Myanmar Protests Reported by Citizen Journalists, And Possibly Government Journalists As Well

from the information-is-power dept

As Myanmar struggles towards democracy after 40 years under military junta, the Internet is playing a crucial role in the fight. News of Monday's protest was reported within a few hours of it starting, due largely in part to thousands of citizen journalists who sent their stories, photos and videos to global news sites. This is in stark contrast to the days that it took for news to break about the 1988 8888 uprising, where 3,000 civilians were killed. Now, armed with cameraphones and email, coverage of the events in Myanmar are posted immediately to blogs and news sites, forcing the junta to play out this weeks events under the scrutiny of global eyes. Well, perhaps the government has started to take notice -- false reports are being sent out as well, presumably by Burmese authorities looking to undermine those reporting the news or to spread government propaganda. However, regardless of how the medium is used, the most important thing is that the Internet has made it easier for information to be free, which presumably will make it more difficult for totalitarian regimes to hang on to the reins of control.


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  1.  
    identicon
    DCX2, Sep 27th, 2007 @ 8:31am

    Thank you

    Thank you for discussing the protests in Burma. The whole world needs to be aware of this tragedy.

     

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  2.  
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    Michael Schmitt, Sep 27th, 2007 @ 8:48am

    Information Flow

    We take communications for granted here in the US; we also take freedom of the press for granted too. The Myanmar junta has been trying to control the information in and out of Myanmar right now, and there are reports that the phone and internet systems are being shut down systematically to prevent the citizen journalists from communicating to the world what is really happening in their country.
    Good luck to the Myanmar citizens during this time of unrest...

     

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  3.  
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    dorpus, Sep 27th, 2007 @ 9:06am

    Will freedom do them any good?

    It was the end of gasoline subsidies, not the internet, that triggered these protests. The Burmese rabble are upset that the government deregulated gasoline so it can be sold at free-market prices.

    If the monks, Suu Kyi have their way and overthrow the government, what will happen? There will be a short-lived celebration, but the retail price of gasoline will go up anyway. Power struggles between competing factions, plus public discontent at the inability to buy basic goods will cause widespread unrest, and Burmese will burn down their own cities.

    Burma will turn into a country whose primary exports are drugs, AIDS, and black-and-white photos of sad children.

     

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  4.  
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    dorpus, Sep 27th, 2007 @ 9:09am

    Tiananmen

    I'll also point out that the Tiananmen protests were specifically triggered by price deregulation -- the communist government allowed food and other consumer goods to be sold at market prices, which led to inflation. At the time, white liberals talked about how faxes and the internet were supposed to overthrow the Chinese government. It didn't happen. When the protests were crushed, white liberals said the Chinese were "set back 20 years". That didn't happen either.

     

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  5.  
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    Wolfger, Sep 27th, 2007 @ 9:36am

    maybe...

    ...we could send Dorpus over there.

     

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  6.  
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    DCX2, Sep 27th, 2007 @ 9:37am

    Re: Will freedom do them any good?

    The "Burmese rabble"?

    You think this is about gas prices? It started with gas prices, but this is way, way bigger than that.

    Could it be that there were democratic elections in 1990 where the opposition government won 82% of seats in parliament, but were not allowed to take power? Instead, the rightfully elected leader has been imprisoned or under house arrest since her party won.

    Could it be the systematic rape and slaughter of ethnic minorities perpetrated by a military junta trying to exploit the natural resources of the country for the benefit of the neighbors India and China? Millions of people are displaced by the violence in eastern Burma.

    You are right to question what will happen if the opposition government takes control. But your post makes me question how human you really are. Do you question whether it would be an improvement to remove the junta from power?

     

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  7.  
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    dorpus, Sep 27th, 2007 @ 9:59am

    Re: Re: Will freedom do them any good?

    Ethnic minorities are unlikely to fare any better under a new government. The Buddhists hate the Muslims, who make up as much as 20% of the population. Other minorities are backward groups from the jungles who cannot read, count money, or understand basic hygiene. The monks have no sympathy for these groups, while Suu Kyi will just give some lip service about foreign aid to "help" them.

    In all likelihood, Myanmar will become another Iraq, Afghanistan, or Somalia. Rich Saudis who can no longer openly fund terrorists in Iraq/Afghanistan/Phillippines will divert their resources to Burmese insurgents instead, under the guise of "opposition groups". Western nations will stop caring about Myanmar when the junta is out of power. How many Westerners care about the plight of Southeast Asians in "democracies" such as Cambodia or the Phillippines? No, Myanmar will look to China and India for help. At best, the monks will turn Burma into an Iran-style Buddhist theocracy, where people have no rights anyway.

     

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  8.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Sep 27th, 2007 @ 10:02am

    Re: Re: Will freedom do them any good?


    Do you question whether it would be an improvement to remove the junta from power?


    I don't know if that was the question but I think it is one worth pondering. Change is not always for the better. The next party/regime/whatever that comes to power may be even worse.

     

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  9.  
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    DCX2, Sep 27th, 2007 @ 10:12am

    Re: Re: Re: Will freedom do them any good?

    Whether or not the next party is even worse is irrelevant. The opposition government won 82% of the parliament's seats in a democratic election and the junta refused to hand over power. The people of Burma have spoken and democratically elected leaders who were then put in prison or under house arrest.

    Do some research on Burma before you question whether the elected leaders would be better than junta thugs. Find the answer to your question.

     

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  10.  
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    DCX2, Sep 27th, 2007 @ 10:15am

    Re: Re: Re: Will freedom do them any good?

    You think the ethnic minorities wouldn't fare any better? Do you really think a government led by Suu Kyi would really systematically rape and slaughter the jungle folk? Give me a break.

    Buddhists, and hate? Right. *rolls eyes*

    And the plight of other Southeast Asian nations does not make the plight of the Burmese irrelevant. It only means that there's more work to do.

     

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  11.  
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    dorpus, Sep 27th, 2007 @ 10:19am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Will freedom do them any good?

    So instead, they may elect demagogues who bankrupt the country and/or start ethnic cleansing campaigns.

     

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  12.  
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    dorpus, Sep 27th, 2007 @ 10:20am

    Free Asian Countries Look Like This

    The "free" countries that worship the global economy as their God, are they any better off?

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=m28w3WitFcA

     

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  13.  
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    dorpus, Sep 27th, 2007 @ 10:21am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Will freedom do them any good?

    You think the ethnic minorities wouldn't fare any better? Do you really think a government led by Suu Kyi would really systematically rape and slaughter the jungle folk? Give me a break.

    She may not lead such a campaign, but she may not do much to stop it either.

    Buddhists, and hate? Right. *rolls eyes*

    Did you hear about Muslims in Thailand?

     

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  14.  
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    Bil, Sep 27th, 2007 @ 11:34am

    Fear of the unknown?

    So basically what you're saying is that it's *POSSIBLE* that change could be for the worse and hence the burmese people should avoid change.

    That sounds like the recipe for a lethal case of cowardice.

     

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  15.  
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    dorpus, Sep 27th, 2007 @ 12:46pm

    Re: Fear of the unknown?

    I'm not inclined to say what Burmese should or shouldn't do. They merely have a dilemma of bad choices. They could "democratize" and turn into a failed state that nobody cares about, or keep their current state of notoriety.

    Other governments in the region have had female heads of state in the past, from Benazir Bhutto, Indira Ghandi, to Corazon Aquino. Although they talked big about "progress", their countries did not do well, and they were either assassinated or exiled by their own country.

    Westerners have a strange attachment to Suu Kyi as some sort of Burmese Ghandi, but the reality is not so simple. Suu Kyi's father was a fascist who helped the Japanese conquer Burma, even though he calls himself the "founding father". Suu Kyi became famous only because she married an Oxford Professor who used his influence to make her into a martyr. She has no proven track record of leading countries out of difficult situations; for the past 5 years, she has remained clueless, and we could well just see her clamming up, demanding "investigations" but otherwise doing nothing.

     

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  16.  
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    Bob Jones, Sep 30th, 2007 @ 1:53am

    Surely refering to it as the millitary imposed name, Myanmar, is giving in to the junta? Its official name is Burma, unless you recognize their right to rule and thus change the name ...

     

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  17.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Oct 12th, 2007 @ 2:42pm

    mwah

     

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