September 25, 2007

Protests continue in Burma

We can only applaud and support the brave protesters in Burma. The protests lead the websites of the BBC and Sky News, which includes a video report.

In the papers, the report in the Telegraph is tellingly anonymous. It details action the regime is said to be taking behind the scenes in preparation for a crackdown. Their website too includes a link to a short video report.

This shows how censorship is breaking down. Indeed, the Financial Times headlines its report "Burma junta wary in YouTube era". The piece has detailed discussion of the south Asian political attitudes to the protests (well worth reading in full, with concern for human rights notable by its absence), and focuses on the increased vulnerability of the regime with the breakdown of censorship.
As they confront the biggest challenge to their rule in two decades, the military must also be considering the international ramifications of a violent crackdown at a time when Burma’s communication links to the outside world are stronger than ever before, thanks to internet and mobile phones.

Indeed, any bloodshed could have a serious impact on Burma’s relationships with Asian friends, who in recent years have defended the junta in international forums – including the United Nations Security Council – from western pressure for political change.

“Shooting peaceful demonstrators in the full-glare of YouTube is no longer something that even Burma’s allies will be able to ignore,” said one long-time Burma watcher.
Other countries' governments - less secure in their authority than governments in established democracies - will not want their people to start thinking that people power can make a difference. African governments - also insecure - do not care at all how badly Mugabe treats the citizens of Zimbabwe. Let us hope Asian governments will be less tolerant.

We can only wish poor Burma well.

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