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Asia

First Anniversary of September Protests in Myanmar

One year ago buddhist monks in Myanmar protested against the military junta. The military regime began its bloody crackdown on the demonstrations on September 24, 2007.

Buddhist monks and others march through the streets of Yangon

Buddhist monks and others march through the streets of Yangon

Myanmar, September 2007

: Buddhist monks continue their protests against the dramatic price increases. The military junta is reluctant to use force against the monks as they are also venerated by the military. Soon more and more civil groups join the demonstrations. Besides calls to revoke the price increases demands for democratic reforms grow stronger.

Moday, 24th September

: The former capital Yangon witnesses the largest demonstration in twenty years. Tens of thousands -- observers even speak of more than 100,000 people -- join the protest march of the monks. Meanwhile the military finally decides to contain the protests. Police and soldiers begin to patrol major intersections and urge the protesters over megaphone to stop their activities. Fears of a bloody crackdown -- like twenty years ago -- are growing.

Aung Naing Oo, a Burmese living in Thailand, voiced his concerns: "The situation has a potential to explode. Because we have seen a number of big gatherings (are) a threat to the military or the security forces. There is no shortage of police or military who are trigger happy. If you look at the situation there's so much anger. All we need is a spark ..."

Tuesday, 25th September:

Despite the increasing tension in the city the monks continue their protests with the broad support of Yangon's citizens. Again tens of thousands take to the streets.

Wednesday, 26th September

: The military starts its crack down: During the night several monasteries are raided, hundreds of monks arrested. Armed policemen and soldiers control the streets, a curfew is announced.

Aung Zaw, founder of the Irrawaddy News Magazine in Thailand, reported: "I was told by eye witnesses that warning shots were fired to scare away the protesters who tried to defy the curfew imposed by the military junta last night. Phone lines are also cut off and since last night some prominent activists are being apprehended. One by one houses were searched and the activists were take by the military police to unknown destination."

Thursday, 27th September

: Again thousands take to the streets of Yangon ignoring the curfew. Shouting slogans for democratic reforms the protesters are suddenly surrounded by baton wielding security forces. Water cannon and tear gas are used to disperse the crowd; suddenly shots are fired at the fleeing masses.

According to official figures, ten demonstrators died, among them a Japanese press photographer who was deliberately shot into his head at point-blank range. But the Australian ambassador to Myanmar, Bob Davis, believes many more must have died:

"We have unconfirmed reports that a significantly larger number were killed when the military opened fire on crowds yesterday in Yangon. I spoke to a number of people last night before the curfew provisions applied; we heard individual reports from them saying significantly more dead were removed from the scene of demonstrations in central Yangon yesterday."

The United Nations estimate that at least 31 people have been killed with 74 missing. But opposition groups place the death toll in the hundreds, including monks.

Friday, 28th September

: Throughout the day mass arrests continue, any signs of protests are brutally suppressed, slowly the demonstrations fade out.

Saturday, 29th September

: The military junta declares that law and order have been restored in Yangon. The city streets are empty, heavily armed security forces can be seen everywhere, cars and pedestrians are stopped and thoroughly checked.

The hope of economic and political reforms has thus been brutally destroyed by the military regime. One year later it continues to rule Myanmar with an iron fist and refuses to hold talks with opposition groups.

Audios and videos on the topic

  • Date 24.09.2008
  • Author Tobias Grote-Beverborg 24/09/08
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  • Permalink http://p.dw.com/p/LsBG
  • Date 24.09.2008
  • Author Tobias Grote-Beverborg 24/09/08
  • Print Print this page
  • Permalink http://p.dw.com/p/LsBG