Jun 20, 2007

Burma's Belligerency

Myanmar's Aung San Suu Kyi, one of the world's most prominent political prisoners, turned 62 on Tuesday, her fifth consecutive birthday spent under house arrest, as supporters rallied at her party's headquarters to call for her freedom. Earlier, First Lady Laura Bush told the Wall Street Journal that Suu Kyi's name is "synonymous with courage the world over".

While the flames of Democracy and freedom fade from Burma, the candles are being lit elsewhere around the world with calls going out to Myanmar's generals to release Daw Aung San Suu Kyi from her imprisonment, little ire if any however seems to focused on the three countries who vetoed a U.S. sponsored UN security council resolution calling for Daw Aung San Suu Kyi's release from house arrest.

Earlier this year in January, both China and Russia would use their veto power in the UN Security Council to stop a United States sponsored resolution that called for Burma’s military junta to release all political prisoners including Daw Aung San Suu Kyi. Ironically, of all countries, South Africa would join China and Russia in their opposition to release Aun Aung San Kyi who is often referred to as the "Nelson Mandela of Southeast Asia".

Just last month Russia's interest in Myanmar became painfully clear with Myanmar now following the lead of other belligerent nations such as Iran and North Korea by announcing that they were now proceeding with the development of a nuclear reactor and research center (for peaceful purposes of course) with the full support of Russians. Our sources informed us that the nuclear reactor is being built near to Magwe. According to Burmese officials, the nuclear reactor and research center is needed for "medical purposes" and possibly to generate nuclear power.

It is almost as if Burma's military junta has not quite thought this through when in fact they have. North Korea's relentless manipulation of the West and their ongoing extortion have not gone unnoticed by Burma's military junta and a nuclear reactor in Burma will give the generals the same bargaining power that the North Koreans have used so effectively.

Following North Korea's lead, as Burma's military junta spends their money to develop nuclear technology, the people are left to starve.

By now you are probally wondering what you can do -- well for only US5 dollars a months you can join the U.S. Campaign for Burma and "Give the gift of freedom". Not that anyone is going to actually freed mind you, but it might just give you that warm fuzzy feeling none the less knowing that you have done your part. The U.S. Campaign for Burma now hopes to use "celebrity power" to press for reform. Eric Szmanda from CSI recently spent three days visiting refugees on the Thai-Burmese border, the US Campaign for Burma sponsored Szmanda's trip. (I guess he couldn't be convinced to use his own money.) Eric Szmanda said that there is a lot that can be done. "The UN can do a lot on Burma, countries in this region can do a lot on Burma, the United States and Europe can do a lot on Burma, but they need to start to speak out, regularly and quickly and with urgency," he said. "I think that’s the most important thing that we can do."

But maybe Mr. Szmanda and the U.S. Campaign for Burma would find more success focusing their efforts on the countries who voted against the United States sponsored UN resolution. Namely China and Russia, the two countries who are snapping up Myanmar's natural resources in return for nuclear technology.


  1. Anonymous1:38 AM

    Thanks for your post. If people are interested in helping on the ground, and getting more than just a warm fuzzy feeling for it, there are some great Burmese-run NGOs doing humanitarian work. Ensuring the survival and education of those the junta would starve out of the country is also key to the resistance.

    Shan Orphan Support and Free Burma Rangers both accept online donations. ( and

  2. Anonymous5:51 AM

    -I think you have a good point: raising awareness through celebrity is very worthwhile, but getting on Russia (China right now is too much of a risk)for its lack of support is just as important. The problem is the junta oppression of Karen minorities. And as a member of the US Campaign for Burma who has travelled to the refugee camps in Thailand I can tell you there is no way to access those camps as an American other than through sponsorship.

  3. And as a member of the US Campaign for Burma who has travelled to the refugee camps in Thailand I can tell you there is no way to access those camps as an American other than through sponsorship.

    I'm an American and I can assure you that access to the camps can be arranged. Perhaps what you meant to say is that most people don't know how to go about it.

    Secondly, Rather than the celebrities for starving refugees schtick all the time it would be some nice to see an organization such as yours officially take a position against those who deliberately vetoed the US sponsored resolution and as such not politicize your message by blaming the US government or the current administration.

    You might also wish to confront the customers of Burma's massive gem industry in the same way that NGOS focused on Liberia's "blood diamonds".

    The massive gem sale starts today in Rangoon and yet I see no mention of this on your website - oversight?


    PS. Next time you might want to leave your name at least ;-)


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