Myanmar: Old School Genocide In The Jungle


April 20, 2011: The army has renewed its "total war" strategy against the tribal militias of the north. These tactics concentrate on terrorizing the unarmed tribal population, as a way of obtaining information on the tribal rebels, and encouraging the tribal people to withdraw support for the rebels. This approach has limited success, but the fact that the fighting has continued for over half a century indicates that this is not a long term (or any term) solution. Currently, the army is concentrating on the SSA (Shan State Army) and trying to prevent that group (of several thousand armed men) from joining forces with the larger United Wa State Army. Actually, there are two Shan State Armies (north and south) and these have joined forces against the government (despite the fact that one of them is technically a government ally). For the last decade, the government had some success in dividing the tribes with bribes and good treatment. But that did not work as thoroughly as the government wanted, so now it's back to old school genocide in the jungle. That doesn't work, but the new veneer of democracy has encouraged the government to believe it can claim the new nastiness is the will of the people.

In the south, there is fear that the increased fighting with the tribes in the north will mean more terror bombings in the south. The government has ordered businesses to install more CCTV (closed circuit TV) cameras and other security measures, both to discourage terrorists, and make it easier to catch them if the bombs or shootings occur anyway.

Thailand is negotiating with Burma over the mechanics of sending more than 140,000 Burmese refugees back home. The problem here is that Thailand has long wanted these tribal refugees, from fighting in Burma, to go home. But that was not possible because the tribal rebels and government troops were still fighting. Thailand is using the appearance of the new Burmese government, which went through the motions of being democratically elected, as a reason to send the refugees back. But the elections were rigged, although enough foreign nations went along with it (especially China) to give the entire situation a veneer of legitimacy. The Burmese government has not stopped shooting at tribal women and children, so if you send 100,000 of them back into Burma, there will be more casualties, and more refugees. There will probably be violence as the refugees resist being forced back into Burma.  Thais, however, are unhappy with decades of hosting a growing refugee population, and the Thai government is under growing pressure from Thais living along the border, to send the Burmese home.

Often forgotten when listing Burma's problems is the pervasive corruption. The demands for bribes is a bit worse here, than the rest of the region, because of the lack of so many freedoms. Thus anyone with any kind of power, strives to turn it into some cash. The corruption further impedes commerce, government services and education. Calls to the government to deal with corruption go unanswered for decades, because the most corrupt people in the country are those who run the government.



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