Response to Criticism Over Peaceful Protests | Nyein Chan Aye


I would like to respond to comments by Ludu Sein Win and Dr. Than Htut Aung (CEO, Eleven Media Group) regarding Monday’s small protest to commemorate the fourth anniversary of a brutal crackdown on the monk-led uprising (2007) in Burma.

First and foremost, I’d like to say that “Freedom of Speech and Expression” is the most important basic rights provided to any citizen in a democratic state.  It doesn’t matter Ludu Sein Win or Dr. Thant Htut Aung or even Daw Aung San Suu Kyi (I really don’t think she did say something against it or she will) or whoever agrees or not.

I have never come across such a disapproving comment regarding a protest from Ludu Sein Win before as he always believes in “People Power”.  He always calls for People Power movement.  His response to this matter was quite quick.  He didn’t seem to be well-informed about what happened actually; he just made the comment based on what he was told, I suppose.

(To Ludu Sein Win — With all due respect Sir, please do think it over again regarding the matter and I look forward to hearing more positively from you after digesting the new development of the matter.)

Here I’d like to recall a similar event in the past.  Just after 2007 saffron revolution, one well-known writer (now retired) who is also a former NLD CEC member, said all Burmese people can do about politics is just a demonstration against the regime in the streets which actually means no more than the A, B, Cs of a democracy movement process.  At that time, I was disappointed because I expected some positive encouragement or intellectual political analysis or something wise from a veteran politician who knows Burmese politics.

No wonder that later on he actively promoted the regime’s 2010 sham election and wrote many articles in favour of regime’s way of democratization.  His later actions reflect where he stands that totally comply with what he said before that’s why now I don’t feel bad at all about his then comment because I, personally, don’t care or pay attention anything anymore what he says or does.

I respond now because I don’t wish to see Sayar Ludu Sein Win to let me down again like the person above.

I don’t intend to protest much about Dr. Than Htut Aung’s comment because I don’t think he is a public figure.  However, I have to say just one thing because he mentioned Daw Aung San Suu Kyi in his comment.  In a recent interview with AFP, Daw Aung San Suu Kyi simply refers to Libya case particularly that the wounds that will remain unhealed for so long because of armed uprising.  It just means violent movement didn’t answer the problems in Burma and it won’t in the future as well.  She doesn’t say anything against peaceful demonstration and I don’t think she will say so in the future.

(To Dr. Than Htut Aung — please do bear in mind that you can control your own media policy but please don’t try to manipulate other people rights through your successful/powerful media.)

I can understand their concern.  It cannot make me to accept their comments, though.  I think, they can show their concerns by making positive comments regarding the matter.

For example, “The exercise of political rights like peaceful demonstrations should be welcome by all means in this new so-called democratic government.  But we concern that it can also affect negatively on the national reconciliation process which is still in the very early stage and very fragile at the moment”.

If they say so like the above example, I would not argue with them even though I don’t believe peaceful protest can make any negative effect to the progress of dialogue or national reconciliation process.  I believe, it can even help to foster democracy and reform process in Burma.  Please remember that 2007 uprising forced the military regime to do some changes such as election, constitutional government, parliament.  I never thought all these so-called developments were done by the regime voluntarily.

In short, what Ludu Sein Win and Dr. Than Htut Aung (a well-known journalist and an owner of powerful media in Burma) said make me think they encouraged people to vote 2010 shameful election because they said an election or voting is one of the practices and procedures of a democratic society.  To the contrary, now they blame peaceful demonstration which is not only basic civil and political rights but also another practice indeed to exercise by people in a democratic nation.

In my opinion, a protest or a demonstration would not make any kind of trouble to the national reconciliation process in Burma as long as demonstrators maintain non-violence actions.  Non-violence movement does not mean ‘no demonstrations’ but it means ‘peaceful resistances’ to achieve the cause by using symbolic protests, civil disobedience, economic or political noncooperation, and any other possible peaceful methods.  For instance, there was a series of nationwide people’s movements of decades-long nonviolent struggle against British rule in India led by Mahatma Gandhi which was not just helped India to win its independence in 1947 but also a good example for many other successful democracy movements worldwide like Martin Luther King’s civil rights struggle for African Americans in the States.

In fact, the origin of English term, ‘Democracy’ is a Greek word dēmokratía (rule of the people) which was actually coined from dêmos (people) and Kratos (power).  Moreover, there is not a single successful revolution in the history against a dictatorship without involvement of a people power movement.

To conclude, I agree that it’s better if we achieve full democratization or national reconciliation only through the means of dialogue between concerned parties.  I have no doubt about Daw Aung Suu Kyi’s wisdom and political judgment or her cautiously optimistic words regarding her new approach to deal with the 50-year old regime.  I do understand her current situation and its very limited alternatives.  However, I profoundly believe small incidents like Monday’s event can be the spark to set off nationwide peaceful demonstrations that can also be helpful in some ways to Daw Aung San Suu Kyi’s work of persuading the regime to take concrete actions for full democratization and national reconciliation in Burma.


27th September, 2011

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