My fear in Burma

Posted in SharonSpeak on November 21st, 2010 by Sharon Feinstein

Sitting opposite the inscrutable man in the military cap and mirrored glasses in the small, stifling room at Burma’s border post with Thailand, my heart was racing. Even more so when I handed over my passport and began the long walk across the bridge into the Union of Myanmar. It’s not a comfortable feeling being anywhere without a passport let alone in a military dictatorship where foreign journalists are banned and dissenters met with instant arrest. My darker side was imagining a catalogue of horrors,being scooped up by the security police and disappearing into a black hole, no passport, no identity, no records, no one to find me. But we walked on, past small children in rags with cupped hands begging and mumbling to us, an emaciated man shuffling along with bare chest and bony legs, young girls pleading with us to buy their woven bangles, rusty old cars banging over the pot holes, mopeds loaded up with passengers weaving along, and people eeking out a meal with a few vegetables and pan fried rice cakes. Just across the Mekong from the lush, mist laden Golden Triangle, are the horrors of Burma where Aung San Suu Kyi is really a lone, but very fragile hope. Aids is rife and it’s notable that one of her first ports of call has been an Aids clinic on the outskirts of Rangoon. Sadly, predictably, straight after her visit the authorities told the Director of the clinic that everyone must leave. Where do you start in this vicious land ? It was exhilarating to be there and see it from inside, albeit so fleeting and so surface. But even more exhilarating to have got out, retrieved our passports and be safely back in Thailand after the one day visit. The all pervasive security police watch the monks, the students, the politicos and of course every step Ms Suu Kyi takes as did the SS in Nazi Germany. Ms Suu Kyi will try desperately to lift the spirits of the people where and when she can but beyond that I fear there’s nowhere to go in Burma. Unlike us, collecting our passports and heaving sighs of relief, 47 million Burmese don’t have that luxury. The world must continue to protest and put more pressure on China to break their alliance with the illegal ruling junta. China could make a big difference indeed.