« | »

Burma Stops Rallies, Cuts Internet Access

From an approving Associated Press:

Myanmar breaks up rallies, cuts Internet

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.

Efforts to squelch the demonstrations appeared to be working. Daily protests drawing tens of thousands of people had grown into the stiffest challenge to the ruling military junta in two decades, a crisis that began Aug. 19 with rallies against a fuel price increase, then escalated dramatically when monks joined in…

Earlier Friday, soldiers and riot police moved quickly to disperse a crowd of 300 that started marching in Yangon, sealing the surrounding neighborhood and ordering them to disperse. Elsewhere, they fired warning shots to scatter a group of 200.

Bob Davis, Australia’s ambassador to Myanmar, said he had heard unconfirmed reports that “several multiples of the 10 acknowledged by the authorities” may have been killed by troops in Yangon. Scores have been arrested, carted away in trucks at night or pummeled with batons in recent days, witnesses and diplomats said, with the junta ignoring all international appeals for restraint.

“The military was out in force before they even gathered and moved quickly as small groups appeared breaking them up with gunfire, tear gas and clubs,” said Shari Villarosa, the top U.S. diplomat in Myanmar.

“It’s tragic. These were peaceful demonstrators, very well behaved.” …

Video emerged of a striking image — the shooting death Thursday of a man identified as Japanese journalist Kenji Nagai of the video agency APF News. [See above.]

The Democratic Voice of Burma released video of security forces opening fire on protesters, including a man falling forward after apparently being shot at point-blank range, and the opposition shortwave radio station based in Norway said the victim was Nagai, 50.

Another image posted on the Web site of Japanese TV network Fuji showed Nagai lying in the street, camera still in hand, with a soldier pointing his rifle down at him…

Gates were locked and key intersections near monasteries in Yangon and the second-largest city of Mandalay were sealed off with barbed wire, and there was no sign of monks in the streets.

“We were told security forces had the monks under control” and will now turn their attention to civilian protesters, the Asian diplomat said on condition of anonymity, citing protocol.

The government’s apparent decision to cut public Internet access — which has played a crucial role in getting news and images of the pro-democracy protests to the outside world — also raised concerns…

Where is the United Nations? The vaunted “international community”? The “human rights” groups?

The Democratic Voice Of Burma video can be seen here.

This article was posted by Steve on Friday, September 28th, 2007. Comments are currently closed.

6 Responses to “Burma Stops Rallies, Cuts Internet Access”

Sorry, comments for this entry are closed at this time.

« Front Page | To Top
« | »