Comment on VOA News Analysis: “Unity in Diversity” (13.02.2013)

By: Sai Wansai
Saturday, 16 February 2013

What U Kyaw Zan Tha called "civic nationalism" could also be understood as citizenship derived from common identity.

Sai Wansai
In the case of Burma, acceptance or adherence of a common identity is only possible, if it is created with the consent of all ethnic groups residing within the boundary of a political entity. But this has not been the case in Burma.

The reason why the common identity "Myanmar", prescribed by the previous military governments and adhered by the present, quasi-civilian Thein Sein government, has been rejected is that it was created not with the consent of non-Burman ethnic groups, but comes into being only and solely by the desire of the Burmese military, which was thrust down their throats.

In other words, the forging of common national identity has never succeeded, due to the fact that the Burmese military and Burman political class have embarked on ethnocentrism or Burman chauvinism and forced assimilation of all non-Burman ethnic groups, rather than accepting the notion of "unity in diversity".

In short, at present, Burma could only entertain the notion of different “ethnic identities”, like Kachin, Shan, Karenni, Karen, Mon, Chin and Burman; and not one common national identity, or civic national identity leading to civic nationalism, due to the shattered nation-building process of the Burman military and political class. It might come voluntarily, once “unity in diversity” is in place, literally accepted and implemented, but surely not through forceful assimilation and intimidation, as has been the case for more than 66 years.

Please also read or listen to VOA news analysis (Burmese section) at the following link:-


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