World Citizen: Myanmar Inches Toward Civil War, not Democracy

World Citizen: Myanmar Inches Toward Civil War, not Democracy

When the generals in Myanmar orchestrated their pseudo-democratic pageant last November, the exercise was labeled a "sham" by most of the world. Some in the West, however, speculated that despite the deeply flawed elections, the long-ruling junta might still redeem itself and allow real democratic progress in the wake of the polls. So far, however, the optimists are being proven spectacularly wrong. In the months since the vote, the country has marched in the direction of civil war and intensified oppression rather than toward democratic reconciliation and real reform.

The election may, in fact, have made matters worse. Myanmar's new democratic façade has provided a cover to countries eager to do business with the resource-rich nation. As a result, political isolation has eased, strengthening the regime. In addition, neighboring states such as Thailand may now start deporting some of the thousands of Burmese refugees on their territory, arguing that Myanmar is returning to normalcy.

Nothing could be further from the truth. The bleak landscape in the country many still call Burma looks as dismal as ever. In some places, the situation has become more desperate, causing yet another exodus of refugees, which is arguably the best gauge of despair. Meanwhile, a number of long-running wars between the central government and armed groups from ethnic minorities have intensified, while other previously dormant conflicts have flared again.

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