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Burma and Aung San Suu Kyi

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Profile: Aung San Suu Kyi

 

 

 

1989: Put under house arrest as Burma's leaders declare martial law

1990: National League for Democracy (NLD) wins general election; military does not recognise the result

1991: Wins Nobel Peace Prize

1995: Released from house arrest, but movements restricted

2000-02: Second period of house arrest

May 2003: Detained after clash between NLD and government forces

Sep 2003: Allowed home after medical treatment, but under effective house arrest

 

 

Like the South African leader Nelson Mandela, Aung San Suu Kyi has become an international

symbol of heroic and peaceful resistance in the face of oppression.

For the Burmese people, Aung San Suu Kyi, 62, represents their best and perhaps sole hope that

one day there will be an end to the country's military repression.

 

 

 

 

As a pro-democracy campaigner and leader of the opposition National League for Democracy party

( NLD), she has spent more than 11 of the past 18 years in some form of detention under Burma's

military regime.

 

In 1991 she was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for her efforts to bring democracy to Burma.

 

At the presentation, the Chairman of the Nobel Peace Prize Committee, Francis Sejested, called her

"an outstanding example of the power of the powerless".

 

After a period of time overseas, Aung San Suu Kyi went back to Burma in 1988.

 

House arrest

 

Soon after she returned, she was put under house arrest in Rangoon for six years, until she was

released in July 1995.

 

 

She was again put under house arrest in September 2000, when she tried to travel to the city of

Mandalay in defiance of travel restrictions.

 

She was released unconditionally in May 2002, but just over a year later she was put in prison

following a clash between her supporters and a government-backed mob.

 

Following a gynaecological operation in September 2003, she was allowed to return home - but

again under effective house arrest.

 

 

During these periods of confinement, Aung San Suu Kyi has busied herself studying and exercising.

 

She has meditated, worked on her French and Japanese language skills, and relaxed by playing Bach

on the piano.

 

In more recent years, she has also been able to meet other NLD officials, and selected visiting

diplomats like the United Nations special envoy Razali Ismail.

 

But during her early years of detention, Aung San Suu Kyi was often in solitary confinement - and

was not even allowed to see her two sons or her husband, the British academic Michael Aris.

 

 

I could not, as my father's daughter, remain indifferent to all that was going on

Aung San Suu Kyi, 1988

 

 

In March 1999 she suffered a major personal tragedy when her husband died of cancer.

 

The military authorities offered to allow her to travel to the UK to see him on his deathbed, but she

felt compelled to refuse for fear she would not be allowed back into the country.

 

Aung San Suu Kyi has often said that detention has made her even more resolute to dedicate the

rest of her life to represent the average Burmese citizen.

 

The UN envoy Razali Ismail has said privately that she is one of the most impressive people he has

ever met.

 

Overseas life

Much of Aung San Suu Kyi's appeal within Burma lies in the fact she is the daughter of the country's

independence hero General Aung San.

 

He was assassinated during the transition period in July 1947, just six months before independence.

 

Aung San Suu Kyi was only two years old at the time.

 

In 1960 she went to India with her mother Daw Khin Kyi, who had been appointed Burma's ambassador to Delhi.

 

Four years later she went to Oxford University in the UK, where she studied philosophy, politics and

economics. There she met her future husband.

 

After stints of living and working in Japan and Bhutan, she settled down to be an English don's

housewife and raise their two children, Alexander and Kim.

 

 

Aung San Suu Kyi won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1991

But Burma was never far away from her thoughts.

 

When she arrived back in Rangoon in 1988 - initially to look after her critically ill mother - Burma

was in the midst of major political upheaval.

 

Thousands of students, office workers and monks took to the streets demanding democratic reform.

 

"I could not, as my father's daughter remain indifferent to all that was going on," she said in a

speech in Rangoon on 26 August 1988.

 

Aung San Suu Kyi was soon propelled into leading the revolt against then-dictator General Ne Win.

 

Inspired by the non-violent campaigns of US civil rights leader Martin Luther King and India's

Mahatma Gandhi, she organised rallies and travelled around the country, calling for peaceful

democratic reform and free elections.

 

But the demonstrations were brutally suppressed by the army, who seized power in a coup on 18

September 1988.

 

The military government called national elections in May 1990.

 

Aung San Suu Kyi's NLD convincingly won the polls, despite the fact that she herself was under

house arrest and disqualified from standing.

 

But the junta refused to hand over control, and has remained in power ever since.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Burmese Junta Sets Curfew to Combat Protests

 

 

 

By SETH MYDANS

Published: September 25, 2007

BANGKOK, Sept. 25 — The government in Myanmar imposed a dusk-to-dawn curfew in the two

major cities of Yangon and Mandalay this evening and said they would be placed under the control of

local military commanders, after tens of thousands of Buddhist monks and supporters defied a

warning by the authorities and held an eighth day of peaceful antigovernment protests.

 

For the first time since protests began on Aug. 19, the government began to issue warnings and to

move security forces into positions in Yangon, the largest city and former capital. Witnesses said

they saw truckloads of soldiers apparently moving into position in Yangon.

 

It was the most ominous situation that the protesters had seen during a month of demonstrations

that began after a sharp fuel price increase in mid-August. The protests have swelled into a huge

outpouring that has filled the streets of several cities, although as evening fell today the day’s

protests dispersed without incident.

 

Official vehicles were on patrol calling on monks to return to their temples, inserting a government

presence into streets that had been largely given over to huge waves of protesters. “People are not

to follow, encourage or take part in these marches,” the announcements said. “Action will be taken

against those who violate this order.”

 

In its later announcement, the government said Yangon and Mandalay would be under the control of

the local military commanders for 60 days.

 

Diplomats in Yangon said uniformed security personnel were moving discreetly into the city, where

they had not been visible in past days.

 

According to one report, five army trucks, each capable of carrying 50 soldiers, were parked less

than a kilometer from City Hall and the Sule Pagoda, which has been one gathering place for

demonstrators.

 

The plaza between the two buildings was the scene of the first killings in 1988, when the

government crushed a similar pro-democracy protest at the cost of as many as 3,000 lives.

 

Reuters reported that an ethnic militia that has been fighting a decades-long guerrilla war said that

government troops had been withdrawn from their remote jungle area.

 

“The government has ordered the 22nd Division troops to pull out of Karen state and return to

Yangon,” Colonel Nerda Mya of the Karen National Union told the news agency. “We believe the

troops will be used as in 1988.”

 

Troops from remote areas, unfamiliar with current events in the big cities, were deployed at that

time in the killings of civilians.

 

There were also concerns that the government might use provocateurs to stir violence and justify a

crackdown, as it did in 1988. The Burma Campaign UK said its sources had reported the junta

ordering large numbers of maroon monastic robes and telling soldiers to shave their heads, possibly

to infiltrate the monks.

 

Soe Aung, a spokesman for the National Council of the Union of Burma, a coalition of opposition

groups based in Thailand, assessed the position of the Burmese junta.

 

“They are in a difficult situation,” he said. “Can their troops be relied on when the situation becomes

critical? What happened in 1988 was that they called in troops from remote areas and then staged

unrest and told the soldiers they were followers of the Communist Party of Burma.”

 

According to reports from inside Myanmar, which is mostly closed to foreign reporters, the cheers

and the vigor of the day’s demonstrations were as strong as ever, but with a new sense of

trepidation over the possibility of a violent crackdown.

 

Some of the monks reportedly carried small banners that summarized the grievances of the public:

“Sufficiency in food, clothing and shelter, national reconciliation, freedom for all political prisoners.”

 

 

The government-controlled press broke its silence on the week of protests by monks and their

supporters, warning them to go home.

 

On Monday, the head of the official Buddhist organization, the Sangha, directed monks to confine

themselves to learning and propagating the faith. It said young monks were being “compelled by a

group of destructive elements within and without to break the law,” according to The New Light of

Myanmar, an official newspaper.

 

It also quoted the religious affairs minister, Brig. Gen. Thura Myint Maung, as saying that protests

by monks had also spread to cities like Mandalay, Hinthada and Monywa in seven of the 14 states

and divisions.

 

In televised comments on Monday night, he told religious leaders to restrain the protesting monks or

face unspecified action against them by the government. The minister was quoted by the newspaper

as saying these “destructive elements” included the political party led by Aung San Suu Kyi, the

democracy advocate who is being held under house arrest; remnants of the now-defunct Communist

Party; and some foreign radio stations.

 

“The authorities concerned are handling the current situation with care and the least mistakes,” he

said.

 

Foreign governments and human rights groups warned of possible bloodshed. “The regime has a long

history of violent reactions to peaceful demonstrations,” Gareth Evans, head of the International

Crisis Group, said in a statement.

 

“If serious loss of life is to be averted, those United Nations members with influence over the

government are going to have to come together fast,” he said in an allusion to China, Russia and

India.

 

China, the nation with the most influence over Myanmar because of its trade and economic ties,

today repeated its public stance of noninterference in Myanmar’s internal affairs.

 

 

 

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has anyone been following this?

i truly hope something positive can come out of this latest protest

but im afraid without international help it will become a bloodbath.

 

if they can get the help of the people as well perhaps the soldiers will lay down their guns

but usually the soldiers brought to fight protests are from far away and have no family

members in the area so less guilt when gunning them down.

 

any thoughts?

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BUDDHISM

Buddhism is non-violent, non-dogmatic and meditative

Not centred on a god

Aimed at gaining insight into life's true nature

Two schools: Theravada (S, SE Asia) focuses on freedom from craving and suffering

Mahayana (NE Asia) emphasises helping others achieve that freedom

Burmese observe the Theravada school

 

 

 

Burma's saffron army

By Sarah Buckley

BBC News

 

 

Monks command such respect in Burma because some 80-90% of the country's population is

Buddhist, and even those who do not choose to become a "career" monk usually enter the orders for

short periods of their lives, giving the monasteries a prominent role in society.

 

There is a monastery in every village, according to Myint Swe of the BBC Burmese service, and

monks act as the spiritual leaders of that community.

 

They give religious guidance and perform important duties at weddings and funerals.

 

 

 

Many children are sent to monasteries for a cheap education

 

In return for these duties, they are given donations by laymen. As they are forbidden from handling

cash, they are completely reliant on these handouts. Each full moon day, they are also given

donations such as robes.

 

If they refuse these handouts, they are denying the donor the potential to earn spiritual "credit" -

"the strongest possible penalty that can be expected from a Buddhist", said Myint Swe.

 

That is why the announcement by the monks currently protesting in Burma that they would refuse

all donations from the ruling military - most of whom would be Buddhist themselves - was so

powerful, he said.

 

"The government wants the image that they are pious and helping the monks," he said.

 

Monastery 'holidays'

 

There are 400,000-500,000 professional monks in a country of 53 million people, but many more

laymen worship alongside the monks for a few weeks at a time throughout their lives in order to

earn spiritual credit.

 

Myint Swe said he had himself entered the monasteries three times in his adult life, on each

occasion for just a few weeks.

 

"Buddhism is very individualistic - you have to work for your own liberation," said Aung Kin, a

Burmese historian.

 

A monastery not only provides spiritual guidance, but also fulfils a practical role in Burmese society.

 

 

Entering a monastery as a child - or novice - is a cheap way of gaining an education. Although

education is free in Burma, extras such as uniforms may still prove a struggle for impoverished

families.

 

And some parents choose to send their children during the school holidays, while they are out at

work, Myint Swe said.

 

Those who choose to adopt Buddhism as a career often do so for financial reasons, Mr Aung Kin

said, with donations collected by the monks shared with family members.

 

In return, however, prospective monks have to pass religious exams and agree to adhere to more

than 220 restrictions.

 

Burmese monks not only play a spiritual role, but also have a history of politicisation. They have

been at the forefront of protest against unpopular authorities, from British colonial power in the

1930s to the last pro-democracy campaign in 1988.

 

 

Burma's monks have a history of politicisation

 

Their political role stems from the days of the Burmese monarchy, which operated until the late

19th century, under which monks worked as intermediaries between the monarch and the public, and

lobbied the king over unpopular moves such as heavy taxation, said Mr Aung Kin.

 

They became more confrontational during colonial times, in protest at the failure of foreigners to

remove their shoes in pagodas, he said.

 

But the historian stressed that only about 10% of Burma's monks are politicised, and many of the

monasteries may be unaware of the scale of the agitation currently under way in the country.

 

If fully mobilised, however, the monks would pose a major challenge to the military, and their

moral position in society could embolden many more people to join the protests.

 

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has anyone been following this?

i truly hope something positive can come out of this latest protest

but im afraid without international help it will become a bloodbath.

 

if they can get the help of the people as well perhaps the soldiers will lay down their guns

but usually the soldiers brought to fight protests are from far away and have no family

members in the area so less guilt when gunning them down.

 

any thoughts?

 

Yes, we've been following this on radio and internet information sources. Very complete and comprehensive posts and thread, serum.

 

The government police have already infiltrated the protectors by shaving their heads and posing as monks, which then attack and provoke the police so that the police have a reason to fire on the crowd. Dirty shit.

 

pronunciation note: Ky is the Ch sound as in the word choose. Her name sound like Sue Chee. In Burma (Myanmar) her name is never spoken but refered to as "The Lady".

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i really hope that China can step in and prevent a bloodbath. It would help them immeasurably human rights wise and deflect attention, which is really important for them since they've been working so hard image-building- olympics mainly.

 

non-violence as protest can be really effective. Months ago, we talked about Palestinians doing this, and I think they should notice how positively the monks are being perceived internationally, for example, the fact that civilians use their bodies to protect the monks . I doubt there is anyone supporting the junta.

 

Hope it ends peacefully.

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im glad that some people are following this. i was worried the grey alien thread was going to

get more responses.

 

i respect the chinese as a culture but as a country they deserve a kick in the ass.

they want to be apart of the rest of the world yet they feel the need to support all

repressive regimes such as north korea and burma.

 

i recently read that russia and china vetoed the idea of the UN going into burma and

keeping peace. I feel that that the UN was exactly what the monks wanted.

someone else to come take a look at how desperate they were.

if i had the money id love to go over there and take pictures of the protests.

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THURSDAY, 27 SEPTEMBER

 

It is 14:30 now and the riot police and army are trying to disperse the crowds on the street. At

about 12:30 the whole street was filled with demonstrators. Then the soldiers started to shoot and

use tear gas and then they charged with batons and took away some of the protesters. I heard that

one person was killed. The crowds were yelling at the soldiers "your task is not to kill us citizens".

At about 14:00 about the soldiers advanced towards the road in front of our office shouting through

a loudspeaker at the crowds to disperse. The demonstrators went away, probably to another part of

the town. There were only about 12 monks leading them. Similar things are happening in other parts

of the town where there are protests. There are soldiers in almost all strategic parts of the town

trying to disperse the crowd. There is a little restraint still as they give warnings before doing

anything and the people have some time to disperse. I hope that things will get better without more

bloodshed. Anonymous Rangoon resident

 

They're beating the crowd in front of Traders Hotel. Around 2,000 were taking part in a peaceful

demonstration. There were also monks and people sat down to pay respect. They started the beating

as the people sat down to bow. Tear gas were used again. Someone saw 20 trucks full of soldiers

heading towards downtown. The junta has begun a full scale war against innocent civilians. Sai,

Rangoon

 

There are many deaths on the streets of Rangoon. There were many deaths by gun-shots but the

military is taking away the bodies so that they can hide their inhumane violence on civilians. Now

even spectators on the streets, who are not involved in the protests are being shot at. Wai, Rangoon

 

 

I live near the Ngwe Kyar Yan monastery in south Okkalapa. They came to the monastery last night.

Only 20 monks escaped out of 200. One monk from this monastery passed away at the

demonstration yesterday. The soldiers came at the middle of the night and beat up the monks. The

head monk and the other 19 escaped. They beat the monks and loaded them onto a truck like

animals. We could hear gunshots, screams and shouting. Soldiers shouted that they are not just

going to shoot in the air, but also on people. Anonymous eyewitness, Rangoon

 

 

 

From the BBC Burmese Service: (At a monastery at midnight) The soldiers ran up to the first floor

of the monastery and grabbed the head monk by the neck and dragged him downstairs. They beat

up the other monks with batons and sticks. They kicked the sleeping novices to wake them up and

ask them if any monks are hiding. The novices are shaking with fear. It is as if they are raiding a

rebel camp. Anonymous eyewitness, Rangoon

 

It's heartbreaking to witness what is happening now. The military have used some force but not at

their full potential. They want to scare the people by using force and if protesters don't back down

they will step up their actions. It is very important that we do not back down. Once the protests

fizzle out, the government will have its chance and all will be put in jail. The state media blames

the people for using violence. Well, we just threw stones at them for beating the monks. It's hard to

believe that Buddhist solddiers would attack Buddhist monks. The people are angry and sacred, but

hopeful. The future of Myanmar (Burma) depends on China. I would like China to restate it's policy

of not interfering with internal affairs of other countries. We are in a difficult position. We either go

to democracy or back to military dictatorship. Samson, Rangoon

 

 

From the BBC Burmese Service: (At around 14:00 local time when soldiers started shooting into the

crowd) They have shot several times into the crowd, one person was injured, they used tear gas.

Now the injured person is being carried into a car to be taken to hospital. They (the soldiers) are

using force on us. Anonymous eyewitness, Rangoon

 

 

WEDNESDAY, 26 SEPTEMBER

 

There are a lot of people in the emergency ward in the hospital and people are dying there. One

witness told me that there were three monks that were brought in by a taxi driver and one of the

monks died at the table - the other two are in a critical condition. A lot of other people are severely

injured. Thian, Rangoon

 

 

Thian's account of turmoil in Rangoon

 

At about 10 o'clock the riot police blocked the road, but the monks pushed through the blockade and

climbed the Shwedagon pagoda from the eastern side. After eating there, they came down from the

pagoda about noon, in a line. At that point they were rounded up and charged with batons by the

police. The monks responded merely by reciting prayers. People fled from the scene and it was

mainly women who were targeted and beaten. The mob was dispersed and some people were

arrested. Near the eastern stairway, tear gas was used to disperse the crowd. The monks - together

with monks from Thingangyun - are said to march towards downtown. About thirty monks were

badly hurt and hospitalised. Anonymous eyewitness, Rangoon

 

 

 

 

I just talked to my sister, who lives in Rangoon. She knows someone at the local hospital in

Rangoon. They have been treating three monks, who were taken to the hospital by responsible taxi

drivers. The monks had been beaten up with the back of rifles. One monk had a deep wound

exposing his brain, and he has already died. The other two are being treated under intensive care.

Many more people died today, but there is no information about it. Many taxi drivers who are at

the site of the violence take injured monks to nearest hospitals. The junta are using dirty tactics -

they don't fire guns, but beat people with the back of their rifles. The monks defiantly did not fight

back, endured the pain and died. Anonymous Burmese woman

 

At 13:00 a silent and orderly line of several thousand monks has passed at the bottom of the street

where my office is located. Not a sound from them, a calm and determined march. Traffic blocks

up, buses and taxis open their doors, people stream out and go towards the marchers at an

unusually quick pace. People just leave their cars at the side of the road. At the same time, while

the sun is burning down, there are huge dark-grey clouds in the sky and loud thunder cracks over

their heads. Win, Rangoon

 

From the BBC Burmese Service: When monks and people reached the mid-level platform of the

Shwedagon Pagoda around 12:20 PM, they closed the doors behind and riot police started to chase

them and beat them up. Then about 200 were hauled off onto the trucks and driven away. About 80

monks were taken away. Anonymous eyewitness, Rangoon

 

Police were beating monks and nuns in Shwedagon Pagoda this morning and then putting them onto

trucks. There were two prison vans and two fire engines. More army and police forces are in

Kandawgyi park near Shwedagon Pagoda. Armed forces and plain-clothes police are to be seen in

many other important places in Rangoon. People have been waiting at Sule Pagoda since early in

the morning, and there are six army trucks near the City Hall, but I haven't seen any soldiers. The

uniformed and plain-clothes police in front of the City Hall hold photos of monks leading the

protests. We heard that over 50 monks and many students were arrested. Cherry, Rangoon

 

Now the military junta is reducing the internet connection bandwidth and we have to wait for a long

time to see a page. Security forces block the route of demonstrations. Yesterday night, the junta

announced to people in Rangoon and Mandalay not to leave their houses 9:00 PM to 5:00 AM. I think

if the junta decides, they will cut off communication such as internet and telephone lines so that no

information can be leaked to the outside world. David, Rangoon

 

Riot police and soldiers are beating monks and other protesters at the east gate of Shwedagon

Pagoda. They are starting a crackdown by all means. Police forces are stationed at Sule Pagoda as

well. Regardless of this, just after noon, about 1000 monks from a nearby monastery started a

march to the Shwedagon Pagoda. Thila, Rangoon

 

TUESDAY, 25 SEPTEMBER

 

At 11.30am, after a few moments of prayer at the Shwedagon Pagoda, the procession started. The

number of marchers quickly swelled as other monks and groups joined having walked from different

parts of the city. Many others formed a human chain on either side of them. Robert, Rangoon

 

 

Robert's account

 

This is a precious chance to let the world know about what's inside Burma. I haven't seen the

protests yet. My family does not allow me to go out when the protests are in progress. Everything I

know I've heard it from my relatives who live in the town centre. They have witnessed UN officials,

students, foreigners, some Muslim, Chinese and Indian people taking part in the protest. I saw a

truck full of police with guns, which looked like AK47. There also is an announcement in every

township of Rangoon warning people not to get involved in protests. We are really motivated by the

protests. I believe in the power of people. The military junta has been making us miserable for

nearly two decades. Enough is enough. This really is the right time for the Burmese people to be

united. But most people are still silent. We need good leadership and a good leader. Yi, Rangoon

 

 

 

Protesters have defied warnings from the military government

We don't know what will happen today, we are waiting to see how the situation develops. The junta

announced that they will suppress the demonstrations whether by civilians or monks, anyone who

disobeys their orders. We have suffered for a long time under the wicket junta. We are so afraid of

them and cannot say what we think of feel. We respect our Buddhist monks very much. Our country

has many natural resources but we are very poor. We are a disgrace in the whole world because of

our rulers. But we hope for a golden future. We hope for the freedom of Aung San Su Kyi. Kyi,

Rangoon

 

Today the city is quiet and people go to work as normal. There are lots of rumours, but for the time

being everything is calm. People are anxious to see what's going to happen. According to the

government's warnings, today could be a big day. China is key. The US have announced new

sanctions, but this is nothing. Burmese people do not welcome them and do not care about them.

They want help, not sanctions. If the US wants to make a change here, they should threaten that if

China continues its support for the Burmese military, they won't take part in the Olympics.

Everything else is a joke. Michel, Rangoon

 

From the BBC Burmese Service: The order (by the regime to people not to come out on the streets)

is not justified. If it were a just order, we would be ready to abide by it. But we cannot accept any

unjustified laws. We will resist it. Student protester, Rangoon

 

From the BBC Burmese Service: About 700 students are taking part in protests today. Some

students are in the middle of exams at this time. But they have left their exam rooms and come

out the streets to joining hands with the public and to fight for the country under the guidance of the

monks. Student protester, Rangoon

 

This morning, government agents warned people by loudspeakers on the streets not to look, not to

follow, not to encourage and not to participate in demonstrations. But a group of monks and

ordinary people came out on the streets in the afternoon and headed towards the Sule Pagoda. A

well-known poet gave a speech to the crowd and they continued their march. But I think that the

participants are half the number they were yesterday. Some people are worried and they are

thinking carefully about the crisis that may be created by a junta response. Cherry, Rangoon

 

I walked with the monks, nuns and students all the way from Shwedagon to Sule, then to the

former Secretariat building, then walked pass Kandawgalay. Then we went to the Royal Lake and

walked pass Aung San bronze statute. We started at 1 PM and finished at 5 PM at Shwedagon east

gate. It was very moving. People went all the way and some were in tears. I wasn't worried that

there might be a crackdown. Gradually I got some energy and was just not afraid to proceed. Win,

Rangoon

 

 

MONDAY, 24 SEPTEMBER

 

I witnessed the big protests in Rangoon today. I am really sorry for our country and our people

because we are under the control of the wicked junta. We haven't got arms, we wish for peace, a

better future and democracy. We are hoping that the UN security council will put a pressure on the

junta. Kyi Kyi, Rangoon

 

I saw more than 100,000 monks marching today. I'm not sure where the protests will lead to. This

situation could get worse. We want some changes in Burma, but we want these changes leading to a

better future. Sun, Rangoon

 

 

I saw about 40,000 to 50,000 people, including monks, nuns and ordinary people, marching along

Prome road. That was at around 3:30pm. The protests will grow bigger day by day and I hope that

they are not going to start killing people. We need help to save our people. Mr Tun, Rangoon

 

 

It is astounding to see such a great mass of people on both sides of the roads, some clapping and

some crying, but all demonstrating their support for the monks and those chanting prayers. It's for

sure that all these people showing their support are willing to be part of the mass protest. They do

not trust the government though and think that they could be crushed, just like it happened in 1988.

But if we are just bystanders, today's rare and momentous events might not lead to the fall of the

regime. Kyaw, Rangoon

 

I am not sure where these protests are going to lead to, but I am sure that it's not at all a good

sign. Many people are expecting that there will be a great change coming soon. I am not sure if the

monks will be joined by students, workers, or even soldiers. We are very insecure because we don't

know what the government is planning to do. There are some news in the government-controlled

newspapers that the monks are trying to agitate the public. This can be a big excuse for them to

start attacking the monks. I really want some changes in Burma but I am not sure where the change

is going to lead us to. I hope there won't be any blood bath this time like there was in 1988. Soe

Soe, Mandalay

 

The current situation can lead to civil war because the junta still holds the power and the opposition

might use this opportunity to form an armed struggle. We want things to change peacefully, not

through a civil war. But if there's no way to avoid the arms struggle, the people will choose it and

the conditions in our poor country may become worse. The international pressure, including from

China and Russia, is very important for the future of Burma at this moment. Mg Khar, Rangoon

 

 

One of the monks who took part in the protests came to us and told us about his experiences. He

said: "We are not afraid, we haven't committed a crime, we just say prayers and take part in the

protests. We haven't accepted money from onlookers although they offered us a lot. We just accept

water. People clapped, smiled and cheered us." The monk seemed very happy, excited and proud.

But I'm worried for them. They care for us and we pray for them not to get harmed. Mya, Rangoon

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non-violence as protest can be really effective.

 

non violence can work in certain situations,

in this situation however, i think mass violence directed towards the government would have the best effect.

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i dont know. the military spends 50 percent gdp on weapons. the most revered social class in the country are pacifists. who would lead a military campaign against the military govt. ? the legacy of non violence in the country imo is too strong to have an effective military campaign.

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i dont know much about burmese history but i believe that there were a few

minorities such as the karen and a few others that were fighting the present

leaders but alot of them got their money for their rebellion from opium.

that ofcourse lead to the US government supporting the leaders of myanmar

and squashing the rebellion. we always support the bad guys.

 

i truly respect a pacifist rebellion but they need major backing from international help.

i hate when i hear bush giving his bullshit speeches on taking out dictators when really all

he wanted was oil and a puppet government. since theres not much that anyone wants from

there people just say hey thats gross human rights violations but then go back to their

lives the next day. it would be a shame for aung san to give up her life waiting for others

to help and for nothing to change. it reminds me of free tibet posters at lallapaloozer 10 years

ago and tibet is now almost all chinese with a super train already installed to make the

place a tourist trap. who cares about tibet now? people are fucked

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True, there are a lot of non Bumah people there fighting for freedom in a militant manner, funded by questionable means. However, Brother Malcolm's, "By any means necessary" is also true and necessary.

 

non violence can work in certain situations,

in this situation however, i think mass violence directed towards the government would have the best effect.

 

I basically agree with Qawee. This is general and brief, but the basic idea.

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Where the world stands on Burma

As governments around the world consider how to respond to the protests in Burma, the BBC News

website looks at the aims and influence of key Western and Asian players.

 

ASEAN

Relationship: The Association of South East Asian Nations (Asean) has in the past appeared reluctant

to condemn a fellow member but member-states appear increasingly uneasy. Asean foreign

ministers meeting in New York urged the Burmese authorities to halt violence against the

demonstrators.

 

Interests: Concern to preserve the unity of the regional bloc needs to be balanced against the desire

for regional stability, and pressure from Western countries that wish to secure Asean support for

action against the military regime in Rangoon.

 

Comment: "We hope that the Myanmar [burmese] authorities and all other parties in Myanmar will

appreciate the broader implications of their actions on the region as a whole and act accordingly."

Singapore foreign ministry, current Asean chair

 

 

 

CHINA

Relationship: A close trading and diplomatic relationship it is seen as the country with the strongest

potential to influence events in Burma. It has blocked UN sanctions against Burma but recently

called for "restraint" by "all" parties.

 

Interests: Burma's oil and gas reserves are important for a rapidly developing and energy-hungry

China but, as a regional power, Beijing also has an interest in ensuring that events in Burma do not

lead to regional instability.

 

Comment: "China hopes that all parties in Myanmar exercise restraint and properly handle the

current issue so as to ensure the situation there does not escalate and get complicated, and does not

influence the stability of Myanmar and the peace and stability of the region." Chinese foreign

ministry

 

 

 

EUROPEAN UNION

Relationship: While conscious of its lack of leverage over Burma, it is urging India, China and Asean

to take a tougher line. Some sanctions are already in place. In 1996 the EU banned arms sales and

expelled military attaches, and it froze the assets of individuals within the junta. It withdrew

preferential trade status from Burma and subsequently cut off all non-humanitarian aid to the

country. European Parliamentary deputies have called on the EU to work with the US and Asean to

prepare measures against the Burmese government, including targeted sanctions.

 

Interests: Relatively few economic interests in Burma but France remains a major investor, with a

joint gas project between the US firm Chevron and French Total.

 

Comment: "China is the puppet-master of Burma. The Olympics is the only real lever we have to

make China act. The civilised world must seriously consider shunning China by using the Beijing

Olympics to send the clear message that such abuses of human rights are not acceptable." Edward

McMillan-Scott, vice-president of the European Parliament

 

 

INDIA

Relationship: It has close economic and diplomatic ties with Burma. It has expressed concern over

the current crisis but generally maintains a careful silence over the situation, describing it as an

internal affair of Burma. Former Defence Minister George Fernandez has described India's current

position as "disgusting".

 

Interests: India is concerned above all with protecting its oil interests in Burma, signing a new deep-

water exploration deal in the same week that protests got under way. India also sells arms to the

military regime in Rangoon. But as the world's most populous democracy, India is under pressure

from the West and from activists at home to take a stronger stand in support of democratic forces

in Burma.

 

Comment: "As a close and friendly neighbour, India hopes to see a peaceful, stable and prosperous

Myanmar, where all sections of the people will be included in a broad-based process of national

reconciliation and political reform." Indian Foreign Minister Pranab Mukherjee

 

 

RUSSIA

Relationship: While Russia is much less important than China as an ally and trading partner to

Burma, Moscow has stood beside Beijing in opposing any attempts to bring foreign pressure to bear

on the Burmese government.

 

Interests: Earlier this year Burma and Russia signed a deal that could lead to the construction of a

Russian nuclear research reactor in Burma. Last year, Moscow offered fighter jets and air defence

systems to Rangoon in exchange for access to Burmese oil. Russian commentators have suggested

that a change of government in Rangoon would bring in an administration more susceptible to

Western influence than the incumbents.

 

Comment: "We consider any attempts to use the latest developments to exercise outside pressure

or interference in the domestic affairs of this sovereign state to be counterproductive. We still

believe that the processes under way in Burma do not threaten international and regional peace and

security." Russian foreign ministry

 

 

 

UNITED KINGDOM

Relationship: The UK's status as the former colonial power does not give it any particular influence

as economic links have declined and London - in common with other Western governments - has

been vocal in its condemnation of the military government.

 

Interests: The UK once had major interests in petroleum in Burma but no longer has any large-scale

investment in the country. British companies continue to do business in Burma, with hardwoods

being an important import. Campaigners have complained that UK government policy on trade with

Burma is vague and not enforced.

 

Comment: "I want to see all the pressures of the world put on this regime now - sanctions, the

pressure of the UN, pressure from China and all the countries in the region, India, pressure from the

whole of the world." UK Prime Minister Gordon Brown

 

 

UNITED STATES

Relationship: Washington has called for political change in Burma and expressed support for the

recent protests. In 1997 the US banned new investment in Burma, and in 2003 it banned most

Burmese imports and dollar transactions. It has announced it will impose further sanctions against

14 senior officials in Burma's government, including the country's acting prime minister and defence

minister. But in common with the other Western countries, the US realises its influence is weak

when compared to that of China, India and Asean.

 

Interests: As a result of sanctions few economic interests remain, a major exception being the US

share in the Chevron-Total gas project.

 

Comment: "The world is watching the people of Burma take to the streets to demand their freedom

and the American people stand in solidarity with these brave individuals." US President George W

Bush

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People talk like we have all this leverage over China because of the Olympics, its fucking ridiculous. They aren’t going to give up their interests here, or sudan, or anywhere else for what is basically a stupid public relations deal. And their interests are keeping the country stable with the dictatorship, which means this probably isn’t going to end pleasantly assuming it isn’t already over with mass imprisonment of monks.

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Sylvester Stallone's 'Rambo' crew witnessed Myanmar killing aftermath

 

LOS ANGELES (AP) -- Sylvester Stallone said he and his "Rambo" sequel movie crew recently witnessed the human toll of unspeakable atrocities while filming along the Myanmar border.

 

"I witnessed the aftermath -- survivors with legs cut off and all kinds of land mine injuries, maggot-infested wounds and ears cut off. We saw many elephants with blown off legs. We hear about Vietnam and Cambodia and this was more horrific," Stallone told The Associated Press in a telephone interview Monday.

 

Stallone returned eight days ago from shooting "John Rambo," the fourth movie in the action series, on the Salween River separating Thailand and Myanmar, formerly known as Burma.

 

"This is a hellhole beyond your wildest dreams," Stallone said. "All the trails are mined. The only way into Burma is up the river."

 

And this was before the crackdown last week against the largest pro-democracy protests in Myanmar in two decades. After the government increased fuel prices in August, public anger turned to mass protest against 45 years of military dictatorship. Last week, soldiers responded by opening fire with automatic weapons on unarmed demonstrators.

 

For decades, Myanmar's army has waged a brutal war against ethnic groups in which soldiers have razed villages, raped women and killed innocent civilians. Especially hard hit have been the Karen, one of several minorities that have been seeking greater autonomy.

 

Just last week, the American Association for the Advancement of Science said it has compiled satellite images that provide evidence of village destruction, forced relocations and a growing military presence at sites across eastern Myanmar.

 

The "Rambo" script, written long before the current Myanmar uprising, features boatman John Rambo -- the Vietnam War-era Green Beret who specializes in violent rescues and revenge _ taking a group of mercenaries up the Salween River in search of missing Christian aid workers in Myanmar. The character "realizes man is just a few paces away from savagery when pushed."

 

"I called Soldier of Fortune magazine and they said Burma was the foremost area of human abuse on the planet," Stallone said.

 

Stallone is now editing "John Rambo," which will be released in January, and said he Is trying to strike a balance and grapple with the question, "Are you making a documentary or a 'Rambo' movie?"

 

Shots were fired over the film crew's heads at and there were threats, he said.

 

"We were told we could get seriously hurt if we went on," Stallone said, adding the families of Burmese extras in the movie were imprisoned.

 

"I was being accused, once again, of using the Third World as a 'Rambo' victim. The Burmese are beautiful people. It's the military I am portraying as cruel," he said.

 

Stallone's next challenge is trying to get an "R" rating from the Motion Picture Association of America.

 

"This is full scale genocide. I want an 'R' and I want the violence in there because it is reality. It would be a whitewashing not to show what's over there," he said, noting he plans to bring Myanmar survivors before the MPAA board.

 

"I think there is a story that needs to be told," Stallone said.

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Burmese monks 'to be sent away'

 

Monks are absent, but people in Rangoon are going about their lives

Thousands of monks detained in Burma's main city of Rangoon will be sent to prisons in the far

north of the country, sources have told the BBC.

About 4,000 monks have been rounded up in the past week as the military government has tried to

stamp out pro-democracy protests.

 

They are being held at a disused race course and a technical college.

 

Sources from a government-sponsored militia said they would soon be moved away from Rangoon.

 

The monks have been disrobed and shackled, the sources told BBC radio's Burmese service. There

are reports that the monks are refusing to eat.

 

The country has seen almost two weeks of sustained popular unrest, in the most serious challenge to

the military leadership for more than two decades.

 

 

Their eyes are on the international community, their only hope is that the world will see their plight

and help them

A Buddhist activist

 

 

The authorities said 10 people were killed as the protests were dispersed, though diplomats and

activists say the number of dead was many times higher.

 

The banned opposition broadcaster Democratic Voice of Burma has issued a picture which they say

shows the body of a monk floating near the mouth of the Rangoon river.

 

Last week several monasteries were raided, and there were reports of monks being beaten and

killed.

 

With many monks behind bars, the demonstrations have now died down.

 

On Monday, the centre of Rangoon was almost back to normal, a reporter, who cannot be identified

for security reasons, told the BBC.

 

Most shops and temples have reopened and people appear to be getting on with their lives. But

there seemed to be a group of soldiers around every corner, and very few monks about, the reporter

said.

 

This is notable in a city where monks can usually be spotted going in and out of temples, shopping

at street stalls and chatting in tea shops.

 

_44149811_deadmonk_dvb203.jpg

Monks were reportedly killed (Image: Democratic Voice of Burma)

The atmosphere in Rangoon is tense, the reporter said. Local people are well aware that the monks

have been locked away and are afraid that they will be next.

 

The crackdown, in which unarmed protesters were beaten, tear-gassed, and shot at, has attracted

condemnation from abroad, and even from Burma's neighbours in the Association of South East

Asian Nations (Asean).

 

Envoy still waiting

 

 

As well as preventing the demonstrations, the military junta has tried to block news of the unrest

filtering out. Troops are stopping young men on the streets and in cars, searching for cameras that

may be used to smuggle out images.

 

Most internet links are still down and mobile phone networks disrupted.

 

 

Foreign news outlets are scorned by Burmese state TV

 

Official media has been warning Burmese people against co-operating with or using foreign news

outlets.

 

A TV message on Monday referred to the BBC, Voice of America and Radio Free Asia as "assassins

on air".

 

UN special envoy Ibrahim Gambari was set to meet Burma's military leader General Than Shwe on

Tuesday, officials said.

 

On Saturday, when Mr Gambari travelled to the new capital Naypidaw, he was allowed to meet only

more junior members of the government.

 

On Sunday, Mr Gambari held talks with detained opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi in Rangoon -

the first foreigner to be permitted to do so for 10 months.

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ok wow now theres like 14 guests in here. too weird.

 

if you guys support the burmese monks and happen to stumble in here through the net

thanks for coming and lets hope that the myanmar military all simultaneously explode

for some unexplained reason. peace is then completely restored to burma and

aung san suu kyi is freed.

 

since im paranoid because ive never seen more than a handful of people in here...

 

if you guys are from the myanmar military and are reading this you guys can lick the balls.

said in an epmd like fashion. you guys should free everyone and all jump on the nearest landmine

ok thanks.

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its rough that the junta are cracking down on the peaceful protesters.

hopefully the UN or even China will step in soon to do something about the violence. its pretty sad that monks are getting killed and arrested for protesting.

 

and yea there's a lot of guests on here.

must be the secret government spies using the all powerful 12oz to gather intelligence.

they should be in the reptilians thread, thats where the action is.

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Monks 'seeking to flee Rangoon'

 

Many monks are desperate to leave Rangoon, witnesses say

Scores of monks are trying to leave Burma's main city, Rangoon, following the military's bloody

crackdown on anti-government protests, reports say.

Witnesses said many monks were at the railway station, while bus drivers were said to be refusing

to take them out of fear they would not be allowed petrol.

 

Hundreds of people have now been detained, with more arrests overnight.

 

A UN envoy is preparing a key report on his talks with Burma's leaders amid global concern over the

situation.

 

The envoy, Ibrahim Gambari, met top military leaders to voice concern over the violence. He also

met pro-democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi.

 

He is expected to brief both UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon and the Security Council later this

week.

 

Missing monks

 

Mr Gambari was despatched to Burma last week after police and soldiers used violence to halt

almost two weeks of anti-government protests.

 

 

 

 

 

Exiles in desperate conditions

 

The authorities said 10 people were killed, although diplomats and activists believe the number of

dead is many times higher.

 

Hundreds of monks - who led the protests - have been detained and sources have told the BBC they

will be sent to prisons in the far north of the country.

 

Other protesters are also said to be missing.

 

Reports from Rangoon said around 25 more monks were arrested by security forces in a raid on a

temple overnight.

 

Witnesses reported many monks stranded at bus stations, unable to get out of the city, and few

monks were seen on the streets.

 

Rangoon was said to be quiet, with troops maintaining a heavy presence and warning protesters to

stay away. An eyewitness there said that people seemed very scared.

 

On Tuesday the UN's top human rights official, Louise Arbour, called on the junta to give "precise

and verifiable information" on the number of dead and injured as well as "the whereabouts and

condition of those who have been arrested".

 

Army defector

 

Meanwhile, footage has emerged of a Burmese army officer who fled to Thailand in the first apparent defection since the crackdown.

 

The officer, whose unit was ordered to Rangoon to deal with the protests, said he did not want to

beat or shoot monks - who are revered in Burmese society.

 

"I knew the plan to beat and shoot the monks and if I stayed on, I would have to follow these

orders. Because I'm a Buddhist, I did not want to kill the monks," he said.

 

The officer is now seeking asylum abroad.

 

The BBC's Chris Hogg says that this is a rare split in the ranks which dissident groups will attempt to

exploit as evidence that some younger officers are opposed to the brutal crackdown by the country's

leaders.

 

So far, though, there is no sign that others are prepared to follow his lead, our correspondent says.

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