26 September, 2007

There, monks march, here, Lawyers walk !

Security forces fired warning shots and tear gas into massive crowds of demonstrators in Myanmar's biggest city Wednesday, while hauling away defiant Buddhist monks into waiting trucks — the first mass arrests since protests in this military dictatorship erupted last month.

About 300 monks and activists were arrested across Yangon after braving government orders to stay home, according to an exile dissident group, and reporters saw a number of monks, who are highly revered in Myanmar, being dragged into trucks.

There are about 500,000 monks and novices in Myanmar.

When faced with a similar crisis in 1988, the government brutally suppressed a student-led democracy uprising. Soldiers shot into crowds of peaceful demonstrators, killing thousands.

Foreign governments and religious leaders have urged the junta to deal peacefully with the situation. They included the Dalai Lama and South African Archbishop Desmond Tutu, both Nobel Peace Prize laureates like Suu Kyi.

If the military responds to new protests with force, it could further isolate Myanmar from the international community. It would almost certainly put pressure on Myanmar's top economic and diplomatic supporter, China, which is eager to burnish its international image before next year's Olympics in Beijing.

If monks who are leading the protests are mistreated, that could outrage the predominantly Buddhist country, where clerics are revered. But if the junta backs down, it risks appearing weak and emboldening protesters, which could escalate the tension. There are about 500,000 monks and novices in Myanmar.


"The only real prison is fear, and the only real freedom is freedom
from fear."
- Daw Aung San Suu Kyi


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Mean time in Malaysia, About 800 Malaysian lawyers marched on the prime minister's office on Wednesday to demand reforms to the country's judiciary after a scandal erupted over claims of political meddling in the appointment of judges.

Lawyers in court attire of white shirts and black trousers set off in a noisy procession from the nearby Palace of Justice, an imposing new granite-and-marble court complex, and shouted "We want justice!" and "Save the judiciary!"

Riot police armed with batons and shields shadowed the march, which organisers described as the biggest protest ever staged by lawyers, as it moved towards the entrance of the prime minister's office. The building was guarded by a water cannon.

"It is a sad day for Malaysia, but a proud day for lawyers," said one demonstrator, Tan Ban Cheng, who had travelled for four hours by bus from the northern state of Penang to join the protest.

Malaysiakini reported that there were 2000 strong crowd walked A peaceful ‘Walk for Justice’ organised by the Bar Council ended with the submission of a memorandum to the Prime Minister’s Department calling for the establishment of a royal commission of inquiry to stem the slide in the judiciary.

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