The following is from my my travel blog, June 29, 1999, after spending a month traveling in Myanmar.
My saddest news to report is that for all the hype Aung Sun Soo Kyi gets, and all the flack that is reported about the government, I didn’t get the feeling that anyone could dare topple the current regime without getting quickly shut away for life. With universities closed and people fearful, the only other force would be the monks (a high percentage of population), but they are all fed, housed and their temples are lavishly gifted upon by the corrupt rulers, so they have a hard time seeing the problem. Individuals are so isolated (out of a sense of fear) camaraderie seems little and weak. As long as the government can keep the people with more than enough food and stuff to not starve, they will not risk their lives when they’ve seen so many before them die in the streets.
Apparently the monks and nuns can no longer abide. By protesting it has to mean their lives are so bad, their hearts are so dark with sadness for their country people that they are ready to be taken from their families and temples, tortured, imprisoned, enslaved and murdered. Protesting monks are now already being beaten and arrested and the army is firing on the crowds.
When I was there 8 years ago anyone who dared confide in us, which was an incredible risky thing to do shared horrific tales of lost family members, interrogations, gang pressed work crews, neighbors dying building golf course for generals and a lifetime of fear and hopelessness
If the current U.S. administration truly cared about Democracy, and had invaded Myanmar, we would have been greeted as liberators with garlands and a wonderful societal rose would be blooming in South East Asia. Instead Myanmar is a Orwellian reality that we hardly concern ourselves with.
Here are some photos I found form my trip.
Propaganda seen everywhere in Burmese and English, billboards, newspapers, evening news, everywhere
Note the military presence (upper right) as they knew Westerners would be here
All photos hosted on Flickr.