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Kelly Powers

Any other way to access this information without a facebook account?

Michelle W.

I looked at the U.S. Coalition for Burma site which was recommended, and I have to admit being a bit dismayed at seeing, prominently displayed at the top of the page, a call for a boycott of the Beijing 2008 Olympics. And the NY Burma Roundtable is calling for a protest in front of the Chinese mission to the U.N. As scholars not just of Buddhism but also of Asia, we should be aware that China is not the only Asian country that practices a policy of non-interference, and that Russia too has blocked U.N. sanctions against Burma. What of the responsibility of ASEAN countries, and of Thailand, Burma's largest trading partner? Surely all of these are to be held accountable, but only China is hosting an Olympics in 2008. We should moreover question the degree to which another country can reasonably be expected to enforce change in the internal politics of another sovereign nation. We are scholars, so we should above all think before we act!

Geoffrey Aung

But isn't "non-interference" an interesting choice of words? China's substantial economic and political support for the military regime in Burma is, to me, an alarming instance of interference in a country that, were it to respond to the wishes of its citizens and its monks, would long ago have turned democratic. True, Thailand's economic investment is greater in Burma than China's. But Thailand has no veto in the Security Council, and when China changes its support for the junta - as it hopefully will with greater international attention - so too will Russia. China must be the focus of current attention. And what of internal politics? A look at the facts reveals that Burma's "internal" problems manifest themselves quite "externally": a growing refugee crisis, international drug trafficking, a traveling HIV epidemic - these are a few of many examples of how Burma's problems are international. See "A Threat to the Peace," a report commissioned by Vaclav Havel and Desmond Tutu, for more information. Indeed, we are scholars, so we should think. And once we do, we should act. There is little ambiguity here: China is practically singlehandedly underwriting one of the world's most severe human rights crises in Burma, and it is time the world holds them accountable. I support the Beijing boycott, and I encourage others to do so, as well.

Michelle W.

Response to Geoffrey Aung: the only people who can and should be held accountable for the crisis in Burma are the members of the Burmese military junta. It is hyperbole to claim that "China is practically singlehandedly underwriting one of the world's most severe human rights crises in Burma, and it is time the world holds them accountable." Why should we not hold the military junta responsible? China and Russia are right to veto economic sanctions, which only serve to hurt the ordinary people of Burma.

lotus_in_the_hills

There is, however, the fact that the Burmese junta is using Russian and Chinese weaponry against its own people. Most Burmese soldiers are trained in either Russia or China. So, as you can see, the methods that the junta uses to suppress its own people are intimately tied with the Russians and the Chinese. To urge China and Russia into an arms embargo with Burma would not be unreasonable. India and the ASEAN countries should not continue to trade with Burma as if nothing had happened; rather, they should carefully reconsider the impact their Burmese holdings are having on the political situation.
The same goes for the US. Did you know the junta uses American filtering software to control internet usage in the country? Shouldn't the US have known better than to sell filtering software to a repressive regime?

Michelle W.

lotus_in_the_hills, thank you for your thoughtful, informative, and thorough comments.

tim pfaff

To hear The Monks of Myanmar, go to www.myspace.com/timpfaff or search on ITunes.

The Monks of Myanmar

Bloody sandals on the street
The monks of Myanmar
Bloody sandals on the street
The monks of Myanmar
Pro-democracy protesters on their feet
Generals’ soldiers sent them fleeing through the streets
Sule Pagoda bathed in saffron for the peace
The monks of Myanmar

Holding vigil for the poor
The monks of Myanmar
Join the marches, call for more
The monks of Myanmar
For our freedom we’ll gather and we’ll sing
Hope, it thrives in all the truthfulness we bring
Love and kindness will win out o’er everything
The monks of Myanmar

Love and kindness rule the land
Lay your weapons in the sand
Take your neighbor by the hand
Choose peace

Shining lights for all to see
The monks of Myanmar
Line of scarlet to the sea
The monks of Myanmar
Solidarity extends a global reach
We are with you in your struggle to be free
Fill the world with love and kindness, joy and peace
The monks of Myanmar

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