New Internationalist MAY Issue 411 Burma From this month’s editor
An elderly Burmese man suffering from chronic toothache makes his way across the border to Thailand to consult a dentist. A bit surprised, the Thai dentist asks him: ‘Don’t you have dentists in your own country?’ ‘Oh sure we do,’ comes the answer, ‘but we’re not allowed to open our mouths.’ This old Burmese joke has rung true for far too long. When we first committed ourselves to this theme, in July 2007, Burma had fallen out of the news. Everyone knew it was still ruled by a military dictatorship which had seized power nearly half a century ago, but because Burma’s people had been powerless to resist, journalists had lost interest. I felt it was high time for the people’s case to be restated. Then, in September of that year, the people did it themselves. Over 100,000 protestors, led by Buddhist monks, flooded into the streets of Rangoon. The world’s media were awash with stirring images from this neglected country. It was reminiscent of the democracy protests that first brought Aung San Suu Kyi (Burma’s
most famous political prisoner) to our attention in 1988. Then, over 3,000 people lost their lives. This time there were far fewer people killed, but the crackdown continues. So had events overtaken us? Was there anything left to learn, now that other newshounds had picked clean the bones? I remained convinced that the NI could look deeper than news values. And so I sought out people who were willing to speak, both within the country and the exiled Burmese community on the Thai-Burma border. The hunger for change rages within them. We owe it to them to listen.
Dinyar Godrej for the New Internationalist Co-operative email@example.com
4 City of whispers Among Rangoon’s six million souls, a few have secret conversations with Dinyar Godrej.
7 stale news is best Burmese editor Aye Chan Myate invites us into her office for a day.
8 the price of defiance Former political prisoners speak out.
11 ‘All history is propaganda’ If you are a student in Burma.
12 A shrunken world Refugees in Shan state, on the run from the military.
15 eye candy The delights of national television.
16 BURMA – tHe FACts
18 Caucus of terrorists Dinyar Godrej concludes his report: meeting enemies of the State – and looking to the future.
20 Corporate hogwash Investors in Burma have blood on their hands, according to Maung Maung.
22 sPeCIAL FeAtURe Was Jesus Christ a revolutionary? Jesus kept some shady political company. And his lifestyle has obvious radical resonance: he was homeless, averse to material possessions, socially marginal, a friend to outcasts and pariahs, and a scourge of the rich and powerful. But was he out to overthrow the state? Terry Eagleton examines the Gospels for evidence.
2 Letters Military aircraft a bigger problem than civilian; in defence of airport expansion; compassion and insight on Death Row; DU: nuclear waste with fins. PLUS: Maria Golia hears about the jinn that wrecked a marriage in her Letter from Cairo.
25 Currents Russian nuclear plant threatens sacred sea; Iraqi unions fight Western oil theft; Drop the Debt campaign 10 years on. PLUS: Wordpower and Seriously
28 Big Bad World Polyp’s take on one of Joni Mitchell’s most famous lines. PLUS: NI Prize Crossword
29 Worldbeaters We’ve never focused on a police force in this slot before but the trigger-happy brutality of the Jamaica Constabulary Force has won them infamy.
30 Mixed Media Includes an Argentinean film about a hermaphrodite, handbooks for the transition towns movement and for mobilizing to save civilization (is that all?) plus an African Scream Contest.
32 Southern Exposure Guns as art, as seen by Mozambican photographer Carlos Litulo.
33 View from Montevideo History from the viewpoint of the marginalized, served up by Eduardo Galeano.
34 Essay: Homeless in Delhi Jeremy Seabrook ventures inside a night shelter in India’s capital city.
36 Country Profile: Uruguay
AFront cover: Thierry Falise. Magazine design: Ian Nixon. All monetary values are expressed in US dollars unless otherwise noted. I