Tag: Burma

Lest anyone forget

It continues.


The Burmese army is forcibly recruiting children to cover gaps left by a lack of adult recruits, says a report by a US-based human rights organisation.

Human Rights Watch (HRW) says children as young as 10 are beaten or threatened with arrest to make them enlist.

Both the army and ethnic rebels have been accused of using children before.

But the timing of this report is particularly damaging for the military, which is already under pressure after a crackdown on anti-government protests.

The military insists it is opposed to the use of child soldiers, but HRW says the abuses were extensive and systemic.

Monks In The Streets!

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They’re back, bless them!

More than 100 monks have marched in central Burma, the first time they have returned to the streets since last month’s bloody crackdown on protests.

The monks chanted and prayed as they marched through Pakokku, the site of an incident last month that triggered pro-democracy protests nationwide.

Burma: Systematic Rape/Murder and That Chevron Ad

Riddle me this: Why is the largest “progressive” blog in the world advertising Chevron, an undeniable culprit in the state sponsored torture, rape and murder of innocent Burmese women and children? And before you say the all too familiar phrase “because its his blog and he can do what he wants” please join me below:

Burma: The world turns away; the bad guys win.

On Saturday, the Guardian reported this:

The military regime in Burma is still holding up to 2,500 people in prisons and labour camps around the country, and continues to arrest suspected dissidents, the British government claimed yesterday.

The ethnic conflict between the regime and the Karen minority is expected to worsen.

The U.S. and Europe have imposed economic sanctions, and the U.N. waved an angry finger.


However, the sanctions do not include the oil and gas sector, and Amnesty International yesterday said the junta was still receiving military equipment from China, Russia, Ukraine, and India.

The regime claims to have released all but about 500 prisoners.


A British diplomat estimates they’re still holding at least four or five times that many.

“There are substantial night-time raids going on. They have scooped up hundreds of people,” the diplomat said.

The prisoners are being sent to many locations, around the country. They are expected to spend years in prison. Some are expected to spend decades in prison.


Failed Revolutions

I posted this on big orange, but it is probably better suited for DD.

Having to travel this week, I picked up a Time magazine for some low impact mental aerobics.  Thumbing through the October 22 edition, I came across an article by Andrew Marshall, entitled “Anatomy of a Failed Revolution.”  The subhead was depressing:

A correspondent looks back on a week of hope and despair in Burma’s brief, shining – but ultimately doomed  – uprising

I could feel the despair rising in my own chest as I prepared to digest one man’s post-mortem of yet another attempt by repressed people to peacefully attempt regime change.  We know the Buddhist monks chanted the mantra:

Let everyone be free from harm
Let everyone be free from anger
Let everyone be free from hardship

We know the monks were gunned down in cold blood.

People Power in Burma: Part III

Cross posted at the Daily Kos under betson08

When the military junta in Burma began its outrageously brutal crackdown on the monks, students and other pro-democracy activists last month, I had a feeling that this time it had gone too far. For one, Buddhist monks are way too important in Burmese society for the population to acquiesce to the junta striking out at the very soul of the society.

In this light, there is an interesting news report today in Truthout based on an interview with a pro-democracy activist, whose identity is being kept a secret for his own safety, that shows some interesting things about the extent of the internal organization of the movement and how its nonviolent nature will be the final downfall of the junta.


I have been trying to stay current with what is going on in Burma.  That isn’t easy, of course, because of the difficulty of getting stories out of the country.  If caught trying to cover what’s going on, journalists can expect the same harsh treatment from the junta as any Burmese citizen.  But still, stories emerge.

One of these stories is posted in ABITSU, All Burma I.T. Students Union.  It is about a 15 year old novice monk who is in hiding from the junta.

By timesofinda.indiatimes.com : YANGON: Just two weeks ago, Yin Phoe Htoo’s life was governed by the austere but peaceful routines of the Yangon monastery where he has spent the past five years as a novice monk.Every morning, the 15-year-old would wake up at 4:00 am, eat breakfast at dawn, and then walk through the community in his saffron robes to accept alms from residents.

But since Myanmar’s deadly crackdown on pro-democracy protests that saw Buddhist monks lead 100,000 people onto the streets, Yin Phoe Htoo now lives in hiding at one of the homes where he used to seek alms of food or small coins.

He has shed his flowing robes for a T-shirt and the traditional lungi that most men in Myanmar wear.

“I want to become a novice again. I feel uncomfortable living with the family here,” he said, giving a false name to protect himself from military reprisal.

For now he has little choice but to hide. At least three monks were killed and hundreds more were beaten or arrested as security forces used baton charges, teargas and live weapons fire to break up the monks’ peaceful protests.

jamesboyce over at Daily Kos has written a diary today with a disturbing story out of Burma, from the Sunday Times Online, entitled “Secret cremations hide Burma killings:”

THE Burmese army has burnt an undetermined number of bodies at a crematorium sealed off by armed guards northeast of Rangoon over the past seven days, ensuring that the exact death toll in the recent pro-democracy protests will never be known.

The secret cremations have been reported by local people who have seen olive green trucks covered with tarpaulins rumbling through the area at night and watched smoke rising continuously from the furnace chimneys.

jamesboyce has also set up a blog entitled burma newsladder, trying to aggregate all stories on what is going on there.

But let’s go back to Yin Phoe Htoo, the 15 year old novice monk.  One person, one story.

Big Oil in Burma: A Primer

Note: A more finely tuned version of this essay is now crossposted over at The Environmentalist here

This essay will provide an overview of the four, perhaps five, American big oil related companies that are still operating in Burma, which by their continued operation are assisting the oppressive and brutal junta, The State Peace and Development Council.

Only a few days ago Reuters published an article here that said, “U.S. energy companies are shrugging off pressure to end operations in Myanmar that critics contend help prop up the military junta and its hold over the country.” So far, the protesting on line and on the street is not moving them to change their policy and tactics.

Based on some discussions here about Chevron and other oil companies operating in Burma I ended up with several questions. This essay attempts to answer them.
It ends asking you the readers to come to some conclusions and share them. So keep that in mind as you scroll through this. 

International Day of Action for a Free Burma – Today

Burma. We asked you to care. We’re asking again.

As you read, someone lays beaten and bloody for the crime of caring too much, for the sin of fighting with ideas not guns. Imprisoned.

How can they go on without support? Is this asking too much?

If you can spare some time to walk & talk, open your heart & meet me after the jump.

Myanmar: UN-SC Takes Strong Position

Cross-Posted from Daily Kos

The UN Security Council met Friday in New York to receive a report from Special Envoy Ibrahim Gambari.

Speaking in diplomatic but clear terms, UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon and Gambari denounced the situation in Myanmar warning that sanctions could follow if Myanmar failed to respond quickly and appropriately, urging the Junta to meet with political opposition. Speaking in guardedly optimistic terms, Gambari indicated the Junta was prepared to meet with Aung San Suu Kyi.

Western Media see Democracy in Burma, where Monks see Food (posted from Dailykos)

The untold story of the recent unrest in Burma has just been told told to the West.

Despite what most people have been told, the monks were not into revolution, and their protests were not pro-democracy. They were not trying to overthrow the government because they knew that to be impossible.

This was an economic argument, inflation in Burma is running high, the cost of petrol has skyrocketed since the government stopped subsiding, this has left the economy of Burma and its 48 million people, in a hellish downward spiral, so bad that the normally incredibly generous poor of the country are starving and can’t possibly give alms (food and other goods) to the monks, who otherwise have no way of getting food.

For a monk who has spent his entire life in mediation and contemplation on the teachings of Buddha there is no chance of leaving the monasteries to make a living, this lead to the protests. When they protested, they advised the civilian population not to join, and they never changed this advice. This was their fight, and it wasn’t people power, it was the fear of starvation that urged these monks out of silent contemplation.

The military junta had heard the monks message clearly “we need food!”, the protests were untouched, allowed, even tolerated by the regime in the first few days.

Western media reported that the monks were allowed to protest because of their “status” in Burmese Buddhist culture, but that is another media lie, the junta never cared about the monks “status”, they knew what they were protesting about, their no touch policy was probably because they were trying to figure out a way to feed the monks, or at least ask another country to do it.

However within 48 hours and using the terms of a PR firm, the monks “lost control of the message”.

Only when the Burmese people, and the rest of the world, started hearing the words “democracy protests” on BBC World Service and CNN, did the peaceful protest start turn nasty.

As the heat was turned up on the junta to step down, no less from the podium of the UN by George W Bush calling on “regime change”, the world got sucked into a side track issue about the barbaric Burmese regime. The agenda was meant to be about Climate Change and Iran, since Bush was weak in both area’s in an UN ambience, it fitted that the message in New York get changed to pro-democracy in Burma, as much as it did on Radio Free Asia.

The people in Burma hearing Bush on Voice of America in Burmese lost all local sense, and believing what they heard, America would stand up, and so started to march alongside, but out of step with the monks. After all who were they to trust, the local media, always full of propaganda, or the BBC? 

With an ever “decreasing” numbers of monks and increasing pro-democracy protestors in the streets of Burmese cities, the Junta could tolerate no more! And the whole situation became violent.

No matter if the government knew the true intentions of the monks or not, to the world this was no longer about poverty it was about power, and the junta can not tolerate any attacks on their power, as the monks originally recognised.

The story ends with the monks removed from their monasteries, taken to universities and other government facilities, and -blamed for starting the fire, and unofficially as many as 1000 were killed and 2000 tortured as a result.

As a side note, Australia denounced the Junta’s policy also at the UN, and there was some tough short term talked about upping the sanctions on the country. But just a week later a report reveals that the Australian Federal Police has been teaching Burma’s military, counter terrorism techniques, some of those techniques would have been used on the monks. When the Australian Foreign Minister Alexander Downer was asked about this contradiction he said “We will not be shutting down this program, it is vital to our interests”

The people of Burma shake their heads, and wonder if anyone really gives a cracker about them. Burma is Asia’s political football, always part of the bigger picture. The power games of the west and South East Asia, USA and China, and Australia and Muslim Asia. It’s never about Burma.

Beware the Nats of Burma (reposted by request)

Buhdy asked me to repost this essay, so here it is again.

Prior to Theravada Buddhism, the Burmese were animists who worshiped a series of nature spirits called Nats. The term Nat derives from the Pali-Sanskrit, natha, meaning lord or guardian.

There are 37 officially recognized Nats (inside Nats), each with its own history. The Nats are spirits of natural forces, such as water, wind, stones and trees and take many guises. All Nats are  ghosts or spirits of heroes.  There are many lesser nats (outside Nats) that are characterized as mischievous when they are disturbed.

…Some were martyrs, people who had been betrayed or had suffered a premature and frightful death. One had died of diarrhea and was reputed to inflict that on those who displeased him.

Regardless of their origins, they were easily disturbed, given to making a fuss when they were not treated with respect.

~Amy Tan, Saving Fish From Drowning, a novel combining Myanmar politics, Burmese superstition and spirituality, plus a touch of humor.

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