More on Burma/Myanmar

Some interesting recent news and analysis about the situation in Myanmar. The first comes from Irrawady:

“While the Chinese government has been attacked verbally by the international community, the Chinese consulate in Mandalay was the scene of a hit and run gunshot attack by an unknown motorcyclist on Sunday, according to sources.”

The UNSC resolution is going to be a balance of the western and china positions, so asking for more freedom for the political prisoners but also establishing that the crisis have to be managed by the burmese themselves, without international interference.

UNODC said that opium production increased by 29% and cultivation for 40% in 2007. Anyway, these figures are lower than in 2002 or 2003, for example.

In Open Democracy an interesting article about the humanitarian costs of the conflict, but the best are the pictures.

In the IHT we find the interesting position of Lee Kwan Yew on the Burma junta, they are bad bc they are not good managers, not bc they are cruel, non-democratic, etc :

Singapore‘s senior statesman, Lee Kuan Yew, said economic mismanagement by Myanmar’s ruling generals meant they could not survive indefinitely and the population was likely to revolt against their excesses, Reuters reported from Singapore on Wednesday.

“These are rather dumb generals when it comes to the economy,” Lee, 84, told the syndicated American columnist Tom Plate in an interview on Sept. 27. “How can they so manage the economy and reach this stage when the country has so many natural resources?”

“An unstable Myanmar is a time-bomb for the whole region,” breaking from south-east Asian countries’ traditional contention that Burma’s woes were an internal affair.

Meanwhile India is going to sign a deal in port facilities with the junta worth 103 million $, that will help commerce with the landlocked Indian north-eastern states. Read BBC for more details.

And let me finish with Ian Buruma’s Revolts of the Righteous in Project Syndicate about the positive force of religion in some conflicts like the Buddhist monks in Myanmar. I think he misses the point. He says:

But it was the monks and nuns who took the first step; they dared to protest when others had mostly given up. And they did so with the moral authority of their Buddhist faith.

They were not the ones that took the first step, revolts and protests started much earlier, but they put them to a new level. True they do have moral authority, but that is just another kind of power. There are 400.000 monks and 400.000 soldiers in Burma, they are powerful and maybe they could do much more, but they are not the only ones doing things. The ethnic minorities have been fighting for decades on the hills, costing them many lives, and now it looks that are only the monks. And Buruma continues:

Faith has an especially important role to play in politics in circumstances where secular liberals are rendered impotent, as in the case of Nazi occupation, Communist rule, or military dictatorship. Liberals are most needed when compromises have to be made, but not nearly as useful when faced with brute force. That is when visionaries, romantics, and true believers are driven by their beliefs to take risks that most of us would regard as foolhardy.

So ¿does he really thinks that was Christianism that won the Second World War? Just when the Vatican even accepted its own wrong doings during the conflict! The Nazis where destroyed by liberal and communist forces that took the risk, not by the resistance in Germany nor France nor Poland (look at the casualties data). And we could find many more cases of collaborationism than resistance in the catholic community. So what about Spain, Portugal, and many others dictatorships? What the catholic church did under Franco’s regime? Yes, some Catholics were against the dictator but the church was a part of the system. Should we have to remind that?
I don’t think that religion or faith is an important variable for mobilization under brute force bc it’s equally important it’s role in coercion, its just and important variable for any kind of political mobilization and very often instrumentalisation, and less powerful than ethnicity (nationalism) in the Burma conflict.


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