Friday, January 2, 2009

New Year’s Resolutions for the NLD

The Irrawaddy News
January 2, 2009

The Burmese military junta is at its happiest when history repeats itself. Under the leadership of Snr-Gen Than Shwe, the regime replays its old maneuvers—content that its strategy has for so long been unbreakable.

A recognizable play in the regime's game plan has long been the tactic of combining brute force and naked aggression through harsh crackdowns with political offensives aimed at weakening the opposition and defusing international pressure.

But if the regime’s policymakers are so predictable, surely the question is what the opposition will do to counter their plans and achieve the two most important results for political transition— constitutional reform and the release of political prisoners.

Take, for starters, the case of the 2,100 political prisoners languishing in Burma’s jails—234 of whom were arrested during or after the nationwide protests in September 2007 and have received sentences of up to 68 years imprisonment each since November 2008.

The goal of the harsh sentencing is clear—to eliminate potential opposition in the run-up to the 2010 election, which is the fifth step in the regime's master-plan known as the “Seven-Step Roadmap to Democracy.”

The intended effect of the brutality is a "shock and awe" campaign—terrorizing the public and creating an environment of fear ahead of the election. The junta hopes the Burmese population will become depoliticized and will meekly allow the military to steal the election.

International outcry has pronounced loud again. Sources in United Nations said that Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon is even considering the option for "temporary suspension of his good offices mission on Burma". Some sources close to Burmese Foreign Ministry confirmed that China and Russia are pressing the generals in Naypyidaw to cooperate with Secretary-General's good office and show a "positive gesture" to calm down mounting international criticism before the scheduled 2010 election in Burma.

As history has its proof, it is now time for Than Shwe to pull out a card and play magic with his international supporters. One possible prospect will be the release of Aung San Suu Kyi, the opposition leader and the only imprisoned Noble Peace Prize winner, in near future – as earliest as by May or as latest as November 2009 – which in itself presents what the junta considers to be several favorable conditions.

First, the junta knows that releasing Suu Kyi could be well enough to relieve the concerns of China, Russia, Asean and other apologists for the junta that have found it hard recently to defend the Burmese regime in the international arena.

If the military rulers were sublimely tactful, they could even invite either UN Special Envoy Ibrahim Gambari or Secretary-General, and allow the Good Offices to take credit for Suu Kyi’s release.

In this manner, the junta could use the release of Suu Kyi to fend off international criticism against the systematic crackdowns, forcibly ratified constitution and scheduled election for 2010.

In fact, the military generals believe they can afford to release the opposition leader without compromising with her. Indeed, in accepting her freedom Suu Kyi could find herself in a Catch-22 situation where she cannot criticize the government without finding herself back in a cage.

No political transition is likely to take place within the framework of the current constitution. Even amendments made to the constitution in the hope of gradual reform will not be possible within a military-dominated parliament and the junta’s foreseeable power arrangement in a post-2010 Burma.

The question, therefore, is what the opposition can do to counter military's strategy and achieve two most important results needed for political transition—constitutional reform and the release of political prisoners.

Over the past 20 years, the opposition parties in Burma have shown an unyielding faith in the power of principles. Now it is time for them to learn the principles of power.

Paradoxically, the first principle of power that the opposition should pursue is a moral strategy. The National League for Democracy (NLD) and other opposition parties should declare that they will not take part in the 2010 elections unless the junta agrees to engage in political dialogue with the opposition to negotiate a constitutional review and to release the political prisoners.

This is not only a righteous strategy that will create a feel-good factor among opposition members, but it can be used as a playing card to achieve three concrete political gains.

First of all, it could motivate the opposition's own bases—NLD organizers throughout the country and its supporters, as well as legitimate ethnic political parties—most of whom have taken back seats in recent political debates due to the NLD's defensive, reactive and passive policy.

NLD Chairman Aung Shwe, who has always avoided public communication, should make himself available to Burmese-language shortwave radio stations abroad to address the public to articulate why the NLD has decided not to take part in the 2010 election and what the NLD demands are.

The party leadership should not take for granted that their cause is self-evident. They must publicize their agenda and promote it with clarity as a moral offensive.

Second, an election boycott could narrow the regime's bases—in particular, the full participation of ethnic minority groups that reached ceasefire deals with the military over the past 20 years.

All ethnic groups know the military's constitution is far below their acceptable thresholds.

Although groups such as the Kachin Independence Organization (KIO) and the United Wa State Army (UWSA) may be planning to take part in the 2010 election through their proxy ethnic parties, they will be afforded the chance NOT to throw their weight behind the regime's terms and conditions, especially it involves the disarmament of their troops.

The opposition’s rejection of the 2010 election will, therefore, lend ceasefire groups political justification and strategic space (as the regime will be busy dealing with the NLD) to resist the regime's disarmament plan.

This will complicate the junta's political ploy or, in a worst case scenario, lead to a resumption of localized arm conflicts between certain ethnic ceasefire groups and the Burmese army. Such a situation would alarm China since the most volatile areas are around the Sino-Burmese border where formidable Wa and Kachin ethnic groups are based.

The third political gain the opposition could muster from a moral boycott strategy is that it will force the international community—particularly those who want to expedite the junta’s "road map"—to side with opposition's reasonable demands.

However, before all that comes into play, the opposition parties must show flexibility and articulate that it is not rejecting outright the regime's road map.

If the junta accepts a constitutional review and the release of political prisoners, the opposition can consider lending legitimacy to the road map. The opposition should also make it clear that it welcomes international humanitarian assistance to Burma, which is severely impoverished and falling into deeper humanitarian crises.

All in all, this is high time for the opposition to occupy the moral high ground and translate it into power and advantage. Of course, the route will not be an easy one as the regime will impose its nastiest crackdown on the opposition.

Some skeptics might also argue that it is nothing new for the Burmese opposition to take up a righteous policy and yet still lose the game.

However, what the opposition has so far adopted is a reflexive and ungainly position. What the opposition needs now to use the moral high ground wisely and publicly, and transform it into strategy, well-timed and coordinated toward achieving well-defined political gains.

This is the first principle of power the opposition should pursue and should constitute its New Year resolution for 2009.

Min Zin, a Burmese journalist in exile, is a teaching fellow at the University of California, Berkeley, School of Journalism.

READ MORE---> New Year’s Resolutions for the NLD...

Leading saffron monk's memoir

by U Pyinya Zawta
Mizzima News

Burmese monks are known to have played an important role in their nation's politics throughout its history. While they did not partake in mundane political processes, they traditionally held positions of moral authority, and dispensed wisdom and guidance to past kings, rulers and governments in Burma. On some occasions, emissaries from the monasteries were despatched on peace missions to avoid war with foreign powers.

Buddhist monks gave council to past monarchs, ranging from the first King Anawrahta of unified Burma in Bagan, to the last King Mindon and his son King Thibaw, guiding them on how to properly conduct themselves as responsible rulers. Burmese monks fulfilled their obligations toward their religion and the people in the past as royal advisers, and most importantly, as the guardians of sacred rights and responsibilities of all citizens.

Burmese monks continued to play an important role in national affairs even after Burma fell under British colonialism, in 1886. During the Colonial era, a monk leader U Ottama brought political enlightenment back to Burma and eventually helped lead the nation to independence from Britain. His lectures inspired generations of followers including Ko Aung San who later became the father of Burma's Independence. Another brave and defiant monk, U Wisara, died in prison after a 166-day hunger strike in 1929, but still helped reawaken political consciousness in Burma, and with his final words, to "never forget," urged the people to persevere until independence was obtained from Britain.

After the 1948 independence, numerous political and social organizations proliferated in Burma. During this period Burmese monks formed the All Burma Young Monks' Union (ABYMU) to continue championing the causes of their people.

But after the 1962 military coup, General Ne Win abolished all civil and political organizations in Burma, and the ABYMU was banned in 1964. Even though barred by the military, young Buddhist monks remained at the forefront of political movements from the 1974 U Thant crisis, to the 1975-1976 one hundred years' anniversary of labor unrests in Burma.

During the nationwide uprising in 1988 when one government faction after another failed to control the county, monks used their authority to prevent anarchy and chaos and provided sanctuary to the public. After the military took back power through another coup on September 18th, 1988, the All Burma Young Monks' Union was again established, as an Upper Burma branch in Mandalay and as a Lower Burma branch in Rangoon, and monks joined the people's protest against the return of the military dictatorship.

In 1990, the National League for Democracy (NLD) members, student activists, and ordinary citizens made alms donation to the monks marching peacefully on Zay-Cho and 26-B roads in Mandalay, marking the two year anniversary of the '88 uprising. When the army forcibly tried to stop the procession, unrest broke out and many monks were brutally beaten. Since the authorities prevented the monks from alms collection by egregiously violating Buddha's Dharma, two monk leaders, U Raza Dama Bewitha and U Kovida Bewitha of the Upper Burma Young Monks' Union called for a religious boycott dubbed 'Overturning of the Alms Bowl,' against the SLORC government, for the first time.

Led by monks from major monastic academic institutions, the Young Monks Union in Rangoon joined the boycott movement, as prescribed under Buddha's Dharma laws, and they affirmed their pledge with obeisance toward the Shwe Dagon Pagoda, on 3 October 1990, the Tha-din-kyut full moon day of Burmese year 1352, at the Ngar Htait Kyi Pagoda pavilion.

With prompting from U Ahnt Maung, a high ranking member of the government's religious affairs department, the military junta in panic arrested and sentenced to long prison terms senior monks from renowned monastic academies, members of the Rangoon Young Monks' Union, and monks from other Sangha academies. Tragically Ashin U Arsara from the Thayettaw monastery died in Thayet prison and Ashin U Zaw Tika from the Shwebon Pyint monastery died in Insein prison, both from torture and inhumane conditions. The fates of many other monks taken away by the government during the 1990 boycott protest remain unknown.

Finally, after almost two decades since many monks were arrested and imprisoned, the monks' resistance against military oppression in Burma seemed to have all but evaporated. But the Saffron Uprising in 2007 proved that the monks' resolve to defend the future of Burmese Buddhism and their people was growing only stronger, not weaker.

Before the leading monks' organization the 'All Burma Monks Alliance' was founded during the Saffron Revolution, many smaller monks' coalitions had already been established. As the first step, the All Burma Young Monks Union organized a central working committee with five leading monks from Rangoon and one from Mandalay, selected from many monks' organizations. At the same time various smaller local monks' organizations were being created, in Pegu, Pye, Magwe, Moulmein, and Arkan areas. The famous leading monk, Ashin U Gambira, who was arrested last year, and six other monks led the formation of the Rangoon Young Monks' Union to represent monks from the Rangoon area.

Monks from upper Burma in Mandalay formed the Federation of All Burma Monks' Union and helped organize monks' reading groups, libraries, and literary discussion groups, among other activities. Young Monks' Unions, like Students' Unions, were being formed all over Burma with the sole intention of ending the military dictatorship in Burma. During the mean time, Young Monks' Union members helped other monks' organizations to coordinate, consult and exchange ideas by helping them communicate with each other. When the regime became suspicious at times, new monks and civilians were used as dispatchers. And on occasion, meetings were cancelled in order to evade the junta's relentless assaults.

Since 2005, there was a growing realization that a mass movement to overthrow the Burmese dictatorship was becoming inevitable, and many activist groups began expanding their underground movements in anticipation.

When the military junta suddenly increased the price of fuel on August 15, 2007, impoverished people in Burma faced an unprecedented level of hardship. When small demonstrations broke out against the severe economic conditions, government thugs' organizations named, Swan Ahh-shin, Union Solidarity and Development Association (USDA), and riot police were sent in to violently suppress the peaceful protests, and swiftly ended the public outcry.

In order to come to the rescue of frightened and battered citizens suffering under severe economic hardships, the monks took it upon themselves to unite all of the monks' unions and to create a larger monks' alliance at a meeting scheduled for September 9, 2007 at a monastery in Mandalay. By September 4 many monks had left their monasteries and were on the way to the meeting.

But on September 5 when the Pakokku monks came out to chant the peaceful prayers of the 'Metta Sutta,' - the sutra of loving kindness to radiate the spirit of love to all beings - in sympathy with the suffering public, the local government militia brutally attacked the monks and tied them to electric poles, beat them with rifle butts, and arrested them. News of these actions spread quickly, and the next day unrest broke out and cars were burnt in Pakokku.

Burmese monks from all over the country felt compelled to respond to such shocking violence against revered Buddhist monks who were marching peacefully. When the monks gathered on September 9 as previously agreed, the meeting was forced to move to a new location for fear of detection by the authorities. Finally, monks at the meeting unanimously decided to boycott the military if the government failed to comply with the following demands by a given deadline.

The monks demanded that the State Peace and Development Council (SPDC)

1. Apologize to the Pakokku monks, by midnight of September 17
2. Reduce the prices of fuel oil and basic commodities
3. Unconditionally release Aung San Suu Kyi and all other political prisoners
4. Hold dialogue with the democratic political opposition representatives in order to begin a national reconciliation process

The ensuing united monks' organization was named the 'All Burma Monks' Alliance' (ABMA) and the monks decided to proceed with boycotting the military on September 18, 2007 after the regime failed to meet the demands before the deadline.

Members of All Burma Monks' Alliance

1. All Burma Young Monks' Union
2. Federation of All Burma Monks' Union
3. Rangoon Young Monks' Union
4. Sangha Duta Council of Burma

The executive founding members of ABMA

1. U Pakada (Pannasara )
2. U Medhavi
3. U Kheminda
4. U Aww Ba Tha
5. U Tay Za
6. U Gambira

The announcement of the above formation of the ABMA was handwritten, photographed, and published via email media sent from a handheld camera, since computer communications were disrupted or unavailable.

During the Saffron uprising, generous provisions of food and essential services were donated to the monks by a caring public. There were exemplary unforgettable individuals like one outstanding patron who took diligent care of the monks.

On September 18, 2007 the ABMA effectively began the boycott against the SPDC regime, and the event became known as "the Saffron Revolution." The United Nations and the rest of the world were forced to acknowledge the Burmese people's struggle for freedom from brutal military dictatorship.

Much of the credit for the Saffron Revolution was since given to famous organizations or people, but the real contribution to the Saffron Revolution was made by the monks and people who genuinely shared the grievances of ordinary citizens, and who took unified and daring actions inside Burma.

Many Burmese people were aware of the 2007 Saffron Revolution and people from all over the world had also taken notice and became more interested in Burma, since 'The Golden Uprising' - as it was known in Burmese - eventually brought the UN Secretary General's special envoy, Mr. Ibrahim Gambari, to Burma.

But the Saffron Revolution did not simply emerge without effort. The Saffron Revolution was born of the leadership of the All Burma Monks' Alliance - ABMA - the joint organization of four original monks' unions and the extraordinary courage of the member monks, and their ability to unite for the sake their people. The uprising took place precisely because of the determined leadership of the All Burma Monks' Alliance (ABMA).

The All Burma Monks' Alliance (ABMA) was founded on 9 September 2007. Numerically it lines up as 9-9-9, when 2 and 7 from the year 2007 are added and also when all numbers 9+9+2+7=27 are added, including the sum of 27; 2+7=9.

After the thugs hired by the junta government attacked a group of monks marching peacefully in Pakokku, on 5 September 2007, the ABMA made four demands to the Burmese military government, with 17 September 2007 as a deadline to respond. The ABMA announced via local media that if the military failed to accede to its demands, the monks would carry out a boycott against the government officials beginning on 18 September 2007. Numerically digits of the date 09 18 2007 also add up to numeral 9.

September 18, 2007 was the 19th anniversary of the military coup and therefore an important date for Burma's generals. It also became a symbolically significant day for the Burmese monks, as the severe moral rebuke by the monks against the army junta, called 'overturning of the alms bowls,' was to begin on that same day. As early as 5:00 AM on 18 September, reporters began calling the ABMA leaders about the monks' boycott against the military. The reporters continued calling every hour on that day, asking whether the monks' boycott -- of refusing alms from military families, effectively denying them important religious merit -- would still be taking place. Early on, while events were still unfolding, it was very difficult to predict the day ahead. But, at that moment it became evident that the honor and esteem of Burmese monks and their religion was terribly at stake. As the gravity of the risk we had taken became clearer, we anxiously continued reassuring the public that conditions were good and that monks were proceeding with a boycott against the Burmese military. Still, we were not able to give a real encouraging answer, yet. Till noon of that day we were not quite sure of the outcome of the decision we had made while we responded to the inquiries about the monks' boycott.

The dramatic event of the 18 September 2007 Saffron Revolution was similar to the '8-8-88' uprising in Burma. Even as news media were reporting the rising momentum for countrywide mass protests in 1988, no one dared predict the inevitability of 8-8-88 uprising with confidence. Even at 7:00 and 8:00 a.m. there was still no certainty that the uprising was to take place. Only at 9: a.m. on 8 August 1988, when marchers from labour and student movements joined and advanced together along the promenade could we let out a sigh of relief.

In spite of heavy army roadblocks, the Burmese monks had also successfully staged a protest against the SLORC military government for the first time on 3 October 1990, the full moon day of the lunar month Thadingyut, (the end of Buddhist Lent), Burmese year 1352, at Rangoon's Ngar Htait Kyi Pagoda.

The most anxious moment on 18 September 2007 was at noon after our daily meal, as we watched the day's events with anticipation and saw nothing unusual. But after that moment many monks began gathering at Thingan-Kyun, Kyaikasan, and Shwedagon pagodas.

The authorities moved to close down the monks' quarters at Kyaikasan Pagoda, and monks from the Thingan-Kyun monastery began arriving at the Kyauk-sar-daw historic pagoda of the Magin monastery. The government and its violent militia organizations, the USDA (Union Solidarity and Development Association) and Swan Ah Shin (SAS-force of violence) were sent into pandemonium. Meanwhile, the monks began to arrive and seated themselves with great dignity and grace on the ground of the Kyauksardaw Pagoda. And then there was only utter silence.

Until suddenly, when sounds came from the distance, we only listened, listened for the sounds. It was 1:30 PM on 18 September 2007, and the resounding murmurs of the monks' Metta Sutta prayers could now be heard from afar. The monks were praying and chanting to emphasize their rebukes against the military for violating Buddha's teaching.

Soon after, the phones began to ring constantly, and the news of monks chanting the Metta Sutta and marching to the Shwedagon Pagoda in Rangoon and to other pagodas and monasteries in Taunggote, Pakokku, and Kyaukpadaung began to reach us.

Then phone calls from news media started to come in. And it was recorded that the All Burma Monks' Alliance had survived this great day. Followed by more dramatic days….

May freedom come to the people of Burma soon…

The writer is the founding member and Foreign Executive Director of the All Burma Monks' Alliance

READ MORE---> Leading saffron monk's memoir...

Unprincipled discrimination and dignity

by Min Ko Moe
Mizzima News
01 January 2009

"Respect for human dignity implies commitment to creating conditions under which individuals can develop a sense of self-worth and security. True dignity comes with an assurance of one's ability to rise to the challenges of the human situation." --* Aung San Suu Kyi

"Human beings are born free, equal in dignity and rights. They are endowed with reason and conscience and should act towards one another in a spirit of brotherhood." --* Article 1, Universal Declaration of Human Rights

The unequal opportunities and rights embodied in the 2008 Myanmar Constitution disregards the universal recognition that humans being born free, with equality in dignity and rights. The new Constitution is structured in a hierarchical chain-of-command with military personnel as the first class, male citizens as the second and female citizens as the third. The principles of equality in opportunity and justice in the political, social and economic spheres are ignored, leaving those citizens who posses less opportunities and rights as constantly under assault whenever conflicting claims prevail. This Constitution does not uphold the spirit of brotherhood and sisterhood and claims the dignity and rights of civilian citizens are inferior to those of military personnel – who in reality are forgetting their roles as public servants.

In introspection, the drafting of the Constitution in the National Convention was not in accordance with democratic methods, even though the creation of a democratic state is the purported aim of the military clique. A democratic method demands a decision by discussion, argument and persuasion. However, state Law No. 5/96 forbids civilian citizens to exercise their consciousness in the making of the supreme law of the land. According this law, any person whose action is construed as criticizing the National Convention format, designed by the military government, shall be imprisoned for a term of a minimum of five years and a maximum of 20, and may also be liable to a fine. Democracy does not believe in the suppression of thought, the suppression human consciousness. Based on this law, it is doubtful that the National Convention was convened by genuine representatives of freedom loving people. Would genuine representatives of the people codify a Constitution which disregards their inherent dignity and rights? Moreover, it is improbable that democratic citizens agreed to authorize that 25 percent of seats in the state assembly be reserved for military representatives. Simply put, the 2008 Constitution was made by those who are not genuine representatives of the people.

Gender justice plays a vital role in modern nation-state building. Gender justice means women must be permitted to exercise full participation in the decision making process and fully participate alongside men in all walks of life in the pursuit of equitable and practical solutions to issues of family and society. Men and women should have equal choices and rights in a democratic society. Equal choices protect the human dignity of women, and human civilization has evolved with the progress of the human consciousness. Yet, Burma today is an ancient world in which human relations are defined by status.

Respect for the dignity of women is a prerequisite if we want to build a society of justice in which all human beings have equal democratic choices pertaining to development. Equality in dignity and rights between men and women is recognized in the Universal Declaration on Human Rights. However, Article 352 of the 2008 Myanmar Constitution reads:

"The Union shall, upon specified qualifications being fulfilled, in appointing or assigning duties to civil service personnel, not discriminate for or against any citizen of the Republic of the Union of Myanmar, based on race, birth, religion, and sex. However, nothing in this Section shall prevent appointment of men to the positions that are suitable for men only."

This is a contradictory provision. By specifying 'positions that are suitable for men only', the text clearly implies that women are prohibited from holding certain positions in civil service. This prohibition insults women who are also members in a family of human beings. In the field of politics, political justice is also violated by Article 352. Political justice means the absence of any arbitrary distinction between man and woman in the political sphere. Yet, according to this provision, women in Burma are not allowed to fully participate in the political system, the sense of self-worth of women being disrespected. The Constitution's embodiment of unequal opportunities based on gender in the matter of public employment is not consistent with the democratic ideal. If the purpose of the military clique was to forbid women from holding the highest political office of the state, they should open their eyes and recognize the great women leaders of the world. It is, therefore, unreasonable discrimination to treat women as inferior. This discrimination makes a mockery of the progress of human civilization and the democratic ideal.

Accountability is another backbone of the democratic state. Without accountability, implementation of constitutional provisions and public policies could easily deviate from public interests and universal justice. In a genuine democratic society and state, the functioning of good governance and the rule of law are directly controlled by the notion of accountability. This concept implies that those in authority can be called upon to answer questions about their rule. And ultimately, accountability infers that the people can dispose of those governing if the law and historically given rights and obligations are not respected.

However, the notion of accountability imbedded in the 2008 Constitution does not apply to military representatives, but rather only to elected representatives. An example of unprincipled discrimination is on display in Article 38 (b) of the Constitution, which states: "Electorate concerned shall have the right to recall elected people's representatives in accord with the provisions of this Constitution." Such a provision spells out that only elected 'people's representatives' from the 75 percent of Hluttaw (Parliament) seats up for general election can be recalled by the electorate. The provision does not apply to the 25 percent of 'reserved military representatives' who are not elected by the people; a group which may not represent the desires of the electorate as they are nominated by the Commander-in-Chief of the Defence Services and therefore accountable to the Commander-in-Chief, not to the people.

Without the power of democratic accountability for the people, who are the primary unit of the State, the claim of the military in creating a democratic political system is nothing short of a lie. In other words, Burma would become a constitutional dictatorship by transforming itself from a de-facto government to a de-jure government. But any form of dictatorship is defective because there is no assurance that the interests of the dictators will always coincide with the interests of the community. To date, the conflicts in interests between military personnel and civilians have too often been solved by employing coercive force without care for the dignity and personal integrity of the citizens. The nature of the State remains unchanged under the new Constitution, in that military personnel are sovereign and bestowed with the right of sovereignty immunity.

In order to explicitly grant equality in dignity and rights, the current Constitution must be amended. However, the constitution is very rigid regarding the prospect for amendment. Provisions 436 (a) and (b) in Chapter 12 of 'Amendment of the Constitution', state the necessary requirement of support from 'more than seventy-five percent of all the representatives of the Pyidaungsu Hluttaw' if the constitution is to be amended. According this provision, even the collective political decision of the 75 percent of elected representatives is not sufficient to guarantee amendment – as at least some, or one, military representatives must be persuaded to support the motion. It would appear that the role of elected representatives of the people under the Constitution is therefore nothing but to submit to the whims of the military clique.

Unprincipled discrimination as enshrined in the 2008 Myanmar Constitution reverses the trend of progress in human civilization and forbids space for the assurance of one's ability to rise to the challenges of the human situation. A hierarchical social order is the outcome of the Constitutional arrangement, in which justice is only for the strong. Unequal opportunity under unprincipled discrimination is the order of the day. Unprincipled discrimination is also a matter of the allocation of political values. In this sense, unequal opportunity in enjoyment of rights implies unequal opportunity in wielding political power. Political power without accountability is dangerous to the dignity of the governed. The dignity of those allotted less political power is always in danger of violation because their role in the decision making process of the State is constitutionally confined. Without political power, it is difficult to realize the fruits of political power. And without the fruits of political power, one's dignity is frequently under assault. Is the right to dignity a fundamental right? Being human, no one loves to be discriminated against.

Dignity is inherent in all human beings, irrespective of sex, race, religion, status, nationality or place of birth. However, a commitment to equally safeguarding the dignity of all citizens under the 2008 Constitution is not inclusive because the preamble embodies only the eternal principles of justice, liberty and equality. Excluding the principle of fraternity is absurd because fraternity assures the dignity of individuals and the unity of the Nation as well as the spirit of brotherhood and sisterhood. Without fraternity, the functioning of justice, liberty and equality will not be in harmony. A fraternity cannot, however, be installed unless the dignity of all of the State's members is maintained. Whenever dignity and the rights of individuals are not equal with others, some kind of discrimination occurs. However, a change in political system through the 2008 Myanmar Constitution, to ensure gender justice, equality in democratic rights and choice, non-discrimination and human dignity, can only be achieved with the blessing of the existing military clique.

READ MORE---> Unprincipled discrimination and dignity...

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