Eugene Cho

free burma…


Free Burma!

Less than a year ago, I was crossing a river from Thailand to Burma.  Less than a year ago, I was preaching at a church in a Karen village in Burma.  Less than a year ago, I was playing and laughing with kids in a small village in Burma…Laughing and playing must be strangers to that land right now.  By now, many of you [hopefully] are aware of what’s going on with the anti-government protests in Burma or Myanmar.  The painful reality is that such grave injustices have been going on in Burma for years.  In recent days, the situation has turned for the worse.  The larger global community and governments must hold this regime and those that support the Burma/Myanmar government accountable…

From the US Campaign for Burma website: “The military is now utilizing violence against monks and other non-violent protestors. They have beaten and arrested hundreds of people, and it is reported that more than a hundred have been killed. We are tired of the international communities just making statements – they must ACT. Show your support and outrage – Take Action Now

I was first introduced to the situation in Burma through a U2 song called, Walk On which was inspired and dedicated to Aung Sun Suu Kyi, ‘leader’ of Burma who’s been under house arrest the majority of the time since 1989.  Couple friends at Quest through organizations called World Aid and Free Burma Rangers shed more light in the situation through the personal convictions.  A year ago, I actually had an opportunity to travel to Burma [via Thailand and ‘illegally’ w/o a visa but that’s another post]. One of the highlights was preaching at a Karen church in Burma (just across the border from Thailand).  I remember a conversation I had with one of the Karen ‘teachers’ in their make shift school system.  She was young, intelligent, and a believer of Jesus Christ.  She responded with these words in her broken English, “I stay because I believe in Jesus and I must fight for my people.” 

The visit to Burma was eye opening and heart convicting.  The recent events have embarrassed me as I consider how distant my heart had grown to this and other injustices around the world.  Consider the following documented statistics:

The U.S. State Department and two credible NGOs found in 2002 that Burma’s military regime is using rape as a weapon of war.

There are approximately 1,600 political prisoners in Burma, including 38 elected members of parliament.

Millions of Burmese have been pressed into what the International Labor Organization, a United Nations agency, calls “a modern form of slavery”.

More persons died from landmines in Burma in 2002 than any other country in the world.

Burma is ranked “Not Free” by Freedom House’s international reports.

Burma was ranked the fifth most repressive government in the world by Parade Magazine.The Burmese Freedom and Democracy Act of 2003, which passed the U.S. Congress overwhelmingly, found that Burma’s regime is using ethnic cleansing against Burma’s ethnic peoples.

Praying for an end to the violence and a beginning to a new democracy and diplomacy.  To learn more about the situation and ways to ACT, visit the following links:

Filed under: justice, , ,

9 Responses

  1. TN says:

    Thank you for so articulately speaking up for what is right! Even after the protests leave the world’s stage, unless there is effective action and advocacy, business as usual will continue for the Burma army, and the rapes, torture, forced labor and other abuses that have gone on for years in relative silence will continue. This is a crucial time. Thank you for adding your voice to those who are not forgetting the people of Burma.

  2. TN says:

    Articulate article about the ongoing struggle in Burma….

    Burma’s Ethnic Minorities Endure Decades of Brutality
    October 4, 2007
    by Mick Elmore/AP Writer/Bangkok

    http://www.irrawaddy.org/article.php?art_id=8891

  3. hopewanders says:

    overwhelming. will be praying…

  4. Megan says:

    This was a powerful post, your first-hand experience there really brings this home. I just wrote a few days ago about Burma and how brave the people are there, especially those working towards peace. I am praying that God will be with them all in their struggle. They are pushing through fear. Thanks for sharing your story and useful links.
    Meg

    PS – I know, hpoewanders – it does seem so overwhelming. I feel like prayer has to be my response or we’ll just feel kind of hopeless.

  5. Kacie says:

    Thanks for writing this. The more people hear, the better.

  6. bolim says:

    I’ve been amazed at the courage of these Buddhist monks to march peacefully in protest of injustice. They have been a catalyst for the wider public. I’m wondering how the church has responded to these marches and if there is the possibility for solidarity.

  7. celadona says:

    Thank you for your article. I’ll be posting the above links on my blog too. May we not be indifferent to the events around us.

  8. […] 8th, 2007 free burma… « beauty and depravity Posted by celadona Filed in […]

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Collaboration.

col·lab·o·ra·tion
kəˌlabəˈrāSH(ə)n/
noun

the action of working with someone or a group of others  to produce or create something.

May we hold our logos, egos, and tribalism have their place. May we hold them loosely for they too shall pass. May we collaborate for the sake of the greater Kingdom of God ... which endures forever. As we honor Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., don't forget the God behind the man. The one true God who deposited this dream into MLK is still speaking to us today. Are we listening?

Be courageous. Be brave.

Being invited by the King Family to speak at the MLK worship service at Ebenezer Baptist Church in 2016 remains one of the most unexpected honors of my life. On the right is his daughter, Dr. Bernice King and his sister, Dr. Christine King Farris. Walking throughstreet markets in different parts of the world is the best. Soaking in the culture. Listening to the local language and music. Enjoying the amazing cuisine. Meeting new friends. Praying for the Gospel to penetrate. #ChiangRai Blessed be the local, indigenous leaders for it is they who live in the very communities they seek to love. For it is they who understand their context and culture...better than a Westerner ever will. For it is they who will continue to tenaciously pursue a better world with hope, justice and love when visitors like me leave.

Yes, blessed be the local, indigenous leaders. What an honor and privilege to celebrate with the on-the-ground local @thefreedomstory team to celebrate the recent opening of their Education and Resource Center for the local youth in Chiang Rai, Thailanf. This was made possible through a partnership and matching grant by @onedayswages and The Freedom Story.

While it was an honor to be there to cut the cord and say a few words, this is an example of collaboration. Much love to the Freedom Story team including their co-founders Tawee Donchai and @Rachel Goble, to their staff who live in the community, who understand their context and culture, and who tenaciously pursue a better world with hope, justice and love. And of course, much love to the students themselves for they each matter. Finally, to each person that donated to @onedayswages to make this grant possible.

May hundreds and even thousands of youth be impacted, encouraged, and mentored. May they capture a glimpse of God's love for them.

Photo: @benjaminedwards Part 2 on my wrestling with the complex issue of human trafficking. In part, documenting my trip to Thailand for @onedayswages...to listen, learn, and visit one of our partner orgs @thefreedomstory. More to come.

There's such painful and poignant irony in pursuing justice...unjustly. One way we do this is when we reduce people into projects...and thus, propagating the dangerous power dynamic of US as heroes and THEM as helpless and exclusively as victims. So dangerous.

Human trafficking is not just an issue. It’s ultimately, about people. Depending on the sources of statistics, there are anywhere from 29-40 million people in some form of forced labor and slavery, including sex trafficking.

And one thing I’ve learned, personally, is how easy it is easy to reduce people into projects which is why mutuality, reciprocity, and dignity are so vital. These are critical because God never intended people to be reduced into projects.

We forget this and we indirectly foster a culture and system of victimization or worse, the pornification of the poor or in this case, "the trafficked." And when you start dehumanizing the poor or trafficked, you have no genuine desire to build relationships with them. You believe or build stereotypes in broad strokes, singular, black and white narratives that have been told about them. You believe the lie that they have nothing to teach us and are incapable of contributing to the larger society.

Lord, break our hearts for the things that break your heart. Give us eyes to see others through your eyes. Give us humility so that we acknowledge our own need to learn and grow. (Photo via @thefreedomstory)

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