On Saturday, the Guardian reported this:
The military regime in Burma is still holding up to 2,500 people in prisons and labour camps around the country, and continues to arrest suspected dissidents, the British government claimed yesterday.
The ethnic conflict between the regime and the Karen minority is expected to worsen.
The U.S. and Europe have imposed economic sanctions, and the U.N. waved an angry finger.
However, the sanctions do not include the oil and gas sector, and Amnesty International yesterday said the junta was still receiving military equipment from China, Russia, Ukraine, and India.
The regime claims to have released all but about 500 prisoners.
A British diplomat estimates they’re still holding at least four or five times that many.
“There are substantial night-time raids going on. They have scooped up hundreds of people,” the diplomat said.
The prisoners are being sent to many locations, around the country. They are expected to spend years in prison. Some are expected to spend decades in prison.
“We are hearing from people who have been locked up directly … the conditions in which they are being held: in excrement-smeared rooms, hundreds to a room, not fed, interrogated,” he said.
The regime says only ten were killed in the crackdown.
According to the diplomat:
“We believe it is very many multiples of that.”
The New York Times reported on Sunday:
An ominous calm has settled here, less than a month after the military junta crushed an uprising for democracy led by the nation’s revered monks. People have quietly returned to the squalor and inflation that brought them to the streets in protest. There are even suggestions of peace: young couples embracing under trees around scenic Kandawgyi Lake; music from a restaurant drifting across the placid water.
But beneath the surface, anger, uncertainty, hopelessness – and above all, fear of the junta – prevail.
Fear. Repression. Imprisonment. Death.
“It’s not peace you see here, it’s silence; it’s a forced silence,” said a 46-year-old writer who joined last month’s protests in Yangon and was now on the run, carrying with him a worn copy of his favorite book, George Orwell’s “1984.” “We are the military’s slaves. We want democracy. We want to wait no longer. But we are afraid of their guns.”
After the government shut down Internet access and denied visas for outside journalists, keeping much of the world at bay, terror continued to rage through Yangon, the main city, for days, according to witnesses and dissidents here. Soldiers raided homes and monasteries to arrest demonstrators, witnesses said, using pictures taken by government informers during the protests.
Monks were beaten and humiliated. Families still search for the missing. News is censored. Daw Aung San Suu Kyi remains under house arrest. The economy remains, at it was before the uprising, a disaster.
But there was great news, on Saturday. The curfew was finally lifted. People can now stay out after 9 at night. The ban on gatherings of more than five people has also been lifted.
What has not changed, what will not change, is the totality of fear.
The world turns.