Although a handful of overseas “Burma experts,” junta apologists and well-meaning but uninformed humanitarian aid workers will tell you otherwise, Burma is not on the road to recovery after the beating it received over the past two decades. Any impartial Burmese will tell you that the country is still in the throes of social and economic decline. The junta’s new era of “disciplined democracy” only forestalls the next political crisis or outbreak of ethnic-based civil war.

As painful as it is to know all this, however, there is no sense averting our eyes or burying our heads in the sand. Indeed, the evidence that Burma is bleeding to death is all around us, in the faces of the estimated two million Burmese who have fled to Thailand to escape persecution or poverty.

…We make no apologies for believing that journalists must tell the truth, and not simply present different versions of the facts put out by various interested parties.

– Extracted from Aung Zaw, “Speaking truth to Burma”, The Irrawaddy, 26 January 2010. This article was originally published in The Wall Street Journal, with comments there too.

Beyond the clear account of Burma’s persistent tragedies, Aung Zaw provides some helpful details about the financial backing that The Irrawaddy receives (or received).

He also calls out those he doesn’t agree with, or who he feels are naive with their impressions or analysis. This is the beauty of free public debate. The “experts” and “apologists” probably wear their put-downs with pride.

But in this case Aung Zaw also singles out another cohort: “well-meaning but uninformed humanitarian aid workers”. I am very curious. Would any of them like to respond? What does Burma today look like from their perspective? I am very happy to take comments on this point, but we are also very inclined to publish any 500-800 word pieces that come from the humanitarian side of the house. I can be contacted at the usual place.