10/03/2007, 00.00
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Repression continues, new forms of protests appear in Yangon

Despite international warnings, troops continue to raid monasteries and private homes at night. Some try fleeing into the jungle. In the capital many residents switch off TV and lights in protest when official evening news bulletin is broadcast carrying the junta’s “truth.” Officer who defected says thousands off dead in the whole country.

Yangon (AsiaNews) – Protests and repression continue in the country once known as Burma after the UN envoy to Myanmar ends his visit and prepares to report to the Security Council. Local citizens are not giving up and are organising instead new forms of dissent.

The military junta that has run the country with an iron fist seems deaf to international appeals and warnings to end the violence against peaceful demonstrations.

Pro-government gangs roamed the streets in Yangon last night in search of monks and opponents. The old Burmese capital is still being patrolled by the army under a curfew.

Eyewitnesses reported seeing at least eight trucks with prisoners leave the city.

The city itself has become the focal point for protests led by Buddhist monks against a dictatorship that has had a stranglehold over the population for more than 40 years.

Detainees are thought to be held in makeshift tent prison camps outside the city.

Recent eyewitness accounts also report many city residents and monks fleeing into the jungle to avoid arrest.

Despite roads manned by troops, internet and phone out of service and fear to leave home, the population has found new and “silent” ways to protest.

International agencies are reporting that many Yangonites through word of mouth are being told to switch off their TV in the evening when the state broadcaster presents the official evening news. Some are also turning off all the lights in their homes.

“By doing this, I am showing that I am not listening to what the government is saying,” said one resident.

Since the troubles began the authorities have taken to the airwaves each night at 8 pm, using the hour-long newscasts to broadcast their “truth.” Protests are described as a campaign by Western governments and external dissidents to destabilise the country. Newscasts have repeatedly shown mass, pro-government rallies to counter the impact of the monk-led demonstrations.

In the meantime family members of people who disappeared in the past 45-days, i.e. since demonstrations started, want to know what happened to their loved-ones. But there is no precise estimate as to the number of dead.

Government sources put the number at 10. Exile groups say the number of dead nationwide is probably between 140 and 200.

The Norway-based Democratic Voice of Burma estimates that about 6,000 demonstrators—including at least 1,400 monks from seven now-empty monasteries—have been arrested, including supporters of the National League for Democracy, the country’s main opposition party.

But the situation might be worse. Hla Win, chief of military intelligence in Yangon’s northern region, is the first official to defect for opposing the repression against the monasteries.

Whilst searching for a country of refuge, he is in the Daily Mail quoted as saying that “many more people have been killed in recent days than you have heard about. The bodies can be counted in several thousand.”

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See also
Junta shuts down monastery close to pro-democracy movement
Help Myanmar, boycott the Beijing Olympics, say young Burmese
Opposition supporters burnt alive in Yangon crematorium
Mandalay, student activist sentenced to 104 years in prison
Burmese regime continues repression against monks and dissidents


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