Wednesday, September 26, 2007


Burma is one of the world's shittier dictatorships. A totalitarian military regime, it practices censorship, surveillance, arbitrary detention, torture, and ethnic cleansing (using chemical weapons to boot). Public protests in support of democracy in 1988 were violently put down by the military, with over 3,000 people massacred, and the winner of the 1990 elections, Aung San Suu Kyi, has been under house arrest ever since. But today, Burma may be on the verge of a democratic revolution - or another massacre. Protests against increases in fuel prices five weeks ago have turned into a more general movement against the regime, and this has been backed in the past week by a growing number of Buddhist monks. The monks have tremendous moral authority in Burma, which has been boosted by a symbolic linkup with Aung San Suu Kyi, and this has pushed things to the stage where the regime has to make some sort of move, either towards compromise or a crackdown. unfortunately, it seems they've chosen the latter, declaring a curfew and surronding the monasteries with troops. As I write this, they're beating protestors for daring to speak up against the regime, and things could very well get worse.

If you'd like to show your support, then Avaaz, the global civic activism group, has an online petition calling for the UN security council (and in particular the Chinese government, who support the Burmese regime) to oppose a violent crackdown, which you can sign here. But other than that, there's little we can do. Burma has no embassy in New Zealand to protest outside, or even an honorary consul to write to (though they do have an ambassador in Australia, who can be emailed here), so all we can really do down here is raise our voices in support, cross our fingers, and hope for the best.