Turning Over the Rice Bowl

For six days in a row, young monks in Myanmar (Burma) have protested the treatment of monks by the ruling junta – the same junta who put down the protests / revolution of the early 90s, the same one that keeps human rights leader Aung San Suu Kyi under house arrest.

This time, can we please pay attention? Thousands, including monks, lost their lives last time around, & looking at these young men – I worry about them too.

At least some monks were reportedly refusing to accept alms from members of the military, a refusal, known as “turning over the rice bowl,” that amounts to an ad-hoc gesture of excommunication. The A.P. reported that one monk at the head of the procession held a begging bowl upside down as he marched.

I went to Myanmar years ago now, before I knew that human rights activists asked tourists not to come, & the place haunted me with its beauty. The young monks especially. The U.S. needs to back them, absolutely, loudly & with no apologies to the military. I fear we won’t, considering what’s gone on in Tibet, but at least we don’t have to stand up to the Chinese to help this pro-democracy movement, so maybe there’s a chance. Hopefully the UN sessions later this month that promise to address the issue will.

One Reply to “Turning Over the Rice Bowl”

  1. I wouldn’t be too sure about the Chinese angle. They view the current junta as a stable influence, which allows Beijing to concentrate on its other spheres of influence. Also, the unknown/ untapped natural resources in Burma are handily placed for the ever expanding Chinese economy.

    Quite frankly, I can’t see the current administration in Washington doing anything, what with the lethargy descending on the White House as the term of the incumbent comes to a close. Added to which, the overthrow of Shinawatra in Thailand (popularly supported and backed by the King) showed the Western nations in their true light. The interim government is still not formally recognised and effectively shunned by the powers that be. This despite the coup d’etat bringing stability and freedoms to vast swathes of the country.

    The West views Burma as a basketcase, but a minor one. The monks and people are on their own.

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