19 October, 2017

Sri Lanka And Burma: The Conjunction Of Genocidal Processes And Imperialist Adventures

By Athithan Jayapalan

Athithan Jayapalan

Burma is often most renowned for its military Junta, repression of democratic rights and the imprisonment of Aung San Suu Kyi that spanned over two decades. Such it is when in line with Western countries interest and their explicitly displayed values. Unfortunately what is lesser known is the multiple national independence struggles fought by suppressed nations in Burma, and the state sponsored persecution and terrorism against minorities. In 2012, Burma was being praised by the West for freeing opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi, liberalizing its economy, allowing political parties, extending democratic rights, and for the abolishing of media censorship. In the backwaters of these events, with the West applauding what it considers positive steps taken by the new civilian government under President Thein Sein, a war was unleashed to eradicate the resistance of the Kachin nation in northern Burma (1).  As the West is supplying funds, handing Burma international repute, facilitating it with international space to self-narrate the progress of the country, the Burmese army is unhindered in pursuing its structural approach towards minority nations. After a 17 year truce with the Kachin Independence Organization (KIO), it launched an extensive military offensive on June 2012. This decision coincided with the work on the billion dollar Sino-Burmese hydropower projects in the irrawaddy river in the Kachin homeland. In order to secure these areas for Chinese exploitation, the Burmese military is entrusted to drive out the Kachin people (2) . With both the subtle blessings and sinister involvement of contemporary imperialist powers, the West and China alike, a chauvinistic state is facilitated to carry out genocide. Another process which also began in 2012 summer, was the genocidal ethnic cleansing of the Rohinyga Muslims, in the central west of the country. In matter of few weeks, thousands of Rohinygas were reported butchered by Arakanese mobs, Buddhist monks, state police and federal forces, with tens of thousands being displaced. This brings to mind the parallels between the Burmese state and the Sri Lankan state and their interaction and liaisons with international powers.

Burma is a multi-ethnic country and was united under British colonial rule which placed the diverse region under the fold of a centralized authority in Rangoon. The boundaries set and the establishment of government ignored traditional and national peculiarities. The Burmese government represents the Bamar people alongside a range of other Buddhist people, who speak different but related languages. Thus the national culture is heavily marked by Buddhism and the Bamar. The military dictatorship has also drawn its legitimacy for military government from the rule of kings of the past. This leaves little space for nations with other religious following and another linguistic affiliation to prosper in its own right. The Kachin people speak various Kachinic languages and most follow Christianity, while the Rohiniygas speak Bengali and are Muslims. Both these people are viewed as multi-centric elements within the national space. They oppose and restrict the erection of the dominant Burmese nationality. The Karen took up arms in 1961 establishing the KIO and its military wing the Kachin Independence Army (KIA) to fight the Burmese government battling the state until 1994 when a truce was signed. As in Sri Lanka it was successively imposed discriminatory laws and actions in the post-independence period culminating in the state decision to make Buddhism the state religion which antagonized and marginalized the Kachin. Also as with the Sri Lankan context the Burmese state pursued a malicious counter-insurgency to impose its national unity. Sri Lanka’s war on Tamils starts as an element of the state’s intent to pursue a policy of creating a Sinhala Buddhist nation state. Similarly with Burma it targeted the ethnicities within its borders which were deemed multi-centric, this being foremost the Tamils who have since early independence been increasingly mobilized on lingo-national basis. With successive governments presiding over series of discriminatory laws, violent suppression and anti-Tamil riots , the Tamils took up arms in the 1970’s and the secessionist war broke out.

In the aftermath of 09.11.2001, a new international platform to fight counter-insurgencies emerged. It became rather advantageous for any nation-state to conjoin their counter-insurgencies with other nations on the pretext of fighting terrorism. For Sri Lanka this constituted a structural condition which would facilitate its reliance on international backing and subtle support in pursuit of a military solution to eradicate Tamil secessionism. With the collapse of the ceasefire in 2006, Colombo initiated a heavy offensive in the East of the island, a process which ended in May 2009 with the genocide in Mulluvaykal. International powers were known to have contributed with economical, diplomatical and military support, either directly or indirectly which served Sri Lanka’s ambitions. China poured in 1 billion dollars annually to the Sri Lankan state from 2005 to 2009 (3), while Pakistan upgraded the Sri Lankan air force’s radar and fighter jets. India trained military personnel, and aided the military forces with crucial logistics to weaken the LTTE. During the last war a range of Western countries were in support of dissolving the LTTE militarily in order to set the platform to deal with the national question concerning the Tamils. Later on through UN internal reports published in 2012 it was shown that even the U.N. leadership by grossly downplaying the civilian causalities assisted Sri Lanka in accomplishing what it had intended. What seems initially to be a series of strange events, tends to emerge as a systematic pattern, where it appears that the established international community of nation states apply a structural approach to people struggles. This very approach favours nation states’ military solutions to settle the self-determination struggles of oppressed nations and is pursued under the guise of eradicating terrorism and paving the way for development. Discourse and promises of democracy and peace, added with preliminary actions taken in the name of credence, shadow the brutal reality enacted by chauvinistic states and thereby sets the stage for the subtle support granted by international powers.

Statements expressing forthcoming harmony and the generosity to accede economic concessions by President Rajapakse resulted in the international community abetting the the Sri Lankan government’s genocidal war. It now seems Burma is effecting equally, through its adaptation of the Sri Lankan counter- insurgency model.  The intent is to quash a genocidal war against the KIO and the Kachin people in the North while eradicating the Rohingya through mob and police perpetuated genocide and violence . The international community however is delighted and rather pleased with Burma due to rhetorics of democracy and the economic concessions endorsed under liberalization. A dreadful symphony of imperialist expansionism and genocidal nation state politics is perpetuated under the guise of development and reform. Failing to practice what it preach of equality and democracy, the west perceive it as more fruitful to aid the nation states in completing genocide and eradicating resistance in order to pursue imperialist goals. The West intends to counter China, China intends to counter the West and India, while India intends to counter China and make itself a power in the region. In this matrix the Burmese government maximizes on an abundance of supplies and support to pursue its agenda, an art the Sri Lankan government mastered in the last few years. The much praised Aung San Suu Kyi remains silent on these atrocities and is instead indulgent in praising the military for its historical role in the country’s establishment (4). Meanwhile the Kachen people brace themself for a bitter survival as Burmese troops are moving in towards their heartland with designs of occupying the town of Laiza. The international community and its media seemed to have abandoned the Kachin as was the case with Tamils in 2009, and now another genocide is lurking around the corner.

References:

1)      On the ingorance of the war against the Kachin people by international investors.http://karennews.org/2013/02/burma-investors-beware.html/

2)      http://www.kachinnews.com/index.php/news/1054-irrawaddy-hydropower-project-to-displace-many-kachin-villagers.html

3)      http://www.rigobertotiglao.com/2011/11/03/%E2%80%98if-you-want-peace-prepare-for-war%E2%80%99/

4)      http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-asia-21950145

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Latest comments

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    [Edited out]

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    An excellent and realistic comparison of the state of geopolitics in the region.

  • 1
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    A well researched paper showing scholarship and research giving an overview of the similarities of chauvinist tendencies and actions comparing Myanmar and Sri Lanka while highlighting the impact of the machinations of the external powers concerned. Bensen

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    There is a fundamental difference here between the situations in the two countries. The Rohingyas Muslims of Burma are innocent, helpless victims of a racist majority, ably backed by a repressive junta with a clear policy of ethnic-cleansing. Their predicament was forced on them unlike the Tamils in Sri Lanka who created this situation for themselves by resorting to cold-blooded terrorism as a means of self-rule.

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    Burma is ethnic cleansing nothing else. It is sad all human right group can not do nothing: this is modern world we live in? We are talking about animal slaughter. The humanity kills each other. In the eyes of this barbaric people animals are better than human beings. Is this the world we live in?

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    Thanks Athithan. “The much praised Aung San Suu Kyi remains silent on these atrocities and is instead indulgent in praising the military for its historical role in the country’s establishment (4). ” – I *used* to admire her like I admire Nelson Mandela.

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    “A dreadful symphony of imperialist expansionism and genocidal nation state politics is perpetuated under the guise of development and reform.”

    couldn’t have said it any better!

    the west is happy with rhetoric of democracy and economic concessions. they bring empty resolutions which will be voted out by the non-aligned bloc anyway and then score points to themselves as the “good guys.”now the grass roots/students in tamil nadu have awakened to this reality. these people can no longer keep fooling everybody.

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    This is simply a BS article and talks only side.

    Read the following:

    More than a thousand Muslims are sheltering in a Buddhist monastery in Myanmar’s northeastern town of Lashio after violence that killed one person and burned down Muslim properties.
    The army transported about 1,200 horrified Muslims by the truckload out of a neighborhood in Lashio where overturned cars and motorcycles that had been charred a day earlier left black scars on the red earth. Buddhist monks organized meals for the newly arrived refugees, who huddled together in several buildings in the monastery compound.
    A woman who fled a mob a day earlier was still in a state of shock. “These things should not happen,” said the woman, Aye Tin, a Muslim resident who slept overnight in a Red Cross compound. She said most Muslims were staying off the streets. They’re afraid they’ll be attacked or killed if they go outside.
    Despite a few Buddhist men still being seen riding motorbikes with weapons like sharpened bamboo poles, there wasn’t any violence reported. Banks and shops were reopened as residents emerged to look at destroyed Muslim shops. Trucks of soldiers and police crisscrossed main roads. They guarded the ruins of Muslim businesses that were reduced to ashes.

    Read more: http://digitaljournal.com/article/352191#ixzz2Xd4cF5V0

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    Tamils are Like this always, they always talk one side and they are always the eternal victims. they were the longest living on earth but nothing to show for it.

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      JimSofty -You always wind up any conversation with a racial jibe. Intelligence is not your strength. You need to get your head examined.

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        @Thalathel Sivaguru
        Cool it. You cant expect anything more from this lout.He is a born racist and is joined-at-the-hip with that Ven(om) Ganasera Thero fellow, the Beef (B)Eater of Sri Lanka. They should really be locked up in the Tower of London, their rightful place.

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    The author is a brainwashed racist slave of the white man. Like all tamils the tamils are the most discriminated people in the world. This is the propaganda mainly of the tamil christians who were the hand maids of the colonialists. In spite of doing well economically This propaganda is the mechanism to economically better themselves. Their true nature is only exhibited when they achieve their economic aims. No wonder the author supports the karen christians who are half brothers of the tamils created by the colonialists.

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    Athithan Jayapalan sounds like a sinister voice of the bygone LTTE who faults all of the problems of the pristine Tamils on the inhumanity of the Sinhalese.

    For all of his grandiose philosophizing, he is unable to comprehend that he cannot persuade others by presenting a thoroughly lopsided view of his ilk. They alienated the Sinhalese by claiming two-thirds of the island’s coastal territory for their ill-conceived Eelam.

    Does anyone know where Jayapalan comes from? The jargon he uses doesn’t appear to be that of a Jaffna-born Hindu boy.

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    Amazing courage to publish the truth while being in the lion s den.
    Is well known have journalist are assassinated in Sri Lanka for going against the government. He got my respect for speaking out the crimes that were committed since 1930s to now.

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