CA 470 Lecture Outline ? Week 12 Burma?s Revolutions and the Limitations of Non-Violence April 13, 2010 Questions: Why did these nonviolent uprisings fail where others have succeeded? I. Intro Burma?s failed democratic revolutions: 1) 8888 (?Four Eights?) Revolution (1988) 2) Saffron Revolution (2007) Both ended in astonishing military crackdowns Shot on unarmed civilians and the monks Burmese junta?s continuing hold on power ? 5 key factors: 1) Military ? united, willing to fire on civilians 2) Military ? physically separated from rest of population New capital ?Naypyidaw ? changed very suddenly Constructed by the military ? about 300 miles from old capitol, Rangoon Designed to refute any people power revolution by geometry and cartography 3) Citizens also cut off from outside world 4) State/Junta ? financially independent from internal tax revenue (independent from citizens, who usually have leverage over rulers) 5) Heavy suppression of speech block out criticism Junta?s legitimating rhetoric Three main themes: a. We provide order ? for those that would destabilize us or colonize us. b. Guard against internal enemies: terrorists, communists, disruptionists c. We provide development ? though quite false. Four Main Events: 8888 revolution (1988) hundreds of protestors disappeared stories that detailed the death were horrific people wondered how soldiers could have carried out orders arrest, torture, banishment into forced labor camps 1990 elections held relatively fair elections opposition party won by a landslide Aung San Suu Kkyi She was placed under house arrest Ignored the vote Saffron Revolution (2007) Buddhist monks joined in again Month of demonstrations ended with military conducted another massive crackdown Raided monasteries and proved as brutal against the monks as the students Proved brutality, but did not undermine power of the peoples? spirits Cyclone Nargis (2008) Refused aid to reach people devastated by the cyclone Power is rooted in: damaging British control isolation from the world today: politically, physically, economically II. Historical Background From Independence to democracy to 1962 coup General Ne Win?s ?Burmese Way to Socialism? ? government confiscation of private property, independent businesses ? military cronies take over all industry - now seen as responsible for the decline into isolation, and the country?s state claimed that the nation?s unity was at stake and imposed martial rule upon seizing power socialism: confiscating private businesses and property parceled this out to military cronies economic policy: military junta enriched themselves with oil anti-Chinese riots to gain back property even though Chinese entrepreneurs were at the core of the community they had also expelled the Indians earlier Burma lost entire business class By the late 1980s, 100,000 Burmese professionals hiked across the border to Thailand A large exile of native talent Expulsion of Chinese; exodus of professional class Ne Win ? resigned in 1988 Economic, geographical, and political isolation ? drug, gem & oil economy Economy still isn?t great. III. 1988 Revolution [?8888 Revolution?] Ruling junta ? the State Law and Order Restoration Council, or SLORC (since renamed the State Peace and Development Council, or SPDC) Precipitating event: Change in valid currency denominations ? all kyat notes must be divisible by 9 (Ne Win?s lucky number) ? 20, 50 and 100 kyat notes suddenly worthless March and June 1988 ? launch of ?democracy movement? Demonstrations grew The entire nation seemed united, opposed only by the government and the military The US looked like a model for what the Burmese wanted: democracy Soldiers took to the streets and gunned down everyone in sight Violence was horrific For about 7 weeks beforehand, the military had retreated and let the protestors control Rangoon Month of freedom More intelligentsia Police let prisoners go ? so there would be chaos and the soldiers would be called in Shops were plundered And everyone else, in contrast, helped each other No one went hungry Everyday there were demonstrations Junta?s strategy began to undermine the movement Order began to breakdown Caught suspects and beheaded them (the prisoners) Monks fed and clothed them, gave them medical care, and distributed people with those to watch over them in Mandolay no trouble capturing Rangoon and easily took Mandolay, too why did they create a crime wave? They probably didn?t need it. The military?s retreat Emptying the prisons ? purpose? showed that without them, the country would fall apart may have needed to prove to themselves and all the soldiers obeying them that they were, at some level, in the right at retaking control through such violence main audience appears to be the military itself, even today Rhetorical function of engineered breakdown of order Intended audience? general gave soldiers lots of liquor in the morning before the slaughtering of civilians military?s continued claim that 80% of the population (especially in rural areas) loved and supported them IV. 1990 Elections Aung San Suu Kyi (pronounced Ahng Sahn Soo Chee) National League for Democracy (NLD) * opposition party * commitment to and belief in the power of non-violence * opposition party won ? by a landslide * before the election, the party thought everyone loved them, so afterwards, they lost and put Aung San Suu Kyi under house arrest ? ignoring the election * saw themselves as important * all for non-violence ? not about holding guns, about using intelligence V. 2007 Saffron Revolution & Cyclone Nargis [Thursday] * led by monks in Saffron robes and students * immediate impetus for this uprising was a surprise decision of the Junta to remove fuel subsidies, increasing price for petrol * junta at first cracked down, arresting people * then Buddhists were allowed to lead people into peace * commentators expressed hope * crackdown began on the 26th
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