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21. Posted by Mel. (Travel Guru 4567 posts) 8y

An additional argument for not going to Burma is the safety aspect: as this link http://www.iht.com/articles/ap/2007/11/19/asia/AS-GEN-ASEAN-China-Myanmar.php shows, even Burmas big brother China are pulling their support for the junta. The signs are clear: the junta is on its way out. Only: when and how will this happen? Will the junta take the money and run, or will they make a last stand? Either is possible and when they get violent, they really do get violent and foreigners will be in just as much danger as anyone in Burma. This could happen tomorrow or next year for all we know. I don't think it's worth the risk finding yourself in the midst of a violent revolution.

22. Posted by bex76 (Moderator 3713 posts) 8y

Quoting Mel.

The signs are clear: the junta is on its way out.

is it clear the the junta are on their way out? I hope so but at the moment I don't think anyone can be clear about what will happen in Burma and what the junta will do.

What is clear is that the tourist boycott has been going on since 1996, without success, as the junta still rule - surely this proves that a tourist boycott is not going to work. if changes do come about soon, it will be because of the uprising of the people, not a tourist boycott.

23. Posted by Mel. (Travel Guru 4567 posts) 8y

Quoting bex76

if changes do come about soon, it will be because of the uprising of the people, not a tourist boycott.

Under intense international pressure, the junta announced plans this month for a referendum in May on a proposed new constitution written under military guidance, to be followed by general elections in 2010. (From : http://www.iht.com/articles/ap/2008/02/25/news/OLY-Myanmar-China-Olympics.php )

24. Posted by bex76 (Moderator 3713 posts) 8y

the burma campaign are very concerned about this as they see it as a sham referendum and a public relations ploy:

http://www.burmacampaign.org.uk/pm/weblog.php?id=P328

25. Posted by Mel. (Travel Guru 4567 posts) 8y

Yes, the Junta is not backing down willingly. The UN are not saying this referendum they are planning is OK. They and we know that the Juna are planning a sham referendum. The UN are continuing to negotiate with the Junta while visiting countries like China, India etc to make sure they are committed to putting sanctions in place to financially squeeze the Junta instead of just paying lip service.
Thank goodness for the persistance of organisations like the UN. Lets support them in any way we can.

Mel

[ Edit: Edited on Feb 26, 2008, at 12:06 AM by Mel. ]

26. Posted by jekalo (Full Member 118 posts) 8y

The new constitution will give more "legal" power to the military junta than it has ever enjoyed and will not allow those with foriegn ties, Aung San Suu Kyi, to have any elected position in the government. If it passes in its present form you will have more oppression than there is today but it will be winked at by the international community as positive change. The governing body is made up of a clever bunch of men and have spent the last 40 years strengthening their power. Do you realy think they will change anything for the better due to international pressure? By the way, the latest Rambo movie has been banned here and you can be imprisioned for owning one but copies are not that hard to come by. The more things change here, the more they stay the same. The dollar is the lowest it has been in 3 years right now and the government is discouraging people from using them. At the same time there are more western goods available in the stores than any point in the same time span. In order to put real pressure on the government, we should drop all sanctions and flood the place with as many western goods and culture as possible. Thats just my take on it but I have lived here for the past 3 years and not just read about the place in the travel guides and blog sites.
BTW, how many people have traveled to Cuba with so many people crying out for political change in that country while all the sanctions have been in effect?
Come see for yourself what it is all about. Yangon is one of the safest cities in the world for tourists and the chance of a violent uprising is very remote. Do yourself a favor and see one of the most unique countries on earth.

27. Posted by buzzard (Respected Member 187 posts) 8y

Quoting jekalo

In order to put real pressure on the government, we should drop all sanctions and flood the place with as many western goods and culture as possible. Thats just my take on it but I have lived here for the past 3 years and not just read about the place in the travel guides and blog sites... Come see for yourself what it is all about. Yangon is one of the safest cities in the world for tourists and the chance of a violent uprising is very remote. Do yourself a favor and see one of the most unique countries on earth.

I wholeheartedly agree with that strategy and those comments. Burma needs MORE tourists and more western "influences" ... not boycotts and less visitors. The reality is that the military is not going away anytime in the near future, nor will democracy as we westerners know it (or perceive it) be coming along anytime soon either. What the country does need right now, immediately, is more tourists than can support the very poor people in the country that benefit (both financially and for moral support) from these visits. Right now tourism has slowed dramatically and isn't making much of a dent in the economy. But imagine if there were as many tourists visiting Burma as the number that visit Thailand? That would be a POSITIVE thing for the people of the country.

No matter how someone feels about the junta (and I'm sure we all despite their thuggish behavior and continuing humans rights abuses), visitors can do a lot to help local people and schools and businesses and orphanages and monasteries while they are in the country. I last visited in December and went to all of those places and donated money or items (school supplies, sports equipment, clothing, etc.). Don't believe everything you read in the media: Yes, you CAN still visit monks in monasteries, and help children in orphanages, and you can talk to people in the streets and in teashops (but please don't bring up the subject of politics; to protect them, not yourself). The locals are not scared of talking to foreigners; they just won't talk politics with strangers. Unfortunately, that's the way it's always been and the way it remains. The people in Burma are so friendly and deperate for most contact with the "outside" world. I get e-mails every week from people I know around the country (Yangon, Mandalay, Bagan) who tell me how bad the enomomy is right now, especially with the sharp dropoff in tourists.

As the previous poster noted, Burma is one of the most unique countries in the world today. And despite its media reputation, for tourists it's also one of the most inexpensive, safest, and friendliest countries too. Please go visit and meet the Burmese people. That is how you can best support them and their continuing struggle for freedom.

28. Posted by Mel. (Travel Guru 4567 posts) 8y

Flooding the country with Western goods and supporting the minority who work in the tourist industry wont do anything to stop the forced labour, rapes and other atrocities being carried out in areas where tourists are not allowed to go. And the poorest of the poor will not be the ones on the internet pleading with us to go to Burma. They will be the ones we will not hear, nor see, nor be able to support if we go to Burma.
And what is the point in telling us to come to Burma and see for ourselves? The Junta are not going to put the harsh reality that Burma has the worst human rights conditions at the moment in the world on display for us.
Of course nobody is naive enough to believe the newspapers always print the truth but most would trust Amnesty and the UN to tell it how it is.
And we dont know that democracy is not going to come anytime soon. Also it is best to ensure it comes as soon as possible by doing everything we can to support the democratic movement. Try to mentally put yourself in the position those who are worked to death because they are not being payed by the Junta for the work they are forced to do because if they refuse their wives, sisters and daughters will be raped and their families cant afford enough food to sustain them during the hard physical labour.

Mel

29. Posted by wildfk (Respected Member 459 posts) 8y

Surely all tthe businesses who profit from tourism are simply the businesses that are sanctioned /approved by the govt.???

so supporting tourism in Burmah is merely supporting government lackies?

30. Posted by buzzard (Respected Member 187 posts) 8y

Quoting wildfk

Surely all tthe businesses who profit from tourism are simply the businesses that are sanctioned /approved by the govt.???

so supporting tourism in Burmah is merely supporting government lackies?

That's not true at all. There are many businesses --- and individuals --- that profit from tourism that are not affiliated with the government. That's one of the biggest myths that the boycott brigade tries to push. It could be an independent tour guide or souvenir seller, or someone that sells their products in a market, trishaw and horsecart drivers, people that work in restaurants, teashops, hotels, and guesthouses, travel agencies, etc. When no tourists come, these people either have less income or lose their jobs entirely. And they support their relatives with the income they earn.

In response to Mel, no, of course tourism won't solve all the ills of the country. But I believe it can go a long way towards making the living situation for a lot of people. Until there is a solution to the current prolbems, or some mechanism is found that will enable democracy to plant its roots again in Burma/Myanmar, I think it's very helpful that as many tourists visit the country as possible. I found it odd that so many activists want to isolate the country even further. Nearly 20 years of such "politically correct" actions and it hasn't helped matters. Indeed, many things are worse in the country due to sanctions. Ask all the garment factory workers who are out of jobs what they think of the sanctions.

I'm in contact with dozens of fellow travelers who have visited Burma and most of them either return again or are planning more trips. They meet people and they want to do what they can to help them. But the loudest protests of "Don't Go" are from people that have never visited the country. That says a lot. Sitting out home and sending petititions to the UN or boycotting the Olympics in China isn't going to accomplish anything. I understand the motivation and the sincerity, but it's not working. No, all the problems won't go away, and perhaps only a small percentage of the populace will benefit by tourism, but at least it's something. It's a start.