Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Burmese monk update IV

By Michael J.W. Stickings

The protests are expanding, but the totalitarians are preparing, once again, to clamp down on the opposition:

Myanmar's religious affairs minister warns the Buddhist clergy to restrain demonstrating monks, or else the government will act against protesting clerics.

As many as 100,000 anti-government protesters led by a phalanx of Buddhist monks marched Monday through Yangon, the largest crowd to demonstrate in Myanmar's biggest city since a 1988 pro-democracy uprising that was brutally crushed by the military.

From the front of the march, witnesses could see a 11/2 -kilometre stretch of eight-lane road was filled with people.

Some participants said there were several hundred thousand marchers in their ranks, but an international aid agency official with employees monitoring the crowd estimated said the size was well over 50,000 and approaching 100,000.

It is being reported that it is China, "the country's key trading partner and diplomatic ally," that is holding the military junta back. But for how much longer?

The totalitarians will not give in. They will fight back, with merciless brutality. Which is why, more than ever, the democratic movement in Burma needs the support of the friends of democracy around the world. The opposition will be much stronger with solid international pressure behind it. Then, and perhaps only then, will the totalitarians be overthrown and, ultimately, brought to justice.


NOTE: Can we all please stop calling it Myanmar? That's the name the military junta -- then the State Law and Order Restoration Council (SLORC), since 1997 the State Peace and Development Council (SPDC) -- gave the country when it declared martial law in 1989.

As Yale law professor Amy Chua puts it in her book World on Fire (p. 23): "Members of the majority ethnic group in Burma are called Bamahs (in the spoken language) or Myanmahs (in the written language). The newly independent state that emerged from the end of British colonial rule in 1948 was called the Union of Burma. In 1989, SLORC changed the country's name to Myanmar. (It also changed the names of various cities: Rangoon, for example, is now called Yangon.) In deference to the democratic opposition party, which has refused to acquiesce in the name change, the United States government currently refers to the country as Burma, and I do the same."

We all should do the same. Burma it is.


Previous entries in this series: here, here, here, and here.

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