Burma Now – Like South Vietnam in 1963?

As a boy I have a wild sense of imagination. This sense of imagination applies to everything – including to the situation in Burma.

I imagine that the situation in Mynmar now may deteriorate to a situation where the Buddhist monks engaging in drastic actions. One such drastic action is self immolation. Perhaps such actions are being contemplated right now. Who knows?

Self immolation was done by Buddhist monks in 1963 in South Vietnam. At that time, there was a confrontation between the government of Ngo Dinh Diem who is Catholic (Diem had previously place Catholics in key position of the government and military); and the Buddhists monks (and most of the population are Buddhist).

An act of self immolation was done by a 73 year old Buddhist monk – Thich Quang Duc. Quang Duc sacrificed himself with the help of 3 other Buddhist monks. With the help pf an assistant, Quang Duc soaked himself with 4 gallons of petrol. Then he lit himself ablaze.

This self immolation was performed symbolically to coincide with Ngo Dinh Diem’s visit to a Catholic church just one mile away.

The self immolation of Quang Duc started a wave of mass protest and riots – which eventually resulted in pro Buddhist elements of the ARVN (Army of the Republic of Viet Nam) rebelling and toppling Diem’s government. Just to note, before the November 1 coup, 7 more Buddhist monks and nuns immolated themselves. In retrospect, the self-sacrifice of these Buddhist monks earn themselves a moral power which ultimately helped to topple the hated Catholic-Diem regime.

Such a thing may be applied by the Buddhist monks in Myanmar. In today’s Myanmar the cleavage between the Buddhist monks (especially the younger generation) and the military junta is getting wider and wider. It may be a matter of time that things will get nasty between both of these conflicting social forces. Moreover this conflict has a severe underlying reason – i.e. economic hardship and a plethora of other social problems. The Buddhist monks, in which so far has lead the protests may be turn themselves into a force of change.

The military junta may be overwhelmed by popular dissent. The military junta may also face revolt within their ranks or from other dissatisfied/disenchanted officers from the army.

On the other hand, the army/military may play an iron-hand and use their guns and oppressive forces to maintain power – just like in 1988. The Buddhist led protests may be crushed with force.

Anyway, these are just predictions. Of course, I am not a Mynmarist. I am definitely not an expert on Burma. It will be good if we have a blogger who is a Mymnarist (well versed in Burma history, society and government), who can give a better take on the current situation there.


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