Wednesday, January 02, 2008
Richard J Tilley
[Source - Irrawaddy : Letter to the Editor]
We are put in an irreconcilable position concerning the future of Burma. There is little hope the Burmese junta will hold talks with Daw Aung San Suu Kyi or any other interested party in the coming year. 2008 will be another stifle hold on an already limping movement. I only say the movement is limping because it is being held back in every direction. The UN Security Council cannot pass any measures due to China and Russia. Asean will not take firm steps to deal with the junta for fear of trade fallouts as well as the fear of the organization falling apart at the seams. The US does not wish to get too deeply involved other than more rhetoric from a lame-duck State Department and the EU would just as easily prefer to trade with Burma if they could escape the public outcry for doing so. So, where does that leave us for 2008?
Unfortunately it seems it is up to the people and the organizations skills of laymen, monks and the NLD [National League for Democracy] members who have managed to escape imprisonment. They and they alone can help bring democratic reform to Burma. The reason this is a bad thing is because they will no doubt pay the price with their lives. The rest of the world will stand behind them, not alongside them, and watch and as they valiantly march towards their fate—prison, labor camps and even death.
The rest of us outside Burma must help the cause by educating anyone who will listen. Only by striking a blow against ignorance can we render the lack of knowledge of what is going on in Burma as no longer an excuse for it to continue for another year. We must speak for those who are unable to speak for themselves. This seems to me our best option at this time.
As an American, this is difficult. Our nation is preoccupied with Iraq and the war on terror. Look at us. We even left Afghanistan behind in our march to war. It seems to me half the nation is too war weary to hear about another oppressed nation, BUT the other half wants to know more, wants to do more, wants to do something to make a difference. This is where we can make a difference.
This is where we can make our stand. Martin Luther famously said, “Here I stand.” And the writer Erasmus answered back, “I stand here and here and here.”
Well, I too stand here and here and here. I stand for the people of Burma across the entire nation facing a varied sort of oppression and violent abuse on a day-in day-out basis.
But there is hope. The struggle for democracy and individual freedom does not end with any one individual. We have many to look up to who have each in their own way given something up for the cause of the people of Burma. Daw Aung San Suu Kyi, U Gambira, Ko Min Ko Naing, Su Su Nway, Dr Cynthia Maung, Ko Htay Kywa, U Win Tin, the 88 Generation Students group leaders inside and outside of Burma. We have many heroes to look up to: The survivors who escaped the burning of Karen villages, the women of Chin State, the Free Burma Rangers. The list goes on and on and on.
How can we be lacking in inspiration? We, being the average individual who watches and mourns for the Burmese and ethnic people of Burma. How can we let 2008 be like 2007? We must not wait for the people to rise. We must prepare the world for their rise. We must let the world know. I once told myself, we must help the people to help themselves. But really we must help ourselves to help the people. That is where the truth stands.
Wednesday, January 02, 2008