Prepare for a General Strike! No political support for Aung San Suu Kyi! No to imperialist sanctions!
Statement by the Revolutionary Communist International Tendency (RCIT), 4 February 2021, www.thecommunists.net
1. Myanmar’s military – called Tatmadaw – carried out another coup on 1 February. The overthrow took place hours before lawmakers of the newly elected Parliament were supposed to meet to hold their oath-taking session. The military junta – led by General Min Aung Hlaing – immediately detained long-time leader Aung San Suu Kyi and allied politicians. Meanwhile she has been charged with having several illegally imported walkie-talkies in her home for which she could carry a maximum sentence of two years in prison! The junta has also blocked Facebook in order to suppress the emerging popular resistance.
2. The background of the coup is the massive victory of Aung San Suu Kyi’s party – the National League for Democracy (NLD) – at the last elections in November 2020 election. The NLD captured 396 out of 476 seats contested in the lower and upper houses of Parliament. In contrast, the main “opposition” party, the military-backed Union Solidarity and Development Party, won only 33 seats. As a result, the army command feared to lose its traditional political domination – even though the Tatmadaw is automatically allocated 25% of the seats in the combined houses under the 2008 Constitution that was drafted under a previous military government.
3. The military justifies its coup d'état by claiming that the elected civilian government failed to properly investigate its allegations of electoral irregularities. However, the state Union Election Commission has said there were no significant problems with the vote. The Tatmadaw junta has declared a one-year state of emergency. After this, General Min Aung Hlaing told a business group yesterday, the regime plans to keep power for another six months. Only the regime would “hold fair elections”.
4. Activists of the NLD have called for protests. While communication has been severely restricted by the Tatmadaw junta, there are several reports about street protests. Small rallies have taken place in Yangon and Mandalay – the two largest cities of the country. There are also various acts of disobedience. Staff at government hospitals and workers at the agriculture ministry stopped work or wore ribbons in the NLD’s red color. For two nights, people in Yangon and other cities have banged on pots and pans and honked car horns. In Tokyo, the Union of Myanmar Citizen Association organized a protest rally against the military coup. About 3,000 Burmese migrants joined the demonstration and chanted “Free, free Aung San Suu Kyi, free, free Myanmar.”
5. Western imperialist powers immediately condemned the coup d'état. The G7 Foreign Ministers of the U.S., Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Britain, and the EU’s High Representative, issued a joint statement on 3 February: “We call upon the military to immediately end the state of emergency, restore power to the democratically-elected government, to release all those unjustly detained and to respect human rights and the rule of law.” The new U.S: Administration of Joe Biden even threatened to impose unspecified sanctions.
6. In contrast, imperialist China warns the West against “external interference”. Wang Wenbin, spokesperson of Chinese Foreign Ministry, said “China is a friendly neighbor of Myanmar, and we hope all parties in Myanmar can properly handle differences under the constitutional and legal framework and safeguard political and social stability."
7. The background for such different responses is the fact that China has traditionally close relations with Myanmar’s military. When the West imposed sanctions on the country after the bloody military coup in 1989, China was the only power which offered the regime an economic lifeline. The West had traditionally closer relations with Aung San Suu Kyi albeit the later has worked hard in the last years to improve their relations with Beijing and backed China’s imperialist Belt and Road Initiative. This does not necessarily mean that China was actively involved in preparing the coup – in fact its main interest is “stability” in order to advance its economic and geopolitical projects. Nevertheless, it is noteworthy that General Min Aung Hlaing met with China’s State Councilor Wang Yi – one of its top diplomats – only three weeks before he carried out the coup! After the meeting China’s Foreign Ministry said: “China appreciates that the Myanmar military takes national revitalization as its mission.” In any case, the coup and the looming Western sanctions will most likely drive the Tatmadaw junta closer Beijing. This is certainly not an unwelcomed development for China as it will strengthen its position in South-East Asia – a key region on world politics – in its inner-imperialist rivalry against Western powers.
8. The Revolutionary Communist International Tendency (RCIT) strongly denounces the military coup. While we have no illusions about the semi-democratic capitalist system which existed in Myanmar before and which already reserved a dominant position for the army, the coup certainly destroys all democratic freedoms and strengthens the bonapartist power of the notorious Tatmadaw. Hence, we fully support all forms of popular resistance against the military junta. However, we also oppose any imperialist sanctions. Big bandits – like the U.S. or the EU – can not be allies in the liberation struggle against the small bandits!
9. While we oppose the coup and call for the release of all political prisoners, we do not lend any political support for Aung San Suu Kyi and her NLD. These forces are thoroughly bourgeois and pro-imperialist. Furthermore, Aung San Suu Kyi has always been a strong supporter of the horrible genocide against the Rohingya Muslims. The RCIT reiterates its unconditional support for the struggle of the Rohingya Muslims for national self-determination. We oppose the military coup not because we have any political sympathies for Aung San Suu Kyi but rather because we defend each and every democratic right. Such rights improve the conditions of the liberation struggle against the ruling class.
10. It is crucial for advancing the struggle against the military coup that the workers and oppressed organize for preparing a general strike to bring down the Tatmadaw junta. For this it is necessary to form action committees in the workplaces, neighborhoods, schools and universities. Furthermore, the movement needs to get arms and to create self-defense units so that it can defend itself against the repression apparatus. Activists should develop agitation among the soldiers so that they do not follow the orders of the coup generals. Revolutionaries have to explain the necessity of an armed uprising and the creation of a workers and poor peasant government which will open the road to socialism. Uniting all supporters of such a program in a revolutionary party – nationally and internationally – is the most important task in the coming period. Join the RCIT!
International Bureau of the RCIT
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The RCIT has published numerous documents on the Arab Revolution. We draw reader’s attention to the following links:
Myanmar: Solidarity with the Uprising of the Rohingya Muslims! No to the Regime's Buddhist Chauvinism! For the Rohingya's Right of National Self-Determination! 27.08.2017, https://www.thecommunists.net/worldwide/asia/solidarity-with-rohingya-muslims/
Almedina Gunić: Stop the Ethnic Cleansing of the Rohingya Muslims! Recalling the war in Bosnia and the genocide in Srebrenica, we need to stop the ongoing war against our Rohingya brothers and sisters, 15.09.2017, https://www.thecommunists.net/worldwide/asia/ethnic-cleansing-of-rohingya/