25 September 2007

the road to mandalay

Nineteen years ago, more or less there, were protesters on the streets of Rangoon. We were there at the time and sneaking around the place trying to find out what exactly was going on, as the State-owned media simply printed warnings to the populace to go home and forget about democracy.

That hasn't changed:

State media has explicitly ordered the monks to stay out of politics, and accused foreign media of fuelling the protests that have become the biggest challenge to the regime in nearly 20 years.
"All the members of the Sangha (clergy) residing in the Union of Burma are directed to avoid getting involved in party politics and instigation," the official New Light of Burma newspaper said.
"Some foreign media telecasting the protests aim to cause unrest in Burma," the paper said.


After the 1998 protests, subsequent reports said maybe 10 or 20 thousand people may been killed as the army put the protest down. The lack of factual data was why we were sneaking around trying to get a handle on what was going on.
The military then held elections, the wrong people won and all of a sudden we had the State Law and Order Restoration Commission (SLORC), superseded - once everybody was suitably cowed again - by the State Peace and Development Commission. Both of course were simply front organisations for the army which refused to accept that Aung San Suu Kyi's National League for Democracy has won, and put her under house arrest. Aung San Suu Kyi is of course the daughter of Burma's original leader of decolonisation from Britain, Bogyoke Aung San.

After returning to Australia, whenever people asked me about Burma I'd say that it will take a lot of bloodshed before the country will ever get close to its peoples' hopes for a bit of freedom. Regrettable as it may seem, I still think that's the case. The army is not going to give up its privileged position and the rent it extracts from the country's people and resources.

The pathetic bleating we hear from the West, including our own excuse for a
Foreign Minister ("there's little we can do"), are as ineffectual as you could imagine. If we invaded Iraq to free the populace, why not in Burma? It's got oil, it's got gas. Why are we collectively reduced to begging?

Hmmmm. It seems even the Chinese, traditionally cosy with the regime in Burma, are sniffing the wind, informed no doubt by their self-interest. But that's what drives foreign relations
.


1 comment:

Ann O'Dyne said...

Hi Phil - I came here from your comment link at my Suu Kyi post of last May.
I have just been reading the CIA World Factbook entry for Burma.

Lexie Downer's "there's nothing we can do" sounds pathetic.
You know how much money Australia spends as a direct result of heroin and all it's flow-on: Burma's State army is the 2nd largest producer of fkn smack.
380 tons in 2005.

shit it's depressing.

Now I'll go back and read your post again.
peace and love.

About Me