Changing tides in Myanmar

NY times picture
A revolution, unfinished (photo: St_John, Flickr)

Because of the heavy military presence in Rangoon, protests in Myanmar have gotten less frequented and will likely continue to shrink over the next few days. It is yet unclear how many people have been arrested or killed, and probably the outside world will never find out.
Inside the junta, a split seems to have occurred, leading to a power struggle between current ruler Than Shwe and his deputy, Maung Aye. Rumours say Mr Aye has already ousted Mr Shew of his job. How far this will lead to a visible change is unclear: Mr Aye is said to be the man who gave the order to shoot on protesters, and he is said to be not as close to China as Mr Shew was.
Still, he has decent contacts to Beijing and it seems unlikely now that China is going to interfere into Myanmar’s government business, except from the pressure give the state system a more Chinese-like structure.
As far as UN envoy Ibrahim Gambari’s mission is concerned, he seems to focus on getting the junta to show more restraint and improving the situation of Aung San Suu Kyi.
Meanwhile, opposition groups have called for a general strike from tomorrow on. Other protests worldwide include threats of dissidents to start boycott-action against the Beijing Olympics and Chinese products, online action includes petitions being signed and an international bloggers day for Burma on October 4th.

Short comment on the situation: Have we been to naïve? A lot of Western spectators, including this blog, expected the military not to touch the monks because of their influence in society. It seems that monks have been suffering hard from crackdowns, beating and killings, showing that the junta does not stop short of brutal action against high authorities of their society. The events have also shown that, despite the digital age, a country like Myanmar is capable of shutting down communication to the outside and will most likely be able to hide the dimensions of violence and casualties.

Can the Burmese people hope for the UN? This would be even more naïve, as the United Nations are a blunt knife when such events occur. If one thing will come out, except a lot of blood and a new, maybe even more brutal leader, it might be the Western discovery of Myanmar, a country that has played no role at all in the media reporting over the last few years.

Will the media continue to cover the events there? It is not even likely Myanmar will be in the news one week from now. But, the tyranny of the Burmese leaders has now been recognized all over the world. It may cost more sorrows, lives and blood over the next few years, but the junta will fall one day. Until then, it is the rest of the world’s assignment to have a good look at what is happening.

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