Mandalar

It is sad

Posted on: October 4, 2008

It is regrettable that in our Myanmar, a group of people killed our monks. This kind of event happened in British colonial era. Now it came back again while Burma is governed by own people. In fact, the state man is 100% pure Burmese and he is a Buddhist as well. Definitely something went wrong in Myanmar. For me, I would suicide instead of beating and killing monks.

One year on in Burma

Thu, Oct 02, 2008

INTERNATIONAL commemorations marking last year’s brutal suppression of the popular revolt against Burma’s generals in recent days have had to acknowledge the disappointing progress made since then in putting pressure on them to relax their military rule. Precious little has been achieved through United Nations and regional diplomacy or by economic sanctions. The regime remains firmly in control of Burma and has even been given some political leeway by certain external powers.

Last year’s events were the most important eruption of street protests against the regime since the ill-fated democracy uprising of 1988. They were originally provoked in mid-August by sudden increases in government-controlled prices of diesel fuel and compressed natural gas. At the beginning of September members of the security forces attacked a demonstration involving Buddhist monks, provoking a much broader nationwide protest movement over the following three weeks, in which the clergy took a leading part. As it developed calls were made for political and economic reform, culminating in demands that the regime be overthrown and democracy restored. Huge demonstrations raised such hopes.

It was not to be. On September 26th soldiers and police opened fire on a large demonstration in Rangoon and went on to raid monasteries, arrest demonstrators and put down public protests with tear gas, baton charges and lethal force. At least 31 people died and over 3,000 were arrested, most of whom are still in jail. Within a few days the population was cowed and in fearful retreat. This rapid collapse of this popular movement shows it was more spontaneous than centrally directed. Unfortunately there was not time to develop a more long-lasting and organised leadership, and it looks as though the military is fully back in control.

Four strands of external pressure have been applied to Burma since then. United Nations secretary general Ban Ki-moon’s special envoy Ibrahim Gambari has visited the country a number of times, but has made little progress on political prisoners or human rights, including release of the opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi. Neighbouring Asian states initially held out the promise of engaging the regime in political dialogue, but have not followed it up. Economic sanctions from the US and the EU are ineffective. This policy vacuum has given India, Russia and China – all with special interests in Burma’s energy resources – an opening to encourage the regime’s highly disputed plans to hold controlled elections in 2010. It is a bleak and depressing picture.

© 2008 The Irish Times

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