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Burma & Shan State Watch List

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posted on Sep, 18 2007 @ 05:00 AM
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This is thought as a thread dedicated to Burmese affairs. Being one of the most seclusive places in the world, with zero coverage from mainstream media, I find it needed -maybe even wanted- with a thread on Burma.

All news on Burma will fit here, but the local news stories tend to take place along the Northern border between China and Thailand, in the Shan State, the biggest of the territories making up the Union of Myanmar.

I welcome any member to post anything concerning Burma, to create a spotlight on its matters.

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Since 1962 a Military Rule, Burma is the vast territory of some of the larger patches of jungle forrests left on the planet, stretching from Assam/East Bengal to the Salween River, going far up towards the Tibetan Plateau and wide down along the Andaman coast of the Ishmus of Kra.

Despite the last decades of rapid development and booming economy in the surrounding countries, it remains largely undeveloped on a preindustrialized stage. It is about number 150 in GDP per capacita. 25 percent greater in area than Thailand, it has about 30 percent less its population.

Myanmar, the official name since 1989, was named Burma by the British after the ruling ethnic group, the Burmans. They conquered the land in 3 Anglo-Burman wars from 1825 to 1885. Originally a part of Greater India they in 1937 , because of continious civil unrest, had to make it a seperat ruled area.

This unrest, which started as soon as insurgency was stifled round the turn of 1900, seems to have stemmed from a typical arrogant British stiff-upperlip-attitude, refered to as 'the Shoe Question': The colonisers’ refusal to remove their shoes upon entering Buddhist temples or other holy places.

In 1919, an incident in Mandalay was the scene of violence when tempers flared after scandalised Buddhist monks attempted to physically expel a group of shoe-wearing British visitors. The leader of the monks was later sentenced to life imprisonment for attempted murder.

Yes, railroads, schools and prisons the British brought, by and large the people of Mayanmar hasn't recieved much since. The whole country is on a rundown 1950's niveau.

The major obstruction for a unity and consencus is an enormous ethnical diversity, not seen many places else. The buttom line shows 8 major ethnic groups and 135 so-called ‘national’ or ‘principal races’. The 135 ‘principal races’ are generally consider the aboriginal dwellers of the land. Where the major ethnic groups makes up more than 80 percent of the population and largely are Buddhist, the indiginous people are for the greater part practisers of animism and shamanism.

After indepence in 1948, a prolonged decade of democracy the country had ended in turmoil and social upheavels, threatning to turn into a proletarian rule. in 1962 General Ne Win siezed power an introduced his Burmese Way to Socialism. It included mainstream socialist ideals like nationalisation.

However, it also encouraged more unorthodox views, includeding severe isolationism, expulsion of foreigners, discouragement of tourists, closing off of the economy, repression of minorities. In short, a police state, as closed as N Korea.

The opression made the cry for democracy ever louder. In 1989 General Saw Maung staged a coup d'état and formed the State Law and Order Restoration Council. He tried to meet the popular demand and set up election for the People's Assembly. Unfortunately it lead to a huge victory for Aung San Suu Kyi and her National League for Democracy winning 392 out of total 489 seats. The election result was cancelled by the junta. In the aftermath and the furore it created, Than Shwe took over, and is still considered the proper ruler of the Junta.

The election result remains to this day to be acknowledged.

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The Shan State is notorious not only for its part in the drug trade, but for being part of an insurgency involving several ethnic groups, an armed conflict that has raged since the British left. Shans are one of the only minorities having not just its own state, but also selfrule from Rangoon. The grant is paid with loyalty and is renewed every ten years. Previous deals gave them the right to produce opium and sell it as well. However tightened international presure have forced the generals to skip that part of the deal. Instead they are given full recognition in military terms. Shan St Army now fights the Wa Army as proxy for the junta. At least that's what it's soupposed to look like.

The Wa people are a minority of S China and the Shan State. They dominate the Northern and Eastern part to a degree they defacto rules those parts. Which makes the strugle for controll an endless game, only for warlords and drugpins to profite from.

To further complicate the picture the Shans are of Tai (Dai) origine as the Thais are, speaks a similar tongue and are Theravada Buddhists like them. Fact Shan comes from the same root as Siam, Siang Dam (litterally meaning 'land of blacks'], the label the Chinese have used for thousand of years for Thais. The ethnic bloodband between them and the Shans have complecated Thai-Burmese relations for forty years. Largely because of the opium trade as it was setup, a spin-off of the Indochina wars and CIA's involvement. The Thais were the ones to poifit from it, the commodity had to go to Bangkok to get anywhere. 'Had to', it still does, though the peak production was before the terror wars of USA was started.

We now know Afghanistan has taken the lead in opium production, but the turnover and amount of traffic from the Golden Triangle has in no sense declined. Now they produce methamphetamines on an industrial scale for the local market, and also for some export to US and European markets. The profits are tenfold higher in this pure chemical business than it was in the semi-agro production of opium and heroin.

These issues and a lot more I shall try to address in upcoming posts, please contribute.

For orientation, a couple of maps.


Union of Myanmar

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Map showing the area relative to SE Asia
....and the current drug route.

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Resources used for this article:

www.iseas.edu.sg...Ethnic and Religious Diversity:
Myanmar’s Unfolding Nemesis

Myanmar
Shan State
Wa State

Other threads about Myanmar: (please post, if you know of any)
Russia to build atomic plant for Burmese junta
Hundreds Of Monks Seize Government Officials In Myanmar



[edit on 18-9-2007 by khunmoon]




posted on Sep, 18 2007 @ 07:23 AM
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Shan State: Poppy Farming Cuts - 'UN Praise Misplaced'



BANGKOK, Sep 14 (IPS) - Praise from the United Nations for continued drop in poppy cultivation in military-ruled Burma paints a false picture of success, say members of the Shan ethnic community and human rights activists. What cannot be ignored, they add, is how profitable the narcotics trade remains for the local commanders of the junta.

Plans to eradicate poppy cultivation will fail until this connection is addressed, says Khuensai Jaiyen, editor of the Shan Herald Agency for News (SHAN), a news outlet based in Thailand that covers the Shan, a people who come from Burma’s north-eastern Shan state. ''The root cause of the problem is the same: the Burmese army is involved in the drug trade.’’
.....

The increase in the number of Burmese military battalions suggests how lucrative this nexus is, he noted making a presentation here at the Foreign Correspondents’ Club of Thailand. ‘’Before 1988 there were 33 Burmese military battalions in the Shan state; now there are 141.’’

This link between poppy cultivation and increased troop strength stems from the Burmese junta’s policy of self-reliance, he explained to IPS. ‘’Each military unit has to raise money locally to pay for its expenses. So money from drugs helps to meet these needs. The officers profit the most.’’

Please visit the link provided for the complete story.


This is in essence UN who glorifies own work. Though reliable, it shows only a partial picture.



In June, the U.N. Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) singled out Burma for praise in its annual report. The South-east Asian country’s poppy cultivation had fallen by 35 percent in 2006, covering only 21,500 hectares, stated the report stated. This meant there had been an 83 percent drop in nearly a decade, it added.

‘’Since 1998, South-east Asia’s share of world opium poppy cultivation has fallen from 67 percent to only 12 percent in 2006,’’ it revealed. ‘’Much of this has been due to large declines in cultivation in Myanmar.

Please visit the link provided for the complete story.


That Afghanistan more than makes up for the decline is another story. But to this story goes the fact that other drug producing activity have replaced the income loss in the trade. The kitchen sink production of amphetamines is organized on a large scale, and supplies a continuing traffic into Thailand with ya-ba, the local name for speed.

Litteraly it means medicine, ya, that makes you mad, ba.



The U.N. food relief agency’s programme in the Shan state is part of a country-wide aid effort in border areas, covering over one million people. Yet the WFP does not enjoy a free hand is distributing food and working with the local communities. ‘’The difficulty in the Shan state is that we can only operate in areas the government permits us to do so,’’ says Paul Risley, spokesman for WFP’s Asia division.
......

For its part, the UNODC conceded that a restrictive climate and the absence of peace in Burma combine to undermine a successful programme. ‘’There is no possibility of eradicating opium poppy cultivation unless there is peace and security in Myanmar,’’ says Xavier Bouan, the regional illicit crop-monitoring expert at the U.N. agency’s office in Burma.

Please visit the link provided for the complete story.


Later more on yaba, who produces it and the wars it has spurred.

Maybe we can find out who controls it.



posted on Sep, 18 2007 @ 09:43 PM
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Here's a piece on the day to day business of yaba traffic.

Millions of yaba pills on the border


One of the transporters to the border is Captain Kaling, a Shan officer from the United Wa State Army's 171st Military Region, who is based at Namyom, 6 miles away from the Chiangmai border.

He had arrived from Panghsang on the Sino-Burma border on 24 February with 1 million meth pills, known in Thailand and Burma as yaba (crazy drug). The consignment was then deposited at Namarklwe, 2 miles north of Namyom. "Customers in Thailand have already been informed of the arrival," assured the source from the border.

Kaling's stock include two top quality brands: Tiger 1 and Tiger 2. "They can be purchased by the thousands or tens of thousands," he said.

According to him, the prices are:
Tiger 1 Tiger 2
1,000 pills 30 baht 35 baht ($1) per pill
10,000 pills 25 baht 30 baht per pill

Asked whether it was an individual venture, the source said, "No, it's the 171st's operation."

The 171st Military Region, which together with 414th Brigade and 2518th Independent Regiment watches over the Burmese side of the border, is commanded by Wei Hsuehkang, wanted by both the United States and Thailand on drug charges.


At discos and venues in Thailand they sell for about 100-200 baht.

Before the notorious 'War on Drugs' of the Thaksin government, the retailprice were a modest 25 to 50 baht.

Thaksin's war eradicated 2700 people of which maybe half would have been guilty. Unofficial NGO estemates put the number as high as 5000, others at 10.000.

The war was launch 1st of February 2003 as a 3 month campaign. However it was prolonged repeatedly and finally to be declared completed and presented as a gift to King Bhumipol on his birthday on 5th of December 2003: A drug free Thailand.
What a joke?

No wonder the king never smiles.

You can acquaint yourself with the drug war in these links.

en.wikipedia.org...-drug_policies

en.wikipedia.org...-drug_policies



posted on Sep, 18 2007 @ 09:54 PM
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The only time I found out about what was actually happening was when Jim Carrey did a video on the subject. Bush only mentioned it after the video showed up because he has been pushing for freedom and democracy in the world. His advisers more then likely gave him a quick crash course.



posted on Sep, 18 2007 @ 11:39 PM
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reply to post by cloakndagger
 


Guess you are talking about Thaksin's drug war, when you say "actually happening".

Unfortunately I stay in Thailand and despite proclamations and reports of happy users, YouTube has not been opened with access for ALL users.

You do know it was closed for 4 months, due to contents 'defaming the kingdom'.

For reasons to me unknown, I still cannot watch YouTube.

Could you explain what the vid is about?



posted on Sep, 19 2007 @ 01:01 AM
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A fresh report on military actions in the Eastern Shan state.

Wa Throws Cordon Round Domain
Wa forces along the Sino-Burma border areas have fanned out along the fringes of their territory following demand by Burma's military rulers to lay down their arms in mid-July.



Special Region # 2 in the official terminology, is bounded by the Nam Ting in the north, China's Yunnan province in the east, the Salween in the west and Kengtung and Mongla (Shan State Special Region # 4) in the south. "The landlocked Wa can be blocked from all sides by the Burma Army except in the east," a source from Kengtung explained. "Their survival therefore depends on keeping their outlet on the Mekong open."

Accordingly, the United Wa State Army (UWSA) has recently dispatched 2-4 battalions to reinforce the troops of its ally, National Democratic Alliance Army-Eastern Shan State (NDAA-ESS), along the Lwe river that serves as a rough boundary between the Burma Army and the NDAA-ESS, commanded by Sai Leun from Mongla. The Lwe drains itself into the Mekong at Hsop Lwe.

Please visit the link provided for the complete story.


It is accompanied by this interesting map of the very sensitive and important area between China and Thailand. Only 150 km on road between them. I think China has finished building a road through, so they can have tanks in Bangkok overnight when the time is due.



[edit on 19-9-2007 by khunmoon]



posted on Sep, 20 2007 @ 11:58 AM
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This is what has been happening today in Rangoon



Rangoon; about 1 p.m.—About 1,000 monks gathered at Shwedagon Pagoda and then marched to Sule Pagoda in downtown Rangoon on Thursday, witnesses said. One source said the protesting monks were protected by onlookers who joined hands as a human chain. Hundreds of supporters followed along with the monks. Some monks carried religious flags or an alms bowl turned upside down, symbolizing the alms boycott against the military government and its supporters.

Rangoon; Noon—More than 300 monks from Ma Soe Yein Monastery in Kyeemyindine Township marched to Shwedagon Pagoda at 12 noon. According to a witness, several members of the public followed the monks and provided drinking water for them. The demonstrating monks arrived at Shwedagon Pagoda in the rain to find that the authorities had closed the gates. The monks were subsequently refused entry to the pagoda.

Rangoon, 11:00 a.m.—Hundreds of Buddhist monks from Pegu tried on Thursday morning to travel to Rangoon to join protesting monks in the former capital, but the carriage in which they were traveling was unhitched by the authorities at Toe Kyaung Lay, the last station before Rangoon. Undeterred, the monks set out to walk the remaining few miles from the suburb to Rangoon, where they planned to join Rangoon monks at Shwedagon pagoda. In Rangoon, sources report that the authorities have erected barbed wire around the city hall.

Please visit the link provided for the complete story.


For further news on the present unrest in Myanmar, a link to Hellmutt's thread:
Hundreds Of Monks Seize Government Officials In Myanmar

The turmoil started in August when the generals raised the gas prizes up to 5 times (they need money to fund their new capital).

Apparently there are no fixed unit prize in Burma. As this report from the Masai-Tachelik border tells.

Non-protest in Shan State not indifference


"In fact, fuel prices here are still higher than the new prices set by the military government," one of the residents who operates a private gas station explained.

For instance, leaded gasoline imported from Thailand is sold at 102 baht ($3) or 4,080 kyat per gallon which is already almost twice as much as the recent price, 2,500 kyat ($1.9) fixed by the generals in Pyinmana, Burma's new capital.

It is however still cheaper than in Thailand from where fuel oil is imported, as Pyinmana levies lower tax than in the kingdom. "Even Thai cars going to Kengtung are filling their tanks in Tachilek," said a businessman in Maesai.



"Which means if there is a 100% increase in fuel prices here in Tachilek, we'll probably have to protest against the Thai government," quipped a Tachilek resident.

The Ethnic Youth Network Group (EYNG), which New Generation Shan State (NGSS) is a member, recently reported it had been doing what it could to support the protestors. The exiled Shan Democratic Union (SDU) also issued a statement on Tuesday, 4 September, expressing its full support for the "just struggle" in Burma.


But they are still so cheap that Thais in the Masai area fills their SUVs in Tachelik. Same time you can watch convoys of huge tankers from Thailand crossing the border to meet the supply of cheap gas for the Thais.

Weird place!



posted on Sep, 21 2007 @ 12:41 PM
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Something there must be about it, when even NYT pays attention to the month long civil unrest in Myanmar.

Monks in Myanmar Protest for Third Day



Hundreds of Buddhist monks marched through rain-washed streets for the third day in Myanmar’s main city yesterday, taking the lead in monthlong protests that the military junta has so far been powerless to contain.

They prayed at the gold-spired Shwedagon Pagoda, the nation’s holiest shrine, then wound through the streets of the city, Yangon, before disbanding in late afternoon and announcing that they would march again, wire services reported.

The involvement of large numbers of monks has increased the challenge to the government in a nation where the Buddhist clergy is highly revered and is the most organized group apart from the military.

The current protests began after the government raised

Please visit the link provided for the complete story.



The Shwedagon pagoda where today's demonstrations, one of the most beautiful structures in the world.

Compared to the new capital's ghostlike and confined structures.


New capital Naipyidaw, wasteland of pools.


Or sci-fi structures of 8 lane boulevards.


Downtown - they have managed to get it city-like.

More may follow.



posted on Sep, 21 2007 @ 12:50 PM
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I had the pleasure of meeting Daw Aung San Suu Kyi and her husband many years ago and she was an enchanting lady.

I really feel for her and her people in Burma.
My In-Laws who now live West of Kanchanaburi has 3 Shan people living on their land awaiting a safer time when they may return.

I still believe much of the problems in Burma relate to the British not giving Independance to the tribes after the war.

Though I desperatley wish to visit Burma before I die I will not do so untill democracy returns and the generals are brought to justice



posted on Sep, 21 2007 @ 01:27 PM
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Hello Chorlton, nice to see there some aficionados of Burma other than me turn in.

The British made alliances with one or two kings of the time to conquer the others only to subdue their local allies afterwards.

The multi ethnich patchwork of Burma have never been controled, only the roads, the trade. That's what it's all about control internal routes and your borders. And the reason for the multiple deals the junta has going with different ethnic groups and their various armed groups. They are proxies for the junta, against certain grants to guard the borders.

I've only been shortly across the border myself a few times at Masai/Tachelik and it's Shan State, but in Tachelik they fly the flag of the Wa.

I hope some day too to travel inside Burma.



posted on Sep, 22 2007 @ 04:48 PM
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Khunmoon from time to time I have posted here about the growing nuclear links between North Korea and Al Qaeda in Burma's nuclear project.

The sad thing is the outside world will probably never care until suddenly Burma becomes a threat to global security, but the positive side of that is it may someday lead to the downfall of the generals too.



posted on Sep, 22 2007 @ 08:00 PM
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Thanks for joining sy.gunson.

Yes, there's rerason for all kind of worries about Burma's nuclear project. I have tried to draw attention to it, but it seems like people buy the ' for peaceful purposes' claim.

I'm only waiting Thailand will come up with similar ambitions in the near future.

[edit on 22-9-2007 by khunmoon]



posted on Sep, 23 2007 @ 09:12 PM
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Latest from the ongoing protests

The demonstrations goes on without much interferrence from police. Yesterday a paramount was rerach in Mandalay with 10.000 monks marching. Unlike Rangoon the march was made up of mainly monks only.

In Rangoon however marchers, despite riot police trying to hold them back, managed to get to Aung San Suu Kyi's compound.

Aung San Suu Kyi is the very symbol of resistance to the junta.

Suu Kyi Greets Monks at Her Home; 10,000 Monks Demonstrate in Mandalay



When Suu Kyi appeared at the edge of her property, shouts of "Be in good health" and "Be free very soon" filled the air over and over again, said an eyewitness. Many women had tears flowing down their cheeks. Eyewitnesses said Suu Kyi appeared pale.

Suu Kyi had a conversation with a monk, believed to be a leader, before returning to her home. What they discussed was not known. About two hundred monks and civilians were gathered in front of her house.

A witness said Suu Kyi probably came out of her home because she heard the monks chanting the "Metta Sutta" in the street.

A column of protesting monks marching so near Suu Kyi's lakeside home on Rangoon's University Avenue was seen as a powerful symbol of solidarity. Suu Kyi, a symbol of democracy, has been under house arrest for 11 of the past 17 years.

Please visit the link provided for the complete story.


Also a very good multi media show, scores of pics from the last week of demos, can be found at www.irrawaddy.org...



posted on Sep, 24 2007 @ 12:47 AM
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A very thoughtful OP/ED comment from todays The Nation (Thailand).



Some analysts believe Burma is finally approaching a possible "tipping point" not seen since the military put a brutal end to a six-week, nationwide pro-democracy uprising on September 18, 1988, which left an estimated 3,000 unarmed civilians dead.

"If this goes on, more people are going to join them," predicts David Scott Mathieson, who monitors Burma for New York-based Human Rights Watch. "They are calling for peaceful dialogue and reform. This is not just Rangoon. The monks are responding to the needs of the people."

"It is getting very interesting," concurs Sunai Pasuk, a leading Thai human-rights activist. "Instead of political activists leading, we are seeing ordinary people coming out - housewives first and now monks."

"People are encouraged, and I think they will keep going. They know they are suffering from this government and not from a past life," says Win Min, a Burmese researcher at Chiang Mai University, Thailand.

Burma's failed democratic flowering in 1988 was also triggered by economic hardship and national mismanagement. As with the recent sudden fuel-cost increases, demonstrations were sparked in September 1987 by the abrupt demonetisation of most bank notes, effectively robbing ordinary Burmese of their savings overnight. The discontent snowballed into to a nationwide pro-democracy uprising on August 8, 1988 - known to Burmese as "8/8/88"

Please visit the link provided for the complete story.


Read it all it sums up the situation in very good way for an outsider to get informed.



posted on Sep, 24 2007 @ 02:35 AM
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The involvements of certain Oil companies supporting the Junta in return for oil rights should also be questioned worldwide.
Everyone condemns the generals but few say anything about the Oil companies money supporting them.



posted on Sep, 24 2007 @ 04:31 AM
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Well Chorlton, you almost sound like you're replying to my post in the other thread (kinda confussing with 3 threads on more or less the same topic).

I like your signatur, just say that a lot of people don't know the reality - which also shows on Burma.

Yes the natural resource issue will be the one to determine how the outside world will react on whatever will be the results of the protests.

Burma has some of the largest deposits of natural gas known on the planet.

This news piece from 2006 states:
www.burmanet.org...

Thailand already pipes about one billion cubic feet of gas per day from Myanmar’s offshore reserves in the southeast in the Andaman Sea.


...and that China is building a pipeline from Andaman coast to Yunnan.

Sure, whomever eventually will intervene, won't be doing it for democracy. They might say so, but ...big oil is the decision-maker at the end of the day.

Oh, now we are at the energy issue... the ordinary Burman have only electricity at the best 10 hours a day.



posted on Sep, 24 2007 @ 04:41 AM
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Sorry, my point wasnt a criticism more a reminder about who and what is backing up the Generals power with money.

Gas and oil, all tidyly secured for Total Oil of France, a company who's products I try not to buy any longer



posted on Sep, 24 2007 @ 04:50 AM
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That's what I mean, you're one of the few to know any facts on Burma.

BTW, Total is in Thailand and the news piece is from Agence France Presse.



posted on Sep, 24 2007 @ 10:36 PM
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Yesterday at least 500.000 people joined protest throughout Burma.

Read the Irrawaddy report and watch the multi media show.

Educational commentary by Aung Zaw: Letting Go of the Tiger’s Tail



Have you ever caught hold of a tiger’s tail? If not, Burmese generals can report what it’s like—they’ve probably had some experiences to share with you.

Burma’s Gen Ne Win, who staged a military coup in 1962, once caught hold of a tiger’s tail and never let it go.

The general, who introduced the “Burmese way to Socialism” and self-imposed isolation to the country, soon realized the failure of his nationalization policy.

In 1965, three years after the coup, he famously told journalists and officials: "It was like having caught hold of a tiger's tail.” Then he added: "But there was nothing else to do but hang on to it."
[---]


Please visit the link provided for the complete story.



posted on Sep, 25 2007 @ 07:24 AM
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LATEST

An hour ago from BBC



25 September 2007, 11:22 GMT 12:22 UK

Burmese monks defy army warning

Tens of thousands of monks and civilians in Burma's main city Rangoon have defied military warnings and staged new anti-government protests.
Some chanted "we want dialogue", others simply shouted "democracy, democracy".

Earlier lorries with loudspeakers warned residents that the protests could be "dispersed by military force".

After the march finished, eyewitnesses told two news agencies they had seen several military trucks moving on Rangoon's streets.

Please visit the link provided for the complete story.


A warning has been issued... The Nation (TH) calls it a ban


Rangoon - A military ban on the monk-led protests that have rocked Burma's former capital Rangoon for a week persuaded thousands of Buddhist clergy to remain in their temples Tuesday morning but did not stop a hardcore group from marching to the Shwedagon Pagoda.

Please visit the link provided for the complete story.


They have a multimedia show of the latest events as well.



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