Monday, March 1, 2010

Burma Genocide - Heroes Serving Humanity

We partnered with students from Southern Nazarene University - to partner with students in STAND at Oklahoma University. The OU students and campus were exceptional hosts to many persons present - and specifically to Thomas Van Dyke with Heroes Serving Humanity.

The following notes and reflections are a guest blog entry by Destry Howland - a student at SNU that is working toward eupan. She writes:

Tuesday 23 at 7pm OU’s student group STAND, Students Against Genocide, hosted Dr. Thomas Van Dyke. Van Dyke spoke about the slow genocide in Burma, how it was being done, compared it to genocides in Darfur, and what Heroes for Humanity and the Free Burma Rangers are doing in Burma.

The military in Burma, the State Peace and Development Counsel, has had Aung San Suu Kyi, their legitimately elected Prime Minister imprisoned (mostly house arrest) for about twenty years. She is the only person to have received the Nobel Peace Prize while imprisoned. The SPDC has an army that is rather untrained and disorganized because there is quite a number of child soldiers. Some of the soldiers are kidnapped and forced to fight. The typical job of the army is to burn down villages, direct attacks on villagers force the villagers to relocate into concentration camps, force the villagers to work (often building the camps in which they must live), rape, place landmines in villages that have been burned down so that the villagers cannot return and rebuild, and destroy food supplies. These are just a few examples.

The villagers, minorities in Burma, are dying of disease as well. Once their villages have been burned down they do not have the supplies that they need such as pots and pans to boil water, so they are dying of Dysentery. They are also dying of Malaria. This is where Heroes for Humanity comes into play. They send teams of Burmese into villages to provide medical assistance as well as into the jungles. There are at any given time half a million people hiding in the jungle. Not only do the teams from Heroes for Humanity provide medicines, but also they perform amputations for people that have met a landmine and survived, have radios set up at their camp sites in order to track the movements of the armies and warn the locals to evacuate, and have extra clothes and other such supplies to give to the villagers.

So far in Burma over 350,000 villages have been burned down, and millions of Burmese have been displaced. There are only two organizations actively involved in Burma and that is the Heroes for Humanity and a Backpacking Medical Team. The aid that has been given to Burma stays with the government. Neither the US nor the UN has taken action in Burma. Right now the hope of the Heroes for Humanity is that there is a military coup and new leadership put into place. They do not ask for a military force be brought into Burma, but that safe zones can be established in the villages. Another option for the rescue of Burma is that they will get busted for their nuclear weapons program.

Obviously not a lot of options are available to the Burmese. The point is that we need to be aware of the human rights injustices that are going on in Burma, spread the word, and make our congressmen and senators aware as well. If the US recognizes that stopping the genocide in Burma is important then they might take action. Right now there is no cost to the US by inaction. Let us create a cost.

from: Destry Howland

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