Burma crisis brewing: troops surround Buddhist monasteries

Even as President Bush called for new sanctions against the Myanmar (Burma) government, the military junta has declared curfews and surrounded several monasteries with security forces, raising fears of a brutal crackdown like the one in 1988, when an estimated 3000 people were killed. Aung Hla Tun reports for Reuters:

UPDATE from Rangoon: Warning shots and tear gas have been fired to disperse crowds, and at least 300 monks have been arrested, according to AP reports.

Troops and riot police took up positions outside at least six big activist monasteries in Yangon on Wednesday as Myanmar’s junta tried to prevent monks leading new protest marches against military rule, witnesses said.

Hundreds more waited in a park behind the Sule Pagoda, the city centre focus of the biggest protests against the generals in 20 years, apparently prepared to prevent any repetition, they said.

There was no immediate word from the monks on whether they would risk their first major confrontation with the junta by trying to march again despite fears of a repetition of the bloody end to a 1988 uprising, primarily in the Sule Pagoda area.

* * * * *

It appeared the generals did not use radio and television because they have only national networks and on Wednesday morning few outside the two main cities were aware curfews had been imposed.

Read the entire article at the link above. Will the monks back down, will the junta crack down, or could we see a Saffron Revolution? (Read Richard Fernandez’ coverage for Pajamas Media also).

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