N THE early hours of Monday the military in Myanmar (formerly called Burma) seized power in a coup that saw the country’s leader Aung San Suu Kyi arrested and detained along with other leaders of her ruling National League for Democracy Party (NLD).
All last week, the military were preparing to carry out a return to full military dictatorship alleging widespread voting irregularities in elections held last November.
In these elections the NLD won a landslide victory winning 396 out of 476 seats, while the military-backed Union Solidarity and Development party won only 33.
Aung San Suu Kyi spent nearly 15 years under house arrest by the military dictatorship that had ruled the country for 50 years. In that period she won the massive support of the people for her opposition to the brutal dictatorship.
Such was the popular support throughout the country, and the overwhelming demands for change, that the military, in order to head off a confrontation, were finally forced to release her and permit contested elections to take place in 2015.
However, the military made certain that they still retained almost absolute control – with Suu Kyi acting as a virtual figurehead for them.
The new constitution guaranteed the military 25% of seats in parliament and gave them complete control over important government ministries.
Suu Kyi willingly accepted this constitution as a price worth paying for her party being swept to power in these elections.
At the same time as submitting willingly to the diktats of the military she reneged on her promises to the working class and small farmers that her government would herald a new period of workers’ rights and protection for small farmers from the big agricultural concerns.
Her complete subservience to and collaboration with the military was made public when, in 2019, she went to the International Court of Justice at The Hague and defended the military’s genocidal war against minorities in the Rohingya province of the country.
She dismissed the well-documented case that the military had conducted a concerted campaign of mass murder and rape to ethnically cleanse the province of Muslim communities claiming that soldiers were just exercising the ‘rule of law’.
Instead of using her overwhelming victory in 2015 to advance the causes of the working class and rural population, Suu Kyi acted as a willing accomplice of the military.
The generals clearly knew that they had a useful puppet who could be used to hold back the demands of the people for change – while allowing the army and the Myanmar bourgeoisie to carry on as before.
Clearly however, she has now outlived her usefulness and is to be locked up once again, and the iron fist of the military allowed to rule unhindered.
The driving force behind dumping Suu Kyi is the huge wave of poverty and unemployment that is sweeping the country which has led to millions facing starvation and ruin as bosses use the pandemic to sack workers who have no protection under the law.
In dumping her, the military is prepared to take on the great mass of the country that will not peacefully accept a return to a military dictatorship but will rise up against it.
The lesson for the people of Myanmar is that the bourgeois democratic constitutional changes, championed by Suu Kyi, are nothing but a trap for the working class and small farmers to keep them from dealing with the military and advancing their interests against a bankrupt ruling class.
The way forward now is to break with the treacherous reactionary politics of Suu Kyi and go forward to building an independent revolutionary party prepared to organise the masses in a struggle to bring down the military junta and replace it with a workers’ and small farmers’ government that will expropriate the bosses and landowners as part of the world socialist revolution.
This is also the lesson for the entire working class and oppressed people of the world – building revolutionary parties of the Fourth International in every country is the only way forward today.