Friday, September 28, 2007

Latest News From Myanmar/Burma

The following is an excerpt from an email written by an NGO worker in Myanmar/Burma this past week.

From Yangon, Myanmar (Burma)

Dear Friends

It is with a heavy, crying heart that I write you from Yangon, Myanmar
(formerly Burma). (Don't worry about myself: I am fine and safe.)

I have just listened to CNN (which we can still receive here - emailing
is now difficult; I hope I'll manage to send this later on tonight)
showing the bloody response of the junta government to crack-down on
peaceful protesters.

Apparently, on Sunday, almost 100,000 people - lead by monks - were on a
protest rally. On Tuesday, the crackdown started. Even though the
killed about 3000 protesters during the crisis in 1988, the people
decided that they will not follow Monday's order of the government to
stop protesting. The non-violent protests of determined and courageous
people continued. On Wednesday, the government's response became more
violent (from the part of the soldiers and police) and today things have
apparently become worse. Several or even many people were killed,
hundreds wounded or/and arrested. All the Buddhist monasteries here are
now being watched over by the Army - the monks are effectively being
locked inside.

The protests started when the government stopped subsidies on fuel which
caused a massive increase in fuel prices (quadruple or even five times I
have been told). Food prices rose as a consequence. For instance, one kg
of rice cost Kyat 500.- in August. Now 1 kg of rice cost Kyat 650.-. One
chicken egg now costs Kyat 100, up from Kyat 25.- last month.
A factory worker earns around Kyat 20'000.- a month. He needs about Kyat
10'000.- per month for rice only (for rice for himself only, not
including his family). In other words, many, many, many people are
starving these days.

A colleague who lives here told me today that these days many
children are being fed rice water only, since the families have run out
of rice and money. Of course, during these days of violence, finding
food is even more difficult. Starvation is increasingly become a fact

Yesterday we were in the new Government capital, a new-born city with
huge beautiful roads (with almost no cars on them) and large buildings
where the various ministries of the government are housed. The government continues to pour in millions of dollars to expand the new capital. The main reason for having a new capital is to be more secure against popular protests that are always strongest in Yangon (formerly Rangoon). The dictatorship junta is extremely rich. They lord over a country that is considered to belong to the three most corrupt and most
oppressive countries in the world.

Thursday, September 27, 2007

I'm leaving for southampton next monday, so things are really starting to speed up here at home. We had a small birthday dinner for my mom tonight, it was good to have the whole immediate family together even if everyone was exhausted like we were.

I passed my drivers theory test today, got one question wrong (I don't know which one, they didn't tell me), but I was happy with that, so I should have my provisional soon enough then.

I've been thinking about loads of things recently, Burma and everything happening there has been on my mind a lot, I listened to a podcast from a conference in which a guy from the simple way community and another guy from camden house were discussing a Christian Ecology in Seattle Pacific University (if you want to listen to it, go to Itunes store and search for "shane claiborne" it's the only free thing that comes up. It's been making me think about the implications of the gospel in challenging the consumeristic nature of our society which is in a quiet marriage with our capitalism. I don't know what the answers are economically, but I know, as the two speakers tried to say, that although the problem is a societal one, it begins with a personal problem, greed and the desire for growth, to consume ever more. It inspires me to want to learn more about community gardening and growing our own food and other supplies.....and/or living on seasonal fruit and vegetables grown locally (not that I eat much fruit). I'm still not sure what I think the answer is. In a rapidly urbanizing world, can we really all grow our own food? With population growth increasing at a phenomenal rate is that sustainable? I really believe that the current system is broken, but I also believe that God can "redeem the city". I'm constantly struck at how in the Christian metanarrative, the opening image is one of a garden while the closing one is of a city, it seems to be the progression of human civilisation, but the city at the end, is a place of justice and dynamic peace, much unlike the cities that we know today.

I'm still thinking, and not acting nearly as much as I should.

Tuesday, September 04, 2007

It's been a hard and long week, and i'm happy to be at home.