Earlier, we noted how The New York Times reported that Glenn Beck isn't alone in hatefully obsessing over George Soros; Iran's authoritarian government does as well. There's another repressive regime that can't possibly like Soros because he's working to undermine it: Burma.
The country has a long history of oppressing its people, with its ruling military junta regularly cracking down on any perceived threat to its regime. In 2007, the junta rounded up at least 3,000 dissidents and pro-democracy activists, reportedly killing at least 31 when soldiers opened fire on protesters. Opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi led her party to victory in the country's last free election in 1990, but the junta refused to recognize the election results, and Suu Kyi has spent most of the past two decades under some form of detention, either in prison or under house arrest. According to the State Department:
Burmese authorities have perpetrated numerous documented human rights violations, including extrajudicial killings, disappearances, rape, torture, and incommunicado detentions. Internal displacement and refugee outflows of ethnic minorities are prevalent. Over two million Burmese, many of them ethnic minorities, have fled for economic and political reasons to Thailand, Bangladesh, India, China, Indonesia, Malaysia, and elsewhere.
Some 30% of its money goes to education programs and university scholarships, the rest to grants for groups working on Burmese causes. Recipients include the Alternate Asean Network on Burma, which issues reports on Burma; the National Coalition Government of the Union of Burma, Burma's government-in-exile; and the Computer Network Training Program, which teaches computer skills in the refugee camps.
In the lingo of the nonprofit world, the Burma Project puts its money into “capacity building.” This means that rather than provide food or water, it seeks to foster the economic, legal and media skills needed to run a country. One reason? It's cheaper. “Relief work [such as supplying food and health care] requires vast resources that not even Mr. Soros has,” says Debbie Stothard, head of the Alternate Asean Network. Instead her group aims to raise the refugees' level of economic literacy and show them how to get their message out in the media. That means teaching about banking, taxation and how natural resources affect trade, for example, while also showing how governments can raise loans to finance development.
One star pupil of Stothard's is Charm Tong, a 25-year-old advocate for the Shan minority in Burma who's met with President George W. Bush and spoken to the UN. “We're always trying to build the new leaders; we call it the future of Burma,” says Aung-Thwin, who was born in Burma but raised in India.
Another priority is teaching English. David Mathieson, the Burma consultant for Human Rights Watch, has taught English to refugees in the camps and believes that English proficiency among the refugees is much greater than among the Thai population.
Sometimes the Burma Project's support is more administrative than educational, as shown by its work with the National Coalition Government. Elected in 1990 but never installed, the shadow government cools its heels in an office outside Washington, D.C. paid for by Soros at a cost of $85,000 a year.
Soros' group has given grants to media organizations attempting to disseminate information in defiance of the ruling junta. It also gave a grant to Burma News International, “a network of 11 ethnic media groups” that “established a website to provide in-depth news and analysis” on Burma's recent (albeit extremely dubious) elections, as well as a pro-democracy newspaper published in Thailand by Burmese exiles. It has taken credit for helping to get the United Nations Security Council take up the issue of Burma, which resulted in the Security Council issuing its first-ever condemnation of the ruling junta in 2007.
Soros himself is a member of the Asia Society's Task Force on Burma, which earlier this year issued a report outlining how the United States can “encourage reform and democratic governance” in the country. He has also signed a petition demanding the release of Suu Kyi.
Beck has made it clear he doesn't like Soros meddling in the affairs of any country -- no matter how repressive. He fearmongered over Soros' involvement in revolutions in Czechoslovakia, Georgia and Ukraine without telling his viewers that those revolutions overthrew regimes that were communist, authoritarian, and/or corrupt. Similarly, Soros' involvement in Croatia and Yugoslavia helped bring about peaceful transfers of power away from authoritarianism and toward democracy.
Beck's demand for Soros to become an isolationist seems to put the Fox host in some very unsavory company.