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THE BIG QUESTION — August 13, 2009

THE BIG QUESTION is a new multimedia project on the World Policy Blog.

Caroline Stauffer: “Elections” Risk to Burma’s Marginalized Ethnic Peoples

BANGKOKIn a field cut off from the rest of Thailand by a muddy mountain pass, 1,000 people have been living under thin tarps for the past six weeks, having fled landmines and shelling in their native Myanmar.  The tarps and wood platforms do not protect them from monsoon rains or the mosquitoes that spread malaria around their makeshift villages. Factions of the Karen people have fought for greater autonomy from the country formerly known as Burma for 60 years, but the Karen villagers I spoke with just seem to be caught in the crossfire. In the last few months, the world has turned its focus to the secretive, military-ruled state. U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton voiced concern over Myanmar-North Korea military links at the July Asean Regional Forum.  The state show trial of pro-democracy leader Aung Sun Suu Kyi attracted international media coverage, brought UN Secretary General Ban Ki Moon to Burma and garnered a new release of the U2 song dedicated to the world’s best known prisoner of conscience. In an apparent gesture to this global clamor, the Nobel Prize-winning leader of the Burmese opposition was given what for the junta was a slap on the wristanother 18 months of detention where she has already spent half of her adult life under house arrest.

THE INDEX — August 10, 2009

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