Monday, March 25, 2013

Myanmar Unrest & Connelly's The Lizard Cage

I've posted about Cambodia and the Khmer Rouge, but haven't written much about what's going on in Myanmar.  Unfortunately, things seem to be taking a turn for the worse.

From yesterday's New York Times article "Myanmar’s Ethnic Minorities Grow Pessimistic About Peace:"
Ethnic conflicts have been described as Myanmar’s original sin, a legacy of hatred and mistrust that fueled more than six decades of intermittent civil war. But the ferocity of deadly rioting between Buddhists and Muslims last week has further underlined how ethnic and religious fissures in Myanmar pose serious impediments to democratic change in the country... Over the weekend, army units restored order to the streets of Meiktila, the city in central Myanmar where a three-day rampage through Muslim neighborhoods by Buddhist mobs left 32 people dead, according to a government tally that many witnesses say is an underestimate.
Myanmar was also in the news earlier this month due to protests against Aung San Suu Kyi. Here's the NYT article "Burmese Laureate Heckled Over Backing Copper Mine:"
Hundreds of angry farmers heckled and walked out on Daw Aung San Suu Kyi, the Burmese politician and Nobel laureate, during a visit on Thursday to villages in central Myanmar that might be displaced by a copper mine. The hostile reception, a stark contrast to the adoring crowds that greeted her after her release from house arrest more than two years ago, underscores the rockiness of her transition from international symbol to elected official.
To learn more about Myanmar (aka Burma) and its conflicts, read The Lizard Cage by Karen Connelly:
Teza once electrified the people of Burma with his protest songs against the dictatorship. Arrested by the Burmese secret police in the days of mass protest, he is seven years into a twenty-year sentence in solitary confinement. Cut off from his family and contact with other prisoners, he applies his acute intelligence, Buddhist patience, and humor to find meaning in the interminable days, and searches for news in every being and object that is grudgingly allowed into his cell. Despite his isolation, Teza has a profound influence on the people around him. His very existence challenges the brutal authority of the jailers, and his steadfast spirit inspires radical change.

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