'The Burma Revolt Is Over'

A high ranking defector from the ruling military junta who reached the border with Thailand yesterday says that the death toll from the recent crackdown on pro-reform protests is much worse than anyone can imagine:

Thousands of protesters are dead and the bodies of hundreds of executed monks have been dumped in the jungle, a former intelligence officer for Burma's ruling junta has revealed.

The most senior official to defect so far, Hla Win, said: "Many more people have been killed in recent days than you've heard about. The bodies can be counted in several thousand."

Mr Win, who spoke out as a Swedish diplomat predicted that the revolt has failed, said he fled when he was ordered to take part in a massacre of holy men. He has now reached the border with Thailand.
The treatment of the Buddhist monks who were in the vanguard of the protests has been shocking. Not only have hundreds of monks simply "disappeared" but there are reports that many thousands more were savagely beaten in a sports stadium outside of Rangoon.

Any hope that the troops would show restraint as a result of their religious beliefs were illusory. Those monks who couldn't escape in civilian clothes and who haven't been killed or beaten have been locked in their temples, the holy ground desecrated by troops with guns.

A Swedish diplomat stated the obvious; "The Burma Revolt is over," said Liselotte Agerlid who added that the Burmese people now face decades of repression. Meanwhile, UN Envoy Ibrahim Gambari met with several low level junta members but is being ignored by the top brass in government. An estimated 20,000 troops filled the streets of Rangoon during Gambari's visit to prevent any protests from forming.

I don't think the government need worry about that any more. Apparently, the blood bath is as bad as the one that occurred during the last pro-refrom protests in 1988 when an estimated 3,000 people were slaughtered. This time, it appears that the Junta has simply murdered those who were most likely to lead such reform efforts; the monks and the few democracy activists associated with international human rights groups. The crackdown was carried out not only with military precision but Stalinesque efficiency. Uncle Joe would have been proud.

This piece at
strategypage.com sums up the reasons why the west is nearly powerless to affect the ruling Junta:

So, what options are available? Not many. The present iteration of the Burmese dictatorship is not showing many signs of weakness. Economic sanctions from the west have hurt, but when Burma's GDP is only $13 billion, and doesn't get much tourism (only 750,000 visitors a year), and Burma's trade comes primarily from Thailand and China. The increasing ties with India also help, since the Burmese can now play India off China and vice versa.

In essence, the situation in Burma is one where the Western powers have played all of their cards to date, and have nothing to show for it. Burma has been able to remain afloat, largely by increasing its trade with neighbors, and the dictatorship is well-entrenched. At this point, the Burmese dictatorship just has to wait out the West, and will do so, barring a colossal mistake on its part.
Of course, the UN has proven to be even less effective than normal due to timidity in standing up to the Junta and a split in the Security Council over how tough the UN should be with the generals.

All this adds up to a tragedy almost beyond words. Thousands dead.  Thousands more beaten and imprisoned. Democracy crushed. And the world unable or unwilling to lift a finger to help.
A high ranking defector from the ruling military junta who reached the border with Thailand yesterday says that the death toll from the recent crackdown on pro-reform protests is much worse than anyone can imagine:

Thousands of protesters are dead and the bodies of hundreds of executed monks have been dumped in the jungle, a former intelligence officer for Burma's ruling junta has revealed.

The most senior official to defect so far, Hla Win, said: "Many more people have been killed in recent days than you've heard about. The bodies can be counted in several thousand."

Mr Win, who spoke out as a Swedish diplomat predicted that the revolt has failed, said he fled when he was ordered to take part in a massacre of holy men. He has now reached the border with Thailand.
The treatment of the Buddhist monks who were in the vanguard of the protests has been shocking. Not only have hundreds of monks simply "disappeared" but there are reports that many thousands more were savagely beaten in a sports stadium outside of Rangoon.

Any hope that the troops would show restraint as a result of their religious beliefs were illusory. Those monks who couldn't escape in civilian clothes and who haven't been killed or beaten have been locked in their temples, the holy ground desecrated by troops with guns.

A Swedish diplomat stated the obvious; "The Burma Revolt is over," said Liselotte Agerlid who added that the Burmese people now face decades of repression. Meanwhile, UN Envoy Ibrahim Gambari met with several low level junta members but is being ignored by the top brass in government. An estimated 20,000 troops filled the streets of Rangoon during Gambari's visit to prevent any protests from forming.

I don't think the government need worry about that any more. Apparently, the blood bath is as bad as the one that occurred during the last pro-refrom protests in 1988 when an estimated 3,000 people were slaughtered. This time, it appears that the Junta has simply murdered those who were most likely to lead such reform efforts; the monks and the few democracy activists associated with international human rights groups. The crackdown was carried out not only with military precision but Stalinesque efficiency. Uncle Joe would have been proud.

This piece at
strategypage.com sums up the reasons why the west is nearly powerless to affect the ruling Junta:

So, what options are available? Not many. The present iteration of the Burmese dictatorship is not showing many signs of weakness. Economic sanctions from the west have hurt, but when Burma's GDP is only $13 billion, and doesn't get much tourism (only 750,000 visitors a year), and Burma's trade comes primarily from Thailand and China. The increasing ties with India also help, since the Burmese can now play India off China and vice versa.

In essence, the situation in Burma is one where the Western powers have played all of their cards to date, and have nothing to show for it. Burma has been able to remain afloat, largely by increasing its trade with neighbors, and the dictatorship is well-entrenched. At this point, the Burmese dictatorship just has to wait out the West, and will do so, barring a colossal mistake on its part.
Of course, the UN has proven to be even less effective than normal due to timidity in standing up to the Junta and a split in the Security Council over how tough the UN should be with the generals.

All this adds up to a tragedy almost beyond words. Thousands dead.  Thousands more beaten and imprisoned. Democracy crushed. And the world unable or unwilling to lift a finger to help.