The images of monks marching in the lashing rain against the vicious military junta in Myanmar, joined by crowds of civilian sympathizers, brings back memories of Philippine-style people power and has once again given rise to the hope that this time Burmese democracy may have a chance. A firm and united international response by the ASEAN nations and the countries with the greatest influence on Myanmar’s shadowy generals – China, Russia and India, which provide weapons to the army– plus strident condemnation from the U.S. , U.K. and other western democracies gives the impression that positive and peaceful change may be on the way.
Protests began last month over increases in fuel prices which quickly gave way to popular and spontaneous expressions of frustration and anger over the 19-year military reign of terror. When the country’s highly revered Buddhist monks joined in, the junta was seriously threatened. The protesters even managed to march by the restricted area where Aung San Suu Kyi, the iconic democracy leader and Nobel Peace Prize winner, was under house arrest. She made a brief public appearance and was quickly hustled away.
The military ring reacted in the usual manner, by dispatching troops to stifle protest actions and imposing a curfew. There have been reports that soldiers fired live rounds into the crowds and at least one monk has been killed. Aung San Suu Kyi was reported to have been moved to prison from house arrest. Read the rest of this entry »