My Irreversible Point of View

Unfortunately freedom of speech is not totally respected in some parts of the world. That is why I decide to express my point of view in the name of those who are not allowed to express themselves. STAND UP, SPEAK UP! STOP THE TRAFFIK

Sunday, October 07, 2007

Crisis in Myanmar

There are reckoned to be 400,000 monks in Myanmar (formerly known as Burma), about the same as the number of soldiers under the ruling junta's command. The soldiers have the guns. The monks have the public's support and, judging from the past fortnight's protests, the courage and determination to defy the regime. But Myanmar's tragic recent history suggests that when an immovable junta meets unstoppable protests, much blood is spilled. In the last pro-democracy protests in this scale, in 1988, it took several rounds of massacres before the demonstrations finally subsided, leaving the regime as strong as ever. By September 27th, with a crackdown under way, and the first deaths from clashes with security forces, it seemed hard to imagine that things would be very different this time.
One genuine difference is that, in the age of the internet and digital cameras, images of the spectacular protests in Yangon, the main city, have spread at lightning speed across Myanmar itself, encouraging people in other towns to stage demonstrations of their town; and around the world, bringing the crisis to the attention of leaders as they gathered in New York for the United Nations General Assembly. The remarkable images from Myanmar have meant that, for a while at least, a country that has been brutalised and pauperised by a callous and incompetent regime for 45 years has the attention it deserves.
The latest round of protests began last month, after the government suddenly imposed drastic fuel-price rises. At first, the demonstrations, organised by veterans of the students' movement that led the 1988 protests, were fairly small. The regime arrested many leaders and sent plain-clothed goons to beat up demonstrators. It looked as if the protests might fizzle until, earlier this month, soldiers fired over the heads of monks demonstrating in the central town of Pakkoku. Some reports said monks were also beaten and arrested.

On September 22nd an unknown group, the All Burma Monks' Alliance, called on people to "struggle peacefully against the evil military dictatorship". After this, large numbers of ordinary Burmese joined in, many linking hands along the route of the monks' procession. The monks' chants became overtly political, including the cry, "democracy, democracy". On the same day, a group of monks and laymen was allowed to pray outside the normally heavily guarded home of Aung San Suu Kyi, the leader of the opposition National League for Democracy (NLD) and icon of Myanmar's struggle for democracy. Though Miss Suu Kyi is under house arrest, she was able to walk to her gate and, in tears herself, greet the tearful protesters.
In 1988 and 1990 the Burmese people have shown they want to choose their own leaders. In the past they did not fully reckon on the ruthlessness of the people they were up against. One day, as with all tyrannies, Myanmar's will fail. But much blood may flow before that day dawns.


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