Call for Peace
Myanmar has been in turmoil ever since the junta staged a coup in February 2021 by detaining President Win Myint, State Counsellor Aung San Suu Kyi and other democratically elected leaders. The ongoing COVID-19 pandemic and the Russia-Ukraine war may have diverted the world’s attention away from the political development in the country but the people’s movement has been very much alive despite thousands being taken political prisoners, killed and rendered homeless after their houses were burnt. The Tatmadaw (military) shocked the world earlier this week by announcing the execution of four political prisoners, including democracy campaigner Kyaw Min Yu aka Ko Jimmy and former lawmaker Phyo Zeya Thaw, who were accused of aiding “terror acts” and sentenced to death in secretive trials a few months ago. The executions have triggered widespread condemnation from the UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, Human Rights Chief Michelle Bachelet and several countries. However, the military is unlikely to be perturbed by such condemnations. By carrying out the executions amid international appeals, the junta has sent out a clear message to the world and the people of Myanmar that it neither has plans to make way for a political settlement nor care about the backlash from the international community. Such brazen displays of utter disregard for human rights and the rule of law is certainly not good for the international community, and it can weaken the world’s quest for peace and development. But the junta, which has been trying to suppress resistance from pro-democracy camp with iron hands for nearly one-and-a-half years now, could have taken the extreme step to create fear psychosis among the people who continue to refuse to accept their toppling of democracy. The executions earlier this week may have shocked the world but it may not be the last.
On the other hand, having tasted limited liberties for about a decade after living under military rule for years, the present generation is steadfast in its commitment to uphold democracy. More than one year of terror unleashed by the current dispensation has failed to suppress the resistance. In fact, the refusal to listen to the people has resulted in an uprising with young people taking up arms to fight the military with the help of armed ethnic groups that have been fighting for decades for autonomy. Instead of suppressing resistance, the latest brutal act could consolidate the pro-democracy camp and even prompt more youths to take up arms to protect their families and the society. Violence begets violence. International communities should intervene considering the possibility of hostility escalating in the country. Neighbouring countries like China and India too should use their influence to persuade the junta to shun violence and pave the way for restoration of peace. In the absence of international intervention, a long drawn out conflict and bloodshed is inevitable.