Death in the Land of Green Ghosts
This is a Reuters photo found on a blog from Burma – Ko Htike’s Prosaic Collection – where the military dictators are once again brutally putting down a popular uprising calling for simple human rights.
Brave bloggers and their friends outside Burma are trying to keep information flowing to the outside world. Firepup Bob in HI sent me a set of great links he found in the WSJ – including Mizzima News, Irawaddy News which reminds us of the international oil companies including Chevron still doing business in Burma, and Democratic Voice of Burma.
No one knows how many – like Japanese photojournalist Nagai Kenji – are being killed by the Burmese military in response to the uprising lead by the Buddhist monks and joined by courageous citizens:
Troops approaching the monasteries backed off after seeing people from the surrounding areas armed with sticks and slingshots preparing to stop them. (snip)
“We set up an alert system of banging pots and pans when anyone saw soldiers approaching the monastery, and we prepared ourselves with any available weapons to stop these unholy people from harassing the monks,” said a Mandalay resident. However, despite the residents’ efforts, Pauk Myaing monastery was raided by government troops at around 7pm yesterday.
“They kicked the monks with their army boots and beat them up before arresting about 40 monks,” said another local resident. “If we just stood by, not even dogs would survive in Burma under these bastards’ brutality and inhumanity,” the resident continued, pledging that residents were ready to assist the monks whenever their help was needed.
In Rangoon, troops encountered resistance from local residents as they approached Sasana Alin Yaung, Sanana Wuntha and Min Nanda monasteries in Daw Pon and Tharkayta townships. At Min Nanda monastery, which backs on to Pazuntaung creek, troops tried to approach from both land and water but retreated when they saw the strength of local resistance.
“There were not only Buddhist people but also Muslims, Christians and Hindus defending the monasteries,” said a resident of Tharkayta township.
Avaaz, a global team similar to MoveOn is gathering signatures on a rush petition to the UN – over 220,000 from around the world have already signed – and will be updating with other actions. The US Burma Campaign (which is reporting at least 200 dead in the demonstrations) and the UK Campaign for Burma are also good sources of information. The UK Campaign is organizing a global day of action on October 6 and has a Facebook group with much more info including a request for calls or faxes to participant’s Embassies. The US Embassy in Burma – ask them to open their wifi networks so news can get out: Phone: 011 (95 1) 282055, Fax : 011 (95 1) 280409
The keepers of the soul of Burma – the Buddhist monks – have risen up for the nation by staging peaceful demonstrations in Rangoon and other major cities at a time when the ruling junta appears to be on top. Not long ago, no one dared to think that the thoroughly cowed people of Burma would have the courage to defy the military authority even by means of a smirk.
But it has happened again like it did in 1988 when the people of Burma showed their displeasure at the ruling power with nationwide protests and paid for it with their lives when thousands were killed as a result of the uprising. The situation in the country didn’t change, and on this occasion the success or failure of the protests will depend on how well-organised and determined the monks are.
As soon as reports came out of the UN Security Council’s decision not to take any direct action but just to urge the junta restraints against the protesters , a friend of mine phoned me from Burma to express his feeling. “We don’t want our country to become another Rwanda,” he said with a deep sigh. It seems that his fear might yet come true, as reports of violence, injuries and deaths are continuing to emerge as I write this. “I hope I am still alive by this evening,” my friend said before he put the phone down, and I could hear the determination in his voice.
May we learn courage from their example.
“The only real prison is fear, and the only real freedom is freedom from fear.” – Aung San Suu Kyi
OT but too choice for words: Turnabout is fair play.