Thursday, October 11, 2007

Five Generals and soldiers jailed for refusing to shoot monks

The Jakarta Post

Burma's ruling junta have detained five generals and more than 400 soldiers for disobeying orders to shoot and beat monks and other activists who took part in recent protests in Rangoon, an official said Monday.

The official, who asked for anonymity out of fear he would be punished by the junta, said it was the first sign of divisions in the country's secretive establishment.

"The five generals expressed their refusal to deploy their troops against the monks openly. They were then quickly put into detention by the junta.

"Some 400 soldiers of the Sagaing Division near Mandalay also put down their guns in front of the monks, and asked for their forgiveness as they fully realized they had committed the biggest sin," he told The Jakarta Post.

The official refused to disclose the names of the generals or give further details on where the generals and the soldiers were detained.

Following Burma's recent wave of anti-government demonstrations, which drew more than 100,000 protesters at its peak last week and saw the military shooting at civilians and monks, the Burmese administration announced that 10 people, including a Japanese photographer, had been killed during the protests.

Foreign diplomats and Burmese dissidents said the true death toll was much higher.

The official said that most civil servants like himself did not like what the junta had done to the monks but were too afraid too show their feelings.

"Monks are a symbol of our religion and our life. People are very angry that the military dared to shoot them. It is considered the biggest sin to kill monks," the official said.

He said that many civil servants and other workers were beginning to quietly express their dissatisfaction by staying at home and not working.

Shwe Myo Thant, secretary-general of the Chiang Mae-based Nationalities Youth Program, an organization of 12 ethnic groups working to empower Burmese people, agreed that many workers were boycotting the junta by staying home.

"They want to show the military that they disagree with the violent crackdown. By not working, we hope that they can put more pressure on the junta to open dialog. Beside the civil servants and the workers, the monks are also continuing their protest inside their monasteries by staying silent and refusing to pray for the government," he told the Post on Sunday at his office in Chiang Mae.

Analysts have speculated that the disobedience of some military generals could be the beginning of cracks inside the military establishment, leading to civilians taking power in a manner similar to the events in Indonesia during the May 1998 riots, which led to the fall of Soeharto.

Source: Rebound88


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