Archive for the ‘Burma’ Category

Sixty Rangoon Monasteries to be Razed

The Burmese authorities (i.e. the brutal, repressive military dictatorship which refers to itself as the State Peace and Development Council) has decreed that more than 60 Buddhist monasteries and 10 Buddhist teaching centres in Rangoon will be razed to make way for a new road and port financed by two army cronies. A plot of land on the fringes of Rangoon has been earmarked for the monasteries to relocate to. However, the monks depend on alms from their supporters to survive, and the area to which they’re to move is remote and desolate. To add insult to injury, the monasteries and centres have been told they will receive no compensation for the loss of their existing land and buildings and no assistance with the costs of constructing their new accommodation.

And to think that ASEAN has just asked western countries to lift sanctions against Burma.

Welcome to the new, democratic Burma.

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News also from Burma: the government is going to tax all purchases by NGOs at rates of up to 20% – just another way for the junta to feather its own nest whilst increasing the suffering of the Burmese people. In contrast, businesses close to the junta and those run by relatives of the generals are exempted from paying any tax.

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Burmese Democracy

Of course, it’s an oxymoron: there’s no such thing as Burmese democracy. The elections have come and gone and the same brutish military families hold the reigns of power. Nothing will change. There will be no justice for the people of Burma.

I was reminded of an article written back in 1996 by Daw Aung San Suu Kyi commenting on Burma’s kangaroo courts, which ignore the law and simply implement the will of the junta:

“The sight of kangaroos bounding away across an open prairie can sometimes be rather beautiful. The spectacle of the process of law bounding away from accepted norms of justice is very ugly at all times.”

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Power Cut

Yesterday there was a power cut. It’s not an unusual occurrence, and power was restored in less than an hour. Being without a fan to keep me cool is a minor inconvenience, as is not having any water supply. Had the power been out for much longer I might have contemplated contacting the electricity supplier. If I were living in Burma, I wouldn’t.

Back in August U Khin Maung Kyi ‘phoned the electricity company in Rangoon to complain about a power surge. It wasn’t the first time he’d complained. He’d already been charged with “obstructing the work of the electricity company’s staff” with his complaints. This time he was arrested and imprisoned. The man who’d taken his ‘phone call agreed that the caller hadn’t used offensive language or made any unlawful threat. However, his manner was “impolite” and his calls were “an inconvenience”. The court was told that he had encouraged people to vote “no” in last year’s (farcical) constitutional referendum, and had photographed flooded roads after heavy rains. The people of Burma must surely be grateful that such a dangerous criminal is off the streets.

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