For a difference, Burma is quiet
now. The streets have emptied. Silence is disturbing. Information is scarce,
mobile phones have been cut off, and cameras have been confiscated. Reports say
that authorities are closing down internet cafes.
protest began on August 19, against the sudden sharp and despicable increases
in fuel prices. In an unprecedented move, monks who generally distanced
themselves from the citizens, rose, red-robed and silent, to lead people in a
rally reaching tens of thousands. Then
what happened was expected. A photographer lying on street, the abbot forced to
walk like a dog, the monks in their casual suits, were beaten. I will not
reiterate how worse these things are. No one can easily say that this was one of
the biggest setbacks here in Asia.
is no longer difficult that these things are possible, that there are men who
consciously and indiscriminately deal out death. This is what Philippines is, after all. A
democratic country. The freedom of expression of a military extends to murder
with impunity. This is a land where denial is a state policy and apathy is a
necessary virtue for survival.
is the same interest of humanity that compels us, no matter how cynical we have
become to images of brutality and inhumanity. Many died in Burma, some
will never be remembered. Who cares to be remembered? And here in Asia’s darling democracy, many too have died and many
will. Perhaps it’s more ominous, because here violent is done while the
President smiles and tells the world that “peace does not come from a barrel of