let’s not forget Burma

The troubles in Burma still continue. It was not just a blip on the radar screen.

This is a video of an interview with Thich Nhat Hanh speaking about Burma and engaged Buddhism.

In the meantime, we can all send our dirty underwear to Burmese embassies.

“Activists exasperated at the failure of diplomacy to apply pressure on Burma’s military regime are resorting to a new means of protest against the regime’s recent crackdown: sending female underwear to Burmese embassies.

Embassies in the UK, Thailand, Australia and Singapore have all been targeted by the “Panties for Peace” campaign, co-ordinated by an activist group based in Chiang Mai, Thailand.

“Not only are they brutal, but they are also very superstitious. They believe that touching a woman’s pants or sarong will make them lose their strength,” Ms Pollack told Guardian Unlimited.

…The junta is famous for its abuse of women: it is well documented that they use rape as a weapon of war against ethnic minorities. This is a way for women around the world to express their outrage.”

Sounds like a good way to get rid of those chakra panties that I’ve seen in yoga magazine ads.

blogging for Burma


Free Burma!

FREE BURMA!

Dashing Hopes in Myanmar

. . .There was talk at the UN that Mr Gambari might return to Myanmar in November. Perhaps international pressure could make the regime open dialogue with the pro-democracy movement, leading ultimately to a peaceful settlement. But this looks less and less likely. The regime continued making large-scale arrests of suspected pro-democracy campaigners during and after Mr Gambari’s visit, while blaming foreigners for instigating protests.

Buddhists Worldwide Back Myanmar’s Monks

The Buddhist monks who led Myanmar’s protests have drawn support from fellow believers worldwide, including Tibetan and Vietnamese spiritual leaders who are no strangers to state persecution.

This week, as hundreds of disrobed monks could be heard chanting from inside a windowless detention centre in Yangon, Buddhist supporters in cities around the world continued their protest rallies and prayer vigils for them. . . .

Myanmar Junta Tightens Screw on Dissenters

. . . Although most are too terrified to talk, the monks and civilians slowly being freed from a makeshift interrogation centre in north Yangon are giving a glimpse of the mechanics of the general’s dreaded internal security apparatus. . . .

One freed monk, who did not want his name revealed, said some had been beaten when they refused to answer questions about their identity, birthplace, parents and involvement in the protests, the biggest challenge to the junta in nearly 20 years.

. . . A relative of three women released on Wednesday said detainees were being divided into four categories: passers-by, those who watched, those who clapped and those who joined in.

International Bloggers Day for Burma on Oct. 4

Free-Burma.org has announced an International Bloggers’ Day for Burma on October 4th.

Bloggers who support the protests are being asked not to post that day and instead display one of the Free Burma banners or images (like the one above) that have been created for the online protest.

A list of participating bloggers — I’m #2382 — can be found here. Even though the government of Myanmar has cut off Internet access, words and pictures are still being spread worldwide.

what did I say about peace?

Sometimes one image is juxtaposed against another to bring home a point.

“Earth will be safe
when we feel in us enough safety.”
Thich Nhat Hanh — Vietnamese Buddhist monk, nominated in 1967 by Martin Luther King for the Nobel Peace Prize

This image is taken from ko htike’s blog who continues to write, post photos, and YouTube videos of the situation in Tibet*. There is also a link to Burmese Bloggers Without Borders if you want current information about the situation.

Thousands dead in massacre, bodies of monks dumped in the jungle
October 1, 2007

Yangon, Myanmar — Thousands of protesters are dead and the bodies of hundreds of executed monks have been dumped in the jungle, a former intelligence officer for Burma’s ruling junta has revealed….

Reports from other exiles along the frontier confirmed that hundreds of monks had simply ‘ disappeared’ as 20,000 troops swarmed around Rangoon yesterday to prevent further demonstrations by religious groups and civilians.

Word reaching dissidents hiding out on the border suggested that as well as executions, some 2,000 monks are being held in the notorious Insein Prison or in university rooms which have been turned into cells.

There were reports that many were savagely beaten at a sports ground on the outskirts of Rangoon, where they were heard crying for help.

Where are Myanmar’s monks?
October 2, 2007

Thousands of Buddhists have been arrested and scores killed, observers say, but no one can find them

BANGKOK, Thailand — After paying a heavy price for their uprising, Myanmar’s monks are nursing their wounds and hoping for international action against the military junta that crushed their peaceful protests with bullets and tear gas.

A new estimate by a well-connected dissident group has concluded that 138 people were killed and about 6,000 detained, including about 2,400 Buddhist monks, when the regime smashed the anti-government protests last week….

Another report said many of the arrested monks are being held at a former race course, where they were forced to give up their robes and change into civilian clothes.

Several monasteries, brutally raided by police and soldiers last week, are nearly empty now.

From the above story: “Monks in northern Burma who spoke to the Associated Press confirmed that many of their colleagues were killed or beaten and taken away by the military. But they predicted the monks would not give up.

“I want our demands to be fulfilled. I want peace,” said one. “The best thing is to have balance and equality and peace.”

Bush appeals to China to pressure Myanmar
September 27

President George W. Bush reached out to China to exert its influence on Myanmar on Thursday, an admission that new U.S. sanctions alone will not be enough to stop the ruling junta’s crackdown on protesters.

Trying to rally the international community against Myanmar’s generals, Bush met Chinese Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi and asked Beijing “to help bring a peaceful transition to democracy in Burma,” the White House said….

A leading European Parliament lawmaker suggested that European countries should boycott the 2008 Beijing Olympics unless China does more to resolve the Myanmar crisis.

The White House played down any prospect of the United States staying away from the games or Bush canceling plans to attend if China fails to put pressure on Myanmar. But Bush spokeswoman Dana Perino reiterated the president’s view the “world is going to be watching” in the run-up to the Olympics.

Tibet*
If you were paying attention in the first paragraph, you would have noticed that although I was thinking Burma I typed the word “Tibet.” That was an honest mistake, I’ve changed nothing except to add the asterik. I went back to proofread and saw that while I was writing about Burma, I was thinking about Tibet.

So what about Tibet? I was thinking of a pithy post to write about the similarities of Burma and Tibet when I saw this post on the Precious Metal blog. The similarities are striking when one thinks about how China marched into Tibet. Chinese soldiers raided and ransacked Buddhist temples in Tibet. Chinese soldiers jailed and killed Buddhist monks in Tibet. Buddhist monks are “reprogrammed” in Tibet, that is, made to listen to Chinese government propaganda in their temples.

And now Pres. Shrub is “appealing” to China to pressure Burma? Where is the outrage for Tibet?

Hollywood celebrities are speaking out about Burma. Where is the outrage for Tibet? Is Richard Gere the only actor who knows where Tibet is?

Don’t get me wrong — I am not saying one should be given precedence over the other, but do you see where I’m going with this?

Free Burma. Free Tibet. Free all beings from oppression.

Boycott the 2008 Olympics

buddhist monks protest in Burma


(photo credit: The Buddhist Channel)

How can anyone not be moved by the sight of thousands of Buddhist monks marching in peaceful protest against a military regime? Witnesses reported that the monks marched from their monasteries chanting the “Metta Sutta” (the Buddha’s words on loving-kindness.) The army has been told to be prepared to fire at demonstrators when the command is given and hospitals have been told to clear their wards.

The monks have vowed not to back down. Their alms bowls remain overturned. Which will prevail — metta or bloodshed?

For the last week, thousands of Burmese monks have marched against the repressive Burmese military regime in cities across that nation. This is the largest public demonstration against the junta in nearly 20 years. As the Alliance of All Burmese Buddhist Monks march, chant, and overturn their almsbowls (patam nikkujjana kamma), refusing to accept donations from members of the military regime, the Buddhist Peace Fellowship offers our full support and solidarity.

Monks Challenge Military Rule

Aung San Who?

Statement by the Buddhist Peace Fellowship, USA

There is an appeal to pause and meditate.

The monks of Burma are taking a great chance, trying to transform the the ruling military regime with metta (loving-kindness), quiet courage, and discipline.

They have asked the people of Burma and those who support them, to meditate and pray silently for 15 minutes at 2000 hours this Tuesday, tomorrow:

Will you join them? Thoughts are energy. Can we collectively send our thoughts of metta to Burma, indeed, to the entire world? Can you afford a mere 15 minutes of your time to concentrate on peace and loving-kindness?

2000 hours Rangoon time
1430 hours GMT
1030 hours New York
0830 hours Chicago
0630 hours Los Angeles
2030 hours Bangkok
2130 hours Kuala Lumpur/Singapore/Hong Kong
2230 hours Tokyo

Message from His Holiness the Dalai Lama
September 23, 2007

I extent my support and solidarity with the recent peaceful movement for democracy in Burma. I fully support their call for freedom and democracy and take this opportunity to appeal to freedom-loving people all over the world to support such non-violent movements.

Moreover, I wish to convey my sincere appreciation and admiration to the large number of fellow Buddhists monks for advocating democracy and freedom in Burma.

As a Buddhist monk, I am appealing to the members of the military regime who believe in Buddhism to act in accordance with the sacred dharma in the spirit of compassion and non-violence.

I pray for the success of this peaceful movement and the early release of fellow Nobel Peace Laureate Aung San Suu Kyi.

aung san who?

Did you know that a Nobel Peace Prize winner has been held under house arrest for 11 years by her government? Did you know this woman is considered a modern day Gandhi? Did you know that Burma (also known as Myanmar), a country where the population is primarily Theravadan Buddhist, is ruled by a military regime?

Or is the only thing you know about Burma is that “The Bridge on the River Kwai” was built there?

Aung San Suu Kyi is the Asian Nelson Mandela. She has become an international symbol of heroic and peaceful resistance in the face of oppression.

Yeah, that’s Jim Carrey in the video, the guy from the movie “Dumb and Dumber” talking about political conditions in Burma, a country on the other side of the world from the USA. He doesn’t sound too dumb.

Why am I telling you about Aung San Suu Kyi? Because I believe that we as Americans need to be reminded more than occasionally about what goes on in the rest of the world — and be outraged by it. Like about what’s happening in Tibet and has been happening there since the Chinese marched in. Or about the only Nobel Peace Prize recipient who is imprisoned by her government. Or to be reminded that some of the athletic clothes you buy for your children are made by another mother’s child working a 15 hour shift. Think about your own child working in a sweatshop next time you buy the latest Nikes.

Soon we’ll be seeing clothes with the 2008 Olympics logo and people will be snapping those up right and left. From the CleanClothes.org website: “…the Yue Wong Cheong company’s Shenzen (China) facility, where 50 different items are produced under license for the 2008 Olympics, included paying workers 50% of the minimum wage, 13 hour days, health and safety problems, and using fake salary slips to hide violations from auditors sent to inspect conditions.”


Have we become so insular that we are afraid to look beyond our own comfortable backyards? We get our news in nightly soundbites from the talking heads and then move on to the next thing that captures our monkey minds for three seconds.

Or are we afraid that if we really investigated and examined what happens in the rest of the world on a daily basis it would be too horrible for us to comprehend?

This is a beggar girl and her pup that I ran into in Pondicherry, India. She’s holding the rupees that I gave her. I told her to also feed the pup, but I’m reasonably sure the pup is dead by now, and the girl is still living on the street. It’s just the way it is. Every day. I would rather be poor in America than anywhere else in the world.

To change the world we must first change ourselves.

Be the change that you want to see in the world.
Mohandas Gandhi