On the massacres in Myanmar- imperialism is responsible
The massacres in Myanmar/Burma are echoes of the years of slaughter in the DRC. There are haunting parallels too. More than 6 million people died in the DRC, over a number of years since 1996. In the end, hundreds of thousands of poor peasants were cleared off the land and in their place imperialist controlled mines appeared. There were dozens of different militia groups clashing with one another, supposedly in inter-ethnic fighting. Each group sustained themselves by selling minerals, gathered through primitive accumulation (child labour scooping the minerals from the soil), and selling these into the world capitalist market, to imperialist companies. Most of the world’s cassiterite comes from the DRC and thus through open plunder. The working class is precarious and minimal. There is no development; just asset-stripping from the earth. The world’s cellphones, laptops, playstations are all based on the cassiterite stolen from the DRC, over the dead bodies of millions. This is the barbarism of modern capitalism. Jonathan Oppenheimer is director of Umicore, that is listed by the UN as a smuggler of cassiterite. Yet the company acts with impunity. Anglo American openly lists Umicore as one of their supplier companies. This barbarism and impunity has to stop. It requires the working class of the world to organise and defeat imperialism-capitalism. Turning now to the current crisis in Myanmar.
It should be emphasized that, just as Isis does not represents Muslims, the fascist group of monks in Myanmar, do not represent Buddhism.
British imperialism always had a divide- and -rule policy. From the start of the independence of Burma there were a number of ethnic groups that were not recognised by the state, including the Rohingya. The right to citizenship and other rights such as the right to education was always denied to several ethnic groups. This was perpetuated by the ‘post-colonial’ regime in Burma. The country was always treated by imperialism as a source of hardwood, palm oil and minerals. The state forests have been stripped and depleted. What remains are the nature reserves and the tropical forests where the impoverished rural communities live. The draining of resources and the crisis of stagnation of the world capitalist economy has placed a strain on the Maoist regime. The state-capitalist measures and nominal protection of the poor peasant is being shattered. The 1963 law protecting the right of the peasant was overturned in 2012.
The imperialist World Bank drafted a new law for Myanmar on the land. It dictated that land be open for foreign, capitalist control and that there should be no environmental safeguards as pre-requisite to foreign control. If the government passed any measure to limit the profit of any foreign company then the company could have recourse to the international court of arbitration.
In 2011 an openly capitalist leader was elected to lead government, President Thein Sein. He implemented the World Bank plan. In 2012 new laws were passed to give foreign companies 100% control of any land they purchased, giving them 70 year leases, with the option to have these extended.
The imperialists wanted the land. The problem was that, across Myanmar, the masses were living there. In 2012 the regime used the rape of a woman in Arakan state to begin rousing ultra nationalist Buddhist fascist forces to drive the masses off the land. Thus in the north of the country, hundreds of thousands of Rohingya were driven off the land. But in the north and south poor peasants, mostly Buddhist, were also driven off the land, by the military and sometimes by regional armed opposition groups. From 2012 to date, the vast majority of masses driven off the land are Buddhist. In the 1990’s there were no major killings of the Rohingya and other impoverished masses. The killings accelerated from 2012 when the World Bank grab for land was being implemented.
The main forces driving the masses off the land are the regime and the regional armed groups, some of which are nominal opposition to the regime. Be they government or anti-government forces, their aim is to get a state concession for ‘developing’ land. The hardwood, from the cutting down of the forests is called ‘conversion timber’. At the start of 2012 only 7000 hectares of forest were lost due to ‘rural development’. Since then about 1 million acres per year has been cut down. The supposed cover is ‘rural development’ but development is minimal. For example, a local company gets a contract for a road in a forest. As part of this they are allowed to cut down the forest at the side of the road. A nominal road is built but the forest is cut down. There are cases of concessions for 200 000 acres being awarded for ‘development’ but only 20 000 is developed while the 200 000 acres have all the trees cut down and not replaced. Myanmar has already lost ⅓ of its forests through this blatant plunder.
The terrorising of the rural masses by the regime and regional armed groups aims at expelling them and then burning their homes so that they cannot return. In its place, concessions are given to local companies. However these companies are fronting for imperialist corporates as the main destination of the hardwood, the minerals and palm oil raw material is either the EU of the USA.
Chinese companies also operate in the north of Myanmar and form joint partnerships with local armed groups. They also extract timber and minerals that have their destination in the EU and the USA. The operation of the Chinese companies is subsidised by the Chinese state through its ‘opium substitution programme’ [a state subsidy to supposedly curb the production of opium through funding other agricultural activities]. Some of the goods plundered from northern Myanmar goes into the Chinese market. Ironically some drug production in the north of Myanmar also finds its way into China.
The recent attacks by the so-called Rohingya armed groups on police stations and on some Buddhist temples plays into the hands of imperialism. The state and regional armed groups are presented with a cover to act in the north, committing atrocities in order to clear the land.
Those forces who portray the fight as one being between the Rohingya and the Buddhist are mistaken. Their position creates and reinforces the artificial divide long ago imposed by imperialism.
The de facto Prime Minister, Aung Suu Kyi, pretends as if no massacres are taking place and in so doing aids imperialism capitalism in the brutal subjugation of the masses.
Imperialist agents such as Erdogan, and the UN, claim that the fight is between the Muslim Rohingya and the Buddhist. In this way they perpetuate a permanent divide among the masses. They actually strengthen the military regime in Myanmar as nationalist or religious fervour is swept up. Meanwhile both Muslim and Buddhist are being chased off the land.
It is noteworthy that imperialism placed sanctions on Myanmar until they passed the World Bank law. Since the accelerated killings of 2012 to date, imperialism has few sanctions against the regime. This shows that the role of sanctions was to ensure direct imperialist control and blatant plunder. Since 2012, for example, timber exports from Burma/Myanmar have increased to Germany, USA, France, China and Turkey, among others. Ironically, Turkey has increased timber imports while sending aid to refugees displaced by the Myanmar regime. This is subsidizing the expulsion plans of imperialism.
The Chinese regime support the New Democracy army and the Kachin Independent Organization. These armed groups are clearing the masses off the land. The Myanmar army is also clearing the masses off the land. The activities of the Rohingya armed group, by attacking police stations and Buddhist temples are playing into the hands of the regime and imperialism.
For joint committees of Muslim- Buddhist and other groups, having self defence units as part of the committees;
No to forced removal from the land
Nationalise the land, under the control of agricultural workers and committees of poor peasants
Expropriate all the foreign and local corporations, without compensation, and placed under workers’ control
Full and equal rights to all minorities
For the right of return of all refugees irrespective of religious belief
For an unfettered Constituent Assembly, with 1 delegate per 10 000 people, constituency representation, delegates subject to instant recall and not earning more than the wage of an average skilled worker.
Away with the Myanmar regime.
Forward to a government of workers and poor peasants.
For workers’ blockade of all goods from Myanmar and blocking of arms to the regime.
Stop the killing of the masses
Stop the destruction of the forests
For mass pickets at all the embassies of the US, UK, France, Germany, the UN, against their complicity in the massacres
Solidarity with the refugees
7 September 2017 amended 12 September 2017
Workers International Vanguard Party/League