A heavy military presence on Myanmar's streets, combined with mass
arrests, has stamped out the massive protests of the past week. Huge
numbers of troops are visible on street corners across Yangon, the
focal point for the demonstrations, and fear is widespread.
The flood of reports in the city of alleged brutal killings,
disappearances and arrests is causing major concern for the people of
Myanmar and those watching the continuing crisis.
However, it remains extremely difficult for anyone to confirm details
about who has been arrested, where they are held, why and under what
circumstances. This uncertainty is partly as a consequence of
restrictions on Internet and phone use.
Security forces have scaled up their efforts to curb the mass
distribution of images and blogs providing information about the
crackdown. Internet access remains limited and phone lines, including
of diplomats, appear to have been cut. Random searches for cameras and
mobile phones have reportedly been introduced in Yangon, with arrests
Over the past week, security forces in Myanmar have raided monasteries
and attacked peaceful demonstrators, firing live bullets as well as
tear gas and beating protesters with batons.
The authorities have acknowledged 10 deaths, including a Japanese video
journalist, Kenji Nagai, who was killed when troops opened fire on a
group of chanting demonstrators. However, it is feared that the actual
number of fatalities is far higher.
Amnesty International believes that at least 1,000 people have been
arrested in Yangon alone, the majority of them monks. Arrests are also
reported from towns and cities across the country. This is in addition
to at least 150 other persons arrested in August at the onset of the
protests. Numerous key figures in the National League for Democracy,
the main opposition party, and other activists are among those
Amnesty International has condemned the use of violence against
peaceful protestors and is seriously concerned at the safety of all
those detained across the country. The organisation has called on the
authorities to ensure that detainees are not subjected to torture or
any other ill-treatment.
Amnesty International has also called on the United Nations Security
Council to immediately impose a comprehensive and mandatory arms
embargo on the country.
"An unambiguous message must be sent urgently to Myanmar military
leaders that their brutal crackdown on peaceful protestors will not be
tolerated or fuelled by any member of the international community,"
said Irene Khan, Secretary General of Amnesty International.