Bloggers on the protests in Myanmar.

The latest chatter in cyberspace.
Sept. 26 2007 6:03 PM

Burmese Rage

Bloggers support the protesting monks of Mynamar, razz Prince Charles for not screening the film adaptation of Brick Lane, and ask if an amateur photo of a blond girl in Morocco could depict Madeleine McCann.

Burmese rage: The junta that controls Myanmar began tear-gassing and clubbing people Wednesday after a month of democratic protests. It also arrested hundreds of the many thousands of Buddhist monks leading the protests. The United Nations called a special meeting that culminated in the U.S.-led strengthening of sanctions against the nation formerly known as Burma. But most bloggers agree that if any nations have roles to play in ending the military dictatorship, they are India and China. 

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Andrew Sullivan calls it Burma for a reason: "Readers may have noticed my refusal to adopt the nomenclature of the hideous generals who renamed Burma in the wake of their 1988 suppression of democracy. It has nothing to do with cultural empathy; and everything to do with resisting totalitarian p.r." The Atlantic's James Fallows applauds President Bush for doing the same.

Bill, a German blogger at Jewels in the Jungle, thanks the Internet and cell phones for bringing attention to a protest that might have otherwise been ignored: "[U]nlike the violence by the regime against the students and citizens of Myanmar during the uprising of 1988 that took more than 3,000 lives, today the world is listening and watching closely thanks to your bravery and embracing of new technologies."

Jawahara Saidullahat Desicritics.org, a South-Asian focused blog,  takes the anti-junta protests personally, since her grandfather * was the "the first Indian ambassador to Rangoon — bridging the gap between his two countries" and his great-uncle a Cabinet minister who survived the junta's takeover only by being out of town. "This is a beautiful country that has borne too much already. It has imprisoned heroes like Aung San Suu Kyi, notwithstanding, it is a country that the world seems to have forgotten. It is India's neighbor but what do we know of it? In our obsession with Pakistan and our fluctuating mild interest in other neighbors, Burma might as well be on Mars."

Nikolas K. Gvosdev,the Washington Realist, says it's a strictly Eastern affair: "[T]here are reports that China is making contigency plans if the junta should fall, while also seeing whether they can induce the ruling group to make reforms. … The West has little leverage over developments. It is really going to be how China and India react to developments on the ground in Myanmar that will have a more decisive impact."

And at IntelliBriefs, B. Raman posts the dollar value of China and India's interest in Myanmar: "Interest in Myanmar's oil and gas reserves for meeting their growing energy requirements is one reason. For India, another reason is the likely benefits of Myanmar's co-operation in dealing with the insurgencies in North-East India. An additional reason for China is Myanmar as a gateway to the Indian Ocean and as a potential energy route for reducing its dependence on the Malacca Strait for the movement of its energy supplies from West Asia and Africa." At Reason's Hit & Run, Kerry Howley, who used to live in Myanmar, adds: "The explanation for the regime's hesitance to respond to the protests until today had been China's influence; China was supposedly preventing an ally and neighbor from causing regional embarrassment prior to the Olympics."

Burma Digest Magazine has an impressive collection of videos and photos from the civil unrest. At Burma (Myanmar) Blog, Richard Bacon, a pastor who makes frequent missionary trips to the nation, is posting regular updates from on the ground. And at Fifty Viss, Aung Htin Kyaw, offers a Burmese-American's perspective on the events.

Read more about the protests in Myanmar.

Brick wall: Prince Charles has canceled the Royal Film Performance of Brick Lane, adapted from Monica Ali's best-selling novel about Bangladeshi immigrants living in London's East End. Protests have bedeviled the film's production for its unfavorable portrayal of arranged marriage, among other things. Is there such a thing as Islamophobia-phobia?

Observer columnist Nick Cohen saw a screening of Brick Lane and deplores Prince Charles' wobbliness before would-be protesters: "Policemen who leave children to drown in ponds show greater courage than the man who would be king. Even if there were ground to protest against this film, it should be defended to the hilt, but as it happens there are none."

"The problem isn't just a handful of Bangladeshi thugs," says David T at British social democratic blog Harry's Place. "It is, once again, both the establishment and sections of the liberal establishment who are betraying minority communities, by giving in to the most conservative and reactionary elements in society."

Sid H Arthur at Serious Golmal revels in the irony "that this tiny, reactionary and potentially violent contingent of protesters claimed to speak on behalf of the Bengali community in the East End and yet complained about the lack of authenticity of Ali's book! The range of opinion of the book that exists within the Bengali community is wide, knowledgeable and heterogenous."

Read more about the royal boycott of Brick Lane.

Madeleine spotted? A Spanish tourist in Morocco has claimed that a photograph she took is of the Madeleine McCann, the young British girl who disappeared while on vacation with her parents in May. While authorities vet the picture, other news outlets are casting doubt.

Daniel Finkelstein at the Times Online's Comment Central asks bloggers to investigate the photo: "It will be an interesting test of the maturity of citizen journalism to see if online outlets or mainstream ones provide the next step forward in this story."

Conservative Foehammer's Anvil reacts to an update that claims the photo was not of Madeleine after all: "That was fast. Too fast. I remain highly skeptical. Regardless, the chances that Madeleine has ended up in some sort of child trafficking ring remain extremely high. I believe that Interpol and other investigators should use this opportunity to start to lift back 'stones' and see what comes scurrying out of places like Morocco and Portugal."

Read more about Madeleine McCann's doppelganger.

Corrections, Sept. 27, 2007: The article originally referred to Desicritics.org as an Indian blog. It's focus is all of South Asia. Also, blogger Jawahara Saidullah is a woman, not a man. (Return to the corrected passage.)

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