Archive for September 27th, 2007

Crisis in Burma

BEFORE I HEAD OUT I feel it’s necessary to at least write a short note about what’s going on in Burma (Myanmar) right now. The issue has been getting a good amount of attention from international media, but I fear that even with the world’s eye trained on the actions of authoritarian leader Than Shwe the situation will turn grim.

The latest report from the Bangkok Post says five people are feared dead after a clash between military and demonstrators, including one Japanese photojournalist who was shot. Another report says that roughly 100 Buddhist monks were rounded up and detained in Rangoon, the nation’s former capital.

From my limited understanding, the last time a pro-democracy movement rose up in Burma in 1988 nearly 3,000 people were murdered when the military fired into crowds of protesters (BBC). The Economist has a short history of the pro-democracy movement here, which is worth a read.

The sorry truth is that I’m really not sure what we can do as outsiders in this situation – but it is essential that we keep informed and speak out in any way we can. The people of Burma have long suffered under a regime that is both apathetic and murderous; this is the people’s inevitable uprising, and we cannot afford to sit idly by and see them crushed. For more updates on the situation from a culturally informed source check Fifty Viss blog, run by a Burmese-American student in California.

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Eastbound Train (the last 2000 miles)

amtrak empire builder – seattle > chicago. photo by mrbula.

TOMORROW I HOP A TRAIN back to the Midwest. Back home I could say, knowing it might sadden my parents, but at least back to the place where I hang my hat. The place that I miss.

The ride from Seattle to Columbus, Wisconsin (the nearest station to Madison), will take about 42 hours. Not terrible. Except that I don’t have a sleeper car…the nights might be a little long, but I’m fundamentally against paying more for a train ticket than I would for airfare. I’ll just have to pack enough booze to knock me out properly as I’m sitting up.

But in all honesty, I’m looking forward to this final leg of the journey. Taking an extended train ride is a new experience for me and it will give a glimpse of yet another part of the country that I’ve left unexplored. Obviously since I didn’t bring a laptop this will be my only post for the next few days, which also means I’ll have plenty of time just to read, write and reflect. And listen to all the new stuff I packed on my iPod.

Happy travels all. Back in a few.


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