Burma after the uprise

 

Yangon /Rangoon in November. Burma's capital is recovering. It was right here, only a few months ago that peaceful demonstrators were brutally assaulted by the regime soldiers. Now there are hardly any soldiers in the streets and no demonstrators at all.

We are here disguised as tourists. Foreign journalists are definitely not welcome in this closed country. Interviewing active opponents of the regime can have serious consequences for those who speak out. Therefore the people participating in this programme are no longer in Burma

 

 Anonymous monk/leading organiser of the demonstrations

0001 00:01:37:11 00:01:42:23

For the moment we are on the run.
The authorities are searching for us.

0002 00:01:43:03 00:01:47:13

They went to the monasteries,

the cities and the villages to arrest us.

0003 00:01:47:17 00:01:51:12

- and they searched for us.

0004 00:01:51:16 00:01:55:10

For the moment we have to hide

0005 00:01:55:14 00:01:57:24

But they cannot keep on arresting us.

 

 

The Moei river between Burma and Thailand. Yet another family escapes from Burma. They are fleeing from suppression – hoping for a better life, or on the run from the authorities like the people we have met.

U kovida is wanted by the burmese authorities. He has escaped from the country and we are meeting him in a secret address in Thailand. He has chosen to come forward now that the authorities are after him anyway.

 

Ashin U Kovida/local leader of the monk demonstrations

 

0006 00:02:38:08 00:02:42:17

I didn’t wear a monk’s gown

I wore normal men’s wear.

0007 00:02:42:22 00:02:45:07

I had to change my appearance.

0008 00:02:45:12 00:02:50:04

Since the 27th I let my hair grow

0009 00:02:50:08 00:02:56:17

I started wearing glasses

Used facial cream, coloured my hair.

0010 00:02:56:22 00:03:01:19

Otherwise I couldn’t have fled to this place.

 


Maesot is in Thailand, just off the Burmese border. The city mostly looks like a mini Burma as many of those living here are refugees from Burma. This is also where a big part of the resistance against the regime is organised.)

 

Here you will find some of the most prominent people, who have organised the demonstrations. They are all wanted by the Burmese authorities and will find it very difficult to return to Burma.

This monk played a very central role during the demonstrations. Together with a few other monks he organised the peaceful demonstrations. He remains anonymous, as the authorities are not sure of his identity and he might be able to return to Burma sometime in the future.

 

Anonymous monk/leading organiser of the demonstrations

0011 00:03:59:11 00:04:04:08

Monks are not separate from the citizens.

0012 00:04:04:12 00:04:08:07

Every day they walk around people’s

homes and ask for charity.

0013 00:04:08:12 00:04:12:07

They see with their own eyes how people suffer.

0014 00:04:12:12 00:04:15:21

It touches us when we see people suffer.

0015 00:04:16:00 00:04:22:18

Everybody felt the same sympathy

For the people who suffer.

0016 00:04:22:23 00:04:27:00

-That’s why it wasn’t difficult to organise the monks.

 

Ashin U Kovida/local leader of the monk demonstrations

 

0017 00:04:27:04 00:04:30:21

A large family-

0018 00:04:31:01 00:04:36:18

-cannot send the children to school

So they collect and sell plastic.

0019 00:04:36:23 00:04:41:21

They have a hard work

which doesn’t fit their age.

0020 00:04:42:01 00:04:46:20

Children who don’t have a job

Beg for food in the monasteries.

0021 00:04:47:00 00:04:49:15

We saw it daily and
it affected us deeply.

 

There are more than one million monks in Burma, and they were at the forefront to protest against a regime, who has impoverished the citizens – and they were aware of the risk of doing so.

(pix 18. September)

 

Anonymous monk/leading organiser of the demonstrations

0022 00:05:03:22 00:05:09:18

We know it from 1990 where there was

a similar boycott of the government.

0023 00:05:09:23 00:05:17:10

This time, the government will also

beat, arrest and kill monks.

0024 00:05:17:15 00:05:25:18

We knew it and told our friends

to be careful.

 

Still the streets were filled with discontented Burmese. Monks, political activists and ordinary people rebelled against a regime, which did not care about normal people’s rights. The population lives in poverty while the leaders of the country enrich themselves,

 

Panchar U Karkar/activist

 

0025 00:05:46:23 00:05:52:14

In September I became an important

part of this protest.

0026 00:05:52:19 00:06:00:13

I had to do it for my religion,

as a Buddhist and citizen in Burma.

0027 00:06:00:18 00:06:06:12

I am not a politician

Or a member of a student union.

0028 00:06:06:16 00:06:10:23

I am an ordinary citizen

And businessman.

 

Panchar U Karkar is like thousands of others forced into exile – wanted by the regime. The border area between Thailand and Burma has been a refuge for more than 20 years, for many Burmese who are no longer welcome in their own country. It is ordinary people, political activists and a particular ethnic group – the Karenns – most of whom have spent the last 20 years in refugee camps like this one.

 

Anonymous monk/leading organiser of the demonstrations

0029 00:06:47:15 00:06:54:08

We had hoped to free the people

From poverty, suppression - 

0030 00:06:54:13 00:07:00:15

- and torture
that was our only goal

 

Burma has many natural resources. The country is rolling in gold and precious stones, there are large amounts of fine timber and oil. But it is only for the regime to use. Highly decorated officers and generals are paid for their loyalty. They like to wear one of Burma’s great export goods.

 

 (sound bite)

0031 00:07:20:09 00:07:22:21

4665 dollar.

 

Here you see one of the presents for the daughter of the leader General Than Shwe, when she was married last year.

Ordinary people – most of the 50 million inhabitants in Burma, live a completely different life. The lucky ones earn a dollar a day, which is also the salary for ordinary  soldiers.

 

 

(pix 19. september)

 

The people know life could be different and this is why the demonstrations grew so fast.

(pix 20. september)

 

Panchar U Karkar/activist

 

0032 00:07:51:04 00:07:54:23

We hit the streets again on the 20th.

0033 00:07:55:02 00:08:00:11

The authorities gave order to army

division 77, which was in Rangoon-

0034 00:08:00:15 00:08:02:07

- to shoot at the demonstrators.

0035 00:08:02:12 00:08:07:21

In spite of the order from the headquarters

Division 77 didn’t shoot at us.

0036 00:08:08:01 00:08:12:00

It’s true

they didn’t shoot at us.

0037 00:08:12:04 00:08:19:02

That day we saw soldiers on guard

And they applauded us-

0038 00:08:19:07 00:08:22:03

- they turned their thumbs up.

0039 00:08:22:08 00:08:27:19

We also saw some

who had tears in their eyes.

 

(pix 23. September)


0050 00:09:29:13 00:09:31:22

The fight must be won

 

Ashin U Kovida/local leader of the monk demonstrations

 

0040 00:08:30:00 00:08:34:18

We marched to the Hlae Tan area
from the Shwedagon pagoda.

0041 00:08:34:23 00:08:42:23

We came to the national leader

Aung San Suu Kyi’s house.

0042 00:08:43:01 00:08:48:16

The authorities didn’t think

We could reach the house.

0043 00:08:48:21 00:08:55:13

There were so many monks and people

That they couldn’t hold them back.

0044 00:08:55:18 00:09:01:11

We could easily enter

And San Suu Kyi saw us.

0045 00:09:01:15 00:09:09:12

We saw her and were happy, but

we were sad to se her imprisoned.

0046 00:09:09:17 00:09:14:03

We were both happy and sad.

0047 00:09:14:08 00:09:18:12

We looked at her house

and her -

0048 00:09:18:16 00:09:24:01

- and sent her our love

and prayed for 5-10 minutes.

0049 00:09:24:06 00:09:29:08

Afterwards we returned to the Sule pagoda

by the Kaba-Aye road.
 

In the streets of Rangoon, there was now talk of a regular monk revolution. Many Burmese thought this was the end of a brutal military dictatorship - that peaceful demonstrations could really lead to democracy in Burma. But again the iron fist of the military junta was used against the people.

 

Ashin U Kovida/local leader of the monk demonstrations

 

0051 00:09:52:07 00:10:01:10

What happened the next day on the 26th

had never happened before -

0052 00:10:01:15 00:10:10:05

- the authorities attacked the monasteries.

0053 00:10:10:10 00:10:13:22

Early the next morning

I went to the monastery.

0054 00:10:14:01 00:10:18:23

There were monks’ gowns and shoes

Spread all over - and there was blood.

0055 00:10:19:03 00:10:24:11

Mosquito nets had been tossed around

and it was a horrible sight.

0056 00:10:24:16 00:10:32:03

It was impossible to describe our feelings.

0057 00:10:32:08 00:10:38:03

Our peaceful demonstration

For the people -

0058 00:10:38:08 00:10:45:08

- was being attacked by the authorities
we know that now.

 

(pix Swedagon 26. september)

 

The monks tried to rise after the hard night attack, but the authorities set up a tight iron ring around their holy pagodas.

Munkene forsøgte at rejse fra nattens hårde angreb, men myndighederne havde lagt en effektiv jernring omkring deres hellige pagoder.

 

Panchar U Karkar/activist

 

0059 00:10:55:24 00:10:59:18

On the 26th we knew

that the numbers would rise -

0060 00:10:59:23 00:11:07:20

- as we had seen more and more coming every day.

0061 00:11:08:00 00:11:11:19

On the 26th we planned to march in the same way.

0062 00:11:11:24 00:11:21:19

We were told, that they had replaced division 77

with nr. 66 during the night.

0063 00:11:23:03 00:11:26:22

- we were told in the morning at 10 o’clock.

0064 00:11:27:00 00:11:32:14

They had replaced division 77

with division 66.

0065 00:11:32:19 00:11:36:22

Division 66 had been ordered to shoot at us.

0066 00:11:37:15 00:11:44:02

15-20 monks approached the MPs

and asked them to open the roadblock.

0067 00:11:44:07 00:11:48:24

But they didnt succeed

and while the monks asked the MPs

0068 00:11:49:04 00:11:53:23

- The MPs started to hit 3-4 monks

who were praying in the front.

0069 00:11:54:03 00:12:02:08

Before the monks could get away

they fired 3 teargas grenades.

 

(pix 27.september)

 

People watched in horror. In the following days several hundred thousand demonstrators went out into the streets, but they were brutally suppressed. The military killed and arrested several Burmese and very soon the streets were empty.

Today the barbed wire, which lies ready to be rolled out when or if the protestors take to the streets again - is the only proof of the revolt.

But even if things are calm now, you sense an intense aversion against the regime. During my four day visit, I didn’t hear a single positive word about Burma’s leader Than Shwe. On the other hand the monks of the country were often praised.

 

It is impossible to say how many were killed by the military. The authorities say 10 but many activists talk about 200. Foreign diplomats estimate slightly less. A qualified guess would be around 100 dead.

More than 3000 were arrested. The majority was released again, but an estimated 600 are still imprisoned.

But in spite of this and in spite of the fact that the military junta managed to stop the demonstrations effectively, they all think it was worth it.

 

Anonymous monk/leading organiser of the demonstrations

0070 00:13:26:12 00:13:31:21

It is true, that the people have been suppressed.

0071 00:13:32:01 00:13:38:02

People are tortured by the government.

0072 00:13:38:07 00:13:41:14

The international community knows.

0073 00:13:42:17 00:13:47:22

The international community cannot silently watch

0074 00:13:47:22 00:13:52:08

the grave actions deeds committed by the military junta.

 

Ashin U Kovida/local leader of the monk demonstrations

 

0075 00:13:52:13 00:13:55:02

We regret nothing.

0076 00:13:55:07 00:13:58:11

We did what was possible.

0077 00:13:58:15 00:14:02:08

The Burmese are responsible for their own country.

0078 00:14:02:13 00:14:05:08

Others can’t do that much.

0079 00:14:05:12 00:14:13:05

We started and then the international community reacted in our favour.

0080 00:14:13:10 00:14:17:12

Since the uprising in 1988

there hasn’t been anything like this.

0081 00:14:17:17 00:14:21:05

Burma wasn’t mentioned in the world.

0082 00:14:21:10 00:14:25:13

When the monks started to protest -

0083 00:14:25:17 00:14:29:11

- the attention from UN and

the international community grew very fast.

 


But both here and with the people in the streets of Rangoon, people fear that the condemnations from the world community are words without action. They fear that the UN representative Ibrahim Gambari is being cheated deceived by Burma’s dictator Than Shwe.

 

 

Panchar U Karkar/activist

 

0084 00:14:45:02 00:14:49:22

Instead of taking him to the cities

where the demonstrations took place-

0085 00:14:50:02 00:14:54:12

- he was taken to places where

the government is successful -

0086 00:14:54:16 00:15:01:12

- like for instance Lashio in the northern Shan state

By the Chinese border.

0087 00:15:01:17 00:15:05:01

He listens to what the government says.

0088 00:15:05:06 00:15:08:15

But in Lashio there were no demonstratons.

0089 00:15:08:20 00:15:13:08

Why does he travel to Lashio?

The Burmese would like to know.

 

73 year old Than Shwe has been in power since1992. He doesn’t call himself president, but chairman of the State Peace and Development Council. But the title covers over a man, who has in no way created peace and prosperity. He is a soldier who has worked himself up through the grades. Now he is a general and he rules the country harshly together with 11 other generals. And for almost the same period of time, Burma's democratically elected leader Aung San Suu Kyi has been locked up in her own house.

 

Anonymous monk/leading organiser of the demonstrations

0090 00:15:46:19 00:15:51:07

It’s difficult to say exactely

who Than Shwe is

0091 00:15:51:11 00:15:58:21

As we see him, he is a chess player.

0092 00:16:00:11 00:16:07:10

As a chess player he only

thinks of beating his opponent.

0093 00:16:07:15 00:16:12:01

He always tries to find ways

to trick his opponent.

0094 00:16:12:06 00:16:14:16

Than Shwe is like that.

0095 00:16:14:21 00:16:21:05

He cheats the people to stay in power.

0096 00:16:22:05 00:16:25:15

He also cheats the other generals.

0097 00:16:25:19 00:16:34:10

Even though he says he's a buddhist

he also deceives in that way.

0098 00:16:34:15 00:16:40:18

He can also cheat the world community -

including the UN.

0099 00:16:40:23 00:16:45:11

That is why Than Shwe

is like a chess player -

0100 00:16:45:16 00:16:48:20

- who always tries to cheat his opponent.

0101 00:16:49:00 00:16:51:10

That is how we see him.

0102 00:17:16:07 00:17:24:13

 

Right now Than Shwe is playing chess with the UN representative Gambari, who is trying to persuade the general to loosen his grip on Burma.

Neither Russia nor China will introduce harsh sanctions against the regime, and the consequence is that the UN Security Council can only agree on urging the junta and Aung San Suu Kyi to seek peaceful cooperation.

 

Anonymous monk/leading organiser of the demonstrations

If the Security Council of the UN

0103 00:17:24:18 00:17:32:04

- handles the case of Burma with great care -

0104 00:17:32:07 00:17:38:15

- the military government might start to speak with the opposition.

0105 00:18:06:08 00:18:11:02

 

The US has introduced an import ban on goods from Burma, and in the EU certain financial sanctions have been introduced. But the most important source of revenue in Burma, oil and natural gas, is not included in these sanctions.

And Burma's government doesn't seem very worried about the financial sanctions. Oil and natural gas can always be sold, and if the United States and the EU don't want their goods, the Chinese will.

 

Anonymous monk/leading organiser of the demonstrations

If it doesn't happen

if the actions are only expression

of condemnation -

0106 00:18:11:07 00:18:15:16

- and if Mr. Gambari is only talking and then leaving again -

0107 00:18:15:21 00:18:19:16

- if the case is not taken seriously -

0108 00:18:19:21 00:18:24:13

- the government will not take the

international society community into consideration -

0109 00:18:24:18 00:18:28:13

- or the Burmese population

And it will continue ruling.

0110 00:18:28:18 00:18:33:18

If it continues, many Burmese will pay with their lives.

------------------------------------------------------

 

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