After receiving a mild rebuke from Farzana Versey about my bloglaxity with regard to my adventures in Thailand, I have resolved to remedy this situation.
The appalling situation on the Thailand/Burma border is a complex one, and not amenable to the sort of drive-by journalism that blogging tends to encourage. A great deal of footnoting, citing, and external documentation is necessary to do the subject the justice it deserves, so this first blog will be a very cursory overview of the situation. In subsequent blogs I will incorporate much more corroborating literature.
Burma has been in more or less a constant state of civil war since the end of World War 2. Once the Emerald of the Orient, Burma has since become one of the most backward, oppressive, and repressive nations in all of Asia, rivaled only by, perhaps, North Korea. Burma has a vast standing army, but has no external enemies, so the entire focus of its oversized military power is directed at oppressing its own people. This is manifest most directly in the form of ethnic cleansing of minority groups, the most notablie being Karen Hill Tribe people. (Pronounced Ka-Rinn). For the past few decades, the military junta in Burma has systematically burned Karen villages to the ground, driven hundreds of thousands across the border into Thailand, and created between one and two million IDP's (internally displaced persons) inside the borders of Burma. These people are constantly on the run for their lives in the jungle; their villages are routinely shelled into oblivion. The Burmese army has no compunctions whatsoever about using toddlers as human minesweepers. Enslavement and coerced military consignmen t are routine.
Although there are countless unseen and unheard civil wars going on around the world, including many ethnic and tribal skirmishes, the situation in Burma is unique because of the absolute one-sidedness of the brutality. In many recent civil wars there has been a question about who's at fault, who started it, and who's side we should be on.....whether in Eastern Europe or Africa.
When it comes to Burma, it is obvious to anyone who visits the region, regardless of their preconceived notions, that there are good guys and bad guys.
The Burmese Army is the bad guy and the Karen Hill Tribe people are the good guys.
The only thing the Karen are remotely guilty of is existing. The Burmese Army has made it abundantly clear that their only goal is to make the Karen not exist. In this respect, the situation is glaringly simple. What is not so simple is the response of the West to the situation.
Coming up next: A view from Mae La refugee camp.
Causes Eric Nichols Supports
Free Burma Rangers, Partners Ministries (Thailand), Literacy council of Alaska, Access Alaska.