News & CommentaryArchive
Sep 27, 2007
An Opportunity in Burma?
Burma is showing up in headlines this week for the first time in a long time. One of the first posts on Philanthropy Action commented on how little attention has been paid to genocide in Burma. While the current news is about anti-government protests led by Buddhist monks, not about the ongoing genocide, the attention is welcome. International attention can be one of the most powerful tools for restraining genocidal governments, as Samantha Power notes in her book, A Problem From Hell: America and the Age of Genocide.
Given that the current protests are the largest since 1988, we can hope that change might be coming to Burma. If Burma’s nascent ‘saffron revolution’ can ultimately lead to the ouster of the military junta that has ruled for more than 40 years, there will be a tremendous opportunity for international philanthropy. Not only have ethnic minorities such as the Karen, Karenni and Shan suffered extreme persecution, but the junta has created one of the poorest societies on earth (current per capita GDP is $200). A recent report from the Human Rights Center at University of California, Berkeley, and the Johns Hopkins School of Public Health details the infectious disease disaster brewing in Burma. For instance, it has one of the highest rates of tuberculosis infection, and XDR-TB is already appearing in refugee camps.
For those looking for maximum impact for their philanthropic dollars, a free Burma should be at the top of the list.
New York Times: Myanmar Forces Fire on Protesters
Wall Street Journal: Freedom for Burma
Johns Hopkins School of Public Health: The Gathering Storm: Infectious Diseases and Human Rights in Burma