GIVE PEACE A CHANCE
BOYCOTT THE 2008 BEIJING OLYMPIC GAMES
Free Aung San Suu Kyi
Aung San Suu Kyi is Burma's opposition heroine. She is the daughter of General Aung San, who led Burma to independence from Britan in the 1940s. Suu Kyi's father was murdered for his beliefs in 1947 when she was two years of age.
Like South African leader Nelson Mandela, Suu Kyi (pronounced Soo Chee) has come to be recognized internationally as a symbol of heroic and peaceful resistance in the face of brutal oppression by a military junta fixated on maintaining power at all costs. Suu Kyi always expresses herself with calm conviction and calm passion, which reflects her Buddhist upbringing. She is perceived as being Gandhian in her synergistic mixture of force and grace under pressure.
Though a Buddhist, Buddhism being the predominant religion of Burma, Suu Kyi was educated at Catholic schools, and left for India in her mid-teens with her mother, who became the Burmese ambassador to India. Suu Kyi went to England where she studied at Oxford University. At Oxford she met Michael Aris, a Tibetan schlor whom she later married. They had two sons, Alexander and Kim. Suu Kyi lived in exile with her husband and sons in England until 1988, when she dutifully returned to Burma to nurse her ailing mother at a time of a burgeoning pro-democracy movement.
In 1990, Aung San Suu Kyi headed the National League for Democracy, NLD, which won a landslide victory at the polls with 80 per cent of the popular vote. These results were not tolerated by SLORC (the State Law and Order Restoration Council) leaders who refused to recognize them. The SLORC quickly moved to put the elected pro-democracy leaders under house arrest, including Suu Kyi. Despite the physical restrictions placed on her by house arrest, she continued to campaign for democracy, and won the prestigious Nobel Peace Prize in 1991 for her peaceful efforts.
One of Suu Kyi's most moving public speeches was given in 1995 soon after she was released from nearly six years of house arrest. It was presented to a global women's conference in Beijing. She didn't appear in person however, but addressed the international gathering of women by means of a video tape smuggled out of the country. In that speech she said no war was ever started by women, and that it was women and children who always suffered the most in situations of conflict ...
Without specifically targeting her SLORC opponents, Suu Kyi highlighted an outmoded Burmese proverb still recited by Burmese men wishing to deny Burmese women a role in modern government. The proverb states that dawn rises only when the rooster crows, to which Suu Kyi calmly countered, "Burmese people today are well aware of the scientific reason behind the rising of dawn and the falling of dusk. The intelligent rooster surely realizes that it is because dawn comes that it crows, and not the other way around!"
General Aung San's brave-hearted daughter has been a constant thorn in the arse of the SLORC to say the least, for she has skillfully demonstrated that it is not the prerogative of men alone to bring light to the world! Like the Light of Asia, Lord Buddha, this noble Nobel laureate shines in the people's eyes. More, if ever there was a physical incarnation of Kwan Shih Yin, the Goddess of Infinite Compassion and Mercy, it is Aung San Suu Kyi! Self-sacrifice and ever-loving dedication towards her fellow human beings living under brutal dictatorship make her a Woman for All Seasons, a true heroine, and that is why so many disgruntled cocks continue to crow in Myanmar, which is still stubbornly known as Burma to kindred spirits around the world! May all the gods bless Aung San Suu Kyi, and may the rest of the civilized world not forget her people's struggle to be free! Om mani padme hum.
Aung San Suu Kyi is back under house arrest. She was arrested on May 30, 2003 after the junta's militia attacked her convoy and killed up to one hundred of her loyal supporters. This is her third term of house arrest! Suu Kyi has been detained for well over nine years and counting ...
* Burma is ruled by one of the most brutal military dictatorships in the world, a dictatorship charged by the United Nations with crimes against humanity, crimes which include enslaving individuals to do harsh physical labour building roads for the tourism industry.
In 1988 the military junta, the State Law and Order Restoration Council (SLORC), killed as many as 3,000 peaceful pro-democracy demonstrators across the country in a shameless bid to hold on to power.
Many thanks to Daw Aung San Suu Kyi's pages for the above insights. Like Alice said, "Feed your head!"
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Notes appended and edited @buddhavision
Update - September 26, 2007
New Military Crackdown
At least five Buddhist monks and two civilians were killed today, Wednesday, September 26, 2007 as police and security forces cracked down on anti-government protests in Burma, the southeast Asian country also known as Myanmar.
About 300 monks and other activists have been arrested, many of them carted away in trucks, in the large city of Rangoon, eyewitnesses and activists said.
The violence is the first real show of force by the military junta after 10 straight days of demonstrations across the country.
Many fear the situation could get increasingly violent.
In 1988, more than 3,000 people were killed when the military moved in to end pro-democracy street demonstrations.
The recent protest movement began August 19, 2007 after the government doubled the price of fuel in a country that is one of Asia's poorest. The move only increased the unpopularity of the military government, which has ruled the country in one form or another since 1962.
A spokesman for the monks says the marches will not stop until the government falls and there is a peaceful transition to democracy.
Many pro-activist students have been jailed in the past for voicing dissent against the highly unpopular junta. Some students are even now calling upon the West for a total boycott of the Olympic Games in China in 2008, as China is seen as a close financial ally of the brutally repressive military regime. China has key strategic interests in the stability of Burma and strong political ties with Yangon.
It is Burma's energy resources - oil and off-shore gas fields - that make it such an attractive partner for Russian, Chinese, Indian and even South Korean firms. The scramble for these energy resources make it almost impossible to isolate the regime. As US and European ties to Burma have declined, those of China, Russia and India have increased dramatically.
Military Thugs To Be Held Accountable
U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights Louise Arbour today warned Myanmar's military rulers they could face an international criminal court for violence against the protesters. The British ambassador to the UN, John Sawers, issued a similar warning, stating that "the age of impunity is dead".
Earlier in the day the junta, whose leaders remain hunkered down in their shiny new capital Naypyidaw 250 miles north of Yangon (Rangoon), tried to keep protesting monks off the streets by sending truckloads of soldiers and police to surround, block and intimidate activist monasteries.
Symbol Of Hope
Riot police remain outside the lakeside home of Aung San Suu Kyi to ensure no attempt is made to free the 62-year-old Nobel laureate from house arrest. Protesters are demanding more democratic freedom, the release of political prisoners and sweeping economic reforms.
When Suu Kyi emerged briefly from house arrest for the first time in four years last Saturday, it sent a powerful message to the Burmese people. The fact that the military junta had allowed the country's most important symbol of peaceful resistance to pray with Buddhist monks marching in support of democracy arguably strengthened the anti-junta campaign.
Regime Change A Real Possibility
Initially the junta handled the protests with restraint. Burma's state-run newspaper blames world media for exaggerating the size of the daily demonstrations and said Burma's unrest was fuelled by "saboteurs" inside and outside the country.
Security forces have prepared for more days of pro-democracy protests by erecting barbed-wire barricades around Shwedagon Pagoda and Yangon City Hall, which have become focal points of ongoing demonstrations.
Whether from indecision or misjudgment, the ruling generals may have waited too long to assert their authority. Time will definitely tell.
Updated and paraphrased from CBC News and other sources.
Update - October 2, 2007
The pro-democracy Buddhist uprising in Burma has been brutally suppressed by the military junta's security forces. Thousands of shackled and defrocked monks from Rangoon are being trucked to hard labour camps in the far north of the country. The arguably more misfortunate ones, along with their civilian supporters, have been secretly executed and their bodies uncerimoniously dumped in the Burmese jungle.
Shades Of Putrid Past
These are the same sort of tyrannical tactics the Chinese communists used on protesting Tibetan monks who did not succumb to their brave new vision for Tibet. While throughly modern, trade-hungry China innocently proclaims to the rest of the civilized world its heartfelt wishes for peace and democracy in Myanmar, its clandestine military covertly instructs the ruling generals in ways to break the rebellious monks' spirits and backs.
Note: China is still the country with the most power to halt the Burmese generals' reign of terror, yet it continues to provide key economic and military support to this brutal dictatorship. Since Beijing refuses to pull the plug on Myanmar's reign of terror, the civilized world in turn should pull the plug on China's 2008 Olympic Games.
Keep On Shoppin' In The Free World
Oh well, it's just another shopping day in paradise for most citizens in the Western democracies.
Hmm ... I wonder what HD movies are on TV tonight, luv? Or should we drop by the local video store after a little green tea and crumpets that come all the way from China? All this talk of Buddhist monks getting their heads kicked in makes me want to go rent an action flick!
Anyway, what goes around comes around, and all that liberal bull schtick! Get back, Jack! I'd hate to be in their shoes. No, wait a minute! They weren't wearing any shoes! The horror! The horror!
Life Is A Game They Play
LOL! The UN clown is dancing in his sawdust ring. What would Noel have to say about that? or is Liam now the mouthpiece of the group? Turn and face the estranged, and let all the poison hatch in the mud, gov'nor. For this side of paradise, we are les champions, pardon moi French!
Besides, it could never happen here. Or could it? Prodesse non nocere. Have a nice delusion. We all fall down . . .
The Role Of Buddhist Monasteries
Buddhist monasteries play a prominent role in Burmese society. Close to 90% of the country's population is Buddhist. Those who do not choose to become career monks usually enter the orders for short periods of time.
There is a monastery in every village, and its monks act as the spiritual leaders of that particular community. They give religious guidance and instruction when needed, and perform important duties at weddings and funerals.
In return for the performance of these sacred duties, monks are given donations by laymen; and, because they are forbidden to handle cash, they have become completely reliant on other people's generosity.
Hitchin' A Ride
As things now stand, many monks are trying to flee their monasteries in Rangoon, where most of the indiscrimate killings by security forces have occurred. Local taxi drivers are afraid of helping them evade the ongoing incarcerations, torture and slaughter, fearing they may be denied precious petrol in the near future.
Ironically, it was the doubling of the price of petrol back in August that started the anti-government protests.
Meanwhile, in the Magwe division town of Pakokku, monks have been taking part in night watches to protect their monasteries from raids by the junta's security forces. Many of the predatory incursions around the country have taken place under cover of the night.
Authorities (goon squads) are also targeting citizen journalists who took footage of excessive government brutality during the recent protests in Rangoon and distributed it to the foreign press.
Oct 4, 2007 – About 50 student activists from Mandalay have been sentenced to five years’ imprisonment in a hard labour camp, according to family members.
Oct 5, 2007 – Several monasteries in Rangoon were left empty following further predatory raids by government goon squads.
Oct 8, 2007 – The People’s Movement Leader Committee has threatened to call for an international boycott of the 2008 Olympics, should China again use its veto in the United Nations Security Council to block any significant punitive action.
Oct 9, 2007 – National League for Democracy member Ko Win Shwe has died during interrogation. He was arrested along with four other protesters during the start of the junta's brutal crackdown in late September. The NLD is the political party of the detained democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi.
Oct 9, 2007 – Ye Min Tun, a prominent Burmese diplomat, has resigned over the appalling treatment of Buddhist monks during last month's protests. The junta's crackdown saw the arrest and torture of thousands of monks who were peacefully demonstrating for change.
Oct 10, 2007 - Popular actor Kyaw Thu was arrested along with his wife for offering food and moral support to the monks during their pro-democracy protests. The couple had been hiding in an unknown location in Rangoon up until the time of their incarceration.
In Rangoon, people say they are more frightened now than when soldiers were shooting at them on the streets.
Oct 11, 2007 - New evidence emerged of the ongoing torture of monks and other political prisoners in Burma. A recently released monk revealed that he and hundreds of others were interrogated to provide the names of the ringleaders of the recent anti-government protests. When they failed to do so, they were kicked and savagely beaten into submission. Some detained monks are quite young, children in fact.
According to prison administration officials in Rangoon, the number of detainees held in interrogation centres has exceeded capacity. Suspected ringleaders can expect secret trials and long prison sentences, not to mention psychological and physical torture at the hands of their deranged tormenters.
Oct 13, 2007 - Burma's military junta arrested three of the last remaining leaders of the recent pro-democracy protests. Among those detained was Htay Kywe, a prominent activist during the 1988 uprising. Amnesty International is extremely concerned for their well being and fears they will be tortured.
Oct 16, 2007 - Japan halts funding for a human resources centre in Burma as economic pressure builds on the junta over its brutal crackdown. The punitive action follows the death of a Japanese journalist during the bloody suppression of anti-government protests. Japan is one of the leading donors of aid to Burma.
Oct 17, 2007 - The Canadian Parliament has granted Aung San Suu Kyi honorary citizenship in recognition of her ongoing effort to promote peace and democracy in Myanmar, formerly known as Burma.
Oct 20, 2007 - Burma's military regime has lifted its curfews in Rangoon and Mandalay. The regime has also released a number of prominent detainees, but thousands of Buddhist monks remain locked up. The ruling generals appear to be confident that they have succeeded in repressing political dissent.
Oct 23, 2007 - Unconfirmed sources report that Burmese opposition leader Daw Aung San Suu Kyi was removed from her house yesterday evening by government officials and taken to an unknown location.
Oct 31, 2007 - More than 100 monks have marched through Pakokku in central Burma in defiance of of the ruling junta. Pakokku is a major center of Buddhist learning. The BBC reports there is no way to tell if this new demonstration is the start of another wave of protests, but that further unrest is expected. Human Rights Watch also reports that children as young as ten have been beaten and threatened with arrest to force them to enlist in the military.
Nov 7, 2007 - According to state-controlled media, Myanmar's lowlife generals have rejected a UN peace plan for three-way talks involving detained pro-democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi. Minister Kyaw Hsan told UN envoy Ibrahim Gambari that Myanmar would not accept interference in its sovereignty.
UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon has expressed grave concern at the lack of progress being made with the military junta. Human rights groups say at least 600 political dissenters from the September protests are still being detained.
Burma is ruled by one of the most brutally oppressive and paranoid military dictatorships in the world, so it should come as no great surprize that no political solution is in sight.
BOYCOTT THE 2008 BEIJING OLYMPIC GAMES
Update - May 26, 2008
Military Goons Extend Suu Ky's House Arrest
Burma's ruling military criminals have renewed pro-democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi's house arrest.
Police goon squads earlier detained about 20 activists as they marched to the Nobel Peace Prize laureate's home in Rangoon, where she has been held captive since May 2003.
UN chief Ban Ki-moon said he regretted the extension of the detention, while Great Satam Bush said he was "deeply troubled" by the decision, but apparently not as deeply troubled as the American people are over his own imperial ambitions in the Middle East and Central Asia.
Ms Suu Kyi's party won the 1990 elections, but she was denied power by the lowlife junta who wanted it all for themselves and their communist Chinese backers.
The 62-year-old National League for Democracy (NLD) leader has spent more than 12 of the last 18 years under house arrest.
Extending her detention will likely provoke further criticism of the junta by an international community already frustrated by the military's handling of the relief effort after Cyclone Nargis.
So it looks like the Burmese people's long-term struggle for freedom will continue indefinitely, as the rest of the civilized world mildly protests while conducting business as usual with the ruling communist junta in China.
Appended and edited @buddhavision