Burma's Despair

Author: Jeff Kingston


The Saffron Revolution is Burma's 9/11; much will never be the same. The regime's harsh crackdown and killing of monks in fall 2007 has aroused a new generation of dissidents. Economic grievances have morphed into antigovernment political protests, and the political situation has become even more polarized. Burma's 9/11 may also be sowing dissension within the military as ostracism from the sangha (Buddhist community) and popular revulsion affects institutional interests, ones that may no longer be identical to those of the ruling junta, the State Peace and Development Council (SPDC). The government's seven-step roadmap to democracy appears to have lost all credibility, and no one believes that the military or its proxies will implement the proposed Constitution in good faith. There is concern that the SPDC is only going through the motions of the UN-sponsored dialogue and still hopes to impose a democracy in shackles. Indonesia has provided inspiration for the SPDC, especially the paramount political power exercised by the Indonesian military during the New Order era (1967-98), but the junta fails to see that this model has already been overtaken by events and popular aspirations. Meanwhile, the international community debates how to break through the current impasse, given that economic sanctions and constructive engagement have not produced any progress. Transforming unprecedented international attention to Burma's plight into sustained support for alleviating severe humanitarian conditions, promoting nation building, and nurturing a time-bound dialogue for national reconciliation and democratization remains a key challenge.
Countries: Burma

Download complete article from Taylor & Francis Online

© FAO/Giulio Napolitano