News from Democratic Voice of Burma

Protests continue in Rangoon amid ongoing crackdowns


Sep 28, 2007 (DVB) - Soldiers have used slingshots to disperse demonstrations in Rangoon today, which have been less organised than on previous days.

Chants from the protestors have taken on a different tone from earlier messages of goodwill, with protestors calling for lightning to strike and kill those who had attacked monks.

"Before they were chanting metta, but now they are cursing the soldiers," said a local resident.

Troops were deployed at the corner of Sule pagoda road and Anawrahta road where shootings took place yesterday, about six blocks away from the Pansodan junction with Anawrahta road where more than 10,000 people were protesting.

Another group of 5,000-10,000 protestors assembled at around 3.30pm in the Chinatown area at the junction of Strand road and Keile road, also cursing government security forces. No government troops, guards or supporters were seen at this location.

"It's like they're trying not to upset the Chinese. We've seen an army truck passing by Chinatown, but no troops have been deployed," said a Rangoon resident.

The group moved on towards Sule pagoda road but was broken up at around 4pm by government troops from battalion 66 firing slingshots at them.

Four army trucks were seen, one with a loudspeaker urging residents not to provide refuge to protestors and ordering them to refrain from firing slingshots at security forces from their homes. The announcements threatened action against anyone sheltering protestors.

There have also been reports that warning shots were fired at demonstrations at Theingyizay market, but these were not said to have been aimed directly into the crowds.

Reporting by Than Win Htut and Aye Nai

Local residents thwart monastery raids


Sep 28, 2007 (DVB) - Army troops attempting to raid monasteries in Mandalay and Rangoon last night were forced to withdraw by local residents.

Troops approaching the monasteries backed off after seeing people from the surrounding areas armed with sticks and slingshots preparing to stop them.

In Mandalay, Masoyein (Old and New), Mya Taung, Veitthudayon, Phayagyi and Dhammikarama monasteries were targeted.

Residents had heard rumours of impending raids and made preparations to thwart the security forces' approach.

"We set up an alert system of banging pots and pans when anyone saw soldiers approaching the monastery, and we prepared ourselves with any available weapons to stop these unholy people from harassing the monks," said a Mandalay resident.

However, despite the residents' efforts, Pauk Myaing monastery was raided by government troops at around 7pm yesterday.

"They kicked the monks with their army boots and beat them up before arresting about 40 monks," said another local resident.

"If we just stood by, not even dogs would survive in Burma under these bastards" brutality and inhumanity,? the resident continued, pledging that residents were ready to assist the monks whenever their help was needed.

In Rangoon, troops encountered resistance from local residents as they approached Sasana Alin Yaung, Sanana Wuntha and Min Nanda monasteries in Daw Pon and Tharkayta townships.

At Min Nanda monastery, which backs on to Pazuntaung creek, troops tried to approach from both land and water but retreated when they saw the strength of local resistance.

"There were not only Buddhist people but also Muslims, Christians and Hindus defending the monasteries," said a resident of Tharkayta township.

A similar story has been played out in other townships in Burma, as residents take action to resist government raids on monasteries.

At Myin Chan monastery in New Dagon (South), residents prepared to guard the monastery with the support of the abbot.

The monastery was visited last night by government officials who told the abbot to send all novice monks back to their townships outside Rangoon. The order was refused by the abbot.

Reporting by Maung Too

Security forces fire on school pupils


Sep 28, 2007 (DVB) - Government security forces beat up and fired upon young students in front of a school during yesterday?s brutal crackdown on large-scale protests in Rangoon, according to witnesses.

A group of students was marching from Pansodan bridge to the high school in Tamwe township, while many other students were inside the school compound. Soldiers and government guards fired automatic weapons into the air and at chest-level to prevent marching students from reaching the school.

"There were primary-grade students studying inside the school and some of them were hit as well," said one of the witnesses.

Parents waiting to collect their children from school were also among those hit by bullets.

"They also rammed a truck with its headlights on into a crowd of students before arresting them at gunpoint," said another witness, who stated that about 300 students were arrested in the crackdown.

"Teachers at the school had to take all the children and their parents inside the school building and give them shelter," the witness continued.

Reporting by DVB

Residents surround security forces at raided monastery


Sep 27, 2007 (DVB) - Local residents in South Okkalapa township have surrounded security forces who returned to Ngway Kyar Yan monastery to arrest the abbot following last night?s raids.

At least 130 monks were detained in the raid on the monastery, and personal belongings including robes, rice and 2,000,000 Kyat in cash were seized.

Security forces returned at around noon today to arrest the abbot and took up positions surrounding the monastery.

But hundreds of thousands of local residents, outraged by the raids, surrounded the troops, shouting anti-government slogans and demanding the immediate release of the detained monks.

A large group of people also assembled at the junction of Weizayanar and Dhittsar roads.

"The military is surrounding the monastery and firing warning shots to disperse the crowds, but people are standing firm," said a bystander.

The latest reports from the scene say that more people are joining the crowds.

Reporting by Than Win Htut

Military raids monasteries, bashes and arrests monks


Sep 27, 2007 (DVB) - About 700 monks and civilians were arrested late last night following a brutal attack by the military on at least three monasteries in Rangoon.

At the Ngway Kyar Yan Monastery in South Okkalapa township eyewitnesses described the scene of the arrests as unbelievable.

"Many spots of blood could still be seen in the morning in the monastery compound and nearby," one witness said.

Eyewitnesses said three trucks filled with soldiers arrived at the monastery at about 12:15am this morning. When the monks refused the soldiers' demand to open the gate, a fight broke out in which both sides hurled bricks at each other for about 20 minutes.

The soldiers eventually crashed through the gate with one of the trucks and used bamboo sticks to beat everyone in the monastery, including monks, laymen, women and children, some of whom were related to or were under the care of the head abbot, or sayadaw.

One witness said the soldiers shouted "harsh, abusive words" at the monks while they were beating them. One monk who had tried to warn the monastery of the soldiers' approach was beaten unconscious as he lay on the ground.

Another witness said the soldiers were led by a two-star general who beat some of the soldiers who were reluctant to harm the monks. The attack lasted about 90 minutes, ending when about 60 monks and 40 laypeople were tossed into waiting trucks and driven to an unknown destination.

Broken glass and monks' robes could be seen scattered on the ground after the soldiers departed.

"The army stole everything from the monastery, cassette players, radios, money that had been donated, everything they could take," one witness said.

Among the arrestees were the second chief of the monastery, Sayadaw U Uttama, and another senior sayadaw, U Dhammadainna. However, the head sayadaw, who is a member of the State Sangamahanayaka Committee, was meditating in a hidden location in the monastery at the time of the assault and escaped arrest, as did a number of monks who were able to flee the soldiers.

People in the neighbourhood around the monastery gathered in the compound at dawn, many of them breaking into tears when they saw the devastation the military had left behind.

"It's impossible to believe that the government would brutalise the holy monks who represent our religion in this way," one bystander said.

Reports from Rangoon also indicate that soldiers raided several monasteries around the Moe Gound Pagoda and the Maggin monastery in Thingyangyun which provides accomodation to people living with HIV and AIDS. The incidents are though to have greatly increased the ire of monks throughout the city.

"The government is not doing this for stability. This is sacrilege directed at the religion we believe in," one Buddhist said.

Reporting by Maung Too and DVB correspondents

Government response in Rangoon intensifies


Sep 27, 2007 (DVB) - Government security forces have again cracked down on tens of thousands of people protesting at Sule pagoda today, with unconfirmed reports of four people suffering gunshot wounds and one woman killed.

According to one source who joined the demonstration, people were taking part in a seated protest around Sule pagoda when soldiers arrived in military trucks and began shooting at the crowds. There are unconfirmed reports that at least four people were wounded by gunfire, and one woman was killed on the spot.

Another witness told DVB that a young man of about 20 was seen being taken to hospital by other protestors at around 2pm (local time) after being shot.

"Everyone was running in the direction of Traders Hotel, and some were carrying the wounded," said the witness.

On Bogyoke road, around 70,000 people were marching towards Theinphyu junction in Botahtaung, chanting anti-military slogans and shouting abuse at security forces.

"There are no monks - it's civilians now," said one person from the group.

At around 2.30pm, two fire trucks, seven military trucks and one government guard truck were seen in front of Traders Hotel at the junction of Sule pagoda road and Bogyoke. Protestors there, who had withdrawn from Sule pagoda, were given ten minutes to disperse before security forces would start to shoot. Protestors waited the full ten minutes before withdrawing slowly, some of them dancing mockingly in front of soldiers.

Soldiers also closed in on around 30,000 civilians on Pansodan bridge, where gunshots have since been heard.

Security forces have made a number of arrests throughout the day, including of a group of around 40 people who were separated from other protestors.

As of around 4.30pm, roads around Sule pagoda have been blocked. Security forces are now positioned near Traders Hotel, where they have been detaining passers-by. They have also secured the hotel and nearby Sakura Tower, Rangoon?s two tallest buildings, to prevent people from entering them.

Reporting by Maung Too and Aye Naing

Buddhist nuns join political protests


Sep 24, 2007 (AP) - About 20,000 protesters led by Buddhist monks and nuns yesterday mounted the largest anti-government protest in Burma since a failed 1988 democratic uprising, shouting support for detained pro-democracy leader Daw Aung San Suu Kyi.

At one point a small crowd of about 400 - about half of them monks - split off from the main demonstration and tried unsuccessfully to approach the home where Daw Aung San Suu Kyi is under house arrest. The monks carried a large yellow banner that read: "Love and kindness must win over everything."

The march raised both expectations of possible political change and fear that the military might try to crush the demonstrations with violence, as it did in 1988 when thousands were killed nationwide.

On Saturday, more than 500 monks and sympathizers were allowed past barricades to walk to the house, where Daw Aung San Suu Kyi greeted them from her gate in her first public appearance in more than four years. The meeting symbolically linked the current protests to the Nobel laureate?s struggle for democracy, which has seen her detained for about 12 of the last 18 years.

But any optimism on the protesters' part was tempered yesterday when government security forces - who had kept a low profile for the past few days - deployed in force to block the new march to Suu Kyi?s house. The junta had clearly been trying to avoid provoking the well-disciplined, widely respected monks.

"In our country the monks are the highest moral authority. When the monks take the leading role, the people will follow," said Soe Aung, a spokesman for the National Council of the Union of Burma, a coalition of opposition groups based in neighboring Thailand.

The crowd of about 400 people peacefully abandoned their attempt yesterday to get to Daw Aung San Suu Kyi's gate after being turned back at two different approaches blocked by barbed wire barricades.

Daw Aung San Suu Kyi, 62, is the leader of the National League for Democracy party, which won a 1990 general election but was not allowed to take power by the military. She has been under detention continuously since May 2003.

The heavy security presence, including two lines of police - the rear line armed - and a police truck and fire engine, raised tensions after several days of a hands-off approach by authorities.

The protests began on August 19 as a movement against economic hardship, after the government sharply raised fuel prices, increasing the overall cost of living. Arrests and intimidation saw the movement begin to falter until last week, when monks?who have long served as the country?s conscience?became the protests? vanguard.

The march of 20,000 people downtown was led by 10,000 monks who gathered at the famous golden hilltop Shwedagon Pagoda before marching downtown to Sule Pagoda and past the US Embassy among other places, witnesses said. For the first time, at least 100 white-robed nuns joined the demonstration.

Some monks shouted support for Daw Aung San Suu Kyi, while a crowd of about 10,000 sympathisers marched along, some holding hands to form a human chain to protect the maroon-robed clerics.

While authorities did not intervene in yesterday's march, plainclothes police trailed the marchers. Some, armed with shotguns, were posted at street corners along the route.

Democracy icon Suu Kyi greets Myanmar monks


Sep 22, 2007 (AFP) - Detained Myanmar democracy icon Aung San Suu Kyi stepped out of her home in tears Saturday to greet Buddhist monks marching past the compound where she is confined by the military junta, witnesses said.

Armed guards usually block the road leading to the rambling lakeside house, but in an unprecedented move, they allowed about 1,000 monks to walk past the home where she was been detained for most of the last 18 years.

Under rainy skies, Aung San Suu Kyi walked out with two other women and cried as she paid her respects to the monks as they marched past in the mid-afternoon, the witnesses said.

The monks stopped outside her home for about 15 minutes and chanted a Buddhist prayer: "May we be completely free from all danger, may we be completely free from all grief, may we be completely free from poverty, may we have peace in heart and mind."

The witnesses said she did not appear to speak to the monks, who have been leading a series of protests against the military government since Monday.

About 20 uniformed security police had opened a roadblock near Aung San Suu Kyi's house and did not interrupt the monks as they chanted, they added.

After the monks left, the security officials again closed the roadblock.

The 62-year-old Nobel peace prize winner has virtually no contact with the outside world, apart from a live-in maid and periodic visits from her personal doctor.

Her National League for Democracy party won a landslide victory in elections in 1990, but the miltary has never recognised the result.

Table of Contents

Page title Most recent update Last edited by
Burma update from BPF, and films and books November 1, 2007 4:34 AM Tom L.
Situation 'murky' in Myanmar (from pbs) October 27, 2007 10:14 AM Tom L.
Recent Petitions from Burma October 26, 2007 11:54 PM Tom L.
Steep decline in oil production brings risk of war October 22, 2007 11:45 PM Tom L.
full horror of Burmese junta's repression October 15, 2007 12:35 AM Tom L.
Totla Denial: A Documentary October 13, 2007 7:46 AM Tom L.
How China Got Religion October 11, 2007 11:05 PM Tom L.
Satements by Countries October 7, 2007 11:47 PM Tom L.
Security Council 10-5-7 October 8, 2007 12:00 AM Tom L.
Scot Marciel's Senate Statement on Burma October 4, 2007 11:49 PM Tom L.
U.S. Policy Regarding Burma October 5, 2007 1:03 AM Tom L.
Comment's on Senate Hearing on Burma October 5, 2007 6:55 PM Tom L.

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