Another footprint in history? (via Malavoda, Flickr)
In September it was all over the MSM and on the blogs as well: As the monks of Myanmar rose up, the world watched to see whether democracy would finally make its way to the South East Asian country. As the military junta suppressed the protests violently, the world stood shocked and helpless – but promised to continue to watch.
As far as the media are concerned, they haven’t. There have been brief reports about an UN investigation which showed that 31 people were killed, though a report of Human Rights Watch talks about more than 70 left dead. (btw: a current list which includes the names of the detained can be found here) Apart from this, what mostly remains is silence: If China does not do anything, the concurrent saying goes, nothing can be done – and therefore nothing worthwhile reporting happens.
The blogosphere, which often takes credit for being more enthusiastic and easier to mobilize, is remaining mostly muted as well: The page of the blogosphere’s Free Burma Day (in which this blog also participated) has not been updated since October 8th, four days after the event. There are some notable exceptions from the embarrassing silence like this German blog-entry, the coverage of the fabulous Jotman, the Buddhist Channel the ambitious and well-maintained project Blogs 4 Burma and the symbolic gestures of Dontforgetburma.org, which emerged out of a Facebook-group.
But what is really going on in Myanmar? The turning point might have been the ASEAN summit in Singapore in November, where Myanmar managed to persuade the other countries to cancel a briefing by UN-envoy Ibrahim Gambari. Since then, the American and European Union’s sanctions have had not much of an effect, it seems, though the US wants continued commitment of the world to bring democracy to former Burma. The junta seems convinced that its position is strong enough to start to ignore opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi, as her supporters complain. The Buddhist Channel meanwhile reports that the monk crackdown still continues and arrests are still made by the police. China, meanwhile, favours the UN stepping back for a broader involvement of the ASEAN-members. As the country has widened its influence in South East Asia, this does not look like it wants to give up control of the subject.
Ahead of the Olympic Games, China may push for small, indeed very small democratic reforms which will de-facto not change much (the junta may adopt a bit more of local democracy and more ”Chinese-style”-pseudo-transparency in its politics). The hope for another uprising? With protesters and monks killed, imprisoned, beaten or intimidated, do not wait for the people in Myanmar to raise their voices too soon. Change still could evolve out of the junta itself, as its leader Than Shwe is said to be suffering from psychological problems which could sweep him away from power sooner or later.
thx 4 the „well-maintained“ ,-)
„to show that the military strongmen is still in good health and capable of taking charge of state matters“ : Didn’t we have this scenario with some well known dictators before ?!
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