03/17/2008, 00.00
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Tibet’s revolt making Burmese generals nervous

In Yangon junta is tightening security around Buddhist religious symbols where anti-regime protests had taken place in September. Soldiers surround the Kaba Aye Monastery. Military government is concerned about some upcoming dates, including Burmese New Year.

Yangon (AsiaNews) – Protests by Tibetan monks against Chinese oppression are source of deep apprehension among the members of Myanmar’s ruling junta, fearful that it might spark a fresh, new wave of popular demonstrations like the one led by Buddhist monks in September 2007.

According to Mizzima News, an online news agency, soldiers and anti-riot police surrounded the Kaba Aye Monastery in Yangon, closing the site’s entry gate.

Sources told AsiaNews that the military government that has run the country formerly known as Burma has tighten security around other religious symbols as well as the heavily-guarded road to the airport.

The authorities have of course not provided any explanation for the tighter security. But some are speculating that the measures are a prelude to further crackdown on the population and Buddhist monks who might be tempted by anti-Chinese protests in Lhasa.

The generals might also be a bit touchy because of upcoming events that are important to the military regime, namely Army Day (27 march) and Burmese New Year (17 April).

The September movement leaders have said for some time that the military government, which has been in power since 1962, “shall not survive this year.”

There is also the May referendum on the constitution whose success is crucial if the junta wants to gain some international credibility for its “roadmap” towards democracy.

But in the country the prevailing silence speaks volume as popular dissatisfaction grows by the day. Sources have told AsiaNews that in Yangon and Mandalay people continue to die from hunger; that unemployment is at an historical high; and that the price of gasoline is so high that people are at their wit’s end.

University bus fare was 900 kyat a month. It then jumped to 9,000 and is now 11,000.

Students cannot get to class by bus and must take the train, cheaper but also less reliable.

“Living or dying here in Burma mean the same thing,” said a young man in Mandalay who preferred to remain anonymous. “We live in terror with fear of being spied everywhere. We cannot even talk about politics at home. How long will we have to go on like this?”

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