Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Speaking Out Against Myanmar's Regime

TACHILEIK, MYANMAR: Khin told me his prized possession was a book by Aung San Suu Kyi, the imprisoned leader of the National League for Democracy who won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1991. His admiration of her was unshakable and his loyalty fervent. I asked him what had sustained the military dictatorship. Khin replied:
My country has many poor people with no education. Many of them think they are poor because they are lazy. They don’t see what the army has done to their country.
Another woman who Khin held in high esteem was US Secretary of State Condi Rice. He was well aware of her efforts to entice the Thailand and other ASEAN member states to get tough with the Burmese regime.

I mentioned to Khin that the UN Security Council was presently meeting to discuss the situation in Burma – also a US initiative. He was excited to hear such news. (International news was not quick to reach those living in this town. There was no Internet access. My Thai mobile phone still worked; but beyond this border town overseas calls were prohibitively expensive at $5 a minute). I advised Khin not to get his hopes up -- China would likely veto any sanctions against the regime -- and would sanctions do any good?

Perhaps such pessimism was not warranted. The UN Security Council talks seems to have galvanized the government to reconvene its never-ending constitutional conference -- a measure which prompted a boycott of those talks by opposition groups. Following from this, judging by some recent news reports (here and here) there seems to be increased resolve on the part of protestors in the capital city of Rangoon (Yangon) -- which won't remain the capital for much longer as last year the government inexplicably decided to move it. Other reports (here and here) are more gloomy.

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