Burma's Military and the Monks

Thousands of monks in Burma have been executed or moved into prisons.

According to one Swedish diplomat who has now left the country, the military has won.

Liselotte Agerlid, who is now in Thailand, said that the Burmese people now face possibly decades of repression. "The Burma revolt is over," she added.

"The military regime won and a new generation has been violently repressed and violently denied democracy. The people in the street were young people, monks and civilians who were not participating during the 1988 revolt. "Now the military has cracked down the revolt, and the result may very well be that the regime will enjoy another 20 years of silence, ruling by fear."

This was the lead and main story on the news in Spain this weekend....Sky News, BBC, CNN International, and Bloomberg devoted most of their half-hour programs to it. The military blocked journalists from entering the country so they reported news they received from "citizen journalists" and aired their videos. Some journalists reported from Bangkok. They also aired a lot of telephone calls they received from people inside the country.

Many monks were beaten and hauled off in vans. You heard the screams on the videos. The first day the military just fired into the crowds killing at least 9. They showed the footage. The next day protests in Rangoon included locals as well as monks, and they were beaten and arrested. Then the news reported the streets of Rangoon were empty because everyone was afraid to go out.

There hasn't been much talk of a solution. Everyone was upset about the monks as they are very beloved there.

This is a huge human rights violation. Amnesty International is calling for an international arms boycott to Myanmar.

As for what's being done about it, not much that I can tell. The U.N. Envoy was scheduled to meet with the leaders of the Myanmar military junta but it's now been delayed.

< States Explore Wrongful Convictions | Sexist Attacks on Hillary's Laugh >
  • The Online Magazine with Liberal coverage of crime-related political and injustice news

  • Contribute To TalkLeft

  • Display: Sort:
    They have a certain... (5.00 / 1) (#10)
    by desertswine on Mon Oct 01, 2007 at 03:37:56 PM EST
    apple cart that no one want to upset.

    It was recently announced that undeveloped fields in Myanmar's Bay of Bengal could yield between 5.7 and 10 trillion cubic feet of tappable gas.

    Despite sanctions by the European Union and the US, French and American oil companies Total SA and Chevron operate in Myanmar's lucrative Yadana gas fields through grandfather clauses and sanction loopholes.

    "Chevron maintains its investment in Myanmar assets for compelling business reasons, fundamental of which is to better meet Southeast Asian demand for energy supplies," said Charlie Stewart, a Chevron spokesman. "Providing safe, reliable and secure supplies of natural gas will contribute to economic growth and stabilily in the region."

    What a nation says, and what it does, are two different things.

    Hit them where it hurts (none / 0) (#12)
    by Al on Mon Oct 01, 2007 at 04:18:16 PM EST
    Boycott Chevron. They are a poisonous company, literally.
    If all decent people who are horrified by that picture of the dead Buddhist monk were to stop buying Chevron products, that would be a very good thing.

    From Wikipedia:

    Marketing Brands


        * Chevron
        * Standard Oil (in limited circumstances)
        * Texaco
        * Caltex
        * Gulf
        * Unocal

    Convenience Stores

        * Star Mart
        * Extra Mile [10]


        * Delo (sold by Caltex and Chevron)
        * Havoline (sold by Caltex and Texaco)
        * Revtex (sold by Caltex)
        * Ursa (sold by Texaco)

    Fuel Additives

        * Techron - Chevron, Texaco (phased in during 2005), Caltex (phased in during 2006 and later)
        * Clean System 3 - Texaco (phased out during 2005 in favor of Techron)

    Sometimes... (none / 0) (#21)
    by desertswine on Tue Oct 02, 2007 at 02:48:19 PM EST
    you get enought to keep you going (but no more than that.)

    French oil giant faces crimes against humanity charges.


    Empty gestures (1.00 / 1) (#17)
    by diogenes on Mon Oct 01, 2007 at 10:05:28 PM EST
    Calls to boycott Burmese shrimp or Chevron will have the sole effect of enabling the people who do the boycotting to feel that they are doing something (incidentally, something painless) and thus rationalize any residual guilt they may feel.  Sort of like those candlelight vigils for Tibet that I've seen.
    If the brave new world is Kissengerian realpolitik, and do nothing if it doesn't help America directly, then let's say so openly and stop pretending.
    By the way, if the Iraq war were really only about oil then Bush would have installed a friendly if brutal dictator there immediately after the invasion.

    Not so (none / 0) (#18)
    by Al on Tue Oct 02, 2007 at 12:54:14 PM EST
    The revenue from exports of garments or shrimp or teak from Burma goes to state-owned companies, i.e. directly to the military, who use this revenue to (a) line their pockets, and (b) maintain the armed forces so that they can continue to oppress their people. In other words, the gun that killed that monk in the picture was paid for by consumers of Burmese exports, and the salary of the soldier who killed him was paid by them too.

    Taking Iraq as a recent example, (none / 0) (#20)
    by sarcastic unnamed one on Tue Oct 02, 2007 at 01:24:38 PM EST
    who really gets hurt when economic sanctions boycotts, in this case) are imposed on these types of regimes?

    The problem for the (none / 0) (#1)
    by Slado on Mon Oct 01, 2007 at 01:02:41 PM EST
    internationl community is not much can be done other then invasion or use of military force.

    The regime is out of options.  They either keep power through force or they relinquish it.

    The interesting thing is it is harder and harder for regime's like this to commit the atrocities because of youtube and the internet but I worry this regime doesn't care.   They know that the international community will be hesistant to do much more then sanction their economy or deny them access to trade but if that keeps them in power so be it.

    Do they manufacture their own arms? (none / 0) (#3)
    by kdog on Mon Oct 01, 2007 at 01:29:32 PM EST
    That's one thing the world can do besides invade...stop selling the regime weapons.

    If the regime ran out of bullets they'd be finished.


    And after that (none / 0) (#4)
    by HeadScratcher on Mon Oct 01, 2007 at 01:50:05 PM EST
    they can click their heels and wish they were home.

    Back in the real world, how are you going to stop nations and individuals from selling weaponry? How are you going to stop them from manufacturing their own?

    In other words, what are you going to do in the meantime? We're all going to sit back and watch and shake our heads and move on with our lives.

    The world community will do nothing to stop this. Just like Darfur. Just like Rwanda.


    Good point.... (5.00 / 1) (#5)
    by kdog on Mon Oct 01, 2007 at 02:05:27 PM EST
    You can stop arms dealers about as well as you can stop drug dealers...which is hardly at all.  We can, at the least, make selling the Burmese regime weapons as illegal as selling them cocaine.

    As to what I'm going to do, I'm not going to do anything....that's the hard honest truth. I'm not willing to fight with the Burmese resistance...are you? I am also not willing to send somebody else in my place.  You seem ok with that.  Be it a US soldier or UN soldier...If I won't go I won't endorse sending someone else.  Doesn't seem right.  

    If you wanna put together an Abraham Lincoln Brigade and aid the resistance you're a better man than me.  But don't advocate sending somebody else...that's akin to slavery.


    Thank God they (none / 0) (#2)
    by jondee on Mon Oct 01, 2007 at 01:12:42 PM EST
    dont support terrorists or have any WMDs, or they'd be the "moral equivalent" of Saddam and our gracious Olympic hosts.

    For the last two years, Myanmar has been (none / 0) (#6)
    by oculus on Mon Oct 01, 2007 at 03:00:37 PM EST
    at the top of my 1000 places to see list.  No longer, though.  Such a tragedy.  I recently read a history of Burma written by U-Thant's grandson.  He made it clear no other country came to Burma's assistance after World War II; British pulled out to deal with problems at home; no other country intervened.  All downhill since then.  

    Even the UN is more ineffective than normal (none / 0) (#7)
    by Wile ECoyote on Mon Oct 01, 2007 at 03:14:28 PM EST
    because of the Chi-Comm influence there.

    The more infuriating part... (none / 0) (#8)
    by Dadler on Mon Oct 01, 2007 at 03:30:47 PM EST
    ...is that the US no longer has the moral credibility to even criticize this regime of thugs (Burma's, that is, not ours) with any weight or effect.  We may feel compelled to do it, but with our actions abroad, our use of mercenary companies to do much of our dirty work to OTHER people, the fact that we don't, or mostly don't (important qualifier), go shooting down monks in the streets of the US means relatively little.  We are doing the exact OPPOSITE of living by the Golden Rule.  And it's coming back to bite us in every possible way.  

    China is the key to this situation (none / 0) (#9)
    by janinsanfran on Mon Oct 01, 2007 at 03:37:25 PM EST
    According to U.S.-based Burmese activists, China sees Burma as a resource rich trading partner where Western sanctions just keep out the competition. These Burmese want to see the Beijing Olympics tarnished because of Chinese support for repression in Burma. Not likely -- but about all the leverage the outside world has.

    "moral authority" critic (none / 0) (#11)
    by diogenes on Mon Oct 01, 2007 at 04:01:36 PM EST
    The situation in Burma "biting us" because of what we have done?  The evil of that regime is the fault of the USA???
    Your capacity to rationalize inaction is immense.  If the U.S. had the moral authority you would still support doing nothing but handwringing (i.e. no troops, which can be done without moral authority, and the regime in Burma with Russian and Chinese backing is just a bit impervious to moral authority, I do think).
    I suspect that the Chinese would get them arms if no one else did.

    China is their # 1 supplier.... (none / 0) (#15)
    by kdog on Mon Oct 01, 2007 at 04:45:31 PM EST
    of arms.  

    If the freedom-loving world had any balls the Beijing games would be heavily boycotted...but that won't happen, nobody wants to piss off China.  Christmas is coming...we need sub-standard Chinese toys more than we need clean hands.


    Boycott the Beijing Olympics (none / 0) (#13)
    by kovie on Mon Oct 01, 2007 at 04:33:27 PM EST
    China is openly and eagerly supporting some of the most repressive and evil regimes in the world--not to mention being one of them itself. Between its support for the Sudanese, North Korean and Burmese regimes, its decades-long occupation of Tibet, and execution of thousands of its own people for petty if non-existant offenses (often to harvest their organs), this is clearly a thug regime, however good their PR has been lately. Do we really want to give it yet more undeserved "legitimacy" by sending our athletes to its '08 Potemkin Olympics? More so than perhaps any regime in the world, China's cares deeply about its public image, and this would obviously be a major blow to its laughable attempts to be seen in a positive light.

    As for the athletes, well, it obviously will hurt them, especially ones in less well-known sports who don't already make gazillions of dollars in salary and endorsements (whom I could care less about since they're doing quite well for themselves). But really, is the moral balance here even debatable?

    And yes, I realize that the US is hardly a paragon of virtue these days (as if it's ever been, relatively speaking, and if you don't know what I'm talking about or agree, then you probably don't belong here). But that doesn't mean that we should tacitly support yet more evil. And yes, that's what China's--or anyone's--support of the Burmese junta is--evil.

    More on what to do (none / 0) (#14)
    by Al on Mon Oct 01, 2007 at 04:33:41 PM EST
    Here are some links to campaigns to help Burma: http://www.freeburma.org/. It's odd that the US site says nothing about boycotting western companies that have links to the Burmese dictators. But you can get information from the Canadian Friends of Burma here, or the UK campaign here. Bottom line: Do not buy garments from Burma, or shrimp. The proceeds go to the military dictatorship. And as I mentioned above, please boycott companies like Chevron that do business with the dictators.

    WSWS on protests (none / 0) (#16)
    by Andreas on Mon Oct 01, 2007 at 07:18:41 PM EST
    A statement released by the 88 Generation Students and the All Burma Monks Alliance last week listed just three demands: the release of political prisoners, economic well-being and national reconciliation. Like Aung San Suu Kyi and the NLD, these groups are seeking to use the protests and international diplomacy to pressure the regime into dialogue and a compromise power-sharing arrangement. The NLD's basic program, which consists of implementing IMF-dictated reforms to open Burma up to foreign investors, would be just as catastrophic for ordinary working people as the junta's economic policies.

    The conclusion that some of the veterans of the 1988 protests appear to have drawn is that their previous demands were too radical. In fact, the opposite is the case. In 1988, the junta was reeling under the impact of strikes in the oil industry, transport, postal services, telecommunications and factories, as well as widespread protests. It managed to cling to power by striking a deal with the NLD to end the protests in return for elections in 1990. Having stabilised their rule, the generals simply ignored the outcome of the poll, suppressed the opposition and continued in power.

    Burmese troops gun down protestors

    By Sujeewa Amaranath and Peter Symonds, 29 September 2007

    "boycott" (none / 0) (#22)
    by diogenes on Tue Oct 02, 2007 at 07:48:41 PM EST
    The Burmese will just sell their shrimp to China, Japan, etc.  A boycott is futile in this globalized world.  
    Now an armed economic embargo (a la Iraq) would put a dent in the Burmese regime's ability to fight, but who has the stomach or the will for that nowadays?  :-(