December 19, 2007

Laura Bush Lashes out at the Burmese Junta; plus news on Gandhi, Baggio, and Burger King

Look out, Myanmar, Laura Bush is gonna getcha! Pop quiz: What was her First Lady project? Whatever it was, she's letting the junta have it in no uncertain terms:

"The junta has made no meaningful attempt to meet and talk with democratic activists. Instead it has continued to harass and detain them," Laura Bush said.

"The junta leaders continue to sell the country's natural resources to enrich themselves. While they reject international calls for a democratic transition, they have put Burma in shambles and placed its people in a perilous state," she said.

"Children are being trafficked and subject to forced recruitment into the military; citizens are fleeing the country to seek work and basic healthcare; meanwhile infectious diseases, including AIDS and malaria, continue to spread unchecked," said Laura Bush.

Right on. Note the creative ways the AFP writer varied the ends of the above three paragraphs. The Independent says Burma's girls are the victims of China's one-child policy. Burmese monks in India devise a system to protect Buddhism. (When I first read this headline it said "protest Buddhism" but was later fixed. Or else, very possibly, I saw it wrong.)

Would Gandhi's method of nonviolent resistance work in today's Burma?

Buddhist monks in Cambodia's capital Phnom Penh ran afoul of the police when they tried to gather outside the Vietnamese
embassy to protest that country's treatment of Buddhist monks. (This despite Buddhism recently praised by a Communist Party member in Vietnam as being a "patriotic religion".) Several photographers seem to have been very close to the action in Phnom Penh. You can see one right in the middle of the Herald-Tribune's picture.

Southeast Asia is full of trouble. Four deaths (including one beheading) allegedly by Muslim insurgents in Thailand's turbulent south. An election is scheduled for Sunday but there seems to be no connection between that and these most recent killings.

Xinhua, a Chinese news agency, talks about the tulku system in Tibet.

Buddhist soccer star Baggio will accept a humanitarian award from the city of Rome on behalf of Aung San Suu Kyi, who is of course held in indefinite detention by the Burmese junta.

Burger King, previously praised here for making tiny steps forward vis a vis animal cruelty, now takes several large steps backward in its dealing with the humans who pick their tomatoes and other vegetables.

And the state of New Jersey has voted to abolish the death policy. The U.N. General Assembly voted 104-54 for a worldwide moratorium on the practice. Danny Fisher writes about it here (and features a YouTube movie with Jeremy Irons who is very convincing on the subject.)

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Gerald Ford's picture

Sorry, one more comment. :P

Seems that the Chinese explanation of the Tulku is historically well researched (got to give them props for that), but the later pages seem to emphasize the Chinese govt's role (starting from the Qing Dynasty) in recognizing legitimate rebirths of Tibetan Lamas. Sounds like a subtle reminder that China has always managed this, so please back off, and let us decide the Dalai Lama's next rebirth.

Sneaky.

Gerald Ford's picture

P.S. Been to Vietnam, Hanoi in 2001. Buddhism there is pretty corrupt and sad. I remember scaling this huge mountain to get to a small cave shrine at the top (I think it was devoted to Guan-Yin, I don't recall). And right at the cave entrace, a monk was sitting there with a couple locals gambling over dice. Real inspirational. :(

That and the mountain is saturated with people trying to sell you stuff or offer to carry your bags for money. It's amazing what grueling, inescapable poverty will do to people, religion and a society.

Gerald Ford's picture

Warning: Snark levels approaching critical!

(Just kidding Bill. :) )

I hope she's sincere, but it still sounds like just parroting what her husband says, and neither have done more than just talk tough, and impose pointless sanctions.

Then again, short of just invading and doing regime change (which I do NOT advocate), is there really much we can do to stop them? I doubt even putting pressure on China would work.

What is up with Burmese govt.? Besides North Korea, they have got to be the most insane and paranoid organization in modern politics. In the case of North Korea, you can blame one guy, and his bouffant hair, but in Burma, it seems institutional. :(

Bill's picture

Note the creative ways the AFP writer varied the ends of the above three paragraphs.

They probably don't bother teaching the proper way to punctuate sequential quotes, just as they don't bother teaching how to write multi-sentence paragraphs.

*snark snark*

Kirk Hamilton's picture

Replace "junta" with "the U.S." and "Burma" with "Iraq" in the short
article above and you will have a true picture of Laura's concern
for humanity.