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help! (r)

>From: Lisa Booth Brooten <lb252689@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx>
>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 

I would point out that this is overly defeatist. Some companies have already
withdrawn from Burma amid boycotts by consumers and pressure from
shareholders. In Congress, the "Burma Freedom and Democracy Act of 1995" has
been introduced in both the House and the Senate and, if passed, would cut
off U.S. investment in Burma.

The political situation in South Africa under apartheid led the United
States and other countries to cut off political and economical support to
the regime at the request of the African National Congress and others. The
same can happen in the case of Burma.

>   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 

It is true that Burma must free itself from the inside. But to help Aung San
Suu Kyi we need to cut off the support that the SLORC receives from foreign
corporations. Aung San Suu Kyi has asked that companies not invest in Burma
at this time. We can support her and the National League for Democracy by
putting pressure on corporations to respect her request. 

>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.
I hope you found my comments useful.