Burma raids the monasteries

Washington Post:

Pursuing their crackdown, Burmese security forces raided a half-dozen monasteries Thursday and fired warning shots to disperse demonstrations led by Buddhist monks demanding an end to military rule.

At least one woman was shot dead as troops opened fire on protesters near the Sule Pagoda in downtown Rangoon, Burma's principal city, according to reports reaching exile groups in Bangkok. Soldiers marched down the street warning over loudspeakers that anybody seen protesting risked getting shot, the reports said.

Soe Aung, spokesman for the Thailand-based National Council of the Union of Burma, said the result was that fewer monks and other anti-goverenment protesters took to the streets than in the previous days of what has become a sustained uprising against the military's ruling State Peace and Development Council.

Soe Aung estimated the number of protesters at about 10,000, sharply down from Wednesday. "This would be mainly because of the raids that took place before dawn in Rangoon," he said.

Armed security forces burst into at least five monasteries in Rangoon and another two in outlying cities, arresting and beating monks believed to be leaders of the protests, according to Aung and reports from news agencies. At least 150 monks were hauled away in one of the raids, he added. The Associated Press quoted family members as saying Myint Thein, a spokesman for the pro-democracy political party headed by Nobel laureate Aung San Suu Kyi, was also taken into custody during the night.

The arrests marked the beginning of what probably will be a long-term series of arrests of monks and lay activists who helped promote the protests over the last two weeks, said David Mathieson, a Thailand-based Burma specialist with Human Rights Watch. Security services likely had been surveilling people for days, monitoring cellphones and noting protest organizers, in an effort to identify leaders and earmark them for arrest, he said.


The violence, despite appeals for negotiations from around the world, suggested that the junta has decided to put an end to what has become Burma's most serious political uprising since 1988, even at the price of more opprobrium from abroad.


There is much more. This report was done with sources based mainly in Bangkok, Thailand. The junta appears to have adopted the Chinese model for its crackdown and suppression. They still have the support of China and Russia which probably means they will get away it.

CNN reports that at least nine people have been killed in the suppression of the monks movement.


The dead include eight protesters and a Japanese man, Myanmar authorities said, adding that another 11 protesters were injured.

An American witness told CNN soldiers waded into a crowd of protesters in Myanmar and beat several of them mercilessly, at least one of them to death

"All of a sudden, the police and military guys started coming toward the crowd, and all of a sudden started beating them and running after them," said the woman, who witnessed the incident from atop a nearby building.

"And in one corner they got around, maybe, five or seven people, and they started beating them so bad for almost five minutes, and then they took them and put them in trucks.

"And there was this one guy, laying down on the floor, and he was dead. And then these same police came a few minutes later and picked him up and took him to the police station."


Sometimes it is hard out there for a despot. People yearning to be free must be beaten into submission for the sake of order and continuation in power. The hard work of suppressing a general uprising is best done outside the range of cameras. They are a powerful weapon against authorities. As the Chinese proved at Tinnamen Square, if you are willing to be brutal you can continue to control the political process. For all those on the left who have claimed that the Bush administration is oppressive, they should take a look at what real oppression looks like.


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