Burmese Celebrate Independence Day Amidst Armed Guards

Four months after huge protests against the military junta which rules Myanmar, the nation’s independence from Great Britain will be celebrated in Rangoon as thousands of police and soldiers observe the scene. Residents watched as hundreds of police gathered at bus stops, railroad stations, and other places where large numbers of people might congregate. The junta’s leader, General Than Thew called for building a “discipline-flourishing democratic state.” Meanwhile, members of the National League for Democracy (NLD), whose leader Aung San Sui Kyi, has spent most of the past 12 years under house arrest, stood quietly outside their party headquarters wearing the prison uniform of dark blue longyi and pale blue shirts with the words, “Fee Political Prisoners” on the back. In another attempt to crush access to information, the Burmese government increased fees for satellite TV from $6 to $1,000.

The sixty or so monks who will participate in the “celebration” of their nation’s independence will be a far cry from the thousands who demonstrated four months ago. The military junta remains firmly in power, the world is silent about Burma, and life goes on its normal course of events. What ever happened to a UN attempt to help restore freedom to the Burmese people?