Quaking In Their Flip Flops
By: Patti Bankson
One day it was Rangoon, Burma. The next: Yangon, Myanmar. When you rule a country as a military dictatorship you can do that… just up and change your countryâ€™s name. In fact, you can do pretty much whatever you want… arrest people in nightly raids and crush dissent violently, as you have for decades. Never mind that those dissenting are â€œyourâ€ people merely wanting freedom from the absolute power youâ€™ve wielded for 45 years. â€œYourâ€ people hoping that dissent now wonâ€™t end as it did then (1988), with thousands shot dead by soldiers. History â€“ and reports from Burma – indicate the people hope in vain.
In 1987, under a previous military government, an economic crisis triggered a nation-wide uprising that resulted in elections being held the following year. For all the good that did. Rather than cede power to the winner of the vote, the National League for Democracy, the military stepped in and formed a new junta, under whom even a decent life continues to elude people.
Poor economic conditions and living standards in Burma have sparked demonstrations and arrests since February. Following a sharp mid-August fuel price increase by the ruling State Peace and Development Council (SPDC), small protests became huge demonstrations, which became even larger when Buddhist monks joined their ranks. The junta sent in the army to end the demonstrations and thousands of people were arrested. Closed trials were held and five of the protesters have been sentenced to jails terms ranging from 4Â½ to 7Â½ years. All five are members of the (opposition) National League for Democracy. Itâ€™s reported that arrests are still being made in nightly raids, and the state-controlled newspaper, New Light of Myanmar , has said that opposition to the juntaâ€™s â€œSeven-Step Path to Democracyâ€ would not be tolerated. According to critics of the plan, those seven-steps, not surprisingly, would lead to the same people being in charge.
Itâ€™s easy to see that the methods Burma employs to control its country are wrong. But itâ€™s just as easy to see that thereâ€™s a lot there to want to control: : potentially vast oil reserves, offshore natural gas, ideal â€œwaterfront propertyâ€ right on the Indian Ocean, mineral deposits and last, but not least, its ranking as one of the biggest suppliers of gemstones in the world. The ruling junta obviously seems to think those resources are reason enough to slaughter its citizens and/or to imprison them for political reasons. India and China seem to think those resources are reason enough to â€œmake niceâ€ with the junta. Still other countries seem to think those resources are reason enough to shrug their shoulders at whatâ€™s going on, the same way that the military dictatorship shrugs its shoulders at the â€œharshâ€ criticism and anemic economic and political sanctions imposed by other nations, including us, the U.S. Yep, that has them quaking in their flip flops. And why not? After all, they watched â€“ with the rest of us â€“ the way the worldâ€™s criticism and sanctions scared the bejeebers out of Sadaam Hussein, and whipped him right into compliance, right?
One last thought: while this happens in Burma… while genocide happens in Darfur, Pelosiâ€™s Democrats are worried about genocide that happened in Turkey in 1915. The Turkey of Today didnâ€™t exist until 1923.
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