Myanmar/Burma has been in the news recently for some pretty horrendous treatment of peacefully protesting monks. Let me use wikipedia, which is sometimes flakey, to pinpoint the start of this protesting, "This present round of demonstrations began on August 18, when the government raised the price of diesel oil by 500% in order to cover a budget deficit that resulted from a salary hike for civil servants". Yup, diesel fuel increasing by 500% got the monks pissed off. It was more or less a move by a smart, underground force to make a stand to gather international attention to their horrible situation. The U.N. is supposedly going into Burma to try to make things right. The U.N. has not done a good job in the Congo, Darfur or Yugoslavia, so what the hell can they do for the Burmese?
Wait, didn't monks practice self-immolation in Vietnam nearly 40 years ago and the world told the US to leave? Where's the world outcry for people being beaten as they protest their own horrible government?
This ultimately goes back to China. Myanmar is a friendly nation to China as part of their policy of friendliness to dictatorships and thuggish oligarchies. China invests in these nations for use of their natural resources, and to have a friend on their flank. The Chinese themselves are a horrible oligarchy made up of a few bastards and their cronies. It's a shame that no one pays attention to this as China continues it's 'rise' in the 21st century. Like North Korea, the proper way to deal with Myanmar/Burma is to exert pressure on them through China. The problem is getting the CHinese to come to the table.
Wouldn't it be grand to see Myanmar/Burma as a democracy in Southeast Asia? It would be nice to see freedom for monks and people alike without fear of the Asian form of the Gulag. I do not see the U.N. doing anything worthwhile to help. What people forget about the U.N. is that it serves it's member nations. What you should notice is how many of those members are monarchies, dictatorships, and oligarchies. Look at the Security Council with Russia and China having a seat. Do those countries strike you as pro-democracy and pro-human rights? No. They can block whatever they want to block that comes before the Security Council. This is the world in which we live, and it should make you angry.
****As someone thinking of becoming Buddhist, in my great nation that allows freedom of religion, I think these monks are pretty crafty. What a lot of people do not realize is that the monks in poor nations such as Myanmar/Burma are the community leaders. They usually educate the young children or settle disputes that people wish to not take to the courts (or do not trust to the courts), acting as a cross between Judge Wapner and the teacher from "Dead Poet's Society". This is not a publicity stunt as much as it is the local, community leaders taking and stand and providing leadership to a movement or feeling in their community. I have mad respect for them.