Burma - and the obligation to speak the truth

BlogHer Original Post

Free Burma!

I was listening to Democracy Now on NPR and heard the comment that it was no big deal that the US imposed economic sanctions and frozen assets on the leaders of the repressive government in Burma. Why? Because their assets are largely not IN America; they are in Singapore. I didn't know whether to cry or scream. Buddhist monks, among the least violent people in the world are gunned down in the streets and we respond with futile gesture.

In Burma, I would be jailed for doing what I am doing now -- and perhaps tortured -- or even gunned down in the street, as was done to one Japanese journalist. A group called Reporters Withouit Borders has appealed to the Burmese government to release journalists now in jail.

One Japanese journalist, Kenji Nagai, was shot to death while covering the rallies in Rangoon.
On Wednesday, the Burmese government released a Japanese newspaper journalist after six days in detention. Reporters Without Borders says the journalists who remain in jail are not safe.
Vincent Brossel, the head of the group's Asia Desk, says Burma's reclusive government makes it hard to monitor the situation.
"The cases of torture are very common," he said. "Now, we don't know what is the situation. We really hope that government will at least get a sort of concern for their physical integrity. We also really hope that all of these people that have been arrested after the demonstrations will be released."

Let's just take a careful look at what terrified this repressive regime into violent response. Was it an army of equal size? Was it a nuclear weapon?

No. It was a few thousand monks asking for compassion, speaking the truth.

That is how frightening the truth can be. Even a whisper of it can shake evil regimes.

The truth is powerful. Arrest the journalists -- arrest, and perhaps torture or kill them for exactly what I am doing at this very second. Call a curfew and arrest, torture or perhaps kill people violating it -- why? Because they might be smuggling something out of the country -- what? The truth.

Make no mistake. The truth is powerful. In Burma and elsewhere. We who can speak the truth of what is happening in Burma, must. Or in Darfur. Or in the streets of America. It is our spiritual obligation to our brothers and sisters everywhere on this planet. To speak the truth -- especially for those whose voices are being stifled.

Those who can must speak for those who cannot.

It does not matter what your religious tradition is or is not -- we know the truth that we share. And that truth is that we are all connected - and that injustice to one is injustice to all.

Please do what you can. Write. Fax. Blog. Pray. Spread the truth. The truth that violence to the innocent, any innocent, in any country, must not be tolerated.


Related blogs about Burma:

Burma Underground says :

Now we are hearing that Thailand is turning back refugees from it's border and shipping them back by the boat-load. Burma is supplying Thailand with a lot of electricity, while the Burmese people are on a system of rotation. We are also hearing that China is refusing to allow Burmese monks sanctuary as well.
Please continue to put pressure on China. Avoid buying Chinese made toys and shoes. Request retailers such as Walmart and Target to not buy from China. For more ideas on how to boycott Chinese goods please see:

Singabloddypore has a detailed discussion of Singapore's involvement:

Singapore’s stronger reaction could be interpreted as acute embarrassment over its close relationship with the Burmese regime, a target of worldwide condemnation. Apart from arms deliveries in 1988 and most likely also later, Singapore has trained Burmese intelligence officers in cyber warfare and even helped establish a cyber-warfare center in Rangoon, which monitors the activities of dissidents in the country and in exile.
Perhaps more importantly, Singapore is the banking center of choice for Burma’s generals and their business cronies. Most have Singapore bank accounts,

Fiona Blarney of Web 2.0 Watch says of teh Web Initiative to post a banner in silence today:

y 8pm yesterday, more than 10,000 bloggers had apparently taken part. By some measures, this would be classed as an enormous success and a testament to the word of mouth marketing power of social media. Most marketers I know would give anything to attract 10,000 people to an event without printing a single flyer, making a single call, or renting a single list.
But what has actually been achieved? Those 10,000 blogs displaying the 'Free Burma' banner can't be seen by the Burmese people, because their government has blocked internet access. As a gesture of solidarity, then, it's all but useless. As some bloggers have noted, by encouraging bloggers not to post, Free Burma effectively shut down a potentially powerful worldwide lobby for 24 hours, creating 'dead air' in the blogosphere and nothing of note for the mainstream media to report. Which is why you probably weren't even aware the strike was happening.

Mata H , CE for Religion and Spirituality can be found not blogging today at Time's Fool


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