Friday, September 28, 2007 

Killing field.

I haven't written anything else about the Burmese protests and brutal crackdown, as there really doesn't seem to be much to add that isn't already being said and said better. With the military apparently having severed the remaining internet access, mobile networks down and phone lines also dead, it's difficult to know exactly what's happened today, although it seems that the protests were sparser and less well attended, for obvious reasons. Some reports are mentioning that snipers, in addition to the vast numbers of soldiers, are being brought in to Rangoon.

The Grauniad reported yesterday that elements within the army were siding with the monks, and that has been somewhat confirmed by a report from Mizzima which suggests that two light battalions have been fighting amongst themselves. Irrawaddy, which is loading incredibly slowly, suggests that Vice Snr-Gen Maung Aye, the second-in-command and commander-in-chief of the army has disagreed with the crackdown order by the junta's chief, Snr-Gen Than Shwe, and that he's scheduled to meet Aung San Suu Kyi, which would be an incredibly welcome development if true. The Democratic Voice of Burma has obtained a photograph of a dead Burmese man, apparently shot dead, which would suggest that the claims of only 9 deaths are well short of the mark, as various politicians have been stating. Mask of Anarchy has some links to al-Jazeera's coverage of the uprising, while Blood and Treasure has more news of the battalions fighting.

Irrawaddy's subtitle seems to sum it all up at the moment: killing field. This is always encouraging though:

Men were shouting at the soldiers in English:
"Fuck you. Go fuck yourself."

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Tuesday, September 25, 2007 

The saffron revolution.

Inspiring as the protests in Burma being led by the monks are, it's hard not to be apprehensive of just how the crackdown, now seemingly fully in effect might pan out. After all, there's not just the 1988 8888 uprising which resulted in the deaths of thousands to consider, but also another military massacre from the following year: Tiananmen Square.

China's role in what now happens may well be key. Isabel Hilton argues that China doesn't want to see itself get the blame for another atrocity, especially as we fast approach next year's Olympics, but there's also another factor in all of this, that being the response of China's own population. While apart from the ever increasing number of localised protests there seems to be little national resistance to the nominally Communist leadership, the very last thing that the cadres would like to see is an example of an uprising being dealt with brutally, a potential reminder of 1989 and their own failure to force change through protest. A second bloodbath could conceivably rile China's own sleeping subversives.

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