Wednesday, October 03, 2007

Burma: Act Now!

By Michael J.W. Stickings

A U.N. special envoy, Ibrahim Gambari, has held talks with the totalitarian regime in Burma and has also met with Aung San Suu Kyi, Nobel laureate and one of the leaders of the pro-democracy movement in that country:

[Gambari] had waited four days to see Gen Than Shwe before the chairman of Burma's State Peace and Development Council (SPDC) made himself available.

No details have emerged but Mr Gambari was intending to urge the general "to cease the repression of peaceful protest", release detainees and embrace democracy and human rights, a UN spokesman said before the talks.

The US called on the UN envoy to press upon the military the need for a "real and serious political dialogue with all relative parties".

The SPDC -- i.e., the totalitarian military junta -- has no interest in democracy and human rights. As I and many others have argued before, it will take tough international sanctions and above all the support of China and India, the two major powers propping up the SPDC, for any such pressure to work, that is, to bring about real change.

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And what of the monks? They are being rounded up by the thousands -- those who haven't been murdered -- and "sent to prisons in the far north of the country". Some are trying to flee Rangoon, a city of fear and tension, but may not be getting very far.

Said one Rangoon resident to a BBC correspondent: "I really want change, but they have guns and we don't, so they'll always win."

Sad, but true. For now.

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For an important report on the plight of Burmese nuns, many of whom also seem to have disappeared, see my fellow assistant editor and co-blogger Clarissa Pinkola Estés at The Moderate Voice.

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See my recent posts on the situation in Burma here, here, here, and here.

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Now -- right now -- is the time for all of us to raise our voices in support of Burma's pro-democracy movement. What can we do, those of us without access to the levers of power? We can keep writing and talking about Burma. And we can support those who are in a position to combine our voices and to send a message to Washington and elsewhere that action must be taken.

Bob Fertik and Democrats.com (and others: see Melissa McEwan, for example) are supporting the admirable effort of Amnesty International to send a petition to the White House asking President Bush "to urge the UN Security Council members, especially the Permanent members like China, to immediately deploy a UN Security Council mission to Myanmar (Burma). This mission should act to resolve the human rights crisis and avert the risk of further violence and bloodshed. The Council should also consider the possibility of imposing an arms embargo and to address the dire human rights situation in Myanmar."

Please click here and sign the petition. It may not seem like much, it may seem like a small and insignificant thing to do, but at least it's something.

Act now.

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