Written by U Ne Oo on 1996-05-05

Encouraging signs have emerged within the Burma's democracy movement in relation to the unity about ethnic minorities: The ethnic leaders adherence to the fedherence to the federalism in Burma and their support to National League for Democracy that was announced in recent postings. This move by ethnic leaders will certainly help to undermine the SLORC's only remaining political legitimacy: Burmese military as the sole protector of secession of the Union.


Any political grouping or organization have their respective beliefs and legitimacy. SLORC, like other political organizations 1./, also has its own "political beliefs". The existence for SLORC as an organization thus far have been, in addition to these Generals' greed on the power and privileges, based on such political beliefs - or, rather, delusions - that their continuation of rulings are of a necessity.

One of the Burmese military junta's beliefs, throughout its rulings since 1962, is that the military has been sole protector and the guardian of the Union from the secessions. Because of this political belief, the SLORC is able to consolidate its power within the military personnels.

The political campaign opolitical campaign or the political battle against such an entity as SLORC involves removing the fundamental causes of their beliefs. In the present example is that the ethnic freedom fighters' pronouncement about the belief in a federal union and non-secession, which exactly may serve to remove the SLORC's fundamental beliefs and, hence, legitimacy.


Although such move may lay good ground for the negotiations with the Burmese military, it is quite unlikely that the negotiations will take place withoutce without pressure. It is precisely because of the attitude of some of the members of the SLORC towards politics and minorities. Such attitude originate at the Burmese General's perception about politics in general and the minorities' rebellions in particular.

When reassessing last year's (1995) work, it almost entirely devoted to the peaceful mediation of conflict with the help of the diplomatic community. International community's efforts to that was made with the help of mediators such as Sayadaw Rawata Dhamma and Archbishorchbishop Andrew Mya Han. Throughout the year-1995, various diplomats have visited Burma and put their efforts for such mediation.

My impression in early 1995 was that the SLORC may have some difficulty, due to the existence of different factions within its military circle, about getting into the negotiation. After the SLORC's cabinet reshuffles in June-1995 and the release of Daw Aung San Suu Kyi in July, my estimation was that SLORC is ready to enter negotiations. Most vigorous effort was thus made in order to facilitate nilitate necessary help from the diplomatic community, particularly from the Australian Government.

Australia have long been interested in Burma and at this time also appears to have made their best efforts. On early December-95, the Australia's National Party leader Tim Fischer - now the Deputy Prime Minister - visited Rangoon. It was, however, found out later that the initiative for mediation by Australian Government had been rejected from the SLORC's side. A point to be made here is that the SLORC was given enough opportuniopportunity to resolve the conflict with the help of diplomatic community.


Further revelation about the SLORC's delaying tactics was made in Bangkok Post report on 17.3.96. As the KNU negotiators described, SLORC appeared not having any proper position to enter dialogue. What the SLORC was doing in regards to negotiation, thus far, has been trying to hide behind a smoke-screen so as to avoid the diplomats and U.N. officials.

SLORC's current position may be that they would delay and avelay and avoid any negotiation with the Oppositions, hoping that some un-expected change in circumstances may come-up so that it can re-consolidate its position. In SLORC's view, the longer it can hold on to its present position and avoid negotiations, the better it is having chance for survival and to continue ruling of the country.

In addition to the insincerity in dealing with the issues, SLORC has also proven to be one of the difficult political opponent: it shows no sign of giving up hope for its unrealistic objective. SLOtive. SLORC's initiative for ceasefire with the ethnic groups is not aimed at achieving a genuine peace; it is made with the intention to promote itself as a peace-maker in order to gain international legitimacy. SLORC's attempts to mordernize the economy are not aimed at developing the living standard of population; it made rather to show the population off "how military is capable of mordernizing". In sum, SLORC has been making every efforts to promote its internal and international legitimacy.


From my understanding, a political struggle or battle - unlike that of military one - cannot have a clear-cut "win" or "lose" on sight. Since political battles are fought essentially in peoples' hearts and minds, only the time at a longer period can tell who is winning or losing. One can compare the position of Democratic forces vs. SLORC at the U.N. forums in recent years and that of early 1990s. This is why one always need to persevere and have patience in a struggle in order to achieve one's objectives.

A great many leaders told us time and again that the democratic forces must be "strong" and "united" to remove the dictatorship from power. My interpretation to the word "strong" is "politically strong" and "united" is "politically united". In my view, a thousand people chanting anti-government slogans cannot be exactly said being politically strong. However, with the help of a ten people who know what are the moves of their opponent and know how to make counter-moves will make much a stronger political entity. This is whis is why the dissemination of good information amongst pro-democracy groups is vital to build-up the political movements.

On the one hand, the political battles seems to have waged differently from military battles. In military battles, the command from one General will be carried out by its soldiers. In political battles, the policies against any such political entity (in our case the SLORC) are carried out by diverse organizations and numerous individuals, which they may not necessarily have a formal connections. However. However, so long as these organizations and individuals implementing the very same policy, they can be considered as "politically united". To achieve such unity, the knowledge and understanding of various policy initiatives amongst pro-democracy groups are most essential. Such knowledge and understanding of policies will enable the pro-democracy groups to build-up a unified movement.

With best regards, U Ne Oo.

Endnote 1/ SLORC never refers to itself as a political organization (which in fact showing its political illiteracy.) The political beliefs, however, are in some way necessary to have amongst SLORC rank and file not to become trapped into identifying themselves as a group of 'organized bandits'.

Ethnic Nalities Unity on Federalism