The March of Monks in Myanmar


Burma was a part of British India, and later on it became an independent country on 4 January 1948.

Since then it is one of the neighboring nations of India.

In 1989, the name of the country was changed to Union of Myanmar and the capital Rangoon was renamed as Yangon.

When I think of Myanmar, I remember Mr. U Thant the former UN Secretary General in 1961.

I was a graduate student at that time.

I used to hear his speeches in radio and read them in newspapers.

I like those thought provoking speeches.

Today the people of Myanmar are looking at India and other democratic countries and aspire for the transformation.

But the iron hands of the military junta are the stumbling block.

It was in June, 1990 the first free election was conducted and the National League for Democracy won by a big majority but the army was reluctant to hand over power.

Ms. Aung San Suu Kyi, the leading opposition leader, winner of Nobel Peace Prize and the world’s most famous political prisoner was kept under house arrest from 1989 to 1995.

For a long time, we did not hear much from Myanmar.

Generally, the Generals used to give some reports regarding the developmental activities in the international media.

But recently, Myanmar is in the news in a big way.

Non-violent protests sprang up in the streets of Yangon.

The military rulers tried to control the protest marchers by cutting down the news, cell phone connections and other connectivity.

In spite of their attempts the press and local people could able to transmit the videos of the actual happenings to the electronic media which flashed them all over the world.

The world came to know the unacceptable atrocities imposed on the protestors.

The crack down on the protestors angered the international communities.

Moreover, even the Buddhist monks were out on the street demanding democracy for Myanmar.

The United Nations condemned the violence and called for the regime to end their bloody repression.

Myanmar is multiethnic country of about 52 million people in 676,553 sq. km.

In general, Myanmar is referred as rice bowl of the Far East.

It is an agriculturally important country like India with a variety of crops like sugarcane and groundnut.

The future of Myanmar depends not on military rule, but on a decent democratic rule by the people.

The visit of UN Special Envoy, Ibrahim Gambari was a hope for the fighting monks and Suu Kyi’s supporters.

So far it was said that the happenings within Myanmar was purely an internal affair.

But now the international communities realized the unbearable hardships experienced by the people of Myanmar.

The ASEAN nations made a statement condemning the crack down and high handedness of the junta.

Similarly India too asked to release Aung San Suu Kyi to find an amicable solution for making Myanmar a democratic country.

Violence on nonviolent pro democracy protestors warrants strongest condemnation from everyone.

The sea of humanity was seen on the streets of Yangon.

They were the people who fight for political and economic justice.

The Buddhist monks, in huge number with thousands of the civilians came out on the streets of Myanmar’s capital city was really a freedom struggle shown to the world with great difficulty.

What happened inside Myanmar in September 2007 could not be hidden by the military rulers.

The Government of Myanmar is governed by the State Peace and Development Council (SPDC) and its chairman Than Shwe who is all powerful backed up by a mighty military force which is good in killing the unarmed nonviolent Buddhist monks and civilians.

The involvement of the monks in the pro democracy demonstrations was supported by monks all over Asia and in the world.

They extended moral support to their brethren in Myanmar.

The Dalai Lama in his statement said: “I extend my support and solidarity with the recent peaceful movement for democracy in Burma. I fully support their call for freedom and democracy and take this opportunity to appeal to freedom loving people all over the world to support such nonviolent movements. I pray for the success of this peaceful movement and the early release of fellow Nobel Peace laureate Aung San Suu Kyi.”

As usual George Bush, President of the US sought global support for sanctions against Myanmar.

Condoleeza Rice, the US Secretary of State advocated the spread of democracy and freedom throughout the world.

Cuba, North Korea, Iran, Belarus, Zimbabwe and Myanmar are the six countries, the UF wanted to bring in democracy and demolish the tyranny.

Myanmar has an estimated 30 trillion cu ft of untapped gas in the Arakan province and its sea-board.

China and India, the great neighbors of Myanmar are very cautious in expressing their views openly keeping an eye on the gas reserves.

The military government very well uses the revenue from the gas sales for buying arms.

The crack down on protestors was criticized by the left parties and appreciated the stand taken by Government of India (GOI).

India’s relationship with the ruling military government was constrained more than one occasion.

The award of Jawaharlal Nehru Peace Award to Suu Kyi in 1995 inked the Myanmar government.

The GOI provided refuge to thousands of pro-democracy demonstrators who fled Myanmar after the crackdown in 1988.

Those actions were not liked by the military junta.

World politics is so complex that only intelligent politicians with experience can handle it taking into account of their own interests.

All these complicated political situations determine the destiny of a nation.

From the recent upsurge in Myanmar, it appears that there is a hope for this country to see the light of freedom and democracy.

Let peace and freedom make the monks and masses of Myanmar happy.