Burma: Thousands dead in massacre
of the monks dumped in the jungle
by Marcus Oscarsson
Thousands of protesters are dead and the
bodies of hundreds of executed monks have been dumped in the jungle,
a former intelligence officer for Burma's ruling junta has revealed.
The most senior official to defect so
far, Hla Win, said: "Many more people have been killed in
recent days than you've heard about. The bodies can be counted
in several thousand."
Mr Win, who spoke out as a Swedish diplomat
predicted that the revolt has failed, said he fled when he was
ordered to take part in a massacre of holy men. He has now reached
the border with Thailand.
Meanwhile, the United Nations special
envoy was in Burma's new capital today seeking meetings with the
ruling military junta.
Ibrahim Gambari met detained opposition
leader Aung San Suu Kyi in Rangoon yesterday. But he has yet to
meet the country's senior generals as he attempts to halt violence
against monks and pro-democracy activists.
It is anticipated the meeting will happen
Heavily-armed troops and police flooded
the streets of Rangoon during Mr Ibrahim's visit to prevent new
Mr Gambari met some of the country's military
leaders in Naypyidaw yesterday and has returned there for further
talks. But he did not meet senior general Than Shwe or his deputy
Maung Aye - and they have issued no comment.
Reports from exiles along the frontier
confirmed that hundreds of monks had simply "disappeared"
as 20,000 troops swarmed around Rangoon yesterday to prevent further
demonstrations by religious groups and civilians.
Word reaching dissidents hiding out on
the border suggested that as well as executions, some 2,000 monks
are being held in the notorious Insein Prison or in university
rooms which have been turned into cells.
There were reports that many were savagely
beaten at a sports ground on the outskirts of Rangoon, where they
were heard crying for help.
Others who had failed to escape disguised
as civilians were locked in their bloodstained temples.
There, troops abandoned religious beliefs,
propped their rifles against statues of Buddha and began cooking
meals on stoves set up in shrines.
In stark contrast, the streets of Rangoon
and Mandalay - centres of the attempted saffron revolution last
week - were virtually deserted.
A Swedish diplomat who visited Burma during
the protests said last night that in her opinion the revolution
Liselotte Agerlid, who is now in Thailand,
said that the Burmese people now face possibly decades of repression.
"The Burma revolt is over," she added.
"The military regime won and a new
generation has been violently repressed and violently denied democracy.
The people in the street were young people, monks and civilians
who were not participating during the 1988 revolt.
"Now the military has cracked down
the revolt, and the result may very well be that the regime will
enjoy another 20 years of silence, ruling by fear."
Mrs Agerlid said Rangoon is heavily guarded
"There are extremely high numbers
of soldiers in Rangoon's streets," she added. "Anyone
can see it is absolutely impossible for any demonstration to gather,
or for anyone to do anything.
"People are scared and the general
assessment is that the fight is over. We were informed from one
of the largest embassies in Burma that 40 monks in the Insein
prison were beaten to death today and subsequently burned."
The diplomat also said that three monasteries
were raided yesterday afternoon and are now totally abandoned.
At his border hideout last night, 42-year-old Mr Win said he hopes
to cross into Thailand and seek asylum at the Norwegian Embassy.
The 42-year-old chief of military intelligence
in Rangoon's northern region, added: "I decided to desert
when I was ordered to raid two monasteries and force several hundred
monks onto trucks.
"They were to be killed and their
bodies dumped deep inside the jungle. I refused to participate
With his teenage son, he made his escape
from Rangoon, leaving behind his wife and two other sons.
He had no fears for their safety because
his brother is a powerful general who, he believes, will defend
Mr Win's defection will raise a faint
hope among tens of thousands of Burmese who have fled to villages
along the Thai border.
They will feel others in the army may
follow him and turn on their ageing leaders, Senior General Than
Shwe and his deputy, Vice Senior General Maung Aye.