Posts Tagged ‘myanmar

29
Oct
07

Freedom Writ Large

Freedom Writ Large
By John Pilger

(This is John Pilger’s address to a London meeting, ‘Freedom Writ Large’, organized by PEN and the Writers Network of Burma, on October 25.)

Thank you PEN for asking me to speak at this very important meeting tonight. I join you in paying tribute to Burma’s writers, whose struggle is almost beyond our imagination. They remind us, once again, of the sheer power of words. I think of the poets Aung Than and Zeya Aung. I think of U Win Tin, a journalist, who makes ink out of brick powder on the walls of his prison cell and writes with a pen made from a bamboo mat – at the age of 77. These are the bravest of the brave.

And what honor they bring to humanity with their struggle; and what shame they bring to those whose hypocrisy and silence helps to feed the monster that rules Burma.
Continue reading ‘Freedom Writ Large’

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04
Oct
07

Asia’s Forgotten Crisis: A New Approach to Burma

Asia’s Forgotten Crisis
A New Approach to Burma
Foreign Affairs, November/December 2007

Summary: Over the past decade, Burma has gone from being an antidemocratic embarrassment and humanitarian disaster to being a serious threat to its neighbors’ security. The international community must change its approach to the country’s junta.

Michael Green is Associate Professor of International Relations at the Edmund A. Walsh School of Foreign Service at Georgetown University and a Senior Adviser and Japan Chair at the Center for Strategic and International Studies. Derek Mitchell is a Senior Fellow and Director for Asia Strategy at CSIS.

U.S. policy toward Burma is stuck. Since September 1988, the country has been run by a corrupt and repressive military junta (which renamed the country Myanmar). Soon after taking power, the State Law and Order Restoration Council (SLORC), as the junta was then called, placed Aung San Suu Kyi, the leader of the opposition party the National League for Democracy, under house arrest. In 1990, it allowed national elections but then ignored the National League for Democracy’s landslide victory and clung to power. Then, in the mid-1990s, amid a cresting wave of post-Cold War democratization and in response to international pressure, the SLORC released Suu Kyi. At the time, there was a sense within the country and abroad that change in Burma might be possible.

But this proved to be a false promise, and the international community could not agree on what to do next. Many Western governments, legislatures, and human rights organizations advocated applying pressure through diplomatic isolation and punitive economic sanctions. Burma’s neighbors, on the other hand, adopted a form of constructive engagement in the hope of enticing the SLORC to reform. The result was an uncoordinated array of often contradictory approaches. The United States limited its diplomatic contact with the SLORC and eventually imposed mandatory trade and investment restrictions on the regime. Europe became a vocal advocate for political reform. But most Asian states moved to expand trade, aid, and diplomatic engagement with the junta, most notably by granting Burma full membership in the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) in 1997.
Continue reading ‘Asia’s Forgotten Crisis: A New Approach to Burma’

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