Saturday, September 29, 2007


The sounds of silence regarding Burma are deafening. Facing certain violence, the Buddhist monks of Burma took to the streets to peacefully demand change in a country that has been ruled for forty-five years by the iron hand of military dictatorship. While it is true that many nations “urged restraint” on the part of the military junta leader General Than Shwe, the basic call for help by the oppressed of Burma have fallen on deaf ears.

Just as the world ignored the early call of the Kurds in Iraq in the time of Hussein, the same deaf ear has been turned to the people of Burma. Lip service aside, there is nothing that the world will do to help the Buddhist monks. If one did not know better, you might think that Burma had oil reserves. But wait, they do have oil reserves and China and India are competing for its control.

A September 29th article by Time/CNN (Simon Robinson) reported that India’s silence on the struggles of its neighbors may well be oil related. Why is the largest democracy in the world and in that region not using its leverage to help end the violence in Burma? The article indicates that the Burmese junta is helping India defeat insurgents in the northeast part of that country. Further, India is seeking to exploit large oil and gas reserves in and around Burma. Having recently lost out in a pipeline contract to China, it is of little wonder that India does not want to upset the military dictatorship in Burma.

It seems that throughout history, the world has been willing to tolerate military rulers if they have control over significant natural resources. The U.S. has long supported such dictatorships in Latin America because such regimes brought relative stability American economic interests. Since it is obvious that both China and India have the corner on the Burma resource market, it is clear that the U.S. has little to loose in condemning the violent actions that have been taken against the monks.

The Buddhist rebellion in Burma is fading. Faced with guns, clubs and water cannons, the peaceful monks are no match for the powerful military. The streets are going empty as soldiers block streets, take over monasteries and silence opposition. By the time the UN envoy actually gets to talk to the military ruler of Burma, the issue will have faded into a footnote in history. One more struggle, one more cry for freedom has gone unheeded all in the name of money and oil. On this day, cry for Burma and its people.


Unknown said...

Kindly note that if burmese really want democracy in the burma then they have to risk their lives and have to face military junta in their country. To gain democracy hundreds of thousands burmese have to risk their lives. Just saying that India being a democratic nation is not doing anything wont solve the cause. India has own interests and ofcourse it is the interest of its own people. India and we Indians dont lecture others about democracy. We are not habitual of giving threat and warning (which western govt do). No gain without pain. Democracy can not be achieved by simply crying in front of embassies, gathering and shouting on the streets of other capitals (New Delhi, London, etc). Burmese have to march in rangoon without fearing bullets. They have to suffer casualties. There is no other options.

Philip F. Harris said...

You maybe right, that they will have to die for freedom. A sad commentary on society. But if my brother is in pain, do I not offer to ease that pain? When one loses freedom, do we not all lose some freedom also? Do we turn our back on those who cry for help? What would Ghandi do?

James Chia said...

Burma can only change for the better from internally. The international pressure on this regime is simply too weak to be effective.

Philip F. Harris said...

You are probably right, James but is always good to know that you have moral support elsewhere. I am afraid the monks may not be up to fighting oil corporations.