Don’t go to Burma – say some Burma activists, who then whack us for publishing a book on the place.

We’re on a “dirty list” of supporters of the Burmese military regime according to The Age this morning. Our book “encourages” people to go to Burma and going to Burma puts money in the regime’s pockets is the connection.

Excuse me, who is it that’s phoning back and emailing the stories from within the country? Who is sending back the images of what the military, urged on by the medal-dripping goons who run place, is up to? Would we be hearing about this if it wasn’t for travellers visiting Burma?

Yes, some of the money a visitor spends in Burma will indeed end up in the junta’s grubby pockets, but if you’re careful only a small percentage. Most of it can end up directly in everyday people’s hands and that’s something we tell you how to do in our book. Plus visitors are an incredibly important contact with the outside world. Go to Burma, travel around, talk to people and I guarantee you that what you will hear is “come”, not “stay away.”

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I am not going to encourage people to go to Burma. If you feel that staying away is more appropriate, then follow your conscience, stay away. But here’s a paragraph from an email sent just a couple of days ago by a Burmese contact:

People will suffer a lot if they don’t want to discuss on table. Those who have power already fill up their pockets so if the other country try to block us, it will be only our people who will pay the price for it. It would be better not isolating us.

As a Crikey subscriber and someone who began working as a journalist in 1957, I am passionate about the importance of independent media like Crikey. I met a lot of Australians from many walks of life during my career and did my best to share their stories honestly and fairly with their fellow citizens.

And I never forgot how important it is to hold politicians to account. Crikey does that – something that is more important now than ever before in Australia.

North Stradbroke Island, QLD

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