Burma – What Bloggers Can Do?

BURMA - with a little help from my friend

Photo Credits – Burma: with a little help from my friend – from Buzie @ flickr

A friend asked me – what can a blogger who is living outside of Burma make a difference to what is happening in that country?

At first, I thought that this is a difficult question. But after thinking about it, there is actually quite a lot of things to do.

I admit that physically, there is not much that a blogger can do. There are however several things that bloggers can do with regard to Burma. These are my suggestions:

Step 1 
Learn more about the country. Bloggers can learn the history of Burma by reading books in the library, watch documentaries, reading news etc. From my experience reading about Burma – there are relatively more information about Burma when the country was under the British than after it received independence. But nevertheless, information is still available even after the country and its government have gone recluse since Ne Win’s military coup in 1962. [This suggestion is not restricted to history – Bloggers can learn more about the multi-ethnic society*, their culture, festivals, food and even lifestyles, fashions and costumes – that’s right: anything Burmese and anything about Burma can do].

Step 2
Get to know any Burmese who are living in our neighbourhood. This thing is admittedly difficult for everybody to do. However, I think university students overseas (outside of Malaysia**) have more opportunities to meet Burmese people who have migrated or are in exile who may from time to time gave talks on what is happening there. I suspect that the current protests and their brutal clampdown will result in a wave of “permanent” asylum seekers and refugees.

Step3
Sign up or show support to organizations which are fighting for democracy in Burma. These can be local advocacy organizations and international organizations or their branches. Bloggers can conveniently do this in their blogs. Bloggers can and should participate in vigils and show of support too ! Also bloggers can participate in the so many internet forums and even blog postings about Burma – such as this one: Burma -with a little help from my friend; and many more.

Step 4
Link up with other bloggers who sympathise about the situation in Burma.

Step 5
Identify websites that supply the latest information about Burma and compile the information. This may be from news outlets, NGOs and otherwebsites. Again, bloggers can conveniently do this in their blogs.

Step 6
Using the information obtained from steps 1 to 5: Blog about Burma from time to time. Yes, bloggers can write about what they know about Burma; and keep writing as they know more. This is to keep the spirit of the recent demonstrations alive – even after international media outlets (may) have “forgotten” about it. (I have a feeling that this will be the case – as the latest news indicate: the military junta seems to be successful in clamping the protests and demonstrations. The junta has also barred foreign media from going in Burma. Soon the news and media outfits will “forget” about Burma when they have other current issues to cover. Hence, bloggers can fill in the gap.)

The main idea of my suggestion is for bloggers to create and maintain awareness of what is happening to Burma amongst their readers. This awareness may go a long way in pressuring the junta to acknowledge that their undemocratic and brutal suppression of democracy in Burma is not acceptable to the international community.

Those items above are only suggestions. There are many other ways in which bloggers can contribute to the cause of democracy in Burma – all of which involves learning about Burma and blogging about anything that is related to Burma.

So be a friend of the Burmese people and support their aspirations for freedom and democracy. Your help may be “little” – but a little help from a friend can and do make a lot of difference.

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Notes:
*The society in Burma is complex. I shall say that it is more complex than the society in Malaysia. Burma has a lot of minority groups – and the relationship between the minorities and the majority has been marred by ethnic rebellions and suppressions. By the way, the majority Burmese (or more appropriately the Burman) constitute about 68%. Refer to this About.Com country profile for Burma. See also this interesting post by Mahaguru 58 who blogs about the plight of the Muslim Rohingya people). I can understand why Mahaguru 58 urge bloggers to be cautious when blogging about Burma. I totally agree with him. I would add that bloggers should be more knowledgeable about Burma; and as time goes by increase their knowledge about that country. This is suggested in Step 1.

**I say this as in Malaysia, many Burmese come in as “illegal immigrant workers”. Hence being in that category may somewhat discourage meaningful contact with local population.

Related Postings
The Vivere Pericoloso Situation in Burma
Burma Now – Like South Vietnam in 1963?
Handbook for Bloggers and Cyber Dissidents
Bloggers who aspire to be ‘agents of change’

The Daily Diary of a Demonstrator
What Was Supposed to be a Burma Update
Free Burma – 4th October 2007

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