Here’s a place where they do it properly – Burma (or as the military junta would have it, ‘Myanmar’).
I’ve been keeping a little eye out on the growing opposition demonstrations there in the last few weeks, starting with protests over escalating fuel costs, and this week seeing the Buddhist monks marching through Rangoon (‘Yangon’) and other cities.
Yesterday there was the bizarre sight of a military chappy kneeling in a temple, imploring the senior monks not to go out again today. It would seem that the Burmese hold monks in very high esteem, but this display was sinister because the leaders were really saying “Please don’t do it because we might have to send the army in”.
The monks went out again today, and as the Guardian newsblog updates showed, there are a lot of rumours and whispers about hospitals being cleared and riot police moving in. However, no actual reports of a crackdown, although apparently Aung San Suu Kyi was moved from house arrest to prison this afternoon.
The odious regime really ought to fall, to be replaced with democracy, but they have largely been allowed to get away with oppressing their own people for decades, with China helping them out and no-one else wanting to intervene in a liberal-humanitarian stylee in case it causes ructions.
President Bush has announced extended sanctions (good move, but years late) and the rest of the world is trying to convince the Burmese government not to use violence to restore ‘order’.
However, a curfew has been declared, and gatherings of more than 5 people have been banned. I have a bad feeling about tomorrow.