Cheat-Seeking Missles

Saturday, September 08, 2007

A Darfur In Myanmar

"I have never seen peace. My life was an unending disaster, a life of torture and hunger. We were just slaves. Do you understand? We are damned."

That's Tha Lei Paw, a 32-year-old Burmese woman describing her former life, before she fled Myanmar for the relative safety of a refugee camp in Thailand.

Calling the situation in Myanmar a Darfur is not a stretch; the only thing that's different is the murdering genocidal maniacs are Buddhists. The victims in both genocides are Christians.

Myanmar's Christian Karen tribe represents approximately seven percent of the population. The Bhuddist Burman tribe makes up 70 percent of the population and 100 percent of the national power base.

Spiegel gives us the background lesson:
When the Union of Burma, a former British colony, gained its independence in 1948 it was Southeast Asia's wealthiest country. The government in the capital Rangoon awarded the country's dozens of minorities -- like the Shan, Kachin, Rohanis and Karen -- autonomous status. Some were even given the right to leave the federation after 10 years, a promise that was quickly forgotten.

Burma's democratic institutions quickly crumbled, leaving a group of kleptomaniac generals in charge. They plundered the country's natural resources, including teakwood, precious stones, oil and natural gas. Their opponents, dozens of small guerilla armies, soon began waging a losing war to gain self-determination for their ethnic groups.

The army of the Shan State in the northeast Myanmar's Golden Triangle region was led by Khun Sa, a drug baron sought by international authorities. The Wa Army of former headhunters was under the command of the Pao brothers, two former Red Guards who had fled China after the 1966-1976 Cultural Revolution. As far back as 1950, the Karen rebels went into hiding in the jungle in response to countrywide massacres perpetrated against their ethnic minority. Human rights organizations estimate that Myanmar's ethnic conflicts have claimed more than 600,000 human lives since independence.
Since that 600,000 equates to just under 10,000 a year, I'm guessing the estimate is low and the kleptomaniac generals, drug-dealing war lords and jungle-dwelling Commies have actually killed far more innocents.

The government, not unlike the government in Khartoum, says it's not their fault, it's the Karens' fault for mounting an armed opposition to the suppression and abuse of the Burmans. But the rape, murder and forced slavery imposed by the Burmans goes far beyond mere suppression of an uprising.

The UN, as usual, is way on top of the situation, focusing not on the genocide, but on the regimes repression of recent demonstrations against hiked-up gas prices. Sez the UN's special envoy on Myanmar matters:
“[The Myanmar government is] all the more disappointing as they not only have the effect of calling into question the stated commitment to democratization and national reconciliation by the authorities, but also make it more difficult to maintain support, international support, for engagement with Myanmar at a time when we believe strongly that the country needs international assistance in addressing the many pressing challenges, from political and human rights issues to humanitarian and socio-economic problems.”
As long as the UN takes genocidal militarists at their word and thinks there's any legitimacy to their "commitment to democratization," it will get nowhere, and the Christians of Karen will continue to suffer.

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