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domingo, octubre 21, 2007

Panties for Peace: Action For Burma

cross posted at daily Kos

Remembering Myanmar. Remembering Aung San Suu Kyi. Remembering the monks who demonstrated. Remembering the people of Burma, killed, beaten, jailed, tortured, disappeared, threatened, relocated. Remembering their struggle for freedom. Remembering the military government's unchecked repression.

Can we focus on Myanmar for just a moment? Two items: One is an update; the other is an action to take.

Item One. Today's NY Times reports that repression continues to silence Burma.
An ominous calm has settled here, less than a month after the military junta crushed an uprising for democracy led by the nation’s revered monks. People have quietly returned to the squalor and inflation that brought them to the streets in protest. There are even suggestions of peace: young couples embracing under trees around scenic Kandawgyi Lake; music from a restaurant drifting across the placid water.

But beneath the surface, anger, uncertainty, hopelessness — and above all, fear of the junta — prevail.

“It’s not peace you see here, it’s silence; it’s a forced silence,” said a 46-year-old writer who joined last month’s protests in Yangon and was now on the run, carrying with him a worn copy of his favorite book, George Orwell’s “1984.” “We are the military’s slaves. We want democracy. We want to wait no longer. But we are afraid of their guns.”

After the demonstrations, the Government shut down the Internet and denied access to the country to foreign journalists and launched a reign of terror. After that
terror continued to rage through Yangon, the main city, for days, according to witnesses and dissidents here. Soldiers raided homes and monasteries to arrest demonstrators, witnesses said, using pictures taken by government informers during the protests.

Even now, now that the Shwedagon Pagoda in Yangon has been reopened and groups of more than 5 people are allowed again to congregate there, even though the barb wire has been removed, according to the Times:
[A]t at its four entrances, pictures of what appeared to be detainees, their faces harried or bruised from beatings, were posted as a warning. Soldiers in green uniforms lurked in the shade with their rifles.

Please join me in remembering these people and their ongoing struggle.

Item Two. Malaysia Today reports:
The “Panties for Peace” campaign aimed at Burma’s military regime is gaining momentum, with the establishment of a committee to drum up support in Thailand.

The campaign began on October 16, with women throughout the world sending packages to Burmese embassies containing panties. Burma’s superstitious generals, particularly junta chief Than Shwe, believe that contact with any item of women’s wear deprives them of their power.

“Panties for Peace” campaigns have sprung up in Australia, Europe, Singapore—and now Thailand, where a Lanna Action for Burma committee has been formed in Chiang Mai to support the feminine protest.

A founder of the campaign explained:
“The SPDC is famous for its abuse of women, so this can be a very strong signal from women around the world supporting the women in Burma,” she said.

“Many feel there’s little we can do. It is like living next to domestic violence when we see the military government brutal crack down in Burma. We can hear that fighting in the next-door house or in the same village. We have tried to talk, we have tried to do many things. But we need to express our feelings.”

Dear Readers, you know exactly what to do in these circumstances. Here are the two addresses:

Embassy of the Union of Myanmar
2300 S Street NW
Washington D.C. 20008

Consulate General of Myanmar
10 East 77th Street
New York, New York 10021

It's vitally important to keep this issue alive. I only wish I knew of other actions that would support those under the boot heal of this military government.

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