Sunday, October 28, 2007

Burma And the Aftermath of the Saffron Revolution

Sad how tragic events, like the situation in Burma, quickly fade into oblivion. The outcry of world anger turns to a mere whimper and then promptly vanishes, save for the few lone voices that continue to demand some form of action. The rest settle back into their comfortable lives, satisfied they did something, even if that something did nothing at all.

Perhaps it's our collective feelings of impotence that prompt us to give up so easily and quickly. After all, what can we do as individuals, when our governments (and organizations like the useless U.N.) stand by and do absolutely nothing other than pay lip service to the perpetrators of those tragic events? And frankly, it's far more palatable to bury our heads in the proverbial sand, than to face the evil in the world. We selfishly believe that if we just forget about it, or refuse to acknowledge it, that "it" will somehow cease to exist. However, being in denial does not somehow miraculously ameliorate the suffering people endure under brutal dictatorships. The Burmese people have suffered for decades under a ruthless military junta, and in spite of their recent efforts to affect positive change in their once prosperous now poverty-stricken land, they continue to suffer today. Terribly.

According to a very interesting article on the brutality of the regime on,
"Burma's generals are firmly in control of the country once again. The mere act of listening to a foreign radio station is enough to land a Burmese citizen in prison. Government militias are still dragging regime critics and alleged demonstrators from their homes at night. Pakokku's [where the pro-democracy movement began] three largest monasteries have become military camps, with parked trucks filling the spaces between the monks' quarters. The city's residents look sick and emaciated, and the city itself is little more than a poorhouse today. The once-magnificent steps leading up to the Shweguni Temple have been destroyed. Neighboring residents have removed stones from the structure to build fire pits, where they cook pancakes made of inexpensive rice meal. Few can afford rice."

Typical of socialist and communist dictatorships, the Burmese people are starving while the military leaders of the country prosper, and that's why the monks took to the streets in the first place. The sad irony is that the demonstrations began not as an attempt to bring democracy to a corrupt socialist regime, but because by raising fuel prices the bus fares drastically increased, and people were unable to get to work. People were simply hungry!!

And why did the Junta raise prices to begin with? This is what sickens me the most: according to the same article , other than the generals, there are 10 members "of an expert council of Yangon's chamber of commerce and industry" who are privy to the inner workings of the government.
" When the generals are unsure of what to do next, they consult the council. This panel of wise men includes two former cabinet ministers, as well as businessmen and scientists. Only one member of the group ignores the government's strict ban on talking to journalists."
This one member revealed that the reason gas prices were hiked up, overnight, was because

"The construction of the junta's jungle hideout consumed a sum equal to several annual budgets in this country of 57 million people [snip]. Moreover, to keep the government officials -- many of whom were forced to move -- in good spirits, the generals had to raise their salaries. Lower-ranking bureaucrats received a fivefold increase, while senior officials gave themselves a 1,200 percent pay hike."

"In April 2006, the junta asked the council to provide it with recommendations on whether it could recoup its exorbitant personnel costs through gasoline prices. The council turned down the request, but the junta decided to go ahead with the plan anyway."

This "member" also admitted that, as a result of these recent events, he came to the conclusion
"The generals couldn't care less about the condition of the country, and there are no consultations within the leadership, just the commands of dictator Than Shwe."

He adds
"The country is completely broke. The only option now is a crash landing."
The average Burmese family
"spends more than 70 percent of its meager income -- which is often no more than the equivalent $1 a day -- on food alone. Incomes are dropping and estimates put inflation at more than 90 percent. But there are no exact figures: The government has kept economic statistics under tight wraps since 2001."

Like everything else in that country, we will probably never know the extent of what happened there during the bloody uprising, or the exact numbers of those killed, beaten and arrested, though undoubtedly it is far more than the junta is laying claim to. However, we do know that peaceful monks were beaten until bloodied, and some killed, because they dared to protest an unfair increase in fuel prices- a direct result of gross mismanagement by a bunch of greedy leaders who care more about lining their pockets then making sure their people are fed. So much for the socialist government of Myanmar.

And the junta had the audacity to call the U.S. a bully today! Pot kettle black? Even more pathetic is their claim that the U.S. was responsible for inciting those demonstrations. Yup, blame the U.S. for everything. Why not, everyone else does.


Righty64 said...

You know Incog, the problem is that most Americans do not realize that we are in a real war against the Islamofacsists around the world. Many think that this is all some evil plot by President Bush and or Vice-President Cheney to plump up a lot of bank accounts. I for one am still waiting for the cheap oil prices the truthers like to rant and rave about. But if we do not even want to face a direct enemy of the United States, radical Islam, you can not expect the United States to do something about a nation that few Americans have even heard of before the DDBMSM told us about the Safron Revolution last month.

WomanHonorThyself said...

hiya Incog!..The US responsible?..thats laughable!:)..great research hun!

kodiak73 said...

So sad that typical attention span is no longer than the next news cycle. That is exactly why the MSM has such a great influence. Worse yet is that the terrorists know this better than most Americans. Very few bombings occur in the evening - why? - because they know they won't make the headlines of the morning shows and newspapers.

Blademonkey said...

Same story, different year. Used to be that the way one would measure the brutality of the Burmese junta is to see how many bodies floated downstream and how many refugees crossed the border. Not many of the region's government are going to get involved. The Thais got their own problems in their south, dealing with militant muslims, a problem going back to the late 60's, then it was under the banner of the Pattani United Liberation Organization (PULO), same evil, new banner. The Cambodians are pretty much recovering from the U.N. intervention. The Malaysians couldn't care less, because none of the victims were muslims. The Singaporeans got respect, but not much in the way of military power. Indonesia is the same as Malaysia, only with more apathy. Not one country in the region is going to lift a finger, only the required "Dude! That's not right!", with the perfucntory finger wagging. After that, it'll all just fade out of sight, only the old Burmese, Karens, Shans and others who had suffered at the hands of the junta will remember. The junta will cause its own downfall, but in its death throes, it'll kill more Burmese before the collapse. If any reader of this comment believe in a merciful deity (or deities), pray fervently for an easier transition for the Burmese, because the present course that they are on will make Zimbabwe look tame in comparison.

As a side note, the recent immigration of mainland Chinese to Burma is interesing, like Tibet interesting. If the number of Chinese is significant enough, the Chinese government may intervene to "gaurantee" the safety of its own citizen. Such as providing military assistance to the junta in order to "preserve the peace". Which may develop into another Tibet, a scenario that is more likely than not since the junta's pretty much the Chinese's lap dog. Burma's natural resources are what Beijing's drooling over, including the possibility of a warm water port in the Andaman Sea.

We have yet to see the end of this.

Pat Jenkins said...

well said incog!!!!

Karen said...

Well done, Incog! So depressing. I saw Laura Bush on tv over the weekend and she spoke of her committment to the Burmese monks and people. Let's hope she can make some progress.

Incognito said...

RIGHTY64: Most Americans are in denial about pretty much everything. That could be our downfall. It amazes me how foolish we can be. I'm waiting for the oil prices to go down as well, considering that's why we went in there in the first place. Sigh. I don't expect us to have to save the world by ourselves. Would be nice if the rest of the world would help, but if we're bad, the rest of the world is even worse.

WOMAN: Thanks Angel. And I'd like the rest of the world to take some responsibility, too.

KODIAK73: and you're right. Scary to think the MSM has such influence on world events!! And had no idea about the bombing timing! I guess another reason is because during the day they can target more people.

BLADEMONKEY: The spiegel article talks about the Chinese business people who are moving to Burma and how that was one reason they swept through Mandalay so quickly and thoroughly. They also discuss why the surrounding countries do nothing. So what China is poised to do, as you seem to imply, is take over Burma if ever it reaches the point of embracing democracy for real. Sad. And again, the world will sit by and do nothing.

PATJ: Thanks dear.

KAREN: It is depressing. I hope she can too, but the leaders will go down fighting before they relinquish power, and as Blademonkey implies, even if they do go down, the Chinese will be there waiting to take over.

Dee said...

I wish there was an answer on what to do in Darfur and Burma. They are both brutal regimes that have corrupt and evil people oppressing the masses.

Incognito said...

Nothing, Dee, if the world is unwilling to stand up to the plate. or whatever that phrase is.