Myanmar’s crisis with intertwining problems

Myanmar Spring Chronicle – July 27 Scenes

MoeMaKa, July 28, 2023

Myanmar’s crisis with intertwining problems

I don’t think it would be wrong to say that the crisis that Myanmar is currently facing is not caused by a single issue, but is a crisis that is intertwined with several political issues that have been going on for decades. Having said that, the causes of the current problem, the ego, attitude, and interests of an individual, have not been completely neglected. While it is true that recent causes are important to a certain extent, the root cause persisting for decades, and the mistrust, resentment, suspicion, and vested interests carried over from one generation to another for decades also play a fundamental role.


Rather than the attitudes, wishes, and goals of a single individual, the problems of basic political concepts, inequitable distribution of interests, underdevelopment, values based on human rights, religion, ethnic conceptions, and equality among ethnic groups should be resolved as much as possible at the same time. Only then will we be able to find a solution to Myanmar’s political crisis with a long-term perspective and bring about sustainable political stability and an end to the armed conflict.


When we look closely at the first level of problems in Myanmar, the lack of democracy is an obvious problem for everyone, and I think there is no dispute about this. After Myanmar’s independence from the British colony, there was a degree of democracy, and in that era, democracy issues were not at the forefront of the world, and it was also the time when socialism, capitalism, and the Cold War were at the height of competition. Because of this, some countries even supported dictatorial rule in the Cold War if they were on their side. Although not directly related to the Cold War, the split between left and right ideologies was one of the reasons for the civil war in Myanmar. Ethnic affairs, in other words, ethnic groups’ rights to self-determination, self-governance, and federal issues, began to be demanded at the time of independence.


On the other hand, the demands for ethnic equality and civil rights were portrayed as racial issues and pushed for armed conflict. In the world just after the Second World War, leftism, in other words, socialism, was popular, and ethnic issues were treated as subservient to the struggle between the capitalist and socialist systems, and the lack of emphasis on the equal self-determination rights of ethnic groups became commonplace. Burma was also in this trend, and the language, culture, territorial demarcation of the ethnic groups, and subjugation of the ethnic groups without treating each other as equals were strong political reasons to continue fighting for the federal issue.


In Myanmar’s more than 70 years of civil war, the characteristic of powerful armed groups, in other words, the struggle between leftism and the military dictatorship was the main competition for some decades, while the attack on the rights of ethnic groups and self-determination took second place. After the collapse of the Communist Party of Burma (CPB) in 1989, the struggle between leftism and the military dictatorship stopped at a turning point, and the issue of ethnic federalism came to the forefront.


Recently, after the military coup in 2021, the issue of democracy has surfaced to the forefront again, and the ethnic armed forces, the students and youth forces among the large armed forces, who decided to take up arms after the military coup have joined forces to attack the common enemy, the military dictatorship.


Here, there are assumptions that the issue of democracy is the first and the right of ethnic self-determination, and the issue of federalism will be resolved at the same time if the issue of democracy is successful.


I think we can learn from past historical experience that these ideas are not correct. Since the problems are interrelated, if we say that it is a democracy issue, the rest of equality, self-determination, federalism, human rights, minority rights, religious or racial discrimination, etc. need to be solved simultaneously.


Even if these issues cannot be resolved at the same time, it is important to adopt clear principles, commitments, and practices that can be applied immediately.


It’s time to not push the smaller problem down while solving the bigger problem. It is necessary to recognize every problem as a problem, and it is true that we must first solve the main problem that threatens all of us, but when one problem is solved, another problem takes place. In order to prevent such a vicious cycle, we need to recognize the interrelationship between the problems and solve them with an honest stance towards the public among allied organizations. Only then, we can get rid of decades of civil war, armed conflict, and nationalism.