As featured on p. 218 of "Bloggers on the Bus," under the name "a MyDD blogger."

Monday, October 01, 2007

Gut-Wrenching Tragedy

The monks in Burma may be all gone.

Now comes an unconfirmed report in The Daily Mail in Britain with a staggering claim of mass slaughter. The paper quotes Hla Win, described as a Burmese general who has deserted his post in protest of the regime’s harsh tactics.

“Many more people have been killed in recent days than you’ve heard about,” Hla Win said. “The bodies can be counted in several thousand.” [...]

The 42-year-old chief of military intelligence in Rangoon’s northern region added: “I decided to desert when I was ordered to raid two monasteries and force several hundred monks onto trucks.

“They were to be killed and their bodies dumped deep inside the jungle. I refused to participate in this.”

This has been backed up by other sources, and raids on monasteries continue. Meanwhile the UN envoy has been frustrated in his attempts to meet with Gen. Than Shwe, the junta leader. This is tentatively scheduled for Tuesday, but that's the same day he's scheduled to leave the country, so we'll see if it happens.

What we have is a modern-day killing fields reminiscent of Cambodia and the initial 1988 power grab by the military junta that left thousands dead. But systematically murdering and dumping the monks, probably designed to initimidate all of the others, is just unspeakable.

This all started when the government decided to cut back on fuel subsidies, which is a side note that speaks to what really animates people. But the Burmese have lived under this repression for too long, so whatever the spark was, it simply set off other, larger rumblings.

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