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FW: Important events about Burma this Thursday and Friday

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  • greg buck
    This from Truthout: (Events are below my signature) Groups Struggle to Tally Myanmar s Dead By Michael Casey The Associated Press Monday 01 October
    Message 1 of 1 , Oct 2, 2007
      This from Truthout: (Events are below my signature)
          Groups Struggle to Tally Myanmar's Dead
          By Michael Casey
          The Associated Press

          Monday 01 October 2007

          Bangkok, Thailand - One hundred shot dead outside a Myanmar school. Activists burned alive at government crematoriums. Buddhist monks floating face down in rivers.

          After last week's brutal crackdown by the military, horror stories are filling Myanmar blogs and dissident sites. But the tight security of the repressive regime makes it impossible to verify just how many people are dead, detained or missing.

          "There are huge difficulties. It's a closed police state," said David Mathieson, a consultant with Human Rights Watch in Thailand. "Many of the witnesses have been arrested and are being held in areas we don't have access to. Other eyewitness are too afraid."

          Authorities have acknowledged that government troops shot dead nine demonstrators and a Japanese cameraman in Yangon. But witness accounts range from several dozen deaths to as many as 200.

          "We do believe the death toll is higher than acknowledged by the government," Shari Villarosa, the top U.S. diplomat in Myanmar, told The Associated Press Monday. "We are doing our best to get more precise, more detailed information, not only in terms of deaths but also arrests."

          Villarosa said her staff had visited up to 15 monasteries around Yangon and every single one was empty. She put the number of arrested demonstrators - monks and civilians - in the thousands.

          "I know the monks are not in their monasteries," she said. "Where are they? How many are dead? How many are arrested?"

          She said the true death toll may never be known in a Buddhist country where bodies are cremated.

          "We're not going to find graves like they did in Yugoslavia ... We have seen few dead bodies. The bodies are removed promptly. We don't know where they are being taken," Villarosa said.

          Dissident groups have been collecting accounts from witnesses and the families of victims, and investigating reports of dead bodies turning up at hospitals and cemeteries in and around Yangon.

          The U.S. Campaign For Burma, a Washington-based pro-democracy group, says more than 100 people were killed in downtown Yangon after truckloads of government troops fired automatic weapons last Thursday at thousands of demonstrators. It also claims that 100 students and parents were killed the same day at a high school in Tamwe, in northeastern Yangon, after troops shot at them as school let out.

          The Democratic Voice of Burma, a Norway-based dissident news organization, has received reports of soldiers burning protesters alive at the Yae Way cemetery crematorium on the outskirts of Yangon. The group also shot video Sunday of a dead monk, badly beaten and floating face down in a Yangon river.

          The Democratic Voice of Burma has put the death toll at 138, based on a list compiled by the 88 Student Generation, a pro-democracy group operating in Myanmar.

          "This 138 figure is quite credible because it's based on names of victims," Aye Chan Naing, the chief editor, told the AP Monday. "I also think the figure is accurate because of the pictures coming from inside Burma. The way they were shooting into the crowds with machine guns means dozens of people could have died."

          The Democratic Voice of Burma also estimates that about 6,000 demonstrators - including at least 1,400 monks from seven now-empty monasteries - are being held at makeshift detention centers set up at universities, old factories and a race track in Yangon. There are already an estimated 1,100 political prisoners languishing in Myanmar's jails.

          The military junta did not respond to AP requests for comment Monday. It is impossible to independently verify the death toll because Myanmar is virtually off limits to journalists.

          Lars Bromley of the American Association for the Advancement of Science in Washington said his agency has ordered up satellite images of four Myanmar cities, including Yangon, since the crackdown. He said satellite imagery - along with clear skies and exact locations from witnesses - could help locate massacre sites, and also give some sense of the military presence around cities and monasteries.

          "If there are several suspected burial sites, we could help narrow it down or identity the site," said Bromley, who last week identified evidence that Myanmar's military destroyed border villages and forcibly relocated ethnic minorities in eastern Myanmar last year. "But we need a little information to go on."

          Most analysts said the fallout from the protests was not surprising, given the regime's history of brutality. It may be impossible to ever verify how many people are dead or detained.

          "We cannot say exactly and we are unlikely to know for sure," Win Hlaing of the dissident group National League for Democracy-Liberated Area said of the death toll. "(But) the junta never declares the real number of people killed."

          Myanmar's military also opened fire on the country's 1988 democratic uprising. Human Rights Watch estimates that at least 3,000 protesters were killed, but other reports cite up to 10,000. The media, diplomats and activists have been denied access to documents that could shed light on the shootings.

          And so, to this day, the exact death toll remains shrouded in secrecy.

      Greg Buck
      Campaign for Sustainable Economics
      Indianapolis, IN USA

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      > Date: Mon, 1 Oct 2007 21:59:32 -0400
      > From: jwolfe@...
      > To: peaceful-L@...
      > Subject: Fwd: Important events about Burma this Thursday and Friday
      > ----- Forwarded message from John@... -----
      > Date: Mon, 1 Oct 2007 01:35:33 -0400
      > From: John Clark <John@...>
      > Reply-To: John Clark <John@...>
      > Subject: Important events about Burma this Thursday and Friday
      > To: John Clark <John@...>
      > Provocate.org is delighted to present two major events this week about
      > the current situation in Burma. Some day, perhaps soon, a democratic
      > Burma will bear the faint stamp: "Made in Indiana." Burmese dissidents
      > and constitutional scholars are drafting a new constitution in
      > Bloomington. Ties between the state and crisis-ridden Burma will
      > intensify if things turn badly, too: Indianapolis is the major
      > destination for refugees from Burma, and we will get a lot more if the
      > goons in Rangoon respond as brutally as they have in the past. You
      > could see a sign of Indiana-Burmese links Sunday evening, when on very
      > short notice a couple of hundred Burmese (plus many other
      > well-wishers) turned out at the Circle Monument in support of the
      > dissent in Burma. (You can see some photos from the rally at
      > www.provocate.org
      > <https://webmail.sipr.org/exchweb/bin/redir.asp?URL=http://www.provocate.org>
      > .)
      > Thursday October 4, 3:30-5:00 PM at the International Center of
      > Indianapolis (32 W. Washington St. Indianapolis) we will have a
      > discussion of "Burma in Crisis." Featured will be Burmese activists
      > and scholars who have helped draft the new constitution for their
      > country. They will help clarify the context and implications of the
      > events we see on the streets of Rangoon.
      > This discussion of Burma on Thursday will be worth clearing your
      > Thursday afternoon schedule to attend. A unique event Friday will be
      > worth coming home early from vacation.
      > Friday October 5, from 6:00-9:00 PM the Harrison Center for the Arts
      > (1505 North Delaware St. Indianapolis) will host "Burma
      > Beautiful/Burma Brutal: Images & Ideas from a Country on the Edge."
      > This will be a multimedia presentation of images and videos from
      > Burma, which will serve as a backdrop for informal conversations about
      > topics such as the prospects for peaceful change, political dimensions
      > of Buddhism in Tibet and Burma, challenges of Burmese communities in
      > Indiana, and other topics. Featured will be:
      > · Photos and art from Burma by Indianapolis artist Jude Odell
      > · Images from "The Sold Project," a documentary in production
      > by Indiana 20-somethings exposing the human side of sex slavery in Burma
      > · Photos from refugees camps on the Burmese-Thai border by
      > Emily Jacobi, an Indianapolis photo-journalist
      > · Video montage of current street protests by Geo-Pol analyst
      > Pedro Cardoso
      > · Burmese scholars and dissidents from IU's Center for
      > Constitutional Democracy in Pluralist Societies, who are drafting a
      > constitution for a democratic Burma
      > · Members of the Chin and Karen ethnic minorities from Burma
      > now in living Indianapolis
      > These are both rare and exciting opportunities to learn more about how
      > the world is directly touching us in Indiana, I hope to see you at both.
      > John Clark
      > For more information about these events (and others): visit
      > www.provocate.org
      > <https://webmail.sipr.org/exchweb/bin/redir.asp?URL=http://www.provocate.org/>
      > , email john@... <mailto:john@...> , or call 317-472-9666
      > For information about the International Center of Indianapolis:
      > www.icenterindy.org
      > <https://webmail.sipr.org/exchweb/bin/redir.asp?URL=http://www.icenterindy.org>
      > For information about the Harrison Center for the Arts:
      > www.harrisoncenter.org
      > <https://webmail.sipr.org/exchweb/bin/redir.asp?URL=http://www.harrisoncenter.org>
      > ----- End forwarded message -----
      > ----------------------------------------------------------------
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