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Two opinion articles from soc.cultu
- Subject: Two opinion articles from soc.cultu
- From: brelief@xxxxxxx
- Date: Tue, 20 Feb 1996 03:55:00
Subject: Two opinion articles from soc.culture.burma
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Two opinion pieces by Chao - Tzang Yawnghwe
Posted by tai <tai@xxxxxxxxx>
THE UNHCR 1995 REPORT ON HUMAN RIGHTS IN
by Chao-Tzang Yawnghwe
Shan State Association (USA).
Tel / Fax: (604) 525-6924
The report mentioned is a curious piece of reporting. A reader
reasonably conversant with what is taking place in Burma can
be forgiven for thinking that he/she has inadvertently stumbled
onto a passage from Lewis Carol's "Alice in Wonderland."
What is utterly amazing is the Special Rapporteur's fear,
bordering on phobia, of offending SLORC, as well as his/her
incredibly supple backbone. The report hence reads like one
written by the lowest of a pool of lowly clerks to investigate the
wrongdoings of a powerful local lord. It is therefore not
surprising that all the censure that SLORC got for misrule and
repression is a light, gentlemanly tap on the wrist. If one were a
SLORC member, one would be very happy with such a report --
but the SLORC people being what they are, will undoubtedly
be most displeased.
However, to be extra fair to the Special Rapporteur, if one tries
hard enough to read between the lines, one is able to grasp the
true nature of SLORC's rule: that it is arbitrary, repressive,
destructive, and an onerous burden on Burmese of all ethnic
affiliation. For this, we must nonetheless be quite grateful. The
rub however, is that neither the U.N. nor anyone else is willing
to do anything about the terrible situation in Burma. One
wonders why on earth U.N. is going through the motions at
some costs of the American taxpayers.
Apart from the wimpy tenor of the report, the whole exercise
illuminates a ridiculous, Alice - in - Wonderland situation
where only foreigners are privileged to "investigate" the human
rights scene. It implies to the rulers of Burma that only
foreigners matter. The Burmese people meanwhile, are less
then zero in SLORC's eyes. In all probabilities, a SLORC
general's pet dog would have more rights then a guy on the
streets of Rangoon.
If SLORC cares for the people and the country as it claims on
its airwaves morning, noon an night, the least it could do is
permit the Burmese people to freely voice their opinions of
their everyday experience in the hands of those who hold and
exercise power over them. Then, there would be no need for a
foreigner to "investigate" the human rights situation in the
YALE'S BURMA TOUR: A CASE OF THE TAIL
WAGGING THE DOG?
Chao - Tzang Yawnghwe
As one unfamiliar with the inner politics of the prestigious Yale
University, I am, like many in a similar position, puzzled by
Ms. Judy Cole's insistence that there is no politics involved in
lending Yale's prestige to SLORC's "Visit Myanmar" campaign.
It cannot be that Ms. Cole is unaware that the "Visit Myanmar"
campaign is pristinely political . SLORC's aim is to use the
names ( and pictures ) of distinguished "tourists" to cloak itself
in a mantle of legitimacy: to impress upon the Burmese (over
whom it rules at gunpoint) that it possess as much legitimacy as
Daw Aung San Suu Kyi.
SLORC's second aim is to demoralize the Burmese people by
sending message that the outside world -- even the cream of the
West's intellectual community -- is indifferent to both their
plight and aspirations.
What puzzles me is Ms. Cole's feigned ignorance of the politics
involved in visiting Burma and pretence that the visit is purely
non-political -- that it is merely "an educational opportunity" as
it is put. The visit strikes me as being a case of the tail (Ms.
Cole) wagging the dog (Yale).
The point to ponder is why visit Burma this year ? Why not
last year or the next ? This also applies to other American
universities responding to SLORC's campaign, or about to do
so. It seems a strange coincidence, and a sad comment on the
post-cold war psyche, that the global ( and American )
intellectual community should respond to SLORC's appeal
while it has , with few exceptions, ignored the plight and the
voice of the Burmese people -- the party that needs and deserves
the help of the "enlightened " community of scholars.
I am sure Ms. Cole and Yale academics and administrators (
Yale's powers- that- be) are not unaware of what the political
outcome of the AYA's visit is, nor are they ignorant of who
stands to gain most, politically, from this so-called "educational
Such being so, there must be other reasons (other than
ignorance and unawareness) for AYA's determination to go
ahead with the Alumni tour. Could it be that there is a more
mundane, trite explanation -- i.e., that there are monetary and
/or personal gains or benefits involved ?
If the above is the case, it would seem that Yale's reputation as
a center of learning and enlightenment is being sold cheaply by
individuals with vested or monetary interest in going ahead with
what is in essence a dishonorable venture.
I hope that those who value Yale's honor and reputation will
look closely into the matter, and put an end to a venture which
has only one outcome: the legitimation of gross human rights
abuse and the reinforcement of those who rule at gunpoint (in
addition to putting hard dollars into SLORC's pocket).