Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Many of my friends & family have contacted me the past couple of days in regards to the situation in Myanmar. I'm happy to see that there is some interest in what is happening in that country, even if my upcoming trip is the only reason why people are choosing to care. I'm eager to see the resistance & pro-democracy demonstrations gain some momentum. There have always been pockets of resistance to the military government, but it's been mostly comprised of small militias of 'rebels' who are fighting with weapons. I've read several articles/posts on message boards that warn against taking the Yangon --> Mandalay night train due to potential ambushes by the rebels. (There are a large majority of Burmese military officers that commute on the night train from Rangon.) There are many parts of Myanmar that are closed to foreigners, and I expect that many of the areas either contain fighting or the forced labor that I've read about so often.

It's great to see the monks leading the charge for peaceful demonstrations. If there is one factor that can unite the country made up of so many different ethic groups, it's Buddhism.

I've been keeping tabs on the events daily, quietly hoping that progress will be made towards freedom. I fear that the violence of 1988 will be repeated if the international community doesn't step in - especially China & India. While the US & most of Europe has economic sanctions against Myanmar, the country has been able to operate mostly due to its neighbors who have overlooked the atrocities.

Aung San Suu Kyi (the Nobel Prize laureate currently under house arrest in Rangon) wrote a great essay about how fear is the reason for corruption, and I see today's events as an example. The government is backed into a corner; every day that the marches are allowed to continue, they will gain more people and more press. With the imposition of the curfew, maybe the government is obviously trying to quarantine the people, as well as limit the exposure of the happenings to the media.

Only time will tell - I'll be anxiously watching the reports. I hope everyone reading this appreciates what we call freedom, because there are tens of thousands of people in Myanmar risking their lives for what we take for granted.

Here's a small selection of the news articles: