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Myanmar, where 'traitors soon meet their tragic ends'

  • Story Highlights
  • I-Reporter: Military crackdown has been "unbelievably severe"
  • Author says climate of fear is beyond description
  • "Every day, I hear sad stories of real abuse"
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CNN editor's note: An I-Reporter inside Myanmar shares experiences of what it's like to live there. Because of safety concerns, has agreed not to identify the author. The views expressed here are those of the author alone.

YANGON, Myanmar -- On the surface, Yangon appears almost normal since most of the military's activities now take place under cover of a nighttime curfew away from the cameras. But what is normal -- and what happens beyond normal?


An I-Reporter took this photo late last month. The boldest protesters shouted at soldiers about three blocks away.

The military crackdown has been unbelievably severe, especially considering this country's deep reverence for Buddhist monks. To see monks attacked during peaceful demonstrations is disturbing, as is the vengeance with which the military attempts to cover up its abuse and prevent news from leaking to the outside world.

But the abuse goes beyond that.

Every day, I hear sad stories. A father is killed when trying to reach his son in a school that is cordoned off by the military. A young student in a village school is killed by overzealous military, but the family cannot obtain the body, which was conveniently cremated. If the family protests, the whole village suffers. Video Watch "Sometimes I feel my hope is gone" »

For several days, word of what was happening here in Myanmar did get out. News organizations like CNN showed the world video of the people being beaten during the brutal government crackdown.

Now, I and others observe people arrested on the street and led into an alleyway or building where there are no cameras. What happens then is anyone's guess.

I catch glimpses of life from conversations with friends and co-workers describing a pattern of corruption and repression.

Electricity cuts mean that you have to get up at 3 a.m. to do your ironing when the power might be on. Or you cannot store food in your refrigerator -- if you can even afford one. You cannot travel freely without permits. Buy a car? Only if you pay an exorbitant amount through the military-controlled sales.

Health care for the average person? It's practically nonexistent. Start a small business? Beware that a successful small restaurant can be taken away from you under the guise of an illegal permit and then taken over by someone who is connected.

These are personal inconveniences of life in Yangon. The other "inconveniences" are more threatening.

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When a co-worker shows up late in the morning, we discover that the whole family was woken up at 1 a.m. and had to stand outside the house while the authorities searched for anyone living there without a permit.

People are very reserved in Yangon. A level of fear filters through every conversation.

Informants are insidious and keep a close watch on the local people. After living in Yangon for awhile, even someone new to the country can recognize the casual look from the guy on the corner with his cell phone to his ear -- just concerned about your protection, no doubt.

Seeing the routine repression in this country can only make you wonder what happens out of sight and outside normal conversation, especially during this elevated crisis.


I know this government is very vindictive and obviously has no intention of doing anything but a better job at covering up its abuses.

A recent quote in the The New Light of Myanmar, a government publication, says it all: "National traitors will soon meet their tragic ends." E-mail to a friend E-mail to a friend

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