(P42AB) Myanmar’s Changing Currents: Origins, Processes, Stakeholders and Impacts in Centre and Periphery Relations
Part 1Session 5
Thu 09:00-10:30 K14 | 2.05
Part 2Session 6
Thu 11:00-12:30 K14 | 2.05
- Chosein Yamahata AGU
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Is It There a Political Demise of Aung San Suu Kyi of Myanmar?
Michal Lubina Jagiellonian University in Krakow
Against the background of the dramatic events unfolding in Myanmar/Burma - following the 1st February 2021 coup d’état, the Tatmadaw (Burmese Army) has been pacifying the popular resistance movement - the political career of Aung San Suu Kyi, the Burmese Nobel Peace Prize Laureate, the political leader of Myanmar/Burma in 2016-2021 and previously the most famous political prisoner worldwide, seems to be nearing its end. Once the darling of the Western world, then mercilessly criticised by yesterday’s foreign supporters, Suu Kyi remains an ambiguous person evoking strong emotions both domestically and internationally. Now arrested (again), Suu Kyi faces (again) spurious charges and is likely to be sentenced to prison or house arrest for a long period of time. Will it be her political life imprisonment? Or will she come back (yet again) in style? Will the 2021 coup end her dramatic political career? Or will there be a Burmese version of Mahathir-style political comeback? This presentation will try to answer these questions by presenting the post-coup political landscape and showing historical antecedents.
NLD’s Governance in Myanmar’s Short-Lived Democracy: Foundational Lessons towards Federal Building on the Center-Periphery Harmony
Khine Win Sandhi Governance Institute
NLD-led government’s governance reforms during past five years were underrated than they deserve. There have been substantive governance reforms and policy change initiated during its term and they have gained momentum. If NLD could continue to govern next term with more capable cabinet members, the prospect for institutionalization of these reforms were high.
The reforms have also impact on the Center-Periphery relationship and pave the way for the establishment of federal union and successful nation/state building. The paper focuses on the analysis of the relationship between democratic governance and human security. It will prove to present that competitive electoral democracy improve transparency (particularly pubic finance/public financial management and extractive industries) and accountability system while institutionalization of reforms contribute to improvement in human security factors (particularly economic, food, health, environment) although personal, group or minority rights and political security areas have not seen much improvement. This is due to the fact that these areas are related to security sector and three ministries controlled by the military. It will conclude with recommendations that restoration of democracy and continuation of governance reforms for human security are essential not only for the development of Myanmar but also for the region and neighboring countries.
Perpetuated Sexual Violence against Kachin Women and Lack of Humanitarian Aid: Voices of the Marginalized
Makiko Takeda Aichi Gakuin University
Moon Nay Li Kachin Women’s Association Thailand
Since independence, ethnic minorities including Kachin people have experienced brutal suppression by Tatmadaw. Rampant human rights violation has been condoned and perpetuated without holding the perpetrators accountable. In particular, Tatmadaw uses rape as a strategic weapon of war to demoralize and subjugate ethnic communities. This situation has never changed and even worsened since the coup. The armed and security forces waged systematic sexual violence against ethnic women. The female detainees and women’s human rights defenders are also subjected to sexual assault, torture, and other forms of sexual violence. Besides, the coup has exerted additional and devastating impact on those who are already marginalized due to the civil war without access to any humanitarian support. This presentation focuses on the consistent and widespread sexual violence against Kachin women while political environments have changed overtime. It also highlights the importance of close monitoring of humanitarian aid to ensure its benefits to the most vulnerable populace as well as women’s participation in any important decision-making process to be able to include women’s perspectives which has been largely absent for decades.
Failure of Third Force’s Role in unlinking Myanmar political changes with Aung San Suu Kyi
Mon Mon Myat Independent researcher
Myanmar scholars and oligarchs introduced a concept, “unlinking political changes with Aung San Suu Kyi” in the 2000s. This concept seemingly came out from the golf club conversation between the generals and the business tycoons under military rule (1988-2010). The ruling generals disliked the democracy icon Aung San Suu Kyi of the NLD party, and both the generals and the NLD couldn’t find a way to reconcile. Consequently, political deadlock occurred. But the generals needed allies willing to work with them and found them with wealthy businessmen who partnered with them for public infrastructure projects and would agree to kickbacks. In this context, Myanmar Third Force group found an ad hoc concept that only by playing the political game with the military elites within their given rules could break political deadlock. The “Third Force” idea undermined Aung San Suu Kyi’s nonviolent principles and decades-long political defiance against military rule. Many political analysts criticized the Third Force as apologists for the rulers, which perhaps they were. Despite all criticisms, Myanmar made a transition from military rule to quasi-civilian rule after 2010 elections while excluding the popular NLD and Aung San Suu Kyi. Only between 2015 and 2020 was the NLD included as part of the governing coalition. From this perspective, the coup of 2021 is also a product of the “third force.” This study aims to determine the Third Force’s role in Myanmar political changes, and underlying issues that made Myanmar transition to democracy fail.
From the Panglong Agreement to a Federal Democracy Charter: The Transformation of Myanmar into a Multi-Ethnic Union
Chosein Yamahata AGU
A period of genuine democratic transition, prompted by the NLD-government elected in the 2015 election, had been abruptly disrupted on 1 February 2021 by yet another coup. Myanmar is no stranger to coups, the most recent one marking the fourth time since 1958, 1962 and 1988. This presentation highlights Myanmar’s political transition, societal changes, and development prospects as it embarked on a new reform and renewal era during 2016-2020. It investigates the critical factors, environmental circumstances, and major players before the 2020 election until the coup. The study also highlights key differences between the present protest and other civil resistances of the past as the unity between ethnic-majority Bamar and ethnic minorities, including ethnic armed organisations (EAOs), have been formed against a common enemy - authoritarian. Generations of collective pain has solidified an unprecedentedly united front against the perpetrators of violence, which has been transformative in forging a new nationalism that is both anti-military and anti-extremist. Gen Z stand at the forefront of the protest and use social media tactfully to keep communication flowing and disclose information to those outside of the country. It is worth noting that the solidarity among the diverse population could become a reality since all ethnic nationalities are able to protect each other by responding collectively to free the whole society from the most common enemy. Their struggles, determination, efforts, and directions are for reclaiming independence from military in building a new, yet long-awaited system: Myanmar that is federal and democratic, effectively abolishing military authoritarianism.
The Littering Problem and Grassroot Environmental Awareness – a Case Study of Naga Youth Groups, Northeast India –
Satoshi Ota TAMA University
This presentation investigates the problem of littering among the Naga people of Northeast India in the scope of their transition to a consumer society. The recent economic growth boosted by the investment of infrastructure is stimulating consumption and, as a result, illuminates the environmental problem caused by littering plastics on the streets. The plastic wastes did not exist in premodern times when people lived in a self-sufficient economy and food wastes were used for feeding domestic animals. One can, therefore, imagine that the Nagas were an environmentally friendly recycling society, and the problem of polluting the streets by littering occurs because of modernization. However, the research shows that some of the eco-friendly traditions were invented and that they are narrated by educated young people. The presentation explores the recent grassroot movement of environmental consciousness among young people and investigates how the movement which values “Naga tradition” connects with the discourse of the ethnic identity of the Naga.
Political stability, economic growth, development, foreign policy, democratic consolidation and prospects for peace in Myanmar are all at a critical juncture. The military’s institutionalisation of its influence and control in political, economic and social aspects have been negatively affecting the safety, security and peace of people and their communities at the periphery. Although it is in the best interest for both the current ruling party (NLD) and ethnic minorities to reduce military prerogatives in the age of Myanmar’s recent democratisation, the reality is far more challenging and the centre-periphery relations remain volatile. The NLD has been facing roadblocks and confrontations created by the military, which resulted in making little progress on peace, law-based society and federal state. This often fuelled minorities’ suspicion on the Bamar-dominated NLD. In addition, the promotion of identity-based divisions driven by extremism has been escalating in the contexts of nationalism, religion and ethnicity. Despite the NLD’s landslide victory again in the 2020 election, new divisions on the political agenda and ethnic lines are added challenges amidst the many potential prospects towards peace, national
reconciliation, and democratic consolidation. Against this backdrop, non-state stakeholders such as ethnic organisations, local academics, media, and individuals have taken grassroots initiatives towards securing a genuine democratic transition by engaging in awareness-cum-capacity promotion of the marginalised population. Such processes of social innovation-based
empowerment measures to benefit the local people/communities can impact the improvement of centre-periphery relations in one way or another. This panel therefore analyses the roles of different non-state stakeholders in Myanmar’s fragile transition by raising the issues of community peace, borderland stability, and post-election governance. Accordingly, it sheds light on the processes and impacts of their social innovation through bottom-up ways and means in promoting awareness and capacity of the people towards carving out a new shared future at the local and national level