Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Citizens Wait, Worry in Junta's Climate of Fear

In Rangoon, Burma, soldiers are taking photos of people at pro-democracy demonstrations. They look at the photos and then take you at night, if you are identified. These nighttime raids began last month after Burma's military put down the country's largest protest in about twenty years which was led my Buddhist monks.

Thousands have been arrested and citizens live under this harsh military dictatorship and constantly live in fear. The people are only allowed to talk in whispers about the government. As a 66 year old man in Rangoon states, "The people, we all feel so cramped up inside. We cannot talk. We cannot do anything. This government, they are killers. They have guns, but the people have nothing."

Daily routines have somewhat returned though constant reminders remain such as the barbed wire at the entrance to Sule Pagoda. Tourists have not been visiting Rangoon and it is almost like a forgotten city. The streets are filled with holes, buses have wheezing engines, and electricity is constantly flickering on and off.

Hundreds of people are missing and as many as 200 people have been killed. Conditions are horrible with scarce drinking water and one person, "...was given one egg to share with eight people, one bottle of water. No one was allowed to sleep. They had to sit, and if they lay down, they were hit." Basic human rights such as freedom from fear, freedom from speech and freedom from unreasonable searches are constantly being violated.

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