India is a democratic nation but it supports the brutal dictatorial regime of Myanmar more out of fear and selfish economic reasons than concern for upholding the principles of democracy. During the 1990s, as China began making economic inroads into Myanmar, the government of India reached out to assume a role in developing the rich resources of their neighbor to the east. A combination of fear China would become dominant on its border, a desire to tap the resources of Myanamar and concern for insurgent groups in its own northeast regions who had links to Burmese rebels led India to give whole hearted support to an oppressive regime.
However, despite this abysmal record of supporting a dictatorship, India has afforded refuge to over 50,000 Burmese refugees who fled to avoid oppression at the hands of Myanmar’s rulers. There are some reports, India quietly supports democratic opposition groups in hope one day they can gain power. The people of Burma suffer because India and China engage in power games to assert control in their land. Such is the manner in which powerful nations gain wealth.
Burmese troops began evicting destitute families sheltered in cyclone relief centers and insisted there was no need for foreign relief foods because the Burmese people were perfectly capable of existing by hunting and eating “large edible frogs.” The New Light of Myanmar, the government mouthpiece, warned people that foreign relief workers would snoop inside their homes and condemned donor nations for linking aid money to gaining full access to the hardest-hit regions of the nation. The tirade against the outside world came as the Myanmar government tightened its grip by extending th arrest of Augn San Suu Kyi who leads the opposition democratic movement.
A government spokesman while visiting a center housing victims of the cyclone, told the press, “it is better that they move to their homes where they are more stable. Here, they are rely on on donations and it is not stable.” The government in many cases is handing out about 15 poles to a family and telling them to return home and build a house with the poles. The military junta is bewildered that people would actually want to eat rice when there are plenty of frogs around to feed them. However, one can assume the frog food is not ordinarily on the menu of junta feasts.
The government newspaper insists the Burmese people “are capable enough of rising from such natural diasters even if they are not provided with international assistance.”
Such is the attitude of leaders of a nation. One can only express sorrow for the people of Myanmar who must exist in such a world.
The frustration felt in many nations throughout the world is certainly not at the level of that shared by the Burmese people who have witnessed their “leaders” display a callous and cyncal approach to the need for relief. The toll of dead is above 130,000 while Myanmar’s generals celebrate their great “victory” in securing passage of a constitutional referendum on a new constitution. President Bush has imposed sanctions on Burma while Prime Minister Gordon Brown denounced the “inhuman treatment” of the Burmese people. “We have an intolerable situation created by a natural disaster. It is being made into a man-made catastrophe by the negligence, the neglect and the in human treatment of the Burmese people by a regime that is failing to act and to allow the international community to do what it wants o do.”
The military junta did fly some diplomats into a model camp that was set up for refugees, but it contiues blocking aid workers or journalists into the region most impacted by the cyclone. Navy shps from France and the United States are off the coast of Burma, but unable to land. Survivors say the military is pushing them out of refuge in monasteries. Some voices like that of Desmond Tutu are talking about the UN using force to get supplies to those in need. Id this an example of a justifiable use of force by the UN?
To the world he is a classic paranoid dictator, to his victims, a sadistic tyrant, and to himself a hero in the fight to prevent his nation from being controlled by foreigners. As thousands of his countrymen fought hunger and thirst and the devastation caused by the cyclone, Geneeral Shwe ordered his military to concentrate their energy making certain starving people voted in his referendum to sanctify a new constitution which enshrines the military in power. Although his nation is facing incredible poverty, he threw a milti-million dollar wedding for his daughter in which the bride was bedecked with jewels as the guests drank their way through an ocean of champagne.
This two bit dictator began his career as a humble postal clerk and then entered the army where he worked himself up to the pinnacle of power. He has an abhorent fear of foreigners and believe they are plotting to rid him of power and gain control of his nation. Thousands of students, monks and other dissidents have been beaten or killed along his path to power. In the Burma which he renamed, Myanmar, minorities are violently subdued, villages destroyed, children kiidnapped and forced into labor as virtual slaves or made to serve in the army, and women are raped.
Than Shwe is a cold and calculating dictator who insists on complete control and will not tolerate any opposition to his ideas. Unfortunately, the nations of southeast Asia and India and China support the petty tyrant because he allows them to exploit the wealth of his nation. Until the outside world takes action, Than Shwe will enjoy his power while the Burmese people suffer.