Academics and diplomats are largely in agreement: they generally say, now is the time to stop criticizing the Regime in Burma; now is the time to focus on the positive steps that have been made and draw a patient breath, believing that a better future stands up to greet the children of current victims of oppression and violence. They promise that at the rate of change we are witnessing, Burma will be the world’s newest democracy in no time.
When I met these siblings they had run with their village friends while being attacked by the Burma Army. They don’t know where their parents are or if they are even alive. Partners provided food, medical care, and helped with shelter for them and their kin. Should we let their story stay untold so the diplomats can toast to peace in Naypyidaw while they sell away the land of the ethnic people whom they are killing?
The business sector points out that we must let “positive economic engagement” work it’s course. It seems we are supposed to reward the regime for change that has been promised and call them peacemakers when they award energy companies and telecom giants access to the “last economic frontier” of 55 million untapped consumers. Positive economic engagement works eventually, they say.
I am expected to ignore the Shan people who have had the land of their forefathers sold out from under them, creating such desperation to keep food on the table that they resort to selling their thirteen year old daughters to the brothels. Read about it here.
Partners Relief & Development is asked to leave the Kachin displaced people alone and stop helping them. We are told that by feeding and helping them as we do, we enable them to stay in camps of displacement, extending the conflict and creating diplomatic tension and drawing out the time needed to gain new freedoms. Where are they supposed to go anyhow? Don’t our critics know that their villages were burned down? Not in 2012 or even 6 months ago. I’m talking about last week and every week leading up to it in 2013. Whole village tracts attacked, destroyed, and now occupied by Burma Army soldiers who eat their crops, kill their animals, and steal their possessions. Oh, and of course, rape their daughters.
I am expected to keep quite the rapes that happened last week; a 15 year old child, gang raped by Burma Army soldiers and a mother. Read the report here. Then keep quiet the fact that the Burma Army is shooting at Karen villagers three days ago in Tha Dah Der during a so called “cease fire.” The torture, the weekly attacks on civilian populations, the burning down of churches and mosques, the ethnic violence that appears to be State initiated in many of the ethnic States, especially against the Rohingya in Rakhine State; these appear as non-issues at the table of diplomacy.
Every single day, people are dying in Burma because of injustice. This is not the sort of thing to wait for the “professionals” to negotiate away and believe it will go away. That logic would never work with me if my family were on the victim end of the violence, nor yours. We don’t wait until a better day dawns to live the golden rule. We do it now.
“So in everything, do to others what you would have them do to you, for this sums up the Law and the Prophets.” Matthew 7:12
Justice requires that the abuse, murder, and lawlessness that persist in Burma today be called out for what it is. It is a moral outrage. To keep silent, while knowing what is happening, is tacit approval of means that will never accomplish ends appropriate to a moral human being.
“He who passively accepts evil is as much involved in it as he who helps to perpetrate it. He who accepts evil without protesting against it is really cooperating with it.” Martin Luther King, Jr.
This diplomatic logic, these sophisticated and articulate ways of describing steps towards democracy: I can’t stomach it. Each child that dies in Burma because of injustice is as much a travesty of justice as if it were my own daughter. Don’t tell me to keep quiet. Call me naïve, but our team will keep helping the people the regime is trying to kill. We will keep speaking for those victims of conflict and oppression who don’t have a platform or voice to speak for themselves.
He has shown you, O man, what is good;
And what does the Lord require of you
But to do justly,
To love mercy,
And to walk humbly with your God
Note, In my original post, I miss-quoted the original report to say that two 15 year olds were raped when it was actaully a 15 year old and 29 year old mother. I apologize. I’ll be more careful with such important facts.