Myanmar’s political transition is being hailed by Western politicians, special interests, and its media as “historic” and a new beginning for “democracy” in the Southeast Asian nation.
However, even before Myanmar political opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi’s party rose to power, the facts contradicted the fiction Western politicians and pundits had spent decades crafting. Even before elections, global awareness around Suu Kyi’s failure to condemn violence against the nation’s Rohingya minority had been growing.
Articles like the Guardian’s “Why is Aung San Suu Kyi silent on the plight of the Rohingya people?,” would point out that:
[Myanmar’s] opposition leader appears to be cowed by her need to dampen ethnic tensions and win votes from an electorate in the thrall of Islamophobia
So too has awareness been growing regarding the fact that some of Suu Kyi’s staunchest supporters were directly involved, in fact, leading the violence against the Rohingya. Despite attempts to portray these supporters as actually “opponents” of Suu Kyi and her political party, it is already becoming clear that Suu Kyi is rewarding them by targeting their enemies and allowing them to more openly indulge in their violence now that they are in power.
Suu Kyi’s Non-Democratic Democracy, and Inhumane Human Rights…
After the elections, Suu Kyi was banned from holding the presidency because of her numerous ties to foreign interests including her previous marriage to a foreigner and her having children with foreign citizenship – British citizenship no less – Britain being Myanmar’s former colonial master. Despite the ban, Suu Kyi pledged to “rule above” the president, a man she hand-selected to serve as her proxy.
The Guardian in its article, “Aung San Suu Kyi unlikely to take seat in Myanmar government,” inexplicably attempts to explain (emphasis added:
The democracy champion, who spent 15 years under house arrest and is the daughter of the nation’s revolutionary hero, has vowed to be “above the president”, fuelling speculation over her role in the country’s first democratically elected government in more than five decades.
The Guardian never makes it clear how an unelected leader vowing to rule “above” an elected president constitutes a “democracy champion” or the country’s “first democratically elected government in more than five decades.” Clearly those who were elected are not actually leading the nation, and instead of democracy, Myanmar has been given a poorly-crafted, admittedly disingenuous stand-in for it.
Such a move to illegally rule “above” the elected president can only be interpreted as a direct contravention of both the principles of democracy and the rule of law. Suu Kyi and her political party have decided to observe these principles and laws when convenient and advantageous, and trample them when they become obstacles.
Compounding these already alarming developments is Suu Kyi’s treatment of political prisoners. She is being lauded by the West for releasing over 100 political prisoners – mostly her own foreign-funded supporters – while arresting and jailing her opponents.
The Associated Press in its article, “Myanmar frees over 100 political prisoners, but jails 2,” reports that:
More than 100 political prisoners in Myanmar have been freed under an amnesty ordered by the country’s new de facto leader, Aung San Suu Kyi, as her first official act.
AP then notes that:
The move was praised by human rights advocates, but a jarring note was struck when two peace activists the same day Friday were each sentenced to two years with hard labor for activities bringing them into contact with an armed ethnic rebel group that has been battling the central government…
…Both are also Muslims, a minority that has faced increasing pressure and violence in recent years in overwhelmingly Buddhist Myanmar.
These two jailed political prisoners are undoubtedly only the beginning. Despite attempts to portray Suu Kyi’s political party and the xenophobic, racist, bigoted “saffron” movement that supports her as “adversarial,” jailing and otherwise legalizing oppression and even genocide against the Rohingya and other “undesirables” is the clearest indication yet that such an adversity does not exist.
Suu Kyi, her political party, and her supporters, even before taking power, have dealt with opponents with the same degree of intolerance and violence as they have accused the military-led government of. Suu Kyi’s “saffron monks” regularly raid Rohingya villages and refugee camps committing mass murder and arson while the faux-monk’s political networks regularly campaign for stripping Myanmar’s Rohingya population of the few remaining rights they have left, while barring efforts to give them full citizenship despite many having lived in Myanmar for generations.
Suu Kyi’s obvious and expanding crimes against the people of Myanmar will only continue. Her party’s policy, beyond rhetorical pandering to “democracy” and inviting in foreign corporations to buy-out and run the country for her, is in fact, not a policy. As the people of Myanmar continue to suffer under political and economic instability, opposition against Suu Kyi will grow, and with it will come increasing intimidation and violence to suppress it.
In reality, the only thing that has changed for Myanmar is the fact that it is no longer associating primarily with its Asian neighbors, but is instead gravitating toward Wall Street, Washington, London, and Brussels – the centers of power who for decades have funded Suu Kyi’s political movement and her various supporters. The promise of “democracy” and “self-determination” dangled over Myanmar’s head is a promise it will never realize so long as Myanmar’s government is beholden to and representative of foreign interests, rather than the interests of the people it was allegedly “elected” to represent.
In a wider, geopolitical context, the transformation of Myanmar into a Western proxy has serious implications for the region, allowing it to become a hub for destabilization against its Southeast Asian neighbors and China. The fact that Suu Kyi is already guilty of or associated with egregious human rights violations documented but kept under wraps by Western “human rights” fronts, means that at any time should Suu Kyi’s loyalty to her foreign sponsors falter, so will the West’s ability to keep her image as a “democracy champion” intact. Like her counterparts in Riyadh, another nation bent into servile obedience to the West with its own atrocities used as blackmail against it, Myanmar begins this new chapter of its collective history bound to the will of its former colonial masters.
For the West, it really is “progress” for them. For Myanmar, it is a step 68 years backwards.
Tony Cartalucci, Bangkok-based geopolitical researcher and writer, especially for the online magazine “New Eastern Outlook”.