Name: margalit
Location: Massachusetts, United States Professional writer, educational advocate, opinionated ultra liberal mother of 18 year old twins, living life in the slow lane due to hypertrophic cardiomyopathy, congestive heart failure, and diabetes.

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Monday, October 01, 2007

Burma aka Myanmar

Are you following the events unfolding in Burma? I've been watching on TV, which has been pretty damn sparse with the updates, and reading the net almost obsessively to try and determine just what has been going on. The military junta in power have shut off most of the Internet and media from the Burmese citizens. They have been left not only without a voice since the government killed the leader of the Monks, but they have seized people from their homes, put famous protesters like Aung San Suu Kyi in prison, and taken to the streets armed with machine guns to quell any citizens who gather to protest. It is an ugly and sad scene. A country that is important for it's natural resources has no allies for it's citizens. It's neighbors, Thailand and China are both working with the military government because Burma has oil. Sound familiar? It makes me want to never use oil or petroleum products of any kind ever again.

To hear the voices of those in the stuggle, you can read the BBC forums here.

To see photos of the protests and violence inside Burma, look here and here.

To read a Burmese blog, look here.

The Daily Mail (London) is reporting here that thousands of Burmese citizens have been killed by the military government.

Both the US and Canada have economic sanctions against the military government in Burma. So fat those sanctions have not helped the situation, which has been ongoing since the takeover of the government in 1988. Currently, in 30 May 2004, Bush administration adopted "the Burmese Freedom and Democracy Act- 2003" which immediately prohibits financial transactions with entities of the ruling military junta in Burma and will bar the importation of Burmese products into the United States after 30 days, according to the Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC). Japan has frozen all new development assistance to the regime in response to the May 30 attacks. However, Japan gives some aids to military regime case-by-case basics that go to economic reform. But these sanctions have done little to nothing to help the citizens of Burma. The economic sanctions induced by other nations have caused the citizens to remain mired in poverty and close to starvation, even though Burma was, before the junta, a very rich country in Asia.

The military has mismanaged and looted the country's funds, gone on ethnic cleansing raids to rid the country of their minority populations (the Karen), and the nutrition and life expectancy rates are very low, with 36% of children under 5 years in Burma moderately to severely underweight. More children have dropped out of school.

By the late 1990s, the regime's expenditure on civilian education equaled only 1.2 % of the country's Gross National Product - compared to 3.8% for developing countries - and had declined 70% in real terms since 1990. According to the World Bank, the government only spends 28 cents a year per child in public schools. Almost 40% of children never attend school. Almost 75% fail to complete primary education in Burma. 98% of schooling children have never finished basic high school.

More displacement in ethnic and central areas since 1988 there has been more than a million Internally Displaced Persons.The government's continued policies of forced relocation and eviction, land confiscation, economic monopolies, and systematic human rights abuses are the major causes of Burma's massive IDP population.

Photos from NaingKo.

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