We bumped into Alessandro and Lisa-Marie yesterday. This is the third time we met them by chance on our trip in Burma. Its one of the aspects of traveling, you keep bumping into the same people in random places, sometime even different countries. The last time we met was at dinner in Hsipaw, at Mr Foods. They stayed a few days longer in Hsipaw than we did and gave us reports that "we missed the action". A day or two after we left, the Burmese Army arrived in town. Apparently there was insurgency kicking off in the Kachin state and Hsipaw is on the road to the action. So, the army stopped in town, raided the restaurants for teenagers and carted them off. That was every restaurant except the one that Alessandro and Lisa-Marie were in, as they are foreigners and it would look pretty bad right? Especially to their generals! Apparently the army needed a little bit of land-mine protection where they were going and who better to do this than a bunch of local teenagers from an Ethic minority, the Shan? We were reliably told that the army are suffering massive casualties and have turned to the local Shan population to provide thier protection. That is an army consisting of mostly Burmese soldiers and the unlucky Shan teenage kids who are force marched ahead of the Army, hitting any land-mines that lie waiting.
We knew full well that the Burmese generals, the Junta, are abusing human rights before set foot in Myanmar. But its moments like this that really brings it home that we are travelling in a country were Human rights are being continually abused. And they still are. Quite Seriously.
It also leaves me wondering, if there had been more foreigners in town, maybe even us, would this have happened in Hsipaw ?
Paddling on Inle LakeI really urge you all to appeal to your respective countries to put pressure on the UN into acting on the gross human rights violations committed by the Military Junta in Burma. And if you're Swiss, go join the UN! The UN is failing in Burma and we all share responsibility for this.