2010 will not be the End of Everything by Burmadigest

Jan 2nd, 2009
This year, this very new year, 2009 is a critical year before the ultimate year of 2010 comes along.

The military regime wants to manage a complete fatal blow to the pro-democracy movement in 2010. They hope that their planned self-declaration of victory in 2010 elections will be the end of everything. The military strongmen through their puppet civilian government will rule Burma happily ever after, they hope.

General Than Shwe’s new skin

2090 is a critical year for the regime to get everything done as far as possible in their power to clear the field for 2010 elections. They know they cannot go on for ever as an illegitimate de-facto military regime; they are virtually the one and the only remaining military government in the twenty-first century world.

Even the Chinese Communist government is showing more respect for democracy and Human-rights than the Burmese military regime does. China has change of Presidents every eight years, and they have regular local elections; and, even the internet users in China have more freedom than those in Burma. And response by Chinese government to natural disasters in their country is clearly better than that by the Burmese military regime. And with the rapidly growing economy, Chinese people can at least enjoy economic prosperity despite the lack of political freedom. If the saying is true that “Something is better than nothing”, people of China are faring far better than people of Burma, although both countries are ruled by authoritarian governments.

So, Burmese regime knows that they MUST change, at least their skin. But, they cannot give up their power. Senior General Than Shwe, the current Burmese military Supremo, knows too well what happens when a military strongman lose his power in Burma, as he himself has crafted the ugly fates for his predecessors, General Ne Win (who died under house-arrest while many of his favoured family members are facing death sentences) and General Saw Maung (who allegedly died as a wretched madman). Than Shwe family is living like a Royal family in Burma, and they are unimaginably rich with billions of dollars stashed away in their secret bank-accounts in foreign banks. Than Shwe has frequently ranked as top human-rights abuser in various international indexes; and attempts are afoot to try to get him indicted at International Criminal Court, albeit still a long way to go. As Than Shwe cannot give up power_ his power is the only reliable protection for his and his family’ fortunes_ and cannot keep power as the world’s only remaining military ruler, he will make a complete change in the appearances. There is NO alternative.

So, the regime will make sure that Burma gets a constitution passed in a referendum and a civilian government elected in an election, but at the same time keeping power effectively in military’s hands. Now, they have already got a pro-military constitution which gives 25% of seats in the parliament to the unelected hand-picked military officers and allows the military to remain as a totally independent state within the State and also grants immunity to the de-facto military regime for all the crimes they have committed previously. And the constitution was passed in a referendum which was held amidst the chaos of Cyclone Nargis disaster which killed more than 100,000 people. And the regime just conveniently declared that their pro-military constitution got an illogical approval figure of more than 95% in the referendum! One cannot help but remember that Saddam Hussein used to get more than 95% votes in his elections.

Now, the regime is preparing the field for the 2010 elections. All pro-democracy activists who count have now been safely locked away behind bars serving 60-80 years prison sentences. Even their lawyers have been jailed, effectively making it very difficult for them to get any more legal help for their appeals.

Opposition Blues

While the regime is gaining momentum along their roadmap towards a fake democracy in Burma, the opposition groups are in TOTAL disarray now.

The National League for Democracy, the main pro-democracy party founded by people’s leader Aung San Suu Kyi, is suffering from an identity crisis and a sticky dilemma. With Aung San Suu Kyi under a seemingly endless house-arrest and almost all other strong activists in jail, the party is left in the care of a group of elderly caretaker leaders (some of them almost 90 years old now!) who were themselves military generals before they were sacked from the army by the former military strongman General Ne Win. For a long time serious discontent has been brewing up among younger generation party activists regarding their elderly leaders’ lack of action and apparent indecision. In earlier 2008 it appeared that the party was going to boycott the constitutional referendum, but the leaders decided just shortly before the referendum to take part and to make a “Vote NO” campaign; however, by then, it has already become too late for the grass-root followers of the party to effectively launch a “Vote NO” campaign against the powerful and ruthless military machinery hell-bent on getting a “YES” vote for their pro-military constitution. Now there is a talk about changing the old-guard of the party with newer generations. With or without a new leadership, the party still faces another indecisive situation concerning 2010 elections. Previously it was supposed to be a total boycott on the elections, but later it appeared the party would take part if regime agrees to make some roll backs on the pro-military constitution, and very recently it has just become that the leadership is still considering the pros and cons of taking part in the election and no decision has yet been made. One just cannot help feeling a déjà vu.

And there is a rift between the Washington-based exile/rival pro-democracy government, aka National Coalition Government of Union of Burma NCGUB, and Thai-Burma border based National Council of Union of Burma NCUB. Although the middle “G” is the only difference in the abbreviations of their names, the two leading exile organizations lately seem to be having different opinions on almost everything. They could not agree on the credential challenge against military regime at the UN General Assembly, they could not agree on the extension of the existing exile government, and their surrogates are shooting ugly character-killing accusations against each other through internet forums, blogs and mail groups. And now the NCUB has made it clear in their 2009 New Year statement that they will form a new exile government, apparently with or without agreement from the existing exile government NCGUB. But one question remaining is, with what kind of mandate the new exile government(s) is(are) to be formed.

A culture of split, rift and disunity is nowadays seen, sadly, not just among the elite exile leaders, but it is also rampant through out the entire rank and file of the entire exile movement. The once esteemed leading student activists in exile now seem to have given up their fight against military regime and concentrating most of their energies on mud-slinging and smearing campaigns against each other on the internet, sometimes stooping as low as distributing slur emails using fake identities or creating blogs which are dedicated for insulting each other but for nothing else. The exile branch in Malaysia of Burma’s National League for Democracy is having a noxious in-fighting between its Kuala Lumpur-based office and its Penang-based office, accusing each other of funds misappropriation and collaboration with military regime. The dissidents in Japan are accusing each other of facilitating fake asylum claims. This is not an exhaustive list, just a few examples to reflect the current situation of internal mess and tangles.

Global downturn

The strongest supporter on Burmese pro-democracy movement, the USA, is going to get a more diplomatic and less warrior-like new administration very soon. The US economy is facing the worse crisis in almost a century. And the mighty American military is bogged down in Iraq and Afghanistan.

The Europe is also suffering from a similarly bad credit crunch. Moreover, Europe has never been keen on getting tough on Burmese military regime; as long as the Total Oil Company is investing in Burma, EU’s leading member, the French, will just talk tough on every possible occasion, only to take the lime light, but actually avoiding any tough action or sanctions on the military regime of Burma.

UN Special Envoy has lost virtually all his credibility because of his failure to be impartial, but instead accommodating too much to the military generals. He is now saying that the international community should give money to Burmese military generals in the form of developmental aids to buy freedom of political prisoners from regime’s prisons. If his plans ever come to fruition, it will just encourage the regime to create more and more political prisoners to get more and more ransom money from the international community.

Precedence predicts

Like the maggots which thrive in rubbish and filth, military regime strives better amidst chaos. It enjoyed holding a constitutional referendum while almost the entire lower half of the country was submerged in post-cyclone floods and commotions. Chaotic conditions give them better chance to practise their tricks of vote-rigging and voter-intimidation to get their desired results in referendum and elections. The international community’s economic turmoil, the confusion inside Burma’s National League for Democracy and the unruliness among Burmese exiles will just give the military regime an ideal chance in 2009 to unleash all their hoax and scam and deception and dirty tricks to lay the grounds for a coalition of pro-regime pro-military parties to win an unnatural near 100% landslide in 2010 elections.

Possible Outcome

So taking everything into consideration, and barring a miracle, there is very little to NIL chance of the opposition turning the tide in 2009 and stopping the regime in the tracts along their roadmap towards a puppet democracy system in Burma.

After declaring victory in 2010 elections the regime may take a while before making an ultimate change of shape and becoming a civilian government. They need to craft a smooth transition, i.e., an apparent transfer of virtual power but not the actual transfer of real power. Than Shwe may become the civilian President himself leaving a trusted subordinate as the military commander-in-chief, or he may remain as military commander-in-chief himself while installing a faithful surrogate as the civilian President.

Probably, the new form of administration, whatever it might be, may become up and running in 2011.

Regime’s hope for an end-game

Regime hopes that when a civilian administration is up and running after 2010 elections, the international community will forget all about the past, also ignore all the deficiencies of the new civilian administration, and start doing business with Burma. Sanctions will be lifted, visa-bans will be removed, investments will flow in, World Bank will come back will new loan offers, the opposition will become dead and buried, international community will lost their interest in any remnants of the pro-democracy movement; Than Shwe dynasty will rule on for ever in Burma, albeit in a new form of incarnation which is more acceptable to international taste.

The End is also the Beginning

In the endless cycles of history, an end is simultaneously a new beginning.

Of course, there is very little logical argument left to say that the regime has not won the struggle which started with the 8888 people-power uprising and reaching the peak in the pro-democracy parties’ landslide victory in 1990 elections.

Even now the UN, the EU, many Western governments, all donor agencies and NGOs are charting their plots to resume business fully with the new administration, which ever form it may take, after 2010 elections in Burma. In the eyes of many international governments and organizations, the significance of the prodemocracy movement and the opposition groups is rapidly fading and diminishing. When the World fully re-engages with whatever administration in Burma after 2010, the opposition groups may no longer play any role, sadly, in the World’s business plans with Burma.

But all is not lost yet for the opposition groups. They can, and should, still play a part in the affairs of post-2010 Burma. How?

There is a proverbial aphorism in Burma that ‘all the peas coming from the same basket tend to be of the same quality and have the same flaws’. The new administration in post-2010 Burma, a direct descendant from the world top human right abuser military regime, will bear the same traits of corruption, nepotism, ineptitude, disrespect to human rights, oppression on basic freedoms, indifference to people’s sufferings and the intolerance to any form of dissent or criticism; and above all else, the abhorrent army will still be as powerful as ever, as arrogant as ever and may even remain above the law as ever.

So starting from 2011, as soon as the new administration comes into force, the opposition’s duty will be to monitor the new administration’s actions, and to make a detail list of its failures and wrongdoings. And once a good thorough list of the new administration’s evils and wrongdoings has been comprehensively complied, the opposition may launch a new movement against the new but equally shoddy and depraved administration.

The international community may also need to try to learn a lesson from how former strongman Ne Win tricked the people of Burma and the world by transferring power from him (General Ne Win) to himself (President Mr Ne Win) forming a fake civilian government consisting solely of ex-military officers, going on stealing all the wealth from Burma and transforming her from a richest country in South east Asia to a poorest country in the world within about 30 years of his rule in various different shapes and forms (1958-1988).

So, a word of humble advice to the opposition is – not to look back and regret on the last 20 years’ innumerable missed opportunities, but to look beyond 2010 and start plotting and planning on how to raise a fresh new movement to hold the post-2010 administration accountable. Of course, a new movement will need new spirits, new generation leaders and activists, new approaches and new visions.

– by Thuria Tayza


NEW Radar Stations, Equipment and technology needed for the radar stations have been bought from Russia and the stations have been built under the close instruction of Russian experts.

Mohyin residents forced into construction work
Jan 2, 2009 (DVB)–Local people from Mohyin township in northern Burma’s Kachin State have been forced to take part in the construction of an artillery base and radar station.

The base is being built six miles away from Bilu, a local resident said.
“From Bilu, you have to cross paddy fields and climb the mountains,” he said.
“Roads are being built and members of the GE corps can be seen by the roadsides.”
It is not known which artillery battalion is leading the construction of the base. continue http://english.dvb.no/news.php?id=2057

NCUB to form new government in exile

Jan 2, 2009 (DVB)–The National Council of the Union of Burma has announced its plans to establish a new government in exile in advance of the Burmese military regime’s planned 2010 election.

The NCUB, an umbrella organisation of exiled opposition groups based on the Thai-Burma border, plans to form a united parliament comprising elected members of parliament and ethnic nationalities.
NCUB spokesperson Myint Thein said the move was a rejection of the 2008 constitution and the planned 2010 elections, which he said would validate long-term military rule.
“We will form a united parliament and from there, we will form a rival national unity government to respond to the current situation,” Myint Thein said. continue

Burma: The ongoing tragedy next door

By “the nation” Thailand’s new govt must not pander to the Burmese junta as its predecessors have done

It is interesting to watch how the situation in Burma develops, as well as the behaviour and thinking of the key stakeholders, especially the Rangoon military junta and the international community including the United Nations. For the past two decades, the former has been able to outmanoeuvre the latter in all circumstances.
The UN and its special envoy to Burma have become the main tool the junta uses to buy time to further consolidate its power and tighten control over the population. Now, the UN is desperately trying to think of new ways to deal with Burma. But the conclusion so far is simple: all efforts since 1988 to revive the democratic process have failed to produce any tangible results.

The Burmese regime is stronger than ever, due in part to its increased foreign exchange through the export of energy resources plus the influx of humanitarian aid both in cash and in kind. All the junta has to do, it seems, is wait and be patient. The international community, especially the UN, wants to see democratic progress in Burma – but it is more than possible that the UN, through receiving gullible advice, has become more flexible with Burma. The trick, that the generals understand well, is that they do not need to change their hardline position. The junta can continue to arrest and suppress its own people. The outside world has to accommodate the cruel regime if it wants to see any progress. to continue http://www.nationmultimedia.com/2009/01/02/opinion/opinion_30092264.php

Restless Souls of the Irrawaddy Delta

by Irrawaddy news A chilling sound reverberates these nights through many of the villages of the cyclone-devastated Irrawaddy delta—the metallic clang of an iron bar beaten by soldiers to drive away the spirits of the drowned that many believe roam through the region.

Soldiers stationed in Laputta Township said they had been assigned to strike iron bars after dark to reassure villagers who claim they are seeing the ghosts of people who died in Cyclone Nargis. continue http://www.irrawaddy.org/highlight.php?art_id=14867

HERE another ghost story ” The lonely death of Cycle Maung Maung” By Norman Robespierre, Asia Times, Sep 25, 2008


“The film censorship board has issued a new order. All films and documentary makers must seek permission before contesting at international film festivals

mizzima news, Chiang Mai (Mizzima) — Burma’s Information Ministry has announced that makers of films and documentaries will need to seek prior permission from the Censor Board to be able to contest in international film festivals, sources in the Burmese film industry said.
continue http://www.mizzima.com/news/inside-burma/1496-burmese-censor-board-tightens-grip-on-films-for-festivals.html

Leading saffron monk’s memoir

Mizzima Commentary september1-1.jpg
by U Pyinya Zawta
Friday, 02 January 2009

Burmese monks are known to have played an important role in their nation’s politics throughout its history. While they did not partake in mundane political processes, they traditionally held positions of moral authority, and dispensed wisdom and guidance to past kings, rulers and governments in Burma. On some occasions, emissaries from the monasteries were despatched on peace missions to avoid war with foreign powers.

Buddhist monks gave council to past monarchs, ranging from the first King Anawrahta of unified Burma in Bagan, to the last King Mindon and his son King Thibaw, guiding them on how to properly conduct themselves as responsible rulers. Burmese monks fulfilled their obligations toward their religion and the people in the past as royal advisers, and most importantly, as the guardians of sacred rights and responsibilities of all citizens.

Burmese monks continued to play an important role in national affairs even after Burma fell under British colonialism, in 1886. During the Colonial era, a monk leader U Ottama brought political enlightenment back to Burma and eventually helped lead the nation to independence from Britain. His lectures inspired generations of followers including Ko Aung San who later became the father of Burma’s Independence. Another brave and defiant monk, U Wisara, died in prison after a 166-day hunger strike in 1929, but still helped reawaken political consciousness in Burma, and with his final words, to “never forget,” urged the people to persevere until independence was obtained from Britain.

After the 1948 independence, numerous political and social organizations proliferated in Burma. During this period Burmese monks formed the All Burma Young Monks’ Union (ABYMU) to continue championing the causes of their people.

But after the 1962 military coup, General Ne Win abolished all civil and political organizations in Burma, and the ABYMU was banned in 1964. Even though barred by the military, young Buddhist monks remained at the forefront of political movements from the 1974 U Thant crisis, to the 1975-1976 one hundred years’ anniversary of labor unrests in Burma.

During the nationwide uprising in 1988 when one government faction after another failed to control the county, monks used their authority to prevent anarchy and chaos and provided sanctuary to the public. After the military took back power through another coup on September 18th, 1988, the All Burma Young Monks’ Union was again established, as an Upper Burma branch in Mandalay and as a Lower Burma branch in Rangoon, and monks joined the people’s protest against the return of the military dictatorship.

In 1990, the National League for Democracy (NLD) members, student activists, and ordinary citizens made alms donation to the monks marching peacefully on Zay-Cho and 26-B roads in Mandalay, marking the two year anniversary of the ’88 uprising. When the army forcibly tried to stop the procession, unrest broke out and many monks were brutally beaten. Since the authorities prevented the monks from alms collection by egregiously violating Buddha’s Dharma, two monk leaders, U Raza Dama Bewitha and U Kovida Bewitha of the Upper Burma Young Monks’ Union called for a religious boycott dubbed ‘Overturning of the Alms Bowl,’ against the SLORC government, for the first time.

Led by monks from major monastic academic institutions, the Young Monks Union in Rangoon joined the boycott movement, as prescribed under Buddha’s Dharma laws, and they affirmed their pledge with obeisance toward the Shwe Dagon Pagoda, on 3 October 1990, the Tha-din-kyut full moon day of Burmese year 1352, at the Ngar Htait Kyi Pagoda pavilion.

With prompting from U Ahnt Maung, a high ranking member of the government’s religious affairs department, the military junta in panic arrested and sentenced to long prison terms senior monks from renowned monastic academies, members of the Rangoon Young Monks’ Union, and monks from other Sangha academies. Tragically Ashin U Arsara from the Thayettaw monastery died in Thayet prison and Ashin U Zaw Tika from the Shwebon Pyint monastery died in Insein prison, both from torture and inhumane conditions. The fates of many other monks taken away by the government during the 1990 boycott protest remain unknown.

Finally, after almost two decades since many monks were arrested and imprisoned, the monks’ resistance against military oppression in Burma seemed to have all but evaporated. But the Saffron Uprising in 2007 proved that the monks’ resolve to defend the future of Burmese Buddhism and their people was growing only stronger, not weaker.

Before the leading monks’ organization the ‘All Burma Monks Alliance’ was founded during the Saffron Revolution, many smaller monks’ coalitions had already been established. As the first step, the All Burma Young Monks Union organized a central working committee with five leading monks from Rangoon and one from Mandalay, selected from many monks’ organizations. At the same time various smaller local monks’ organizations were being created, in Pegu, Pye, Magwe, Moulmein, and Arkan areas. The famous leading monk, Ashin U Gambira, who was arrested last year, and six other monks led the formation of the Rangoon Young Monks’ Union to represent monks from the Rangoon area.

Monks from upper Burma in Mandalay formed the Federation of All Burma Monks’ Union and helped organize monks’ reading groups, libraries, and literary discussion groups, among other activities. Young Monks’ Unions, like Students’ Unions, were being formed all over Burma with the sole intention of ending the military dictatorship in Burma. During the mean time, Young Monks’ Union members helped other monks’ organizations to coordinate, consult and exchange ideas by helping them communicate with each other. When the regime became suspicious at times, new monks and civilians were used as dispatchers. And on occasion, meetings were cancelled in order to evade the junta’s relentless assaults.

Since 2005, there was a growing realization that a mass movement to overthrow the Burmese dictatorship was becoming inevitable, and many activist groups began expanding their underground movements in anticipation.

When the military junta suddenly increased the price of fuel on August 15, 2007, impoverished people in Burma faced an unprecedented level of hardship. When small demonstrations broke out against the severe economic conditions, government thugs’ organizations named, Swan Ahh-shin, Union Solidarity and Development Association (USDA), and riot police were sent in to violently suppress the peaceful protests, and swiftly ended the public outcry.

In order to come to the rescue of frightened and battered citizens suffering under severe economic hardships, the monks took it upon themselves to unite all of the monks’ unions and to create a larger monks’ alliance at a meeting scheduled for September 9, 2007 at a monastery in Mandalay. By September 4 many monks had left their monasteries and were on the way to the meeting.

But on September 5 when the Pakokku monks came out to chant the peaceful prayers of the ‘Metta Sutta,’ – the sutra of loving kindness to radiate the spirit of love to all beings – in sympathy with the suffering public, the local government militia brutally attacked the monks and tied them to electric poles, beat them with rifle butts, and arrested them. News of these actions spread quickly, and the next day unrest broke out and cars were burnt in Pakokku.

Burmese monks from all over the country felt compelled to respond to such shocking violence against revered Buddhist monks who were marching peacefully. When the monks gathered on September 9 as previously agreed, the meeting was forced to move to a new location for fear of detection by the authorities. Finally, monks at the meeting unanimously decided to boycott the military if the government failed to comply with the following demands by a given deadline.

The monks demanded that the State Peace and Development Council (SPDC)

1. Apologize to the Pakokku monks, by midnight of September 17
2. Reduce the prices of fuel oil and basic commodities
3. Unconditionally release Aung San Suu Kyi and all other political prisoners
4. Hold dialogue with the democratic political opposition representatives in order to begin a national reconciliation process

The ensuing united monks’ organization was named the ‘All Burma Monks’ Alliance’ (ABMA) and the monks decided to proceed with boycotting the military on September 18, 2007 after the regime failed to meet the demands before the deadline.

Members of All Burma Monks’ Alliance

1. All Burma Young Monks’ Union
2. Federation of All Burma Monks’ Union
3. Rangoon Young Monks’ Union
4. Sangha Duta Council of Burma

The executive founding members of ABMA

1. U Pakada (Pannasara )
2. U Medhavi
3. U Kheminda
4. U Aww Ba Tha
5. U Tay Za
6. U Gambira

The announcement of the above formation of the ABMA was handwritten, photographed, and published via email media sent from a handheld camera, since computer communications were disrupted or unavailable.

During the Saffron uprising, generous provisions of food and essential services were donated to the monks by a caring public. There were exemplary unforgettable individuals like one outstanding patron who took diligent care of the monks.

On September 18, 2007 the ABMA effectively began the boycott against the SPDC regime, and the event became known as “the Saffron Revolution.” The United Nations and the rest of the world were forced to acknowledge the Burmese people’s struggle for freedom from brutal military dictatorship.

Much of the credit for the Saffron Revolution was since given to famous organizations or people, but the real contribution to the Saffron Revolution was made by the monks and people who genuinely shared the grievances of ordinary citizens, and who took unified and daring actions inside Burma.

Many Burmese people were aware of the 2007 Saffron Revolution and people from all over the world had also taken notice and became more interested in Burma, since ‘The Golden Uprising’ – as it was known in Burmese – eventually brought the UN Secretary General’s special envoy, Mr. Ibrahim Gambari, to Burma.

But the Saffron Revolution did not simply emerge without effort. The Saffron Revolution was born of the leadership of the All Burma Monks’ Alliance – ABMA – the joint organization of four original monks’ unions and the extraordinary courage of the member monks, and their ability to unite for the sake their people. The uprising took place precisely because of the determined leadership of the All Burma Monks’ Alliance (ABMA).

The All Burma Monks’ Alliance (ABMA) was founded on 9 September 2007. Numerically it lines up as 9-9-9, when 2 and 7 from the year 2007 are added and also when all numbers 9+9+2+7=27 are added, including the sum of 27; 2+7=9.

After the thugs hired by the junta government attacked a group of monks marching peacefully in Pakokku, on 5 September 2007, the ABMA made four demands to the Burmese military government, with 17 September 2007 as a deadline to respond. The ABMA announced via local media that if the military failed to accede to its demands, the monks would carry out a boycott against the government officials beginning on 18 September 2007. Numerically digits of the date 09 18 2007 also add up to numeral 9.

September 18, 2007 was the 19th anniversary of the military coup and therefore an important date for Burma’s generals. It also became a symbolically significant day for the Burmese monks, as the severe moral rebuke by the monks against the army junta, called ‘overturning of the alms bowls,’ was to begin on that same day. As early as 5:00 AM on 18 September, reporters began calling the ABMA leaders about the monks’ boycott against the military. The reporters continued calling every hour on that day, asking whether the monks’ boycott — of refusing alms from military families, effectively denying them important religious merit — would still be taking place. Early on, while events were still unfolding, it was very difficult to predict the day ahead. But, at that moment it became evident that the honor and esteem of Burmese monks and their religion was terribly at stake. As the gravity of the risk we had taken became clearer, we anxiously continued reassuring the public that conditions were good and that monks were proceeding with a boycott against the Burmese military. Still, we were not able to give a real encouraging answer, yet. Till noon of that day we were not quite sure of the outcome of the decision we had made while we responded to the inquiries about the monks’ boycott.

The dramatic event of the 18 September 2007 Saffron Revolution was similar to the ‘8-8-88′ uprising in Burma. Even as news media were reporting the rising momentum for countrywide mass protests in 1988, no one dared predict the inevitability of 8-8-88 uprising with confidence. Even at 7:00 and 8:00 a.m. there was still no certainty that the uprising was to take place. Only at 9: a.m. on 8 August 1988, when marchers from labour and student movements joined and advanced together along the promenade could we let out a sigh of relief.

In spite of heavy army roadblocks, the Burmese monks had also successfully staged a protest against the SLORC military government for the first time on 3 October 1990, the full moon day of the lunar month Thadingyut, (the end of Buddhist Lent), Burmese year 1352, at Rangoon’s Ngar Htait Kyi Pagoda.

The most anxious moment on 18 September 2007 was at noon after our daily meal, as we watched the day’s events with anticipation and saw nothing unusual. But after that moment many monks began gathering at Thingan-Kyun, Kyaikasan, and Shwedagon pagodas.

The authorities moved to close down the monks’ quarters at Kyaikasan Pagoda, and monks from the Thingan-Kyun monastery began arriving at the Kyauk-sar-daw historic pagoda of the Magin monastery. The government and its violent militia organizations, the USDA (Union Solidarity and Development Association) and Swan Ah Shin (SAS-force of violence) were sent into pandemonium. Meanwhile, the monks began to arrive and seated themselves with great dignity and grace on the ground of the Kyauksardaw Pagoda. And then there was only utter silence.

Until suddenly, when sounds came from the distance, we only listened, listened for the sounds. It was 1:30 PM on 18 September 2007, and the resounding murmurs of the monks’ Metta Sutta prayers could now be heard from afar. The monks were praying and chanting to emphasize their rebukes against the military for violating Buddha’s teaching.

Soon after, the phones began to ring constantly, and the news of monks chanting the Metta Sutta and marching to the Shwedagon Pagoda in Rangoon and to other pagodas and monasteries in Taunggote, Pakokku, and Kyaukpadaung began to reach us.

Then phone calls from news media started to come in. And it was recorded that the All Burma Monks’ Alliance had survived this great day. Followed by more dramatic days….

May freedom come to the people of Burma soon…

The writer is the founding member and Foreign Executive Director of the All Burma Monks’ Alliance