Friday, September 28, 2007

Myanmar Junta Continues Crackdown

In addition to cracking skulls on the streets in Yangon, Myanmar, the junta has attempted to shut down Internet access to the country, to limit how much information can be transmitted around the world about what is going on inside the country.
Soldiers clubbed activists in the streets and fired warning shots Friday, moving decisively to break up demonstrations in Myanmar before they could gain momentum. Troops occupied Buddhist monasteries and cut public Internet access, raising concerns that the crackdown on civilians that has killed at least 10 people was set to intensify.

Troops also fired tear gas to break up a demonstration of about 2,000 people in the largest city, Yangon, witnesses said. Five protesters were seen being dragged into a truck and driven away. The clash in an area near the Sule Pagoda was the most serious of the several sporadic — though smaller — protests that were reported.

By sealing monasteries, the government seemed intent on clearing the streets of monks, who have spearheaded the demonstrations and are revered by most of their Myanmar countrymen. This could embolden troops to crack down harder on remaining civilian protesters.
Michelle Malkin reports that the Japanese photojournalist Kenji Nagai, who was killed yesterday by the junta's forces, may have been shot by a sniper. Some of the Internet outages are being blamed on a damaged underwater cable, but Michelle questions the timing. I do as well. It's most curious how those outages affect dissident bloggers and others who are questioning the junta's actions.

The junta blames the West for instigating the demonstrations.

Here's a copy of the very disturbing video, in which you see Nagai falling after being struck and lying in the street seriously injured:

Gaius makes a very important observation:
As noted yesterday, the dictatorships that have fallen to popular pressure have done so by failing to ruthlessly put down protests. I was afraid then that the junta would grasp that lesson. The news today makes me pretty sure they have.
The junta is definitely acting in a most ruthless manner to put down this threat to its continued existence.

Meanwhile, CNN is headlining an AP report: British Prime Minister Gordon Brown says he believes the loss of life in Myanmar has been "far greater" than is being reported.

That wouldn't be surprising in the least. The brutality of this junta knows no bounds, and the last crackdown resulted in thousands killed and many times that number imprisoned.

That paragon of human rights support, Vlad Putin of Russia doesn't think the time is right to begin imposing sanctions against Myanmar, though it did issue a condemnation of the ongoing troubles.
Russia considers it premature to discuss possible sanctions against Myanmar after the army's recent crackdown on protesters, President Vladimir Putin said Friday.

"As far as the possibility of sanctions is concerned, it is a subject for special consideration by the UN," Vladimir Putin said. "It is too soon to talk about this yet."
Right. He needs a far higher body count before lifting a finger to consider a weak-worded resolution condemning the violence and imposing sanctions on the junta that has assaulted Buddhist monks and others in the country.

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