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I am in need of a succinct answer to the following comments published in 
the newsletter of the Southeast Asian Studies Association here at the 
Center for International Studies at Ohio University.  These comments were 
written by a student who has become interested in Burma recently, having 
seen a presentation I made about my time along the border teaching Karen 
refugees, and also a presentation by Edith Mirante, who recently came and 
spoke here at Ohio University:

"...After hearing of the horrors of displaced people, burnt villages, 
torn-down hillsides and the like, I was very moved.  When assessing the 
damage, both natural and human, one asks oneself, "What are the solutions 
to these problems?"  Is there really anything people outside of the 
country can do which would make a difference?  In the case of Burma, I 
have come to the conclusion that little can be done that would make a 
dramatic impact.  From the outside world that is.  I will continue to 
support the opposition to the cruel and horrible things done by the 
Burmese government to its own people, but other than that I believe that 
change must come from the inside.  Economic sanctions are not the 
answer.  Burma can make enough money to keep itself going through illegal 
trade in timber, animals and people with countries like Thailand and 
China.  Investment in Burma will continue, such as that of the large oil 
companies, regardless of the political and social situation within the 
   The solution, I believe is for Burma to free itself from the inside.  
Figures like ASSK are examples of the type of support which Burma must 
give itself.  Outside groups like Amnesty International, Human Rights 
Watch Asia, and Burma interest groups are crucial in giving them a voice 
and backing them as well, but for significant change to take place Burma 
must work out its problems among its own people.  Lasting change never 
comes easily or quickly, but with strong people like the students of 
Burma and those in the NLD I still have hope for a "Free Burma" in the 

I have a lot of ideas about how to answer this article, but would like to 
hear other opinions about how to do so succinctly so that I can answer 
this article effectively in the next issue of the newsletter.