People's Democracy

(Weekly Organ of the Communist Party of India (Marxist)


No. 03

January 19, 2003

No Option But Armed Struggle If Talks Fail: CP Burma

 MYANMAR, earlier known as Burma, is currently facing a piquant situation. Though the military junta has bowed a little from its high and mighty position, the talks it initiated with the National League for Democracy (NLD) after releasing its leader from detention, stand deadlocked. The Communist Party of Burma (CPB) is keenly watching this situation as, whatever be the outcome of the talks, it will have a big impact on the partyís own tactic and destiny.

The CPB was a product of the anti-colonial movement that matured by the turn of the twentieth century and became more organised as time went by, under the influence of the international communist movement and the anti-colonial movements in neighbouring countries. There was an unprecedented strike by workers in 1936, and it was later joined by students and other progressive elements. It was after this strike that some of the prominent young leaders of the anti-colonial movement founded the CPB on August 15, 1939. However, in the circumstances then prevailing, the party had to function as an underground party.

The CPB played a leading role in the anti-Japanese armed resistance during the second world war and gained an opportunity to function as a legal party after the war. It played a vanguard role in forming a united front in the struggle for independence. However, this did not last long as the reactionary rightists got an upper hand and ousted the party from the front after two years. When they got hold of the state power after gaining independence, they took steps to get rid of the party, or at least oust it from the legal fold, and the party was thus compelled to take to arms in self-defence.

The party suffered a setback in 1989 when ethnic groups broke up with it. The result compelled the old generation leaders to give up active participation in party work, followed by the election of a new generation to the leadership. By this time, there were few bases for the activities of the partyís armed forces and the whole party had to go underground again.

At present the CPB is doing its best to see that the nation makes a transition from a military-ruled state to a democratic one. It is acting in cooperation with other democratic forces to bring the military junta to the negotiating table. It is clear that the nation, like other poor nations, will have to go through ordeals and meet serious challenges in this century. Given the present international situation, the most important task before the CPB is to uphold the nationís sovereignty and defend its integrity. The CPB hopes that it will be able to meet these challenges and surmount these ordeals only if the nation is united and led by a democratic government.

The CPB believes that its status as an underground party will be transitory. The outcome of the present talks going on between the military junta and the NLD, the force that won a landslide victory during the 1990 elections, will decide what route the CPB will have to take. There are two possibilities. If the talks succeeded, the CPB may gain an opportunity to function as a legal party. But if the talks fail, the conditions may compel it to take to arms again.

The question of how long the negotiation process will drag on is very puzzling. It is clear that the junta is trying to drag the process as long as it can and create obstacles for the negotiations. The current situation, however, indicates that the junta is getting increasingly cornered and is making desperate efforts to save itself. But, deprived of basic democratic rights for decades and facing a worse than ever economic situation, the people of Burma are losing patience. In this situation, the CPB has made it clear that it cannot be waiting for the outcome of the talks with folded hands either.