Monks Lead in Burma; Will Bush Ever Take Action to Match Words?

In Burma, monks have been leading growing protests against the controlling military junta and in favor of the confined, pro democracy leader – and last elected leader of Burma – Aung San Suu Kyi.

As is par for the course with Bush, when he wants to ignore obvious human rights abusing but oil friendly, authoritarian governments, he’ll have some in his government throw out chastisements followed by no action. With Burma, Bush has used both Condi and Laura as PR distractions for his complete failure to do any thing of substantce to aid the pro-Democracy movement or to end the unjust confinement of Suu Kyi.

We can’t just cheer the brave actions of the monks and their supporters. We need to demand that our country and the international community increase pressure on the military junta through all economic sanctions available.

22 Responses to “Monks Lead in Burma; Will Bush Ever Take Action to Match Words?”

  1. matttbastard says:

    Not just monks who are participating/organizing the protests, btw – don’t forget the nuns.

  2. matttbastard says:

    The latest dispatch from BBC News Online has more details, including comments from people in Myanmar observing and/or participating in the protests.

    One commenter from Mandalay, Soe Soe, notes of ” news in the government-controlled newspapers that fake monks are trying to agitate the public” which, as noted by the commenter, ” can be a big excuse for [the Myanmar gov’t] when they start attacking the monks.”

    Another, Mg Thin Khar of Rangoon, echoes your call for international pressure, calling it “very important for the future of Burma – including from China and Russia.“‘ Those two aforementioned nations are, in my estimation, more important actors in relation to this situation than the US. Both China and Russia enjoy longstanding diplomatic ties with Myanmar and thus are in a better position to effectively leverage pressure on the Junta, whereas, as you noted, the US is on record as being a long-time supporter of Aung San Suu Kyi, even if official support has been tepid.

    Back channel pressure on China and Russia (especially the former, which seems a lot more pliable to international scrutiny with the 2008 Beijing Olympics on deck, as international campaigners are well aware) would, IMO, be a much more effective diplomatic maneuver for US State Dept officials to engage in .

    Frankly, at this point, as far as many in the international community are concerned, Dubya is akin to diplomatic strychnine.

  3. mick says:

    “Will Bush ever take action to match words?”

    Uh, no. He hasn’t yet. Why would this be different? Plus you’ve got Cheney pulling his strings while Halliburton is involved in a deal with Unocal, the oil company, to build a pipeline across Burma. This is a project that would have been held up for years if Unocal/Halliburton hadn’t paid the Burmese junta $$millions$$ to murder or make exiles out of the villagers in the path of the pipe.

    Business is money and talk is, well, not.

  4. Soe Tun Aung says:

    “Change, Change, Change”
    Those military tyrrants must aware what John Foster Dalles wrote in his mail
    of “Change is the Law of Life of national and international life. If we keep barriers to those changes, it will result in voilent and immediate change”

  5. mick says:

    Not so immediate. It’s been 20 years.

  6. alice88 says:

    in burma the people have been oppressed by the government for many years and have few freedoms. what precipitates actual demonstrations (which are extremely dangerous for the demonstrators) is usually an economic issue which exacerbates the people’s already precarious and deprived way of life. in 1988 one factor was that the government declared certain low denominations of currency to be no longer viable. this was a harsh blow to most people, who didn’t trust the banks and so kept their cash close to them. in any case they instantly lost most or all of whatever money they had. the protests began with small numbers of people, students mostly, and eventually the monks joined in and then others until huge crowds of demonstrators asking for democracy were appearing in rangoon and other towns in burma. some demonstrators started gathering daily in front of the u.s. embassy, hoping that the u.s. would send help. the government reached the point where they could no longer tolerate the size of the protest and began shooting, beheading, jailing, raping the protestors. no one really knows how many people were killed and injured, but obviously no help came from the u.s. or any other nation. in spite of the 1990 election in which aung san suu kyi’s party won overwhelmingly, the government still controls the country and aung san suu kyi is still under house arrest. the current protests apparently were partly precipitated by the high price of fuel, and i can see the situation spiraling downward just as in 1988 and i fear for the people. i didn’t understand then and i don’t understand now why my country won’t help them and probably no other will either.

  7. Mick Arran says:

    I can’t speak for the rest of the world but as far as America goes, a large part of the answer lies in the fact that the 2nd highest official in the US govt is a corporate executive whose company has made $$millions$$ from its business dealing with the Junta. At the moment, we have a govt of aristocrats and corporate oligarchs whose concern for people doesn’t exist but whose concern for profits for themselves and their elite friends rules every decision they make, from denying health care to children (because, as Bush said in public, it might hurt corporate health insurers’ profits) all the way up to a war started primarily to gain control of oil fields.

    FWIW, a lot of US citizens aren’t happy with these ass-backwards priorities.

  8. section9 says:


    The Burmese generals have been running a sham state for twenty years and you asshats blame Bush? Figures. Look,, we have sanctions on that government and have had it on that government for some time.

    However, if you folks want to go over and join the Shan State rebels to “Free Burma”, so be it. Be my fucking guest. Maybe Blackwater is recruiting.

    If Iraq is none of our business, than Burma should be none of our business too.

    But of course, then you people would have to do something about all those “Free Tibet” bumper stickers on your cars.

  9. I don’t have a “Free Tibet” Sticker on my car. Why does everyone assume that?

  10. Macswain says:

    If Iraq is none of our business, than Burma should be none of our business too.

    Another good example of why righties shouldn’t be allowed to do foreign policy. Apparently, they believe there are only two options – do nothing or invade and occupy.

  11. mick says:

    “DNFTT”. Excuse me?


    Of course I blame Bush. When Poppy had a golden opportunity to intervene during the ’88 rebellion, he didn’t. He ignored it. I blamed him for that because he was president and it was his decision.

    When Clinton had 8 years to put pressure on the junta and all he came up with was some lame-ass sanctions, even tho nobody else had even done that much I blamed him for not doing more because he was president and it was his decision.

    So what makes Georgie special? He’s going to add some more lame-ass sanctions that are carefully restricted so the flow of business between US companies and the Junta can continue, he’s president, it’s his decision, but somehow we’re not supposed to blame him for his totally ineffective response?

    Why should George Bush get a free pass when he screws up? Nobody else does.

  12. matttbastard says:

    “DNFTT” = “Do not feed the troll.”

    IMO (and from past online experience) anyone dumb enough to come in all gangbusters with the ad homs (“asshats,” eh? Fuck you and the three tramp-tramping billy goats that awoke you), false dichotomies and bullshit strawmen like “[b]ut of course, then you people would have to do something about all those “Free Tibet” bumper stickers on your cars” is quite obviously not participating in good faith, and isn’t worth wasting time engaging.

    Other than in ridicule, of course. YMMV.

    Five bucks says s/he gets his/her martyr on (you moonbats is profane an’ mean an’ dun wanna debate mee!)–assuming the dubious contribution wasn’t just a drive by.

  13. matttbastard says:

    Back on topic:

    The Beeb reports the junta has threatened to “take action” against protesters:

    Brig Gen Thura Myint Maung, minister for religion, warned them not to break Buddhist “rules and regulations” as Rangoon saw the largest march yet.

    He blamed the protests on “destructive elements” opposed to peace in Burma.

    Also, Dubya is set to drop “fresh US sanctions on Burmese leaders”:

    The sanctions, which will include a ban on US visas, will be announced during Mr Bush’s speech at the United Nations on Tuesday, US National Security Adviser Stephen Hadley said.

    Oooh, a ban on US visas. That’ll make ’em think twice about a violent crackdown *snerk*

    Oh, and the continued silence from China is deafening, though, as noted above by yours truly, Beijing’s newfound image-consciousness may cause it to reconsider its traditional policy of non-interference with (unsavoury) allies:

    A stable Burma is important for China, as it is a corridor to the Indian Ocean and also a valuable trading partner.

    China wants to keep it that way. So instability or even war in Burma is not in China’s interest. But neither is a bloody crackdown, because China is worried about its own image in the run up to next year’s Beijing Olympic Games.

    And a Beijing-backed crackdown in Burma would spoil China’s idea of a trouble-free Olympics.

  14. Macswain says:

    I, on the other hand, have been known to enjoy playing a lil’ whack-a-troll.

    section 9 … come back and take your whoopin’.

  15. matttbastard says:

    Good post by Brownfemipower, featuring two must-see Beeb vids.

  16. matttbastard says:

    Of course, Mac – hence my ‘ridicule’ caveat. My DNFTT exhortation was more directed towards Kyle, who seemed genuinely perplexed by Trolly McBridgerson’s sub-literate slobbering about Tibet.


    (Don’t make me break out my puppet-fu…)

  17. Me? I was just having a little fun. I’m totally cool letting people pound away at strawmen and ad homs until they’re worn out… it’s like the political debate version of the rope-a-dope

  18. alice88 says:

    ah yes, don’t want to encourage bush and condi to use real diplomacy to pressure other nations to do the right thing for burma and its people. if we can’t use shock and awe and all those sexy weapons, it isn’t so much fun for our government. it would take real work and faith in our career foreign service instead of using political appointees who on the whole have no background, experience or expertise to do the job. i include ms. rice in the latter group.

  19. eek says:

    Maybe if you would all stop blaming everyone in the United States and Bush and start blaming the right people – “The generals in Burma” you might help the people of Burma to be free. I can’t believe all the petty bullshit that you spout about the US – In Burma you would be arrested and maybe killed. I traveled in Burma in 1994 and saw the brutal way that they treat everyone. I left after only 5 days because I didn’t want to support the government. Please tell everyone you know not to travel to Burma. By traveling there you only support the government. I know it is really “hip” to say you traveled but believe me it hurts the freedom movement.

    You all need to be writing to the your congressman and to the Chinese government who helps keep the generals in power to help get freedom for those poor people. Do something other than just complaining……

  20. matttbastard says:

    “You all need to be writing to the your congressman and to the Chinese government who helps keep the generals in power to help get freedom for those poor people. Do something other than just complaining……”

    Why do you assume ‘us all’ haven’t been doing just that? Maybe you should take heed of your own (self-righteous and ironic) advice.

    (And since when has it been ‘hip’ to travel to Burma?)

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