Up to 8 killed in Yangon protests, including 1 Japanese national
AP is reporting they were advised by the Japanese Foreign Ministry that Burmese Army solders fired upon a crowd of protestors near the Panzundaun River in East Yangon, Thursday, when they failed to disperse as ordered.
At least one Japanese national was killed in the attack with 7 other deaths (including one Buddhist Monk) reported but unconfirmed. Witness reported 5 men were severly beaten and arrested following the shooting.
Since Saturday, tens of thousands have joined the protests against the military junta, with crowds swelling to an estimated 70,000-100,000 before the shooting.
Tensions have been rising over the past month initially sparked by dissatisfaction with government mandated fuel price increases, but more recently escalated to mass protests by political dissidents, students and Buddhist monks.
Buddhists Protest Peacfully Monday in Defiance of Junta Ban
Over the weekend, sources within the country reported the government had stockpiled sandals and robes worn by devout Buddhists and ordered solders to shave their heads, presumably to infiltrate the protests disguised as monks.
I must add that Burmese people are devoutly Buddhist and monks, which take a vow of poverty and service, occupy a prestigous and influential position in society much as in Thailand, Laos, Cambodia and Vietnam.
Since this story is breaking as I write, I suggest you link directly to the following for the most up to date information:
Several countries have issued statements condeming the incident and calling for calm.
In Beijing, Thursday, US Undersecretary of State Christopher Hill stated:
“We all need to agree on the fact that the Burmese government has got to stop thinking that this can be solved by police and military, and start thinking about the need for genuine reconciliation with the broad spectrum of political activists in the country.”
In a seperate press conference, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Jiang Yu stated:
“China hopes that all parties in Myanmar exercise restraint and properly handle the current issue so as to ensure the situation there does not escalate and get complicated.”
– snip –
“China expects Myanmar could commit itself to improving the living condition of people, safeguarding the rapprochement among different ethnic groups so to resume peace and stability as soon as possible.”
I would note that Mr. Hill is curently visiting Beijing and reliable sources in China indicate diplomatic pressure on Yangon is intensifying with the US urging China to lead due to it’s more direct ties.
The Myanmar regime, speaking through the mouthpiece New Light of Myanmar continued to underplay the scale of protests and place blame on outsiders, stating, Thrusday:
“Saboteurs from inside and outside the nation and some foreign radio stations, who are jealous of national peace and development, have been making instigative acts through lies to cause internal instability and civil commotion.”
As it is late here in China, I will be out for dinner and checking local sources but try to reply any commets later.
I regret my first topic is a sad one, but let’s hope for the best.
Update Follows the Jump
Fresh reports indicate the scope of police activities, unrest and violance against demonstrators was greater than originally reported.
Police executed early morning raids against several Buddhist Monistaries where monks were beaten and at least 75 were arrested.
News footage from foriegn reporters shows clashes between Police and demonstrators with tear gas and automatic weapon fire used to disperse rallys.
However, protest activities persisted and widened throughout the day.
The government now appears to be cutting telecomminications/internet lines in an attempt to impose a news blackout, but sources close to the country may be able to provide some continuing coverage of the situation.
Diplomatic pressure is increasing with a UN speacial envoy expected to arrive in Myanmar Friday.
Sky News (English) Desmond Tutu Comments
BBC News (Mandalay/English)
Below are links to updated news and background stories providing perspective.