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 on 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 own; 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. [complete article]
There are three steps that we want.
“The first step is to reduce all commodity prices, fuel prices, rice and cooking oil prices immediately.
“The second step – release all political prisoners, including Daw Aung San Suu Kyi, and all detainees arrested during ongoing demonstrations over the fuel price hike.
“The third step – enter a dialogue with pro-democracy forces for national reconciliation immediately, to resolve the crisis and difficulties facing and suffered by the people.” [complete article]
See also, Nine killed in Burmese crackdown (BBC), Economics at the root of Myanmar protests (PINR), Monks in the vanguard for regime change (Brian McCartan), General Than Shwe – the man behind the Myanmar madness (Richard Ehrlich and Shawn W Crispin), Timeline – 45 years of resistance and repression in Myanmar (Reuters), and Rule of lords (blog on human rights in Burma and Thailand).