Friday, November 2, 2007

Burmese Monks Protesting Once More

There's info all over the place, I'm sure. This is merely one source:
This is the first monk protest since the crackdown in September.

BBC reports that 100 monks marched today at a historic town in central
Burma. The monks chanted the metta sutta (sutra of loving kindness) as they marched through Pakokku, the site of an incident last month that triggered pro-democracy protests nationwide." Pakokku is a center for Buddhist learning with more than 80 monasteries.

British ambassador to Burma, Mark Canning, told the BBC he expected further unrest in the country.
I do think this sort of economic and political frustration that is within the population will manifest itself again in the coming months.
Update: The Democratic Voice of Burma reports:

Oct 31, 2007 (DVB)–Around 200 monks from several monasteries in Pakokku staged a walking protest at 8.30 this morning, according to a monk who participated in the march.

The monk said that the protest was a continuation of last month’s demonstrations as he said the monks’ demands have still not been met.

"Our demands are for lower commodity prices, national reconciliation and the immediate release of Daw Aung San Suu Kyi and all political prisoners," the monk explained.

The monks came from monasteries around Pakokku, including the West and Central monasteries, and chanted metta as they marched three in a row, with monks in the first row holding Sasana flags.

They started walking along Bogyoke road towards Thida road, then turned into Pauk road before ending the march at Shwe Ku pagoda.

The monk said the group was not afraid of the response of the authorities.

"We are not afraid of getting arrested or being tortured. We are doing this for Sasana," he said.

The protest began about one hour after a pro-government rally in the same town ended, and authorities did not intervene to stop the monks’ march.

The monks reportedly notified the authorities in advance, telling them that if a pro-government demonstration was taking place then the monks should also be allowed to hold their protest.

The monk said there would be more and larger demonstrations in the future.

"We did not have much time to organise the protest as we did not actually plan for it, so there weren't a lot of monks. But there will be bigger and more organized protests soon," he said.

The monk said that civilian bystanders supported the protest but were afraid to express this openly.

"We would like to urge people not to be afraid since we are doing this for good future of our country," he said.

Via the same blogger, there's also news about Thailand's version of La Migra is rounding up Burmese refugees and deporting them:
Today The Irrawaddy reports that Thailand is rounding up Burmese migrants -- including children. Guess where Thailand sends them? Back to Burma.

It gets worse. The Thai government official supervising the round-ups of Burmese is none other than General Sonthi. Sonthi is a close friend and staunch ally of Burma's junta. Monks and protestors already lay dead on the streets of Rangoon in September, but this did not deter General Sonthi issuing a statement in defense of the Myanmar regime.

Sonthi was also responsible for the execution of the 2006 coup d'etat in Thailand (Last year, on a Bangkok street around midnight I live-blogged a Thai spokesman declaring a coup d'etat in the name of General Sonthi -- video here, here). Just last month, General Sonthi resigned from the military and was appointed deputy prime minister of Thailand

Here's the most recent report from the Irrawaddy (Mizzima also has a story on this). The Irrawaddy explains that Sonthi was behind this outrage against Burmese living in Thailand:

Thai police arrested about 1,200 migrant workers, most of them Burmese, in a raid on a market area in Thailand’s Samut Sakhon province early on Wednesday, the Thai News Agency (TNA) reported. . . .

A source in Mae Sot said more than 200 illegal migrants had been caught there and sent back to Burma. Police checkpoints had been set up in Mae Sot and on main roads leading to the town.

Moe Swe, of the Mae Sot-based Yaung Chi Oo Burmese migrants’ organization, said the arrests were a cause of “big concern.”

A Burmese researcher at the Labor Rights Promotion Network said his organization was particularly concerned about the plight of children who faced being deported to Burma. “They might not know where to go and how to survive,” he said.

The current crackdown follows a recent claim by Thailand’s former army chief, Gen Sonthi Boonyaratkalin, now a deputy minister of national security, that the country’s 2-3 million illegal migrant workers represented a social problem and a threat that needed to be addressed, particularly in the province’s Mahachai district. He said he would be going to the area to inspect the situation at firsthand and seek a solution.

Apart from his government responsibilities, Gen Sonthi is chairman of Thailand’s National Foreign Workers Administrative Committee.

There is a pattern here.

Last week we learned that Thai agents are working to shut down pro-democracy news organizations operated by Burmese dissidents in exile. (The Irrawaddy, the source of this very report, is one of those groups that may be targeted by the Thai authorities). Since the brutal crackdown in September, Thailand appears to have placed a higher priority on supporting the Burmese junta in its crackdown than supporting the international community in its efforts to pressure the junta.
One can also check the AssPress coverage. I'd been reading for a while that the Buddhist monks were not going to remain silent for long. It appears they are making good on their promise. More at Ten Percent.

No comments:

Post a Comment