And love is not the easy thing
The only baggage that you can bring
Love is not the easy thing
The only baggage you can bring
Is all that you can't leave behind...
For the last week and a half Burma has been a place of unrest and violence. Today 100,000 people took to the streets in Yangon, marching in protest of the brutal ruling junta's policies of oppression. Until today these marches have been led by hundreds of Buddhist monks, but early this morning the government raided several monasteries beating and arresting at least 600 of the holy men; they will certainly be taken away to prisons of violence, torture and possible death. Security forces have fired upon and killed monks and protesters, including a Japanese journalist, both yesterday and today.
In 1962 a violent military regime ended Burma's brief period of democracy. It was this junta that changed the name of the country to Myanmar, and changed the city name of Rangoon to Yangon. Resistance movements around the world still refer to the country as Burma, though the U.N. recognizes it as Myanmar. In 1990 the regime bowed to international pressure and held its first free election. The democratic party of Aung San Suu Kyi scored a remarkable victory with over 80% of the popular vote. In an act of brazen defiance, the government nullified the election and detained Suu Kyi. She has spent a majority of her time in Burma under house arrest or in prison since the election. In 1991 she was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for her commitment to peace and non-violent resistance in the pursuit of democracy. She has had the chance to leave Burma to join family in the United Kingdom but refused to abandon her oppressed people.
You're packing a suitcase for a place none of us has been
A place that has to be believed, to be seen
You could have flown away
A singing bird in an open cage
Who will only fly, only fly, for freedom
Walk on, walk on
What you got, they can't deny it
Can't sell it, or buy it
Walk on, walk on
You stay safe tonight
In 2000, U2 wrote the song "Walk On" in honor of Aung San Suu Kyi's courageous life. It was released on the album, All That You Can't Leave Behind, a line taken from the song. It's a powerful, political, hopeful song about Suu Kyi's work, and calls all of us to put on love, the only thing that can't be left behind.
Though she had a brief meeting with monks last Saturday, yesterday it was unofficially reported that Aung San Suu Kyi was taken from house arrest to a notoriously brutal high-security prison, probably in an attempt to isolate her from the monks and other loyal followers.
Hard to know what it is, if you never had one
I can't say where it is, but I know I'm going
That's where the hurt is...
And I know it aches
And your heart, it breaks
And you can only take so much
Here's a version of "Walk On" with "Peace on Earth" as the intro. Notice the appropriately placed "Hallelujah" section; it's beautifully juxtapositioned to the sorrow and pain of the song (Bono as psalmist!). Full lyrics to the song are here.
Check out Jim Carrey's comments about Suu Kyi as he promotes the U.S. Campaign for Burma.
Watch this news video for a report from Wednesday, September 26.
Remember Burma. Remember Aung San Suu Kyi and her followers.