Enote 39 – Tragic Burma

October 28, 2007

Tragic Burma:

Burma exploded for a week or two on the front pages of the American press, since I last wrote you. Pictures like the one below of monks walking in protest in Rangoon have been seen by all. And then the military retaliated, beating some, killing some, arresting others just like the demonstrations in 1988 and their tragic aftermath. All isMonks march in protestnow quiet. Hope rising for one glorious moment, bringing monks and people together in an appeal for justice, peace, and an end to this oppression, has been quelled. Except for more troops in the streets, a few night-time raids to homes, and pictures posted at the Shwedagon Pagoda, one would never know anything had happened. It’s the pictures that most clearly reveal the view the government has of its people. They actually show pictures of the people they have beaten. Why? Are they bragging? Is it derision? I don't think so. Their view of themselves and why they treat their people so brutally can be seen in the way they describe themselves. Formerly SLORC, the State Law and Order Council, and now SPDC, the State Peace and Reconciliation Council. These ironic, Orwellian names suggest they view the country as ungovernable without strong force.
And they may have a point. Bertil Lintner, a well-known writer on Burma recently said, "Potentially Burma could break up like Yugoslavia because it does have a number of ethnic groups which have little in common". Knowledgeable people I have talked with doubt democracy is attainable in Burma. That, of course, does not keep us from working as hard as we can to help the ethnic people in their struggle for an education.

I thought you might be interested in some of the recent emails I have been receiving from the border. The first is from one a person who is helping us support one of the schools inside Burma.

The bad new is that on August our students and the local school leader came and pick up the note books from the Thai-Burma border. When they traveled back to school they have many car roads to cross which are the SPDC car roads. The last car road caused the problem for this team. SPDC ambushed our students and our local school leader stepped on landmine. He lost his right leg and now he is in the hospital. It make his family very difficult to face the absent of the father in the way of daily survivals. However, we hope he is recovering soon.

The second piece comes from an American couple we know who were in Burma at the time of the demonstration and its aftermath.

They've won. Hope has left the country. They've proved that you should never wear a robe to a gun fight... Once they knew the world was going to play the same old tired hand that it's been playing for the last nineteen years, they knew the game was theirs.

Meanwhile at Home:

This year we have raised $28,000 for our endowment, and have a promise of $20,000 additional funds from the Virginia Wellington Cabot Foundation. And we have raised $130,743 for the operating budget so far this year, as compared $171,452 for all of last year. In addition we have received $30,512 from the B.K. Kee Foundation for our work with the Chin in India, and we are still hopeful about proposals we have to the Mary Lynn Richardson Foundation and the Dorothea Haus Ross Foundation. We do note with some concern that we have received funds from only 259 donors this year, and that is about 200 short of the total donors who gave last year. We are also troubled by the continuing fall of the dollar versus the Thai baht, and the Indian Rupee. We need to raise substantially more money this year to provide the same services as last year. We do hope all of you who have donated in the past will be able to help us again this year.

November is going to be a busy month for us.

  • Oct: 13 Board of Trustees Meeting
  • Oct: 29 Depart for North Carolina
  • Oct: 30 Meet with Ben Pickard to discuss writing a history of the Fund.
  • Nov: 1 Talk for Amnesty International at UNCW (I told you I would travel to talk.)
  • Nov: 8 Talk at Colgate
  • Nov: 14 to 29 Trip to Brazil (personal)

We are, as always, deeply in your debt.

Tom Brackett

Your day is not finished until you've done someone a favor.