Sense Of Despair

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The Guardian reports that Burma is overwhelmed with a sense of despair since the military junta has demolished the fragile democracy movement.

After early optimism, a sense of hopelessness now exists in Rangoon. Communication to the outside world has been largely cut and, according to diplomats in the region, up to 200 protesters are dead. The official death count from the government is nine. But no one believes the government.

The maroon-clad Buddhist monks from the monasteries at Moe Gaung, Ngwe Kyar Yan and elsewhere, who marched in their thousands to give impetus to a new generation of Burmese protesters challenging decades of military rule, are locked up in prison or behind their monastery gates. Their monks' cells have been smashed, stained with their blood and looted. Those who escaped have taken off their robes and sought refuge disguised as laymen.

Parks, grocery stores and internet cafes are closed. Troops stand on every corner. By late yesterday a few hundred protesters – in contrast to the hundreds of thousands who flocked to the streets mid-week – were playing a game of cat- and-mouse with the military and pro-military thugs.

For now it has been left to a United Nations envoy, Ibrahim Gambari, to persuade the generals to use negotiations instead of guns to end mass protests against 45 years of military rule. 'He's the best hope we have. He is trusted on both sides,' Singapore Foreign Minister George Yeo said. 'If he fails, then the situation can become quite dreadful.'

Agam has (unconfirmed) reports that junta troops are cremating bodies in Rangoon and that the monks who have not been jailed are locked into their compounds.

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