Saturday, October 27, 2007

10 Reasons to be Involved in Burma


Why get involved in Burma? If you or your family or friends don't know much about what's going on and want to know more, here's a quick introductory rundown of the problems there. By the Free Burma Rangers. This is from printed material, not online, at least, not to my knowledge--so no link, sorry.

1. For human dignity. The power of the oppressor is unrestrained: girls being raped, children chased from their homes, parents murdered, restricted education, and people living in fear are wrong. Arbitrary arrests, and forced relocation are other tools of the regime. The idea that every human being has value crosses all political, religious, economic, and social lines, and for this we need to stand with the people of Burma.

2. For the restoration of democracy. There was a democratically-elected government that was forcefully displaced by a brutal dictatorship.

3. For the release of political prisoners. Nobel Peace Prize Laureate Aung San Suu Kyi, who is still under house arrest, is one of an estimated 1,400 political prisoners. (This number is probably closer towards 1,900 now after September's crackdown. According to BBC's article HERE, 500 of the close to 3,000 protesters arrested are still being held in detention as of Oct. 17).

4. For ethnic rights, honor, and future peace. Ethnic minorities comprise over 40% of the population of Burma and thus should be equitable partners now and in Burma's future. Without them there is no just or durable solution for a peaceful and democratic Burma. Burma's brutal campaign against ethnic minorities has resulted in more than 1 million internally displaced people [with some estimates putting the number of IDPs anywhere from 2 to 4 million], over 1 million refugees, and gross human rights violations such as Burma's large scale use of landmines to terrorize civilian populations. Many of the ethnic peoples of Burma were allies for freedom in World War II. It is a matter of honor not to forget them.

5. For public health. There is a growing AIDS epidemic in Burma, and in overall health, Burma ranks as one of the world's worst. Approximately one out of every 10 children in Burma die before their 5th birthday. The ratio is twice as high among the thousands of families forced to flee their homes by the military's ongoing campaigns.

6. For an end to religious persecution. There is a wide-spread religious persecution in Burma and this is a violation of a foundational and sacred human right.

7. For an end to forced labor and use of humans as minesweepers. Each year the regime forces thousands of civilians to work on State projects and , during military campaigns, uses people to carry supplies and as human minesweepers.

8. For the protection of the environment. Unchecked and large scale clear-cutting of some of the world's last remaining natural teak and other tropical hardwood reserves, toxic mining practices, and the poorly planned building and proliferation of dams are among the many destructive practices that are damaging the country now and for future generations. The wanton and unchecked destruction of the environment in Burma is not only harmful to Burma, but to all surrounding countries.

9. For the control of narcotics. Burma is one of the main producers of amphetamines in the world, and is #1 in Southeast Asia. After Afghanistan, Burma is the #2 producer of opium/heroin in the world.

10. For regional security. Burma is building up its military with assistance from other regional dictatorships and this, along with its interest in a nuclear program, makes it a regional security threat. Its immoral leadership and lack of accountability also make it a potential global threat.