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Thread: Burma: catch all thread

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    Default Burma: catch all thread

    USIP Working Paper, Jul 07: Building Democracy in Burma
    There is no easy answer to the question of whether and to what degree external actors should intervene to trigger or force transition in extreme cases of autocratic or failed governance. Often in the zeal to hasten the demise of bad regimes inadequate consideration is given ahead of time to how the international community can best prepare a backward country for effective democratic governance. Burma – a prime case of arrested development brought about by decades of stubborn, isolationist military rule – provides ample illustration of this dilemma. The great hope for instant transition to democracy that was raised by the 1990 parliamentary elections in Burma was dashed almost immediately by the failure of the military regime to seat the elected parliament. Motivated by despair, many governments adopted policies making regime change a sine qua non for engagement with Burma, hoping this would force the military to follow through on its original promise to return to elected government. Seventeen years later, however, the military remains firmly entrenched in power and the country’s political, economic, and human resources have seriously deteriorated. Even if an elected government could be seated tomorrow, it would find itself bereft of the institutions necessary to deliver stable democratic rule.

    Starting from the assumption that some degree of transition is inevitable in the not-toodistant future, this study explores the depth of Burma’s deprivations under military rule, focusing on questions of how to make the country’s political, social, and economic institutions adequate to the task of managing democratic governance. It identifies the international mechanisms available to assist in this task, as well as innate strengths that can still be found in Burma, and it discusses what the limitations on assistance might be under various scenarios for political transition. Concluding that some degree of political transition will have to be underway before it will be possible to deliver effective assistance, the study suggests that the most productive policy approaches will require greater coordination and collaboration with Burma’s Asian neighbors.
    Full 77 page paper at the link.

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    Council Member tequila's Avatar
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    Monks seize troops in Burma town - BBC News, 6 Sep.

    Buddhist monks have taken about 20 members of the security forces hostage in central Burma, a day after clashes at a protest rally.


    On Wednesday the security forces fired shots into the air to disperse some 400 monks demonstrating in Pakokku town.

    When officials came to the monastery on Thursday, the monks locked them inside and set their vehicles on fire.

    A series of anti-government protests have been held since the military junta doubled fuel prices last month.

    'Tyrannical behaviour'
    The officials had reportedly come to apologise for the clashes at Wednesday's demonstration.
    But the monks burned four of the vehicles they came in and locked them inside the monastery.

    Hundreds of people gathered outside the gates to applaud the monks.
    "The security forces outside the monastery are too afraid to go near the crowd," one resident told the French news agency AFP. "They won't even show their walkie-talkies ..."

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    BBC, 24 Sep 07: Monks Lead Largest Burma Protest
    Tens of thousands of people have marched through Burma's main city of Rangoon in the biggest of a mounting wave of anti-government protests. Eyewitnesses said the number of monks and civilians demonstrating was more than 30,000, with some activists saying 100,000 were involved....

    ...But there are fears of a repeat of 1988, when the last democracy uprising was crushed by the military and some 3,000 people were killed, correspondents say.

    Five columns of monks, one reportedly stretching for more than 1km (0.6 miles), entered the city centre to cheers and applause from thousands of bystanders....

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    Council Member jcustis's Avatar
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    May Siddhartha be with them.

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    Council Member tequila's Avatar
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    There is small community of Burmese exiles in my apartment building and surrounding area. From conversations with them in the past few days, I have little faith that this will end well. Hopefully they are wrong.

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    Default Burma Snapshots

    Video advocates BURMA ISSUES travel deep into the jungles of eastern Burma to document one of the world's most urgent and most forgotten emergencies. The Burmese military has embarked on one of the worst offensives in its 30 year campaign to destabilize the lives of rural ethnic minorities. Half a million live driven from their homes. (Co produced with WITNESS) INTERNATIONAL ACTION IS NEEDED! To learn more and ACT NOW: www.witness.org/shootonsight
    Shoot on Sight part I

    Shoot on Sight part II

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    Transcripts from 17 Oct 07 hearing on Crisis in Burma: Can the U.S. Bring about a Peaceful Resolution? before the Subcommittee on Asia, the Pacific, and the Global Environment of the House Committee on Foreign Affairs:

    Scot Marciel, Dpty Asst Secretary of State, Bureau of East Asian and Pacific Affairs

    Lisa Chiles, Dpty Asst Administrator, Bureau for Asia and the Near East, USAID

    Jeremy Woodrum, Co-Founder and Director US Campaign for Burma

    Bridget Welsh, Asst Professor Southeast Asia Studies, Johns Hopkins University

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    The Economist, 30 Jan 08: Kawthoolei Diary
    ...I have arrived at the camp at an opportune time. The new recruits, numbering about 90 and coming from all over Myanmar, are wrapping up their training. I am there to see them take their final exams, so to speak, which begin with a simulated mission into an “SPDC-targeted village”.

    The instructors have set up an impressive makeshift town in the middle of camp, building huts and enlisting local volunteers to populate them. The recruits enter, gather information and dispense relief supplies. It is all going well until an explosion rocks the woods behind us, echoing off the trees.

    Suddenly a wave of men in black shirts appears at the edge of the camp. They are carrying machine guns and advancing quickly on our location. All hell breaks loose as the recruits scatter, desperately trying to drag villagers with them. Some are left behind and pounced on by the armed men, who eagerly set fire to a row of huts. Amid the smoke I see one straggling villager being furiously questioned by a man with a pistol. They disappear behind a cloud of dust. When the air finally settles the villager is lying motionless on the ground.

    It is all part of the simulation, of course, but the attack looks disturbingly real. One recruit, whose family was killed in a similar assault, runs off, unwilling to relive the experience. The others are hiding out, planning a counterattack. The Rangers do not look to confront the SPDC—recruits are told to retreat in the face of an attack—but the group refuses to leave any villagers behind. So after several minutes and with a sustained battle cry, the recruits storm back into the village and retake their position.....

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    ICG, 31 Jan 08: Burma: After the Crackdown
    .....While most countries in Asia have made significant progress in securing peace, establishing effective governance, expanding political freedoms and growing their economies, Myanmar has atrophied. It has more in common today with Sudan or Afghanistan than with its neighbours. The recent cycle of protest and repression underscored the urgency of fundamental political and economic reforms but also the continuance of deep-seated structural obstacles.....

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    Default Miltary Situation in Myanmar

    Does anyone know of the current military situation in Myanmar?

    From the info I have, the Myanmar gov. has been engaged in many insurgencies since its independence from fighting KMT armies which retreated from China in the 50s(who's descendants have become drug armies in the golden triangle(Khun Sa) to ethnic tribal insurgencies(Karen etc.).

    It seems the Myanmar gov. has mostly won over teh local insurgencies(the last one was Khun Sa's narco armies which have been coopted into the gov.) but the Karen and other tribes in the east(Thai border) seems to be holding out.

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    Council Member marct's Avatar
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    At one point, circa the mid-80's, I believe it was a 6-cornered civil war closer to the break-p of Yugoslavia than an "insurgency". I can remember reading some articles on how the "government" used an alternating hold and smash series of tactics: hold on 4 fronts and smash the 5th, then move on. To me, the Karen were the most interesting and used some moderately innovative tactics (the bicycle RPG anti-armour groups were intriguing).
    Sic Bisquitus Disintegrat...
    Marc W.D. Tyrrell, Ph.D.
    Institute of Interdisciplinary Studies,
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    http://marctyrrell.com/

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    Default Burma and The Great Game

    While we maintain a myoptic focus on the war against terrorism, we risk losing ground in the great game where we compete for access to resources and strategic alliances. This may put our country at serious disadvantage strategically in the very near future. This excellent article is just one of many examples of the U.S.'s waning influence around the globe, and some insights on how we may be able to regain our influence.

    September 2008 Atlantic

    Lifting the Bamboo Curtain, by Robert Kaplan

    http://www.theatlantic.com/doc/200809/burma

    As China and India vie for power and influence, Burma has become a strategic battleground. Four Americans with deep ties to this fractured, resource-rich country illuminate its current troubles, and what the U.S. should do to shape its future.
    Burma is a prize to be contested, and China and India are not-so-subtly vying for it. But in a world shaped by ethnic struggles, higher fuel prices, new energy pathways, and climate-change-driven natural disasters like the recent cyclone, Burma also represents a microcosm of the strategic challenges that the United States will face.
    Burma is also a potential North Korea, he says, as well as a perfect psychological operations target. He and others explained that the Russians are helping the Burmese government to mine uranium in the Kachin and Chin regions in the north and west, with the North Koreans waiting in the wings to supply nuclear technology. The Burmese junta craves some sort of weapons-of-mass-destruction capability to provide it with international leverage. “But the regime is paranoid,” Heine*mann points out. “It’s superstitious. They’re rolling chicken bones on the ground to see what to do next.

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    "Ahh Elaine. You may know it as Myanmar. But it will always be Burma to me"

    J. Peterman from Seinfeld


    I thought Kaplan's article was a great reminder about a completely dark and dangerous country. It seems Burma quickly faded out of the media spotlight after the devestating Tsunami since no one could gain access to the country. Talk about a dark hole of information and potential breeding ground for international terrorists. Insurgents fighting the Indian government already used the western part of Burma as a staging ground. IMHO, it is only a matter of time until you see Burma as a safe haven for larger, more global terrorist groups.

    Thanks for the post!
    "But the bravest are surely those who have the clearest vision of what is before them, glory and danger alike, and yet withstanding, go out to meet it."

    -Thucydides

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    Council Member Ron Humphrey's Avatar
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    Question Although I don't disagree with either of you

    Is it possible that although Burma is not on the super priority list for us due to current circumstances, The chinese on the other hand probably pay a whole lot more attention to it considering that they have seen what that " breeding ground" problem can end up being for the bigger players. They probably don't want anything adding more fuel to the fire with some of their current areas of trouble and any free ranging in Burma of such groups would seem destined to cause them just as much pain if not more than most.
    Any man can destroy that which is around him, The rare man is he who can find beauty even in the darkest hours

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    Council Member wm's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ron Humphrey View Post
    Is it possible that although Burma is not on the super priority list for us due to current circumstances, The chinese on the other hand probably pay a whole lot more attention to it considering that they have seen what that " breeding ground" problem can end up being for the bigger players. They probably don't want anything adding more fuel to the fire with some of their current areas of trouble and any free ranging in Burma of such groups would seem destined to cause them just as much pain if not more than most.
    If China pays more attention to Burma than the US does I suspect it is for the foillowing reasons:
    1. Competition with India for commercial goods export to Burma;
    2. Competition with Russia and India for weapons export to Burma; (I believe Burma has one of the 20 biggest armed forces in the world.)
    3. Access to Burma's natural gas reserves (only 21.1 TCF according to EIA, but still worth exploiting due to proximity--by way of comparison Venezuela has 181 TCF of known NG reserves and the US has 211 TCF according to EIA)

    I don't think a "basing for terrorism problem," a la Pakistan-Afghanistan, is a significant concern for the Chinese vis-a-vis Burma. The military junta seems to have a pretty firm handle on dissidence (and what it doesn't control, the opium drug lords in the Golden Triangle do I suspect). I'd be more worried about the Burmese getting sucked into a Chinese sphere of influence, thereby making the Indians worried. This could produce new tensions on the eastern side of the sub-continent to go along with those that are already in place on the western side.
    Vir prudens non contra ventum mingit
    The greatest educational dogma is also its greatest fallacy: the belief that what must be learned can necessarily be taught. — Sydney J. Harris

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    HRW, 25 Sep 08: Crackdown: Repression of the 2007 Popular Protests in Burma
    ....This report, based on more than 100 in-depth interviews conducted by Human Rights Watch researchers with eyewitnesses to the events in Rangoon, offers a detailed account of the protests and the brutal crackdown and mass arrest campaign that followed. It is based on interviews with monks and ordinary citizens who participated in the protests, as well as leading monks, protest organizers and international officials. Our report focuses on the events in Rangoon. It leaves out many deadly incidents and abuses that were reported, but for which — because of government restrictions and the risks involved — we were unable to find eyewitnesses. It is thus not the last word—more investigation is needed to uncover the stories, identify all incidents and victims, and trace the broader consequences of the crackdown.

    Despite these limitations, this report provides the most detailed account of the crackdown and its aftermath available to date. The first-hand accounts in this report demonstrate that many more people were killed than the Burmese authorities are willing to admit, and sheds new light on the authorities’ systematic, often violent pursuit of monks, students, and other peaceful advocates of reform in the weeks and months after the protests.....

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    Chatham House, 23 Nov 09: Ethnic Conflict and the 2010 Elections in Burma
    Summary
    • Ethnic conflict in Burma pre-dates independence. With preparations for the 2010 elections underway, there is a need for a renewed focus on the complex political and ethnic divisions within the country. Whilst many do not believe that the election will be a true reflection of the people’s wishes, there are areas in which the junta have made political and peaceful gains. Critics of the regime, however, believe that the election will only further the government’s hardline stance towards dissenting groups.

    • Despite on-going conflicts, 18 armed ceasefires have been agreed. The ceasefires have allowed for improvements but have created new problems in Burma’s border areas. However, these agreements serve as potential models for wider peace agreements and reconciliation.

    • In the autumn of 2009 some of the ceasefires broke down and there was renewed instability on the Burma China border as clashes broke out between the Kokang and the Tatmadaw (Burmese armed forces) resulting in refugees fleeing to China.

    • The Tatmadaw (the Burmese military) is trying to force ethnic minority militias to become a border guard force prior to the 2010 elections. This is being resisted by a number of ethnic militia groups such as the Kachin and the Wa. However any further break down of these ceasefire agreements will bring renewed instability to Burma.

    • Involvement and pressure from Burma’s allies and critics have had little noticeable effect on conflict resolution as the drivers of the ethnic conflict are ultimately internal.

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    Default Burma: some news from a largely ignored conflict.

    http://www.irrawaddy.org/article.php?art_id=20650

    There's an ongoing violent conflict in Burma. While the west tends to want to focus on the peaceful efforts of Suu Kai & the NLD, not everyone is willing to ignore the junta's crimes against humanity.

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    Council Member davidbfpo's Avatar
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    Default Look away, stay away

    There has always been a reluctance to report consistently on the Burmese insurgencies, which date back to independence in 1947. Burmese nationalism was and is a factor with impact - for the nation, not just the military junta.

    Nor have her neighbours encouraged long-term reporting, most notably by Thailand.

    I know there have been refugees since 1947 encamped close to the border and few have left for the wider world. Somehow I doubt there is a Burmese diaspora that has any effect, unlike the Tamils for example.
    davidbfpo

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    Quote Originally Posted by davidbfpo View Post
    I know there have been refugees since 1947 encamped close to the border and few have left for the wider world. Somehow I doubt there is a Burmese diaspora that has any effect, unlike the Tamils for example.
    Thailand has had a lot of nasty going on. This is one of the things I found out they've been doing recently:
    http://democracyforburma.wordpress.c...wed-to-travel/

    Thailand has also engaged in the forced repatriation of refugees during active conflict, meaning they do force people back into places where shooting is still going on.

    In the URL I originally posted, you might notice that the Brigade 5 is a splinter group. One of the things that illustrates is that this is quite an active conflict.

    The Burmese armed forced under control of `the generals' have been engaging in quite an impressive array of war crimes, including organized forced rapes of women in entire villages, a variety of pressed labor activities including using civilians with sticks impressed to clear minefields & mined roads, use of pressed gangs to haul war material, and array of other more tediously evil murders & forced labor that can be expected by a thoroughly corrupt military regime. All that rather recently too, so these are current events I'm referring to, not historical abuses.

    Burma is one of what I think of as the `Chinese toilet ring', one of a set of border countries where they encourage despotic regimes in order to make themselves look better by comparison. It's in line with their other imperialistic ambitions, and a quite troubling pattern that has me concerned with their subversive sponsorship of Nepalese Maoists by way of related activity. This is why when you hear propaganda about China's "peaceful rise" you shouldn't believe it for a second. It's a well papered lie, but a lie no matter how they try to cover up for what they're really doing.

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