Saturday, September 29, 2007
Help the Burmese? Pressure China
The pro-democracy movement in Burma is ready to crumble. The military regime shows no inclination for dialogue or compromise. The Buddhist monks are brave but can not stop the military.
So, what can be done? The challenges are formidable. President Bush is viewed, at best, as speaking from limited moral authority. The U.N. presence in Myanmar is limited. There is no desire for a multinational force to intervene.
What can WE do? At best we can all demand that China use its substantial influence to advocate for compromise and respect for life by the current regime. This will not be easy. Burma is a source of resources for China and China has shown in Sudan that resources trump human rights. However, WE are a resource for China. Both the Bush and the Clinton administrations have been reluctant to put limits on trade with China. However, WE can.
So, be clear, tell China that unless they intervene diplomatically and advocate for change in Myanmar you will stop buying Chinese products. We will boycott the Chinese Olympics. We will boycott stores that sell Chinese products. This will not be easy, Chinese products permeate our market place. However, we have to decide. What is more important, cheap, easily available products or the welfare of champions of democracy and human rights that confront violence with non-violence? This should not be a difficult decision. Simply ask, WWJD?
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We do not support boycotting the Olympics
Thats it, "We don't support boycotting the Olympics?" Give me something more, like a rational. Tell me how the years of training is worth more than human rights, how the business of the Olympics is more important than democracy for a people who have thirsted for democracy for decades. Tell me how the pain and disappointment of the athletes will overshadow the agony of brutal repression. Tell me something more than "We don't support boycotting the Olympics".
You know what. I don't like my first response, it is mean-spirited. I understand the joy and pageantry, the beauty of the Olympians. I remember standing with my daughters watching as the Olympic torch for the 2002 U.S. Winter Olympics passed by our house. We were excited and united, with our nation and the world. I really do get it. However, I don't believe it out weighs the suffering of the people of Burma but that doesn't mean I should be flip about it.
So, in the absence of an Olympic Boycott what do you recommend? How do we pressure China to exert its influence over this repressive regime? What are the options?
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