It's been amazing watching resistance to the junta in Burma grow: tens of thousands of saffron-robed monks, nuns, and student supporters taking to the streets in peaceful protest against an oppressive 19-year military dictatorship and the high prices and restricted freedoms that have come with it. Now riot police are kicking back.
Yesterday monks worried about "white heads" -- police, their freshly shaven heads as a giveaway, posing as monks -- infiltrating their ranks and stirring up violence to create an excuse for a military response. Today, police have charged crowds, firing tear gas and beating some (including an 80-year-old monk), reportedly killing one, and troops now are surrounding at least six monasteries. Other reports say a nun and six monks have been shot, 17 have been injured, and four have died.
Pro-democracy protesters topped 100,000 in Yangon Monday, led by the monks, who chanted "Do-aye!": "It is our task!"
The big question, of course, is whether the regime will respond to the monks and mounting world pressure. Looking at the crowds, it's hard not to not be hopeful about momentum being on the side of democracy.
For more: Democratic Voice of Burma