Note to despots: You can't kill the internet
Burma's wave of dissent floods through firewall
The latest reports from the turmoil in Burma say at least one person died and many were wounded today when police again shot at protesters on the streets of Rangoon.
Until now, one of the most striking things about the monk-led uprising has been the volume of information that has been escaping about the usually secretive regime's activities.
Citizens have been using mobile phones, cyber cafes, and according to some reports, internet connections controlled by foreign embassies to get news to the outside world.
Blood on the streets [via ko-htike.blogspot.com]
The junta now seems to have recognised that worldwide communications networks make the kind of hammer blow it delivered when it murdered 3,000 democracy campaigners in 1989 a difficult PR proposition. According to free speech advocate Reporters Without Borders, they've swooped to cut off channels over the last few days.
Happily, it doesn't seem to be working too well, thanks to the ingenuity of the Burmese people. According to The Asia Times: Thanks to the growing global proliferation of proxy servers, proxy sites, encrypted e-mail accounts, http tunnels and other creative workarounds, the cyber-reality in Myanmar [Burma] is actually much less restricted than ONI's research indicated." A 2005 Study by Havard's OPenNet Initiative (ONI) had said that Burma's internet censorship "was among the tightest in the World."
London-based blogger Ko Htike's site features more eyewitness accounts and pictures of the military crackdown. He reported at 3pm today (Burma time):
right now they're using fire engines
and hitting people
and dragging them onto E2000 trucks
and most of them are girls
and people are shouting
The few professional journalists operating in the country are delivering reports via satellite phones that the regime cannot interfere with.
Despite the growing international outcry over current events, an emergency meeting of the UN security council on Wednesday mustered only a "statement of concern". Burma's near neighbour and trade partner China has by all accounts led moves to block sanctions. The European Parliament called on China and Russia to drop their opposition to sanctions today.
China is, of course, expert in supressing online dissent itself. It'll play host to the world at the Olympics in Beijing next summer, and cannot afford a bloodbath on its doorstep as it tries to sell "new China".
According to The Reg's technical team, we've had 216 readers visit us from Burma since 1 September. Good luck to you if you're still reading. ®
Don't oversimplify Alex...
The UK and other nations still refer to Burma as such for political reasons. The government carried out the official name change and this government isn't recognised by UK/USA, so they don't recognise the name change. Locals tend to refer to Burma as Burma in spoken language and Myanmar is more a literary form.
There's a nice article on the BBC website about it.
You can get off the high horse now...
Call to arms
Yeah ok, a lot of these guys are risking everything to get information to the outside world ... but what are we doing with the info when we get it?
We are sitting on our sofas watching it on TV, going 'oh heck, that doesn't look good..'
For chrissakes, our governments aren't going to lift a finger to help them - what about us? Surely the ordinary citizen (the millions and millions of us) can do something?
It makes me sick to know that unarmed monks are being shot dead for protesting.
"You might even civilise the French..."