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> 5cts worth about Burma, or how the sanctions are the worse thing that we could do for them
peacefrog
post Oct 10 2007, 01:30 PM
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When I visited Burma, I started to get an understanding of the regime, but most of all, of the people: its situation under dictatorship, with a distant occident that would not come to its help. During the recent events there, I did not feel the urge to share that partial and incomplete understanding I have about the situation. But faced with the catastrophic response of Occident in that crisis, I can't help but to communicate.

If some aspects of my point of view on Burma seem surprising, or unclear, please send me questions and comments, I will answer. After my visit in Burma in September 2006, I had already written a bit to try and explain the situation there, and the mentality of the Burmese. See in my blog the entries dated sept 17th 2006, I think they help to understand.

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A short while ago, Burma was in the headlines. These monks, demonstrating pacifically, supported by a population oppressed for decades... where are they now? It is the time of cleaning: night raids, torture and abductions without returning. No need to extend on that, we have known how to do it in our countries too. There is not much we can do about it, and when it all started it was already too late.
And in Occident? Indignation, of course. We proposed sanctions, immediately, naturally. But suddenly, there are these other countries, who do not share our humanistic values, and who oppose the sanctions. Well, our indignation is so great, that we will apply sanctions without them, because it is our moral duty. We take our responsibilities… really?
Thinking about it for a second, Burma was already cut from Occident… these sanctions are therefore totally ineffective. Hence, why take such a stand, paying tribute to the dignity of the oppressed, thinking we share their ordeal? Looking at it, it seems altogether a bit too simple, and if we get closer, it starts to smell of well-known constants. Good will and cynism, inseparable.
What startles me is that common sense is at the opposite end of our response. 20 years after the events of 88, when the opposition was eliminated in a bloodbath, we have today postponed by another 20 years our help to the Burmese people, by isolating it instead of giving a hand.


International mobilisation, sanctions proposals, and action: we did not loose time; US and Europe took their dispositions to enforce sanctions. But for what results?
By applying economic and diplomatic sanctions, we probably hope to bring about a weakening of the regime, by suffocating its resources. Beautiful idea already put in practice for ten years in Irak, for example. Have we already forgotten that sanctions reach only to populations, and not to dictators? But maybe, without daring speaking it out loud, are we perfectly aware of that. A people that starves is a people that will revolt, right, and if it needs a little help to build up the hatred and despair necessary to act, why not? Not very correct, but truly, that is what we think. But that is our history, our mentality… we tend to forget that the rest of the world is not thinking occidentally.
And that is the point: Revolution in Burma is a western concept. Of course, in a sense they would like to deal once and for all with the military junta. But in the discussions I had with the Burmese, more than 15 years after the 88´ bloodbath, they still refused, categorically, to solve the situation with violence. Pacifism is for them the only acceptable way. These last weeks they could have revolted, but they did not. Why? Because of refusing violence. Because they are extremists. Buddhism extremists. That is something difficult to understand for us.
Applying sanctions to push to an unsustainable situation is therefore of no help to command change. But even without considering the anticipated effect of sanctions, we forget that the real, practical effect of sanctions is… nil! Burma carries out full scale trading, with its neighbours, of its immense riches: teak wood, natural gas, ruby, heroin and methamphetamines. And we are part of the final consumers, of course.
So there we are, standing loud as defenders of the Right, setting up sanctions that would have no positive consequence if they were of any effect, and that have anyway, de facto, negligible effects.

And still, we display so much verve. We started by claiming in the media, our firm intention to vote sanctions within UN. But did we not know that these sanctions would be immediately and definitively refused by the Security Council? Certainly not. Russia, by principle, refuses any type of ingerence in affairs that it qualifies of "internal", for a very obvious reason: it has a number of such "internal" affairs going on and coming up. China, on its side, is in a dominant position in Asia, and soon in the world. As such, it has no reason for patronizing to an important economic partner. China does not naturally address human rights issues either, of course.
In short, in basic diplomacy, before showing off in front of the Security Council, you have a few discussions, a little bit of anticipation and coordination at least, right? Unless you are looking for confrontation. Diplomatically, to force Russia and China to take position openly on the subject of the sanctions is part of the present geopolitical game. These differences will be used later, a little additional weight in future discussions. But for internal politics, the result is quite interesting as well: a good occasion for politicians to show their commitment to our moral incorruptibility and our humanistic crusade. A good occasion to insist on the differences between us, westerners, and these Russians and Chinese who grow in influence on the international scene, with an effect on our daily lives. Another milestone for nationalisms.


So that was my point of view on the situation: ineffective sanctions, that would be anyway without positive consequences. A humanistic commitment from the western peoples, of course, but steered by a good deal of cynism from our politicians, who are buying a bit of good conscience, dirt cheap, while at the same time moving small marbles on the geopolitical chessboard.
This is quite pessimistic and leaves little room for constructivism. Unless of course, that we consider that talking about and understanding the mechanism and forces that drive our world, is a prerequisite for being constructive. A prerequisite to refuse that cynism should waste that huge amount of good will that Occident has to offer.

In practice, in the case of Burma, what "solution" then? It seems to me, that the safest way is that of exchange: during the last century, the fathers of Europe did not make great declarations… they just exchanged, they forced themselves mutually into interdependence, they waved the invisible networks that link the peoples: those of trade. To an extent where any decision, any crisis will call for dialogue. It worked, it is working. There is no miracle recipe, there were tricky steps, but eventually, the thinking was straightforward, the objective was clear and simple: Peace and prosperity. So how is it, that we'd like to export our bloody paragraphs of violent revolution and heroic death, instead of our chapters of construction and peace?
The solution is, or rather was, simple: lift all sanctions. Invest in Burma, go to Burma. Doing so, sharing the benefits with the military junta: a very negative performance ethically, of course…. But that is what we do all over the world. And above all, above all, in the medium term, what would the results be?
First of all, support to the people. Financial support, through the expenses of expatriates and foreign companies. Ideological support, simply by exchanging views and opinions, and through the effort of mutual understanding. And personal networking: when you know people going through dangerous times, you consider the situation with a very different intensity.
But more than anything, economic integration with the rest of the world would result in making the repression as we have seen it much more of an issue for the junta. Today the generals can joke about the sanctions, if they care at all. If Myanmar had a few xillion euros of commercial exchange with us, they would take sanction threats more seriously… and we wouldn't be in that situation, gesticulating without results. There would be a bit more activity in embassies, and "diplomatic" solutions would emerge: certainly not ideal, but definitely better than the present impunity of the regime.
And we should note that the junta is not monopolizing control over Burma: ethnic groups and drug lords have complete regular armies: in case of violent revolution, of radical change, stability would be far from guaranteed. Solution is in the long term. It lies in dialogue. And dialogue is achieved through economic interdependence, principally.


I did not really want to get into these considerations. But faced with the cynism and uselessness of our diplomatic response, which takes advantage of our misunderstandings, even though we are driven by genuine commitment; and most of all faced with the massacre and silent horror that is going on today in Burma, I had to write. To denounce, with rage but without too many illusions. To give my point of view on the situation, whatever it is worth, after visiting that country and meeting that marvellous people. And above all, because I can't keep in my panic, as we are taking irremediable positions that cut completely the Burmese from the western world. We got to the opposite of what we had to do, for years. Now the popular opposition has been destroyed, the free and the brave might have shown dignity in their death, but today their flesh is already decaying. The wrong has been done.

What is there left? You, me, those around us. What can we do? First of all: understand, not let ourselves sink into easy representations. Reality is: death and horror, cynically used by some.
But reality is also the Burmese: the kindest of hearts, and a smile that knows no sleep. A Buddhist extremism, far from anything we can imagine, almost impossible to understand. A different way of facing issues. A mix of ethnies and customs, but always, always, the joy to meet the foreigner, to ask about the world, to tell about the reality of their life. Not the misery, no. Just the joys and the sorrows, as anywhere else. And what counts, are the good times shared, a beer, a dance, a joke, a smile.
What we can do, what we must do, for them and for us, is to pay them a visit. Of course that is applicable to all countries, and to our neighbours also. But today I am writing, so that in a month or in ten years, you go to Burma. Because it is a people that enchanted me, and because all those I met there asked me to send them visitors. Just go.


Adrien Carriay, October 6th 2007


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Paul
post Oct 10 2007, 09:06 PM
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I wish to agree to some extent - or add my own thoughts.

The talk at the UN is just talk. Useless. The countries that have asked for sanctions are the countries that already do almost no trade with Burma. So they can say that without much concern and can make it look as if they care. But really it is doing nothing. Just talk. Why do they even bother?

I think for two reasons. 1. to try to be popular at their home. 2. to try to weaken and slow the growth of China and India.

Notice in these reasons there is absolutely nothing about a concern, care or love for the Burmese people. They don't care.

And calls for the Chinese to intervene??? China does not own Burma - what do you want them to do? And do you really want China to start intervening in foreign countries when it feels they are doing the wrong thing internally??!!?? I certainly don't.

Sadly the situation in Burma is just being used to play international politics and point scoring, but nothing to help the Burmese people.

Sanctions - yes, that will make the Burmese people poorer and will further cut off the regime from the outside. So they again have no need to be moderate or learn from others.

Sorry, although the Burmese generals may be arseholes, the way forward seems to me to get involved. Visit Burma. Talk to people. Get Burma involved with the world. Maybe we should buy the Burmese generals mansions in Florida or Sydney so they can leave Burma and live with the other dictators in luxury. Cutting them off does little of use to the people of Burma.

Anyway I find the whole international politics thing quite disgusting and disappointing and lacking in humanity. Sad. But I think millions of normal people would love to help the Burmese. I reckon the way to do it is to go there and talk to people and learn about Burma and engage Burma in the international community.
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mgzaymin
post Nov 17 2007, 10:20 PM
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As ordinary citizen of Myanmar , live in Myanmar, I do agree with you all.
We want democracy and want to change present situation. But in the other hand, Sanction wouldn't effect much on the General but people get hurt badly . A lot of people from outside call for Sanction. Yes , they can because they do not stay in the country.
Sanction make people more Poorer. Poorer make Hunger. Hunger make Anger. Anger make Revolution. Revolution make Suffer. That is what every oppositions want . At the end,either Generals or Politicians gaining but people suffer.

Paul, I feel the same way.

"Sanctions - yes, that will make the Burmese people poorer and will further cut off the regime from the outside. So they again have no need to be moderate or learn from others.

Sorry, although the Burmese generals may be arseholes, the way forward seems to me to get involved. Visit Burma. Talk to people. Get Burma involved with the world. "

More visitors mean more eyes on Myanmar and Generals have to care more.
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kopwint
post Nov 22 2009, 04:22 AM
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QUOTE(mgzaymin @ Nov 17 2007, 10:20 PM) *

As ordinary citizen of Myanmar , live in Myanmar, I do agree with you all.
We want democracy and want to change present situation. But in the other hand, Sanction wouldn't effect much on the General but people get hurt badly . A lot of people from outside call for Sanction. Yes , they can because they do not stay in the country.
Sanction make people more Poorer. Poorer make Hunger. Hunger make Anger. Anger make Revolution. Revolution make Suffer. That is what every oppositions want . At the end,either Generals or Politicians gaining but people suffer.

Paul, I feel the same way.

"Sanctions - yes, that will make the Burmese people poorer and will further cut off the regime from the outside. So they again have no need to be moderate or learn from others.

Sorry, although the Burmese generals may be arseholes, the way forward seems to me to get involved. Visit Burma. Talk to people. Get Burma involved with the world. "

More visitors mean more eyes on Myanmar and Generals have to care more.


I deeply agrre with above ,now you guys can see we Govt make some good image with US and travelers come and we get job,we guide are depend on politic situation and if some country make neglect and the first tourism field the fisr suffering.
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wandering_man
post Feb 4 2010, 11:27 PM
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Wandering_man thinks there's way too much agreeing here, and it is his nature to dissent.

Aung San Suu Kyi and the NLD support sanctions and asks Western travelers to not go to Burma. I respect her wishes. Respect for their views on this matter have been earned by blood and treasure. Theirs.

And to an earlier post -- China and India DO own Burma. The kyat is WORTHLESS. It is their currency buying up commodities that provides the financial lifeline for the dictators to continue to oppress the Brmese people and thumb their noses at the civilized world. Internationally--whether it is Burma, or Darfur, or North Korea, or Tibet, China plays a powerful and negative role tilting against the struggle of people for bread, peace, and freedom.

I know that the average Burmese citizen suffers from sanctions and would live better if they were lifted. I know that was also true of the average South African during apartheid. If you want to drive a stake through the heart of those struggling for democracy in Burma, lift sanctions over the NLD's objection and tour Burma when Aung San Suu Kyi asks you not to from her house arrest and spend the hard currency in your travels the generals need to stay in power.



QUOTE(kopwint @ Nov 22 2009, 05:22 AM) *

QUOTE(mgzaymin @ Nov 17 2007, 10:20 PM) *

As ordinary citizen of Myanmar , live in Myanmar, I do agree with you all.
We want democracy and want to change present situation. But in the other hand, Sanction wouldn't effect much on the General but people get hurt badly . A lot of people from outside call for Sanction. Yes , they can because they do not stay in the country.
Sanction make people more Poorer. Poorer make Hunger. Hunger make Anger. Anger make Revolution. Revolution make Suffer. That is what every oppositions want . At the end,either Generals or Politicians gaining but people suffer.

Paul, I feel the same way.

"Sanctions - yes, that will make the Burmese people poorer and will further cut off the regime from the outside. So they again have no need to be moderate or learn from others.

Sorry, although the Burmese generals may be arseholes, the way forward seems to me to get involved. Visit Burma. Talk to people. Get Burma involved with the world. "

More visitors mean more eyes on Myanmar and Generals have to care more.


I deeply agrre with above ,now you guys can see we Govt make some good image with US and travelers come and we get job,we guide are depend on politic situation and if some country make neglect and the first tourism field the fisr suffering.

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peacefrog
post Jul 19 2010, 04:08 PM
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Well I just found by chance this last answer, and I will answer in return.
There is no reason to believe what the majority says, or what a few fools (like me) say... but when there are differing views, the best is probably to go and make an opinion for yourself.

If the only thing holding you back lies in "tourist money going to the generals sustains their regime", just a bit of research might actually persuade you that this is a belief more than a fact. It does go to their pocket, but the sustainability of their regime is not at stake: there are less than a million tourists entering Burma every year. Very generously, you could count a few dozen million dollars being spent. The annual export figures for Burma amount to billions, and sources generally agree that this is largely underestimated because illegal ruby, wood, and drugs trade is not taken into account.

Go have a look inside... boundaries are made to be crossed, and the Burmese are not allowed this luxury


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