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Old 09-26-2007, 06:52 AM   #1
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Burmese riot police attack monks

From the BBC:

Several thousand Burmese monks and other protesters have held new marches in Rangoon despite a bloody crackdown by police at the city's holiest shrine. Police beat and arrested demonstrators at Shwedagon Pagoda, including up to 100 monks, on the ninth day of unrest against the military government.

One march started for the city centre while another headed for the home of opposition head Aung San Suu Kyi. Security forces have reportedly ringed six key monasteries in the city.

Analysts fear a repeat of the violence in 1988, when troops opened fire on unarmed protesters, killing thousands. Anger is growing among the protesters in Rangoon over the treatment of the monks, the BBC's South East Asia correspondent, Jonathan Head, reports.

'Covered in blood'

A clampdown on the media by the government, which has banned gatherings of five people or more and imposed a night-time curfew, makes following the exact course of Wednesday's street protests difficult.

It is known that several thousand monks and opposition activists moved away from Shwedagon Pagoda, heading for the Sule Pagoda in the city centre. Reports suggest they were prevented from reaching it but other demonstrators did gather at Sule to jeer at soldiers.

Troops responded by firing tear gas and live rounds over the protesters' heads, sending people running for cover.

Monks marching to the home of Aung San Suu Kyi reportedly urged civilian supporters not to join them. "We monks will do this, please don't join us, don't do anything violent," they were quoted by AFP news agency as saying.

Earlier, at Shwedagon Pagoda, riot police beat their shields with their batons and yelled at protesters before charging the crowd. A number of the monks and nuns were left covered in blood and appeared to be seriously injured, and some shots were also heard, witnesses say.

British embassy sources say at least 100 monks were beaten and arrested.

"The riot police started to beat up the monks," one monk at Shwedagon Pagoda told the BBC.

"We were peacefully chanting prayers. They used tear gas and some monks were hit. Some monks were injured."

Demonstrators were dragged away in trucks as dozens were arrested. Two of the country's most prominent dissidents, U Win Naing and popular comedian Zaganar, were arrested overnight.

'Different situation'

Aung Naing Oo, a former student leader in Burma who was involved in the 1988 uprising and who now lives in exile in the UK, believes the junta cannot stop the 2007 protesters.

"Nobody knew what was happening in 1988," he told the Today programme on BBC Radio Four.

"There was only very little information about the killings. Now with the internet and the whole world watching I think its a totally different story now and I think the other important difference is that in 1988 it was the students that were leading the demonstrations, but now it is the monks. Monks are highly revered in the country."

The junta broke its silence over the mounting protests late on Monday, saying it was ready to "take action".

US President George W Bush has announced a tightening of existing US economic sanctions against it. America already has an arms ban on Burma, a ban on all exports, a ban on new investment and a ban on financial services.

The protests were triggered by the government's decision to double the price of fuel last month, hitting people hard in the impoverished nation.

----------------------------------------------------------

Just wondering if people have been following this story, will it turn out any different than the 1988 protests, or will it be just more bloodshed?
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Old 09-26-2007, 07:59 AM   #2
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I've been following this; it's been the lead story here on SBS for the last few nights. I've honestly been amazed that the protests managed to go on peacefully so long, but after the massive protest with over 30,000 (I've seen some sources say 100,000+), I figured things were about to turn to shit. I think there's a little bit of hope considering the central position of the monks; depends on the loyalties of the military generals I suppose. But that's only a little bit of hope. I'm not feeling optimistic.
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Old 09-26-2007, 08:20 AM   #3
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If any monks are killed, it could cause a national uprising, if it doesn't what would it take for democracy to take hold, or at least something better than the junta? There may have to be bloodshed one way or another.

I wonder who the generals are kidding when they say that it is the likes of the BBC stoking these protests?

I really do find it hard to understand how places like Burma, Zimbabwe and North Korea can all continue to exist as they are, and the best we can do is impose sanctions?
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Old 09-26-2007, 08:23 AM   #4
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I've been following this. Very saddened to hear that it has turned violent. Still, I want to feel hopeful that because it is the monks who are leading the resistance that things will be different this time. But the junta has been holding on to power for so long...I just don't know. What is the role of the international community in all of this?
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Old 09-26-2007, 08:57 AM   #5
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Apparently, what took so long for the junta to act this time is pressure from China - the two have close ties and China is pressuring Burma not to take excessive action lest it damage China's rep because of the upcoming Olympics...
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Old 09-26-2007, 09:29 AM   #6
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Sounds like it's getting worse...apparently a few monks have been killed
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Old 09-26-2007, 10:14 AM   #7
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Quote:
Originally posted by sulawesigirl4
I've been following this. Very saddened to hear that it has turned violent. Still, I want to feel hopeful that because it is the monks who are leading the resistance that things will be different this time. But the junta has been holding on to power for so long...I just don't know. What is the role of the international community in all of this?
The intl community is staying quiet. Economically there´s not much to win in Burma - they only export a load of drugs - so other countries don´t give a shit.

May I recommend Morris L. West´s book "The Ambassador" describing an uprising of monks in the Vietnam war.
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Old 09-26-2007, 11:07 AM   #8
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Quote:
Originally posted by LJT
If any monks are killed, it could cause a national uprising, if it doesn't what would it take for democracy to take hold, or at least something better than the junta? There may have to be bloodshed one way or another.
I understand some monks were killed in the 1988 uprising too - though, of course, this is different as the monks are actually the leaders, not students. More violent reprisals and the deaths of more monks could provoke a national uprising and would sit uncomfortably with the devout Buddhists high in the Burmese military's hierarchy, but I wonder just how much that would ultimately achieve. This is a junta that has proven it's batshit insane and will do whatever it takes to hold onto power.

I think it was Max Weber who distinguished between chiefs, staff, and the masses; in this case, the chiefs would be the military rulers and top generals, the staff would be the general military, and the masses is pretty obvious. Whether or not a revolution succeeds, per Weber, is dependent upon who the staff support; while the chief keep the staff on their side, the masses can be repressed, but if the staff side with the masses, the chiefs are, in a word, fucked. I think that idea has credibility, and I fear we are about to see it proven - no matter how many people in Burma rise up against the junta, the military will suppress them and no revolution will be successful.

Damnit I hope the monks have enough sway to cause mass dissention in the military and the leaders lose their base of support.
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Old 09-26-2007, 11:43 AM   #9
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this is a fascinating story, and i'm saddened to see that its turned violent.
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Old 09-26-2007, 04:32 PM   #10
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There may be reason to hope that large-scale violence will not be used to put down the protests, especially since Beijing, the regime's only real 'ally,' is pressuring them not to 'overreact.' I'm not optimistic that this wave of nonviolent protest would survive, say, mass arrests and rigid curfews, but it could be that the combination of the monks' involvement and the greater international visibility now, compared to 1988, might give them the morale to keep going. I don't think demoralization of the army seems very likely at this point; they have too much to lose.

All the international community likely can and will do is continue to issue strong condemnations and clamp down further on the few Western companies still investing in Burma. The three countries which share long borders and significant economic ties (textiles, lumber, rice, gems, oil) with Burma--Thailand, China, and India--are unlikely to go much beyond milder statements to the effect that Burma's 'internal problems' should be dealt with 'more inclusively' by the regime, accompanied by the usual pledges of nonintervention. China's economic ties to Burma are extensive, and Beijing wants to keep the country firmly in its sphere of influence; India and Thailand are already agitated by the degree to which their border regions have been destabilized by large influxes of refugees and cross-border insurgency movements, and worry about the longterm implications of 'losing Burma' entirely to China.
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Old 09-26-2007, 04:36 PM   #11
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This is actually why I logged in today. I want to express my sadness and outrage that this can still happen in 2007
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Old 09-26-2007, 05:15 PM   #12
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What I understand is the monks a few months back declined donations by the generals, which in the branch of Buddhism in Burma (Thervada(sp?) I think?) is considered one of the greatest insults possible.

The monks have the greatest influence outside of the junta, and would obviously hold the greatest respect of the people, more so than Aung San Suu Kyi i'd imagine. The generals in charge are known to be quite superstitious and with the monks refusing their donations it might make them think twice before heavily attacking these monk led protest.

It annoys me that all we can do is sit back and watch and hope the will amongst the people is strong enough for an uprising.
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Old 09-27-2007, 12:18 AM   #13
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http://www.uscampaignforburma.org/

Courage and Outrage

The largest peaceful demonstrations in Burma in 10 years, and the regime responds with brutal force. On September 5th, troops sent in for first time and fire warning shots at monks.

On August 15th, the regime hiked up fuel prices - up to quintupling the price of natural gas; this is despite the fact that the regime makes billions from the export of oil and natural gas.

Then on the 19th, peaceful protests began in the capital Rangoon, and since then have spread. The speculations that protests would die down in Burma have proven wrong, and even though over 150 democracy activists have been arrested so far, many people are stepping up and calling for an end to injustice.

Day after day people continue to march through the streets in towns all over Burma, making their simple and peaceful demands.
Many are also calling for recognition of basic human rights and democracy.
Their courage is reminiscint of the history of the brave people of Argentina, Peru, East Timor, South Africa, India, and elsewhere in which peaceful demonstrators have faced deadly force with nothing more than their belief in telling the truth. Dozens have been beaten, arrested, and carted off to Burma's feared torture centers.
Many governments, organizations, and world leaders have spoken out against this crackdown, and we are asking the UN Security Council to take action.
************************
To send a message:

http://www.democracyinaction.org/dia...+63.17.139.129

******************
Edited to say: Other countries:
http://www.freeburma.org/
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Old 09-27-2007, 12:23 AM   #14
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Quote:
Originally posted by LJT
What I understand is the monks a few months back declined donations by the generals, which in the branch of Buddhism in Burma (Thervada(sp?) I think?) is considered one of the greatest insults possible.

The monks have the greatest influence outside of the junta, and would obviously hold the greatest respect of the people, more so than Aung San Suu Kyi i'd imagine. The generals in charge are known to be quite superstitious and with the monks refusing their donations it might make them think twice before heavily attacking these monk led protest.
Yeah, but the monks have boycotted alms from the military before--most recently in 1990, when the junta annulled the elections which would have brought Aung San Suu Kyi's party to power--and while that kind of thing definitely telegraphs a message to the general public, there's not much precedent for expecting it to sway the military's opinion. It might possibly cause a few defections, but my impression is that the generals' often very public show of making donations to the monks is more on the order of how Saddam Hussein used to build lavish mosques...a PR gesture having little or nothing to do with piety. It's true they have a reputation for "superstitiousness," but I think that's with reference to things like consulting astrologers before making major decisions, not reverence for monks.

There have been reports from both India and Thailand of bands of refugees who fled Burma after their ethnicities' uprisings were put down by the junta slipping back over the border...possibly in hopes of joining the protests, but more likely in hopes of rejoining the fight. While there are some doubts out there whether the junta can ever be brought down peaceably, it's hard to imagine that the return of the militias would be good news--a major reason why the country descended into one-party military rule decades ago was chronic instability resulting from multiple insurgencies, which then became an excuse for increasingly brutal government suppression.

No surprise, but China today blocked a Security Council resolution condemning the violence...
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Old 09-27-2007, 12:28 AM   #15
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I don't know how or why they think they can do this in an age where EVERYONE is watching you. This is a lead story here, and something everyone is talking about. I hope our leaders follow suit.
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