Stand With the Burmese

Zak writes with an elegantly-worded request about the current crisis in Burma:

We can help stop this horror. Burma’s powerful sponsor China can halt the killing, if it believes that its international reputation and the 2008 Olympics in Beijing depend on it. To convince the Chinese government, Avaaz – a social activism group with an international focus – is launching a major global and Asian ad campaign on Tuesday that will deliver this message.

Supporting this ad campaign is a petition to end the violence in Burma that is organized by Avaaz.

The petition has had over 200,000 signers in just 72 hours. We need 1 million voices to be the global roar that will get China’s attention.

I’ve been wondering how I can do my part to help Burma. I’m happy to sign this petition, but I’m wondering what else I might be able to do.

In any case, I’ve read elsewhere that China is Burma’s only hope. That’s the thing about the Chinese government is guilty of many sins, but they’re often in a unique position to effect real, transformative change. Hopefully the free market economy will encourage them to act where their morality might not.

On a related note, am I the only person who didn’t understand the relationship between the names ‘Myanmar’ and ‘Burma’? Burma was renamed Myanmar when the current military regime rose to power in 1989. From Wikipedia:

Burmese opposition groups continue to use the name “Burma” since they do not recognise the legitimacy of the ruling military government nor its authority to rename the country. Some western governments, namely those of the United States, Australia, Ireland, and the United Kingdom, continue to use “Burma”, while the European Union uses “Burma/Myanmar” as an alternative. The United Nations uses “Myanmar”.

Use of “Burma” and its adjective, “Burmese”, remains common in the United States and Britain.

So, I’m going with ‘Burma’ from here on in.


  1. I too only recently discovered the whole nomenclature thing (Burma vs. Myanmar) and now insist on calling it Burma as well.

    Surely India could pitch in a hand as well, no? They’re huge, right next door, and less known for human rights violations.

  2. As for Canadian news outlets, I’ve noticed the same thing.

    But CBC changed its language policy on the name last week.

    When I started working there it was (on first reference):

    “Myanmar, formerly known as Burma”

    and last week it became

    “Burma, also known as Myanmar.”

    In an odd coincidence, I just channel surfed past an old Seinfeld episode where Jerry and Elaine were riffing on the Burma/Myanmar question.

  3. Free Burma!
    International Bloggers’ Day for Burma on the 4th of October

    International bloggers are preparing an action to support the peaceful revolution in Burma. We want to set a sign for freedom and show our sympathy for these people who are fighting their cruel regime without weapons. These Bloggers are planning to refrain from posting to their blogs on October 4 and just put up one Banner then, underlined with the words „Free Burma!“.

  4. For those in Vancouver, Voices of Burma is organizing a rally outside VAG at 5 pm. Thursday and plans are being made for another one Saturday to coincide with worldwide protests. A petition is being circulated at all the rallies (there have been two others so far) asking the fed. govt. to take a stronger stand than it has so far.

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