BBC: Images of saffron-robed monks leading throngs of people along the streets of Rangoon have been seeping out of a country famed for its totalitarian regime and repressive control of information. The pictures are sometimes grainy and the video footage shaky — captured at great personal risk on mobile phones — but each represents a powerful statement of political dissent.
“It is amazing how the Burmese are able through underground networks to get things from outside and inside,” says Vincent Brussels, head of the Asian section of press freedom organization Reporters Without Borders. “Before, they were moving things hand-to-hand and now they are using the internet — proxy websites, Google and YouTube and all these things.”
The use of the internet as a political tool is one of the most marked differences between the latest protests and the 1988 uprising, which was brutally repressed. Thanks in part to bloggers, this time the outside world is acutely aware of what is happening on the streets of Rangoon, Mandalay and Pakokku and is hungry for more information. MORE
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NPR: Times of London reporter Nick Meo, reporting from the Myanmar-Thailand border, says dissidents expect the protests to start up again, despite government efforts to arrest and suppress the country’s revered Buddhist monks. The few people who have fled across the Thai border say that a long and sustained struggle will be necessary to topple the junta in Myanmar.
Meo says one of the defectors he spoke to was an officer in the Myanmar army. As a devote Buddhist, the officer was unable to bring himself to give the order to attack the monks, who have led the protests.
The officer says he is not alone in his dissent, according to Meo. The military officer estimated that most of the officers opposed the crackdown, but Myanmar’s Senior Gen. Than Shwe is supported by a “hard core” of loyal officers. Still, Meo says, the military officer believed that mutiny is possible if the crackdown continues or if the army is forced to attack the monks again.