Watch, Report, Condemn and Move One….?

Benedict Rogers, (see link) points out some parallels between Burma and Zimbabwe that we should all take notice of:

” As the world focuses now on the crisis in Zimbabwe, the parallels between Robert Mugabe’s reign of terror in that failed state and the disaster unfolding in Burma are stark. Both countries, former British colonies, were once the most prosperous in their regions – Zimbabwe, the “bread basket” of Africa and Burma, the “rice bowl” of Asia. Both are now ruled by paranoid tyrants who have ruined their economies and terrorised their people. In both countries, there is a legitimate democratic opposition that has won elections but been denied their rightful place in government. The rulers of both nations remain in power illegitimately, having stolen their elections through intimidation, harassment, and rigging – or simply by ignoring the real result. And in both countries, the regimes are guilty of the same sad litany of human rights violations: torture, rape and murder, and the refusal to allow international aid organisations to help their people. And yet, so far in both countries the world’s politicians and media watch, report, and condemn – and then move on”.

Zaw Nay Aung writes (see link above): “When a country is facing a significant challenge of humanitarian disasters, the international community has to intervene to resolve the conflicts rather than doing nothing and calling it an “internal affair.” Is it the right thing to do to let people die from natural disasters such as Cyclone Nargis in Burma or man-made disasters such as extra-judicial killings, arbitrary detentions and “mass intimidation'” against people who speak for justice, freedom and equality of prosperity? If you look at the recent events in Zimbabwe and Burma, the authoritarian regimes and their militias violently cracked down on the opposition and controlled power undemocratically and illegitimately. Although the UN actions are initiated, the powerful “vetoes” have been overriding the process of resolving political stalemates in Burma and Zimbabwe.”

In Burma after the cyclone, while governments and international organizations waited for “permission” from an illegal regime to save lives,  people took things into their own hands.  Using any resources that could be acquired, and any local networks already in place, people helped each other.  In the words of one church leader quoted in Mr. Rogers article: “….nothing, not even the regime’s obstruction deterred them from the sacred duty of saving lives.”  


Solving world problems or understanding political solutions is way, way beyond my simple mind (obviously).  It’s enough of a challenge to stick to the basics, and try to treat other people the way I would want my kids, my family, and my community to be treated if I were in their shoes.  Doing enough isn’t possible, but doing NOTHING is not an option.  In the words of Mother Theresa, “Do not wait for leaders; do it alone, person to person.”  (Sometimes, seems like that’s what it’s going to take!)

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