Hundreds of thousands of Rohingya Muslims live in squalor in Myanmar’s western Rakhine State. That number has been falling fast as thousands flee by land and sea in search of better lives and basic survival. Here’s a look at who the Rohingyas are and why they’re leaving Myanmar in droves.
aung san suu kyi
The 2014 election-year posturing forces me back to November, 2010, when a living parable walked into freedom after 15 years of house arrest. Aung San Suu Kyi, Burma/Myanmar's opposition leader, waved to her supporters and awakened our stagnant conscience.
Suu Kyi ranks among the elite of real-life parables. "I should be like them," we typically think. "Everyone should." They're the true norm. Saint Francis was one such parable. So was Gandhi. So were Mother Theresa, Nelson Mandela, and Alexsandr Solzhenitsyn. Pope Francis may be another. They shame our insipid, glitz-and-glitter leaders, whether they're overpaid CEOs or I'll-say-anything-to-get-votes candidates. They show us that politics is more than winning elections and business is more than making money.
In fact, they shame us all. We reward the attack ads. We elect the politicians and hire the CEOs. We diminish human beings to mere consumers and interest groups and file them into marketing categories. We breed our rant-and-rave culture and turn it loose.
In celebration of its 50th anniversary, Amnesty International has released a new song, "Toast to Freedom," recorded by nearly 50 artists from around the world.
The original tracks for the song were recorded in Levon Helm's famed studio in Woodstock, N.Y., known as "The Barn," where acclaimed artists like the Black Crowes and My Morning Jacket have made recordings and where Helm, a four-time Grammy winner, for years stages his intimate, multi-artist concert performances known as the “Midnight Ramble.” (Helm passed away in April after a long battle with cancer.)
Artists who sing and/or play on the recording includ Kris Kristofferson, Roseanne Cash, Keb Mo, Carly Simon, Marianne Faithful, Donald Fagen (of Steeley Dan), Sunny Landreth, Shawn Mullens, Ewan McGregor (who knew he could sing so nicely?) and the late Mr. Helm himself.
Have a listen to the song and read about the "Electric Burma" concert later this month in Ireland honoring Burmese justice champion Aung San Suu Kyi, where some of the "Toast to Freedom" artists will perform the song live, inside the blog ...