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Myanmar’s call for Democracy (and why China must help)

So now 100,000 people flood the streets and finally the masses in Yangon join the buddhists, and while the Generals threaten action they still have not moved like they did in the 8888 Uprising in 1988. There the military fired against monks and civilians alike and it was mercilessly crushed while the World just watched.

Many things have changed however, the architect and coup orchestrator Ne Win died 5 years ago and the present General hardliners may not be as bloodthirsty or as bold. Also, the figure of Aung San Suu Kyi has emerged in a significant as well as international way, the call for democracy and symbol of repression has lingered on for many years not unlike Mandela in South Africa. Myanmar as a Country may be unknown but the world is much smaller today, maybe you can’t find it on a map but you will know that it is a repressed country. This time if there is a massacre, Myanmar’s Junta will suffer more isolation, not only from the west but from its Asean “friends”.

Much more significantly however is that Myanmar depends on aid, trade and development to the only powerful Country that has been able and willing to support it in the past; China. Although China is not democratic, China does not need revolution and military crackdown in its neighboring country anymore than North Korea and its nuclear bombs. Its economic growth requires stability, stability does not come from unrest and suppression and just a year before the Beijing Olympics which is China’s call to the World as a true power to be reckoned with does not need this smear on its “clean vest”. If the Junta in Myanmar were to strike, China will condemn Myanmar along with the rest of the World and this could spell true disaster to the Junta.

China may not desire democracy, but it does need stability and it knows that a totally totaliarian state like Myanmar cannot sustain itself. China has grown by offering more freedoms, bit by bit starting with the economy and moving very slowly on other parts of freedom but it is many giant leaps forward in comparison to Myanmar.

I truly hope this will come to pass in the freeing of a Land that has suffered for too long and I hope China will play its role as a leader to the region.

New comment: So obviously I was being too optimistic, yesterday they cracked down.  The world cannot watch on, it must do something.

Story details below and also elsewhere.

Up to 100,000 people flooded the streets of Myanmar’s biggest city yesterday, joining Buddhist monks in the strongest show of dissent against the ruling generals in nearly two decades.
The enormous show of strength drew a swift threat from the military government to “take action” against the monks. World leaders urged the junta to show restraint.

Led by robed monks chanting prayers of peace and compassion, marchers snaked their way through the nation’s commercial capital, Yangon, witnesses said. Some held a banner reading: “This is a peaceful mass movement.” Others had tears in their eyes. Protests in Yangon began last week, but their size has grown exponentially since Saturday.

Dissidents based in Thailand said big protests also took place in Myanmar’s second city, Mandalay, the western oil town of Sittwe and the religious centre of Pakokku, but the reports were difficult to confirm.

In the first official reaction to a week of escalating protests led by the monks, state media reported that the minister for religion, Brigadier General Thura Myint Maung, had issued a warning to senior clergy.

“If the monks go against the rules and regulations in the authority of the Buddhist teachings, we will take action under the existing law,” state television quoted the minister as saying.

On the eve of the opening of the UN General Assembly in New York, where world leaders are expected to push the generals to adopt democratic reforms, the international community urged the junta to exercise restraint.

“We are consulting with allies and friends in the region on ways to encourage dialogue between the regime and those seeking freedom,” said US national security spokesman Gordon Johndroe.

French Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner warned that the junta would be held accountable if there was a crackdown on the streets.

Tibet’s exiled spiritual leader, the Dalai Lama, offered his support to the monks and urged the military government not to react with violence.

Yesterday’s march in Yangon began when 20,000 monks gathered at the country’s most sacred shrine.

The marchers passed the offices of the Defence Ministry and the residence of Senior General Than Shwe, head of the ruling junta.

For most of the 20km, five-hour march, there was no sign of police or troops. At the end, 1,400 marchers went to where police blocked access to the home of democracy icon Aung San Suu Kyi, who lives under house arrest. Monks were allowed to march past her home on Saturday.

Making no effort to push through police lines, the marchers yesterday chanted, “May there be peace.”

An international aid agency official with employees monitoring the crowd estimated well over 50,000 and close to 100,000 had marched.

Protests began on August 19 as a movement against economic hardship, after the government sharply raised fuel prices. But they have their basis in long-standing dissatisfaction with the repressive military regime.

The British ambassador in Yangon, Mark Canning, said the country’s leaders were now in uncharted territory. “The demonstrations could subside … [but] that’s looking less and less likely by the day,” he told the BBC.

One Response to “Myanmar’s call for Democracy (and why China must help)”

  1. Daniel Says:

    I couldn’t understand some parts of this article s call for Democracy (and why China must help), but I guess I just need to check some more resources regarding this, because it sounds interesting.

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