Thursday 4 October 2007

Stand Up and Be Counted- Because Others Can't

Today this image is to be found on many blogs, uniting 'left' and 'right', man and woman, European, American, Australasian alike.

Where blogs can be free, a message is here.
I committed myself to this yesterday, as have many, but I'm afraid I'm breaking one of the rules.
The image is supposed to stand alone, in silence.

But I'm not the silent type.

We aren't going to overthrow the regime in Myanmar by doing this, but we are showing the people of that oppressed and wounded land that we are here for them. Ordinary, common people.
We are showing faith that every voice can make a positive contribution.

And that's something.
It's a start.

Because since General Ne Win took power in 1962, it's not been a happy story in that country.

But let's not leave it there.

Let's ask the harder questions.
What else can we do?

Not just about Myanmar, either.

When are we going to start waking up to the ethical consequences of what we buy?
When are going to realise, that the only real differences between Myanmar and China, is the lack of clout Myanmar has.
No one will dare bat an eyelid at China.

We console ourselves that they are becoming good free market capitalists, with a growing economy, forgiven the atrocities of Tianamen Square, because they are a source of cheap goods for our consumer society.

But where do those goods come from?

Made in China, often means made in Labour Camps.
Made by prisoners, some of them simply political dissidents.

Part of China's 'booming' economy, is sustained by a production sector with NIL Labour costs.
Human beings being worked to death.

Working in the sector I do, I see day to day, how much manufacturing has moved out to China.
So they can buy their components cheap at source from Prison Labour, package them in their own plants nearby and send on to the affluent west.

This is happening and we all benefit. But it's no better than buying lampshades made in Belsen.

We can't know how everything we buy was produced. But we CAN look and see if it was made in China.

Just as we can ask why our governments have troops in Iraq, but not Darfur.

The people of the west, united, CAN make a difference.

And demanding that Burma be free, is as good a place as any to start.


Anonymous said...

Not sure you are quite right about china being built on slave labour. Certainly don't look that way to me having travelled widely there.

However, yes of course they have major human rights issues.

I hope Burma frees itself but am more comfortable than you with the world of realpolitik.

Just remember virtually the only countries that have ever tried to do things becuase they are right are the US and UK; and our foreign policies are reviled across the world for it.

Africans would howl if we went to save Zimbabwe. the world is a strange place. give thatnks we live in one of its better neighbourhoods.

Anonymous said...

I agree with you - but we have then to boycott these goods. Did you read Hammer on this - links from Me blog!

Anonymous said...

hey they can leave china if they dont like it

Anonymous said...

Well glad you decided not too be silent. I felt a bit funny just putting it up bald and also felt like a fraud. What good can posting this do the people themselves, I wondered.

It's all very well to say boycott things made in China but they are supplying so much that is hidden to us, because they are supplying ingredients used in manufacturing by others and we saw recently how that is working out.

Anonymous said...

I have nothing more to add- good job :)

Anonymous said...

united we stand...

As you said, we have to start somehwere and sometime, so why not now.

Anonymous said...

Boycott the Olympics! What is happening in Burma is the end point of a way of thinking about the world. They have enslaved an entire nation and see the world as a resource worthy of nothing but exploitation. The same thinking can be seen everywhere. Burma is just the end of the road. Boycott the Olympics.

Anonymous said...

CityUn- China has major human rights issues but get away with it, because of who they are.

And are a permanent member of the UN security council.

realpolitik is all very well, sometimes I am all for it, you can't make an omelette without breaking eggs.

But you have to remember that it IS a means to an end.
and that end MUST be human happiness.

Mutley- I shall do check him out.
Boycotts aren't easy- you don't realise just how much is ultimately dependant on Chinese Labour.

It's a huge chunk of manufacturing.
Food is one of the few areas it DOESN'T affect.

Hitch- Hardly, they are kept in camps. I have no idea what proportion of Chinese exist in Labour Camps, but logic says it must be in the millions.

jmb- It was fresh in my head as I wrote, because I'd been in a meting yesterday morning where, as an aside, I found out the ACTUAL cost to the manufacturer of a product retailing for £150, which I had thought was very reasonable.
The production costs were £15.

Made in China.
If you know what the product was, you'd be shocked.

Princess P- We are lucky in a way that it costs us nothing to write these posts, or read them.

You might want to check out the link in my sidebar 'Are you banned in China?'
The chances are, you are.

Crashie- Exactly. The idea that people can't change anything as individuals is so defeatist, because put enough people together, and that's how change happens.

Paul- You are right of course, in the sense that, like our societry too, they see people as a resource simply to be expolited.
At least our masters are nice to us, give us warm houses and TVs and stuff.
And allow us to sit here moaning about them.

An Olympic Boycott could work, if enough countries took it seriously.
But would they?

Anonymous said...

It is always disheartening when a voice is silenced into the dead of night. Although it doesn't seem like enough, we can pray for a better day and wage peace in our hearts. We must speak up, stand up and keep our heads up.