28 Feb was another big day- where the society is gearing up for nationwide street protests calling for the abolition of the Constitution of, for, and by the military - adopted forcibly in the midst of the devastating Cyclone Nargis.
The regime has shown an absolute and callous disregard for human life, the welfare of the people in whose name the Tatmadaw or military justify its existence and role in national politics.
I have begun to promote the term Kempeitai Tatmadaw - Kempeitai having been a cross between Nazi SS and Gestapo. While the martyred Aung San, unarguably the most progressive revolutionary and revolutionary intellectual in the recorded histories of Burma, including both the minority regions and the Burmese heartlands of the Dry Zone, was the proxy founder of this national organization it was most influenced by the late General Ne Win, who single-handedly led the Tatmadaw from Feb 1949 until July 1988 as its official Commander in Chief and subsequently as the God Father.
Significantly, Ne Win was given intensive and advanced training at the Nakano Kempeitai Training School or Academy in the middle of Tokyo at this large borough called Nakano-ku. I used to live there when I was in between Burmese and US universities, working as kitchen help, at the age of 24 in the fall of 1988. I did not know of Nakano-ku and Kempeitai connection then much less it having been Ne Win's specialized training school. The school was dismantled after Japan's total surrender in Aug 1945.
Unmistakably the Tatmadaw has long displayed these Kempeitai features - forced labor, mass rape, torture, summary execution, genocidal killings - heard of Manchu Corp and the rape of Nanjing? - and utter and total disregard for human life.
I have been Facebooking LIVE in Burmese regularly, with fluctuating sizes of live views - between 1,000-3,000 - with a total viewership of up 70,000. Mostly inside Myanmar.
The phrase KEMPEITAI Tat or KEMPEITAI has gained currency over the last week or so, indicating the popular conclusion that it is NOT simply a single general or a group of generals who are really bad and ruthless. THE institution of the Tamadaw as such has been imbued with Kempeiti codes of operations, ethos, and culture.
As unattractive as it may sound to many international policymakers and advocacy groups, the ugly fact that will NOT go away is this: Myanmar Kempeitai Tatmadaw cannot be reformed. No one can do business, in good faith, with this institution.
There has so much misunderstanding - and trash - packaged as "scholarship" or "expertise" on the Myanmar military, coming mostly from American and European experts and watchers of my country. One of the scholarly myths about the Tatmadaw is that it is a fiercely nationalistic and patriotic organization.
I am writing this as a former military academy admit, whose extended family have served in all branches of this murderous and predatory institution since its founding in Bangkok in Dec 1942.
My family KNEW Aung San, Ne Win, Than Shwe, and so on, at a very personal level. I had nothing but admiration for this
Anyone who has his or her ears so closed to the grounds the society rests today will tell you the society's rejection of the legitimacy, the political role, and primacy which the generals and the military have claimed for themselves is A TECTONIC SHIFT. No institution can claim to be patriotic or nationalistic when virtually entire PEOPLE, SOCIETY, and NATION - even the most brainwashed majoritarian Buddhist Bama - have unequivocally opposed the Tatmadaw.
In my considered opinion, the Tatmadaw is digging in - and digging its own collective grave. I do not have the crystal ball nor will I indulge myself in the act of tealeaf reading.
But when the Burmese official representative at the UN risked his life and those of his loved ones, abroad in New York - or back home in Rangoon or wherever in Burma the need to dismantle the Tatmadaw is more than clear.
Myanmar envoy Kyaw Moe Tun breaks ranks, urges 'strongest possible' UN action against the military coup.
Watch his 12-minute speech, as delivered here.
In his words, "Myanmar military is THE existential threat to the country and its polity."
This is something I have long argued, against the grain of the mainstream and fundamental policy discourses.
I am acutely aware of what happened to post-Saddam's Baath Party and its military. I don't know what awaits Myanmar. The decisions that Min Aung Hlaing and his accomplices are making today will have profound consequences for EVERY COMMUNITY in Burma, and for the future of Burma, or future-lessness as a nation.
A year ago I wrote the following Facebook post as part of my early morning venting of deep frustration with the NLD leadership - and equally, the progressively worsening institution of the Tatmadaw - over the coffee. Not in my wildest imagination did I think the Burmese society remains deeply concerned about politics, exploitation, racism, etc.
I was pleasantly surprised to have been proven wrong by the unfolding turn of events of today.
For so long, I have kept my head low while screaming Foul about my own people's role in the genocide and colonial wars against those who are not part of the dominant public.
Today I hold my head high, especially because of the fact that the people have rudely awakened to the irreformable Kempeitai nature of the Burmese military, the need to build an inclusive post-racialist society and the urgency of rising about reactive ethno-nationalisms as well as the parochialisms all around.
Maung Zarni © 2021