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"It is not enough that we learn to unmake war. We must learn to remake peace." ~ Mimi Lenox
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Thursday, May 08, 2008Reason #6 To Fly A Peace Globe ~ Burma and a Cyclone Named Nargis
Photo:Racoles Creative Commons license 2.0
There are thirty ongoing violent conflicts waging right now around the globe. The United Nations defines Major Wars as military conflict inflicting 1,000 battlefield deaths per year. Wikipedia expands that definition to include wars that cause destruction and humanitarian crisis of outstanding severity." Ongoing civil wars fueled by racial, ethnic, or religious differences come with a new twist that distinguishes them from wars in previous generations - civilian casualties. During World War I non-combatants made up less than 5% of casualties. Today, the number is a staggering 75% civilians killed or wounded.
Less than thirty days from now we will engage in another BlogBlast For Peace. By my research and estimation, there are at LEAST 30 very good reasons to fly a peace globe. To begin your activism. To increase our awareness of the suffering of others. To talk about peace. To write about peace. To be part of a larger voice for peace. To invoke peace. To pray for peace. To focus on peace.
To wage peace.
Need a reason to fly a globe?
Here's Reason #6
aka The Union of Myanmar
Ongoing since 1948
The oldest current conflict in the world
Who is fighting? The Burmese government's military regime and certain ethnic groups have been fighting internally since 1948. Recently tension has been building against the military regime that has ruled the country since 1962.
The instability escalated in September 2007 when thousands of Buddhist monks in a dramatic call for justice and an end to brutality at the hands of their own government, demonstrated through the streets of seven provinces against the military junta.
The anti-government protests were sparked by opposition to the ruling junta's decision to remove fuel subsidies which caused an internal economic crisis. (note: A "junta" is a government by a committee of military leaders, often loosely associated with a dictatorship). The monks colorful garb inspired the unlikely protest to be named The Saffron Revolution as they led demonstrations in their deep red Saffron colored robes.
It is interesting to note -and I found this fascinating - that they chanted the "Metta Sutta" - which is the Buddha's word on "loving kindness" as they marched through a barricade on the street of the Nobel Peace Prize laureate Aung San Suu Kyi. Under house arrest at the time, she met the monks at the gate of her residence to accept a blessing from them.
On the sixth day, 15,000 brave monks and 150 nuns marched peacefully against the military regime. This resulted in 100,00 people eventually protesting against the government, marches occurring simultaneously in 25 cities with organized lines of monks a mile long wearing striking symbols of red blood on their backs, resolutely protesting with determined solidarity. Amazingly, hundreds of civilians formed a human shield around the monks when the junta threatened military force.
The situation worsened. Aung Sun Suu Kyi was soon after moved to a prison. Protesters were attacked with batons and tear gas. Those seen providing food and water to the monks were jailed. Internet access (including web mail) was shut down completely in an effort to minimize public awareness. People spotted with cameras were beaten. The monks continued to wage peace in the streets. Chanting. Praying. The atrocities continued: In another bizarre twist, government soldiers disguised themselves as monks and infiltrated the protests to cause confusion. Horrifically, on the outskirts of Yangon a crematorium had been set up where injured protesters and civilians were being burned alive. A monastery was raided and monks were systematically murdered. Despite this oppression, elsewhere in southern Rakhine State, some 10,000 farmers were reported to have joined hands to protest against the government.
Calls from across the world cried out for an end to the inhumane violence in Burma.
If I didn't have faith and know better, this could be one of those times when one might be tempted to ask "Where is God?"
Luckily, I know how to find Him. So I'll say a prayer.
I am appalled by the needless suffering in my world.
If words are powerful, then this matters.
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Photo credits: Public Domain, Creative Commons License 2.0