Thursday, September 27, 2007

Myanmar Monks Under Siege

For the second straight day, Buddhist monks have come under fire from government forces, and still more casualties have been reported. A Japanese photojournalist was among those killed.
Further casualties were reported today, following at least half a dozen deaths on Wednesday.

The Myanmar government told the Japanese Embassy in Yangon that a Japanese national was killed, Japan’s Kyodo news agency reported. Reports indicated he was a photographer.The Associated Press reported that more shots were fired today at one of several monasteries raided early in the day. At the monastery, Ngwe Kyar Yan, one monk said a number of monks were beaten and at least 70 of its 150 monks were arrested. A female lay disciple said several monks were arrested at a second monastery, Moe Guang, which was being guarded, like a number of other monasteries, by a contingent of armed security personnel.

At least four other people “had been shot quite seriously” on Tarami Street, a British diplomat said, according to Reuters.

The government of Myanmar began a violent crackdown on Wednesday after tolerating more than a month of growing protests in cities around the country. Facing its most serious challenge since taking power in 1988, the ruling junta is attempting to contain the uprising by the tens of thousands of monks protesting economic hardships and the political repression of the military junta.

Security forces have clubbed and tear-gassed protesters, fired shots into the air, or according to an Associated Press report today, into a crowd, and arrested hundreds of the monks, who are at the heart of the demonstrations.

According to reports, crowds on the streets were larger than on Wednesday, despite the crackdown.
The junta is doing what juntas the world over do when threatened - they attack those that seek to put an end to their dictatorships. This time, it is all the more poignant when you have Buddhist monks mostly practicing nonviolent demonstrations getting assaulted and murdered by the government forces. As the monks have been carted away by the government forces, other civilians have filled their places, but that actually increases the likelyhood that the junta's use of force will actually increase.

While the likelyhood of violence is increasing, so are the numbers of demonstrators coming to the side of the monks.
But more bloodshed seemed inevitable as monks on Burmese-language foreign radio stations urged the clergy not to yield.

"We would like to call on the student monks to keep on struggling peacefully," one said on the Burmese-language service of the BBC. "Five monks have sacrificed their lives for our religion."

Witnesses said as many as 100,000 people packed downtown Yangon, Myanmar's main city, yesterday and the streets echoed with a roar of anger at the use of violence against the maroon-robed monks.

Firing tear gas and waving batons, soldiers charged at the monks massed near the Shwedagon Pagoda - the holiest site in Yangon. Blood pouring from their shaved heads, some monks fought back with their fists while others curled up on the street and absorbed the blows.
Gateway Pundit has been following the situation and has photos and tons of links.

Jon Swift points out that the bloggers on the other side of the aisle have not exactly distinguished themselves in blogging about Myanmar, but then notes that he might actually agree with the lack of coverage - who cares as he puts it.
I suppose I should be interested, but I'm not. For the first time I can remember, I agree with the liberal bloggers. Who cares?

I have to admit, some of the pictures you can find on Burmese blogs are interesting. I might download a few of them before the government shuts the blogs down and throws the bloggers in prison. They might make nice screensavers.
Maybe because some folks actually agree that human rights are universal and that there are regimes out there that are evil - in word and deed.

Still, if folks remembered that the junta changed the name from Burma to Myanmar, that might straighten things out?

The New York Post has more details, including photos of the Japanese journalist lying on the ground after being fatally injured though a caption claims he was still alive that the point the photo was taken.

No comments: