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Home » Politics
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The Good Government of Myanmar

Submitted by on April 19, 2011 – 9:18 amNo Comment

I just came across an article in the Irrawaddy, published yesterday, where one paragraph caught my attention:

“Sources inside Burma said that rumors are spreading that the new government will in fact release a large number of political prisoners, and many family members  have been waiting for their release since Sunday.”

Another charade: You want a civilian government? We give you a general - pardon me, an EX-general.

This would indeed be great news for the individual people and their families and for the democracy movement at large. The question, however, comes to my mind whether benchmarks like elections, a civilian government, the release of Aung San Suu Kyi and the release of the political prisoners are not all very prone to misuse and rendered useless when an inhuman regime adopts the strategy to fulfill the requests, but with some delay and only superficially.

It sounds absurd, but the regime (civilianized, not civilized), pushed into an edge (morally, not necessarily economically) reacts with a typical people’s method of defiance. It escapes the pressure by retarding response to requests until some reasons make it impossible to continue. Then, however, it fulfills the request merely by isolating it from the context (release of a famous leader, but no others) or by reducing the definition of the goal to some superficial indicators (a constitution, political parties, elections, a civilian government).

“Not allowed to beat monks? So we disrobe them before beating.” It’s as easy as that.

Here in Europe you probably have heard of The Good Soldier Švejk – a typical symbol of the ordinary man’s defiance that has gained a new meaning during the Communist era. Similarly, you may want to write a novel about “The Good Government of Myanmar”. Ironically, these people might in fact be good soldiers. In the international community, however, they behave like Švejk trying to escape punishment. And eventually the reader is confused: Are they actually incapable? Or stubborn? Or evil? Or even victims of circumstances?

Image: The New Light of Myanmar

About the author

Christoph Amthor wrote 32 articles on this blog.

Christoph has worked for several years as journalist for print, radio and Internet before he co-founded the organization Burma Center Prague in 2006. Most time he spends in Prague, Czech Republic.

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