Thu, 11 Oct 2007
The Times' staff correspondent in Rangoon reports in Secret
cremations hide Burma killings
The systematic arrests have continued at night – a
convoy of lorries
and other vehicles rumbled past my hotel windows long after midnight –
initially puzzling diplomats and activists, who wondered how military
intelligence drew up its lists of those to be arrested.
The answer, it seems, was a grimly paradoxical use of the internet,
whose liberating role in disseminating images and sound of the protests
was prematurely celebrated by many as marking the world’s first
globalised on-line revolt, instantly dubbed the Saffron revolution.
It is now clear that the regime was techno-savvy, patient and thorough.
It kept the internet open long enough to allow its own cyber-operatives
to down-load the images and recordings of street protests to identify
the protesters. The internet is now shut down.
Also on Burma:
Fri, 05 Oct 2007
Gordon Brown condemns Burmese violence. Press
from 10 Downing Street dated 2007-09-28:
In a statement released by Downing Street today, Mr
Brown said the
protestors have been exercising "great bravery" by protesting
"I had hoped that the Burmese regime would heed the calls for restraint
from the international community.
"But once again they have responded with oppression and force. This
The democratic movement in Burma were praised for their "courage,
moderation and dignity".
Anti-war demonstration in Parliament Square is banned by the Police. Press
from STWC dated 2007-10-05
Thousands of anti-war
expected to march down Whitehall on Monday, 8 October, in defiance of a
police ban. The police decision is an unprecedented attack on civil
LIBERTY have stated that this decision "interferes with the vital
democratic rights of free expression and free assembly."
The Stop the War Coalition have sent a final appeal to the police to
reverse their decision and have requested guarantees regarding the
safety and security of all those who attend the demonstration. Among
the marchers will be: Tony Benn, Walter Wolfgang, Brian Eno, Mark
Thomas, Jenny Jones, Lindsey German, Ben Griffin and John McDonnell MP.
(Statements of support included below)
Inspector Stuart Cornish
New Scotland Yard
05 October 2007
Following the decision of the Metropolitan Police to agree to the
banning of our long planned demonstration on October 8th we write to
make our position as clear as possible and to ask for guarantees
regarding the safety and security of those attending the event on the
1] We met with you on four separate occasions to discuss the planning
of the demonstration on the 8th October. In the first three meetings
there was never any question of not being allowed to demonstrate. Only
in the very last meeting did you say that you could no longer
facilitate the demonstration.
2] The grounds on which you have made this decision is spurious. The
sessional order, as you have admitted, is subject to different
interpretation at different times but it should never be used to
suppress the right to legitimate and peaceful protest.
The civil liberties organisation Liberty has written to Assistant
Commissioner Chris Allison that, “this proposed restriction on peaceful
protest is a disproportionate interference with the vital democratic
rights of free expression and free assembly”.
3] Since 2001 we have arranged with the cooperation of your department
20 demonstrations. These have included the largest demonstration in
British political history on February 15th 2003 and also the
demonstration to protest at the visit of US president George Bush on
November 20th 2003. On the latter nearly 400,000 people marched through
Whitehall by the House of Commons on a weekday while parliament was
sitting. There was no attempt to prevent this march using the sessional
order. All our demonstrations have been peaceful.
4] On the 8th of October we intend to march to parliament. There will
be a large number of elderly people and families with children
attending our event. We strongly request that the Metropolitan Police
do not endanger the safety of those attending, either by the use of
riot police or through the use of mounted police. Our stewards will be
working to facilitate a peaceful protest and we ask for that same
cooperation from your officers.
5] We have no intention of disrupting parliament or preventing MPs from
attending parliament. In fact the opposite is the case - our protest
seeks to make parliament act in the interests of the vast majority of
the people of this country who want British troops withdrawn from Iraq.
6] It is a matter of great concern to us that our previous good
relations in regard to the planning of legitimate public protest have
broken down. You will have received advice that your decision to ban
our protest is of dubious legality and we ask you one more time to
review your decision in respect of our march.
Stop the War Coalition
TONY BENN, in his letter to the Home Secretary
The authority for this march derives from our ancient right to free
speech and assembly enshrined in our history. It is only fair to tell
you that the march will go ahead, in any case, and I will be among
WALTER WOLFGANG, Labour Party NEC
A protest demanding all the troops out now is of national significance.
To try and stop that protest is a major interference with free speech.
The march should go ahead whether it is formally permitted or not.
LINDSEY GERMAN, Convenor Stop the War Coalition
The government want to bury the issue of their disastrous war. They
will not succeed. We will be marching in our thousands on Monday.
BOB WAREING MP
In a democracy we expect peaceful protest to be permitted. We are not
yet in the kind of tyranny that the Burmese people have to suffer, I
hope the authorities will reconsider.
BEN GRIFFIN (ex SAS trooper)
Gordon Brown cannot praise protesters in Burma and then ban a protest
in London. I will be protesting on Monday, regardless of whether Police
permission is granted.
MICHAEL KUSTOW, theatre director
If people aren't allowed to have their say on all our streets, what
kind of Parliament are we meant to be defending?
BRIAN ENO, musician and producer
If they are planning an Iranian attack they will have a public even
more upset and disgruntled than before. This is what this tightening up
is about…Civil liberties never seem very important until you need them.
At times like this we need to be re-enforcing them.
DAVID HOWARTH MP
This is an outrageous attempt by the Government to block the democratic
right to protest. This is a legitimate and important protest against an
illegal war which Britain should never have been involved in. The
Government should be listening to the people's protests not attempting
to block them.
MARK THOMAS, comedian
This is rather a ham-fisted attempt to prevent us from demonstrating.
What they (the government and police) do is up to them. We will just
ignore them and we have the moral and logical high-ground. I will be
marching on Monday 8 October.
JOHN MCDONNELL MP
The attempt to ban this demonstration is an unacceptable assault on our
civil liberties and I will be joining the march to exercise my right to
protest at the continuing presence of British troops in Iraq.
IAIN BANKS, author
It's becoming remarkably hard to escape the feeling we're ruled by
people who are basically paranoid authoritarian incompetents.
BENJAMIN ZEPHANIAH, poet
It is depressing that our democratic rights are being whittled away bit
by bit. We will look back and wonder how this happened. They wouldn't
get away with this in one go. First an arrest for reading names, then a
ban on marches. What will be next?
DAVID EDGAR, playwright
The stop the war demonstration on 15 February 2003 was arguably the
most politically influential march in Britain since the 1970s, so it's
no surprise that politicians are immobilising anti-war demonstrations
now. At a time when the political debate at Westminster occupies ever
narrower ground, it's vital that voices from outside are heard.
GORDON BROWN, 2007 Labour Party conference
Change to strengthen our liberties to uphold the freedom of speech,
freedom of information and the freedom to protest.
I wish I could join this demonstration.