Thursday, October 25, 2007

Delhi HC Censures Politicians for Having Elaborate Security Arrangements

The Delhi High Court has started something that may change the entire future of India. It may seem a very little thing: just criticism of the fact that Indian politicians roam about with entire armies of Black Cat commandos. It is a status symbol for them to have a lot of people guarding them.

This inconveniences the common people of India who are forced to suffer numerous indignities while the egomaniac politicians travel with convoys of cars with loud sirens, loaded with commandos and firepower.

The Delhi High Court has asked the politicians to stay at home if they are so afraid to come out of their armoured houses without a full army of commandos to protect their soft skin and delicate bones.

Perhaps if these politicians did not misrule the country so much, and did not commit so many crimes -- like Arjun Singh's and Antona Maino's torture of school-kids asking for the right to go to college without being stopped by Casteist Reservation, Arjun Singh's Divide and Rule politics based on OBC Casteism, Ksrunanidhi's insults to Lord Ram, Brinda Karat's harassment of Baba Ramdev, Jayalalitha's harassment of Shankaracharya, to name a few -- they would not be so afraid of ordinary citizens of India, and would not need an army of commandos to protect them.

It should not be a status symbol to have a lot of security guards. It should be a sign of cowardliness and weakness. Only the vilest and most unpopular rulers in the entire history of India -- the Nanda Dynasty, the Mughals, the Sultans, and the British -- have needed such elaborate security arrangements.

Popular rulers -- like Chandragupta Maurya, Ashok, Samudragupta, Vikramaditya, Rana Pratap, Chhatrapati Shivaji, to name a few -- did not hide like mice behind a wall of soldiers. They walked and lived among the common people.

The ministers of Scandinavian countries -- like Norway Denmark and Sweden to name a few -- roam about on streets, go to the market, and live like common people, without an army of soldiers following them everywhere.

Now let me come to why this may change the entire future of India. If popular opinion and the power of the Courts force our "leaders" to stop hiding behind commandos, they will no longer be willing to let the country remain a terribly unsafe place for the common man.

Today, these pseudo-secular politicians have removed anti-terror laws like TADA and POTA, making the lives of ordinary citizens infinitely more risky, to get the votes of bin Laden type Muslims. Among all the countries that have faced Islamic terrorism -- India, Israel, Russia, China, USA, UK, Spain, France -- India is the ONLY ONE that has relaxed the legal system and law enforcement apparatus. All other countries have strengthened their legal system after 9/11 with laws like PATRIOT ACT.

These other countries did this because none of them have electorally significant Muslim minorities. They are all Christian-majority or Jewish-majority countries where no politician will get any extra votes for being soft on Muslim terrorists. Indeed, they will get voted out of power if they are soft on Muslim terrorists.

India is the only exception. While the Hindu majority of India remains divided based n Caste (through the actions of Casteist leaders like Arjun Singh, Mayawati, Lallu Prasad, Jayalalitha, Karunanidhi, etc) the Muslim minority in India decides the outcome of elections.

However, staying in power is less important than one thing: staying alive. Today the Indian politicians -- themselves and their entire extended families protected by armies of Black Cat commandos -- have no fear of death by Islamic terrorism. So, they take actions that help them stay in power. Even though those actions make the ordinary citizens' lives dangerous.

If the ordinary citizens and the power of the Courts can force them to come out of hiding behind their body-guards, they will no longer take actions that make the country dangerous for everyone (rather, anyone who is not a Muslim terrorist). That can entirely change the future of the country.

It can mean the difference between extinction and survival.

Times of India reports:
Politicians should stay at home if they feel threatened: HC
25 Oct 2007, 1839 hrs IST,PTI

NEW DELHI: Observing they were not a "national asset", the Delhi High Court on Friday took the politicians head on over having their security guards on tow when they step out and wryly told them to remain in the confines of their homes and offices if they feel threatened by citizens.

"You should not let these men (politicians ) to come out. Their presence in public places itself threatens the common men. I do not know why it has become a matter of prestige for them to move with 10-15 uniform security personnel carrying lethal weapon," a Bench comprising Justice T S Thakur and Justice Veena Birbal told the Centre.

The court made these harsh observations while expressing displeasure over the inconvenience the public have to put up by the overwhelming presence of security guards accompanying politicians at public places.

The Court's observation came while hearing a PIL on police reforms seeking separation of force into two wings to deal with law and order and Investigation independently.

In sharp remarks laced with sarcasm, the judges could not hide their dismay when they said "If these people feel so threatened they should not come out in public places."

The judges said they (politicians) were not a national asset which should be protected and if they were, the citizens would protect and there was no need to be threatened by them (public).

"It has become fashionable and a status symbol. The more people(security men) surrounds these people(politicians) the more prestigious they feel. It is obnoxious that common men are forced to stay on the sidelines and are prevented to walk on the pavements when the politicians pass through", the Court said.

... Read more !

Coimbatore 1998 Blasts Verdict: No Death Penalty

It took the Court in Tamil Nadu almost 10 years to produce a verdict. By now, nobody remembers the blast victims. The widowed wives and orphaned children are probably dead from malnutrition already. The terrorists have spent the last 10 years in comfort as guests of the Government while the case dragged on for a decade. Not one terrorist was given the death penalty for carrying out an attack that killed 58 people.

Now they will appeal their sentence in a higher court. It will drag on for another 10 years at the Supreme Court. If the Supreme Court does not overturn the verdict and let them go, they will probably get a life sentence again.

By that time 20 years will have passed, with no Justice delivered yet. The terrorists will have lived a full life playing cards and watching TV as guests of the Government, while Government-sponsored lawyers battle for their freedom in court.

At some point in the future, an Indian airplane may be hijacked -- like what happened with the Kandahar hijacking -- and the Pakistani hijackers may demand the release of these terrorists. However, the Coimbatore terrorists are small fry; their Pakistani bosses will probably let them enjoy life as guests of the Indian Government while the stupid Indian system wastes its own money paying Government lawyers with Government (taxpayer) money to carry out a decades-long charade in court.

Through our above actions, we are telling future terrorists: come and kill us. IF we ever catch you, we will spend decades pushing paper and playing word games in court while you get to play cards and watch TV in a "prison" while your "trial" goes on. If we can't catch you, you can come and kill more of us again. Nice game; wanna play?

The US, UK, and Spain behaved very differently after the 9/11, 7/7 and 3/11 attacks. Those who attacked them are already dead, and anybody who played a part is either dead or on the run fearing for their lives. Wars are going on in Pakistan Afghanistan and Iraq, and millions of people who supported bin Laden have been killed. There is a good chance that by the time the wars are over, anyone who ever sympathized with bin Laden will be dead.

The terrorists know this. So they dare not attack the US again. Attacks are only happening against India, and will keep happening until India shows some backbone and will to fight back.

That will not come until common people stop accepting being killed and maimed in one attack after another -- regular like clockwork -- while the politicians roam around fearlessly, protected by hundreds of Black Cat commandos.

BBC reports:
Life terms over 1998 India bombs
Lal Krishna Advani
LK Advani was the alleged target of the bombs
A court in the southern Indian state of Tamil Nadu has sentenced 23 people to life in prison in connection with a series of bombs nine years ago.

Among those sentenced was the man described as the mastermind of the plot, SA Basha.

Nineteen bombs went off in the town of Coimbatore on 14 February 1998 just before Hindu nationalist leader LK Advani was due at an election rally.

Some 58 people were killed in the blasts which caused chaos in the town.

In all 166 people faced charges of being involved in the blasts, and around 153 have been found guilty.

Basha, the founder of the banned radical Muslim group, Al-Umma, is the most high profile defendant to be sentenced.

In August, another prominent defendant, Abdul Nasser Madani, the leader of the Kerala-based People's Democratic Party, was acquitted.

The 1998 bombings sparked clashes between Hindu and Muslim mobs in Coimbatore, some 2,400km (1,500 miles) south of Delhi.

The bombs went off close to where Mr Advani was due to speak.

At the time, he was president of the Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP). He was not at the podium when the bombs went off because his flight had been delayed.

Coimbatore was also the scene of Hindu-Muslim clashes in November 1997 after two men belonging to a radical Muslim group allegedly killed a Hindu policeman.

At least 17 people died in the violence that followed.

Investigators said that the bomb blasts were part of a conspiracy to assassinate Mr Advani to avenge the killing of the Muslims.

... Read more !

UP Government Starts zizya Again

Taxes paid to the Government by ordinary taxpayers (80% of whom are Hindu) will be used by the Mayawati UP Government to pay college fees for Muslim students. How is this different from the zizya religious tax imposed on Hindus to pay for Government benefits given to Muslims under Mughal and Sultanat rule?

How is it secular to use Government tax money for benefits given only to people of a certain religion? Aren't there any poor Hindus Buddhists Jains Sikhs Parsis or Christians who need help from the Government to go to college? Why shouldn't they get help from the Government if the Muslims will?

Do Muslims somehow deserve to be treated better than the people of all other religions? Like Manmohan Singh had said: "Muslims have first claim upon India's resources"?

Times of India reports:
UP govt to pay fees of Muslims pursuing professional courses
24 Oct 2007, 0104 hrs IST,Manjari Mishra,TNN

LUCKNOW: Admission fee up to Rs 1 lakh for a professional course will now be paid by Mayawati-led Uttar Pradesh government, if the student is from an underprivileged minority community.

A major sop targeting the below poverty line segment, the government order issued on September 15 covers "all BPL students pursuing engineering, medical, masters in business management and specialised courses in the universities across India, if they are from a minority community." Director, minority welfare, M A Khan told TOI on Tuesday the government order aims to reimburse registration charges, tuition and library fees and all necessary expenditure incurred by a candidate. The limit, he said, is Rs 1 lakh. The facility has been extended to paid seats as well.

The order has also warned the enforcing agency that if it failed to make the payment within the stipulated deadline, it would face serious consequences. The only condition is a student availing the facility must have studied in a recognised educational institution, including government approved madrasas. The selection of the candidates, according to Khan, will be on first come first served basis.

In fact, two major schemes cleared by the Maya government in quick succession last month have drawn attention for being overtly Muslim-friendly. Though Khan is at pains to explain that the policy is not limited to Muslims but also takes into account other communities like Sikh, Christian Buddhist and Jain, figures of the last census tell their own story. According to the data, minority communities constitute 19.32% of UP's population. Of this, a whopping 18.81% are Muslims while the percentage of Christians, Sikh, and Buddhists is 0.13, 0.18 and 0.12 even as the number of Jains is "negligible".

The other newly-launched social security scheme for BPL minorities offers Rs 10,000 towards meeting marriage expenses of a girl above 18 years of age. Letters have already been dispatched to all district magistrates to clear at least 500 such applications in each district.

... Read more !

Sunday, October 14, 2007

Indian Workers Being Tortured in Malaysia

It is the duty of the Government of India to protect Indian citizens inside and outside the country. These hard-working labourers went to Malaysia to earn money to feed their families and to earn precious foreign exchange for India. Shame on Manmohan Singh for sitting idle and doing nothing while Malaysia has the audacity to insult India by beating up Indian citizens in broad daylight.

Indians working in police, army, paramilitary, and commando forces of India should stop protecting Indian politicians. Their job is to protect the borders of India, and the ordinary citizens of India, not to defend the politicians who do nothing for the country and spend all their time looting the hard-earned money of the hard-working citizens. Let Antonia Maino, Arjun Singh, Jayalalitha and Karunanidhi meet the common people of India face to face without Black Cat Commandos protecting them and beg forgiveness for the innumerable crimes they have committed against the common people of India: casteist divide and rule through OBC Reservations, massacre of schoool students protesting Reservations, arrest and harassment of the Shankaracharya on false charges, and brazen insults directed at Lord Ram and Hinduism.

Hindustan Times reports:

Malaysia: Over 200 Indian workers claim being abused
Press Trust Of India
Kuala Lumpur, October 08, 2007
First Published: 11:05 IST(8/10/2007)
Last Updated: 16:52 IST(8/10/2007)

More than 200 Indian nationals working in a Malaysian factory have alleged that they were being abused by their employment agent and are desperate to return home after three of their colleagues were brutally beaten up.

The 264 Indian workers, employed at a factory in Senai in Johor state, claimed their agent started abusing them when they arrived in Malaysia two years ago.

The workers claimed that three of their colleagues were abducted and beaten up for putting up a notice stating that workers no longer wanted 2.50 (25 rupees), the cost of hostel canteen food, to be deducted from their daily wages.

The Indian workers, part of the 1,500-strong foreign workforce at the plastic-moulding factory, staged a picket to demand the release of the three, local media reports said.

The trio, with bruises all over their bodies, have since returned to the hostel, the report said. One of the workers, Thangaraju, 39, said he could have ended up dead if not for the strike staged by his co-workers.

Thangaraju claimed that he and the other two workers were beaten for hours and the men tried to force him to drink detergent when he asked for water, the report said.

He said the beatings started two months after they arrived at the hostel in November 2005.

"We found worms in the rice served at the canteen. When we complained, 20 of my colleagues were abducted and given a severe beating. Only 10 returned and to date, we don't know what happened to the rest."

Another worker identified as Vadivelu said the workers decided to quit and return home on the advice of their parents.

A factory official said the management wanted to send the injured trio to the clinic but were stopped by their colleagues.

"There is a small group of workers instigating the others. They are forcing the workers to strike and this has disrupted operations."

The official said the factory took over the management of the hostel three days ago after the workers decided they did not want to deal with their agent any more.

... Read more !

Baba Ramdev's Speech at HT Leadership Summit

Baba Ramdev delivered a fantastic speech at the Hindustan Times Leadership Summit. It is something all Indians should read.

From the Hindustan Times:

...A spiritual superpower

By Swami Ramdev

After 60 years of independence, India presents the spectacle of a country in which extreme affluence and poverty exist cheek by jowl. In this ancient land, the rich are richer than the people of the US or UK, and its citizens imbued with a sense of patriotism and technical knowledge which exceeds that of the Japanese. And its people quite often outwit the Chinese.

On the other hand, some of our poor are the poorest in the world. Hunger, poverty and unemployment have compelled them to live a life of indignity. The degrees of inequality are appalling. The contrast mirrors itself in many other ways. We are world champions in one form of cricket and global leaders in information technology. But we are also known for being a very, very corrupt country. Casteism, crime and terrorism are a slur on our society. Women continue to be helpless victims of dowry, and cases of female foeticide haunt India.

For how long can we afford to indulge in such acts of moral turpitude and insensitivity? We have people who dare to dream and conquer the world. But we also have people who lack the courage to stand up against oppression, injustice and wrongdoing.

I dream of seeing India transformed into a mighty superpower, both economically and spiritually. It will be an ideal nation and a role model for others to emulate. I have a vision with seven dimensions to achieve this:

1 Our country faces a crunch of land and other resources, infrastructure, amenities and jobs. The population explosion is worsening the situation. We must initiate a new social awareness campaign to enlighten people about the benefits of a small family. Having disproportionately large families should become a social stigma. The government and NGOs should reward those who have planned families and care to produce an able generation. In this regard, we should take a cue from China. We should design a strategy to provide higher education to our youth. Not a single one of them must be left out. Some of them should be sent overseas to bring prosperity to our country and to reduce the burden on our resources.

2 Experts and resourceful persons in diverse fields should lend their might to build better transportation and housing and an efficient and clean administration.

3 In a prosperous and happy nation, citizens are conscious of their health, hygiene and cleanliness, and sensitive to their duties. Policymakers and intellectuals must think of ways to achieve these objectives with the active participation of citizens.

4 Over Rs 5 lakh crore is drained out annually on health spending. Hospitals and doctors look upon patients as consumers. Crass commercialism has set in. To improve the health of the common people, it is crucial to bring yoga, pranayam and alternative systems of medicine into the mainstream. This will tap the yet-undiscovered potential of medical and solace tourism, elements in which India is the richest.

Sports must be encouraged. Vedic knowledge should become an essential part of school curricula. In conjunction with this, family values can equip individuals to combat stress and anger, negative emotions like depression and envy, and perversions like sexual abuse. It will also act as a bulwark against deviant behaviour arising out of modern life and brute materialism.

5 The farming community continues to be dependent on the vagaries of nature. While input costs are soaring, output remains uncertain and un-remunerative. The sector is increasingly characterized by speculative activities. As a result, a large number of farmers are stamping out their lives out of sheer depression. The country now needs to plan a second green revolution encompassing alternate crops, herbal plants, horticulture and biotechnology. Farmers must be given a better deal, ensuring reasonable rewards for their toil.

6 Swadeshi is the key to India’s prosperity. It generates pride in the nation and helps build self-sufficiency. The country needs to imbibe the ideals of Bapu’s Swadeshi, Maharshi Dayanand’s Swarajya (self rule) and Swabhimaan (self respect), Swami Vivekananda’s knowledge, and the bravery and courage of Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose, Sardar Patel, Bhagat Singh, Chandrashekhar Azad, Rani Laxmibai and Vir Savarkar. Their ideas and ideals are perhaps more relevent today than anytime in the past in a world which is riven by conflict, insecurity, greed and materialism.

Prejudice should give way to rational thinking. In short, to borrow from a well- known and timeless Vedic verse, our ideal should be: “Lead us from ignorance to knowledge, from darkness to light, from mortality to the nectar of eternity.” In Sanskrit, the shloka is: “Asato Ma Sadgamaya, Tamso Ma Jyotirgamaya, Mrityora Ma Amritamgamaya.”

The clash of civilisations should give way to amicable discourse with a view to discovering the common threads, which run through them. The world will realise the power of wisdom ladled out by our sages that the universe is one family: “Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam.”

7 I urge every Indian to take a solemn pledge on the following lines: “I will not use in my lifetime any imported goods. I will add to the prosperity of my country through my knowledge, work, courage, confidence, self-respect, honesty, integrity and faithfulness; If I am awakened, my country is awakened, and will continue to march ahead; I am not just a person, but represent the entire nation; India emanates from me, my knowledge, deeds and behaviour. It builds or tarnishes the image of the motherland, and I will, to the best of my ability, protect the honour of my beloved country.”

I do think of, and live with by pledge. I am confident that every Indian can contribute to make India a great country by doing so.

(Swami Ramdev is revered by millions in India and abroad who have benefitted from his yogic exercises and spiritual discourses. This is the first time he has written for an English newspaper.)

... Read more !

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Further Details of Burmese Massacres Emerge

The Civilized World has shamefully let down the people of Burma. When faced with inhuman genocide massacre torture and mass-killing of this nature, a line must be drawn, and it must be made clear to the perpetrators that they must stop these ongoing crimes against humanity or face annihilation.

Even now it is not too late. The United States, Japan, Europe and India should make it clear to China and its puppets in Burma that the cumulative military and economic might of the Civilized World will be used without hesitation even to utterly destroy China and Burma if necessary if they do not immediately stop the ongoing inhuman and gruesome attacks on peaceful non-violent Buddhists in Burma and Tibet.

Only when faced with the prospect of utter destruction will the mass-murderers running China stop their crimes. And only then will the citizens of China rise up and overthrow their brutal totalitarian dictatorship.

The Independent reports:
Only now, the full horror of Burmese junta's repression of monks emerges
By Rosalind Russell
Published: 11 October 2007

Monks confined in a room with their own excrement for days, people beaten just for being bystanders at a demonstration, a young woman too traumatised to speak, and screams in the night as Rangoon's residents hear their neighbours being taken away.

Harrowing accounts smuggled out of Burma reveal how a systematic campaign of physical punishment and psychological terror is being waged by the Burmese security forces as they take revenge on those suspected of involvement in last month's pro-democracy uprising.

The first-hand accounts describe a campaign hidden from view, but even more sinister and terrifying than the open crackdown in which the regime's soldiers turned their bullets and batons on unarmed demonstrators in the streets of Rangoon, killing at least 13. At least then, the world was watching.

The hidden crackdown is as methodical as it is brutal. First the monks were targeted, then the thousands of ordinary Burmese who joined the demonstrations, those who even applauded or watched, or those merely suspected of anti-government sympathies.

"There were about 400 of us in one room. No toilets, no buckets, no water for washing. No beds, no blankets, no soap. Nothing," said a 24-year-old monk who was held for 10 days at the Government Technical Institute, a leafy college in northern Rangoon which is now a prison camp for suspected dissidents. The young man, too frightened to be named, was one of 185 monks taken in a raid on a monastery in the Yankin district of Rangoon on 28 September, two days after government soldiers began attacking street protesters.

"The room was too small for everyone to lie down at once. We took it in turns to sleep. Every night at 8 o'clock we were given a small bowl of rice and a cup of water. But after a few days many of us just couldn't eat. The smell was so bad.

"Some of the novice monks were under 10 years old, the youngest was just seven. They were stripped of their robes and given prison sarongs. Some were beaten, leaving open, untreated wounds, but no doctors came."

On his release, the monk spoke to a Western aid worker in Rangoon, who smuggled his testimony and those of other prisoners and witnesses out of Burma on a small memory stick.

Most of the detained monks, the low-level clergy, were eventually freed without charge as were the children among them. But suspected ringleaders of the protests can expect much harsher treatment, secret trials and long prison sentences. One detained opposition leader has been tortured to death, activist groups said yesterday. Win Shwe, 42, a member of the National League for Democracy, the party of the detained democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi, has died under interrogation, the Thai-based Assistance Association for Political Prisoners said, adding that the information came from authorities in Kyaukpandawn township. "However, his body was not sent to his family and the interrogators indicated that they had cremated it instead." Win Shwe was arrested on the first day of the crackdown.

It was the russet-robed Buddhist clergy, not political groups, who had formed the backbone of demonstrations during days of euphoric defiance and previously undreamed-of hope that Burma's military regime could be brought down by peaceful revolution. That hope has been crushed under the boots of government soldiers and intelligence agents and replaced by fear and dread.

A young woman, a domestic worker in Rangoon, described how one woman bystander who applauded the monks was rounded up. "My friend was taken away for clapping during the demonstrations. She had not marched. She came out of her house as the marchers went by and, for perhaps 30 seconds, smiled and clapped as the monks chanted. Her face was recorded on a military intelligence camera. She was taken and beaten. Now she is so scared she won't even leave her room to come and talk to me, to anyone."

Another Rangoon resident told the aid worker: "We all hear screams at night as they [the police] arrive to drag off a neighbour. We are torn between going to help them and hiding behind our doors. We hide behind our doors. We are ashamed. We are frightened."

Burmese intelligence agents are scrutinising photographs and video footage to identify demonstrators and bystanders. They have also arrested the owners of computers which they suspect were used to transmit images and testimonies out of the country. For each story smuggled out to The Independent, someone has risked arrest and imprisonment.

Hein Zay Kyaw (not his real name) received a telephone call last week telling him to be at a government compound where the military were releasing 42 people, among them Mr Kyaw's friend, missing since he was plucked from the edge of a demonstration on 26 September. Mr Kyaw told the aid worker: "The prisoners were let out of the trucks. Even though now they were safe, they were still so scared. They walked with their hands shielding their faces as if they were expecting blows. They were lined up in rows and sat down against the wall, still cowering. Their clothes were dirty, some stained with blood. Our friend had a clean T-shirt on. We were relieved because we thought this meant that he had not been beaten. We were wrong. He had been beaten on the head and the blood had soaked his shirt which he carried in a plastic bag."

The United States yesterday threatened unspecified new sanctions against Burma and called for an investigation into the death of Win Shwe.

White House spokesman Gordon Johndroe said in a statement: "The junta must stop the brutal treatment of its people and peacefully transition to democracy or face new sanctions from the United States."

The scale of the crackdown remains undocumented. The regime has banned journalists from entering Burma and has blocked internet access and phone lines.

Mark Farmaner of the Burma Campaign UK says the number of dead is possibly in the hundreds. "The regime covers up its atrocities. We will never know the true numbers," he said.

At the weekend the government said it has released more than half of the 2,171 people arrested, but exile groups estimate the number of detentions between 6,000 and 10,000.

In Rangoon, people say they are more frightened now than when soldiers were shooting on the streets.

"When there were demonstrations and soldiers on the streets, the world was watching," said a professional woman who watched the marchers from her office.

"But now the soldiers only come at night. They take anyone they can identify from their videos. People who clapped, who offered water to the monks, who knelt and prayed as they passed. People who happened to turn and watch as they passed by and their faces were caught on film. It is now we are most fearful. It is now we need the world to help us."

... Read more !

Monday, October 01, 2007

Thousands of Buddhist monks and peaceful unarmed civilians slaughtered in Burma; gruesome bloody massacres continuing

Horrible pictures and videos of the ongoing slaughter of non-violent peaceful unarmed Buddhist monks and ordinary civilians in Burma by the (mis-)ruling military dictatorship supported by China.

Report from Daily Mail, UK:

Burma: Thousands dead in massacre of the monks dumped in the jungle

By MARCUS OSCARSSON - More by this author » Last updated at 15:04pm on 1st October 2007 Thousands of protesters are dead and the bodies of hundreds of executed monks have been dumped in the jungle, a former intelligence officer for Burma's ruling junta has revealed.

The most senior official to defect so far, Hla Win, said: "Many more people have been killed in recent days than you've heard about. The bodies can be counted in several thousand."

Mr Win, who spoke out as a Swedish diplomat predicted that the revolt has failed, said he fled when he was ordered to take part in a massacre of holy men. He has now reached the border with Thailand.

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monks burma

Slaughter: Executed monks have been dumped in the jungle

Meanwhile, the United Nations special envoy was in Burma's new capital today seeking meetings with the ruling military junta.

Ibrahim Gambari met detained opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi in Rangoon yesterday. But he has yet to meet the country's senior generals as he attempts to halt violence against monks and pro-democracy activists.

It is anticipated the meeting will happen tomorrow.

Heavily-armed troops and police flooded the streets of Rangoon during Mr Ibrahim's visit to prevent new protests.

Mr Gambari met some of the country's military leaders in Naypyidaw yesterday and has returned there for further talks. But he did not meet senior general Than Shwe or his deputy Maung Aye - and they have issued no comment.

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Tensions: People gather outside a temple after a police raid today

Reports from exiles along the frontier confirmed that hundreds of monks had simply "disappeared" as 20,000 troops swarmed around Rangoon yesterday to prevent further demonstrations by religious groups and civilians.

Word reaching dissidents hiding out on the border suggested that as well as executions, some 2,000 monks are being held in the notorious Insein Prison or in university rooms which have been turned into cells.

There were reports that many were savagely beaten at a sports ground on the outskirts of Rangoon, where they were heard crying for help.

Others who had failed to escape disguised as civilians were locked in their bloodstained temples.

There, troops abandoned religious beliefs, propped their rifles against statues of Buddha and began cooking meals on stoves set up in shrines.

In stark contrast, the streets of Rangoon and Mandalay - centres of the attempted saffron revolution last week - were virtually deserted.

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Checkpoint: Police outside the house of opposition leader Aung Sang Suu Kyi today

Executed: The body of a Buddhist monk floats in a river

A Swedish diplomat who visited Burma during the protests said last night that in her opinion the revolution has failed.

Liselotte Agerlid, who is now in Thailand, said that the Burmese people now face possibly decades of repression. "The Burma revolt is over," she added.

"The military regime won and a new generation has been violently repressed and violently denied democracy. The people in the street were young people, monks and civilians who were not participating during the 1988 revolt.

"Now the military has cracked down the revolt, and the result may very well be that the regime will enjoy another 20 years of silence, ruling by fear."

Mrs Agerlid said Rangoon is heavily guarded by soldiers.

"There are extremely high numbers of soldiers in Rangoon's streets," she added. "Anyone can see it is absolutely impossible for any demonstration to gather, or for anyone to do anything.

"People are scared and the general assessment is that the fight is over. We were informed from one of the largest embassies in Burma that 40 monks in the Insein prison were beaten to death today and subsequently burned."

The diplomat also said that three monasteries were raided yesterday afternoon and are now totally abandoned.

At his border hideout last night, 42-year-old Mr Win said he hopes to cross into Thailand and seek asylum at the Norwegian Embassy.

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."

With his teenage son, he made his escape from Rangoon, leaving behind his wife and two other sons.

He had no fears for their safety because his brother is a powerful general who, he believes, will defend the family.

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Monks protesting in Burma

Protests: But the situation inside Burma remains unclear

Mr Win's defection will raise a faint hope among tens of thousands of Burmese who have fled to villages along the Thai border.

They will feel others in the army may follow him and turn on their ageing leaders, Senior General Than Shwe and his deputy, Vice Senior General Maung Aye.

Further details from France24:
[Click on link above for the video]

Monday, October 1, 2007

PARIS, Oct. 1 -- Floating face down in a filthy pool of water, a tangled strip of saffron cloth – the distinctive garb a Buddhist monk – still clinging to his neck, the images are a gruesome reminder of the brutality of last week’s military crackdown on Burmese protesters.

The graphic video of what appears to be a dead monk was filmed Sunday in the Pazondaung area of the Burmese city of Rangoon, according to the Democratic Voice of Burma, an Oslo-based opposition group. It is not known when the monk died.

The release of the footage comes as U.N. envoy Ibrahim Gambari prepares to meet Burmese junta supremo Senior General Than Shwe in the new capital of Naypyidaw Tuesday. The former Nigerian foreign minister’s visit -- which included a meeting with Burma’s best-known opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi Sunday -- has sparked hopes in some circles that a diplomacy of sorts might prevail to end the current crisis.

While it is difficult to get an accurate reading about the state of dissent inside the repressive Southeast Asian nation, many Burmese dissidents in exile as well as those inside Burma are afraid the current protests will be a repeat of the 1988 anti-junta demonstrations.

At least 3,000 people were believed killed in the brutal crackdown following the 1988 demonstrations. Martial law was promptly declared and thousands of opposition leaders – including Suu Kyi – were arrested. The charismatic leader of the National League for Democracy (NLD) has been under various forms of detention ever since.

In a telephone interview with FRANCE 24, a Buddhist monk in hiding in Burma, who did not want his name or location disclosed due to security fears, appealed for international help.

“The monasteries are surrounded by troops and the monks can’t go outside,” he told FRANCE 24 from his place in hiding in the jungles of Burma. “We need help from the international community.”

Indeed public dissent in the main Burmese cities of Rangoon and Mandalay seems to have ceased. The streets of Rangoon were quiet Monday, according to news reports – a far cry from last week’s public demonstrations which drew as many as 100,000 people into the streets. The Burmese government has put the official death toll from last week’s protests at 10 – including a Japanese photographer who was killed in Rangoon. But human rights groups say the actual toll is much higher.

While the web was a critical source of information about the protests last week, the junta has since blocked network access inside the country. By Friday afternoon, the country’s only two Internet providers -- MPT and Pagan Cybertech – had been taken offline.

Only the Democratic Voice of Burma (DVB) has been able to access images coming from Burma. In a telephone interview with FRANCE 24, the DVB site's webmaster, “Thida”, explained that their associates in Burma use their own systems to connect to the Internet. She wouldn’t say more, but technicians familiar with communications technology say it would be technically feasible to feed images over a mobile phone line by connecting the phone to a laptop computer.

Attacking a symbol of peace

One of the more shocking aspects of the crackdown was the raw display of state aggression against Buddhist monks, the very symbol of a pacifist religion in this deeply spiritual country. In a country where nearly 90 percent of the estimated 50 million-strong population is Buddhist and where most males have spent at least some time serving in a monastery, monks are a revered symbol of an unchanging Burmese identity in the face of political upheavals.

According to the Asian Human Rights Commission, more than a dozen monasteries in major Burmese cities were raided last week and at least 700 monks were detained.

“It was a very significant turnaround that the military used violence against monks,” said Win Min, a professor at Thailand’s Chiang Mai University in an interview with the AFP news wire service. “It added fuel to the fire.”

While the 1988 demonstrations were led by Burmese students, they were subsequently joined by monks, who were not spared the subsequent brutal crackdown by the military regime.

For Burma’s omnipotent State Peace and Development Council (SPDC), which has -- under various acronyms -- brutally controlled the country since 1978, the prospect of a politically mobilized Buddhist priesthood represents a threat to their power.

But from his jungle hiding place, the Buddhist monk -- who said he was one of the leaders of the recent protest during an interview with FRANCE 24 last week -- said his fellow monks were not giving up hope.

“Right now, our only way to protest is to pray,” he said. “There are different ways of protesting and prayer is one of them. But come what may, we will continue to protest. Even if they (the junta) are blocking us at the moment, we won’t stop.”

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