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Dear All,

A year has almost passed since the brutal crackdowns over the peaceful protests led by the Buddhist monks in Burma. Sadly, nothing has changed in Burma for the better while the world has largely forgotten about it. In fact, the regime is systemically dismantling the democratic forces and their institutions: NLD, Daw Aung San Suu Kyi, Buddhist Monks to Student Activists, Universities and Buddhist Monasteries just to name a few.

Just few days ago, our brave student leader Nilar Thein was arrested after a year on the run (See "on the run in Burma" below).  Besides, according to the statistics, 700 monks have been jailed in Burma and at least 19 having died while in custody. (See related news below)

We must therefore not let brave protests be forgotten and allow the regime tighten the iron grip even more so then ever. 

Please join the Burma Vigil coming Friday Sept. 26 to command the people and Buddhist monks of Burma.

Nyunt Than

Burma Vigil
on The 1st Anniversary of Saffron Revolution

FRIDAY, SEPT. 26, 6:00 – 8:00 pm
301 Post Stret, San Francisco, CA 94102
(415) 781-7880, Get directions     
Download Flyers MS Word  PDF

A year ago, led by Buddhist monks, hundreds of thousands of people took to the streets of Burma peacefully to cry out for an end to the long-standing military dictatorship there. Today, raising Buddhist flags and reciting prayers of love on the street is a crime punishable by beating and death. Many monks have been disrobed, beaten, humiliated, tortured, and killed, and there are reports of a massacre in the jungle. The military junta has raided monasteries and private homes in the middle of the night, dragging away those they suspect of involvement. Over 4,000 monks and thousands more protesters were arrested and the Burmese population is living in fear.

The people of Burma need our help. Despite countless military crackdowns over the past 20 years, their brave struggle for freedom continues. Please join us on the anniversary of Burma’s Saffron Revolution Day to appeal to the UN and the international community to take swift and effective measures to stop injustice, and establish Burmese democracy and rule of law. Let’s lift our voices for democracy in Burma as we commemorate the peaceful and heroic protests of last September.

Contact/more info:; 510-485-2751; 415-680-5555

Organized by Burmese American Democratic Alliance (BADA),; Buddhist Peace Fellowship (BPF),; Burmese American Woman’s Alliance (BAWA),; Burmese Youth Association (BYA),; Clear View Project,; Moemaka Media, and Burma Supporters.


On the run in Burma
By Andrew Harding 

BBC News, Rangoon
Saturday, 22 September 2007

Buddhist monks may be able to protest in the streets of Burma, but other pro-democracy activists risk being labelled as "terrorists" and arrested by the authorities. Activist Nilar Thein has been on the run for one month.

Map of Burma
Rangoon is looking shabbier than usual these days. It is a damp, stagnant city trapped in a snaking curve of the Irawaddy river.

Ancient buses rattle past gloomy warehouses and bright pagodas. Grand colonial buildings green with moss back onto dark courtyards reeking of sewage and decay.

The generals who rule Burma moved out of the city last year, having built themselves a brand new - and spectacularly pointless - capital nine hours drive to the north. Thousands of frustrated civil servants were forced to follow them, almost overnight.

Since then, the authorities seem to have stopped paying for Rangoon's upkeep. And the trees now loom low over the avenues, patting the heads of passing cars.

Pro-democracy 'terrorists'

Today, somewhere in this city of nearly five million people, a Burmese woman called Nilar Thein is on the run.

Nilar and Jimmy with their daughter
Nilar Thein is number five on a long list of "terrorists" in Burma
She is 35, with a broad, open face, dark shoulder-length hair, and a reputation for extreme stubbornness.

She has been hiding for a month now - moving every couple of days to a new house - hunted by a huge force of security officials, plain-clothed policemen, informers and hired thugs.

Nilar is number five on a long list of "terrorists" - the generals' title for almost anyone who dares to challenge them.

They have already arrested her husband, Jimmy, and more than 100 other pro-democracy activists. No-one knows where they are being held, or what will happen to them.

The authorities stopped allowing the Red Cross to visit their jails, and more than 1,000 political prisoners, a couple of years ago.

Used as bait

Nilar and Jimmy lived in a small second floor apartment in the north of Rangoon. Not too far from the house where Burma's democracy icon Aung San Suu Kyi is still being kept under house arrest.

Nay Kyi, or Sunshine.
Nilar's five month baby, Sunshine, is left with her grandmother
Their apartment is now guarded by plain-clothed policemen. Two at the door. Two outside. Two across the road. They are waiting to see if Nilar will come back for something rather precious - her five-month-old daughter, Nay Kyi, or Sunshine.

Nilar took the child with her at first. But Sunshine's cries were in danger of giving them both away. Now Jimmy's elderly mother is looking after her.

One night recently, Nilar sneaked back close enough to hear her baby crying through an open window.

"They are using her as bait," she said. "I should be breast feeding her. But I cannot give in."

She is, a friend told me admiringly, a stubborn woman.

88 Student Generation

Nilar and Jimmy are members of what is known as the 88 Student Generation, a reference to the last major uprising against the military here back in 1988.

They have both spent time in jail already. Nilar nine years, Jimmy 16. They both thought hard about whether to have a child at all, given their particular "lifestyles".

And now Rangoon is swirling with rumours that Jimmy's dead - tortured and killed in prison. The rumours are probably not true. Maybe they have been spread deliberately, to get Nilar to give up.

More likely they are just a product of the silence that festers here, in the absence of any independent news.

The newspapers in Rangoon are all tightly controlled. No pictures about monks demonstrating this week. Instead there are photos of the generals giving lavish gifts to monasteries.

Inside are venomous editorials - styled, it seems, on the North Korean model - lashing out at traitors within, and devious foreign enemies.

Sense of paranoia

I read the papers over breakfast, then stepped out of the hotel wrapped in a cloud of paranoia. Surely the authorities have spotted the foreign journalist. Why is that man watching me from the cafe over the road? Did this taxi driver just happen to be driving past at the right time?

There is good reason to be wary. On the phone, diplomats and activists here talk carefully - no names, no details. Rangoon slang. In the past few weeks, hundreds of mobile phones have been cut off by the authorities.

The police write down the number plates of cars on certain roads. Informers watch every street corner. E-mail is restricted too - Yahoo and Gmail accounts are often blocked.

Well, half blocked.

For all the security and the fear, this is not a competently-run country. And it is not China.

Hotels and internet cafes use dozens of proxy servers to bypass the government's crude attempts to police the internet.

Public protests

Buddhist monks in Burma
Buddhist monks marched through the streets of Rangoon in protest
And that is why footage of the latest protests here - of the thugs beating up demonstrators and of hundreds of monks marching through Rangoon - is leaking out to the world.

The protests seem to have caught everyone by surprise. Certainly, almost no-one expected them to gain such momentum.

They were triggered by the government's unannounced, overnight decision to slash fuel subsidies. Isolated in their new capital, the generals either did not know or care what impact this would have. Suddenly millions of people could not afford the bus home, or to school.

So, how will the thieves react to this extraordinarily public humiliation? Will they crack down like in 1988, or sit back and wait for fear to do its job?

There are 400,000 monks in Burma. The fact is that so far, most have not taken to the streets. Sitting quietly in his monastery, an older monk explained to me that everyone is born afraid here - and the army will never run out of bullets.

Hoping for change

Something has changed this week in Burma. Perhaps something profound.

But there is a lot of wishful thinking going on too. It is so tempting to imagine a velvet revolution. Nilar Thein and Jimmy reunited with their baby daughter. Aung San Suu Kyi walking calmly out of prison, her uncompromising stance finally vindicated after years of isolation.

But the odds are still not good. The generals have their own version of reality - their surreal capital, their shiny new constitution. Their plans for carefully supervised elections later in the year.

Somewhere in the backstreets of Rangoon, Nilar Thein is sitting alone and alert, waiting for the wrong sort of knock at the door. Hope is keeping her going. But in Burma, hope hurts.

From Our Own Correspondent was broadcast on Saturday 22 September 2007 at 1130 BST on BBC Radio 4. Please check theprogramme schedules for World Service transmission times. 

Burmese jail over 700 monks 
Friday, 5th September 2008. 4:24pm
Religious Intelligence

By: George Conger.

Burmese jail over 700 monksOver 700 monks have been jailed by the Burmese military junta since the introduction of martial law in 1988, the Burma Lawyers’ Council (BLC) reported on Sept 2, with at least 19 having died while in custody.

The statistics on the government’s jailing of Buddhist monks for pro-democracy activities comes at the start of the trial of the Ven U Gambira, leader of Burma’s “Saffron Revolution.” 

An increase in fuel prices in August 2007 by the State Peace and Development Council (SPDC) -- the formal name of the military junta that seized power in 1988 — prompted protests. On Sept 21, 2007 U Gambira, the 29-year-old leader of the All-Burma Union of Monks, organized a demonstration against the price hikes. The demands soon grew to include the release of political prisoners and for talks between democracy activists and the regime.

Within days the monks’ protest drew support from the people of Yangon [Rangoon], and a week of demonstrations that brought 100,000 people into the streets in support of the Saffron Revolution ensued. The police responded with force, and an estimated 3,000 demonstrators were killed. Gambira escaped the crackdown and went into hiding. However, he turned himself in to the authorities after members of his family were allegedly threatened by the regime. The Buddhist abbot has been held at Rangoon’s Insein prison awaiting trial on treason and sedition charges.

His lawyers from the BLC have protested the regime’s treatment of their client, and have called for the abolition of laws that call for the shackling of political prisoners and forbid monks from wearing their robes in court. U Myo of the BLC said their client would not attend the first day of trial on Sept 3 while shackled and in prison garb “because the trial of a disrobed monk damages the dignity of the monks and the Sasana [Buddhist congregation],” he said, according to a report from the Democratic Voice of Burma (DVB). The DVB also reports that police have begun a detailed census of all Buddhist monks in Rangoon, requiring them to give the names and addresses of their families, as well as their own personal information --- an action seen as a veiled threat to the monks should they come out in protest this month on the anniversary of the failed uprising.

Christian leaders in Burma have also come under government scrutiny in recent days. Clergy in the northern town of Chibwe were interrogated by police last month following an illegal poster campaign protesting the construction of a dam. 

Kachin Development Network chairman U Aung Wah said clergy were summoned for interrogation by local authorities on July 13 and 24. "The male and female pastors were called to the police station one at a time and pressured to find out who was behind the posters – the officials insisted that they knew there was a link between the pastors and the poster campaign," said Aung Wah.

“They were forced to sign an agreement saying that they would find out who the culprits were,” he said.

The dam project is a joint venture between a Chinese company and a military controlled Burmese concern, Myanmar-Asia World Company. Kachin farmers have been driven off their land by the army to build the dam. “They have seized gardens and farmland from the locals and the project has destroyed all the roads in the area,” Aung Wa said.