Tuesday, March 30, 2010
"Arrest Yourself" to free Burma
You can "Arrest Yourself" on behalf of Aung San Suu Kyi. She will turn 65 under house arrest, which this Nobel Peace Prize winner has endured, when not in prison itself, since 1988. Although she won the prize in '91, her plight appears to have been largely ignored in the shadow of other human rights violations in the two sad decades since the dictatorship incarcerated her.
Not much is known by most of us about Burma. A documentary I have yet to see, "Burma VJ," compiled from smuggled handycam footage, has been acclaimed (and nominated for an Oscar) as one document of this struggle for freedom against the military junta. It covers the protests led by Buddhist monks in the fall of 2007. Anders Østergaard directed this and uses the "lens" of a young journalist through whom we learn of the protests, the repression, and the crackdowns.
"Arrest Yourself" is a novel way to share solidarity. You stay at home 24 hours and invite others to visit you to learn about the Burmese situation and to donate funds to assist the U.S. Campaign for Burma. At their website, a simple video can show you in 2 1/2 minutes easy steps to follow in how to set up your own house arrest, as it were, to raise both awareness and assistance.
I talked about this at my family's seder last night. I figured it neatly fit with my wife's efforts on behalf of three Jewish prisoners whom we support and spreads the Passover message of liberation in a practical, tangible way. Instead of paying lip service to freedom, or sighing over the headlines, why not visit this site? Faraway as we are from this country, we can do our share to ease the pain others suffer in a nation turned into a giant land of captivity, where 90,000 children are forced to be soldiers, thousands of women are raped, and 3.500 villages razed. 600,000 natives have been displaced, while another million have fled their homeland.
For background, I recommend this book. On Amazon US, Feb. 13, 2006, I reviewed Emma Larkin's "Finding George Orwell in Burma". This harrowing account of this American journalist's clandestine stint in the police state of Myanmar resembled a captive's tale, "and I alone escaped to tell." The whole country looms as a concentration camp, an open-air workhouse, a tropical penitentiary.