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Use of Non Violence in Myanmar Protests

Synopsis: The February 2021 coup in Myanmar  Protests removed the democratically elected government. Since then people have adopted the non-violent approach of Gandhi for pressuring the military junta.

Background:
  • The democratically elected leaders in Myanmar’s protects were removed by the military on 1st February 2021 on allegations of election fraud.
  • Subsequently, the military came to power and the main leaders including Aung San Suu Kyi got house arrest. This induced the masses to start non-violent protests in Myanmar.
About Non-Violence and its usage:
  • It means positive action and not a state of passiveness. It involves working towards one’s goal using non-violent means.
  • Mahatma Gandhi used a spinning wheel as a symbol for his idea of non-violence. The spinning wheel presented two messages:
    1. An instrument to protest against India’s growing industrialism.
    2. A symbol to show resistance to the British-made clothes that had replaced Indian handmade clothes.
  • Martin Luther King turned to the symbol of the “American Dream” to portray his version of non-violence. The objective was to obtain social justice and equity for every member of American society. 
Myanmar and tool of Non-Violence:
  1. The method was used in 1990 by Suu Kyi against the atrocities of the military government. Her efforts earned her a Nobel Peace Prize in 1991.
  2. The Buddhist Spirituality gave the moral strength that automatically took her towards Gandhian Non Violence. Later on, the masses were also attracted towards the noble method.
  3. The masses understood the Buddhist teachings under which each individual has the potential to change his circumstances. This was different from Despotic belief under which an individual is considered as faceless and helpless who can be manipulated at will.
  4. The same enthusiasm is now being witnessed in the current protests wherein masses are adopting new symbols of non-violence. This includes the 3 finger salute adopted by activists in Thailand against the totalitarian regime.
Significance of Non-Violent Protests:
  1. It is a laudable method to display the collective strength of the masses i.e. the power of the powerless.
  2. It displays a belief in the method of non-violence that might not deliver immediate results but is definitely the ethical path.
  3. Likewise, it is a peaceful way of questioning the legitimacy of the military government and demanding democracy.
  4. It further places a question on the democratic nature of countries that are criticizing the struggle for democracy in Myanmar.
Way Ahead:
  • A greater number of people in Myanmar protects should engage in politics with ethical conduct. This would be in line with the Gandhian philosophy of associating politics with ethics that helps in delivering optimum outcomes.
  • The future of Myanmar is not up to the military, it is up to those who follow the example of Gandhi in the streets of Yangon and Mandalay. 

SourceThe Hindu

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