The unrest continues in that Southeast Asian nation.
YANGON, Myanmar - Soldiers clubbed and dragged away activists while firing tear gas and warning shots to break up demonstrations Friday before they could gain momentum. Troops also occupied Buddhist monasteries and cut Internet access, raising fears that a deadly crackdown was set to intensify in Myanmar.The ruling junta in Myanmar has as much use for democracy as it does for international or public opinion. The country is isolated already, and any sanctions not already in place, aren't likely to change the internal situation.
The government said 10 people have been killed since the violence began earlier this week, but diplomats say the toll is likely much higher. Dissident groups have put the number as high as 200, although that number could not be verified.
Witnesses said security forces aggressively broke up a rally of about 2,000 people near the Sule Pagoda in the largest city, Yangon. About 20 trucks packed with soldiers arrived and announced over loudspeakers, "We give you 10 minutes to move out from the road. Otherwise we will fire."
A group of about 10 people broke away from the main crowd and rushed toward a line of soldiers. They were beaten up, and five were seen being hauled away in a truck.
Soldiers dispersed the other protesters, beating them with clubs and firing shots in the air.
"People in this country are gentle and calm. (But) people are very angry now and they dare to do anything," said a shopkeeper, who witnessed the clash and did not want to be named for fear of reprisal.
Elsewhere, riot police played cat-and-mouse with smaller groups of die-hard activists, sometimes shooting into the air.
The clash in an area near the Sule Pagoda was the most serious of the several sporadic — though smaller — protests that were reported. 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.
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 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.
Security forces first moved against the anti-government protesters on Wednesday, when the first of the 10 deaths was reported. Images of bloodied protesters and fleeing crowds have riveted world attention on the escalating crisis, prompting many governments to urge the junta in Myanmar, also known as Burma, to end the violence.
But by Myanmar standards, the crackdown has so far been muted, in part because the regime knows that killing monks could trigger a maelstrom of fury.
That means all we can hope for is 1- An overthrow of the current junta by other Myanmar officials. Where are these men to come from? Dictatorships are always paranoid towards any possible threats. A legitimate alternative to present regime is going to be hard to find, because such an individual is likely to be either jailed, exiled or dead by now. Take Aung San Suu Kyi for instance.
2- A possible people revolution. It has happened in Asia before. The odds are long however. In the case of the Philippines, you had a deeply religious country where members of the military felt revulsion at the prospect of killing unarmed civilians. For the sake of the Burmese people, I hope history repeats itself.
Also discussing Myanmar- Michelle Malkin, Sister Toldjah, Dr. Estes at TMV,
Linked to- Adam, Cao, Bullwinkle, Third World County,