Courtesy of Partners Relief http://www.partnersworld.org/
In 1990, National League for Democracy (NLD) opposition leader, Aung San Suu Kyi, was elected Prime Minister under UN sanctioned elections. After winning 85% of the popular vote, she was imprisoned by the ruling military junta. The junta also imprisoned approximately 1,600 political reformers, including 38 elected members of parliament. Aung San Suu Kyi and others remain in custody today.
Overwhelming, the military defies the will of the people. The illegitimate junta renamed itself the State Peace and Development Council (SPDC) after consultation with a New York PR firm. Since 1992, Than Shwe and a core group of top generals have led the SPDC.
'I am deeply concerned about the serious human rights violations that continue to be committed by the armed forces in the ethnic minority areas. The violations include extrajudicial and arbitrary executions (not sparing women and children), rape, torture, inhuman treatment, forced labor and denial of freedom of movement.' - Former UN Official
'Military recruiters are literally buying and selling children to fill the ranks of the Burmese armed forces.' - Jo Becker, children's rights advocates for Human Rights Watch
According to Human Rights Watch, at 70,000 kids, Burma boasts the highest number of child soldiers on Earth.
Burma was at one time coined the 'Rice Bowl of Asia'. The nation is resource rich:
The government spends .04% on health care. This stands in contrast to an estimated 70% of government funds expended on the military.
Burma is the world's second largest producer of opium, only second to Afghanistan. It is Southeast Asia's largest producer of methamphetamines, exacerbating political friction between the SPDC and ethnic groups.
It is widely believed that the Burma Army uses drug money to fund its military, oppression and exploitation practices.
The Burma Army . . .
Burma is the 40th largest country in the world and is populated by approximately 48,000,000 people. It is positioned between India, China, Laos and Thailand. (Wikipedia, 2008)
Britain - Britain conquered Burma in 1886. Independence from the British Commonwealth was attained in 1948. A coup led by General Ne Win took place in 1962. Ne Win dominated the government from 1962 to 1988, first as military ruler, then as self-appointed president, and later as political kingpin.
Student Protests - In 1988, thousands of student leaders took to the streets seeking democratic elections. Their peaceful protests were ceased by the batons, tear gas, guns, and tanks of the junta. Thousands of students were killed, the leaders were imprisoned and tortured, and the movement was crushed.
Free Elections - Multiparty legislative elections took place in 1990. The opposition party, the National League for Democracy (NLD), won a landslide victory. However, the ruling junta refused to hand over power. Nobel Peace Prize recipient Aung San Suu Kyi, who was under house arrest from 1989 to 1995 and 2000 to 2002, was imprisoned again. In May 2003, she was transferred to house arrest.
Monk Protests - After Burma's ruling junta in August 2007 unexpectedly increased fuel prices, tens of thousands of Burmese marched in protest, led by prodemocracy activists and Buddhist monks. In late September 2007, the government brutally suppressed the protests, killing hundreds of civilians and monks, and arresting thousands for participating in the demonstrations.
Democracy Suppressed - Since then, the regime has continued to raid homes and monasteries and arrest persons suspected of participating in the pro-democracy protests. The junta appointed Labor Minister Aung Kyi in October 2007 as liaison to Aung San Suu Kyi, who remains under house arrest and virtually incommunicado with her party and supporters.
Cyclone Nargis - On May 2, 2008, Cyclone Nargis made landfall in the Delta Region. The storm devastated millions of acres of farmland and leveled hundreds of communities. Conservative estimates are that between 100,000 and 200,000 people perished. The survivors needed urgent, immediate aid. The international community responded, but the SPDC closed their borders and prevented aid from reaching the populations in need. This resulted in the unnecessary death of thousands upon thousands of more people. (World Fact Book on Burma, 2008)
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