Update: We strongly condemn the Musharraf regime’ decision to deport the former Pakistani Prime Pinister Nawaz Sharif to Saudia Arabia. This forceful deportation only proves how terrified the tyrants are with unarmed people. By stopping Sharif from entering the country, the military dictatorship has also brazenly ignored the Supreme Court order of not block his arrival.
We salute the people of Burma for taking out pro-democracy rallies. We also welcome the arrival of Nawaz Shariff in Pakistan. As a global citizen of a free world, we demand democracy in both countries.
We want democracy: Burmese activists march during a protest on the northern outskirts of the capital Yangon in August 2007. Defiant pro-democracy supporters staged a new protest Wednesday against Myanmar’s military government, despite a crackdown on dissent that has drawn sharp condemnation from US President George W. Bush. Pic by Khin Maung Win via AFP
Extraordinary images are coming out of Burma in the past couple of weeks that show defiant and courageous people hitting the streets demanding freedom and democracy that they rightly deserve. Though relatively small in terms of size and participation, these rallies have already gotten on the nerves of military despots in the country that’s also known as Myanmar. They have started blaming pro-democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi ofr hte latest unrests. The fuel that propelled the latest rounds of protests, ironically, is the military regime’s decision to hike the price of the fuel itself. Burmese military is disgustingly running one of the most repressive regimes in the region that has been shamelessly ignoring the peoples’ verdict of 1990.
I have been hearing about the Burmese democracy movement and its face Aung San Suu Kyi since my childhood. Though I was born in at a time when Nepal was going through dark times of autocratic Panchayati regime of dictator Birendra, the 1990’s revolution brought about freedom that was enjoyed by millions of kids like me at that time. I grew up in a free society and started a career that is deeply rooted in the freedom and expression. Because of the brief misadventure of dictator Gyanendra in 2005, I also experienced the horrible autocracy. I know how it feels to live under the shadow of state terror and darkness of autocracy. It’s humiliating, frustrating, and disappointing. That’s why I also understand the plight of Burmese people, Pakistani people, Bangladeshi people, Bhutani people and Maldivian people.
Supporting Burma Protest: Members of Myanmar pro-democracy group hold placards and a photograph of their leader and Nobel Peace Prize laureate Aung San Suu Kyi as they shout slogans during a demonstration in New Delhi, India, Tuesday, Sept. 4, 2007, against the military regime of the country. Pic by Manish Swarup via AP
Pakistan: The good news that came from Pakistan today is the landing of former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif in Islamabad. He has vowed to restore democracy, send army back to the barracks and establish civilian supremacy in politics. Sharif has gone back to his home land at a time when another pro-democracy leader Benjir Bhutto was engaged to strike a deal with dictator Pervez Musharraf. One of my Pakistani friends told me a few months ago that though both Sharifa and Bhutto are involved in corruption scandals, people still have faith in their respective parties. If Bhutto and Sharif are corrupt, their parties should elect new leaders. Democracy shouldn’t suffer because of them. A system is always above individuals. Bhutto and Sharif shouldn’t give the military the reason to dismiss democracy and impose dictatorship. It’s also unfortunate that these two leaders couldn’t work together in strengthening democracy and military took advantage of that. I hope the arrival of Sharif in Pakistan will herald a new era in the democratic movement in that country that’s lately marred by extremist Muslim fundamentalists.
Back to Burma. Though she has become the face of democratic movement in Myanmar, it’s been proved that Aung San Suu Kyi hasn’t been able to launch a decisive agitation against the regime. Leaders of National League for Democracy and the Shan Nationalities League for Democracy must be resolute and go for the final fight against dictatorship. It’s perfectly doable. It’s only getting late. People want freedom and army can’t treat them like animals forever. When I met a couple of Burmese three years ago in Kathmandu, they were terrified to even talk about the political situation back in their home. I could see in their eyes their aspiration to live in a free society.
I salute those Burmese who are participating in the rallies these days in Burma. They are indeed brave and surely know that they might have to sacrifice themselves to get their society freed from the clutches of despots in uniform. I strongly feel like joining them. This is the point of time in Burmese history that people should feel proud to be killed in the democratic movement. It’s far better to die while participating in a democratic movement than live a suffocative and humiliating life.
Fortunately, only India (and Sri Lanka and Nepal) are enjoying the freedom in this region. Unfortunately, the same India that never stops feeling proud of being world’s largest democracy is shamelessly encouraging military rule in Burma by patting on the shoulders of Burmese dictators. This is surely the biggest Indian hypocrisy. Indians should remember how it felt like living under the brutality of British Raj. Dictators are no different than imperialists: both rule by means of force and both ignore the popular voice.