Toward Democracy, Human Rights and Federalism

Friday, February 3, 2012

Burma's Mass Migration Reveals Junta's Ever-Diminishing Power-Base

Friday, October 10 2008, 11:19 PM EDT
Dr. Sein Win, Prime Minister of the NCGUB, says "most are unfortunately exchanging extreme hardship and an inability to make a living at home with poorly paid jobs and lonely, insecure lives elsewhere. Some go into unsustainable debt to pay agents and others still, most tragically, become commodities in people trafficking markets."

BURMA'S MASS MIGRATION REVEALS JUNTA'S EVER-DIMINISHING
POWER-BASE

Washington DC: Burma's military junta is driving out its own citizens, reportedly making money in the process, as citizens fed up with 46 years of dictatorship enact the only vote they have left: with their feet. It is a stark indication of the junta's increasing irrelevance as well as the strength of the people's will for freedom, says the National Coalition Government of the Union of Burma.

According to estimates, up to 10% of Burma 's population of 55 million is already living outside the country, mainly in neighbouring countries as well as in Japan and in the Gulf countries. Burma is already the third highest source of refugees in the world, confirming the exodus is not just economic.

Recently, in the wake of price hikes, crackdowns and the cyclone disaster, many more have been leaving Burma . One recent report put the number of daily passport applications in one central office alone at around 10,000 a month. The majority are between 18 and 38 and most are male.

Dr. Sein Win, Prime Minister of the NCGUB, says "most are unfortunately exchanging extreme hardship and an inability to make a living at home with poorly paid jobs and lonely, insecure lives elsewhere. Some go into unsustainable debt to pay agents and others still, most tragically, become commodities in people trafficking markets."

Says Sein Win, the 'Freedom Exodus' underlines just how serious the Burmese military is about holding onto its own increasingly limited power-base. "It is also a sign of just how much the military has become a state within a state, a self -perpetuating force which has no enduring ties with its own population," he notes.

There are reports the junta is actually commercially involved in the practice. Media investigations have claimed that at least two migration agencies holding regional monopolies are state-run. Others not directly connected to the regime are obliged to pay exorbitant fees and taxes.

The NCGUB says that if the 'Freedom Exodus' continues, the only Burmese left who are not in cahoots with the military will be in prison or so horribly destitute and marginalised that they cease to register in any of the regime's policy deliberations. "This is precisely where this self-absorbed administration is heading," says Sein Win. "It will end up existing only for its own purpose."

"It is hollowing out its own nation, forcing out many of those citizens it should be relying on to build the future of Burma , to serve its own myopic political ends. Driving, and possibly profiting from, such a national tragedy as mass migration shows just how much the regime has lost touch with its own population," argues Sein Win.

"The only possible positive to come out of this is that here is evidence of just how far many Burmese are prepared to go to create even a semblance of freedom in their lives, and a sense of hope for the future. So dire have things become in what should be one of Asia's wealthiest countries, that Burmese will consider leaving their families for long periods, risking all, just to scratch out something like a living and aspire to freedom."

"The 'Freedom Exodus' is further confirmation that the people of Burma are ready and willing to embrace freedom and democracy and to be rid of a regime that has become irredeemably dysfunctional."

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