Letter for understanding Burmese situation

I have a friend called Jack Lee, he’s been a freedom fighter inside Burma and is now living at the border on the Chinese side. He wrote this text so that people could understand a bit more about todays situation.

Continue to read: Burma under Military Rule and People’s Uprisings.

Burma has been under military rule since 1962 under the various names. Revolutionary Council (1962 March -1974 March) Union of Republic of Burma under one party dictatorship (1974 March – 1988 September) During that period, Burma has only one political party called ‘Burma Socialist Programme Party’ (BSPP) State Law and Order Restoration Council (SLORC) – (1988 September – 1994 ?) State Peace and Development Council (SPDC) – (1994 ? to until now)

The people’s revolt against this military dictatorship took place occasionally throughout this period from 1962 until now. The major events are:

  • 1962 July 7th massacre of Rangoon University Students and its Students Union
  • 1968 Student movement in SEAP Game
  • 1974 May – June Labour Strike
  • 1974 December – Former UN GS U Thant’s funeral movement
  • 1975 June – Labour Strike anniversary day by Students
  • 1976 March – Thakin Kodaw Hmine Centenary movement
  • 1988 March – September – 8888 Uprising
  • 1996 December – Students Movement in Rangoon

The people are facing economic hardships due to the mismanagement of military junta and there are no fundamental rights at all under this brutal military rule.

On 15th August 2007, the junta hike fuel price ranging from 200% to 500% without giving any notice and explanation. The common people could not afford to take even the public transport on that day. Many people were stranded on the bus stops. The commuters knew the drastic fuel price hike only when they have boarded the buses.

Then the 88 generation students started their peaceful walking campaign on 19th August against the fuel price hike on the streets. The junta raided and arrested these student leaders on 21st midnight at their homes and they are still behind bars in the unknown places. Despite of the government’s crackdown, this campaign spread to other cities.

The people from all walks of life including the Buddhist monks joined this peaceful campaign in many cities and towns in Burma.

On 5th September this year, the monks in Pokakku marched in procession against the fuel price hike peacefully. But the army, police and government backed thugs of so-called ‘USDA’ and ‘Swanah Shin’ like brown shirt in Nazi era attacked the peaceful protestors of monks by lassoing. Then the monks were tied at the lamp posts and hit by rifle butts in public. This incident sparked the outrage against the junta among the whole people. Over 80% of Burmese citizens follow the Buddhist faith. Then the monks formed the ‘All Burma Monks Alliance’ and issued their ultimatum to make formal apology to the monks in public and in explicit form. They gave their deadline on 17th September.

Since there was no formal apology from the junta, the monks started their ‘Pattanikuzana’ (Excommunicative Boycott- refusing alms and all offertories offered by the junta and refuse to perform religious rites and ceremonies) on the next day 18th September. The peaceful and powerful campaign spread to almost all cities in very short period and joined by all the people gradually.

On 25th midnight, the junta imposed curfew at midnight in Rangoon and Mandalay, the capital and the second largest city of Burma.
On the next day 26th, they opened fire on the peaceful demonstrators including monks near and on the most sacred shrine, Shwedagon Pagoda, in Rangoon. They even kicked the monks and stomped on the monks lying on the ground with injury. On that day, according to the official figure, 1 died and 3 injured. But the monks alliance said 5 died and 3 injured. They raided many monasteries in the night and took away many monks on that day. The people called this day ‘Bloody Sabbath Day’ as 25th September 2007 is the Buddhist Sabbath day and full moon day of Tawthalin month in Burmese lunar calendar.

Despite the brutal crush of the peaceful and unarmed demonstrators, the people took to the streets again on 27th September. The army and riot police along with their thugs beat kicked and fired tear gas shells and live cartridges into the crowd.

The official figure for the death toll on that day is 9 died including a Japanese photo journalist and 11 injured.

Anyway, the strike is still going on and the firing is still being heard elsewhere in Burma.

About Carl Rytterfalk

Welcome to my blog! I'm Carl Rytterfalk, a swedish photographer who loves everything that is interesting in the world of photography. In 2002 I fell in love with the three layered Foveon sensor and has since then been an addicted user of Sigma cameras. Though I use Canon and Nikon as well. :)
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3 Responses to Letter for understanding Burmese situation

  1. Clive says:

    Hi Carl. Yes, it is getting good coverage on the news here. A reminder maybe that though we live in a strange world today, it may be part of getting over some very deep illnesses, which in some parts of the world still exist.

    I guess who has to apply the most pressure is Asia itself. The silence for so long, with such a bad neighbor, is not responsible. Such responsibility must be part of becoming ‘bigger’ in the world.

    Take care,

  2. After lots of reading I found that lot’s of countries are more or less involved in helping the junta of Burma. Even Sweden. (by investing in oil companies that works within Burma). But if India, Russia and China took a greater deal of responsibility lots of things could happen.

  3. Clive says:

    Yes, they could. Interesting if those you mention pick up a ball here, since it is their time…

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