Our readers were shocked in September to witness the brutal crackdown on monks, civilian demonstrators, and journalists covering the peaceful protests in Burma. We decided to devote much of this issue to the situation in Burma and to the ways in which we can make a difference.
Canadians were gratified when parliament honored the suppressed democratic politician Aung San Suu Kyi with honorary Canadian citizenship, and even more gratified a little later when the Canadian government instituted its most severe sanctions against the junta in "Myanmar," to use the dictators' preferred name for their country. Still, there are some fourteen Canadian corporations still operating in Burma, thereby making it easier for the junta to stay in power.
In mid-December the United States also intensified its sanctions against the junta, and UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon warned Myanmar that the international community is running out of patience, stating that the junta must embrace democracy and stop inflicting suffering on its own people.
"I know the international community is very much impatient, and our patience is running out," Ban told a news conference in Bangkok.
So is ours.
Elsewhere in this issue we cover two humanitarian issues: the official naming of genocide when it occurs -- in this case the historical murder of Armenians in Turkey almost a century ago -- and the predicament of war resisters' families in Canada. We present the stories of three women, all resisters against the US war in Iraq. As we were preparing this issue, the Supreme Court rejected two deserters' claims for refugee status, refusing to acknowledge their argument that the war was illegal and hence immoral. However, shortly thereafter a parliamentary committee nevertheless recommended that these families be allowed to stay in Canada. Although parliament as a whole has not reached that decision yet, the prospects are greatly improved by the committee's recommendations, since all of the opposition parties were united in agreement on that policy.