Wednesday, October 03, 2007
Video shows Myanmar beatings
We’d been trying to get the proof of what’s going on in Myanmar for days. CNN hasn’t been allowed into the country, so we’d been forced to rely on a secretive network of dissidents operating across the Thai-Myanmar border.
I’d spent hours on the phone and in front of my computer, talking to dozens of protesters. We’d established links with westerners as well, in the diplomatic community, among charities, aid organizations and holiday-makers.
Everything was pointing to atrocities against the pro-democracy movement, but little was backed up by hard and fast evidence. But then we got word that one dissident had obtained some incriminating footage showing riot police beating protesters as they were loaded into a truck.
We waited for agonizing hours for the video to arrive. It didn’t disappoint -- almost 10 minutes of footage showing a protest which ended with brutal beatings. It wasn't an atrocity, but it certainly was the most dramatic footage we’d seen so far.
Watch the video
The men and women, who got the material to us, have undoubtedly risked their lives. But what depresses me most is seeing those protesters loaded quietly into the trucks. The only sound: The mocking caws of ravens in the sky above. Where were they taken? What happened next? If the soldiers were willing to beat them in public, what would they do behind a prison wall?
And now the “G” word has made its first appearance in the deluge of e-mails I am receiving about Myanmar. It was not from a hysterical activist, but from a senior editor in CNN, wondering if genocide is now under way in Myanmar. The terrible thought, had been sparked by an upsetting e-mail from a monk, claiming to have witnessed hundreds of monks being beaten to death at a monastery. Genocide is defined as the deliberate and systematic destruction of an ethnic, religious or national group. It's the sort of definition that is pedantically debated in the U.N., while people are slaughtered in the world's trouble-spots.
Myanmar's Buddhist monks are now noticeably absent from the streets. Worried residents have contacted us saying the monks have all but disappeared in some parts of Yangon. Some are concerned they are being massacred, away from the camera-phones and bloggers who have kept the world informed about what’s going on. It’s a claim that, at present, is impossible to prove; impossible to believe even. But then I watch those pictures of police beating protesters ... and I wonder.
-- From Dan Rivers, CNN International Correspondent.
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