Wednesday, October 03, 2007
BURMA PM NEAR DEATH, GAMBARI BACK TO SINGAPORE, NIGHT TIME ARRESTS CONTINUE **update**
fter being stalled for a day to watch some junta-produced shows of support in Shan State (while the killers in Rangoon could finish hiding the bodies), UN envoy Ibrahim Gambari was finally granted an audience with military leaders on Tuesday, and has held talks with Gen. Than Shwe in his secluded capital Nay Pyi Daw. Upon returning to Rangoon, he had a second meeting with Aung San Suu Kyi (the occasion of this photo) before flying out to Singapore yesterday.
UN officials said he would meet the Secretary General on Thursday and "probably" brief the Security Council on Friday. There has been no information released about his meetings. Upon arrival in Singapore he was whisked away from reporters without comment, and hotel staff refused to put calls through.
Mizzima News reports that the Burmese Prime Minister, Lt-Gen Soe Win has passed away at the military hospital in Rangoon on Tuesday:
"Soe Win, who returned to Burma on Monday from a secret medical treatment in Singapore, died at about 5:00 p.m (local time), sources added.UPDATE: (Oct. 5, 1:45 am) A new report indicates that Soe Win has not died, but was moved into intensive care yesterday. [headline corrected]
"The Burmese Prime Minister is known to have been suffering from Leukemia and had secretly received medical treatment in Singapore.
"Soe Win, who is a Senior General Than Shwe loyalist, is also known as "the Butcher of Depayin" for orchestrating the Depayin massacre in 2003 by ordering mobs to attack on pro-democracy leader Daw Aung San Suu Kyi's motorcade."
Soe Win, who arrived in Yangon on Monday from Singapore where he was receiving medical treatment for an undisclosed disease, was visited at Mingalardon Hospital’s ICU on Tuesday by three of the country’s senior leaders, including military chief Senior General Than Shwe, sources close to the ruling junta said.END UPDATE
It is widely believed that Soe Win has returned to Myanmar to die. His death will not undermine Myanmar’s government as the premiership is largely a ceremonial post in this military dictatorship, analysts said.
Rangoon residents have told Mizzima that residents in parts of the city are continuing their protest by other means.
"Despite the Burmese military junta having imposed night curfews, residents in parts of Rangoon protested by putting their lights off for at least 15 minutes last night.Night time raids and detentions are continuing in the former capital, conducted not only by security forces but also by the junta's civilian vigilante groups. Under cover of darkness in the early hours this morning, at least eight truckloads of prisoners were taken out of the downtown area:
"Residents in North Okklapah said, many of the residents in ward (2) switched-off their lights at 8 p.m. (local time) for 15 minutes as token of dissent.
"As there is tight security preventing us from marching on the streets, we are doing this as a symbol that we the people of Burma are being kept helplessly in the dark," a local resident of ward (2) of North Okklapah township told Mizzima.
"While many residents remained in the dark for 15 minutes, a few others put on at least one light in fear of reprisal from the authorities. The residents also said that security forces could be seen patrolling the township."
"In one house near the Shwedagon Pagoda, the holiest shrine in devoutly Buddhist Myanmar and starting point for last week's rallies, only a 13-year-old girl remained. Her parents had been taken in the middle of the night, she said.The notorious Insein Prison is full, and thousands of detained monks and citizens are said to be held in other makeshift facilities, such as a disused racecourse:
"There was no word on where the prisoners were being taken or how many they would join."
"[Democratic Voice of Burma], which has continued to broadcast TV and radio into Burma from its Norwegian base in Oslo, added that at least 138 people were killed in last week's protests.Junta forces are not only detaining people from their homes in the middle of the night, but one wounded Burmese monk wasn't even safe at the hospital:
"Our own estimate is about 6,000 people detained, not killed, but detained," including about 2,400 monks, said DVB's chief editor, Aye Chan Naing. He said they were being held in at least four places: the Insein prison; a pharmaceutical factory; a technical institute and a disused racecourse.
"Ominously, it was reported many would be sent to prisons in the far north of the country.
"Monks appear to be paying a heavy price for spearheading the demonstrations. An Asian diplomat said all the arrested monks were defrocked and made to wear civilian clothes. Some were likely to face long jail terms, the diplomat said."
"A monk being treated at Rangoon general hospital for gunshot wounds, caused when soldiers fired on protesters in Sule last Tuesday, was moved by government officials to an unknown location, according to a witness.A source at the government technical college in Insein township told DVB that the monks being held there will be sent to a hard labour prison camp in the north of the country. Nearly 2,000 people are held at the college, including teenaged monks and young novice monks as young as five. Nuns and other women are also held in the compound.
"The monk, assumed to be aged around 30, was sent to Rangoon general hospital’s intensive care unit with a gunshot wound to his arm. Two members of the National League for Democracy in Thingangyun township, Ko Mya Than Htike and U Htun Shwe, and another unknown civilian were also sent to the hospital.
"Ko Mya Than Htike’s wife told DVB that all four patients were shot and wounded during the government guards’ violent crackdown on protesters near Sule Pagoda on September 27 and were later taken to the hospital by civilian bystanders. She said the monk was seen being taken away from the hospital ward by police officers on Saturday morning.
“Now the monk is gone. We don’t where he was taken to. He had a plaster-cast on his arm where he has the gun-shot wound. It was police officials who took him away,” said Ko Mya Than Htike’s wife."
National League for Democracy officials told DVB that at least ten of its elected members of parliament (from the 1990 election) have so far been arrested, as well as at least 137 party members.
Now that the citizens have been driven out of the streets in fear, and many of the non-compliant monks locked away or killed, the tyrants must have considered who to go after next. The bloggers, of course. These citizen journalists, who some would apparently consider not to be authentic journalists due to their lack of journalism school degrees, documented the astounding growth of the freedom struggle, as demonstrations grew a thousand fold in just days. Writes Kenneth Danby in the Australian [correction: Danby writes for London Times, but carried by the Australian], "Now the bloggers, too, have been crushed."
Ko Latt and his comrades have abandoned their keyboards and gone underground, sleeping in a different place every night, watching and waiting to see whether thedemocracy movement has been truly crushed or simply put onhold...With internet service now only partially restored, web browsers can only view offical websites and email can only be sent to domestic addresses. Danby notes that the only solution is a dial up connection to a foreign ISP -- prohibitively expensive.
"I wanted to say something to other people, about my life and the news, and articles that interest me," said Superman, who has been blogging for a year.
"That's why I like blogging - it's another life for me on the internet."
Then last month came sudden, devastating rises in the price of fuel oil and everyday goods, and the relatively small demonstrations that followed.
Around this time, many of them realised, as Superman said: "Everything is bloggable."
Then life became difficult. A blogger who posted a photograph of a demonstration was arrested and questioned, and her computer was seized.
As Superman put it: "Now Burma is like the Stone Age."Once again, wai to Gaius who sent me this yesterday while I was unable to post.
The bloggers held out as long as they could, and if there is ever a monument to the heroes of the Saffron Revolution it should certainly feature a statue of a skinny boy in a T-shirt and thick glasses hunched over a computer and a digital camera.