Myanmar’s ‘Citizen Journalists’

Myanmar Map

Geoffrey A. Fowler, in the Wall St. Journal: “As Myanmar’s regime cracks down on a growing protest movement, ‘citizen journalists’ are breaking the news to the world.”

At 1:30 yesterday afternoon, a cellphone buzzed with news for Soe Myint, the editor in chief of Mizzima News, a publication about Myanmar run by exiles in New Delhi.

The message: “There is a tourist shot down” in Yangon, the center of recent protests by Buddhist monks and others against the military junta in Myanmar, formerly Burma. Troops there were clearing the streets, telling protesters they had just minutes to go home — or be shot.

The text message wasn’t from one of Soe Myint’s reporters. In fact, he doesn’t know who sent the message. He believes it came from one of the more than 100 students, activists and ordinary citizens who have been feeding him reports, images and video of the violent events unfolding in recent days.

In the age of YouTube, cellphone cameras and text messaging, technology is playing a critical role in helping news organizations and international groups follow Myanmar’s biggest protests in nearly two decades. Citizen witnesses are using cellphones and the Internet to beam out images of bloodied monks and street fires, subverting the Myanmar government’s effort to control media coverage and present a sanitized version of the uprising. The Associated Press reported yesterday that soldiers in Yangon fired automatic weapons into a crowd of demonstrators as tens of thousands of pro-democracy protesters converged in the capital. Wire services have reported the number of dead at nine, citing the state media.

(Emphasis mine.)

Myanmar: Military Fires on Protesters

Monks Protest in Myanmar [NOT MY IMAGE]

CNN.com:

Myanmar’s security forces fired automatic weapons into a crowd of anti-government protesters, after attempts to clear them from the streets on Yangon, reports said Thursday.

A Japanese national was shot and killed by the military junta, the Japanese Foreign Ministry told CNN.

There are claims by dissidents that four protesters were shot on Thursday.

At least 100 monks were beaten and arrested by soldiers, reports say.

And here’s some background on the situation from The Economist (“How Myanmar’s people rose up against its regime—and the regime rose up against its people“):

THERE are reckoned to be 400,000 monks in Myanmar (formerly known as Burma), about the same as the number of soldiers under the ruling junta’s command. The soldiers have the guns. The monks have the public’s support and, judging from the past fortnight’s protests, the courage and determination to defy the regime. But Myanmar’s tragic recent history suggests that when an immovable junta meets unstoppable protests, much blood is spilled.

In the last pro-democracy protests on this scale, in 1988, it took several rounds of massacres before the demonstrations finally subsided, leaving the regime as strong as ever. By Thursday September 27th, with a crackdown under way, and the first deaths from clashes with security forces, it seemed hard to imagine that things would be very different this time.

News from Myanmar (Burma): How to Follow the Events Online

Monks Protest in Burma [AP IMAGE]

Bangkok, 3 p.m. — Things are heating up next door in Myanmar, the country formerly known as Burma. AP/CNN says that police have now begun cracking down on protesters.

Here are a few online news resources for those of you who’d like to follow the events:

— A Google news search for Burma or Myanmar is a good way to find up-to-date news. You can choose to filter results by date in order to find the most recent stories. (For all of the following, you can search for either “Myanmar” or “Burma.” For the sake of speed, I’ll simply use Myanmar here.)

The Irrawaddy magazine is posting continuous updates on their Web site.

Mizzima News (“Specialising in Burma-Related News and Multimedia”) and BurmaNet News are providing news round-ups.

A YouTube search for Myanmar — with results sorted by date — yields some footage from inside the country.

— You can search Flickr for images labeled Myanmar — again, sorted by date — although there doesn’t seem to be much there at this point.

— A Wikipedia page called “2007 Burmese anti-government protests” is tracking the situation.

— You can search Google for blogs mentioning Myanmar.

— A search on NPR.org for Myanmar returns print news, blog posts, and radio stories.

— You can search Technorati — a blog search engine — for posts tagged “Myanmar.”

— I can’t vouch for its accuracy, but this Myanmar blog directory lists a large number of Web sites.

Myanmar: Government Warns Protesters

Monks Protest in Myanmar [NOT MY IMAGE]

Reuters (“Myanmar junta threatens action against protesters“):

Fears of a repeat of 1988’s bloody crackdown by Myanmar’s ruling generals grew on Tuesday after the junta threatened action against monks at the centre of the biggest anti-government demonstrations in nearly 20 years.

The Burma Campaign UK said its sources in Yangon had reported soldiers being ordered to shave their heads in possible preparation for infiltrating the massed ranks of Buddhist monks marching for an end to 45 years of unbroken military rule.

The London-based activist group said the junta had also ordered 3,000 maroon monastic robes, again with the probable intention of having soldiers masquerade as monks to stir up trouble and create a pretext for a crackdown.

In 1988, the last time the Southeast Asian nation’s people took to the streets in the tens of thousands, agents provocateurs were seen stirring up the crowds, thereby giving the military the excuse to come in and restore order.

AFP (“Myanmar junta warns against more protests“):

Myanmar’s military regime warned its people Tuesday not to join a swelling nationwide protest movement that has escalated into the most potent threat to their hardline rule in nearly 20 years.

Local government officials using loudspeakers rode trucks through central Yangon warning against new anti-junta protests, a day after Buddhist monks led 100,000 people onto the streets of the country’s biggest city.

State media bluntly ordered the monks to stay clear of politics, mirroring government threats of a crackdown carried on state television late Monday.

Analysts said Chinese pressure has helped prevent a bloody crackdown on anti-government protests but China cannot restrain its allies in Yangon indefinitely.

AP (“Narrow Vision Marks Myanmar Generals“):

To much of the world and many of their own citizens, Myanmar’s military rulers are tyrants stubbornly standing in the way of democracy by refusing to hand over power to the political party of detained Nobel Peace Prize laureate Aung San Suu Kyi, which won a 1990 general election.

But they claim to be binding a fractious nation together and safeguarding against anarchy that could come from many contending ethnic groups. And they see themselves as paragons of development.

Myanmar’s military rulers are at once both familiar faces and men of mystery.

(Emphasis mine.)

Protests in Myanmar

Myanmar Map

Here’re some recent accounts of the ongoing protests next door in Myanmar.

New York Times (“Monks’ Protest Is Challenging Burmese Junta“):

The largest street protests in two decades against Myanmar’s military rulers gained momentum Sunday as thousands of onlookers cheered huge columns of Buddhist monks and shouted support for the detained pro-democracy leader Daw Aung San Suu Kyi.

Wall Street Journal (“Burma Rising“):

Burma’s oppressive military junta appears to have a bigger problem on its hands than anyone realized. What started as relatively small-scale, informal protests over gas prices have turned into a large and growing protest by the country’s highly respected Buddhist monks. And now the monks and Burma’s political pro-democracy movement are converging, with opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi emerging from house arrest to greet the monks at the gate of her home on Saturday. Reform has proved elusive in the past, but hopefully its time is arriving. The international community needs to show support for the protesters now.

CSM (“Protests swell against Burma’s military regime“):

A protest movement led by Buddhist monks chanting prayers is gathering momentum in Burma (Myanmar), leaving an embattled military regime stranded in a groundswell of popular frustration at economic and political stagnation.

Phuket Plane Crash: More Info

Phuket

Here’s more info on Sunday’s plane crash in Phuket. 89 of 130 people on board were killed, many of them foreign tourists.

AFP: “Thai crash officials probe system problem, foul weather”

AP: “Authorities struggle to identify more than 30 victims of the Thai plane crash”

And a Wikipedia page has been created; it contains the basic facts:

One-Two-GO Airlines Flight 269 was a scheduled flight from Bangkok’s Don Mueang International Airport to Phuket International Airport in the Thai resort island of Phuket. On September 16, 2007, amid heavy rains and strong crosswinds at Phuket International Airport, the aircraft in service for this flight touched down hard on the runway and skidded into a wooded embankment. The aircraft broke into two, caught fire almost immediately and was completely destroyed, causing 89 deaths.[1] Phuket International Airport was re-opened in the afternoon of September 17, 2007.[2]

The crash of Flight 269 is Thailand’s deadliest aviation accident since Thai Airways Flight 261 crashed into a rice paddy in 1998

Football Team Management 2.0

Fantasy Football (Soccer) [not my image]

Springwise.com:

Quick update about MyFootballClub, which we wrote about when they launched in May. The venture, which hopes to harness the wisdom of crowds to manage a professional league soccer team (or football club, if you prefer), has just reached its target of 50,000 members. If all members follow through and pay their GBP 35 membership fee, MyFootballClub will soon have GBP 1,5 million in the bank and will be able to buy a team.

Thanks to a novel concept that garnered plenty of media coverage, it took MyFootballClub less than three months to get 50,000 potential owner-managers to sign up. Negotiations with clubs will start soon; the top 4 clubs on members’ lists are Leeds United, Nottingham Forest, Cambridge United and Accrington Stanley, but selection will depend on a club’s availability as well as its popularity. Things will truly become interesting once 50,000 members start managing the team…

(Emphasis mine.)

Thanks to Mike W. for the tip.

Plane Crash in Phuket, Thailand

Plane Crash in Phuket, Thailand [NOT MY IMAGE]

NYT/AP:

BANGKOK, Thailand (AP) — A passenger plane filled with foreign tourists crashed Sunday as it tried to land in heavy rain on the island of Phuket, splitting in two as it was engulfed in flames, officials said. At least 66 people were killed.

The budget One-To-Go Airlines was carrying 123 passengers and five crew members on a domestic flight from the Thai capital of Bangkok to Phuket, one of the country’s major tourist destinations, according to the Thai television station TITV.

Bangkok Pundit is providing news round-ups.

Ecuador: “Pay us not to drill for oil”

Rafael Correa, Ecuador's New President

From Foreign Policy’s blog, Passport:

In a unique environmental scheme, Ecuador’s government is asking developed nations to pay $350 million for them NOT to drill for oil in a major field in the heart of the Amazon. The sum represents about half of the estimated revenue that Ecuador would receive from drilling in the Yasuni National Park, a UNESCO-designated biosphere reserve that may contain up to a billion barrels of crude. Since Ecuador proposed the scheme last spring, politicians from Germany, Norway, Italy, Spain, and the EU have expressed interest, according to Ecuador’s minister of energy. President Rafael Correa…had this to say:

“Ecuador doesn’t ask for charity […] but does ask that the international community share in the sacrifice and compensates us with at least half of what our country would receive, in recognition of the environmental benefits that would be generated by keeping this oil underground.”

Read the whole post for more information.