Supporters of a democratic Burma have for decades adhered to a non-violent approach in order to secure some form of democratic processes in a nation ruled by murderous thugs who use violence in order to enforce their will. An organizer of last September’s failed uprising told the British newspaper, the Guardian, “There is a very real debate among us about how to begin a more sustained armed struggle. We are ready for that kind of action, if we can get the supplies and training we need.” Speaking from exile in Thailand, Soe Aung, the chief spokesperson for the National “Council of the Union of Burma(NCUB) which represents several groups, admitted “some are considering violent means… the Burmese people are not that kind of people, there has been a real change.”
Soe Aung admitted his group is able to receive assistance from the US State Department funded, National Endowment for Democracy, and the United States is “doing the most for the opposition. There has been real success in training and forming an underground movement through religious organizations and monastic organizations. These provide the best cover inside Burma.”
American aid undoubtedly has been provided in the form of access to the Internet and to the media, but utilization of religious organizations for armed resistance raises many issues. This is not to say at some point the Burmese people may decide to resort to violence, but including religious groups might be a mistake.
The Myanmar military junta continues its obstructive behavior in preventing all possible aid to be provided cyclone victims. It slightly opened the door for some limited assistance from the world, but it refuses to throw open its doors to every possible way to help those who survived the cyclone. As of this date, after weeks of delay and procrastination about 180 visas have been granted although many more people would like to take part in rebuilding the nation of Burma. John Holmes, a top UN official who is handling relief operations, admits they are now reaching people who were caught in the cyclone and survived but that doesn’t mean survivors are receiving all possible aid.
The bottom line is the military junta was complete control over relief operations so it can take credit for whatever food or water or clothing is received by refugees. Burma simply lacks the expertise to handle such a large scale relief operation, but the junta would prefer if people died rather than allow strangers to hand out relief packages.
The Burma mouthpieace, “The New Light” shed some light on what is actually happening inside the country which has been devastated by a cyclone. Unlike the biased western media which goes around taking pictures of devastation and reports that over a 100,000 are dead, the reality according to the military’s mouth piece is its wonderful efficient government has swung into action and cleaned up the mess. In fact, they are even giving people 15 poles and tellling them to build a house and, if they actually need food, there are always those wonderful frogs that can be eaten. After all, eating rice and stuff like that which the world has tried sending will only get people fat.
The New Light blames the western world and the media for after cyclone problems. It insists “these foreign news agencies are issuing such groundless news stories with the intention of tarnishing the image of Myanmar and msleading the international community into believing that cyclone victims do not receive assistance.”
The leaders of Burma were so concerned with the impact of the cyclone they felt it necessary to go through with a referendum on a new constitution as people were suffering without food or water. We all know which comes first, a constitution which ensures continued rule by the thugs who run Myanmar or assistance for those who are suffering.
After forcing cyclone victims to go without assistance from the outside world, the military junta which rules the nation finally agreed to allow all aid workers to enter the nation in order to bring in supplies and those with exprtise in dealing with such calamities. The world has been chastising Burma leaders for weeks, but UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon was finally able, as a result of his personal mission to the country, to secure permission from General Than Shwe to allow the aid workers to enter. As a further concession said Ban, “he(Shwe) has agreed to allow all aid workers regardless of nationalities” to to enter the country which is ordinarily closed to the outside world by its reclusive leaders.
The Un estimates about 133,00 are dead as a result of the cyclone and over a million displaced. So far only a trickle of assistance has been able to enter Burma and only small percent of those impacted by the devastation even been able to receive any food or clothes or water. General Shwe is willing to allow aid workers to use Rangoon as its headquarter site in bringing in aid.
The State Peace and Development Council(SPDC) as the military junta calls itself, has drawn international condemnation for its attitude in refusing to help its own people. It is estimated it will take about $11 billion to restore conditions to what existed previous to the storm.
The continued stubborness of the Burmese military junta which has controlled that unfortunate nation for forty years is only matched by the reluctance of Western nations to utter a word of complaint about these ruthless creatures who are endangering the lives of thousands. Shari Villarosa, of the US Embassy in Yangon, when asked about reactions to the delay in allowing aid relief, could only respond: “At the moment, it’s all about the humanitarian catastrophe.” Unfortunately, the catastrophe requires exerting pressure on the junta whose paranoid behavior is literally unmatched in the contemporary world.
A dual message is being conveyed to the generals who run Myanmar, one is that acting stubborn will result in other nations backing away from being critical. The other message is their absolute power will remain unchallenged for years to come.
Is there any pressure that can be exerted upon the military junta? At present, the Burmese junta relies upon the support of India, China, and Thailand, three nations which can place pressure, if they are confronted by the outside world. China needs her Olympics and quiet suggestions can be made about possible consequences if the Chinese refuse to use their leverage on Burma’s rulers. The same mght apply to Thailand and India.
Thailand was able to send a medical team into Burma on the 14th day of a disaster that has had scant impact on the thinking of the ruling military junta. The Myanmar government insists the death total is about 43,000 but UN estimates range as high as 130,000. The Burmese government is only using six helicopters each day and has turned down offers of addditional planes from Western nations claiming everything is under control. US aid is only trickling in since the Burmese are maintaining close watch over any aid coming from a western nation.
The reality is nothing much can be done for the Burmese people since western and Asian nations lack the will to enforce tough actions which might upset the thugs who run Burma. India, Indonesia, and China have invested billions into Burma and are making money from trade with that nation. There is no economic incentve to take any action which would result in antagonizing the military leaders. In the meantime, the people suffer.