Burma Orange: A Stain on the Earth's Conscience

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I've had a picture burned into my mind for almost a month, now, .  I think about it every time I hear about the ongoing crisis in Burma.  The news I read in this morning's Boston Globe was a small piece of good news, fortunately, but it doesn't remove the cloud that looms over Burma or the image that has been etched into the back of my eyes.

I will not link to, or display the picture on the front page.  It is too graphic.  But I will attempt to describe the circumstances that led to it.  If people want to click through, I will display it. 

On September 29, hundreds of people were massacred in Rangoon, Burma, in an attempt to stifle campaigns for democracy in the country.  Customarily, riot police use rubber-coated rods to stifle unrest.  Outside of the Number 3 High School in the Township of Tarmwe, soldiers beat protesters with heavy metal rods.  One young student was killed on the spot after his skull was bashed in.   His body was soon carried away, but in a nearby gutter, a piece of his brain remained.

That's the picture that has been burned into my mind.  A brain in the gutter next to a high school.  There are pictures that capture a moment.  Then there are pictures that stand for something greater.  Seeing part of a young student's brain, a brain that might have been used for great things, languishing in the gutter next to a place of learning says more than my words ever could. 
This image is from myanmarmuslim.net, and the best reporting on it comes from Burma-Myanmar Genocide 2007 blog.  There are other horrific pictures and narratives that have emerged out of Burma.  Pictures that the military junta running the country does not want the world to see, and the establishment international press will not run. 

The blog, ko htike, has been instrumental in getting reports out.  In this entry they have a pictures of a dead and badly-bruised monk face down in the river, and a report from a commenter whereby two hundred monks were lined up by soldiers to have their heads bashed in against the walls of their monastery.  Ko htike also has reports of people being cremated alive.

All of this might be mental torture to read.  It certainly is mental torture to research and write. Still, I've characterized it this way knowing that it will make people remember Burma, just as I have.  Hopefully they will be inspired to act.

I've written about Burma often, because Burmese migrants are the victims of horrible discrimination in Thailand.  I write about it in hopes that U.S. citizens make the connection between the 12 million migrants they are forcing to live in fear in their own country, and the migrants that are discriminated against all over the world.   The unconscionable suffering that migrants suffer through is almost always legal and their migration is almost always the result of a greater global ill.  In the case of the Burmese, it is the military junta that has ruled the country ruthlessly for almost four decades now. 

RickB over at Ten Percent is doing some of the best blogging on Burma.   He takes on imperialism day in and day out.  Burmese refugees live in horrible conditions in Thailand and RickB touches on it in this post:

The 141,000 Myanmar refugees in camps run by the Thai Ministry of Interior live in cramped bamboo shelters, dependent on UNHCR and non-governmental organizations for protection, food, schooling and health care. The Thai government does not allow them to venture out of the camps for work or higher education.
I also recommend reading Burma Underground which I have looked to for information on Burma ever since I started blogging.

If you're looking for a way to take action on this one of the best resources is Avaaz.org.  Almost a million people have signed a petition at Avaaz.org and they send out periodic action alerts on the situation in Burma.  I've signed it and I encourage others to do the same.

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janna said:

Signed it. Considering how quickly this seems to have disappeared from the news, I wasn't aware of the depth and scope of this massacre. And people continue to suffer imprisoned and languishing in refugee camps.
Besides the horrific waste of human life, we fortunate ones can also see the tragedy in the loss of great minds, and all the potential they held. Not that the slaughter of the monks can be compared to anything else here, but it's that squandering of the intellectual potential of those people that has its parallels in the failure of the DREAM act here.

Tanvir said:

The picture is horrific, and it goes to show how cruel some can be. “Power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely”…..I was born in South Asia, where corruption is an “acceptable” part of government. The people of Burma should be inspired by the protests. The monks displayed great courage. I hope these protests were in a massive scale. I just saw a website about Estonia’s Singing Revolution – http://singingrevolution.com – and it was inspiration to see a story about thousands of people coming together to fight for their freedom from Russia.

kyledeb said:

Janna you are absolutely right to connect it to the conceptual underpinnings of the failure of the DREAM Act. It is this unity, this connection, that I'm precisely trying to get at when I write here, so I'm glad you picked up on that.

Tanvir, I'm excited to have you comment here for the first time. Thanks for the inspiring message from on Estonia's singing revolution, and it's not only the people of Burma that should be inspired by the courage of the protesters and monks, but the entire world.

kyledeb said:

Just thought I'd point out that this is the first post I've submitted to Daily Kos to get rescued.

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This page contains a single entry by kyledeb published on October 26, 2007 12:53 PM.

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