Thursday, September 27, 2007

In solidarity with the Burmese martyrs

This essay is part of a (more or less) weekly feature on this blog that presents interesting stories from elsewhere in the world, particularly Africa, that are little reported in the American media. It's part of my campaign to get people to realize there is a lot going on in the world outside the US, Israel, Iraq, North Korea and Iran.

Today is the tenth day of protests in Burma (also known as Myanmar). The military dictatorship in the country is widely acknowledged as one of the three most repressive regimes in the world. The protests against deteriorating living conditions in the isolated nation were led by Buddhist monks but demonstrations grew to many tens of thousands as the days went on.

The military, in power since 1962, ordered soldiers to fire on the peaceful protesters. At least nine were killed in the massacre with more injured. Additionally, the forces of disorder went on the rampage, as truckloads of troops in riot gear also raided Buddhist monasteries on the outskirts of Yangon [the capital, also known as Rangoon], beating and arresting dozens of monks.

Observers fear that the bloodshed could get worse. In 1988, the military butchered thousands of peaceful anti-government protesters. And there's no reason to think that the desperate despots wouldn't resort to such barbarity again to preserve their power,


TourPro said...

"Regular" media seems to be ignoring this story except for some passing mentions.

Not sure what can be done. Diplomacy? UN? Sanctions? Strategic bombing? In the meantime, the crackdown continues. Unfortunately, Burma does not have much that the international community can threaten. Really, the only thing that might help is the Chinese - and I'm not seeing that happening anytime soon. This kind of action is right out of their textbook for controlling dissent - they are just much better at preventing information flow out. The killing of the Japanese cameraman is super disconcerting as international witnesses are critical in these events.

Brian said...

I don't watch US TV news but if they're ignoring it, it's hardly shocking given the way it operates nowadays.

There isn't a lot that can be done directly. But from what I've heard, the Burmese junta craves international legitimacy, as demonstrated by their rep's speech to the UN earlier this week. So keeping the spotlight on their horrors is important.