Blood-splattered floor of the Ngwe Kyar Yan monastery
It’s day two of the crackdown in Myanmar. The NYT says “security forces raided at least two Buddhist monasteries, beating and arresting dozens of monks, according to reports from the capital, Yangon.” Latest wire dispatches report protesters are being fired upon:
Soldiers fired automatic weapons into a crowd of anti-government protesters Thursday as tens of thousands defied the ruling military junta’s crackdown with a 10th straight day of demonstrations.
A Japanese Foreign Ministry official told The Associated Press that several people, including a Japanese national, were found dead following Thursday’s protests.
The information was transmitted by Myanmar’s Foreign Ministry to the Japanese Embassy in Yangon, the official said on condition of anonymity citing protocol.
The chaos came a day after the government launched a crackdown in Yangon that it said killed at least one man. Dissidents outside Myanmar reported receiving news of up to eight deaths Wednesday.
Some reports said the dead included Buddhist monks, who are widely revered in Myanmar, and the emergence of such martyrs could stoke public anger against the regime and escalate the violence.
Gunfire resounded through the air on Wednesday as Buddhist monks chanted the “Metta Sutra” (the Buddha’s words on living kindness). Soldiers and riot police beat many monks who bravely resisted by sitting down in front of security forces.
Monks in Rangoon on Thursday said five fellow monks were shot dead or beaten to death by security forces on Wednesday. The tragedy, unfortunately, is only beginning: more blood will flow on the road to democracy in the coming days.
The bloodshed has unfolded despite calls for restraint by the international community. The UN secretary-general repeatedly called on the regime to seize this opportunity to restore democracy and national reconciliation with all parties in the country, but to no avail.
The United Nation Security Council will meet on Thursday. But what can the council do? Just this year, a critical resolution on Burma proposed by the US and Britain was vetoed by China and Russia, two strong supporters of the junta.
For a long-term perspective, we can turn to the writing of Aung San Suu Kyi, the people’s beloved democracy leader, who has always acknowledged the enduring strength of the Burmese people, while also calling for help from all people who support democracy and human rights.
“It is not enough merely to call for freedom, democracy and human rights,” Suu Kyi wrote in “Freedom from Fear.” “There has to be a united determination to persevere in the struggle, to make sacrifices in the name of enduring truths, to resist the corrupting influences of desire, ill will, ignorance and fear.”
“The quest for democracy in Burma is the struggle of a people to live whole, meaningful lives as free and equal members of the world community. It is part of the unceasing human endeavor to prove that the spirit of man can transcend the flaws of his nature.”
The current military crackdown, despite the killings and beatings, can’t stop Buddhist monks who practice loving kindness and sacrifice for the well-being of the suffering people of Burma. As Suu Kyi said, this is a “revolution of the spirit”—it must transcend inhumanity.
A true religion of peace.
Yesterday: The Saffron Revolution