Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Response to criticism of demonstration on Monday

Wednesday, 28 September 2011 18:09 Mizzima News

(Letter) – I would like to respond to comments by Ludu Sein Win and Dr. Than Htut Aung (CEO, Eleven Media Group) regarding Monday’s small protest to commemorate the fourth anniversary of a brutal crackdown on a monk-led uprising (2007) in Burma.

See: Ludu Sein Win's and Dr. Than Htut Aung (CEO, Eleven Media Group) comments; News Article:

First, I'd like to say that freedom of speech and expression are the most important basic rights provided to any citizen in a democratic state.

Burmese security police photograph marchers as they chant "loving kindness" prayers in Rangoon on Monday, September 26, 2011. The activists were prevented from walking to Sule Pagoda and dispersed. Photo: Mizzima

I have never come across such a disapproving comment regarding a protest from Ludu Sein Win before because he always believes in “People Power.” His response to this matter was quite quick.  He didn't seem to be well informed about what actually happened.

I'd like to recall a similar event in the past.  Just after the 2007 “Saffron Revolution,” one well-known writer (now retired) who is also a former NLD executive committee member, said all Burmese people can do about politics is just demonstrate against the regime in the streets which actually means no more than the A, B, Cs of a democracy movement process.  At that time, I was disappointed because I expected some positive encouragement or intellectual political analysis or something wise from a veteran politician who knows Burmese politics. No wonder that later he actively promoted the regime's 2010 sham election and wrote many articles in favour of the regime's way of democratization.

I respond now because I don't wish to see Sayar Ludu Sein Win to let me down again like the man above. I don’t intend to protest much about Dr. Than Htut Aung's comment because I don't think he is a public figure.  However, I have to say just one thing because he mentioned Aung San Suu Kyi in his comment.  In a recent interview with AFP, Suu Kyi simply referred to Libya’s case that wounds will remain unhealed because of the armed uprising.  It means violent movements didn't answer the problems in Burma, and won't in the future.  She doesn't say anything against peaceful demonstration and I don't think she will say so in the future.

I understand their concerns. But that doesn’t make me accept their comments.  I think they can show their concern by making positive comments regarding the matter.

For example, “The exercise of political rights like peaceful demonstrations should be welcome by all means in this new so-called democratic government.  But we are concerned that it can also affect negatively on the national reconciliation process which is still in the very early stages and very fragile at the moment.”

In my opinion, a protest or a demonstration won't make any kind of trouble to the national reconciliation process in Burma as long as demonstrators maintain nonviolence actions.  Nonviolent movements don’t mean "no demonstration," but it means "peaceful resistance" to achieve a cause by using symbolic protests, civil disobedience, economic or political noncooperation, and any other possible peaceful method.

In fact, the origin of the English word  “democracy” is a Greek word dēmokratía (rule of the people), which was actually coined from dêmos (people) and kratos (power).  There is not a single successful revolution in the history against a dictatorship without involvement of a people power movement.

To conclude, I agree that it's better if we achieve full democratization or national reconciliation only through the means of dialogue between concerned parties.  I have no doubt about Suu Kyi's wisdom and political judgment or her cautiously optimistic words regarding her new approach to deal with the 50-year old regime.  I do understand her current situation and its very limited alternatives.  However, I profoundly believe small incidents like Monday’s event can be the spark to set off nationwide peaceful demonstrations that can also be helpful in some ways to Suu Kyi’s work of persuading the regime to take concrete actions for full democratization and national reconciliation in Burma.

Nyein Chan Aye

Editor: The letter was edited for length.

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