Politics from the Palouse to Puget Sound

Friday, September 28, 2007

"Internet cut in Myanmar, blogger presses on"

CNN.com reports:
The Internet connection in Myanmar was cut Friday, limiting the free flow of information the nation's citizens were sharing with the world depicting the violent crackdown on monks and other peaceful demonstrators.

Myanmar-based blogs went dark suddenly. But London-based blogger Ko Htike -- who has been one of the most prominent bloggers posting information about the violence -- has vowed to keep up the fight, saying where "there is a will, there is a way."
This is certainly a much worse situation than the Washington Democrats move to rein in political blogs here in Washington.

Our own Bruce Heimbigner was in Myanmar just a couple of weeks ago. I hope he has some insight he can provide us on this growing international tragedy that proves that the spirit of human freedom cannot be kept down.

1 comment:

Bruce Heimbigner said...

Yeah, I have an opinion: Myanmar sucks. Well the government anyway. Like North Korea, these governments have drained all the wealth away and stifled free enterprise. In major cities of Burma the lights are out most of the day. Apparently, flights within the country have been stopped so I wonder if the bus system is also stopped. Cell phone photos and text messages are one way to get information out, but the government may have shut those down too. My contact there is stuck in a different part of the country and cannot get back home, and no one has heard from him for a while but then cell service and electricity is so bad he may currently have access to neither.

The name ‘Burma’ is the name of the largest ethnic group in the country. The current government thought they were really cute and politically correct to change the name because the country is made of many ethnicities. However, since the people themselves didn’t change the name I prefer the name Burma. But, if you are a citizen and use the name Burma in your own country you might find yourself in jail. Further insincerity is shown by the current government’s abuse and exploitation of poor ethnic minorities to fight in their civil war. Only one of the minorities (a Christian tribe) has actively and continuously fought against the government. The government (since it has no money and a small military) pays that tribe's traditional enemy to fight for the government. Thus the government looses no solders and little money. It is a messy situation that has been in stalemate for a few years.

Buddhism. (Be patient this is relevant.) Buddhism, as practiced in Thailand and Burma, is very superstitious. Buddhism has nothing to say about God or spirits. But the people know better and create their own spiritualism. One of the principles of the spiritualism is to not let the evil spirits know (or notice) who you are. This belief gives rise to practices like always smiling, not using your real name, and not doing anything to draw attention to yourself. Most westerners when observing these behaviors think Thais and Burmese are happy, modest, and amenable. But actually they are just trying to avoid the attention of evil spirits. Likewise, to break the law or to fight against your government would draw the attention of evil spirits, so most people are unlikely to do it.

The monks. The last time there were major protests in Burma 1000’s were killed. Those protests were led by students of the major universities. However, the government is unlikely to shoot into a crowd of Monks because they are revered, like Catholic priests here might be. However, the monks are not like pastors or priests because every young male is expected to spend at least a year as monk. So there is a constant influx of young men and everyone knows and has a relative who is a monk. The monks are officially not particularly interested in politics, but their ability to travel freely and gather together must at times cause them to wonder out loud to each other about politics. Supposedly these protests are about the government raising the price of fuel but the monks don’t use much. What really set them off I don’t know. BTW, Most Christians and ALL that I work with just do their thing and stay out of politics. It was VERY difficult to get any political information on my recent trip.

Groups of protestors have gone to the home of Aung San Suu Kyi who has been under house arrest for most of the years since 1990 when she won a landslide election. (See my previous post http://palousitics.blogspot.com/2007/09/pastor-p.html) But the government has recently kept the protestors away from her home. The fact they went there makes me think this is about more than high fuel prices.

You can read about my recent trip at: http://pullmanfoursquaremissions.blogspot.com/search/label/Thailand%202007