Lessons from the past for way forward in Myanmar

Source: The Hindu

Gs2: Effect of Policies and Politics of Developed and Developing Countries on India’s interests, Indian Diaspora.

Synopsis: The international community needs to plan according to the ground realities of Myanmar before making any effort to restore Democracy.

Background:

  • Following the recent military coup in Myanmar, many countries have voiced their concern to restore the Democracy in Myanmar.
  • However, it is important to understand the present situation from experiences. It will save the efforts of the international community to restore democracy, from failing.

What are the Lessons from past Military coups of Myanmar?

Firstly, the Myanmar military lacks any apathy towards its civilians. It is evident from past examples. For instance, during the 2008, Cyclone Nargis disaster, it refused to allow foreign aid from other countries to support relief works.

    • Moreover, instead of Prioritizing the Disaster relief work, it announced a pre-scheduled referendum on the military-scripted constitution to make use of the situation.

Second, imposing Economic sanctions against Myanmar will not bring any major political change.  It will do more harm to Myanmar’s Poor people. For example, During the western sanctions before 2010, the military was able to economically withstand sanctions by striking deals with Asian countries.

Third, the Military has been emboldened by the absence of punishment for crimes against humanity. For example, ex-Myanmar military general Than Shwe was able to escape without punishment.  He was on the watch list of the international community for perpetuating a crime of human rights abuses during his rule from 1992 to 2011. Brutality against Rohingyas is also an example.

Fourth, Myanmar’s military will try to exploit the ethnic and religious divide among its citizen. So, engagement of the international community with domestic stakeholders, including ethnic minorities, especially from the north is highly critical.

Suggestions 

  • The international community has to make use of China’s multi-layered influence on Myanmar. China has been working on Myanmar-related issues since 2013.
  • Before 2015, many mechanisms were planned by Western and Asian countries for coordinating strategies on Myanmar. These initiatives were discontinued after the restoration of democracy in Myanmar. International communities need to revive and bring this mechanism under a common platform.
  • International communities should make efforts to punish those individuals responsible for committing crimes against humanity.
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