Monday, October 01, 2007

Bloodshed of Burma

By Michael J.W. Stickings

Via Brad Plumer: England's Daily Mail is reporting on the unofficial (if "official" is what the totalitarians are telling us) but likely accurate death toll in Burma, as well as on the nature of the brutality, the mass murder of the regime's opponents:

Thousands of protesters are dead and the bodies of hundreds of executed monks have been dumped in the jungle, a former intelligence officer for Burma's ruling junta has revealed.

The most senior official to defect so far, Hla Win, said: "Many more people have been killed in recent days than you've heard about. The bodies can be counted in several thousand."


Reports from exiles along the frontier confirmed that hundreds of monks had simply "disappeared" as 20,000 troops swarmed around Rangoon yesterday to prevent further demonstrations by religious groups and civilians.

Word reaching dissidents hiding out on the border suggested that as well as executions, some 2,000 monks are being held in the notorious Insein Prison or in university rooms which have been turned into cells.

There were reports that many were savagely beaten at a sports ground on the outskirts of Rangoon, where they were heard crying for help.

Read the full article for more, which includes photos.

The media will soon lose interest in this story, moving on to whatever is next, largely because the sensationalism will subside and their consumers will grow tired of more of the same -- and because Burma is effectively a "closed" society. Whatever the attention is continues to receive, however, we must not let this story disappear. If there is little else that we can do -- we who do not have the levers of government at our disposal, we who are not diplomats, we who cannot impose sanctions, that is, we bloggers, we in the alternative media -- we can continue to seek out reports, and to report on those reports, and to comment on those reports, coming out of Burma or about the situation in Burma generally, as well as to comment on what our governments are doing, or not doing.

That's the least we can do.


Elsewhere, The New Republic has an interesting article by Joshua Kurlantzick on "India's craven appeasement in Burma":

As protests spiral into chaos and bloodshed inside Burma, the country's giant neighbor China, looks on with concern, worrying about a total meltdown on their borders, which could spread instability across its frontiers. After saying nothing for weeks, its senior leadership calls on the Burmese junta to act wisely, yet does not condemn their brutal crackdown or support the Burmese pro-democracy movement.

But while the world has focused on how China abets the Burmese generals, in recent years the policies of India, the world's largest democracy, could be described in exactly the same way, and are just as craven. These days, senior Indian officials buy up Burma's resources, invite the junta leaders on state visits, and even sell the Burmese military arms. As Indian Foreign Minister Pranab Mukherjee recently said, according to the BBC, "We have strategic and economic interests to protect in Burma. It is up to the Burmese people to struggle for democracy, it is their issue."

India was generally supportive of the pro-democracy protests of the late-'80s, but its interests seem to have shifted. It is now actively propping up, and profiting off, Burma's totalitarian regime -- that is, profiting off oppression and mass murder. China deserves much of the blame, too, but India is certainly one of the leading enablers of the very regime that has slaughtered so many thousands in response to peaceful pro-democracy protests.

The Burmese people are struggling for democracy, and dying for it. But how are they to succeed with regional powers like China and India working to keep them in chains?


Update: There's more on the India-Burma relationship at Der Spiegel: "The ongoing political crisis in Burma is putting India in a difficult position. Delhi wants to cozy up to the junta to counter China's influence in the country. But the world's biggest democracy cannot be seen to support a crackdown on pro-democracy activists."

Update 2: For more on the plight of the monks, see The Independent: "Monks vanish as Burmese troops step up presence."

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  • 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!“.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 8:18 AM  

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