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Silent Burmese Days

PRAGUE -- In the coming days – perhaps even hours – the destiny of Burma (also known as Myanmar), and the fates of over fifty million Burmese, will be decided. Today’s crisis has been brewing for many years. But nobody knew with any precision just when open revolt against Burma’s military dictatorship would erupt.

I fear that, with only a few exceptions, most countries have been surprised and caught off guard – once again – by the rapid course that events have taken in Burma. So they seem to be completely unprepared for the crisis and thus at a loss as to what to do.

How many times and in how many places has this now happened? Worse, however, is the number of countries that find it convenient to avert their eyes and ears from the deathly silence with which this Asian country chooses to present itself to the outside world.

In Burma, the power of educated Buddhist monks – people who are unarmed and peace loving by their very nature – has risen up against the military regime. That monks are leading the protests is no great surprise to those who have taken a long-term interest in the situation in Burma.