Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Comments on Mizzima Op/Ed

While I appreciate the much needed response from Mizzima opposing bigotry and racism which have become the all too familiar trademarks of Buddhist terrorism inside Myanmar, it should understand that for years, before even the Thein Sein regime came to power, the Rohingya and other Muslim communities have been asking for integration and not segregation in a national reconciliation dialogue. Such calls only met deaf ears from the ultra-racist and bigot elements within the political spectrum of ENC and ANC where the Rohingya and minority Muslim participation was simply disallowed. The so-called Democracy movement had nothing democratic about it; it was as fascist as it could be. The minority views/voices were simply ignored with no place to share within such Diaspora groups that were interested in a federal Burma with democracy being the system of government. This arrogant attitude, in spite of the fact that Rohingya Muslims were almost half the total population inside Arakan, was later to boil up under Thein Sein government, oozing out all the ugliness that Myanmar has now come to be known for. Even the role of the pro-democracy media was pathetic at best.

The all too familiar religio-racist fascism followed the hierarchy: Bamar first, Buddhist second (or interchangably) and nothing for others that did not fit in either of these two categories.

Anyway, it is good to see that the media pundits are now calling for a reconciliation dialogue that includes minority Muslims, and are saying that bigotry is unacceptable. I wish we had heard such calls before the current tragedy had hit which has caused so much sufferings for the Muslim minorities.

The reconciliation dialogue can succeed only with true intent that aims at integration, which begins with citizenship rights for the Muslims. Otherwise, it would be one such hypocrisy which we have seen enough of.

By the way, Mizzima should know that true democracy is not about majoritarianism where only the majority rules, but it is an idea of democracy that is about minority rights and group rights and above all individual human rights. Majority rule says that the loss for the few is justified by the fact that the winners are greater in number. But why should the minority accept this way of looking at it? After all, it is unfair to the minority. Fairness requires that institutions should speak to the vulnerable perspective of minorities and not simply lump them in with everyone else.

Bottom line: legitimate democracies are those that respect minority rights and promote fair and inclusive deliberation. That is, democracy certainly lacks legitimacy if majorities oppress minorities and flaunt their rights. (Note; for a good discussion on this subject the reader may like to read Princeton University professor Stephen Macedo's article: "AGAINST MAJORITARIANISM: DEMOCRATIC VALUES AND INSTITUTIONAL DESIGN")

So, if Myanmar is serious about democracy, it must resist all temptations towards majoritarianism, which can only polarize and divide the nation of many races and tribes.

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