Saturday, June 17, 2006

Burma. When Will Things Change!

(BBC Online)
It is coming up to the sixty-first birthday of Aung San Suu Kyi (on Monday), and she is still under house arrest in Burma. Recently the Burmese junta extended her detention and she has been under arrest for ten of the past seventeen years.
She advocates non violent resistance and in 1990 won a convincing victory in the free elections that year. With typical arrogance however that is not what the Burmese Junta wanted and they overturned the result and imprisoned Ms Suu Kyi.
There seems to be no end in sight with this impasse. The unlaw govt still wield power in the face of international condemnation and sanctions. It's leader, Senior General Than Shwe, a squat and brutal man who is into psychological warfare and who slams on any remote threat to his power. He is said to be superstitious and allegedly consults with astrologers.
And the economy is crippling and the poor getting poorer. But whilst some would argue that this is down to sanctions, the economy is in some ways thriving due to the tourist trade with visitors who should know better. So where is the money going?
This is almost reminscent of the Philippines under Ferdinand Marcos, the fear being that a milliant group may take over if something (such as a transfer to a democratic system) does not happen and soon.
But there may well be hope. I remember things looking bleak with regards to South Africa during the 1980s, when things looked unchangeable, the same with the Phillipines. Maybe it will be the same with Burma, but the plight of this country must not be forgotten, nor conveniently brushed away.


the dĂșnadan said...

I think you are right to remember the example of South Africa, Paul. I could add the Iron Curtain to that. Even when Gorbachev was in power, I never thought it would come down and communism would end as it did, yet, in one big year, it did just that.

Perhaps as a minimum we should be remembering the people of Burma in our prayers and as a maximum getting involved in the Free Burma campaign if we feel called to it (BTW: can you remember who was the Christian student who was jailed over there for a while?).

Paul Burgin said...

James Mawdsley was the student.
And you are right to remember the USSR. I can still remember the pleasant series of shocks I felt about 1989. One of the best political years we have ever lived, or are likely to live through!