A brief interruption in our series on The Protest Chaplains to mark a milestone in Burma (Myanmar).
Today, April 1, and her party, the National League for Democracy, appears to have won a seat in Myanmar’s Parliament. This New York Times article does a good job of describing the elation that Suu Kyi’s supporters are feeling, and how this event may mark a turning point in that country’s long period of oppressive military rule.
There is a long way still to go, however. As this eyewitness account from Burma by Hozan Alan Senuake notes, many political prisoners continue to be held and the military junta is effectively holding on to power by keeping the vast majority of seats in Parliament for their cronies.
Even so, today’s election results seem to mark a significant shift, perhaps reflecting the pressure that the junta has felt internally and as well as from economic sanctions imposed by other countries.
As Alan writes at the end of his post:
The conversation [with the Burmese monk] was just beginning, but simply to meet and talk is a radical act. As I was paying my respects to the monks, preparing to leave, one said quietly: “In the last twenty years we didn’t have such opportunities. We couldn’t speak with foreigners.”
The opportunity for dialogue — all kinds of dialogue — is an encouraging sign. But it is not enough. Real change in Burma, or anywhere is a matter of access to resources, mutual accountability, and the power for people to determine the course of their own lives. When war has ended in Burma, when all the prisoners are free, when there are reasonable laws that apply to everyone — then we can start to celebrate. Not yet.
To learn more about how you can support the struggle for a truly free Burma, visit any of these links:
- The Clear View Project http://www.clearviewproject.org/home.html
- Foundation for the People of Burma/FPB: www.foundationburma.org/
- Burmese American Democratic Alliance/BADA: www.badasf.org/
- Sasana Moli/International Burmese Monks Organization: sasanamoli.blogspot.com/
- U.S. Campaign for Burma: uscampaignforburma.org/
- Assistance Association for Political Prisoners/AAPP: www.aappb.org/
- Free Burma’s Political Prisoners Now: http://www.fbppn.net/