Wednesday, October 03, 2007

Peaceful vigil for Burmese people

Yesterday, I stood outside the Burmese embassy here in Phnom Penh, with about 40 other people. I had just returned from Siem Reap and read about the week-long event in an email (no such demo in Siem Reap where people are too busy trying to fleece tourists). Most of us wore red (red supposedly symbolises the bloodshed) in a show of solidarity. As far as I know, there was only one Burmese man among us, a teacher here in Phnom Penh. I asked about Khmer monks--where are they? why aren't they supporting their brothers-in-monkhood? One Khmer man told me the monks are under pressure from authorities to behave, although a few did come on the first day of the vigil (Saturday) to chant for peace outside the embassy.

Most of the people there were from international NGOs, and were mostly Khmer. A few held up pictures of Aung San Suu Kyi. I have to say that I found it all of little practical use. I really don't think the group of us made a difference at all. I think what would have made the difference is the numbers. If there were hundreds of us in red, it would make for a good picture, which would get published, which would then bring more, sustained, attention to the issue. As things stood (pun intended), it seemed like a party for most people; a chance to meet up and chitchat with like-minded friends. Still, for all it's impact or lack of, I went because I felt it was the least I could do. I cannot pretend the brutality does not exist and get on with my life. I am reminded of a Singaporean woman who told me, when I brought up the Rwanda genocide at a party back then in 1994, "You should get a job. Then you will stop worrying about these things." I assume she meant stop worrying about impractical things, things that you have no control over. (She was a consultant for the Boston Consulting Group--there's a surprise.)

Anyway, so that is why I turned up. I wanted to do something, anything, just to be involved. For all the good it did. Oh well, maybe I'll take a photo and post it online and hope the Burmese people will see that other people do care about them and are rooting for them. It really is the very least we all can do.


Details are Sketchy

On another note, a friend of mine pointed me to this interesting blog where I got a mention for sharing my troubles with the local police (I think we all need to expose their tricks and stand up to them!)

http://detailsaresketchy.wordpress.com/2007/09/18/cambodia-open-for-business/

I'm not sure who is behind this blog, but it's a really good wrap of Cambodian news. I found this story on the USD250 bounty on three gangster monkeys hilarious:

http://detailsaresketchy.wordpress.com/2007/09/29/monkey-terrorists/

USD250! In a country where the government officials earn around USD40 a month! Let's just say I'm surprised no one's caught the little terrors yet.

2 comments:

Marc said...

Dear Diana,

I will be moving soon with my husband to cambodia. My husband will be working with farmers in Mondol Kiri, a quiet isolte spot, it seems.
But I am intending to bring my sun of 14 with us, he is actual at a school in Kuala Lumpur, and continue his education with home schooling. I am wondering if it is possible to find a good english speaking teacher in cambodia, who can assist my sun with his studies, and if he would be ready to move to Mondol Kiri ?

Thanks for any advice

Chichi

Diana Saw said...

Hi Chichi,

I'm afraid I have not been to Mondolkiri, so i am unable to answer your questions with any authority. Friends have told me it is remote, for eg, access to Internet is very limited.

You can read more about Mondulkiri here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mondulkiri

For photos, check out:
http://cambodia.mellenthin.de/archives/category/traveling-in-cambodia/mondulkiri/

Re English tutor. There are many Westerners working with NGOs in Cambodia, some may appreciate the opportunity to make extra money by giving private English lessons.

Good luck! By the way, I'm glad your husband will be working with farmers in the province.

Cheers,
Diana

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