For those who are not farmiliar with why there is protests and resistance going on in Myanmar here are some things I saw on the BBC front page this morning.

“On 22nd February, a small group of around 25 people attracted little attention at first in the crowded Rangoon market. Then they brought out home-made posters, and began shouting.” “Their complaints seemed innocuous enough. “Down with consumer prices,” read one poster. “We want 24-hour electricity,” read another. They pointedly avoided saying anything critical about Burma’s military government.” “UN figures show that one in three children is chronically malnourished, government spending on health and education is among the lowest anywhere in the world, and average income is below $300 a year. Diseases like tuberculosis and HIV/Aids are increasing at frightening rates.

“The World Food Programme [WFP] provides food aid to 500,000 people across Myanmar [Burma] but that really only represents the poorest of the poor,” said Paul Risley at the WFP in Bangkok.

“What we’ve found is that over the last decade, opposite to virtually every other country in Asia where slowly poverty is being gnawed away at and food security is becoming more commonplace, in Myanmar there are more people living below the poverty line and more people facing food insecurity,” he said.

Towards the end of last year, prices of basic commodities began rising sharply in Burma. Rice, eggs, and cooking oil all went up by around 30-40%.

For a population that on average spends 70% of its income on food, this was very difficult to absorb. It is not clear why this happened, but the inherent distortions and rigidities in the military’s economic management can easily lead to sudden bottlenecks in the supply and prices of basic necessities.”

“Then came the rise in fuel prices on 15 August. There was no warning. Gas prices rose by 500%, and diesel – which more or less powers everything in Burma, from transport to the essential generators – doubled in price.

The impact was immediate. People could not afford to go to work, and the increased cost of transport started pushing food prices even higher.

Within days activists were out on the streets in protest. When they were arrested, the monks – who can accurately measure economic distress by the food put into their begging bowls every morning – took their place.

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One comment so far on “More on Myanmar

  1. Chris says:

    Thanks for the info on Myanmar…we plan on being near the border (in Thailand) in November. I’ve heard bits and pieces about unrest there but haven’t had much computer time lately. Now I know and will be watching.

    The Bono thing was awesome. Thanks for the good thoughts and challenges.

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