September 23, 2007


Dissident reveals his hand in Burma protests (Anuj Chopra in Ragoon and Colin Freeman, 23/09/2007, Sunday Telegraph)

A pro-democracy leader who tops the "wanted" list of Burma's military rulers has revealed to The Sunday Telegraph how his movement has helped orchestrate the escalating street protests against the country's dictatorship.

In a rare interview granted while on the run from the secret police, a veteran of the "1988 generation" – the student group whose last rebellion was brutally crushed – said his members had been secretly liaising with the Buddhist monks who have taken to the streets in recent days.

While the monks have so far been the public face of the protest – the biggest and boldest in more than a decade – the campaigner's comments are the first public confirmation that the two groups are working to form a joint challenge to the regime.

During a secret meeting in Burma's former capital, Rangoon, the activist, speaking under the pseudonym of "Mr Saw", told of his hopes that, this time, the country's generals might lose their nerve rather than respond with force.

Up to 3,000 people died in the suppression of the 1988 uprising, but such is the dire state of Burma's economy now that many of its 53 million people feel they have little left to lose.

Suu Kyi lends support as thousands march in Burmese capital: Burgeoning alliance of protesting monks and civilians poses biggest challenge to military regime in 20 years (Andrew Buncombe, 23 September 2007, Independent)
Burma's imprisoned democracy leader, Aung San Suu Kyi, made a rare public appearance yesterday when thousands of Burmese monks, marching in protest against the military regime, passed the Rangoon property where she is under house arrest.

Ms Suu Kyi, hardly seen during her most recent term of confinement, which began four years ago, came to her gate and greeted the monks. She looked "fit and well", according to one protester who saw her. "The monks just walked past, chanting holy scriptures peacefully," one young man who had been following the procession told Reuters. "I saw 'Auntie Suu' inside the compound."

In the Burmese city of Mandalay, meanwhile, between 5,000 and 10,000 people marched in the largest of the protests that have electrified Burma over the past five days.

The alliance of Ms Suu Kyi and the Buddhist clergy could be crucial as the Burmese regime confronts its most sustained challenge in two decades.

"Aung San Suu Kyi has not been seen in public since 30 May 2003, when her convoy was attacked by [government-sponsored] thugs," said Mark Farmaner, of Burma Campaign UK. "By visiting her the monks are putting their spiritual authority behind the democracy movement. It is a strong message of unity."

Burma poised for junta to strike (MICHAEL CASEY, 9/23/07, Scotland on Sunday)
THE crunch may come as early as this evening. At 8pm, across the troubled country still known to most as Burma, citizens have been urged to pray outside their homes in support of the monks peacefully challenging the brutal military junta which has been in power for more than 40 years.

If they turn out in their thousands, the junta in Myanmar will know that the rebelling monks have the wider community behind them. The dilemma for the ruling elite will be whether to allow the protests to continue to escalate - revealing the leadership's weakness - or whether to revert to type.

Aung Zaw, a Myanmarese editor of a current affairs magazine safely published in neighbouring Thailand, expects the latter as the military leadership has always resolved such challenges by force.

Posted by Orrin Judd at September 23, 2007 8:37 AM
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