Burma, some basics…
I have been watching the unrest in Burma..also known as Myanmar, for almost two weeks now. I have seen things I never thought I would see happening in living color. I watched the murder of a Japanese journalist named Kenji Nagai who was holding nothing but a video camera when a Burmese soldier gunned him down at point blank range. The video was gruesome. It made me cry and scream, scaring the bejesus out of my cats. The video I watched was on a site called The Democratic Voice of Burma(DVB). It’s a site run by individuals that no longer live in their homeland because of the military junta that has controlled that country for decades. I downloaded their video and made a YouTube video of it, which got picked up by Crooks and Liars. Thousands of individuals watched the video and commented. The one thing that many of them said over and over was; BushCo won’t help Burma, they don’t have any oil.
Oh that is so very wrong my dear reader. It showed me how little individuals know about Burma/Myanmar. There are many reasons that the U.S. will not step in and help the citizens in Burma, but the lack of oil isn’t one of them. So I took it upon myself to educate others about Burma.
Burma, or the Union of Myanmar as the junta has renamed it, is the largest land mass country in Southeast Asia. In 1948 England gave up on Burma and the country has been under various forms of regime rule since a coup in 1962. Over 1100 miles of Burma are uninterrupted coastline, which of course is a very good thing for them. Their natural resources are vast; Oil, natural gas, teak wood and it’s a major supplier of rice to the world.
The country was once an economic leader in the region. Their citizens were considered to be among the most educated as well. Former UN Secretary General U Thant was from Burma. But that all changed with the military coup in 1962. Burma has steadily gone downhill since then and the military junta’s that have controlled the country don’t give a rat’s ass about educating or lifting the country’s citizens out of poverty and squalor. The juntas have also quashed any political unrest by using force and murdering tens of thousands of protestors over the decades.
The current leader, and I use that word loosely, is General Than Shwe. Shwe is a fuckwit of the highest order. He is superstitious and consults an astrologer of all things. His cohort in crime and murder is General Maung Aye, whose reputation is, if anything, more ruthless than Than Shwe’s. Aye has more field combat experience fighting and slaughtering ethnic rebels in the mountain and jungle regions of Burma. Soldiers in the 400,000-strong military live secluded from civilian life in isolated barracks; their families are housed in secluded areas as well. The soldiers and their families are kept ignorant of the abject poverty that most of their fellow citizens live in throughout the country.
Shwe and the military thwarted the outcome of a 1990 national vote, in which Nobel Peace Prize laureate Aung San Suu Kyi’s pro-democracy party won a landslide victory. Ms. Kyi has been held under house arrest since that time. She managed to meet with the UN representative that went to Burma last week. Many of her followers have fled Burma over the years, but Ms. Kyi refuses to leave her country. That this tiny-statured woman has more balls than any of the junta leaders is quite evident. Apparently the junta leaders are aware of her power and standing with the citizens of Burma since surely they would of murdered her by now I think. She is loved and revered through out the country and the world by Burmese nationals.
One might wonder how Shwe stays in power. One word: China. China supplies Shwe with arms and buys Burma’s Oil and natural gas. Shwe was smart enough to open up Burma to foreign investment and he chose two countries that border his as the major investors: China and India. China also blocks any UN resolutions that attempt to better the lives of the Burmese people by imposing sanctions on the brutal military regime. Since China is one of the biggies in the UN, like the U.S., they have the power to kill any resolutions that would bring hardship on the asshats in charge in Burma by instituting sanctions like the ones on North Korea.
Its politics my dear reader..politics with a capital P that control the world as we know it. Like Darfur, Burma has been a mess for decades. It has slowly gone from being a shining light in the region to one of the worst nations in the world, who’s citizens live in appalling poverty and who fear death or imprisonment at the hands of the military if they attempt to speak out about the repressive military regime that rules there.
But the Monks have never stopped protesting the brutal military regimes throughout the history of Burma. The Monks have always stood against the murderers, never thinking about their safety. Mass public demonstrations, led by those faithful Monks, began anew on August 18 of this year, when the regime raised the price of diesel oil by 500% in order to cover a budget deficit that resulted from a salary hike for civil servants. Nice huh? Great way to balance the friggin budget, on the backs of the poor. Remind you of anyone? But I digress..
The Monks led the way again. The citizenry followed and then all hell broke loose in Burma. But this time..its different. This time, there are videophones, the Internets and all sorts of different methods to get the word out to the world of the brutality of Shwe’s regime. Bloggers in Burma managed to get video out of the killing of Kenji Nagai, the rounding up of thousands of Monks, photographs of the bodies of dead Monks floating in the rivers…the regime can not keep their murderous rage a secret any more. We can thank technology for allowing us to see the brutality in Burma for what it is..a pathetic attempt to maintain the status quo of a few ignorant, ruthless military Generals who refuse to provide a decent economy for the millions of residents of Burma, even though the country has vast natural and agricultural resources.
The Monks are now being rounded up by the thousands, according to various media sources, including DVB. They are vanishing my dear reader. As this Independent article tells us:
The gates were open at Rangoon’s glittering Shwedagon temple yesterday but soldiers, not monks, wandered its marble-floored shrines and pavilions.
Five days after Burma’s military leaders began a crackdown on protesting monks and their civilian supporters, the red-robed Buddhist clergy, normally seen in their thousands around the city, have vanished. And the UN’s special envoy sent to confront the military junta was stalled for yet another day.
“The monks are gone. We are worried about them. We don’t know where they are,” said a young guide at the temple. Usually hundreds of monks would be milling around the golden, bell-shaped, stupa – praying, chatting quietly in groups or explaining the significance of gem-encrusted statues or shrines to visitors.
Soldiers with rifles have taken their place, their bare feet the only mark of respect to Burma’s most sacred Buddhist site. There are few visitors, and stall-holders selling paper flowers and incense sticks for offerings have little trade.
“It is strange now,” said the guide, out of the earshot of soldiers. “We don’t think the army should be at the temple. We think the monks have been taken away. We think they are in jail.”
A senior monk told The Independent at the weekend he believed 3,000 monks had been detained by Burmese security forces, and were being held in police and military camps.
The military regime will do anything to quell the unrest, as the whole world watches. China, India and other countries that depend on Burma’s oil and gas will protect the regime and turn a blind eye to the slaughter.