Friday, September 28, 2007

Ruhe Sanft, Kenji Nagai

Like a dwindling number of other Americans, I awoke this morning and ate my breakfast while reading an actual newspaper. Of course those of us who still engage in this archaic practice are often confronted with an array of horrifying images and anger-inducing news items. But for the last couple of days I've been more pissed off than normal. Why, you ask?

Well, it's the fact that the Burmese military has been up to its old tricks. I'm old enough to remember the last time this happened, and I'm also old enough to be acquainted with real people who lived through the 1988 massacre. So, as rumblings began several weeks ago, I felt a little glimmer of hope. It got bigger within the last week as thousands and thousand of monks and Burmese citizens took to the streets, demanding reform and democracy in their long-suffering country. And what's happened? Well, no one really knows, since the military government has essentially cut off all information flow in and out of the country. But we've got a good idea, right? First there was this:

Followed by this:

And then what appears to be the murder of this man:

a Japanese photo and video journalist whose image was captured as he lay dying on the street. His "crime"? Trying to expose the horror of what is happening in Burma to the rest of the world. (I can't bring myself to post that image here--not being a fan of snuff --but I'm sure you can find it online if you try hard enough.)

Since then news and images have been increasingly hard to come by, even for groups with the closest of connections inside Burma.

It's hard to know what to do in these situations, isn't it? Like a lot of people, I've grown increasingly cynical through the years and often feel like nothing I do makes any difference. But I do know one thing for sure: doing nothing isn't going to help.

So, if you want to do something--even if it's just keeping yourself informed--take a look here:

Ko-Htike's blog

US Campaign for Burma

Avaaz.Org--Stand With the Protestors petition

And those of you who are in New York: people are gathering in front of the Burmese Mission, particularly on Monday:

When: Monday, October 1st, from 12:30 to 1:00 (sharp)

Where: The Burmese Mission 10 East 77th Street between Fifth and Madison

What to Bring: A cushion for sitting, placards, and flowers to memorialize those murdered on Wednesday.

See you there.

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