Issues that need to be solved in today’s Burmese Democratic movement

The issue of Economic Sanctions has experienced a recent resurgence of interest in the discussions and forums concerning Burma. Of the many issues we face in the Burmese Democratic movement Economic Sanction is one of those that has become more and more heatedly debated and surrounded by controversies. Daw Aung San Suu Kyi had stated that just relying on Economic Sanctions alone is not nearly enough to generate significant changes in Burma’s political environment. According to her there are many factors or conditions essential for change. One of the crucial components necessary for such change is the desire on the part of the populace to actually want to change from the status quo. She pointed that out in a clear, unambiguous language in her interview with the BBC.

Today, the following is the current situation in the Burmese democratic movement:

1. The public residing inside Burma
The opposition to the current government in the form of actual organizations or the general population inside Burma has been, is and will always be THE crucial factor that will decide the ultimate outcome of our ongoing democratic movement. There have been continuing efforts by organized parties in the country - despite many restrictions imposed on them - to encourage the public to become more involved with the fight for Democracy and National League for Democracy or NLD has always been in the forefront on that account. In truth nobody realizes it better than the military government the true potential or the power that resides hidden within our people. That is one of the reasons why they spend most of their time and enormous resources to oppress the people to the point where it is hard for them to remember that simple but crucial point. As long as such stifling conditions are permitted to remain focused on our people the goal of attaining democracy in Burma is quite literally beyond our reach.

2. Burmese expatriates
As responsible Democracy activists living overseas we need to be especially aware of the fact that we have the undeniable duty to support the activists struggling inside the country. As individuals or as a whole group we enjoy unrestricted freedom under the sun. Despite such freedom, an ailment called divisiveness plagues the democratic groups that are based overseas. Because of it actions and plans that needed to be carried out in a cooperative fashion by all the groups never achieved a momentum needed to create change in Burma.
What needs to be done today to help the movement inside Burma is for us living overseas to become more united and to fight towards a single identifiable goal. Not too long ago I had the honor and the pleasure to participate in the 60th Birthday celebration for DASSK in California. A few of the slogans shouted at one of these demonstrations were:

-- What do you want? Democracy!
-- When do you want it? Now!
What seems to be missing?
-- How do you want it? Through a united front!
It is time for us to do a merciless self-examination. What most of us will find is that we lack self-reliance and we have no confidence in our own people to achieve their goal. It has been going on long enough that we have always demanded others to help us do what we need to do for ourselves. If we stop and think we pretty soon realize that there are not many things in life that gets done efficiently/timely or even at all if we just rely on others to do things for us. We cannot afford to wait any longer for the US or the International community to intervene on our behalf. The main driving force lies waiting untapped inside the country in the form of people’s power. We need to establish the fact amongst us that People’s power is the only path towards democracy. After establishing such foundation we then need to plan to how to best use such power. We need to admit to ourselves that just by sitting around nothing will get done.

3. Democracy Unity Group members

Using the available freedoms and opportunities to the fullest, the overseas-based Democratic forces need to become united as soon as possible. Prompt actions must be taken to take advantage of any proffered International assistance while at the same time taking care not to abandon self-reliance. This is the time to exert fullest efforts to support the Democratic forces and the populace inside Burma. Democracy Unity Group is started with the above-mentioned intentions of initiating and developing the long process of unification of dissentious forces.

Democracy Unity group members are suggested to observe the following:

- The long term and short term strategy planning for the path to Democracy need to be the highest priority for the DUG and its members,
- Members need to discuss openly amongst themselves all topics based on their expertise and prior experience,
- Tolerance to human errors or simple misunderstandings amongst the members is encouraged to maintain group integrity while at the same time well-intended and well-thought contributions as well as the adoption of the attitude to share one’s hard-earned knowledge to the group is also welcome,
- Members need to be made aware of the fact that even on the path to Democracy we can learn a lot from even our enemies whose philosophies/values we do not necessarily share,
- All attempts must be made to avoid dissent in the group wherever humanly possible,
- Instead of engaging in endless discussions on economic sanctions members need to assist in finding strategies for unifying the Democratic forces which is more important,
- As the opposition party, by giving assistance to the people in their everyday struggle and by standing by their side in times of need, there will eventually be a time when natural leaders will emerge spontaneously without having to hunt for them. Just as fish need a healthy body of water to survive we activists need the people for this movement to ever have any hope of success.

We all have witnessed the selfless sacrifices that Daw Aung San Suu Kyi had made over the years for the country. As responsible persons, there is an urgent need to realize that we can not afford any longer to wait for Daw Suu to bring us Democracy right to our doorsteps but instead each and everyone of us have the obligation to do our best to achieve the ultimate goal of Democracy in Burma.

U Than Aung
Edmonton, Alberta, Canada
Date: July 29th 2005
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