Tuesday, 2 October 2007

Yup. More on Burma (& Rambo!)

Gambari, the UN special envoy, should finally meet with the head shithead Senior General this afternoon.

UN associate spokesman Farhan Haq said Gambari would urge the junta "to cease the repression of peaceful protest, release detainees, and move more credibly and inclusively in the direction of democratic reform, human rights and national reconciliation."

Opposition groups say several thousand people were arrested, including many monks who were dragged out of their monasteries and locked up. Many demonstrators were reported held in makeshift prisons at old factories, a race track and universities around Yangon.

An Asian diplomat said Monday that all the arrested monks had been defrocked--stripped of their highly revered status--and were likely to face long jail terms. He spoke on condition of anonymity, citing protocol.

Some info about the head honcho guy Gambari's meeting:

Than Shwe, a former postal clerk who began his army career fighting insurgencies by Myanmar's ethnic minorities, has had an iron grip on power since 1992, having ousted or co-opted any challengers within the military.

Not well educated, he rarely makes public appearances, and there is no record of him traveling to a Western country.

Diplomats who have met him say he has a streak of xenophobia common to Myanmar's military and an almost visceral hatred of Suu Kyi, who has become an international symbol of the yearning for democracy in Myanmar.

In 2004, Than Shwe ousted his main rival, Gen. Khin Nyunt, the powerful head of intelligence, who favored some dialogue with Suu Kyi.

He has also been reported to be deeply attached to the predictions of astrologers and views himself as a throwback to the old kings of Burma. Now in declining health at 74, he suffers from hypertension and diabetes.

As Downer has said re Gambari's dialogue with the 'throwback': "I don't hold out immediate hope for that mission, but I wish him well."

[UPDATE 3/10: Gambari met with General Than Shwe, then saw Suu Kyi again and then left...]

Burma's foreign minister, Win [I prefer the name Lose], has been telling some tall tales to the UN. Apparently everything's fine now and the junta is very upset that protestors have delayed their ongoing process toward democracy [!!!!!].

But surprisingly, Win made no mention of the deaths or injuries in the crackdown against the pro-democracy demonstrators by the country's security forces. Dissident groups say up to 200 protesters were slain, compared to the regime's report of 10 deaths, and 6,000 detained.

More tales have come from a police rep who has asked foreign reporters to leave - for their own safety of course:

"We have had a few criminals who have protested against a local tax change, but after a few days some of them attacked civilians and the police had to protect the civilians," Expressen quoted him as saying.

Local journalists are also being harassed (surprise, surprise).

News organizations reported that at least four Burmese journalists, including Min Zaw of the Japanese daily newspaper Tokyo Shimbun, had been arrested, and several others were presumed to have been arrested.

About 10 Burmese reporters have been physically attacked or prevented from working, including reporters for Reuters and Agence France-Presse, according to Reporters Without Borders and the Burma Media Association.

Can you imagine how brave you would have to be to be a reporter in Burma? I absolutely salute these people and their amazing courage.

Here's some of what Lose Win is not reporting. From a Burmese blog:

...BBC world, saying that 200 monks were arrested. The true picture is far worse!!!!!!!!!

For one instance, the monastery at an obscure neighborhood of Yangon, called Ngwe Kyar Yan (on Wei-za-yan-tar Road, Yangon) had been raided early this morning.

A troop of lone-tein (riot police comprised of paid thugs) protected by the military trucks, raided the monastery with 200 studying monks. They systematically ordered all the monks to line up and banged and crushed each one's head against the brick wall of the monastery. One by one, the peaceful, non resisting monks, fell to the ground, screaming in pain. Then, they tore off the red robes and threw them all in the military trucks (like rice bags) and took the bodies away.

The head monk of the monastery, was tied up in the middle of the monastery, tortured , bludgeoned, and later died the same day, today [Sunday, 30 Sept.]. Tens of thousands of people gathered outside the monastery, warded off by troops with bayoneted rifles, unable to help their helpless monks being slaughtered inside the monastery. Their every try to forge ahead was met with the bayonets.

When all is done, only 10 out of 200 remained alive, hiding in the monastery. Blood stained everywhere on the walls and floors of the monastery.

Please tell your audience of the full extent of the fate of the monks please please!!!!!!!!!!!

'Arrested' is not enough expression. They have been bludgeoned to death!!!!!

(I recommend a visit to that blog. I'll warn you, there are some shocking photos... but, at least they are the truth.) Also reported here.

And Mai has brought this article to my attention:

Thousands of protesters are dead and the bodies of hundreds of executed monks have been dumped in the jungle, a former intelligence officer for Burma's ruling junta has revealed.

The most senior official to defect so far, Hla Win [a different Win to the loser above], said: "Many more people have been killed in recent days than you've heard about. The bodies can be counted in several thousand."

At his border hideout last night, 42-year-old Mr Win said he hopes to cross into Thailand and seek asylum at the Norwegian Embassy.

The 42-year-old chief of military intelligence in Rangoon's northern region, added: "I decided to desert when I was ordered to raid two monasteries and force several hundred monks onto trucks.

"They were to be killed and their bodies dumped deep inside the jungle. I refused to participate in this."

With his teenage son, he made his escape from Rangoon, leaving behind his wife and two other sons.

He had no fears for their safety because his brother is a powerful general who, he believes, will defend the family.

Mr Win's defection will raise a faint hope among tens of thousands of Burmese who have fled to villages along the Thai border. They will feel others in the army may follow him and turn on their ageing leaders, Senior General Than Shwe and his deputy, Vice Senior General Maung Aye.

A Swedish diplomat who visited Burma during the protests said last night that in her opinion the revolution has failed.

Liselotte Agerlid, who is now in Thailand, said that the Burmese people now face possibly decades of repression. "The Burma revolt is over," she added.

"The military regime won and a new generation has been violently repressed and violently denied democracy. The people in the street were young people, monks and civilians who were not participating during the 1988 revolt.

"Now the military has cracked down the revolt, and the result may very well be that the regime will enjoy another 20 years of silence, ruling by fear."

Mrs Agerlid said Rangoon is heavily guarded by soldiers.

"There are extremely high numbers of soldiers in Rangoon's streets," she added. "Anyone can see it is absolutely impossible for any demonstration to gather, or for anyone to do anything.

"People are scared and the general assessment is that the fight is over. We were informed from one of the largest embassies in Burma that 40 monks in the Insein prison were beaten to death today and subsequently burned."

The diplomat also said that three monasteries were raided yesterday afternoon and are now totally abandoned.

To slightly happier news at home:

Downer has rejected having a Brigadier-General to fill the vacant ambassador position at the heavily protected mission near Australia's parliament.

"We made it clear to the Burmese that under no circumstances were we going to have somebody from their military regime as an ambassador, as a representative, here in Australia,"
in order to make a point to the former Burma's ruling generals that the biggest crackdown for 20 years was unacceptable behaviour.

Amnesty International - who also note that deaths could be in the hundreds - is urging the UN Security Council to immediately impose a comprehensive and mandatory arms embargo on Burma.

Amnesty also called on the principal suppliers of arms to Burma, particularly China and India, to stop arms deals with the country.

It looks like Israel are also involved.

...according to a March 1, 2000 report in the authoritative British publication Jane’s Intelligence Review ... Israeli companies and the Israeli government have been supplying and developing weapons for the Burmese regime, and sharing intelligence.

Interestingly it looks like Sylvester Stallone is going to bring some attention to the atrocities in Burma.

He was recently filming the 4th Rambo movie on the Salween River which separates Thailand and Burma. He saw horrific things even though he left the area before the military attacked protesters.

"...survivors with legs cut off and all kinds of land mine injuries, maggot-infested wounds and ears cut off. We saw many elephants with blown off legs. We hear about Vietnam and Cambodia and this was more horrific,'' Stallone told Associated Press.

"Shots were fired over the film crew's heads and we did receive threats," he said.

Stallone said families of the Burmese extras in the movie were imprisoned. He plans to bring survivors before the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA) board to raise the profile of their plight.

Additionally, the article points out that: The Burmese army has also waged a war against ethnic groups - raping women and killing innocent victims. Hardest hit have been the Karen - one of several minority groups seeking greater independence and autonomy.

Of course all this will also help to promote his movie, but it sounds like the movie will be trying to show the violence of the military on the people of Burma.

Although... in Rambo movies the violence is usually there for entertainment.

I mean, how many people sit through a Rambo flick merely for the profound dialogue...?