Toward Democracy, Human Rights and Federalism

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Media Advisory: Saffron Revolution

Sunday, March 09 2008, 11:33 PM EDT
(BANGKOK, THAILAND) In August and September 2007, the people of Burma took to the streets in protest of the continued oppressive rule of the State Peace and Development Council (SPDC). These protests represented the largest overt public display of dissent against the SPDC in 20 years with hundreds of thousands of demonstrators marching in protest in no fewer than 227 separate demonstrations in 66 different towns and cities across the country.

MEDIA ADVISORY

Monday, 10 March 2008

New report highlights the true extent of the brutality employed in the suppression of Burma's September 2007 Saffron Revolution.

(BANGKOK, THAILAND) In August and September 2007, the people of Burma took to the streets in protest of the continued oppressive rule of the State Peace and Development Council (SPDC). These protests represented the largest overt public display of dissent against the SPDC in 20 years with hundreds of thousands of demonstrators marching in protest in no fewer than 227 separate demonstrations in 66 different towns and cities across the country.

The SPDC responded to the protests with predictable and disproportionate levels of violence despite numerous international calls for restraint. Thousands were arrested, hundreds wounded, and scores are believed to have been killed.

At the time when Ibrahim Gambari, Special Envoy of the UN Secretary General, has been permitted to return to Burma, and Professor Paulo Sergio Pinheiro, Special Rapporteur on the Human Rights Situation in Burma, is set to deliver his final report to the UN Human Rights Council along with a special report revealing his findings on the protests and the ensuing crackdowns, the Human Rights Documentation Unit (HRDU) of the National Coalition Government of the Union of Burma (NCGUB) today released the 190-page report, Bullets in the Alms Bowl; An analysis of the brutal SPDC suppression of the September 2007 Saffron Revolution.

Based on over 50 in-depth eyewitness interviews conducted by HRDU researchers, as well as interviews conducted by a network of researchers working clandestinely inside the country, and supplemented by information from various reliable sources; Bullets in the Alms Bowl is both detailed in its description and its analysis. Bullets in the Alms Bowl represents the most comprehensive report detailing the events leading up to, during and following the protests thus far produced to date, and the first such report to be produced by a Burmese organization.

The report begins with a detailed analysis of the structural violence which gave rise to the protests, examining both the militarization of society and the concurrent impoverishment of the general population. The rise in fuel prices and the significant effect it had on the population is then set within the context of an economic system designed to enrich the Generals and support their armed forces.

The protests and the response of the SPDC is then covered in detail beginning with initial signs of overt economic discontent in early 2007, followed by an account of the August protests and their suppression, including eyewitness accounts of assaults and arrests conducted by military, police, USDA and Swan Arr Shin members. The entrance of the monks into the protests is analyzed in terms of their relationship with both the SPDC and the Buddhist lay community, before a largely descriptive section on the growth of the protests.

The days of the crackdown, from 26 September to 2 October, are reported using firsthand accounts of brutality, with confirmed information on a number of important events and crackdowns thus far not reported elsewhere. The raids conducted on monasteries during this time, both in Rangoon and other areas of the country, are also covered in a second section including eyewitness testimonies from Ngwe Kyar Yan monastery and the killing of a civilian serving as a night watchman for his local monastery in Thaketa Township.

A further section which focuses on the days of the crackdown provides a detailed analysis of SPDC actions. This assesses SPDC intent through an investigation of tactics employed, including the use of civilian militias, the penning in of protest groups, firing of live rounds into crowds without warning, apparent targeted killing, the removal of the dead and injured, the denial of treatment to the injured, and the suppression of information and targeting of journalists.

A section on continuing arrests since the crackdown reports on the extremely arbitrary and systematic nature of these arrests. It analyzes the nature of night time raids and the complete lack of any proper judicial procedure in addition to the arrest of family members in lieu of those they could not apprehend and the arrest of those who allowed persons to stay in their homes. Bullets in the Alms Bowl also reports on the arrest of entire neighbourhoods in the area around the east gate of Shwedagon Pagoda and the possible relocation of whole wards in this area, as well as the conditions placed upon those persons released and the continuing targeting and arrest of political activists.

Bullets in the Alms Bowl thus provides an insight into a premeditated and callous campaign of brutality, the intended design of which was antithetical to the very foundations of international human rights and humanitarian law, and serves to contextualize the protests and their suppression within the general practice of SPDC governance.

For more information, please visit our website at http://www.ncgub.net/. Questions, comments and requests for further information may be forwarded to the HRDU via email at enquiries.hrdu@gmail.com.

Click here to download Bullets in the Alms Bowl in PDF format (190 pages / 4.75 MB)

The HRDU is the research and documentation department of the National Coalition Government of the Union of Burma (NCGUB). The HRDU was formed in 1994 to comprehensively document the human rights situations in Burma, in order to protect and promote the internationally recognised human rights of those persons in the country. The HRDU is also responsible for the production of the annual Burma Human Rights Yearbook.

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