Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Myanmar = State Peace?

Even though we have found out what is happening in Myanmar, there's no telling what exactly is happening inside the country at all times since it's an extremely closed society. The media in Myanmar is very tightly controlled. The print media only prints what the government wants, and it's all government-owned anyway. The same thing is true of the broadcast media. Foreign journalists are barred from entering Myanmar, officially at any rate. Receiving information from inside Myanmar is therefore very difficult. The government blocks the internet and the telephones on and off. Amnesty International notes that there are at least 1,160 political prisoners who are being held in deteriorating prison conditions.

Interestingly enough, a Flickr user by the name Racoles has posted photos documenting the month-long protest in Rangoon, when the regime began fixing petrol prices higher than most would withstand.

100,000 Buddhist monks filled the street of the capitol (Rangoon) this morning, in what is hopefully not a repeat of the 1988 uprising when "State Peace" open-fired on protesters and killed more than 3,000 people.

The BBC says at least one monk was killed today. Other reports say eight. Watch this very rough YouTube video posted this morning to get an idea of what is going on. The UN is urging a restraint on the military junta. President Bush is also urging sanctions. Sanctions, however, have been in place for years. And it's not clear how more sanctions will affect the regime. The full title of the military junta regime of Myanmar is State Peace and Development Council.

A mediating force between the regime and the population might have been the monks, at least a month ago. Yet this mediating force has suddenly become swept up in the frenzy of protests themselves. A BBC newscaster said on a video that early in the morning the faces of the monks were peaceful. After the deaths, everyone was suddenly furious. Monks were seen yelling, shouting, and screaming. Perhaps a more international force will take over the "mediating" position. But this position seems highly overrated at this point. A standoff between the military regime and the population will most likely end in bloodshed and revolution. Hopefully the democrats will overturn the regime this time.

An Yan Suu Kyi, the Noble Peace Prize winner, still on house arrest, might finally be able to resume her activism in the streets. Meanwhile, Amnesty is organizing worldwide protests at as many Myanmar embassies as possible.

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