The Unheard Cries of Burma

The sounds of silence regarding Burma are deafening. Facing certain violence, the Buddhist monks of Burma took to the streets to peacefully demand change in a country that has been ruled for forty-five years by the iron hand of military dictatorship. While it is true that many nations “urged restraint” on the part of the military junta leader General Than Shwe, the basic call for help by the oppressed of Burma have fallen on deaf ears.

Just as the world ignored the early call of the Kurds in Iraq in the time of Hussein, the same deaf ear has been turned to the people of Burma. Lip service aside, there is nothing that the world will do to help the Buddhist monks. If one did not know better, you might think that Burma had oil reserves. But wait, they do have oil reserves and China and India are competing for its control.

A September 29th article by Time/CNN (Simon Robinson) reported that India’s silence on the struggles of its neighbors may well be oil related. Why is the largest democracy in the world and in that region not using its leverage to help end the violence in Burma?

The article indicates that the Burmese junta is helping India defeat insurgents in the northeast part of that country. Further, India is seeking to exploit large oil and gas reserves in and around Burma. Having recently lost out in a pipeline contract to China, it is of little wonder that India does not want to upset the military dictatorship in Burma.

It seems that throughout history, the world has been willing to tolerate military rulers if they have control over significant natural resources. The U.S. has long supported such dictatorships in Latin America because such regimes brought relative stability American economic interests. Since it is obvious that both China and India have the corner on the Burma resource market, it is clear that the U.S. has little to loose in condemning the violent actions that have been taken against the monks.

The Buddhist rebellion in Burma is fading. Faced with guns, clubs and water cannons, the peaceful monks are no match for the powerful military. The streets are going empty as soldiers block streets, take over monasteries and silence opposition. By the time the UN envoy actually gets to talk to the military ruler of Burma, the issue will have faded into a footnote in history. One more struggle, one more cry for freedom has gone unheeded all in the name of money and oil. Cry for Burma and its people.

Philip Harris