Saturday, September 29, 2007

Burma on Saturday September 29 - Protests Continue

Oct 1 Update:

Some 10,000 farmers in Arakan State on Saturday joined hands in a protest against the military government in Wra Ma Village, located 30 miles north of Taungup in southern Arakan. (Narinjara)

Last update: 23:55 in Bangkok (23:25 in Rangoon)

Rangoon (Mizzima)
- "The army was fooled by protesters. The protesters would start at a place and when the security forces and soldiers came there, they would disperse and run and begin at another place," said an eyewitness.
-With more people joining in, protesters in Rangoon have swelled to more than 10,000. As security forces continue to beat and crackdown, protestors flee shouting slogans and again gather in different places. Troops stood about 50 metres from the protesters. As the clapping of the protesters reverberates the army is getting ready to open fire.
-Soldiers open fire on protestors near Sanpya cinema hall. The number of injuries and casualties remained unconfirmed.
-About 2,000 protestors march on the Merchant Street in the heart of Rangoon and are shouting slogans of "Peoples' desires must be fulfiledl". Soldiers and police are reportedly rounding up the protestors and arresting them
Kyaukpadaung, Mandalay Division
-More than 1,000 monks led about 30,000 protesters in a demonstration march in Kyaukpadaung Township, according to a monk in a local monetary. Protesters actively joined the demonstration despite security troops and army trucks in the downtown area (Irrawaddy)

Mandalay (Mizzima)
- About 5,000 people in Mandalay protested despite restrictions and heavy security.
- Security forces continue to guard all the monasteries in Mandalay and impose restrictions on movement of monks, effectively barring monks from protesting.

Sittwe, Arakan State
-About 50 monks led 5,000 protesters in Sittwe in Arakan State in western Burma in a mass demonstration according to the a local resident. (Irrawaddy)

Kyauk Padaung town, Central Burma
Monks and civilians today staged another protest in Kyauk Padaung town in central Burma.
More than 1,000 monks from Thukhahwadi, Khamarthiwun, and Gu monasteries along with over 30,000 civilians today began the march at about 3 p.m .(local time) from Saythigyi pagoda and through the town to Mingalar Saythi Thike, central point, and on Myingyan Road.

The IHT presents a most sobering account of Rangoon this morning:

The streets were quiet early Saturday and monks . . . were locked behind temple gates in the two largest cities, Yangon and Mandalay. Additional troops arrived overnight, consolidating the government's control of
urban areas.

Residents worried that pro-democracy protests could be weakening after soldiers and police in Myanmar took control of the streets, firing tear gas and warning shots to scatter demonstrators who ventured out. . .

The mood in Yangon was somber Saturday. Soldiers and police were stationed on almost every street corner. Shopping malls, grocery stores and public parks were closed, and only a handful of residents ventured out

"People are living in a state of fear and hate," said one onlooker, who asked not to be named. "A few days ago, everyone was friendly. Now no one wants to talk to strangers."

Hundreds of people have been arrested in the last few days, including Win Mya Mya, an outspoken member of the country's main opposition group, the National League for Democracy, who was taken overnight. . .

The arrival of additional troops in Yangon strengthened the government's hand . . . The corralling of monks — who carry high moral authority in the predominantly Buddhist nation — was also a serious blow. Authorities also shut off the country's two Internet service providers, although big companies and embassies hooked up to the Web by satellite remained online.

I think in reading such an account, we should keep in mind that we just don't know what's happening elsewhere in Burma today, so this gloomy picture -- presumably taken within a limited radius of downtown Rangoon -- may not reflect the situation in the country overall.

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