Wednesday, October 03, 2007

Junta's Brutality: An Eyewitness Account

This came from a 30 year old Burmese reader.

26th September, 2007

As I was driving my 5-year-old nephew to school in downtown, I passed by Shwe-da-gon Pagoda. Just at that moment, I saw the troops standing at the entrance of the eastern gate of the pagoda, blocking the way to the pagoda, waving their hands, and motioning at me to make a u-turn.

I saw many monks along the saung-tan (the staircases located at each entrance to the pagoda whwith many shops on each side) . They couldn't go up to the pagoda as the main gate at the eastrance entrance was closed. Howver, they were also unable to leave as there were many troops at the exit blocking their way out.

After I had fetched my nephew from school, I had to pass the Shwe-da-gon Pagoda again. I saw a distressed woman on the roadside, asking for help; she needed a ride to go back home. I stopped my car and let her get in. She told me that the troops were beating the monks who were trapped in the Saung tan. She told me to go home as quickly as possible and not to go out, saying that the troops were going to shoot as she saw many bags full of bullets being sent to the troops at the previous night.

I was listening to her when I saw the ugliest cruelty. True enough, the troops were beating the monks. The troops have effectively cornered them. But the monks were only saying prayers as they normally did. And yet, they were being beaten. It sent chills down my spine that the monks were brave enough to keep on saying prayers. They didn't show any sign of anger even though they were being beaten by the troops. After a while, the people milling around couldn't no longer bear to watch that scene; they started yelling and retaliated, all the while pleading to the monks not to stay there, sacrificing their lives.

27th September, 2007

On that morning, everything seemed to be alright. But there were fewer pple on the roads. Most chose to stay home, uncertain as to what was happening next.

2:00 pm

We heard that many monks were trapped at KyaiKaSan(Tamwe). We could do nothing, except pray for their safety, hoping that the military government would not kill this time as this time, the protesters are not civilians, nor students, nor workers; they were monks, and we are a nation of Buddhists.

After a while, I saw protesters marching towards KyaiKaSan, towards where the monks were trapped. The crowd was led by a monk, many of them were students and others, civilians. I joined them; being a Buddhist, I couldn't let our monks die. I wanted to do whatever I could do to help them as they have been carrying out the protests for our sake.

The site where the monks were trapped was near a school, Tamwe State High School No. 3. When we reached there, there were army troops and policemen. The students have just been dismissed for the day, and the students had started streaming out of its gates. The place was also crowded with parents who came to fetch their children.

The police were beating the pple, abusing and saying that they were busy bcos of them. The army didn't shoot at that time, but they asked us to stay still or otherwise, they would shoot, saying that they wouldn't beat pple, they would just shoot us and finish us off. Everyone was sitting still on the ground. To my surprise, I saw three men stood up and murmured something to the Colonel something. As they were quite far from me, I couldn't hear what they said, but the Colonel let the three of them get on the army truck. I thought that they must be undercovers.

Right after that, the troops fired gunshots using automatic weapons. Many were taken down, including the parents of the schoolchildren; the man next to me was shot in the groin and the girl next to him was shot dead; a single shot fired to her head. The man who was hit at the groin was asking the troops for help, but they ignored his pleas. Many people were also hauled up the trucks by policemen

The Colonel of the army then asked us why we were there. We had to lie to him so that he would let us go.

On my way back home, I saw three dead bodies in the drain.

It was a tragic day, one that would always remain in my memory.

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