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War zone, where only one side has guns

Mizzima News (www.mizzima.com), Sept. 29, 2007

Rangoon, Burma -- It resembles a chaotic urban war zone with the Burma Army preparing to crush the people’s movement with a heavy hand.

<< Protests in Rangoon against junta. Soldiers tighten security perimeter, gear up for fresh crackdown

The command centre and the soldiers are positioned in Sule pagoda. At least 12 army trucks could be seen near the Sule pagoda in front of the City Hall. The police station on Sule Road is cordoned off by barbed wire.

The bridges leading to the city centre are closed to prevent protesters from entering. The my appears ready to violently suppress any protest inside the greater downtown area to the bridges. The city centre is largely paralyzed this morning. Shops owners would be lucky if they can open for two or three hours in the morning.

The state television is now showing troop movements. It could be a sign that the junta is feeling more secure. The junta is methodically and systematically pushing the security perimeter outwards. Last night it was up to Bogyoke Aung San Street to the north and China town to the west.

A run down of what happened yesterday in downtown Rangoon (Sept 28)

It is difficult to estimate the number of protesters as they appeared in groups of a few hundred and were fractured. They [the protesters] were desperately looking for someone to lead them. If these few agitating groups persist, I fear they will just be slaughtered because the regime will try and clean up everything as best as they can before letting Gambari in," an older protester said.

The people were no longer clapping and encouraging the demonstrators as they had done earlier though they still watch and gather but the active demonstrators are now isolated. People will not talk as readily either, as government informers are said to be everywhere.

A few hundred protesters with the red and gold peacock emblazoned flag proceeded down Anawrattha Road to Shwebontha Street. From there they quickly fled back to Shwedagonpagoda Road after cheering for several minutes.

Five army trucks showed up on Shwebontha Street. About 20 soldiers are in each truck with eight sitting on each side, three in front and one in the rear. They all had their guns pointing outside at civilians and pedestrians.

A speech was delivered through a megaphone mounted on a little truck packed with members of the USDA and Swan Arrshin armed with batons.

In a chilling warning to the people they said that more people would die if they did not work together with the army for peace.

At one point it sounded like a recording of yesterday’s shots being replayed.

About 50 soldiers broke off and marched through town heading west on Mahabandoola Street. Three to five rounds of firing from automatic weapons sent us running past the Chinatown market for cover. At this point it appeared shots were fired in the air.

A military convoy went down Merchant Street heading west to confront what appeared to be the same groups of protesters who gathered had earlier on Anawrattha Street. The soldiers were led by members of the USDA and Swan Arrshin with in a van.

Fire engines and police vans could be seen. Soldiers sent civilians and non protesters running for cover as everyone is terrified of the army.

Several rounds of automatic rifle fire and at least one round of tear gas were fired in the direction of protesters. The acrid smell of gunfire hung in the air for several minutes.

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