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Burma crisis brewing: troops surround Buddhist monasteries

Even as President Bush called for new sanctions against the Myanmar (Burma) government, the military junta has declared curfews and surrounded several monasteries with security forces, raising fears of a brutal crackdown like the one in 1988, when an estimated 3000 people were killed. Aung Hla Tun reports for Reuters:

UPDATE from Rangoon: Warning shots and tear gas have been fired to disperse crowds, and at least 300 monks have been arrested, according to AP reports.

Troops and riot police took up positions outside at least six big activist monasteries in Yangon on Wednesday as Myanmar's junta tried to prevent monks leading new protest marches against military rule, witnesses said.

Hundreds more waited in a park behind the Sule Pagoda, the city centre focus of the biggest protests against the generals in 20 years, apparently prepared to prevent any repetition, they said.

There was no immediate word from the monks on whether they would risk their first major confrontation with the junta by trying to march again despite fears of a repetition of the bloody end to a 1988 uprising, primarily in the Sule Pagoda area.

* * * * *

It appeared the generals did not use radio and television because they have only national networks and on Wednesday morning few outside the two main cities were aware curfews had been imposed.

Read the entire article at the link above. Will the monks back down, will the junta crack down, or could we see a Saffron Revolution? (Read Richard Fernandez' coverage for Pajamas Media also).


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Comments (4)

Will we see the monks set t... (Below threshold)
Spurwing Plover:

Will we see the monks set themselves ablaze like they did before?

Buddhists are very spiritua... (Below threshold)

Buddhists are very spiritual and holy men. Their peaceful nonpolitical opposition to the government is the best possible path to change in this repressive state.

HoosonIn a way I a... (Below threshold)


In a way I agree with you. But read up on a little history too: google the 8888 movement in Burma. In this case, nonviolent protests in Burma in 1988 ended with hundreds of students massacred by the less-than-nonviolent military and no political change enacted whatsoever.

The only reason this hasn't again happened (yet) is because the monks are held in such high reverence by the general population (who are also mostly Buddhist). Opening fire on the monks the way they did to the students in 1988 could lead to even larger protests by people who are now still too afraid of the police to join in.

Nonviolent protests as you say may be the best (read: noblest) way to effect change in a repressive state, but 1988 shows that it isn't always effective.

Theodore Roosevelt said it best: Speak softly and carry a big stick. IMO, it would be best if the populace protested non-violently, but still had a way to defend themselves if the soldiers did indeed open fire; and to, if necessary, take back their country by whatever means become necessary.

Free Burma!Internati... (Below threshold)

Free Burma!
International Bloggers' Day for Burma on the 4th of October

International bloggers are preparing an action to support the peaceful revolution in Burma. We want to set a sign for freedom and show our sympathy for these people who are fighting their cruel regime without weapons. These Bloggers are planning to refrain from posting to their blogs on October 4 and just put up one Banner then, underlined with the words „Free Burma!".







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