The Washington Post reports on the largest protests Burma has seen in a very long time.
Yesterday, more than 1,000 Buddhist monks marched peacefully along the rain-soaked streets of Burma’s largest city, with thousands of spectators encouraging their protest. At the head of the procession a monk carried an alms bowl turned upside down, symbolically refusing to accept any more support from the military regime, one of the world’s most repressive. In an overwhelmingly Buddhist Southeast Asian nation of 50 million people, this was a withering rebuke.
The echoes of the last great uprising, in 1988, must be alarming the country’s corrupt ruling generals — the roots in economic discontent and the slow stirrings from students to monks to the general population and from the capital to smaller cities across the nation.
As the article concludes, it’s time for some real focus on an issue that has been allowed to drag on far too long.
President Bush, who has spoken eloquently of Burma’s struggle for freedom, needs to engage in strenuous diplomacy — above all with China — to make clear that this is a U.S. priority. And China, which has more influence in Burma than any other country has, needs to decide whether it wants to host the 2008 Olympics as the enabler of one of the world’s nastiest regimes or as a peacemaker.
The US has been dancing to China’s tune in some respects in regards to Taiwan recently – Washington should make it clear it expects Beijing to scratch its back in return.
The BBC reports (Sunday) that 20,000 people took part in demonstrations today – now ordinary citizens are being encouraged to join.
Richard Burger is the author of Behind the Red Door: Sex in China, an exploration of China's sexual revolution and its clash with traditional Chinese values.