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Burmese Dissident Warns of “Religious War”

“All of the Buddhist countries have to participate”

The BBC World Service interviews Win Naing of the Burmese National League for Democracy, who has a rather alarming message:

As far as I know we are going into the religious war because the soldiers posted in Rangoon they are non-Buddhist soldiers. They have crashed down the monasteries, they have beaten up the [unclear*], the monks, and even the [unclear*], unarmed civilians. They even decapitated our Buddhist statue. This is just the most critical, the most evil thing that happened in our country since our history…We are going into a religious war. All of the Buddhist countries have to participate this event.

By “non-Buddhist” soldiers, one assumes he means “impious” soldiers, rather than adherents of some other religion. But will a Buddhist call to arms – or, at least, to “participate” – be heeded? The Bangkok Nation suggests not:

A careful study of comments and statements by senior officials including Prime Minister Surayud Chulanont, General Sonthi Boonyaratglin, the chairman for the Council For National Security, and Foreign Minister Nitya Pibulsonggram shows a complete lack of moral courage and appreciation of the democratic struggle there. While the international community has expressed outrage and applied pressure, Thais are behaving as if they were similar to or a part of the Burmese junta.

In response to a question on the Burmese situation posed at a luncheon talk at the Asia Society in New York on Wednesday, Surayud said with a deadpan face that as the head of a Buddhist nation, he urged the Burmese junta not to use force as this was not the Buddhist way.

…Somehow, Rangoon has effectively blackmailed Bangkok for its energy needs. Through inept attitudes and policies, the Thais have failed to respond to Burmese people’s request for basic rights and freedoms…The future is bleak for Thailand to reclaim its place as a leading democratic voice in the region and regain its international credentials.

(NB – Win Naing is a London-based dissident; he is not the same person as U Win Naing, the pro-democracy politician who is currently under arrest in Burma)

*The unclear word, repeated twice, is something like “gandou” – any explanation appreciated.

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