Tuesday, October 2, 2007

Burma: Trying to make sense of a senseless situation

The stories coming out of Burma, such as they can, are disturbing on so many levels. The sheer violence is sickening. The fact that so many of the victims are peaceful Buddhist monks makes it more unbelievable. Added to this horror is the fact that there's not much you or I can do about it. But I cannot simply shrug and say “oh well,” and I'm sure you can't either, or you wouldn't still be reading this. So I offer some suggestions on what you (and I) can do.

First and foremost, get informed about the history. Learn some background information on Burma, such as the history of the National League for Democracy and its leader, Aung San Suu Kyi, who has been under military detention for 12 of the past 18 years. She was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1991.

Next although news is very hard to get directly from Burma (the government has cut off Internet access, and has imprisoned and even killed journalists) try to stay updated on events. Many people are trying to get the truth out, and a few good sources for news are the BBC, Global Voices Online, The Telegraph, to name a few. Also, visit sites such as Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International.

Go to google news, and search on Burma. Then look for a variety of news sources. No one source will give you all you need to know. Today's facts, as I can find them:

  • Ibrahim Gambari, the UN envoy, has left Burma after meeting with the detained pro-democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi hours after talks with junta leader Than Shwe.
  • Outrage over the junta's reaction to the protests continues to mount in capitals in the region. In Malaysia, lawmakers from members of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean) called for the expulsion of Burma from the 10-nation organization.
  • Foreign Minister George Yeo of Singapore, which now holds Asean's chairmanship, said in a newspaper interview that Asean - which consists of Brunei, Burma, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam - had "no choice" but to deliver a tough position on the violent repression of the demonstrations.
Lastly, private companies and countries doing business in Burma must be the driving force behind bringing democracy and stability to Burma. Most notably absent in the public outcry over the current violence: China and India. No surprise, the biggest market in Burma: oil. Policymakers and the business world has seen this crisis coming for many years. The Bush Administration, for all it's recent talk at the U.N, has done very little, putting their sites on oil and gas, and away from human rights.

The situation in Burma will probably get worse before it gets better. Public outcry from around the world is the only thing that will force governments and companies to force the military junta to stop the killing and violence.

My best advice to all of us: it's time to step up and face our responsibility of global citizenship. I look forward to hearing your ideas and suggestions, as well.

1 comment:

Free Burma! said...

Free Burma!
International Bloggers' Day for Burma on the 4th of October

International bloggers are preparing an action to support the peaceful revolution in Burma. We want to set a sign for freedom and show our sympathy for these people who are fighting their cruel regime without weapons. These Bloggers are planning to refrain from posting to their blogs on October 4 and just put up one Banner then, underlined with the words „Free Burma!“.