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Slavery in Burma
July 1, 2007 6:07 PM   Subscribe

From Hunter to Hunted "In his quest to free slaves around the world, Aaron Cohen thought he’d seen it all. Then he went to Myanmar."
posted by homunculus (25 comments total) 12 users marked this as a favorite

 
Sure, it’s got all the elements of an overblown spy novel. That’s why Cohen has a book proposal about to make the rounds with top agent David Kuhn, and why he’s had dinner with Oliver Stone, and met with Band of Brothers writer Bruce C. McKenna.

I don't doubt the guy's sincerity, but the story is a little too breathlessly told...
posted by KokuRyu at 6:29 PM on July 1, 2007


Heavy reading. Very odd juxtaposition that the other feature article is about pole-dancing as a fitness craze.
posted by BrotherCaine at 6:36 PM on July 1, 2007


Isn't Rambo addressing this very problem as we speak?
posted by Kraftmatic Adjustable Cheese at 6:51 PM on July 1, 2007 [2 favorites]


The International Red Cross recently went against its own rules and publicly criticized the government of Myanmar for its treatment of prisoners. It was actually so bad they felt they could do nothing more constructive by maintaining a presence there, and that their only option was to go public.

Apparently, they like using political prisoners to find mines. Untrained. Seriously.
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 6:59 PM on July 1, 2007


derail
posted by Ambrosia Voyeur at 7:11 PM on July 1, 2007


*sigh.* When did "hunter" reverse meanings? Losing a good word is the only thing that can bring out the prescriptionist in me.
posted by Citizen Premier at 7:31 PM on July 1, 2007


The International Red Cross recently went against its own rules and publicly criticized the government of Myanmar for its treatment of prisoners.

Yeah, here's their latest press release.
posted by homunculus at 8:52 PM on July 1, 2007


When did "hunter" reverse meanings?

What are you talking about?
posted by delmoi at 8:52 PM on July 1, 2007


...and from Dave Navarro and Perry Farrell, I learned party skills that would translate into me finding more underage victims than the ICE [Immigration and Customs Enforcement] agents, State Department and police combined.”

Party skills are underrated.
posted by euphorb at 10:05 PM on July 1, 2007


What are you talking about?

"Slave hunter" and "Crocodile hunter" didn't used to mean what they do today.
posted by Citizen Premier at 10:18 PM on July 1, 2007


"Slave tracker" ???
posted by RavinDave at 10:23 PM on July 1, 2007


"Slave hunter" and "Crocodile hunter" didn't used to mean what they do today.

I'm not sure I'd call going from "pursue in order to kill" to "pursue in order to kill or possibly just bring back or do something else to" is an actual reversal... more of an expansion.

Unless it's something else that they used to mean?
posted by Many bubbles at 10:28 PM on July 1, 2007


Unless it's something else that they used to mean?

Er... That is, "Unless 'slave hunter' and 'crocodile hunter' used to mean something besides 'person who tracks slaves/crocodiles in order to kill them.'"

Since you're obviously claiming that they used to mean "something else". Excuse my phrasing.
posted by Many bubbles at 10:41 PM on July 1, 2007


Wow.
That is one hell of a story. I have friends who do human rights work in Africa and they have similar stories, but only similar - not quite like all of Choen's story.

The disparity between how we live in the "West" and how precipitice the drop to the lives of those who don't is something I'm always shocked by. I mean, we really don't know how good we have it.

There's no MeFi in Myanmar.
posted by From Bklyn at 12:26 AM on July 2, 2007


"disparity between how we live in the "West""

ummm, several pages of the article describe Cohen participating in breaking up a house of enslaved women in CALIFORNIA.
posted by lastobelus at 3:35 AM on July 2, 2007


You're absolutely right, lastobelus, I was not clear at all.

I meant to refer to crazed military dictatorships, not human slavery (even though, yes, that was a main point of the article). Also I put quotes around "West" to denote it not as a literal, physical place but as a, a, a what(?), a network of options and luxuries (whether they are even understood as such) that (among other things) help to isolate those in its embrace from those not... That's a lame definition but I hope you understand my point.


Secondly, "...but only similar - not quite like all of Choen's story..." should read "...but only just similar."

And, "precipitous" for "percipitice."

posted by From Bklyn at 5:20 AM on July 2, 2007


There's no MeFi in Myanmar.

Wait, so what do they do at work? What? Oh.
posted by infinitywaltz at 9:26 AM on July 2, 2007 [2 favorites]


Seriously, though, an amazing article. I've long been a fan of the O.C. Weekly, and it's articles like this one that remind me why.
posted by infinitywaltz at 9:27 AM on July 2, 2007


I am curious if anyone happens to know the name of the PR firm that worked with SLORC to change their name to State Peace and Development Council. They are referred to over and over again in various articles, but never by name.

There is an interesting resource over on one of the official Mynamar websites. You can read on a wide variety of subjects written by loyal servants of the government. a
Here's an example. The site is confusing to navigate but worth exploring. It reminds me of some of the similar sites that the North Korean government publishes.
posted by misterpatrick at 10:21 AM on July 2, 2007


Needs a ‘hero’ tag.

Part of the problem is that people see this as ‘sex’ rather than slavery. At least in part. There’s the titillation factor of course, but I suspect the social resistance comes from the conceptualization of human trafficking - in certain quarters - as a specialized thing. That is, it’s not slavery because it’s for sex, and so forth. The emphasis is on the task not on the state of the individual. So there is some tension there since some folks want to avoid the guilt feelings associated with sexual repression. There’s arguments for legalization of prostitution, cultural relativism, etc. etc. all that.
Which can all be avoided by sharpening the terms - e.g.: children are being sold into slavery and being brutally raped and abused daily.
That gets more of the “Holy fuck! What!?!?” level of outrage this warrants. Rather than the “human trafficking” and “sexual slavery” terms. Not that they’re not accurate, but this kind of work is driven by funding and agency focus. Lots of good work being done by amateurs, but unless they’re independantly wealthy, they’re being backed by someone. The real problem is balancing that with the level of secrecy required to do this kind of work. Granted most tourists look the same, but the folks doing the funding do like to talk about how they’re giving money to people to help these kids. And really, God bless ‘em. But y’know, stories like this are double edged.
posted by Smedleyman at 11:50 AM on July 2, 2007


Interesting story, I just wonder how verifiable Cohen's work is.

Even if it's only 25 percent true, still...pretty nuts.
posted by wuwei at 12:09 PM on July 2, 2007




Khaaan!
posted by homunculus at 3:04 PM on July 2, 2007


OC Weekly is cool but actually this piece originated with the LA Weekly
posted by nelsondyer at 3:47 PM on July 2, 2007




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