September 22, 2005

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Burma Watch

You will notice that one of my advertisers is from, a blog that does what it says. Here is a guest post from them on Burma's plight:

c. Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman, or Degrading Treatment or Punishment

The authorities routinely subjected detainees to harsh interrogation techniques designed to intimidate and disorient. The most common forms of mistreatment were sleep and food deprivation coupled with around-the-clock questioning; some detainees also were kicked and beaten. Credible reports continue that prisoners are forced to squat or assume stressful, uncomfortable, or painful positions for lengthy periods.

There continued to be credible reports that security forces subjected ordinary citizens to harassment and physical abuse. The military forces routinely confiscated property, cash, and food, and used coercive and abusive recruitment methods to procure porters. Those forced into porterage or other duties faced extremely difficult conditions and beatings and mistreatment that sometimes resulted in death (see Sections 1.a. and 6.c.). In June security forces beat NLD members (see Section 2.b.).

There were frequent reports that soldiers raped women who were members of ethnic minorities, especially in Shan, Karenni, and Karen states, where the majority of armed encounters between the army and insurgents took place.

This from the 1998 State Department Human Rights Report, which may ( or may not ) be one of the first disturbing stories I ever heard of out Burma. I had been told of the oppression there but not in a way you would think, you see in high school I would wear a shirt which stated Mission to Burma, to me at that time it meant nothing more that a cool 70's punk band until one day I was pulled out of my class for making a political statement.

"Are you trying to say that the people of Burma are oppressed?" they asked. "It's just a rock band, you know music." A few years later I read the above report. I remember then thinking how odd it was that I was almost sent home for (accidentally) mentioning what was going on in Burma, to this day I meet many people who have no idea.

This all in a nation from which some in Burma wait to be saved. Actually the working theory among those educated in the fight for democracy is that there would be no need for a war, no need for America to actually save the people of Burma and I'll tell you why.

The conventional vision is that if the US showed up in Burma, all the people who are against the junta, which would included many in the military, would then stand up leaving so few left that are for the junta that surrendering would be the only option. That is the working theory anyways. And that is loosely how cluttered Burmese society is.

The Burmese are a mystical and wonderful people who once you get to know you can't help but admire.

Daw Aung San Suu Kyi

The first name Daw is just a formality, typical in asian culture and Kyi is pronounced chee. For those of you who don't know, she was democratically elected in 1990 for her party the National League for Democracy, but the junta refused to give up power and as of taday she has spent almost 10 years under house arrest. For a time last year there were report the Nobel Peace Prize winner was ill but she was not permited to see a doctor. Once or twice a year President Bush calls for her to be released, along with other leaders around the world but the media doesn't cover those calls, only people like me even know such words are said.

There are sanctions against doing business with Burma but that doesn't stop many nations and companies, and the US doesn't hesitate to do business with those doing business with Burma. Here is a wonderful list of companies profiting in Burma.

Tourism is booming in Burma. Obviously the junta gets most of your tourist dollars but over the years I have decided that what little business owners get is better that nothing which is the result of boycotts. But that is just my opinion, one that took me years to come to.

Through out the cities, the mountains and the jungles of Burma there are many different peoples, the Kachins, Karennis, Was, Palaungs just to name a few. Beggining to know Burma may be a bit confusing, but once your acquainted!

As I stated previously, the english name Myanmar was given to the land by the junta, to call be Burma is to be in defiance.

posted by Simon on 09.22.05 at 11:26 AM in the ASEAN category.


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Actually Mission of Burma was an early 80s punk band.

And they released a new album in 2004 and are still doing a bunch of gigs. My old roommate came home with ringing in his ears and one of those huge grins.

As for Burma itself, there is also the whole nasty issue of how the map got drawn by the British to include many contentious minorities to create an inherently unstable colony.

posted by: Tom - Daai Tou Laam on 09.29.05 at 07:43 PM [permalink]

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