Posts Tagged ‘conflict’

As we enter China, it is unfortunate the world of WordPress does not follow. We will be back in a month with much more from Cambodia, Vietnam and China.   

For now, I leave you with a short paraphrase from a Cambodian tour guide:  

Our tour guide in white, 52 years old.



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With map and compass in hand, we are determined to complete our self-guided trek through the enchanted hills of Tana Toraja, on the Indonesian island of Sulawesi. As we walk along deep green rice paddies, a couple waves to us from a balcony. They ask us where we are going and gesture for us to come in and have a drink. But we are eager to make some headway, so we thank them and indicate that we will continue on. (more…)

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Mine detection kitty

Walking through the Mines Advisory Group (MAG) Unexploded Ordnance (UXO) exhibit, the information I read takes me completely by surprise. Lao People Democratic Republic is the most bombed country in the world per capita.

Between 1961 and 1974, the Laotian Civil War becomes one of the many proxy wars of the Cold War and the country’s strategic importance to the overarching conflict in Vietnam makes it a prime bombing target.  Between 1965 and 1974, US  expenditures average $9 million per day releasing 1.36 metric tonnes of ordnance on Lao. I can’t find figures on ordnance used by other protagonists and ground forces. The legacy is tragic. Upper estimates suggest that some 30% of the ordnance did not detonate. Live bombs now litter the countryside, claiming casualties at an alarming rate – the 2008 estimate is 600 injured by UXO. (more…)

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Through a good friend of mine, we recently had the privilege of spending some time with the Free Burma Rangers. We thoroughly enjoyed our visit with this spirited and inspiring group of individuals, who work in a unique way to counter the Myanmar army and its influence throughout Burma. The team leaders challenged us to a game of soccer/football and proved their work keeps them in better shape than we are. The food was delicious, conversation enlightening and the new baby monkey, recently rescued from Burma, just too adorable.

To find out more about who they are and what they do, please take a look at these video links. The videos are narrated eloquently by the daughter of the primary architect of the organization. (more…)

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Burmese delegates including Aung San (fourth from right) met British politicians including Prime Minister Clement Attlee (fifth from right) in London to agree an independence deal in January 1947. (Image: Fox Photos/Getty Images)

 “Every man and woman in Burma wanted to get rid of the English government, not because it was oppressive or lacking in good qualities, but because its policy was pro-English instead of being pro-Burman” —excerpt from Maurice Collis book Trials in Burma (1937)

Defeating colonialism became a primary objective by the 1930’s, with a rise in Burmese political activity and nationalism. Anti-colonialist leaders rose and sought opportunities for change in militant ideologies.  Bogyoke Aung San remained greatest among them.  Aung San and a group of university students of his time known as the ‘Do Bama’ society, which one scholar calls “schoolboys playing politics,” were ultimately the ones who led protests, formed the Burmese Independence Army during WWII, and later formed the first independent government. Initially, Aung San sought opportunity and training from the rising power of Japan at the beginning of WWII, who promised Burmese independence. (more…)

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When considering Burma, you may remember the atrocities committed against protesters in anti-government protests in 1988, recall news clips of Monks and others taking to the streets in 2007, or the lack of access granted by the military government to humanitarian workers following cyclone Nargis in 2008.  Depending on age, maybe you think of nothing more than ‘Burma Shave’ a brushless shaving cream marketed in the US through rhyming poems on small, sequential highway signs. Regardless, few of us have actually considered the complexity that is Burma and how this country fits into the world. As the first major stop on my journey, I’m curious to learn more. (more…)

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