(Editorial) - The history of Myanmar turned a new leaf on September 18, 1988; the military led by General Saw Maung took the reins of the country by a coup d’état.
The day marked the end of 26 years long single party rule by the Burmese Socialist Programme Party (BSPP) under General Ne Win. It is also significant as the beginning of another military dictatorship that brought untold miseries to the people in Myanmar.
Pro-democracy uprising led by students in 1988 toppled the one-party military rule but resulted in Myanmar entering a darker era of military rule. The military junta made promises and hoodwinked the people into believing that multi-party general elections will be held to facilitate transition to democracy and civilian rule.
The people had to experience harrowing years of martial law. People’s aspirations and collective voice expressed in the 1990 general elections was snuffed out. Instead, the national convention was held intermittently for many years on the pretext of drafting a new Constitution. It provided the excuse to prolong the rule of the military and keep the people’s elected representatives suppressed for 25 long years.
Similarly, politicians and political activists were put in prisons or under house arrests, silencing all opposition.
The last 25 years was an era of darkness. We have to draw lesson from our history and ensure we map our future differently. We also need to draw lessons from our anti-colonial struggle, civil war after independence and the short lived democratic government.
An overview of recent history, the 1988 students’ uprising and experiences from the 1990 general elections, exemplify that the military rulers had no intention of making a compromise with the people or give in to the people’s demands. Their main objective was personal gains and security.
Moreover, the democratic forces opposing the military were not unified enough to put up a strong fight against the military. We see that the interests of political parties, organizations and individuals precede the interests of democracy struggle and the people.
In the last 25 years, we have experienced many vicissitudes as individuals and collectively as a nation. Many a times the country regressed instead of moving forward.
In the future we should focus on long term solution based on systemic change guided by collective good rather than individual interest.
On the occasion of 25th anniversary of the military coup, Mizzima urges everyone make a concerted effort to strengthen the foundations of democracy taking root in our country. Emerging from the Dark Ages, there is finally the hope that our country is on right track toward meeting the interests and collective welfare of the people.