September 30th, 2007

(no subject)

I cannot verify the accuracy of any of this. I pass it on it hopes that it may be true.

> Dear All,
> Kindly forgive the brevity and the lack of
> formatting of the following email. I am now sending
> this information out as we are now receiving it. As
> many of you are now aware phone lines have been cut,
> mobile networks have been disabled, and Internet
> access has also been disabled. Information,
> therefore, is now very difficult to obtain and
> confirm. I therefore am unable to confirm any of
> that which follows, but my sources are adamant that
> this is the truth:
> Soldiers from LID #66 have turned their weapons
> against other SPDC soldiers and possibly police in
> North Okkalappa township in Rangoon and are
> defending the protesters. At present unsure how
> many soldiers involved. Some reports cite "heavy
> shooting" in the area.
> Other unconfirmed reports have stated that soldiers
> from LID #33 in Mandalay have refused orders to act
> against protesters. Some reports claim that many
> soldiers remained in their barracks. More recent
> reports now maintain that soldiers from LID #99 now
> being sent there to confront them.
> Reports of approx. 10,000+ protesters gathering
> around the Traders Hotel in Rangoon.
> Reports of 10,000+ protesters gathering at San Pya
> Market in Rangoon.
> Further reports of approx. 50,000 protestors
> gathering at the Thein Gyi Market in Rangoon.
> According to Mizzima, an unknown number of soldiers
> from Central Command and South East Command are
> presently on their way to Rangoon to reinforce SPDC
> army troops.
> Also according to Mizzima, an unknown number of
> aircraft have been scrambled from "Matehtilar"
> airbase - probably a reference to Meiktila in
> Mandalay Division.
> According to one journalist, SPDC have turned water
> cannons against crowds at Sule Pagoda. The report
> maintains that the water contained some type of
> chemical. awaiting further information.
> Please circulate this information as widely as as
> quickly as possible.
> Regards,
> Jason
> Research Director
> Human Rights Documentation Unit
> National Coalition Government of the Union of Burma

(no subject)

It is not power that corrupts but fear. Fear of losing power corrupts
- Aung San Suu Kyi.
Freedom From Fear

Thanks to azacs for some comments on my most previous post. Regrettably there was too much rumor, and not enough facts it seems. These pictures from are certainly factual, albeit a bit too graphic for some readers. You've been warned.

As for my own take. The Burmese are a remarkably superstitious people. The number 8 is lucky, the number 9 is unlucky. This is the reason the 8888 Uprising happened when it did. It is also the reason that the current protests turned violent on 9/27/2007 (sum the digits 9/9/9). There is probably very little that the west can or will do about the current protests. The continued financial support of China and India dwarf the effects of any sanctions from the west.

I can imagine 3 exit scenarios from here:

1. Something truely horrific is caught on video, China withdraws its support, the revolution hits a tipping point and Aung Sang Suu Kyi is the leader.

2. Monks accept that all of life is suffering, and that their sacrifices will benefit their karma. They continue to push this in ways that result in monks being killed (not dragged off to prison). Soldiers decide their karma can't handle killing any more monks, and the military lays down their weapons.

3. China continues its support, the junta stays in power, and thousands more end up in dead or tortured in Burmese prisons. On 8/8/2008 the Burmese get their best chance at democracy, and their last for at least 8 years.

For the moment I'm conflicted. I don't want to see anyone else killed in these protests, but the situation in Burma is very bad, and has been for a very long time. If we could see 1% of the daily horrors of Burma we'd be sending in troops. The current protests are likely to get more people killed, but they also the best chance for meaningful and lasting change.

Oct 6, 2007 is a planned global demonstration in support of the monks. Nothing seems to be planned for DC, but I may try to do something on my own. I could protest outside the Myanmar or Chinese Embassies, hold signs outside the Whitehouse, or ... I just don't know. It all feels so impotent.