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Therefore, Burma was forgotten

Hans Olav Lahlum: When Kjell Magne Bondevik and Børge Brende were in government, the answers about Burma were a study in non-committal fog talk and explanations.

Hans Olav Lahlum, historian and journalist


[essay] "You must not endure so badly the injustice that does not affect yourself," wrote the writer Arnulf Øverland in 1936. That call for the Norwegian people is still in place 71 years later, especially in relation to the Burmese people's history of suffering. Burma is a country with over 50 million inhabitants that has been ruled as a military dictatorship for 45 years, and where the population is likely to suffer even more than in Afghanistan and Iraq. Why did politicians and public opinion in Norway as well as in other Western European countries until last week overlook it?

Hidden in one of the dark shadows of the Cold War, the Burmese people, 25 years after the coup in 1962, fell victim to increasingly violent repression. No one knows how many people lost their lives in the streets of Rangoon in 1988, when opium-armed soldiers with automatic weapons were deployed against unarmed protesters. But apparently many more died in the streets of Rangoon then than in Tiananmen Square. . .

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