Tuesday, February 22, 2011

The Buddha Still Standing (Burma)

The "Saffron Revolution" that happened in Burma in 2007 was the precursor to the protests we see around the world today. We will not remain quiet in the face of tyranny (VespaTS/Flickr.com).

We found a magnificent Buddha still standing after the government crackdown in Burma. The dictatorship could not stomp the spirit of freedom and liberation represented by the Buddha.

We changed buses in Pegu and took a short trip around the city avoiding government fees. We saw the need for helping Burma (which the government renamed Myanmar). This police state is ruled by a military junta after a coup in 1990 that imprisoned Aung San Suu Kyi, the country's only legitimate, democratically-elected leader.

In 2010, an election was rigged to keep the country's reviled military dictators in their current positions. People are starving and engaged in forced labor. My pictures may seem one sided. It is prohibited to take pictures of the military and the police. I do not simply take pictures of the many poor on the streets instead.

The Burmese people are the kindest people I have ever met. Their loving-kindness filled me with a sense of compassion to support or find a way to free them from tyranny, even if I do not know how. The country needs our support in America: I have posted some links to international organizations helping Burma.

Burma is NOT a usual travel destination, except for adventurous spiritual travelers. Even if one avoids all governmental fees, for example using public transportation, it is difficult to say that traveling the country helps the people. Perhaps all travel should be boycotted and help given less directly.

The government with its embezzled profits has moved the country's capital to a make believe, reinforced never land called Naypyidaw. Seeing it from the bus, tears came to my eyes. I understood how the "generals" had extracted the money from starving people to create a world-class capital for themselves and their relatives. It was so shocking that I neglected to photograph it.

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