Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Burmese people would welcome UN intervention


(Nation) -I made two trips to Burma two years ago. The first trip was from Mai Sai through the Shan State to the Chinese border.

The second was from Chiang Mai to Mandalay, then down to Bagan by boat and onto Rangoon. I had fascinating conversations with Burmese people, who we always found to be very intelligent and aware of the situation in their country. Everyone we spoke to hated the Tatmadaw (the military) and were passionate supporters of the National League for Democracy (the winner of the last election in 1990). Even the chap we met who was convinced that Hillary Clinton had stolen his design for a revolutionary new car engine managed to become focused when Aung Sang Su Kii was mentioned. For a few minutes he forgot about his engine design and gave a lucid opinion about how the UN should mount an armed intervention in Burma.

In an Indian restaurant in Rangoon, the owner stood up and waved his fist and shouted at the barracks opposite. I was convinced he would be arrested, but he wasn't whilst I was there, and hopefully he wasn't after I left. The point of my letter is this: The Burmese people are fed up with their government, very possibly the most horrible government in the world. They have tried to unseat the government and thousands have been killed (including many monks).

And the reaction from the rest of the world? We hear that US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton is "deeply troubled"; UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon expresses "deep concern"; UK Prime Minister Gordon Brown is "deeply concerned"; Thai Prime Minister Abhisit Veejjajiva "expressed concern". Why are these people so mealy mouthed when faced with such a murderous regime?

Could it be because they are scared of upsetting Burma's staunchest ally? Could it be that the so-called free world is in such an economically weak position that it will not say anything to upset Burma's bosses to the north? The West, Asean and the UN need to stop messing about and take action urgently before there is a bloodbath in Burma. If the rest of the world does not take effective action now, we will and should be held responsible for the tragic outcome that is looming right now in Burma.

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