REGIONS:

SUBSCRIBE:

Sign up for weekly updates

CRACKDOWN CONTINUES DESPITE CONCESSIONS; WORLD PROTESTS

Dozens of marches around the world supported the people of Burma on the weekend, but the country's military government continued to arrest pro-democracy activists while seemingly relaxing its iron-grip on communications, report Mizzima News, the Southeast Asian Press Alliance (SEAPA), Burmese exile-run news sources and news reports.

As the United Nations Security Council met again on Burma on 9 October, news reports indicated that the security presence in Rangoon had been sharply reduced. But Reporters Without Borders (Reporters san frontières, RSF) and the Burma Media Association (BMA) say that although four of the nine journalists arrested since the protests started in August have been released, they fear a renewed crackdown and more journalist arrests.

Police are arresting people using photos and videos of the demonstrations, including footage taken by plainclothes police, say Mizzima News, RSF and local news reports. The information ministry, the official news agency and the security forces have reportedly been told to work together to identify the "citizen journalists."

In the past week, Burma has allowed some access to the Internet, but restricted it to Burmese websites and email messages with Burmese addresses ending in .mm, RSF reports. But Mizzima News warns that open Internet connections can help the junta pinpoint where the signals are coming from and target critics. RSF also reports that many privately owned magazines have not yet reappeared on newsstands. Some are refusing to publish propaganda while others are waiting for the military censors to approve their next issue.

Meanwhile, people across the globe took to the streets last weekend to support the Burmese protesters. On 6 October, proclaimed as an international day of action for Burma, people marched in Mongolia, Malaysia, Thailand, Austria, Belgium, France, Ireland, the UK, Australia, New Zealand, Canada and the United States, Amnesty International reports.

In Tokyo, Japan, hundreds of people including Burmese exiles mourned the death of video journalist Kenji Nagai, who was fatally shot in Rangoon on 27 September. Footage smuggled out of Burma appeared to show a soldier shooting Nagai at point-blank range, but the regime says he was shot accidentally.

In Singapore, a leader and three other members of the opposition Singapore Democratic Party (SDP) were arrested at a protest against the city-state's trade ties with Burma. In Sri Lanka, about 100 monks from five countries gathered near Colombo's United Nations compound to support the pro-democracy protests.

Avaaz.org launched what it called "a massive ad campaign in major newspapers," beginning with the "Financial Times" worldwide and the "South China Morning Post", to pressure China on Burma. Avaaz says more than 700,000 people have signed a petition aimed at China.

Human Rights Watch is calling for corporate action. "Companies doing business in Burma argue their presence is constructive and will benefit the Burmese people, but they have yet to condemn the government?s abuses against its own citizens," the organisation said. "Keeping quiet while monks and other peaceful protesters are murdered and jailed is not evidence of constructive engagement."

Visit these websites:
- Mizzima News: http://www.mizzima.com/
- SEAPA: http://www.seapabkk.org/
- RSF on five journalists still held: http://www.rsf.org/article.php3?id_article=23899
- Human Rights Watch: http://hrw.org/english/docs/2007/10/01/burma16995.htm
- Amnesty on worldwide marches: http://web.amnesty.org/pages/mmr-011007-news-eng
- Japanese journalist mourned: http://www.bma-online.org/BMW_2007_Oct_Dec.html#0
- Singapore protest: http://www.reuters.com/article/newsOne/idUSSIN30196720071008
- Avaaz.org petition: http://www.avaaz.org/en/stand_with_burma/u.php?cl=22046875
(Photo courtesy of Mizzima News: Women's League of Burma (WLB) members collect signatures during the 'Second Peoples' Parliament' in Shillong city, in the northeastern Indian state of Meghalay.)

(9 October 2007)

Latest Tweet:

Abraji e GIJN lançam primeira comunidade global de jornalistas que falam português https://t.co/whoZRK2uJ2 @abraji @gijn

Get more stories like this

Sign up for our newsletters and get the most important free expression news delivered to your inbox.

CLOSE