Burma: a real place

by Chris Bertram on September 26, 2007

I don’t have a lot to say about Burma, except that, naturally, I’m in favour of democracy and human rights and against tyranny. I’ve vaguely followed the career of Aung San Suu Kyi over the years, and I might even have signed some petition a long time ago (I can’t remember). Here at CT we have two past hits for “Burma” and tow for ‘Myanmar”. Despite its place in the biography of George Orwell, a recent search on a “decent left” website the other day revealed very few mentions, most of which were in the “whatabout” category. But now Burma is a real place again, and will inevitably escape from its role as not-somewhere, worse-that-somewhere-else, and its walk-on part in blogospheric games of “will-you-condemn?”. So given my ignorance, and our pool of well-informed readers, this post is a bleg: what is happening, where will it lead, and what should we read? So far I’ve found “this piece”:http://www.opendemocracy.net/article/burma_s_question by Aung Zaw on OpenDemocracy. Other recommendations?

Update: I should have thought of “Jamie K’s blog”:http://bloodandtreasure.typepad.com/blood_treasure/2007/09/monkish-politic.html as a good place to start, he has links to Burmese bloggers.



Steve Laniel 09.26.07 at 1:52 pm


stuart 09.26.07 at 2:04 pm

came up with this site from George Aaron Broadwell at SUNY that seems related:

The Mon


M. Gemmill 09.26.07 at 2:15 pm

I have also been trying to follow events in Myanmar, though I know very little about it other than the same thumb nail sketch that you probably have. I haven’t had a lot of luck finding Burma/Myanmar blogs, and those that I have found are mostly in Burmese (which shows up on my screen as a collection of question marks). However, I’ve posted on the situation in Myanmar twice in the last couple days at Duck of Minerva, though I haven’t been able to add anything today because Blogger is completely bloggered up and I can’t log in. Hopefully, Google will get the damn thing fixed soon and I can post updates…


The Happy Revolutionary 09.26.07 at 2:20 pm

There’s also this post at Leninology.


Hilary Kornblith 09.26.07 at 2:31 pm

For background, try Emma Larkin’s Finding George Orwell in Burma.


whomever1 09.26.07 at 3:55 pm

I took part in a protest march around the Chinese Consulate in L.A. last week with Students for a Free Burma–they were protesting China’s veto of any condemnation of Myanmar in the U.N. The protest was announced on http://www.uscampaignforburma.org/.
I have to say it was the most polite protest I’ve ever been on–the sign they (mostly Burmese students from one of the Cal State campuses). The sign they gave me said “Review China’s Policy on Burma”.


sharon 09.26.07 at 3:58 pm

At the risk of being slightly old fashioned, you might try searching the online newspaper archives. (Over the last several years – not so much very recently – I’ve read plenty of reports in the Guardian. That would probably include something on dear old Ken Clarke’s chummy tobacco business dealings with the Burmese government a few years back.)


a different mikey 09.26.07 at 5:06 pm

I have lots to say about Burma. Here’s a start from a couple of months ago:


I’ve been preoccupied all week, wishing I could be there.


a different mikey 09.26.07 at 5:27 pm

Click through Jamie K’s to the burmese blog. It links to some good pictures of what’s going on.


Mary Dudziak 09.26.07 at 8:34 pm

Academic commentary is collected at New Mandela, here:
and more updates on the main page, here:


c.l. ball 09.26.07 at 10:02 pm

Finding George Orwell in Burma (Penguin, 2005) is a fascinating travelogue by a western journalist, allegedly fluent in Burmese, writing under the pseudonym Emma Larkin.

She describes it as a 1984-like country.


Mary Dudziak 09.26.07 at 10:17 pm

Typo in #10. Should have been New Mandala. Sorry. Here’s the link: http://rspas.anu.edu.au/rmap/newmandala/


Neil 09.27.07 at 6:59 am

You don’t appear to have taken the advice of the post’s title Chris. Making this issue a pretext for attacking “the decents” is hardly, er, decent.

And such a weak pretext too. Having to imagine what they might say.


Kevin R. Manning 09.27.07 at 3:58 pm

I used to write for a magazine on Burma that was founded by activists in exile in Chiang Mai, Thailand. It is closely following all the recent activities. Check out


Kevin R. Manning 09.27.07 at 3:59 pm

http://www.irrawaddy.org, sorry bad formatting


john m. 09.28.07 at 8:28 am

Hi Chris,

Does the lack of interest in this thread not only from CT’s readers but also contributors not speak volumes about the realities of (primarily) western world politics? Now they’ve started shooting civilians as per 1988 – let’s hope they don’t kill as many this time – and the response from the west is really very meek…consider if this was taking place in Iran. I’m not having a go at you btw – you post was a fair request for information and at least you raised the issue.

On a completely different note, good luck against Tonga tonight. I didn’t mean that.

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