Tuesday, September 25, 2007

New York Times/BBC: Burmese Revolution

Seth Mydans

New York Times

BANGKOK, Sept. 24 — Myanmar’s military junta issued its first warning on Monday after a month of widening antigovernment demonstrations, saying it was prepared to crack down on the Buddhist monks who are at the heart of the protests.

Speaking on state television, the junta’s minister of religious affairs told senior Buddhist clerics to rein in the tens of thousands of monks who have marched through several cities in recent days.

If not, said the minister, Brig. Gen. Thura Myint Maung, unspecified action would be taken against the monks “according to the law.”

He said the protesting monks had been instigated by the junta’s domestic and foreign enemies, the same accusation that had previously been made against members of the political opposition. Any action against the monks would be extremely risky for the government because of the reverence in which they are held in Myanmar, a Buddhist nation. The warning came at the end of a day when protesters filled the streets in greater numbers than ever, pushing their confrontation with the military government toward an unpredictable and possibly dangerous outcome.


Here is The Nation's hypocritical Editorial on Burma

Burma needs the world's help

The Nation

The UN Security Council must intervene now before the protests in Rangoon end up in bloodshed Published on September 25, 2007

Peaceful demonstrations against the Burmese military junta have been held daily for the past month. In the past week, thousands of Buddhist monks have taken to the streets in the former capital and commercial centre of Rangoon and other cities around the country. They have vowed to continue to express their discontent with their repressive military rulers. Few people expected that the demonstrations in mid-August against a dramatic rise in oil prices would escalate into the current full-blown mass demonstrations led by Buddhist monks.

The international community must not let the Burmese people down this time. They have endured brutal repression over the past 19 years and have shown their resolve and demonstrated that they want change, not only in their everyday lives, but also in the country's political, economic and social spheres as well. Students who were active in the pro-democracy movement two decades ago, many of whom were arrested and tortured, are rejoining the demonstrations with high hopes. Now Buddhist monks around the country are taking over the leadership of the anti-government protest.


The Nation really has some balls.

It supports, condones and propagates for a military dictatorship at home while condemning a junta in a neighboring country.

I have no doubt it my mind that if Thaksin supporters hit the street and threatened the military regime, The Nation would be at the front of the line in support of the junta eliminating the Thaksinistas. After all, The Nation, notably Sopon, has been crying about the failures of the junta in ridding the country of all Thaksin elements, as if they were rats who needed to be exterminated.

Now, The Nation wants the UN to intervene in Burmese politics. Imagine if the UN had sided with Thaksin and against the junta, The Nation would launch such a right-wing nationalist propaganda campaign against foreign interference that it would make your head spin.

But in The Nation's deluded world, a military junta in Thailand is good, but a military junta in Burma is bad. How it gets away with this hypocrisy never ceases to amaze me.

Jotman has been actively blogging about Burma lately. Check it out here.

Bangkok Pundit has also been actively blogging on Burma here and here.

Siam Sentinel here and here

Shawn Crispin has done some reporting on Burma and the internet here.

Follow the Asia Sentinel's report here and here.

Irrawaddy is doing some comprehensive reporting here.

New Mandala on Burma here, here, here , here , here, here, here

These are my thoughts, which generally are aligned with the posts at Bangkok Pundit.

At the government level, I think the Thai government prefers the status quo.

If Burma descended into civil war, the Thai government would be in a precarious situation. It is not prepared for a refugee problem on the borders with Burma. It is not prepared for a backlash in Thailand, public opinion wise, if Burmese monks are killed by the military. It is not prepared for the economic instability that will be caused by a civil war in Burma or a Burma that becomes a stable democratic republic that quickly liberalizes its economy. And it is not prepared to deal with China(the Burmese junta's chief patron), which might pressure Thailand into doing its bidding.

Lastly, in the short-term, it may have repercussions for Thai politics, because of the Thai military's close business relationship with the Burmese military e. g. Chavalit(a general with concessions in Burma who might become part of a winning coalition after the next election), Surayud(who took a hard line against Burma as army chief while Thaksin took a softer approach because of business connections with the junta) and General Sonthi (who will become deputy PM in charge of national security, still retains the title of junta chief, and has cozy relations with the Burmese junta.)


Unknown said...

Despite the crocodile tears, it is obvious that nobody in Thailand really wants Burma to improve. Democratization and openness would hurt Thailand in the short term. With the same natural resources but a more robust educational system, it's a matter of time until Burma surpasses Thailand technologically. Even now, I know Thai software companies which recruit from Burma to get the superior English skills.

(The next paragraph evolved into a rant--sorry!)

My personal fantasy as an American technologist is to see the rise of a new Southeast Asian nation led by someone genuine like Aung San Suu Kyi, who forms a Buddhist republic with actual rule of law and actual education, genuinely open to an inflow of foreign skill and investment for long-term benefit. I would jump ship in a heartbeat if something like that happened, and so would every expert here (Thai and foreign) who is frustrated by Thailand's permanent state of mediocrity. I came here to participate in the "Asian miracle," but this Buddhist theocracy (as Handley calls it) is obviously going nowhere.

Of course, this is wishful thinking, since even the most optimistic analyses on the protests use words like "uncertain future" and "possible violence." China and India have energy interests there. "Stability" (as opposed to improvement) is more important to the region.

Unknown said...

I have no doubt now why you admire Thaksin for you are so much like him. Even when the people in Burma are suffering and many people including monks are killed, you still play a role of an opportunist to pick on a newspaper. Your writing is so bad taste. You just use the Burmese victims to capitalize on your own benefit (of commenting on someone else). Is it really the best thing you can offer here?
After the election, if the Thai junta -who has stayed for over a year unlike the decades of Burmese Junta -steals democracy. I shall join you – mark my word.
But as for now, let me tell you that with the space you have, try to do something constructive.
The real issue now is to point the figure at influential nations like Russia, China, and India and criticize them.
Shame on you shark, I don’t think you have contributed anything good for the poor victims in Burma by writing this. Or it is just to please your master?