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September 26, 2007 / chrisisgross

trouble in burma

as some of you may know southeast asia is an area that is near to my heart. it started as an interest in vietnam when i was a little kid. my father was one of the first americans let back into the country after the war in the mid-eighties. he told me stories of being trailed by the secret police everywhere he went. vietnam became a very interesting place that captivated my imagination.

after i graduated from college one of the gifts that my parents gave me was a trip to southeast asia. it was an amazing experience to get to see thailand, laos, vietnam and cambodia with my parents. i fell in love with cambodia and laos especially. after learning more about the united states’  role in the area during the war and the destruction that we caused both physically with the war and ideologically afterward i have kept an eye on the region ever since.

now that the khemer rouge has fallen in cambodia and the communist governments of laos and vietnam are opening themselves to free market reforms and thailand is trying to maintain democracy the only remaining militaristic maoist regime is in burma.

with the recent news of the protests and the subsequent crackdown on the monks leading the protest i am hoping that the united states and the united nations are going to actually attempt to aid the people who want the junta to fall rather than use this as a smoke screen to misdirect attention away from out misguided war.

an excellent book i read recently about the area, finding  george orwell in burma, parallels orwell’s time in burma with the british colonial forces and the frightening distopian worlds of his novels with the situation in burma now and when he was serving the british colonials. the sense of being watched permeates the book as the author is always under the watchful eye of the government. there are mentions of the regime and the utter paranoia that the junta has about the people. they govern and oversee every facet of life in burma. previous protests have occurred and one of the leaders aung san suu kyi was awarded the noble peace prize. she is the daughter of the man who helped burma gain its independence from the british.

now burma is in a similar situation. monks are leading protests in the street. reports are saying that the military is pulling troops out of the jungles. troops that are hardened by constant battle with karen separatist forces. this is the same tactic that was used to crush the protests. members of the tetmadew, the burmese army, are said to be shaving their heads and donning the orange robes of the monks leading the protest to infiltrate and arrest the leaders. now they are firing on their own people protesting peacefully.

the situation is critical and it is something that needs to be addressed. i know that much more needs to happen i just hope that i can be a small part of that and one day travel freely and safely in burma.

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2 Comments

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  1. chris g / Sep 27 2007 8:27 am

    One major problem with international appeal is the fact that China is blocking official condemnation of the military crackdown in the U.N. Security Council. It seems that China, Russia and India believe the protests are “internal affairs,” a term that the Chinese government likes to use when supporting suppression of human rights and free speech. (Coincidentally, Buddhist Monks in China and India are also persecuted). And whenever the U.N. or a member of the international community has something to say about human rights abuses in China, the government says, “don’t meddle with our internal affairs.” They don’t seem to notice that human rights is not an “internal affair,” it’s an affair of humanity, and myself being a human, I am concerned with the military crackdown and trampling of human rights, wherever it occurs. I applaud your compassion and concern for the plight of the Burmese people, and as Americans in the know, it is our duty to inform others who do not know and demand action against the Junta in Burma. We should take on the monks’ protest as our own, as a protest against oppression and as a sign of solidarity in the fight against corrupt and abusive governments.

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