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Ehrlich: "Love, Drugs, And Politics" In Burma

"Love, Drugs, And Politics" In Burma

by Richard S. Ehrlich

BANGKOK, Thailand -- "Sex, drugs, rock and roll," may be the hedonistic slogan of young people in the West, but the repressive regime in Burma is more worried about youths involved in "love, drugs, and politics."

The American Embassy in Burma, politicians such as U.S. Senator Stephen Solarz, plus the world's most famous political prisoner, Aung San Suu Kyi, are also reasons why Burma needs to remain under military control, according to the xenophobic government.

Buddhist-majority Burma, also known as Myanmar, is an isolated land where Internet is illegal for most people, domestic media is tightly muzzled, and citizens converse in whispers about politics.

The biggest country in mainland Southeast Asia is one of the world's worst human rights abusers, according to London-based Amnesty International, U.S.-based Human Rights Watch, and other monitors.

The government's main mouthpiece, the English-language New Light of Myanmar newspaper, is now warning a new generation not to be like the previous one.

On Wednesday (June 28), it published, "The True Story of the So-Called 1988 Generation."

In 1988, the military staged an internal coup, replacing the generals who had been controlling the government since 1962.

When thousands of people responded by taking to the streets and demanding democracy, Washington and Suu Kyi saw their chance to seize power, the report said.

The failed insurrection left more than 1,000 protesters dead, plus countless others injured, imprisoned, or hiding in self-exile.

Today, Burma blames Nobel Peace laureate Suu Kyi and her supporters in America, Europe, Thailand and elsewhere for conspiring with ethnic minority "terrorist" guerrillas, who have been fighting for autonomy, or independence, for the past 50 years.

Suu Kyi's National League for Democracy Party (NLD), however, won a landslide election victory in 1990.

She wants the country to remain united, and has tried to woo armed ethnic rebels to support her, but the regime refuses to allow her party to form a government.

Suu Kyi is currently under house arrest inside her mildewing, two-story villa in the capital, Rangoon, where she has languished for more than 10 of the past 16 years.

Burma insisted America worsened the confrontation, which now includes crippling, U.S.-led, international economic sanctions amid calls by the United Nations and others for democracy.

Burma's military points to 1988 as the breaking point, and warns young people not to be fooled again.

In August 1988, "Aung San Suu Kyi and three [NLD] members arrived at the residence of the American ambassador, and held discussions with Mr. Solarz at the breakfast," the report said, referring to the U.S. senator's visit to Rangoon at the time.

After their conspiratorial meeting with students and others, riots erupted which needed to be crushed, it said.

Those who participated in the pro-democracy insurrection were cannon fodder and dupes for Suu Kyi and her foreign backers, the report said.

"It was the people claiming themselves as leaders of democracy movements who exploited the students in the unrest," the report said.

"They pushed the youths to the border and entrusted them to the insurgents, so that the artless youths changed themselves into expatriates," it said.

"Only some students, who would be useful to the colonial schemes, were brought to Western countries and helped to become dollar-earning national traitors."

Today, young people who obey Burma's strict, sanitized, hermit society can succeed, it said.

But those who join politicians demanding democracy, will fall by the wayside.

"Youths became addicted to politics dangerously -- in a way they were addicted to drugs and love -- because of their surroundings, clever tricks of politicians, little political knowledge, or a personality cult," it said in convoluted grammar.

"Not only love, but also drugs, politics and gambling could make a person blind."

Such rhetoric in Burma's media displays attempts to convince a new generation that they should not trust Suu Kyi, the United States, or others calling for an end to military rule.

"There is a great difference between the fine traditions of old Myanmar students who fought the colonialists to regain independence, and the conditions of today's so-called '88 New Generation' students who are merely lackeys of the colonialists, national traitors, and internal axe-handles," it warned.

The regime uses the expression "axe-handles" to describe people used by Suu Kyi and others to destroy the country.


Copyright by Richard S. Ehrlich, a freelance journalist who has reported news from Asia for the past 28 years, and co-author of the non-fiction book, "HELLO MY BIG BIG HONEY!" -- Love Letters to Bangkok Bar Girls and Their Revealing Interviews. His web page is

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