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Situation in Burma on Sunday, September 30, 2007 (hour by hour account from 12.00 noon to 4.45 pm)
Mizzima News (www.mizzima.com), September 30, 2007
Key events that took place today include the UN Special envoy Ibrahim Gambari meeting with Daw Aung San Suu Kyi, brief protests in Mandalay, Taunggoke, blockade in Rangoon and Sayadaw U Gamira's uplifting call that "Everyone is a leader"
The following is a chronology of events as reported in Mizzima News. All time indicated are Burmese Standard time, (GMT +6:30 hours), September 29, 2007.
Protest in Taunggoke
Four monks and over 800 civilians today held a protest march in Arakan State's Taunggoke town.
The protest began at about 2 p.m. (local time) from the historic Phaungdaw Oo Pagoda with the monks chanting Metta Sutta and the people shouting slogans of "Release all political prisoners – our cause", "Lowering commodity prices – our cause", and marched to Inn Road, Hospital Road, Min Kyaung and Boatseik and returned towards the office of the Township Peace and Development Council.
When the protesters arrived in front of the TPDC office, the road was blocked with a police vehicle and a military jeep with soldiers and policemen. Among them were about 50 Swan Arrshin members ready to crackdown on protesters. The demonstrators in order to avoid confrontation dispersed at about 3 p.m. (local time), said a local resident.
Gambari meets Daw Aung San Suu Kyi
In a surprise development the UN special envoy Ibrahim Gambari today met detained Burmese pro-democracy leader Daw Aung San Suu Kyi in Rangoon.
The visiting envoy met the Burmese Nobel Peace Laureate for ninety minutes at the State guest house in Rangoon.
The UN envoy, who led a three-member delegation, met the Burmese opposition leader on his return from Nay Pyi Taw after a meeting with Burma's military officials on Sunday.
Situation in Mandalay: Interview with a local resident in Mandalay, second largest city of Burma
"Just about an hour ago, there were brief demonstrations by students at the intersection of 75th Street and 35th Street and again at the intersection of 77th Street and 35th Street. Students on motorcycles came holding a red flag and staged a brief demonstration. There were about 100 motorbikes and the students were between 20 to 25 years of age. We saw them on the 35th Street. But they were quick and dispersed immediately. They came from the north and headed to the south."
To disperse or to counter
"The authorities have hired several people and assembled them at Sasanah Beikman. The people were hired for 1500 to 2000 Kyat. We can see a lot of people gathering in front of the Sasanah Beikman. They are all sitting and doing nothing. We don't know for what they have been called. It could be to disperse protesters or to stage counter demonstrations to denounce the ongoing protests led by monks. They can be seen by every one, and they have been brought in vehicles. There are at hundreds of them. They are meant to probably scare the people."
Banning of assemblies
"So far there are no gatherings. Even on the 34th Street as security forces are in place. If people start gathering the authorities are ready to crackdown. The District General Administrator has issued an order dated September 29, banning the assembly of people, motorcycles or even vehicles and cycles. And anyone violating the order will be taken action against as per the existing law."
Everyone is a leader, says Sayadaw U Gamira.
Everyone in Burma is a leader and should individually take to the streets in protest against the junta, said Sayadaw (abbot) U Gamira, whom the junta is searching, told Mizzima while on the run.
"The people should not wait for leaders to lead them, everyone should be a leader in their own right. We have to be individually involved and lead. It is important for everyone to lead at this time. The monks have done a lot and many are now thrown into jails and interrogation camps. And many have to sacrifice their lives," Sayadaw told Mizzima.
"By coming to monasteries in uniforms and arms and guarding the monks, they [the soldiers] are showing the world what they really are. They are not only dictators but terrorists," he added.
"If we cannot go out of the monasteries, there are things we can do inside the monasteries," he said.
Prayer support for protesters in Kayah State.
Local villagers in Dimawso and Pharuso Townships in Kayah State held prayers in support and solidarity to protesters in various parts of Burma, according to a Karenni youth group.
Meanwhile, the township authorities have ordered forming of Swan Arr Shin groups, where none exist, with not less than 20 people in each village, the Karenni student and youth group said in a statement.
As part of the junta's plan to organize anti-protest demonstrations in remote areas of the country to show Mr. Gambari that it has support from the public, authorities have ordered representatives from villages and towns in Kayah state to come for a mass rally in Loikaw,
capital of Kayah state. At least 30 people from villages that have more than 50 households and 25 each from villagers that have less than 50 households were told to reach Loikaw town on Sunday, to support the junta's recently concluded National Convention.
Protests to continue in Mandalay.
After severe restrictions on monks and guarding of monasteries to check the monks' movement, the authorities continue to persuade young monks and novices to return to their native places by giving them transportation fares. Protests by the monks in Mandalay as such has declined. Besides, as people are curiously observing the visit of Mr. Gambari to Burma, protest in Mandalay has come down.
However, locals said people are gearing up to stage a peaceful march this evening.
Though there are security forces still guarding the city, the security personnel are in a much more relaxed mood, said local residents.
Authorities have began to open the roads and reportedly the traffic remains normal. Regiment 99 has been entrusted to oversee the security situation and to guard the monasteries in Aung Myay Thar Zan Township while regiment 33 is responsible for security in Chan Aye Thar Zan and Maha Aung Myay Townships.
"Authorities continue to arrest prominent leaders and keep a close watch on many others," a local residents said.
"People are observing Mr Gambari's visit," added the local.
Blockade in Rangoon: As people gear up to stage another round of protests in Rangoon, authorities have put in place major blockades on Pyi Road. Streets and lanes along Pyi Road have been closed and movement of vehicles has been restricted to check protesters.
Meanwhile, it has begun to rain in Rangoon.
Monks respond to crackdown by chanting loving kindness.
Security forces in Mandalay have locked most of the Buddhist monasteries and restricted movement of monks, effectively barring the Buddhist clergy from marching on the streets in protest. However, though locked up inside the monasteries, monks continued their protest by chanting Metta Sutta (Buddhist words for loving kindness).
Meanwhile, civilians holding a big portrait of Gautam Buddha are gearing up for protests in Mandalay.
More security personnel deployed in Sittwe, Arakan.
In order to prevent monks and civilians from protesting in Sittwe capital in Arakan state, the Burma Army has deployed more security personnel in key locations where protesters have previously staged demonstrations. Both police and soldiers have been posted in the town since last night.
"Soldiers have set up camps in the wunkabba ground in Dowin ward. They have made temporary tents. And there are about 100 policemen and 200 soldiers. The State Peace and Development Council office in Pyidawthar ward is also cordoned off with barbed wire. There are about 150 soldiers and policemen. Similarly, police and soldiers are also positioned at U Ottama Park. There are about 200 soldiers and policemen. The placements were made during the night. Monks now cannot even go for their usual Swan collection. They are being called and interrogated. The monks cannot move out anywhere," a local resident told Mizzima.
Though the authorities yesterday put on show the riot police exercising at a public ground, about 80 monks and more than 3000 civilians continued to march on the streets in protest in the evening.
Local residents explaining the security situation in Sittwe however, failed to predict whether a similar protest would be held today.