Burmese JuntaThe Burmese Junta
The Anatomy of Brutality: Burma's junta at a closer look
It' obvious the Burma army junta is violent. Nothing much.... unless you speak to angry chiefs in the state. Pakokku's inhabitants have always been on the verge of hunger. In fact, the town deserves the doubtful award as "Burma's graveyard of rice". "Apart from that, this town at the junction of Irawaddy and Chindwin was relatively new.
Burma's army juntas violently suppressed last month's rebellion. "Pakokku may one of these days go down in the annals of the annals of history as the place where the struggle for freedom began," says the old ancestor. That was the town where the violent beatings of the Protestant Buddhist friars by the riot squad in early September sparked a rally of protests that finally ravaged the whole state.
It is not surprising that the older friar - powerful in one of the town' s buddhistic convents - is not ready to be recognized in printing. Just hearing a non-Burmese radio channel is enough to imprison a national. Militia members of the state still drag dissidents and supposed protesters out of their houses at nights.
Pakokkus' three biggest convents have become army warehouses, where lorries fill the rooms between the monks' lair. Inhabitants of the town look ill and skinny, and today the town itself is little more than a workhouse. Local people have taken rocks out of the building to create fireplaces where they can make a pancake out of cheap riceflour.
Tension in the town increased in mid-August when the goverment increased the fuel prices over night. "First, the friars took to the street just because they were hungry," says the dove. After Mandalay, Pakokku is the most important centre of religion in the state. As a rule, the monastic seminarians come from Chin State, a mountain area in the far western part of the state.
It is a poverty-stricken nation, and the area is home to a long history of rebel forces against world wars. To frighten the locals, the administration chose to make an example of Pakokku. Policemen came into the town, bound young robed young friars on lampposts and hit them until they were blood.
"It' been a wound to everything sacred in our country," says the elder friar. Then the All-Burma Monks Alliance, the rebellion in the country's trading capitol and Yangon's biggest town, the massacre and the arrest - shocked the whole state. The number of casualties caused by the insurrection will probably never be known.
The" State Peace and Development Council," as the regime itself refers to itself, said there were 10 deaths and about 3,000 arrests. At the same time, the country's army commanders published the numbers, 79 corpses of "strangers" were burned in the Yangon Crematory. The United Nations Special Envoy, Ibrahim Gambari, travelled to six major cities in Asia last weekend to persuade neighbouring states to put sufficient urgency on 74-year-old Than Shwe to start discussions with Aung San Suu Kyi, 62, the detained head of the US parliamentary group.
Thailand, which is currently under its own government, does not want to interfere. China has indeed supported a UN Security Council motion to condemn Burma's leaders, but has said "internal affairs" to resolve Burma's war. "India, the country's great neighbour democratically, is cautious and strives not to undermine it.