The Revival of Burma Communist Party (CPB) in Myanmar Spring Revolution

Communist Party of Burma PLA

Despite sharing many characteristics with the military dictatorship, the Communist Party of Burma reemerged during the 2021 Myanmar Spring Revolution to fight the junta.

Submitted by heinhtetkyaw on October 22, 2022

The existence of the Communist Party of Burma was threatened in 1989 when its own ethnic military officers and ethnic party members decided to revolt against the party’s leadership. CPB’s headquarters were based in an area of ethnic "Wa" called Pangsang in the 1980s. In 1989, a significant number of ethnic "Wa" dissenters who used to serve as military officers under the People’s Liberation Army of CPB stormed the party headquarters, destroyed the party as well as the ideological leaders’ portraits, and forced a lot of party members and leaders into exile into China. Since then, the CPB has lost control over the headquarters, its military army, and its connection with the underground party cadres. However, a tiny fraction of the party members and the leaders still managed to keep the party from being dissolved totally.
In 2021, a military coup was carried out by the Myanmar military under the leadership of General Min Aung Hlaing against the democratically elected government of the National Democratic League. The CPB consequently issued a statement on the same day, denouncing the coup and calling for a united front against the military junta. It was reported that some CPB cadres went back into Myanmar through the China–Myanmar border in March 2021.
Chinese Communist Party
The CPC played a significant role in reviving the CPB’s PLA. After the 1989 mutiny, the exiled party members and the leaders found refuge in China. From China, the CPB has been working to raise a new generation of communists by remaining in contact with Burmese citizens via student and worker unions. In return, CPB members and their fellows never openly criticise the CPC and its policies, even though Myanmar and its proletariat have to suffer a lot because of Chinese imperialism.
Leftist Youth Organization - LYO
When the coup happened in February 2021, there were several peaceful protests against the military junta and the coup. However, all these peaceful protests were brutally suppressed by the military junta. That led to radicalise some youths, especially the younger generations like Generation Z and millennials to choose the military struggle as the main vehicle against the military junta.
Some CPB cadres were successful in radicalising young students who were not well informed about Marxism since 2018-2019. CPB cadres guided some student union members to form a loosely affiliated leftist alliance called "Leftist Youth Organization" across the country. Leftist Youth Organization has its unofficial predecessor left-wing student bookclub where students study the Mao Zedong's thought. They tried to radicalise more students by setting up the lectures on Maoism, Stalinism, and the history of CPB after the coup.
During the lectures, it’s reported that the CPB’s cadres defended the crimes against humanity that Mao Zedong and Stalin committed. Moreover, they also try to act as apologists for the crimes committed by the CPB and CPC during the cultural revolution. Consequently, some students become critical of the CPB as they don’t see the difference between the CPB and the military junta if the crimes against humanity are being defended. Some of such students formed a Facebook group called "Anti-Communist Action," and the membership rose to 4,000 out of the blue. It's also reported that the founding members of ACA have some personal conflicts with some members of LYO. Here, it can be observed that ACA is mainly composed of right-wing conservatives, free market capitalists and social liberals.

Such reactions were reinforced when one of the leading members of LYO, San Shar, wrote an article fantasising about totalitarian North Korea as a communist ideal and Kim Jong-un as a revolutionary Marxist leader. Such illiteracy was not even acceptable to Burmese lifelong leftists of various stripes. Some autonomists, anarchists, and post-colonialists merged to form a counter-propaganda page against both LYO and ACA with the name "Libertarian Marxism Myanmar" despite their disagreements with each other. In the meantime, it was reported that fractions started to appear inside the LYO after such a kind of backlash against them because of that incident.
A few months later, the same member of LYO, San Shar, was reported for a sexual harassment scandal with an underaged girl. This time, LYO was finally split into various fractions due to the social pressure against them. As a last resort to prevent the split, the LYO published a statement condemning San Shar with a probation notice. Nonetheless, some key members decided to resign and reinvest in properly learning left-wing ideologies by decolonizing themselves against CPB propaganda. Comrade Za Kwel, who was once a member of the LYO, became an anarchist and is actively struggling against the military junta. Comrade Khu Zun, who used to be the General Secretary of the LYO, now stopped addressing himself as a Maoist and sometimes contributes to the Libertarian Marxism Myanmar page. Nevertheless, San Shar, who praised Kim Jong-un and was accused of a sexual harassment scandal, is still writing for LYO and is serving as regional political lead for CPB’s PLA.
People's Liberation Army
In August 2021, the CPB announced that it had rearmed itself and established a new armed wing, the People's Liberation Army (PLA), to wage a "people's war" against the military junta. The Kachin Independence Army (KIA), one of the active opposition forces currently engaged in the junta onslaught, has provided the armed forces with equipment and weapons, and they anticipate expanding their force and arsenal. The PLA is currently fighting alongside other revolutionary militias against the military junta. However, the PLA admitted that their goal is different from the People’s Defense Forces (PDF), the main revolutionary military group under the leadership of the National Unity Government (NUG). Generally, PDFs are fighting for a federal democratic union. Despite claiming that their goals are different, the PLA failed to state their idealistic vision of Burma in their statements. 
To sum up, due to its terrible fascistic despotic past from the Cultural Revolution era and its ideological foundations in Maoism, the CPB will be unable to win over the public, particularly the proletariats and ethnic peasant class. Federalism and the rights of independent states were enemies of Stalin and Mao Zedong. Besides, the CPB still maintains its allegiance to Stalinism and Maoism. Moreover, the foundation of Maoism is a one-party authoritarianism akin to the military junta. Thus, CPB and its PLA can be seen as the military junta's evil twins, who will eventually stand in the way of Burma’s transition to democracy unless it changes its ideological roots to something more appropriate.