In Support of the People of Myanmar (Burma)

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Syracuse DSA Solidarity Statement, March 16, 2021


After decades under the thumb of a brutal military dictatorship, the people of Myanmar (Burma) are saying no to dictatorship, kleptocracy and forever war.  We, the Democratic Socialists of America Syracuse Chapter and friends and allies, stand in solidarity with our siblings and comrades striking and protesting in the streets and workplaces Myanmar (Burma) and call for an immediate end to all forms of military dictatorship and genocide and a comprehensive peace agreement in the region.

Background

As in so many places, the current shape and structure of the country of Myanmar (Burma) owes much to the history of British Imperialism.  Building upon the previous regional empire-building projects, the British cobbled together an ethnic patchwork dominated by the Burman ethnic majority.

Despite a vibrant, diverse anti-colonial resistance movement in the region, after independence, the state became increasingly dominated by the military which orchestrated a protracted internal conflict against non-Burman populations.  We reject the false “Burmese Way to Socialism” period (1960-1988) as a cover for a military dictatorship and largely indistinguishable from the overt military dictatorship of the SLORC period (1988-2011).

Those fifty years of military rule deeply shaped the current political and economic landscape, creating two parallel state bureaucracies: a civilian and a military, as well as thoroughly corrupt kleptocratic elite among the military brass.  In one sense, we understand that the current situation is a conflict between this entrenched military elite and a new, internationally-focused elite backing the liberal parties.  However, we also recognize that the people of Myanmar (Burma) are asserting their own demands in the streets and workplaces of the nation.

Both elite factions have leaned heavily on exclusionary Burman Nationalism which has contributed to, and justified, the endless wars that have heaped untold suffering on the non-Burman regions of the periphery of the state.  The most recent dimension of this conflict has been the genocide of the Rohingya people of Rakhine state.  

Today’s Context:

On February 1, 2021 the leadership of the Tatmadaw (military) announced a dissolution of the elected government and the imprisonment of State Counselor Aung San Suu Kyi. This was done in reaction to the overwhelming victory of Suu Kyi’s party, the National League for Democracy (NLD) in the 2020 elections, which threatened the entrenched power of the military elite.

Since that time, the people of Myanmar (Burma) have risen up in remarkable unity to oppose this move.  While much of this uprising is centered upon the controversial figure of Aung San Suu Kyi, it has become quickly clear that this people’s uprising is a broader revolt against the military elite and its brutal dominance.  

We are particularly heartened by the widespread participation of labor unions and working people who have used the power of a general strike as well as the ongoing bravery of those who stand up daily to the dictatorship in the streets and plazas.  We remain inspired by the scenes of incredible courage and solidarity we see from Yangon, Mandalay and elsewhere and hope that they spark the broad based social change needed not only in Myanmar (Burma) but across the globe.

Resolution:

As the Democratic Socialists of Syracuse, NY, and friends and allies, we: 

  • Support without reservation the people of Myanmar (Burma) in their general strike and street protests 
  • Condemn the actions of the military junta, especially General Min Aung Hlaing, Tatmadaw commander-in-chief.
  • Call upon the Tatmadaw to return to their barracks and disassemble their capacity for state governance.
  • Recognize the role of toxic Burman nationalism in the maintenance of the elite power.  We call for an end to the genocide and exile of the Rohingya people, accountability for perpetrators and a full and comprehensive peace agreement with all warring parties that protects the rights of non-Burman populations.
  • Insist that the United States government and all corporations and individuals in the United States immediately terminate even tacit support for coupists and juntas in the interests of international capital.
  • Call upon DSA National, our sister chapters and all people of good conscience to join us in this statement and to take whatever actions are in their power to support the people’s uprising.
  • Encourage our friends and supporters to give in support of the Civil Disobedience Movement strike fund through aid to the All Burma Federation of Trade Unions.

Statement prepared by Jesse Harasta

Adopted by the Steering Committee, March 16, 2021

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