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Non-violent resistance in Burma Spring 1988 – September 1988 PowerPoint Presentation
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Non-violent resistance in Burma Spring 1988 – September 1988

Non-violent resistance in Burma Spring 1988 – September 1988

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Non-violent resistance in Burma Spring 1988 – September 1988

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  1. Non-violent resistance in BurmaSpring 1988 – September 1988

  2. Background • Post-independence Burmese democracy crushed by a military coup d'état in 1962. • Social and economic decline • ‘minimal manpower and maximum firepower’ • Spontaneous student protests to stop police brutality became nationwide protest.

  3. The beginning of widespread protest: • Throughout June there were ongoing protests • June 21st – a march was attacked by riot police, demonstrators fought back. • In July protests spread and students gained concessions • Burmese Socialist Programme Party (BSPP) held congress • General Ne Win resigned • National referendum proposed • Congress rejected plans for referendum and named Sein Lwin new party chairman.

  4. August 8 – General Strike involving hundreds of thousands of people. • August 12 – Sein Linn resigned. • August 22 – General Strike. • August 24 – half a million people participating in daily protests in Rangoon. • August 31 – thousands of people resigned from BSPP. • September 9 - Air Force troops joined marchers in Rangoon. • September 11 – general elections are announced.

  5. Failure • September 18 – SLORC coup d'état • Martial law declared, curfew implemented. • Army responsible for thousands of deaths and arrests. Fair elections were promised within 2 years. • September 24 – NLD formed under leadership of Aung San Suu Kyi.

  6. 1990 elections • Tight restrictions on election campaigns. • Elections took place in May 1990 and the NLD won 80% of seats. • SLORC refused to acknowledge results. • July 1990 – Aung San Suu Kyi placed under house arrest.

  7. Seminar Q.1 - In Burma, what were the main strategies of protest deployed against the regime in 1988? • Protest and persuasion – rallies and protests • Non-co-operation – strikes, burn-ins, refusal by monks to perform services • Creative non-violent intervention – parallel government, Citizens Committees, alternative press.

  8. Q.2 - What was the role of Buddhist monks? • Burma’s Buddhist monks played an important supervisory role. • Led local committees. • Took charge of security during strikes. • Provided spiritual support for protesters. • Staged a military boycott in August 1990

  9. Q.3 Why was the military junta in Burma able to ignore the adverse election results of 1990 with impunity? • General Saw Maung used delaying tactics. • Most of the opposition leaders were in prison or under house arrest. • Many activists joined guerrilla forces. • Culture of fear. • Burmese democratic parties were wreaked with factionalism and poorly organised. • ‘People might have had strong determination about ’88, but in reality, the stomach also plays an important part. So, many people retreated’. – NLD member

  10. Q.4 - To what extent was the fact the movement was student-led a weakness? • Poor organisation • Difficult to harbour support among wider population • Lack of experience • Lack of charismatic leader

  11. Q. 5 - Does the example of Burma reveal certain limits to theorizations by Gene Sharp and others about the efficacy of nonviolent resistance? • Non-violence in Burma failed as a result of both internal and external factors. INTERNAL: • Students • Monks • ‘Psyche of the resister’ EXTERNAL: • Ruthlessness of army • Lack of international support

  12. Bibliography • Fink, Christina, Living Silence: Burma Under Military Rule (London, 2001) • Guyot, James, ‘Myanmar in 1990: The Unconsummated Elections’, Asian Survey, 31, 1991 • Lintner, Bertil, Outrage: Burma’s Struggle for Democracy (London, 1990) • Schock, Kurt, Unarmed Insurrections: People Power Movements in Non-democracies (Minnesota, 2005) • Sharp, Gene, Waging Non-violent Struggle: 20th Century Practise and 21st Century Potential (Boston, 2005) • Summy, Ralph, ‘Nonviolence and the Case of the Extremely Ruthless Opponent’, Global Change, Peace and Security, 6