Than Shwe, Aung San Suu Kyi
Battle For Burma
Epilogue: Battle for Burma Blurb
Greetings plaid friends and embattled Burmese brethren!
Well, the battle for the heart and soul of this country is on, but no one outside Burma seems to be able to do a damn thing about it! Why not? Mostly because no one knows anything about the sorry state of affairs in this state held hostage by the maniacal military masters! That is partly due to the all-encompassing and absolute power that the junta possesses ...including the power to control all information, all businesses, all government offices, all visitation by outsiders, and all freedom of movement of their own people. Foreign reporters have all been kicked out of the country, and there is no free local press to speak of. In other words, no one goes in, no one comes out, and no news is known about what?s happening in Burma on a day-to-day basis.
Aha! But the Plaid Avenger has changed all that for you, and after reading this adventure, you are among the few, the proud, the globally literate! You have now learned about the devolution of the state of Burma from its promising proto-democracy birthright to the tyrannical takeover by the military masochists, which have made the state into a backwards-ass basket case of Asia. And now you also know ?the Lady? Aung San Suu Kyi, a beacon for freedom and democracy, whose indefensible incarceration makes Burma a focal point of world attention. So what?s the status of Burma now?
Well, after the diabolically disastrous rule of General Ne Win which led to the 8-8-88 Uprising, General Saw Maung staged a coup and took over and then formed the State Law and Order Restoration Council (SLORC) as a sham front to make the people believe that change was imminent so that they would settle down ...these were the freaks that held the election which Aung San Suu Kyi won. Instead of real change, they declared martial law, jailed the Lady, and proceeded to turn even more inward and insane. In some bizarre effort to erase history, they even changed the country?s official English name from ?Burma? to ?Myanmar? in 1989. You will notice that Uncle Sam hates these guys so much that the American government refuses to even recognize this name change, to this day.
In 1992, the current clown-in-command Senior General Than Shwe took over with his ultra-intense insider circle ...and a more murderous hive of scum and villainy is not to be found on this planet. In the last 18 years of his wretched regime he has wiped out dissent, crushed ethnic minorities by burning whole villages, and absorbed all power to his own position while looting the national resource wealth of the country for his personal gain. Despite Burma being exceptionally rich in natural resources, none of that wealth filters down to the society; the government is so wildly corrupt that it regularly ranks at the top of world?s most crooked states list.
Shwe even allows the production and trade of heroin to continue so that he and the military can skim off the top of this ill-gotten drug money. Burma is the center of the ?Golden Triangle?: the 2nd biggest source of heroin in the world. A four-year international investigation concluded that Burma?s national company Myanmar Oil and Gas Enterprise (MOGE) was ?the main channel for laundering the revenues of heroin produced and exported under the control of the Burmese army.? Ew.
Than Shwe has no problem ordering dissidents, journalists, and even Buddhist monks beaten, jailed, tortured, or executed. It is well known that his regime uses systematic rape, torture, summary execution and disappearances to control the people by creating a climate of total fear. There was public protest led by Buddhist monks in 2007 due to a rate hike in fuel, which was brutally suppressed by Than, essentially by putting all the monks in the entire country under ?house arrest? in the monasteries. How sick is that?
For rizzle sick. This dude is a full-fledged psychopath. In 1997 he changed SLORC to SPDC which stands for the ?State Peace and Development Council?...are you kidding me? Peace and development? What a whacko! In 2005, on advice from his personal astrologer, he even moved the official capital and center of government from Rangoon to a newly created city in a cow field deep in the center of the country...and named it Naypyidaw, meaning ?city of the kings.? Can you say, ?freak?? His primary aim in building this government fortress far from the coast was apparently to ensure that no invasion or naval attack could get to him and his cesspool of cronies.
These assholes are so psychotic and paranoid about any outside influence penetrating their little fiefdom that they actually refused all foreign aid after a devastating cyclone wiped out half their country. Yeah, it?s true! Cyclone Nargis hit the Burmese coast in May 2008 wiping out millions of acres of vital rice-growing farmland and killing perhaps 250,000 people and leaving over a million homeless. The US, the UN and other international donors immediately sent ships to aid the survivors and bring essential supplies to the Burmese peoples ...and the junta refused to allow the stuff in, fearing that somehow the outside assistance to its battered and starving citizens would somehow be accompanied by an instantaneous democratic revolution or something. How freakin? pathetic. Than Shwe and company let their citizens die rather than have any ?outsiders? permeate their pretentious palace.
Of most importance to our story, Shwe has also overseen the release and subsequent re-jailing of our heroine Aung San Suu Kyi. He refuses to allow her visits from her family, he refuses to meet with UN representatives, and steadfastly refuses calls from Presidents, Prime Ministers and peace advocates worldwide to let the lady go. Why not just kill her then? That?s a good question. At this point, the junta is simply using Suu Kyi as a political prisoner that gains them leverage over their enemies ...well, that and the fact that if they were to assassinate her the entire country would erupt into a fire of mass protest which might bring their whole house of cards down upon them. Aung San Suu Kyi has now been under arrest for 14 of the last 20 years of her life for refusing to yield on her ideology and her quest to free her people. She is so awesome.
Why isn?t the outside would doing anything to stop this madness? Well, because Burma is a sovereign state that is not hurting anybody else on the planet besides their own citizens, so they are not breaking international law, which means there is no justifiable international recourse to take action against them. But Uncle Sam doesn?t like this nonsense and wants to act! The US has led the charge against the junta for decades by imposing a full economic embargo against Burma that bans US firms from investing in, or selling anything to, this bloody batch of bastards. The US also froze all Burmese assets abroad, ceased all diplomatic relations, and banned all foreign aid to the place ...and the EU has followed suit too. Obviously, this has this weakened the junta.
NOT! They may be stronger than ever right now because any embargo short of full-on global embargo does little to no good. See, while the US, the EU, and many at the UN would like a total world embargo against Burma in order to punish these unholy usurpers, both China and India still conduct business as usual with the junta! What? WTF? Yep. Burma?s powerful neighbors don?t play the embargo game. Why?
China simply does not care about horrific human rights infractions in Burma ...they believe it?s a state?s right to screw their
own citizens as badly as that state deems fit, which is a principle of sovereignty itself. They are more interested in buying Burma?s oil, natural gas, and timber products to fuel their own giant economic engine. In addition, the Chinese make money by selling the junta weapons; lots of weapons. China is also no fan of a democratic movement inside Burma, which, if successful, might influence pro-democracy movements in China itself. China no want that! So China defends the Burmese butchers, enriches them by buying their natural resources, arms them, and shields them from any possible UN punishments.
But India? Aren?t they a democracy themselves, which means they should support democracy movements worldwide? Yes, but India needs to tap into those same natural resources that Burma sells China. The Indians know that if the don?t buy the stuff, then China will anyway, so what?s the point? India supports the junta in much the same ways as China, even the weapons-selling part. But both China and India are increasingly worried about the instability of the state and the huge amount of heroin, AIDS, and refugees that are seeping out of this failed state ...mostly crossing the borders into their countries!
Is there any hope? A glimmer. Aung San Suu Kyi is not alone; there are many voices in Burma fighting for change, and they are not being silenced forever. And Burma is a part of the influential 13-nation economic free-trade block named ASEAN (Association of Southeast Asian Nations), which has been putting serious pressure on the regime to clean up its human rights act if it wants to stay in the club ...which the junta very much wants to do. ASEAN is the only real form of ?legitimate? international interaction Burma has in the world, and even though they are nuts, the junta wants as much street cred as it can get in the world.
In addition, the Karen minority ethnic group featured in this comic is still fighting the good fight against the regime, and other rebel groups are peppered throughout the jungles of Burma holding firm as well. That is where the Plaid Avenger hopes the US and the world may start applying pressure successfully: let?s arm the Karen! Ever see Charlie Wilson?s War? We need a covert operation to fund and arm the main opposition groups of Burma just like we did in Afghanistan against the Soviets. Oh wait, that didn?t work out so well in the long run: now the US is currently fighting the same Taliban elements that it helped train and arm to beat the Commies. Damn blowback. Plus, Aung San Suu Kyi is an advocate of non-violence and therefore would not approve of violent overthrow...
...but I can?t see how else it?s going to happen. The military maniacs are well entrenched and extremely powerful, and they run the country as a police state similar to Nazi Germany. But unlike even the Nazis, these Burmese bastards are quite unique in the world, bordering on bizarre: they have no ideology, no philosophy, no plan, no vision for the state, and no popular support. They are simply crooks with guns posing as a military holding the entire country hostage ...perhaps the only true ?mafia? government on the planet.
Their hubris/insanity may be their undoing as well: it is now rumored that Than Shwe would like to follow in the footsteps of North Korea and Iran in developing a nuclear energy/weapons program which (if successful) would be the ultimate defense against outside forces. Combine nuke ambition with heroin production with borderline genocide and you have the perfect storm of a most dangerous state: one that even China and India may be convinced to act against.
Even if you are no fan of democracy and human rights, who wants to wait around for a group of heavily armed narco-traffickers to obtain nuclear weapons? Stop the madness! Crush the junta! Free Burma! To arms fellow freedom fighters! To arms! Free Aung San Suu Kyi!
Want to learn more about it? This Plaid Avenger adventure was inspired by several sources that you should check out:
? Asia?s Forgotten Crisis: A New Approach to Burma by Michael Green and Derek Mitchell; article in Foreign Affairs November/December 2007
? People of the Opiate By Dennis Bernstein and Leslie Kean on The Nation Digital Edition. http://web.archive.org/web/20040601155140/ and http://nick.assumption.edu/WebVAX/Nation/Bernstein16Dec96.html
? The 1995 film Beyond Rangoon, which depicts some of the events surrounding the 8-8-88 Uprising. Plus, it stars Patricia Arquette back when she was really hot!
? The US Campaign for Burma at http://uscampaignforburma.org/
? The Free Burma Coalition at http://www.freeburmacoalition.org/
? Free Burma Rangers at http://www.freeburmarangers.org/ (love the Rangers!)
-The Plaid Avenger
Click images to preview first 5 pages