ meaning, ‘ordered to go and see the puppies at Sagaing’ became well known.

Just because Than Shwe moved his capital to Kyet Pyae we could not just claimed victory like U Paw Oo:” “Your Majesty, can’t you see how your barge has won a decisive victory, like a fighting cock preening his feathers while the poor loser of a little canoe runs away for her dear life in the vanguard.” U Paw Oo was knowingly trying to please the king to save face.

Just mentioning about boat race, we have to keep our General Aung San’s advice not to be overconfidence and raise our oar prematurely to celebrate a victory just because we are ahead of our competitors but still away from the finish-line or goal.

Please give us the definite target, aims and objects. Give us the definite map or road map. And you should also really give us the coordinates of the map. If not some of us may row to Sagaing and some would ride up the Pagu instead of our focus point Yangon or Pyinmana. Worse senerio may be some of us may row backwards, few trying to turn to left or right while the rest of us are rowing forwards.

And we need a definite plan to proceed with our attack once we are ashore. Our think-tanks should consider all the possible issues and how to handle or address all of them. We should not brush aside any issue as minor. We should focus on all the possible issues and go in-depth. We should pursue a definite plan to tackle all the possible issues to see the best possible results. All of us cannot get all we wish for or want but must be ready to sacrifice and compromise for our common cause or victory.

Please kindly allow me to ask what follows the revolution? If we start any revolution we want to know how would our leaders plan to execute the final touches, how to take over the powers of the country and run the country with what rules and regulations. What are our rights and rewards?

We do not want the indefinite vague answers like most of the leaders including our beloved Daw Aung San Suu Kyi, answered during and just after 8888. “We need to get democracy first, your request regarding the rights of ethnic minorities and minority religions would be considered later. Don’t worry; with the democracy there would not be any problem with the human rights issues, all will be OK.”. We could understand and accept those words at that time but now there is a lot of time and we wish to get a more mature and definite answer.

We should unanimously decide to choose our leader in advance, e.g. Daw Aung San Suu Kyi as the future Prime Minister of the Interim Government or some one definitely now!. If not all the ‘leaders’ would wish and demand to become the head of the state like during the 8888 movement. There may appear some disgruntled inspiring leaders sabotaging our revolution, what we called in Burmese, ‘Min Thar gyi ma loke ya loe, pat ma gyi hto phauk’. U Nu announced himself to be the legal PM, U Aung Gyi also shifted position to support the Military but at last that leadership division was seen as a weakness and that was fully and successfully exploited by the Myanmar Military leaders.

During the later part of the 8888 uprising, instead of calling check mate and winning the game with a final move many of our demonstrators busy themselves greedily taking the pawns from People’s stores and factories. Some of us waste the time or our turn to move by overenthusiastically killing the knights, by revenge killing of MI agents. Because of these at last we won the early battles but lost the war.

We need more sophisticated method of collecting all the evidences, photos, videos of the atrocities of the Myanmar SPDC troops on the demonstrating people. Once the uprising starts, we should buy (or request) the 24 hr spy satellite photos of the major Burmese cities. We should request in advance to the foreign embassies in Burma to help collect those audio-video evidences. We should stage our people at all the landing points of planes departed from Burma to talk and request to all the tourists, travelers and aircrew members for any evidences.

As I had written last week, the capital was moved, SPDC have to defend their new capital. If the people in Rangoon or Mandalay or other costal big town started an uprising and even if the uprising opposition could declare independence in one town for one day or an hour only, we could ask help from US and UN to send troops. (We should request this kind of things in advance to the US authorities.) Finished! We could declare amnesty for all the SPDC Generals and soldiers who wish to change side. No need to even fight like in Afghanistan or Iraq. US and UN need not fight for us, just defend us. Looks like childish plan but who knows it would not work.

And last of all but not the least, what are the rewards for each and every citizen? It must be not less than the international standard Citizen and Human Right promise. And I just wish to remind that in a family, if father ordered a special privilege for himself because he is a bread earner, mother wants more because she is working like a house keeper the whole day, eldest and youngest daughters asked for special favour, the only son in the family wish for special treatment and a handicapped child also needs special attention… and if the two adopted children have to satisfy with their left-over only it would not be fair. And what is there also for normal ordinary children?

And I am sure we are writing these plans to pool our resources, dialogue to plan for our country’s future. This is the right and bold initiation and decision taken by Burma Digest. We need a pool of intelligent, wise and clever professionals like Pho Yaza who could remember the King’s question one year later and could give the right answer immediately. The King had asked for the name of the best food a year ago and one year later suddenly asked an incomplete question, “Is that alone?” And Pho Yaza replied correctly to eat with a little bit of salt.

We should prepare, discuss all the answers, could not say that we would try to cross the bridge if we arrive. We don’t want that kind of answers and those are similar in our Burmese saying, ‘Mee sin kyi-Ka myi.’

And we are divided between those who strongly advocate the non violence methods only and those who, like Chairman Mao, believe that the forceful violent methods are the only means on the way to succeed in any revolutions. But I pragmatically believe that we need a multi pronged approach. We must use the universally accepted good cop bad cop strategy.

The only important thing is that we need to consider or brain storm all the tactics, strategies and most important of all is how to execute the final lethal strike to take control of the country’s power.

We must have a common goal, destination or type of government, constitution and basic laws decided in advance. We must consider how to persuade the 400,000 strong SPDC Myanmar Military, armed groups still struggling against the SPDC and those groups that signed the peace agreement with the present government. We should consider and decide in advance how to handle them. This is more complicated than transforming of BIA to BDA after our first Independence in 1948. Although we had our Government lead by General Aung San and U Nu even before our first Independence we had failed to maintain our success. I am worried about our country’s socio-political, security and economic conditions after our second Independence.

If we consider about the multi rebels just after independence, condition of Burma at that time was even worse than present Iraq. U Nu’s government was even rightly called Rangoon Government. Mandalay and upper Burma, Meikhtila with air force base were under the rebel’s control. Deputy Commander-in-chief of Burma Army was captured by the rebels. Even Rangoon’s suburban Insein was controlled by rebels. Even if we could take over the country with our future strong army with the help of US or UN we should plan in advance to avoid repeating the same mistakes after our first Independence or to avoid the chaos of the present Iraq.

We must brain storm in advance not only for the revolution but what to do after our success or to effectively steer or guide our country immediately and for the long term progress.

Revolutions are usually staged by a larger group and radically changes the political system. Lets consider the smaller and easier type of revolutions, that is coup d’état.

Let’s consider some scenario as practical case studies:

If some one offer to stage a coup d’état and tried to contact our opposition now, how will we respond? We all understood that a coup d’état is the sudden overthrow of a government through ‘unconstitutional means’ by a part of the government and just replaces the few top leaders. (In our case, present SPDC Junta is already unconstitutional.)

It is sometimes violent or sometimes not. Coup d’état is in French, meaning “a sudden blow or strike to a state” Coup = hit, and état = state.

A coup d’état usually involves control of some active portion of the military while neutralizing the remainder of a country’s armed services.

This active group usually uses the power of the existing government for its own takeover and tried to do the followings:

  1. captures leaders,
  2. seizes physical control of important government offices,
  3. control the means of main communication, and
  4. control the physical infrastructure e.g. streets, radio TV stations and power plants.

Mass street protests or popular uprisings like our 8888 movement should also be able to force the unpopular and corrupt leaders from office in a coup-like fashion e.g. General Ne Win’s BSPP Government and his successive puppet governments. This often results in a period of stability and calm, in which an unknown and uncontroversial vice president can rule the nation until new elections can be held. But Saw Maung and Than Shwe’s SLORC and SPDC continue to hang on the power in Burma.

If our opposition leaders could seized the power immediately after the 8888 uprising,  present condition would be different.

Have we planned to rapidly grasp and consolidate the power if there is any uprising now?

Breakthrough coups – In which a revolutionary army overthrows a traditional government and creates new bureaucratic elite. Breakthrough coups are generally led by non-commissioned officers (NCOs) or junior officers and only happen rarely in history. Because the coup is led by junior officers or enlisted men, it could be seen also as a mutiny.

So does any leader of opposition have any planned programme or appropriate response if some junior officers of Myanmar Military contact us?

This is not a hypothetical question. Our unsung hero Captain Ohn Kyaw Myint had once already offered his service to our NLD U Tin Oo. His reply was not an enthusiastic or encouragement or open support. He never refused nor report to higher authorities but just reminds them to be careful not to overdo their coup as it may lead to the bloody killings like in the Bangladesh coup!

So have we prepared the best answer if any one offers this kind of service to us? Have we prepared to effectively take over power to form a legitimate government? If just form a government only and if no future plans yet means we would definitely lead to the condition of present Iraq!

Veto coups – These coups occur when the army vetoes mass participation and social mobilization. In these cases the army must confront and suppress large-scale and broad-based opposition and as a result they tend to be repressive and bloody.

This was the second face of our 8888 revolution. We had just raised our hands and went back into our houses without much resistance naively hoping that Myanmar Military would keep their promise of withdrawing back into their barracks after election. I am sure we still don’t have a concrete plan to push further till we get the power in this kind of repeat situation.

Veto coups and guardian coups tend to be led by senior officers. There is also a category known as bloodless coups in which the mere threat of violence is enough to force the current government to step aside. Bloodless coups are so called because they involve no violence and thus no bloodshed. Ne Win’s ‘coup’ twice from U Nu was successful. First one was also could be called a coup as he had forced U Nu to turn over power. (U Nu’s ‘Tartay sanay thar’, Saturday born son, book in Burmese). And Ne win had staged the Veto coups after 8888 using his subordinates and stayed behind the scene as a puppet master. His main cable was General Khin Nyunt and his MIs. Bloodless coups he claimed are not true to be considered “bloodless”: as he had killed alot of people and leaders.

Let’s say Senior General Than Shwe got enlightenment and repent like his predecessors General Saw Maung and offers a guardian bloodless coups against the whole SPDC Generals, who wish to hold on the power as their legitimate inheritance rights. Do we have any plans?

Or if General Maung Aye and some few top SPDC Generals fed up with idiotic His Majesty suffering from senile dementia and Megalomania, and offer a guardian coups, do we have any plans?

What could we offer back to them? Or should we try to offer them with something which they could not resist and try persuading them to change sides?

Incentives like giving the Military rulers to act as Constitutional Monarchy or King of Burma to reign for five years each or post of five yearly Presidents should be considered. We could even consider to give the whole SPDC like the status of an upper house, selected mostly from Military as a Guardian of Burma for the long term stability but not to interfere in the daily running of the elected government. We still have no concrete plan to rule the country, even not a constitution and the condition is not yet favourable to discuss and agree to a new one. There isn’t any draft constitution as uniting power for all of us. No policy was heard from our various oppositions how we wanted to handle Burma after the fall of SPDC Junta. We Burmese people don’t have a leadership to guide us even though we had NLD and many opposition groups. Different groups demanding different conditions.

Or say, if USA or UN lead NATO or International troops decided to invade Burma and actively help us what will we do? How do we form the government? What are the plans to prevent our country’s political and security conditions deteriorating into the present state of affairs in Iraq?

So I hereby suggested restarting or rebooting our selves based on Panglon treaty and our First old constitution.

First govern the country with Interim Government. Within ten years we would draw a new constitution, and share power between all the opposition, all ethnic minority all races.

PM from NLD with all the full executive powers.

President, person proposed by Military. Veto power to control the integrity of the country.

DPM from Ethnic Minorities: Kachin, Shan, Kayin, Chin, Mon.

Each and every group leaders choose 3 persons from themselves to choose for the Cabinet Ministers, Deputy Ministers, and Parliament Secretaries positions.

To appoint the DGs and MDs all according to meritocracy.

We have to plan in advance what to do if we get the power, to form a government. We need to discuss in advance with UN US EU NATO for help and support.

We should decide to offer amnesty to all the SPDC Generals and soldiers to change to our side.

If possible we should need to define the exact type of Secular Democratic Federal Union we want. Iraq could offer US with oil. Although US denied that they had helped because of oil, we could not get support because we are too proud and wish to be on our own at the end of their help.

Now Burma got oil and gas but not much to persuade the west with this alone. Promise of long term support in geopolitics. Burma is in a very important geo-political situation between China, India and ASEAN. Yes we could give long term commitment of political and all means of Military support to USA to be able to control the whole Indian Ocean, entrance of Malacca traits by offering 100 years’ usage of Co Co Inlands. I am not asking to sell our country or to become a puppet nation. But nothing is free man! There is no free lunch. There must be give and take. If we give peanuts we could get monkeys only. If we want our whole Burma back we have to sacrifice few small islands thousands of kilometers away from our mainland. And the much needed long term promise of loyal support of USA policies. SPDC could take advantage by accusing us as selling the country by just pointing our fingers. But that is their right for propaganda warfare; we need to do what is right for all of us. After all they had given Co Co Islands and some islands for the Chinese Navy.

And what for our each and every citizen? Not less than an internationally recognized citizen’s rights. If not Kalas, Tayokes and Rohingyas could just stay away from any active struggle as after all their conditions would be same. And they know that all the politicians are universally corrupt from SPDC to our future opposition leaders. They knew that they could grease any government officers of the day with their money. For them just forget the political struggle and concentrate on economic struggle only if we could not persuade them.

I wish to propose an idea for our friends at the other extreme of political divide. After reading the Thura Maung Ree, I understand our brothers’ strong feelings but even if we just give the FRC status which is equivalent to Permanent residency or Green Card status to those Rohingyas, we are postponing only one generation only for all of them to be given full citizenship. My dear brother is just buying time only. We understand their legitimate Xenophobia but look for our country’s future. Racial prejudice must be abolished. Dear brother, what do you want to comment about the popular Burmese saying,” If we see a snake and a Arakanese, we have to kill the Arakanese first”. Sorry brother. I do not condone this. I hate this saying. I am not bluffing, my best friend is an Arakan Buddhist. I still dream about my friend, we attend same school, same university and worked in Burma in the same place. I even still dream about him although I am away from him for many years. Not only two of us were friends but both families are also close because of our friendship. We need to stop racial profiling and Racial Prejudices. For the religion if we could separate the state from all religious affairs it would be best for all of us. We know, even those profess the separation of states from churches for hundred of years could not totally get rid of themselves from the shades of their worshipping places.

And for the right of separation of the states, Ethnic Minorities must sacrifice that and made an offer to SPDC and all that they want a Federation (we should decide now, not later) and must be transparent.

Right to keep own army. SPDC and general public could not accept this. We must learn the lesson from transformation of BIA to BDA. We could retain Ethnic Minority army units under the central command.

We should push forward and support the legal action initiated by Burma Digest and Shan leaders. And we have to rethink our strategy if some of us wish to struggle the violent means. Cutting the leaves or brunches is useless. We need to cut the trunk or de-root a tree to clear it off. Fighting at the border is useless even if you could kill few thousands of SPDC soldiers. Burmese Communist party and Wa alliance had done that. If possible attempt to eliminate the top SPDC Generals but I am not promoting or supporting this but just revealing the facts only. Just bombing the railways or the present bombings in Burma is useless. Target must be top leaders, their families and their close associates only. Even attacking the Embassies is almost useless and host countries’ governments would grip tightly on all of our citizens as revenge. Target their family members shopping or traveling or doing business abroad.

Civil disobedience is another option for us.

The active refusal to obey laws, demands and commands of SPDC and local authorities without resorting to physical violence. Civil disobedience has been used in nonviolent resistance movements in India in the fight against British colonialism.

Henry David Thoreau (18490 wrote the “Resistance to Civil Government”, it stated that people should not allow governments to overrule or atrophy their consciences, and that people have a duty both to avoid doing injustice directly and to avoid allowing their acquiescence to enable the government to make them the agents of injustice.

He wrote,” That government is best which governs least. The best government is that which governs least.”

He remarked, “Government, if we need it at all, is only justified if it is helpful — but governments are typically more harmful than helpful. Democracy is no cure for this, as majorities simply by virtue of being majorities do not also gain the virtues of wisdom and justice.

There is no reason to expect that the judgment of your own conscience is inferior to the decisions of a political body or majority.

Indeed, you serve your country poorly if you do so by suppressing your conscience in favor of the law — your country needs consciences more than it needs conscienceless robots.It is disgraceful to be associated with the SPDC government. I wouldn’t be making such a big deal about this if the government just happened to be a little corrupt or unjust in the course of doing its otherwise-important work; but in fact, the government is primarily an agent of corruption and injustice.

Political philosophers have reminded that the revolution usually causes a lot of deaths and sufferings. But that cost vs. benefit calculation should not be done if the government is facilitating injustices:

We have an obligation to devote our life to fighting for justice, but you do have an obligation not to commit injustice and not to give injustice your practical support.

 Refuse to pay full taxes or donations or bribes.

But if the law is itself clearly unjust break the law. Stop paying taxes, even if this means courting imprisonment. It is quite difficult for ordinary Burmese. But according to the author, “Under a government which imprisons unjustly, the true place for a just man is also a prison.… where the State places those who are not with her, but against her, —… Cast your whole vote, not a strip of paper merely, but your whole influence. A minority is powerless while it conforms to the majority; it is not even a minority then; but it is irresistible when it clogs by its whole weight. If the alternative is to keep all just men in prison, or give up if a thousands of men were not to pay their tax bills this year, that would not be a violent and bloody measure, as it would be to pay them, and enable the State to commit violence and shed innocent blood. This is, in fact, the definition of a peaceable revolution, if any such is possible.”

It is risky to rebel in this way, as the government will retaliate. The more you have to lose, the harder it will be, which is another reason why I prefer living abroad.

At times I wonder whether it is as useless to rage against the stupidities and cruelties of SPDC government as it would be to shake my fist angrily at a tornado. “The progress from an absolute to a limited monarchy, from a limited monarchy to a democracy, is a progress toward a true respect for the individual.… Is a democracy, such as we know it, the last improvement possible in government? Is it not possible to take a step further towards recognizing and organizing the rights of man? There will never be a really free and enlightened State until the State comes to recognize the individual as a higher and independent power, from which all its own power and authority are derived, and treats him accordingly.”

The driving idea behind the essay of Henry David Thoreau was that of self-reliance, and how one is in morally good standing as long as they “get off another man’s back”; so you don’t have to physically fight the government, but you must not support it or have it support you (if you are against it). This essay has had a wide influence on many later practitioners of civil disobedience. In the essay, Thoreau explained his reasons for having refused to pay taxes as an act of protest against slavery and against the Mexican-American War.

Use in Struggles against Colonialism and Occupation

Civil disobedience has served as a major tactic of nationalist movements in former colonies in Africa and Asia prior to their gaining independence. Most notably Mahatma Gandhi developed civil disobedience as an anti-colonialist tool. Gandhi said “Civil disobedience is the inherent right of a citizen to be civil, implies discipline, thought, care, and attention”. Civil disobedience was a tactic used by Polish opposition to the former communist government.

Civil Disobedience in the United States

Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., a leader of the US civil rights movement in the United States in the 1960s also adopted civil disobedience techniques, and antiwar activists both during and after the Vietnam War have done likewise.

Theories and Techniques of Civil Disobedience

In seeking an active form of civil disobedience, one may choose to deliberately break certain laws, such as by forming a peaceful blockade or occupying a facility illegally. Protesters practice this non-violent form of civil disorder with the expectation that they will be arrested, or even attacked or beaten by the authorities. Protesters often undergo training in advance on how to react to arrest or to attack, so that they will do so in a manner that quietly or limply resists without threatening the authorities.

For example, Mahatma Gandhi outlined the following rules:

  1. A civil resister (or satyagrahi) will harbour no anger.
  2. He will suffer the anger of the opponent.
  3. In so doing he will put up with assaults from the opponent, never retaliate; but he will not     submit, out of fear of punishment or the like, to any order given in anger.
  4. When any person in authority seeks to arrest a civil resister, he will voluntarily submit to the arrest, and he will not resist the attachment or removal of his own property, if any, when it is sought to be confiscated by authorities.
  5. If a civil resister has any property in his possession as a trustee, he will refuse to surrender it, even though in defending it he might lose his life. He will, however, never retaliate.
  6. Retaliation includes swearing and cursing.
  7. Therefore a civil resister will never insult his opponent, and therefore also not take part in many of the newly coined cries which are contrary to the spirit of ahimsa.
  8. A civil resister will not salute the National flag, nor will he insult it or officials.
  9. In the course of the struggle if anyone insults an official or commits an assault upon him, a civil resister will protect such official or officials from the insult or attack even at the risk of his life.

Nonviolent resistance (From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia)

Nonviolent resistance (or nonviolent action) comprises the practice of applying power to achieve socio-political goals through symbolic protests, economic or political noncooperation, civil disobedience and other methods, without the use of violence. It has the guiding principle of nonviolence.

Like other strategies for social change, nonviolent action can appear in various forms and degrees. It may include, for example, such varied forms as information wars, protest art, lobbying, tax refusal, boycotts or sanctions, legal/diplomatic wrestling, material sabotage, underground railroads, principled refusal of awards/honours, picketing, vigiling, leafletting, and/or general strikes.

The “peaceful revolution” by organizing enough strikers to completely paralyze the state. With the state and corporate apparatus thus crippled, the workers would be able to re-organize society along radically different lines. This philosophy is favored by the legendary labor union

Some scholars of nonviolence, arguing that many movements have pragmatically adopted the methods of nonviolent action as an effective way to achieve social or political goals, distinguish the methods of nonviolent action from the moral stance of nonviolence or non-harm towards others.

Types of nonviolent resistance

Gene Sharp has identified 198 methods of nonviolent action which practitioners may use to defend against invasions, undermine dictatorships, block coups d’état or challenge unjust social systems.

They include:

  1. symbolic protests
  2. tax resistance
  3. hunger strikes
  4. paralysis of transportation
  5. social boycotts
  6. specific and general strikes
  7. civil disobedience
  8. economic shutdowns
  9. political non-cooperation
  10. “disappearance” under false identity
  11. economic boycotts
  12. public demonstrations
  13. slow-downs
  14. publication of banned newspapers
  15. deliberate inefficiencies
  16. assistance to persecuted people
  17. broadcasts about resistance on radio and television
  18. judicial resistance
  19. defiance by the government (e.g. George Wallace‘s “Stand in the Schoolhouse Door”)
  20. denial of legitimacy to usurpers
  21. non-cooperation of civil servants
  22. legislative delays
  23. declarations of defiance
  24. persistent continuation of old policies and laws
  25. student defiance
  26. children’s demonstrations
  27. individual and mass resignations
  28. refusal of collaboration
  29. maintenance of autonomy of independent organizations and institutions

Nonviolent resistance in colonial India

The story of nonviolent resistance in colonial India is synonymous with the story of the Non-Cooperation Movement and Mahatma Gandhi. Besides bringing about Independence, Gandhi’s nonviolence also helped to improve the status of Untouchables in Indian religion and society. In the conflicts that ensued from Independence and Partition, Gandhi is credited with keeping Calcutta and the whole eastern border of India peaceful.

Nonviolence (From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia)

Nonviolence (or non-violence) is a set of assumptions about morality conflict that leads its proponents to reject the use of violence in efforts to attain social or political goals. While often used as a synonym for pacifism, since the mid 20th century the term nonviolence has come to embody a diversity of techniques for waging social conflict without the use of violence, as well as the underlying political and philosophical rationale for the use of these techniques.

As a technique for social struggle, nonviolence is most often associated with the campaign for Indian independence led by Mahatma Gandhi, and the struggle to attain civil rights for African Americans, led by Martin Luther King. The former was deeply influenced by Leo Tolstoy’s Christian anarchism ideas of nonresistance based on the Sermon on the Mount.

On November 10th, 1998, the United Nations General Assembly proclaimed the first decade of the 21st century and the third millennium, the years 2001 to 2010, as the International Decade for the Promotion of a Culture of Peace and Non-Violence for the Children of the World.

Why nonviolence?

Most advocates of nonviolence draw their preference for nonviolence either from religious or ethical beliefs, or from a pragmatic political analysis. The first justification for nonviolence is sometimes referred to as principled or ethical nonviolence, while the second is known as pragmatic or strategic. However, it is not uncommon to find both of these dimensions present within the thinking of particular movements or individuals.

In the west, nonviolence has been used extensively by the labour, peace, environment and women’s movements. Less well known is the role that nonviolence has played and continues to play in undermining the power of repressive political regimes in the developing world and the former eastern bloc:

In 1989, thirteen nations comprising 1,695,000,000 people experienced nonviolent revolutions that succeeded beyond anyone’s wildest expectations … If we add all the countries touched by major nonviolent actions in our century (the Philippines, South Africa … the independence movement in India …) the figure reaches 3,337,400,000, a staggering 65% of humanity! All this in the teeth of the assertion, endlessly repeated that nonviolence doesn’t work in the ‘real’ world.

(Walter Wink, as quoted by Susan Ives in a 2001 talk)

How does nonviolence work?

The nonviolent approach to social struggle represents a radical departure from conventional thinking about conflict, and yet appeals to a number of common-sense notions.

Among these is the idea that the power of rulers depends on the consent of the populace. Without a bureaucracy, an army or a police force to carry out his or her wishes, the ruler is powerless. Power, nonviolence teaches us, depends on the co-operation of others. Nonviolence undermines the power of rulers through the deliberate withdrawal of this co-operation.

Also of primary significance is the notion that just means are the most likely to lead to just ends. When Gandhi said that, “the means may be likened to the seed, the end to a tree,” he expressed the philosophical kernel of what some refer to as pre-figurative politics. Proponents of nonviolence reason that the actions we take in the present inevitably re-shape the social order in like form. They would argue, for instance, that it is fundamentally irrational to use violence to achieve a peaceful society.

  1. Some proponents of nonviolence, advocate respect or love for opponents. It is this principle which is most closely associated with spiritual or religious justifications of nonviolence,
  2. as may be seen in the Sermon on the Mount when Jesus urges his followers to “love thine enemy,” in the Taoist concept of wu-wei, or effortless action,
  3. in the philosophy of the martial art Aikido,
  4. in the Buddhist principle of metta, or loving-kindness towards all beings,
  5. and in the principle of ahimsa, or non-violence toward any being, shared by Hinduism, Buddhism, and Jainism.
  6. Respect or love for opponents also has a pragmatic justification, in that the technique of separating the deeds from the doers allows for the possibility of the doers changing their behaviour, and perhaps their beliefs.
  7. As Martin Luther King said, “Nonviolence means avoiding not only external physical violence but also internal violence of spirit. You not only refuse to shoot a man, but you refuse to hate him.”
  8. The Christian focus on both non-violence and forgiveness of sin may have found their way into the story of Abel in the Qur’an. Liberal movements within Islam have consequently used this story to promote Islamic ideals of non-violence.
  9. Finally, the notion of Satya, or truth, is central to the Gandhian conception of nonviolence. Gandhi saw truth as something that is multifaceted and unable to be grasped in its entirety by any one individual. We all carry pieces of the truth, he believed, but we need the pieces of others’ truths in order to pursue the greater truth.

This led him to a belief in the inherent worth of dialogue with opponents, and a sincere wish to understand their drives and motivations. On a practical level, willingness to listen to another’s point of view is largely dependent on reciprocity. In order to be heard by one’s opponents, one must also be prepared to listen. (Note: SPDC Generals should read this.)

The methods of nonviolent action

  1. Hunger strikes,
  2. pickets,
  3. vigils,
  4. petitions,
  5. sit-ins,
  6. tax refusal,
  7. go slows,
  8. blockades,
  9. draft refusal and
  10. demonstrations are some of the specific techniques that have been deployed by nonviolent movements. Throughout history, these are among the nonviolent methods used by ordinary people to counter injustice or oppression or bring about progressive change.

To be effective, tactics must be carefully chosen, taking into account political and cultural circumstances, and form part of a larger plan or strategy.

Walter Wink points to Jesus Christ as an early nonviolence strategist. Many of his teachings on nonviolence are revealed to be quite sophisticated when the cultural circumstances are understood. For example, among the people he was speaking to; if by collecting debts a person drove someone indebted to him to be naked, great shame fell on the debt collector — not the naked man.

So Jesus’ suggestion – that if someone asks you for your coat you give him your clothes as well – was a way to bring shame upon the debt-collector and symbolically reverse the power relation.

This kind of creativity is typical of nonviolent movements. AristophanesLysistrata gives the fictional example of women withholding sexual favours from their husbands until war was abandoned. SPDC Generals and soldiers could help us with this tactic but I don’t think we could recruit them successfully.

A useful source of inspiration, for those seeking the best nonviolent tactics to deploy, is Gene Sharp’s list of 198 methods of nonviolent action, which includes symbolic, political, economic and physical actions.

Activist/researcher George Lakey says there are three applications of nonviolent action, for:

  1. social defense (as in protection of a neighborhood or country from outside invaders);
  2. social change (its most known form, for advocating either reform or revolutionary   changes); and
  3. third-party nonviolent intervention.

This latter has been used as a method of intervention across borders to deter attack and promote peaceful resolution of conflicts. This has met with several failures (at least on the level of deterring attack) such as the Human Shields in Iraq, but also many successes, such as the work of Project Accompaniment in Guatemala. Currently there are several non-governmental organizations working in this area, including, for example: Peace Brigades International, and the Nonviolent Peace force. The primary tactics that they employ are unarmed accompaniment and human rights observation/reporting.

Many leftist and socialist movements have hoped to mount a “peaceful revolution” by organizing enough strikers to completely paralyze it. With the state and corporate apparatus thus crippled, the workers would be able to re-organize society along radically different lines.

Living nonviolence

For many practitioners, practicing nonviolence goes deeper than withholding from violent behavior or words.

It means caring in one’s heart for everyone, even those one strongly disagrees with.

One implication of this is the necessity of caring for those who are not practicing nonviolence.

Criticism

Leon Trotsky, Frantz Fanon, Subhash Chandra Bose, Chairman Mao and Malcolm X were fervent critics of nonviolence, arguing variously that violence is a necessary accompaniment to revolutionary change, or that the right to self-defense is fundamental.

In the midst of violent repression of radical African Americans in the United States during the 1960s, Black Panther member George Jackson said of the nonviolent tactics of Martin Luther King, Jr.:

“The concept of nonviolence is a false ideal. It presupposes the existence of compassion and a sense of justice on the part of one’s adversary. When this adversary has everything to lose and nothing to gain by exercising justice and compassion, his reaction can only be negative.”

Malcolm X also clashed with civil rights leaders over the issue of nonviolence, arguing that violence should not be ruled out where no other option remained:

“Concerning nonviolence, it is criminal to teach a man not to defend himself when he is the constant victim of brutal attacks.”

The efficacy of nonviolence was also challenged by anti-capitalist protestors advocating a “diversity of tactics” during street demonstrations across Europe and the US following the anti-World Trade Organization protests in Seattle, Washington in 1999.

American feminist writer D. A. Clarke, in her essay “A Woman With A Sword,” suggests that for nonviolence to be effective, it must be “practiced by those who could easily resort to force if they chose.” This argument reasons that nonviolent tactics will be of little or no use to groups that are traditionally considered incapable of violence, since nonviolence will be in keeping with people’s expectations for them and thus go unnoticed.

One of the possible reasons that such criticisms are leveled against nonviolence is that it tends to be a slow, gradual means of achieving political change, and thus the connection between action and effect is less apparent than for violence.

In addition, the most notable successes of nonviolent protests, such as the United States Civil Rights Movement, have been against comparatively liberal governments. Another possible reason is that there are many different nonviolent strategies, and selecting strategies which work in a particular situation can be difficult; hence nonviolence does not always succeed – even though the same is true for violent means of social change.

The specific criticism that nonviolence is a form of passivity can be countered by noting that successful nonviolent campaigns have often centred around actively depriving a ruling regime of financial income (as in Gandhi‘s breaking of the salt tax), or the cooperation necessary to run industrial infrastructure. In this context nonviolence can be viewed as a form of attack on the command structure of a government or regime, rather than upon its personnel.

A much-debated topic is the issue of violence against objects, as opposed to against people. Some consider that damage to property falls within the scope of nonviolent action, while others reject such actions.

Political revolutions are often characterized by violence, and vast changes in power structures that can often result in further, institutionalized, violence, as in the Russian and French revolutions (with the “Purges” and “the Terror”, respectively). A political revolution is the forcible replacement of one set of rulers with another (as happened in France and Russia), while a social revolution is the fundamental change in the social structure of a society, such as the Protestant Reformation or the Renaissance. However, blurring the line between these two categories, most political revolutions wish to carry out social revolutions, and they have basic philosophical or social underpinnings which drive them. The most common revolutions with such underpinnings in the modern world have been liberal revolutions and communist revolutions, with the occasional nationalist revolution. In contrast, a coup d’état often seeks to change nothing more than the current ruler.

Some political philosophers regard revolutions as the means of achieving their goals. Most anarchists advocate social revolution as the means of breaking down the structures of government and replacing them with non-hierarchal institutions.

Among Marxist communists, there is a split between those who supported the Soviet Union and other so-called ‘communist states‘ and those who were/are critical of those states (some even rejecting them as non-communist, see state capitalism), for example trotskyists.

Social and political revolutions are often “institutionalized” when the ideas, slogans, and personalities of the revolution continue to play a prominent role in a country’s political culture, long after the revolution’s end. As mentioned, communist nations regularly institutionalize their revolutions to legitimize the actions of their governments. Some non-communist nations, like the United States, France or Mexico also have institutionalized revolutions, and continue to celebrate the memory of their revolutionary past through holidays, artwork, songs, and other venues.

Nonviolent action can appear in various forms:

  1. It may include the information wars (like various opposition radio, TV and Internet sites),
  2. lobbying (like present successful lobbyings against TOTAL etc),
  3. boycotts or sanctions,
  4. legal/diplomatic wrestling (like Burma Digest and Shan leaders legal action at International Criminal Court), etc

So it is clear that we urgently need a think tank to brain storm to get answers for all the above questions and all other possible problems.

We could not wait or postpone or procrastinate till it is too late. There is a Burmese saying, ‘Sit Yoke hma_Hmya Chun. Moe loon hma htun cha’. We need a definite plan, road map and well defined goal before we start a revolution.

SHWE BA

Comments

M M L said _

A brief principle with some explanations in Myanmar should be issued. Then a forum should be posted just to see how people respond.