When Burmawas ruled by a monarchyin the pre-colonial era, its Army was given the name of ‘Tatmadaw’.In the Burmese language Tatmadaw means Royal Armed Forces.Today the Tatmadaw has lost all its popularity and public support because of its action of deposing the elected government on 1st February 2021. One could understand the public reaction against the Tatmadaw by going through an article of Desmond published in the ‘Irrawaddy’ on 25th May 2022. The writer is of the opinion that the name Tatmadaw must not be used for the present day Myanmar Military because it is not ‘Royal’. “The word is too good for Min Aung Hlaing’s army, which is just a group of armed men killing their own people. There is nothing ‘royal’ about the actions of the present-day Myanmar military. Instead of the term ‘Myanmar Military, the most suitable term would be ‘murderous military’, which captures the true nature of Min Aung Hlaing’s army.” According to the Wikipedia, ‘ Min Aung Hlaing is a Burmese politician and army general who has ruled Myanmar as the chairman of the State Administration Council since seizing power in the February 2021 coup d’état. He took the nominally civilian role of prime minister of Myanmar in August 2021 upon the formation of the Provisional Government.’
On 2nd February 2022, the BBC said in a report on Myanmar Army, “Since it overthrew Aung San Suu Kyi’s democratically elected government in a coup one year ago, Myanmar’s military – known as the Tatmadaw – has gone on to shock the world by killing hundreds of its own civilians, including dozens of children, in a brutal crackdown on protesters.” The report further narrated, “For Myanmar’s citizens, it has been a year of indiscriminate street killings and bloody village raids. In December 2021, a BBC investigation report discovered the Tatmadaw carried out a series of attacks that involved the torture and mass murder of opponents.More than 1,500 people have been killed by security forces since the coup in February 2021.”
Myanmar’s Nobel Peace laureate,Ms. Aung San Suu Kyi had been thecivilian leader of Myanmar since her party won election in 2015 but during all that period the Tatmadaw always remained more powerful and authoritative than the civilian leader Aung San Suu Kyi. It retained control over the armed forces by appointingkey cabinet ministers and its own commander in-chief.Moreover after the National League for Democracy’s landslide in November 2020, Tatmadaw generals refused to accept the outcome, arguing that the results were fraudulent. This stubborn attitude of the Tatmadaw was widely condemned and criticized internationally. Unfortunately, keeping aside all international disliking and criticism, India the ‘biggest democracy’ in the region, gave a warm welcome to the anti-democratic forces in Myanmar.
Between India and the current Myanmar regime,the warm relationship started soon after the coup in February 2021. While the regime was being internationally condemned for its coup, India was careful not to make any direct reference to the military takeover or to condemn it in its statements. Since coup there have been multiple engagements between India and Myanmar Military rulers. At the time when world was distancing itself from Military Junta of Myanmar, India extended invitation to Commander-In-Chief (Navy) Admiral Moe Aung of Myanmar to attend the third edition of Goa Maritime Conclave 2021 in Goa from 7th to 9th November. The Goa Maritime Conclave is hosted by Indian Navy once after every two years. During the visit the Commander-in-Chief had separate one to one meetings with India’s National Security Advisor, Defence Secretary, Foreign Secretary, Chief of Defence Staff and Chief of the Naval Staff. The Commander-in-Chief participated in discussions on topics like active cooperation between Indian Navy and Tatmadaw maritime security and non-traditional security threats in Indian Ocean.On 22ndDecember 2021, India’s Foreign Secretary Harsh Vardhan Shringla paid a two-day official visit to Myanmar. That was country’s first official outreach to the military Junta that seized power in February 2021.
Ignoring all its claims of being caretaker of basic human rights, Indiahas been tryingits best not to antagonize the Junta which has killed more than 2,000 people for rejecting military rule. Despite international condemnation on the regime, India has been openly cooperating with the military Junta, extending diplomatic support and even assistance in organizing a general election that Min Aung Hlaing plans to hold this year. When world talks about isolating Myanmar military regime, discussion of its few allies tends to focus on Russia and China’s engagement with the Junta and support for it on UN Security Council. One country that has been strangely absent from this conversation, however, is India.
India’s support to the Military rule in Myanmar is in fact an effort of giving tough time to Chinese interests in Myanmar. The Aljazeera pointed out in an analysis that the growing conflict in Myanmar is undermining the investment environment for China. According to an analysis paper by the Institute for Strategy and Policy Myanmar, Chinese investments are facing growing risks as the anti-coup conflicts escalate across the country.“Of more than 7,800 clashes recorded nationwide since the coup in February 2021, at least 300 have taken place in areas where major Chinese projects are located or near potential project sites for Chinese investments.” says Aljazeera. By providing support to Myanmar’s military rulers, India is simply discouraging China’s presence in the country.In spite of the fact thatIndia is the major supporter of Myanmar Military regime, the international media remains silent on this pro-dictatorship approach of India. Myanmar is no doubt facing worst situation of human rights violation leading to a very agonizingpolitical chaos. Certainly this is the worst phase of Myanmar’s history, and this all is happening particularly in an era when so-called super powers ever seem determined to discourage all anti-democracy movements.But in case of Myanmar, the world’s self-claimed ‘biggest democracy’ ispatronizing the human rights exploiters.