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16 June, 2021 05:23:18 PM

Myanmar's impending civil war

Aung San Suu Kyi, the country's most popular figure, called for protests by the country's democrats on the eve of the military blockade. Myanmar's military-backed protests against the country's pro-democracy activists have continued to try to build resistance, much to the surprise of the world.
Md. Akij Mahmud
Myanmar's impending civil war

When Myanmar's military carried out a brutal genocide against the Rohingya, all conscious citizens of the world, from international human rights activists onwards, were eager to see a just and courageous act by the country's pro-democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi against Myanmar's military. But once fighting on the streets for the masses, whether that leader is the one who unhesitatingly compromised with anti-people misdeeds!

In 2019, Suu Kyi denied the brutal genocide perpetrated by the military Against  the Rohingya for political gain. Suu Kyi's political decision only came to light when she was able to keep Myanmar's military out of power. Suu Kyi also wanted to do this with her political philosophy. That is why she has spoken out in favour of the country's military, which has been accused of world-shattering incidents such as the Rohingya genocide. Suu Kyi's strategy was to exploit the military's declining public support and to link Myanmar's internal Rohingya hatred, which would gradually remove the military from power. Extremist Buddhists in the country have always sided with the military, accused of serious crimes such as the Rohingya genocide. Suu Kyi had two motives in favouring the military in the Rohingya genocide in order to maintain her popularity inside Myanmar.

First, to gain the confidence of the military, and second, to maintain its popularity among the country's large anti-Rohingya population. Suu Kyi's results were similar to those of Myanmar's November 2020 election, in which Aung San Suu Kyi's National League for Democracy (NLD) won by a wide margin against the military-backed USDP.

Myanmar's senior general Min Aung Hlaing had a strong desire to become the country's president. He wanted to serve as the country's president after retiring. But in the November election last year, Hlaing's desire fell into uncertainty, because Suu Kyi's party did not want Min Aung Hlaing to run for president. Min Aung Hlaing hoped that if his backed (military-backed) USDP did well in the election, he would negotiate with Suu Kyi to step down and become president. But the results were so favourable to Suu Kyi's party that the country's military rejected the results, accusing them of rigging the election. The military alleges they have more than 1 million pieces of evidence of election irregularities and fraud. But the country's election commission has denied it since the beginning.

Suu Kyi's NLD landslide victory in Myanmar's November elections and the country's people's growing addiction to democracy have left the country's military's future power in extreme uncertainty. Many important members of the military, including Min Aung Hlaing in particular, have been directly accused of the Rohingya genocide, and their notoriety has spread internationally. That's why the country's military, including Min Hlaing, was afraid to stand trial after being convicted of post-retirement genocide. As a result, Suu Kyi, the winner of the November election, faced severe obstacles from the military to form an NLD government. In the post-election political turmoil in the country, the issue of a military coup again became inevitable. In this context, rejecting the election results, the country's army generals returned to power on February 1, 2021 in a military coup without any bloodshed. At the same time, they blocked Suu Kyi. In addition to arresting Aung San Suu Kyi, the ruling party also detained almost all central and provincial council members of the National League for Democracy (NLD). In the name of suppressing dissent, the country's military continues to carry out atrocities and arrests across the country. According to the country's military administration, they will keep the responsibility of running the country for the next one year to themselves.

Aung San Suu Kyi, the country's most popular figure, called for protests by the country's democrats on the eve of the military blockade. Myanmar's military-backed protests against the country's pro-democracy activists have continued to try to build resistance, much to the surprise of the world. Unarmed civilians in the country have been brutally attacked by the military in protest of curfews and restrictions imposed by the military. Myanmar's pro-democracy protests have not been suppressed by the power-hungry military. On the contrary, ordinary people have been protesting against the military rule in Myanmar, which is gradually turning into a civil war.

Note that this democratic stalemate in Myanmar has existed since the country's independence. The democratic environment in the country has never been fully developed due to political infighting. Although the country became independent in 1948, Myanmar has been ruled by a civilian government for only 15 years in the last 73 years. Aung San Suu Kyi led an almost two-decade-long bloody movement against Tatmador (Myanmar's military) in 1988, initiating electoral democracy in the country. Although the new era of democracy began in the country in 2011, it was basically a new-style military rule. Many see Myanmar's 'Sprouted democracy' as a possibility, but it is a compromise with the military to run the country. At a time when the people of Myanmar have begun to taste the sweet taste of democracy, leaving behind the long-running uprising, the common people of the country could not accept the return of the junta (army) to power. And for this reason, even though more than seven hundred and fifty people died at the hands of the junta of Myanmar, it did not create fear in their eyes. On the contrary, this general movement of the masses in the country is turning into a civil war due to the inflexibility of illegal military rule.

A country's civil war or genocide has a profound effect on its neighbours. The best example of this is the Rohingya genocide by the Myanmar army, another example is Syria, an oil-rich country in the Middle East. We can see from the Syria issue in the Middle East that a country's civil war can cause unrest in its vicinity. The impact of the Myanmar army's Rohingya genocide has spread to South and Southeast Asia, including India, Bangladesh, Pakistan, Indonesia, Thailand and Malaysia. If the revolt against the military rule in the country turns into a full-blown civil war, it could be the beginning of a volatile environment in the countries mentioned in South Asia and in the region. The impact of which could be more severe than the Rohingya problem and may emerge as a new global crisis in the mentioned countries including Bangladesh.

Although the country's military seized power through a military coup in Myanmar, the role of China, the neighboring power and the most controlling force in the situation, remained silent. Without showing any support for Suu Kyi, China has shown a long-standing alliance with the junta. China has called Myanmar's military coup a cabinet reshuffle. Experts say the military coup in Myanmar was aided by China.

Myanmar is also located in an important territory in China's Silk Road (One Belt One Road) plan. With Myanmar's full power in Suu Kyi's hands, she will pursue relations with India in South Asia and try to bring Myanmar out of China's monopoly, according to Chinese communists. China sees India's growing presence in Myanmar as a challenge to maintain their dominance. There are two main reasons for China's support for Myanmar's military. First, India is reluctant to join China's proposed Silk Road, and Bangladesh's neutral role has forced China to lean more towards Myanmar in the Bay of Bengal. And that's why China wants to be their most loyal ally in Myanmar's internal politics. And this ally can only be the country's army for them. Second, if China backs Myanmar's military, it will rely heavily on China, even if the country's military returns to power.

China's support for the junta could be seen as part of a plan to strengthen China's geopolitical position in South Asia. The people of Myanmar have long been accustomed to military rule, prompting China to come up with a plan. And that is why China has been blindly supporting all the actions of the Myanmar army, whether it is good or a heinous crime like the Rohingya genocide that is against humanity. India, another regional power in the Myanmar issue, is also keeping a quiet position, because India has invested heavily in Myanmar to challenge China. That is why India is upset with Tatmado's audacity but is not taking a firm stand. But the hope that Myanmar's democrats can find a bright future is that many countries around the world are now talking about putting pressure on the military to create a democratic environment in Myanmar with the intervention of the world's political controller, the United States.

In order to reduce China's influence in Myanmar, the US alliance is not supporting the junta but considering the country's democrats as their 'trump card'. Insurgents are becoming increasingly aggressive as global powers support the United States in building resistance against the military in the country, while the military is pushing hard to quell the insurgency with full support from powerful China. As a result, anti-China sentiment among the general population in the country is on the rise.

Burmese make up only 68 percent of Myanmar's population. The remaining 32 percent of the population is divided into a total of 135 ethnic groups. That is why the country is called a diverse country in small ethnic groups. In the country, a number of ethnic groups have been revolting against the military for a long time, in which case the revolt against the military-ruled government of the common people will resurface. To quell the insurgency, the army-ruled government has banned satellite television channels from broadcasting. In hindsight, it looks like Myanmar is about to enter a protracted civil war. 

Organizing a civil war in Myanmar means having a direct impact on neighboring countries. For a long time, the anti-China American alliance, the Quad, has been very active in the region, and will not shy away from using force to intimidate China. If a civil war breaks out in Myanmar, and China is directly involved in handling it, it is certain that this South and Southeast Asia region will face a major war. And if that happens, the anti-China alliance will want to use the Bay of Bengal to quell Myanmar's civil war. In other words, the pressure of the global powers will increase on Bangladesh. If a country does not get directly involved in the war in Myanmar, the rebels will gain the support of India and the United States and the military will become more dependent on China as usual, which could lead to a protracted civil war.

And if the civil war continues for a long time, a large number of people in the country will choose the border countries as refugees for refuge. And Bangladesh may be one of the destinations of these refugees. Moreover, there is a danger of destabilizing the internal stability of the neighboring countries due to various misdeeds including border smuggling and arms smuggling.

If the Myanmar people's movement turns into a civil war, the only way to deal with the war in the country's border countries would be to establish internal political unity between the countries, as well as increase the activities of regional organizations. The impending potential civil war in South Asia and Southeast Asia will have a profound effect on the region, which may also hamper the region's rapid economic growth.

Perhaps the biggest mistake in Suu Kyi's political philosophy is to sideline the Rohingya crisis and side with the country's military. Suu Kyi's decision has greatly diminished her international acceptance. In the Rohingya humanitarian catastrophe where the country's common people and undisputed leader Aung San Suu Kyi's position was urgent for the Rohingya, they did not find anyone in their country by their side. What a cruel protest of time, In those days, Suu Kyi sided with the army, and today it is Suu Kyi's party that is at gunpoint, and the people who legitimized the Rohingya genocide for their army. Today they are writing on banners, festoons, placards as a language of protest against the army-backed anti-government movement, ‘We misunderstand, Rohingyas forgive us’.

The writer is a student of department of history, University of Chittagong.


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Published by the Editor on behalf of Independent Publications Limited at Media Printers, 446/H, Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1215.
Editorial, News & Commercial Offices : Beximco Media Complex, 149-150 Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1208, Bangladesh. GPO Box No. 934, Dhaka-1000.

Editor : M. Shamsur Rahman
Published by the Editor on behalf of Independent Publications Limited at Media Printers, 446/H, Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1215.
Editorial, News & Commercial Offices : Beximco Media Complex, 149-150 Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1208, Bangladesh. GPO Box No. 934, Dhaka-1000.

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