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How Burmese Dissidents Crack Censorship

samzenpus posted more than 6 years ago | from the monks-and-the-net dept.

The Internet 154

s-orbital writes "According to a BBC News article, "Images of saffron-robed monks leading throngs of people along the streets of Rangoon have been seeping out of a country famed for its totalitarian regime and repressive control of information. The pictures, sometimes grainy and the video footage shaky, are captured at great personal risk on mobile phones — but each represents a powerful statement of political dissent." The article goes on to tell the stories of how Burma's bloggers use proxy servers, free hosting services, and other technologies to overcome Burma's "pervasive" filtering of internet access and news."

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R Word (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20762097)

Now there's a revolution I support.

In tomorrow's news (4, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20762119)

How the Burmese military crack dissidents skulls

Thanks for the info (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20762169)


now we know what else we have to add to our filters
security by obscurity doesnt work right ?

your friends

Junta

Re:Thanks for the info (1)

KudyardRipling (1063612) | about 7 years ago | (#20762227)

Let this be a handbook on the preservation of liberty unless our possessions have us thinking otherwise.

What about inside Burma? (4, Insightful)

gvc (167165) | more than 6 years ago | (#20762191)

Thanks in part to bloggers, this time the outside world is acutely aware of what is happening on the streets of Rangoon, Mandalay and Pakokku and is hungry for more information.


Sure, and I'm sure that the Burmese authorities would sooner the word not get out. But the principal role of censorship -- and one for which it is effective notwithstanding a few workarounds -- is to control widespread dissemination of the information within the population.

Consider China, for example. Sophisticated computer users can find foreign news and commentary. But the masses have successfully been kept in the dark about, say, Tiananmen Square. This ignorance helps shape public opinion and marginalize those few who have access to the information.

Re:What about inside Burma? (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#20762233)

you don't know crap. why don't you just shut your stupid gob?

And In Other News (-1, Troll)

MightyMartian (840721) | about 7 years ago | (#20762337)

you don't know crap. why don't you just shut your stupid gob?


Chinese agents are paying Slashdot AC's five cents are word to defend their regime.

Re:And In Other News (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#20762445)

i hear that linux fags pay other men to be allow to suck their dicks. fucking stupid linux fags.

Re:And In Other News (1)

renegadesx (977007) | about 7 years ago | (#20763055)

Hey Johnny, how's the new Ubuntu working for you?

Re:And In Other News (-1, Troll)

MightyMartian (840721) | about 7 years ago | (#20764479)

i hear that linux fags pay other men to be allow to suck their dicks. fucking stupid linux fags.


Yes, I guess you would hear that sort of thing when you're working as a man whore.

Oh, and I hear that the stinging sensation you've got down below goes away after the fourth or fifth application of Preparation H. Remember, more lube from now on.

China? I'm 17th Century English! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#20765177)

Chinese agents are paying Slashdot AC's five cents are word to defend their regime.

I send word to you from the Virgin Queen's years,
Touting copyright's breach in my doublet,
Tasked to endorse actions of privateers,
I make almost a shilling per couplet.

Re:What about inside Burma? (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#20762427)

"Consider USA, for example. Sophisticated citizens can find real news and commentary. But the masses have successfully been kept in the dark about, say, massive fraud during the 2000 and 2004 presidential elections. This ignorance helps shape public opinion and marginalize those few who care enough to pursue information."

Fixed.

Re:What about inside Burma? (5, Insightful)

Foobar of Borg (690622) | about 7 years ago | (#20763625)

The difference is that most Americans are under the illusion that we still have a free press.

Re:What about inside Burma? (2, Insightful)

RAMMS+EIN (578166) | about 7 years ago | (#20764925)

``The difference is that most Americans are under the illusion that we still have a free press.''

Well, I believe so, too. It's just that the news outlets are run by people who often have their own agendas. It is not hard to imagine that, in a political system where everything is either Republican or Democrat, and the Republican policies tend to coincide with the interests of the wealthy and the corporations, the news outlets the masses get their news from (large corprorations run by wealthy people) would be biased in the Republicans' favor. Just one line of thought.

Re:What about inside Burma? (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#20762733)

Consider China, for example. Sophisticated computer users can find foreign news and commentary. But the masses have successfully been kept in the dark about, say, Tiananmen Square. This ignorance helps shape public opinion and marginalize those few who have access to the information.
While your general point is valid I do not believe your specific example is correct. As far as I am aware, the events in Tiananmen Square are common knowledge in China; certainly the Chinese people I've talked to know about it. What censorship has done in this case is prevented any great discussion about it, which helps prevent it from shaping opinions to the degree that it otherwise might. Suppressing knowledge of events is really hard, but suppressing their importance is considerably easier.

Re:What about inside Burma? (3, Informative)

gvc (167165) | about 7 years ago | (#20762855)

I got this impression from Chinese graduate students I've talked to. They are generally aware that "some anarchists tried to disrupt things" but that's it. Web pages on this subject are specifically targeted by Chinese censors.

Re:What about inside Burma? (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#20763229)

I think that fits with what I've heard. What happened is known, the greater background and political context generally is not.

Re:What about inside Burma? (1)

Breakfast Pants (323698) | about 7 years ago | (#20763251)

The only reason we are hearing about Burma and we didn't hear about places like East Timor is that Burma is *full* of natural gas.

Re:What about inside Burma? (1)

TapeCutter (624760) | about 7 years ago | (#20764551)

"The only reason we are hearing about Burma and we didn't hear about places like East Timor is that Burma is *full* of natural gas." - Say what? [bbc.co.uk]

The dispute has now been settled, IMHO the 1974 Indonesian invasion of E. Timor was undertaken to boost Indonesian claims to the resources.

East Timor has not had an effective goverernment for a long time and was recently on the brink of anarchy, the junta in Burma is very effective at what it does - there is no way you can possibly see the two situations as even remotely similar.

Re:What about inside Burma? (4, Insightful)

MrSteveSD (801820) | about 7 years ago | (#20763435)

In western countries self-censorship by the media is often just as effective as organised censorship by an oppressive regime. George Orwell wrote about this back in the 1940s in an unpublished preface [iprimus.com.au] to Animal Farm. There are plenty of modern analyses of this though including "Manufacturing Consent" by Chomsky and Herman.

In some ways media self-censorship is worse than state censorship, since with state censorship the populations often know they are being routinely lied to and are not getting all the facts. In countries with a free media like the US or UK, people have the illusion that they are getting all the facts and are more likely to trust what they are told. It's not always total censorship either. Sometimes the media will give a tiny mention to something that deserves an enormous amount of attention. That way they can always say they covered it when challenged. An example of this is COINTELPRO [wikipedia.org] . You're likely to have to look that up, yet if I said Watergate, which is a story which broke around the same time, you are likely to know all about it.

Language is important too. For example, if these protesters in Burma were to take up arms, they would be correctly described as insurgents, since the definition of insurgency (in all the major dictionaries) is about trying to overthrow your own government. Insurgency is completely the wrong term (again in all the major dictionaries) for armed groups attacking an occupying force, as in Iraq. With Iraq the media desperately tries to avoid using the term Resistance (despite it being the correct term) because it reminds people of the French resistance, who were clearly the good guys. Another example is the term "Private Security Contractor". Under the Geneva conventions there is no such thing as a Private Security Contractor. There are soldiers, civilians and mercenaries. The technically correct term for these "hired soldiers" is mercenaries, yet the media almost unanimously avoids the term. Talking about Private Security Contractors sounds ok, whereas if the media kept talking about mercenaries, people might not accept their deployment so readily.

Re:What about inside Burma? (3, Interesting)

Mode_Locrian (1130249) | about 7 years ago | (#20763659)

Interestingly, at least some Burmese (generally younger people) are using the internet as a way to further their education (via online correspondence courses in other countries) since it is essentially illegal to go to college in Burma unless you are the child of a member of the military elite. Further, the idea behind this education is that they can hopefully use it to bring about social change in Burma, which need not involve the use of the internet to disseminate information.

I probably shouldn't go into any further detail about how I know this, though...

Free Burma (5, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20762193)

Get Involved in the Struggle to Free Burma!
http://www.freeburma.org/ [freeburma.org]

Re:Free Burma (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#20762345)

Totalitarian Regime
Ain't too keen
Keep it clean
Lean and Mean

Free Burma

Re:Free Burma (1)

base3 (539820) | about 7 years ago | (#20762869)

Nice--took me a minute though!

Re:Free Burma (1)

nick5000 (800669) | about 7 years ago | (#20764103)

Ouch. That link was bright.

Who? (4, Insightful)

thatskinnyguy (1129515) | more than 6 years ago | (#20762217)

Who really is being subversive in totalitarian regimes? The people or the government? The people are practitioners of freedom whilst the government employed by these people are being dissident. I say put a rifle in the hands of every able-bodied man and woman in Myanmar and see how things change.

Re:Who? (2, Insightful)

farkus888 (1103903) | about 7 years ago | (#20762253)

a lot more people will get shot.

I am all for freedom and a well armed public but a sudden change like that might get more people killed than deserve it.

Re:Who? (2, Insightful)

YrWrstNtmr (564987) | about 7 years ago | (#20762265)

I say put a rifle in the hands of every able-bodied man and woman in Myanmar and see how things change.

See...that's the problem. That would take years, and a lot of individual, personal, risk. This would have had to be done 50 years ago to be effective today.

Re:Who? (4, Interesting)

plover (150551) | about 7 years ago | (#20762639)

I say put a rifle in the hands of every able-bodied man and woman in Myanmar and see how things change.

That's the approach we successfully employed in Afghanistan. We taught the mujaheddin how to resist the Soviet invaders and taught them the principles of insurgency, which they haven't seem to have forgotten yet. And in Iraq, we sold peace-lovin' Saddam Hussein the weapons to defend himself against Persian aggression, which he peacefully used to help the Kurds avoid an uprising, and peacefully used to liberate Kuwait... and now we're rearming the Iraqi police to defend against those same weapons.

So if at any point you continue to think it is a good idea for us to keep providing arms to other people, just start flipping through your history books or your newspaper. Seriously, I think a U.S. invasion would be better than a weapons deal, simply because we wouldn't leave the weapons behind after the fighting is done.

Re:Who? (2, Informative)

Adambomb (118938) | about 7 years ago | (#20762909)

Seriously, I think a U.S. invasion would be better than a weapons deal, simply because we wouldn't leave the weapons behind after the fighting is done.
Ever seen Lord of War? Seems that munitions being left in a theater of operations was quite common as it would cost more to bring them back and re-inventory it than to simply restock. I have no idea how prevalent this would be, or whether such a cost saving measure would fly in Iraq or Afghanistan.

Re:Who? (1)

thatskinnyguy (1129515) | about 7 years ago | (#20763007)

Who said we have to do it? Get Nicolas Cage [imdb.com] to do it!

Re:Who? (3, Insightful)

DigiShaman (671371) | about 7 years ago | (#20763369)

It worked for America and establishing independence from the British. However, given what has been going on in the Middle East, our success is an exception rather than the rule.

The idea sounded great at the time. Why fight the Soviets directly when you can have these civilians do it for you, and re-gain their independence. Besides, fighting the Soviets directly *might* set off a nuclear war between us. The cold war was some scary shit back in the day!

Giving weapons to these dissidents would be a coin toss. There's no way to know for sure what will/would happen from now. They're rational arguments to be made on both sides (for/against arming civilians). One thing we can (or I hope most of us at least) agree on however, is that the oppression must stop. It would be immoral to turn a blind eye when the world is able to do something about it. Question is, what should we do?

Re:Who? (2, Interesting)

upside (574799) | about 7 years ago | (#20764653)

Errmm... Good points right up to the last sentence. The Pentagon cannot account for 14,030 weapons sent to Iraq. [usatoday.com]

Re:Who? (2, Insightful)

plover (150551) | about 7 years ago | (#20764989)

A couple of points about that. Those 14,030 weapons are among those intentionally delivered to the Iraqi police by the U.S; they do not represent the number of U.S. Army weapons that have gone "missing" or that we would "leave behind" after fighting the war (apart from arming the locals.) 14,030 may sound like a lot of weapons to people like us, (and would be enough to make Nicholas Cage rich), it's probably less than one percent of the weapons the U.S. brought into Iraq for themselves. And while that's enough to arm a fraction of a national police force or a small insurgency, it's not nearly enough to equip a standing army or fight an ongoing large-scale war.

For contrast, compare that number to how many Reagan was selling to Iran to fund the Nicaraguan Contra rebels. Just a single figure from page 50 of the "Report of the Congressional Committees Investigating the Iran/Contra Affair" by Lee H. Hamilton and Daniel K. Inouye (the count is from Oliver North's personal notebook) shows that on May 8, 1985, North confirmed delivery of 40,000 working M-79 grenade launchers. (Many other weapons were delivered on many other days including notes about 10,000 AK-47 rifles, plus other unspecified quantities of RPG-7 rocket launchers, light machine guns, and SA-7 surface to air missiles; I wasn't able to identify exact numbers directly from that report without the references.)

I'll say it again: delivering weapons to other countries may be a good short-to-medium term tactic, but in the last 50 years it has proven time and again to be counterproductive to our strategic interests. If we want U.S. weapons delivered and used anywhere else, it should be American soldiers wielding them, keeping them out of the hands of the locals. That way when we want to pick up our ball and go home, all that's left is for the locals to throw rocks and insults at each other. I can live with that.

Re:Who? (1)

ross.w (87751) | about 7 years ago | (#20762823)

Great,

just see Rwanda, Somalia, Congo, or just about anywhere else in Central Africa for a picture of what happens when you take an unpopular, corrupt and oppressive regime and add weapons.

Bonus points for describing how access to weapons helps people in Afganistan.

you mean like Iraq? (1)

arthurpaliden (939626) | about 7 years ago | (#20762835)

So how are things changing there?

Re:Who? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#20764175)

Or wait for John Rambo [youtube.com] to go into Burma on 25 January 2008 [imdb.com] .

from trailer:
John J. Rambo: You bringing any weapons?
Michael Burnett: Of course not.
John J. Rambo: Then you ain't changin' nothin'.

Re:Who? (3, Insightful)

heinzkunz (1002570) | about 7 years ago | (#20765419)

I say put a rifle in the hands of every able-bodied man and woman in Myanmar and see how things change.

Your ignorance is staggering. Those people are Buddhist, they won't touch your weapons. I really hope the US stay out of this.

no idea (2, Interesting)

hurfy (735314) | about 7 years ago | (#20762223)

I had no idea Burma was so nasty til the news blurb last night featuring those shots. Don't remember if that was a BBC or German news show on PBS. Ok, actually i didnt realize Burma still existed...

Those are mostly monks because the gov't is scared to bash a bunch of monks protesting. Despite being isolated from most of the world even the most hard handed regime is scared of pictures of monks getting beaten :) Others are liable to get jailed or worse but they seem to get left alone if the crowd is predomiately monks.

Re:no idea (3, Interesting)

archen (447353) | about 7 years ago | (#20762791)

The monks appear to be acting as a spearhead to dissidence, initially over a small squabble over gas prices it has escalated pretty far - and I believe all the monks wanted was an apology. The monks are perfectly aware at how much they are revered, and people know what while the government can dismiss any regular person as some whack job that deserved to be punished, people know for a FACT that holds no water when the police beat monk down. The monks actively tell people NOT to join them in their march. But you'll notice that while all the marchers are monks many of the people at the sides are actually shielding the monks from the police/government. In a world of senseless violence this is actually pretty moving stuff. Someday I hope that Burma will open not only for them, but so I can see pictures of the masses of monks robed in red peacefully marching in protest.

Also, I think there have been regular people protesting where the monks were actually blocked by the police, but I can't recall where I read that. Many reports seem sketchy at best.

Re:no idea (2, Informative)

ak3ldama (554026) | about 7 years ago | (#20763035)

From CNN [cnn.com] :


The agency also reported officials as saying that two other monks had been beaten to death. A protester who was not a monk had died after being shot, it quoted Yangon General Hospital as saying.

This regime has no respect for life of any sort, just the maintanence of their power. Th UN doesn't care about the nation or people either, just that the protests are allowed. Nothing is mentioned of the fact that the Burmese rulers are totalitarian pigs. The UN just wants the problem to disappear, not fix the problem at the cause.

"Noting reports of the use of force and of arrests and beatings, the secretary-general calls again on authorities to exercise utmost restraint toward the peaceful demonstrations taking place, as such action can only undermine the prospects for peace, prosperity and stability in Myanmar."

Re:no idea (2, Insightful)

Cassius Corodes (1084513) | about 7 years ago | (#20764005)

The UN is not not a coherent entity. So the UN doesn't want anything - its member states do. In this case China is holding up proceedings for tougher action whereas the US is pushing for more action. However given that UN resolutions have no power to bind nations to do its will all that can happen is the issuing of a statement or sanctions (again only if all relevant states actively participate in them). When the UN was set up it was filled with idealistic people and if the UN had real power then something might have become of it - but by now most good people within the UN would have been dissolutioned by their impotence to actually make the world a better place.

Misleading title (5, Insightful)

SnoopJeDi (859765) | about 7 years ago | (#20762237)

From TFA:

The regime stopped focusing on policing its virtual borders after a power struggle which resulted in the ousting of former Prime Minister Khin Nyunt in October 2004, explains Mr Brussels.
This sounds more like a case of the system breaking down and allowing people to slip through, not really people cracking some sophisticated censorship system.

Re:Misleading title (1)

Conspicuous Coward (938979) | about 7 years ago | (#20762519)

I think once people have any access to the internet it's very difficult to entirely prevent them accessing things they're not supposed to. No matter how good your filtering tech. The way IP works just makes censorship extremely difficult.
I think that's a big part of the reason repressive politicians, in the West as well as in Burma, are shit scared of it's potential. The internet is genuinely democratic, in its packet routing algorithms at least. This is why we need to fight against the tiered, pay-per-click internet that many politicians and ISPs seem intent on bringing in. You can bet those routing algorithms will have censorship capabilities designed in from day 1; and stopping this (or any other) kind of dissent will become just that little bit easier.

How do you fight budhist monks? (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#20762273)

I mean, they reincarnate over time, kinda like Doom on nightmare-difficulty.

Re:How do you fight budhist monks? (1)

iminplaya (723125) | about 7 years ago | (#20762583)

...they reincarnate over time...

Not if their government requires permission [slashdot.org] also

Re:How do you fight budhist monks? (1)

GameboyRMH (1153867) | about 7 years ago | (#20764811)

I think that just happens because there are a lot of Arch-viles [wikipedia.org] around resurrecting the baddies. So obviously the monks will only be fine as long as the tall, scary, fast-moving entity that brings them back to life is okay, and we all know how bloody hard it is to take those out.

Oddly enough... (3, Insightful)

NeutronCowboy (896098) | about 7 years ago | (#20762307)

The Economist [economist.com] and CNN [cnn.com] have crystal clear pictures of the protests and the crackdown. Maybe the Beeb needs to invest in better reporters? Or is this a story on how major outlets are using pictures taken by the public, because they are cheaper and more immediate? In either case, I think the story of the protest and the crackdown are bigger stories than the graininess of the pictures thereof.

Radical Religionist... (5, Insightful)

WED Fan (911325) | about 7 years ago | (#20762403)

The radical Christian blows up others and buildings.

The radical Muslim blows himself up with others.

The radical Budhist sets himself on fire, after he makes sure that no living things are around him to get hurt.

Re:Radical Religionist... (1)

dlockamy (597001) | about 7 years ago | (#20762531)

This is moderated funny..but is it?

To me it says a lot about the current state of Christianity and Islam....well the fringe but more vocal components of each of the two.

Re:Radical Religionist... (1)

SL Baur (19540) | about 7 years ago | (#20762829)

Radical people who call themselves Buddhist exist too. A particular sect I had unfortunate experiences in the past with is the Soka Gakkai.

To add to your list, a Soka Gakkai Buddhist is willing to blow everyone else up, so long as IKEDA Daisaku gets good press from it.

Re:Radical Religionist... (3, Interesting)

WED Fan (911325) | about 7 years ago | (#20763019)

I spent 6 years in Japan. I lived in Tohoku, down in Tokyo and Yokohama and did business there. As a Buddhist, I will tell you this, your characterization of Soka Gakkai is uncharitable, wrong, and shallow.

Re:Radical Religionist... (2, Interesting)

WED Fan (911325) | about 7 years ago | (#20763045)

...and, if I might add, smacks of the young Mormon missionaries that I met while in Japan. The swarmed the streets of Sendai, Koriyama, Morioka without the least idea of who the Japanese really are. Their expression of derision of the Buddhist and Shinto traditions was distasteful, in the least.

Re:Radical Religionist... (1)

MightyMartian (840721) | about 7 years ago | (#20764499)

I think that's pretty typical of missionaries the world over and throughout the whole history of the Christian missionary movements. Western governments have found missionaries quite invaluable in softening up local populations so that they can be put to work stripping their lands of valuable resources.

Probably the most loathsome form of missionary work is the "Bibles for bread" kind. That's why I wouldn't give the Salvation Army so much as a wooden nickel.

Re:Radical Religionist... (2, Funny)

sharkey (16670) | about 7 years ago | (#20762555)

The radical WOWer climbs the basement stairs to empty his own pee jar.

Re:Radical Religionist... (4, Insightful)

Conspicuous Coward (938979) | about 7 years ago | (#20762689)

Go to Sri-Lanka sometime, or any other place with a majority Buddhist population. Some of the chief agitators in the Sinhalese-Tamil conflict are Buddhist monks, and the Buddhist clergy there have the same set of backwards social attitudes as clergy anywhere else. The Dali Lama ran close to a fascist regime in Nepal before the Chinese moved in, and instituted an almost fully fascist one.

There's this this utterly blue-eyed view of Buddhists around that just doesn't tally with the facts.
Sure Buddhism preaches non-violence and enlightenment, and that's a good thing, but it's followers are as violent and judgmental as anyone else. Christianity preaches love and forgiveness while practicing violence, repression and judgment. I don't know the details of what Islam preaches but I assume it's the same story.

I have no problem with personal religion, but I don't have much time for churches of any ilk; giving any person the power to speak for God (or indeed the Buddha) is just foolish.

Re:Radical Religionist... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#20762745)

"The Dali Lama ran close to a fascist regime in Nepal"
... and right here is where you reveal such complete ignorance that it makes the rest of your post hard to take seriously.

Re:Radical Religionist... (1)

Conspicuous Coward (938979) | about 7 years ago | (#20762847)

Crap, you're right. I meant Tibet, obviously, not Nepal. Stupid Himalayan mountain states :D

Re:Radical Religionist... (2, Interesting)

WED Fan (911325) | about 7 years ago | (#20763073)

... and right here is where you reveal such complete ignorance that it makes the rest of your post hard to take seriously.

I stopped at the same point. To see his entourage, his open mindedness to science and politics, and his spirit, I am convinced that this unenlightened one has done nothing more than read bumperstickers. Had he read even the chapter of any of the Dalai Lama's writing, he would be beyond posting as he did.

Radical slave master (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#20764239)

To see [the Dalai Lama's] entourage, his open mindedness to science and politics, and his spirit,


Well, it's a good that you didn't see the Dalai Lama's army of slaves then (when he was still lording it in Tibet), because if you did you would be seriously disillusioned.

Re:Radical Religionist... (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#20764817)

I couldnt agree more. Since Buddhism originated in India, there are innumerable factual and anecdotal accounts (not available in English), of Buddhism being evangelized on Hindus by the threat of the sword, by royal fiat. bribery etc. Emperor Ashoka, one of the key royal figures in Buddhist history, was an atavistic, sadistic, maniacal tyrant before embracing Buddhism in a fit of guilt. But right after doing this, he adopted the same martial tactics in evagelizing Buddhism across the Asian continent, turning his own sons and daughters into zealot missionaries, getting his vassal kings to accept Buddhism or else...

One favorite tactic of Buddhist evangelists was to convert famous but insecure, guilt-ridden cultural creatives like artistes, musicians, courtesan women, theater actors etc, then egg them on to use their powers of public adulation and oratory, to convert sheeple into Buddhism.

Another was to exploit the fuzzy and thin boundary between the core principles of Buddhism and Hinduism. Buddhists would embrace and extend Hindu iconography, mythology etc, then subvert, corrupt or bastardize them (like re-spin Hindu mythical good guys into bad guys etc), and then present them as original Buddhist tenets to illiterate sheeple.

Of course the Buddhist philosophy of nihilist inaction simply hasnt stood the test of time. If Buddhism had not been thrown out by the Indian equivalents of Charlemagne, 100% of India would have been Buddhist, and like the rest of Central Asia (which did become antirely Buddhist), been overrun by Islam.

A lot of early history of Buddhist missionary zeal and violence has been totally whitewashed by royalty as well as the slavishly secular/PC post-indepence governments of India.

In general, IMHO, any so called "religion" founded or evangelized by a human figurehead is just a cult with a strongman followed by mindless sheeple. Such an outfit can never be a true religion that can guide its believers into true spiritual solace and freedom. As history has borne out countless times, such human-founded cults soon end up being no different than the crassest of banana republic, fascist dictatorships.

IMHO the only true religions would be those that dont have a single human founder, have no central axiomatic truths except certain basic epistemological principles which are themselves open to questioning and change. True religion would be one that spontaneously originates and takes hold in the collective subconsiousness of a group of autonous human beings, inspired by and mediated by the forces of nature. In this sence, the only true religions are some forms of Hinduism, Shintoism, Native animistic religions, mystical forms of Islam like Sufism, those of Christianity like Gnosticism, and to an extent, Western Science.

Re:Radical Religionist... (1)

cheekymatt (175255) | about 7 years ago | (#20765509)

Do you have any references whatsoever for your claims?

Re:Radical Religionist... (2, Insightful)

Spasemunki (63473) | about 7 years ago | (#20765539)

The Dali Lama ran close to a fascist regime in Nepal before the Chinese moved in, and instituted an almost fully fascist one.


Actually, the Dalai Lama was the nominal head of a medieval regime in Tibet. Though regents ruled in his place for most of his life prior to exile.

Critics are right to point out that Tibet was no land of milk and honey before the Chinese invasion. It also wasn't nearly as brutal and repressive as the Chinese would have you believe- for one thing, there wasn't enough centralization or technology in pre-invasion Tibet to have anything approaching a fascist state. There's also no compelling reason to believe that the "backwards-ness" of Tibet had much at all to do with its religious leadership; it's a resource-poor region (in terms of providing farming subsistence and a food surplus, necessary for a more complex society), land-locked, and communications with potential trade partners are disrupted by the ruggedness of the terrain and climate. For that matter, many more repressive religiously-backed regimes in the West made it out of the middle ages just fine- they just didn't do so at the point of a Chinese bayonet, and at the cost of 15% of their population.

Buddhism has its warts, as does any world-wide religion. Racist/chauvinists in Sri Lanka, war crime apologists in Japan, crooked monastic landlords in Tibet... What it also has is a strong history of non-violent resistance. The same technique employed by the monks in Burma- refusing to accept alms from government officials- is recorded in Buddhist scriptures that date back to the 3rd century AD. While acts of violence are certainly identifiable within Buddhist history and are sometimes condoned by local Buddhist leaders (there's never been any period of violence given universal sanction by international Buddhist leadership, Buddhism at the supra-national level being an entirely ad-hoc, voluntary arrangement), there is also an undeniable trend in the 20th Century of Buddhists- lay and monastic- acting as leaders in non-violent struggles for independence. Thich Nhat Hanh and Thich Quang Duc in Vietnam, the Dalai Lama and others in the Tibetan movement, the Burmese monks, the early Sri Lankan monks who opposed Western evangelism through writing and debate, the peace and reconciliation marches lead by Maha Goshananda in Cambodia...

If Buddhism is lately more associated with peace than other religions in the West, there is certainly a certain amount of starry-eyed idealism in that assessment. But, on balance, there's a grain of truth to it as well.

Re:Radical Religionist... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#20762721)

Well I don't know if they are 'radical' Buddhists, but the Sri Lankan regime blows up others and buildings in their war on Tamils.

Re:Radical Religionist... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#20764763)

The radical Christian blows up others and buildings.

The radical Muslim blows himself up with others.

The radical Budhist sets himself on fire, after he makes sure that no living things are around him to get hurt.
The radical atheist tries to use words and concepts to convince others violence of any kind is never an answer.

Power Does Not Corrupt (4, Interesting)

WED Fan (911325) | about 7 years ago | (#20762419)

Aung San Suu Kyi has said, "Power does not corrupt. Fear corrupts. The fear of losing power corrupts."

Re:Power Does Not Corrupt (1)

ed.mps (1015669) | about 7 years ago | (#20762521)

Personally, I don't agree, and Lord Acton told us other approach:

Power corrupts, and absolute power corrupts absolutely.

Re:Power Does Not Corrupt (3, Insightful)

WED Fan (911325) | about 7 years ago | (#20762991)

If you look at American politics, once a person enters politics and gets power, they want to stay there. They don't want to lose the power. They fear losing the power. Then they start doing things to stay there. I think she got it right.

Re:Power Does Not Corrupt (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#20762789)

It is important to realize that this was said by someone who has never actually held power.

So the internet is NOT for pr0n (1)

KNicolson (147698) | about 7 years ago | (#20762441)

It's for stopping people bashing the bishop instead.

Sorry, I deserve to burn in hell/be reincarnated as a dung beetle for that one...

Is there something we can do to help....? (1)

CnlPepper (140772) | about 7 years ago | (#20762471)

I'm suprised no-one has asked this question yet.

Is there anything we can do to help them? Anyone have any ideas?

Re:Is there something we can do to help....? (3, Informative)

Miniluv (165290) | about 7 years ago | (#20762633)

Yes, lobby your government to stop taking a wait and see approach to human rights violations by illegal governments in third world countries. Tell them you won't abide them abandoning legitimate attempts to overthrow said regimes if there isn't oil in the country (see Burma, 1988). Barring that? Give money to groups like Amnesty International and the ICRC who do their best to document human rights abuses by any country they find doing them, even if its an unpleasant truth to have to hear.

Governments won't help. (1)

arthurpaliden (939626) | about 7 years ago | (#20762875)

For three reasons:

  • 1) There is no oil there.
  • 2) We would have to use our own troops.
  • 3) Some of our voters and the companies the own trade with them.

Re:Governments won't help. (1)

Orochimaru (945515) | about 7 years ago | (#20763003)

In regards to your first point, Burma does in fact have a significant amount of oil and natural gas. This is sold by the Junta to China and probably the main reason for China's reluctance to do anything about the current situation.

Re:Governments won't help. (1)

yuna49 (905461) | about 7 years ago | (#20763703)

A commentator on the Diane Rehm show [wamu.org] talked about China's strategic interest in Burma as well as China's desire for Burma's energy and other resources. Having Burma as a client gives landlocked areas in southern China direct access to the Indian Ocean. Apparently the Chinese have been investing substantially in the development of Burma's infrastructure to facilitate this access. A Burmese client also gives China more leverage in Southeast Asia where it hopes to expand its sphere of influence.

Re:Governments won't help. (1)

NetNed (955141) | about 7 years ago | (#20763059)

Yea thanks for clearing that up cap'n blame the US. BTW what is "the own trade"? How the hell does that get a five?

Re:Governments won't help. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#20763087)

You may want read about the Burmah Oil Company [wikipedia.org]

Re:Is there something we can do to help....? (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#20762879)

Stop shooting heroin. Burma is one of the (if not the) largest producer of Opium in the world. Stop shooting smack if you want to hurt the Burmese Junta.

Seriously though, the only way to get through to the Burmese leadership is through their (few) trading partners - India, China, and Russia.

India can hopefully be brought onboard to apply economic sanctions against Burma. Unfortunately the Indian government seems to place more importance on oil & gas resources than on human rights (just days ago they signed a new energy agreement with Burma - while these protests are taking place on the streets), but perhaps they can be shamed into taking a more principled stand moving forward.

China is more difficult, but perhaps if other countries started threatening to boycott the Beijing Olympic games it would do the trick - hell, we did it with the Soviet Union during the 1980 games in Moscow, and in my opinion China should already be facing the threat of an Olympic boycott over their conduct in Tibet, regardless of anything that's happening in Burma.

Russia ... well ... I don't think there's much that can be done to force Russia to change their policy toward Burma. But they are a smaller player compared to the trade Burma has with India and China, so maybe it doesn't matter.

Re:Is there something we can do to help....? (1)

CnlPepper (140772) | about 7 years ago | (#20763581)

I did actually mean technological solutions to evade the censorship mechanisms. eg proxies, Tor etc...

Sounds like a good use for DRM (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#20762533)

You can listen once to a treasonous speech, but then the file is no longer accessible. Oh, and you can't get it out of the computer.

Yahoo!!! Go Bur^H^H^H Myanmar (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#20762549)

Man, I can't wait until Yahoo starts ratting out Burmese dissidents. Makes you wonder if their death camps will have a big cheery red Y! over their gates instead of Arbeit Macht Frei.

Send in the Talons! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#20762597)

The defense ministry in Rangoon is harboring known terrorists - we can take them out however the building has a 14 foot thick concrete roof and collateral damage is unacceptable.

No problem... Use the "Truncheon Implosion Bomb" to penetrate roof however must obtain sufficient vertical velocity by flying straight down...

Call it Burma (5, Informative)

spoonboy42 (146048) | about 7 years ago | (#20762611)

Noticing a tag about the name "Myanmar", I thought I'd explain the controversy over the country's name. The official name of Burma was changed to Myanmar by the ruling military junta. Since the pro-democracy movement doesn't recognize the legitimacy of military rule, they and their supporters around the world continue to use the name Burma.

Re:Call it Burma (4, Interesting)

jellie (949898) | about 7 years ago | (#20762893)

Since we're on the topic of names, I might as well add that some countries, like the US and UK, use "Burma", whereas the UN (perhaps for diplomatic reasons) uses "Myanmar". Most refer to the people of the country and the official language as "Burmese". And, for what it's worth, the name of the country actually sounds more like "Myanmar" than "Burma" - apparently the latter was a poor transliteration.

Re:Call it Burma (1)

RAMMS+EIN (578166) | about 7 years ago | (#20764879)

``And, for what it's worth, the name of the country actually sounds more like "Myanmar" than "Burma" - apparently the latter was a poor transliteration.''

Understandable. The keys are right next to one another.

Re:Call it Burma (3, Informative)

okdrdave (1138727) | about 7 years ago | (#20764985)

I second this. I lived in Thailand for over a year, working in a refugee camp for Karen refugees from Burma (I volunteered for Doctors Without Borders, or MSF for those who know). Most folks who lived on the border of Burma, or who supported those fighting for their rights in Burma, use Burma rather than Myanmar. The only people who use the word Myanmar are those who support the regime, and those ignorant of the country and the struggles going on there. I am more than a little worried about what will happen to the country when the current regime falls. There are many ethnic groups fighting for independence. What will happen when the stupid idiots running the current regime fall out of power is anyone's guess. In the long run, things will likely get better, but anarchy is a likely short-term outcome. Too bad the world is not up to situations like this and Iraq. No one is ready to truly step up. The UN is a joke. Maybe one day. . . what a wonderful dream. . .

The BBC's "From Our Own Correspondent" (1)

onosendai (79294) | about 7 years ago | (#20762681)

covered this on the weekend [bbc.co.uk] ...

The police write down the number plates of cars on certain roads. Informers watch every street corner. E-mail is restricted too - Yahoo and Gmail accounts are often blocked. Well, half blocked. For all the security and the fear, this is not a competently-run country. And it is not China. Hotels and internet cafes use dozens of proxy servers to bypass the government's crude attempts to police the internet.

The Junta will open the switch, i.e. turn it off (3, Interesting)

hwstar (35834) | about 7 years ago | (#20762963)

Just before the real violence occurs. The two ISP's will shut down, all mobile phone basestations will be turned off, Commercial two way, CB, and ham frequencies will be jammed, and smoke generators will be used to obscure viewing by spy satellites.

mod 3own (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#20762997)

Easy Solution (0, Troll)

maz2331 (1104901) | about 7 years ago | (#20763039)

Air drop a LOT of rifles, ammo, and a few artillery pieces to the oppressed.

Re:Easy Solution (1)

hwstar (35834) | about 7 years ago | (#20763139)

That might make China very unhappy. China has a vested interest in keeping the Junta in place. In fact, it might be viewed as an act of war by China if the G7 does such a thing. China depends upon Burma/Myanmar for access to the Indian ocean, and for raw goods such as timber.

Re:Easy Solution (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#20764211)

Air drop a LOT of rifles, ammo, and a few artillery pieces to the oppressed.

Yes, lets trigger an armed uprising of civilians against the military. That's sure to bring Burma some positive change.

sigh. (1)

/dev/trash (182850) | about 7 years ago | (#20763065)

There is hope for humanity, after all.

I just wish the democratically elected government would give in a little on this non-aggression stance they have. There's a time to be all Ghandi and MLK, but it's been over 20 years. Fight BACK.

Re:sigh. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#20764375)

Indeed. When you've tried everything, sometimes the answer really is war/revolt.

What's all the fuss? (1)

NetNed (955141) | about 7 years ago | (#20763097)

Well I don't see anything wrong with the censoring of crack.
Crack kills!

Burma? (2, Funny)

n6kuy (172098) | about 7 years ago | (#20763363)

Shaving brushes,
You'll soon see 'em,
On a shelf
In a museum.

Myanmar-Shave.

Re:Burma? (1)

n6kuy (172098) | about 7 years ago | (#20763563)

If I had taken more time to find a Burma-Shave poem, I coulda used this one that's more Slashdot-appropriate....

These signs
We gladly
Dedicate
To men who've had
No date of late

Burma-Shave

the monks... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#20763523)

...would rather meditate to death than be censored to death

Remember (2, Insightful)

RAMMS+EIN (578166) | about 7 years ago | (#20764987)

``The article goes on to tell the stories of how Burma's bloggers use proxy servers, free hosting services, and other technologies''

Remember this next time someone proposes to take this or some other security/anonimity technology (e.g. cryptography) away from you. These are important instruments of freedom!
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