Recent events in Burma will not have escaped You I´m sure!
General Than Shwe`s government decided on the 15:th of august to increase the price of fuel... big time!
Petrol and diesel prices doubled and the price for compressed gas used to power public transportation buses increased fivefold!
Public transportation prices rose inevetably...
A grim knock-on/domino effect also upped prices for rice and cooking oil...
The cost of living in an allready poor country now not only grazed the border of the absurd, it crossed it!
People were pissed off, obviously, and on the 18:th of august main city Rangoon saw the first protest march which numered 400! The largest demonstration in the military regime for nearly twenty years!
More demonstrations followed and also the inevitable quelling of protests from the regime with police arrests.
However, demonstrations continued on a smaller scale throughout the country. After a peaceful rally was broken up by force on the 5:th of september and a small number of buddhist monks were hurt the monks began participating in large numbers, effectively making them the moral leadership of the growing protests against the regime.
Lately the violence against the protesters has increased and the ugly face of oppression and brute force has uncovered itself... it is an ugly one!
Also, the five main monasteries have now all been sealed off in an attempt to quench the leadership of the clergy and diminish the thrust of the protests aiming to "wipe the military dictatorship from the land of Burma".
What are we seeing here?
Violence! Batons cracking heads, bullets fired from close range at japanese journalists, monks taken hostage and beaten.
Oppresive action! The increasing prescense of miltary forces, sealing off monasteries, scare tactics, firing bullets over head and dawn to dusk curfews... not to mention the price increase that started everything!
No one ever said that peacemaking or marching o the streets for justice would get you friends in high places!
The longing for freedom and the peacful marching of people in protest can create nothing but unrest for the Burmese government because it threatens the status quo that it wants but ultimately can never have. The government knows this and acts/reacts accordingly... grabbing hold of what it thinks it owns with the means of guns, threat and censorship.
This is one true face of evil...
Also: What the monks have shown us is in many ways (part from the odd way of taking government officials hostage on one occasion!) the essence of what moral leadership is - Its about leading the way through action and practice. In this case by heading up the demonstrations and displaying the cost of freedom and justice with their own wounds!
That sounds familiar.
Who made that example with his own life?
Who made that the ultimate way of life and action for anyone where justice and freedom is lacking and violence and oppressive action are commonplace?
It´s a bit odd that buddhist monks (my prejudice was that they were "politically" passive!) and ordinary burmese people in the midst of a violent crisis so powerfully reminds me of the way of Jesus.
Yes, a bit odd, but their courage energizes me!
Tonight, presenting the third night of the KOPAFestival, I´ll be wearing red!
Than Shwe! The world is watching!