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Don’t Mess with Monks in Myanmar

As of 1 October, the US State Department didn’t yet issue a travel warning against going to Myanmar (Burma), but if you’re already traveling across neighboring countries like Bangladesh, Laos, or Thailand, best to just stick around there. As if it’s a good idea to visit a place run by a military junta that hides behind a title like “State Peace and Development Council.” Sure, if by “Peace” they mean “slaughter protestors and monks” and “Development” translates into poor collecting garbage for four cents a household to survive.

At least for now stay the hell out of Rangoon (Yangon) and Mandalay”where all the saffron revolution action is exploding. The streets are streaked with hues of fire and of the reddish yellow saffron-colored robes of the Buddhist monks bravely leading protests with young people and civilians sick of repression and human rights violations.

The military junta is fighting back, just like they did in 1988 when they killed 3,000 protesters. Monasteries are shut down, and hundreds of monks have disappeared as 20,000 troops marched over Rangoon. Some reports say thousands of protesters are dead (they claim more than we think have been dumped in the jungle), and thousands more in exile.

What’s it going to take to finally bring about democracy? Beyond widespread public protests that transcend social and economic groups, experts say the Burmese need an opposition leadership with ideas that can gel the people, wielding the media as a weapon of communication, and a good old fashioned coup.

What else?

In a place where torture, imprisonment, censorship, disappearances, and execution is dealt to anyone who rebels, it’s impressive that more than 100,000 protestors are finding the guts to speak out in a stifled country of over 42 million. You would too if your leadership increased fuel prices by 500 percent. Actually, you can revolt in your own way by signing the petition being sent to Chinese President Hu Jintao and the UN Security Council in support of this revolution. India and China, being Myanmar’s main trading partners, should also be shamed for supporting a despot.

You could also lay off the heroin (Myanmar is right up there for production with Afghanistan). And snub the Chinese Olympics in Beijing next year.