Monday, October 1, 2007 News - World - Groups Struggle to Tally Myanmar's Dead

BANGKOK, Thailand —

One hundred shot dead outside a Myanmar school. Activists burned alive at government crematoriums. A Buddhist monk floating face down in a river.

After last week's brutal crackdown by the military, horror stories are filling Myanmar blogs and dissident sites. But the tight security of the repressive regime makes it impossible to verify just how many people are dead, detained or missing.

"We do believe the death toll is higher than acknowledged by the government," Shari Villarosa, the top U.S. diplomat in Myanmar, told The Associated Press Monday. "We are doing our best to get more precise, more detailed information, not only in terms of deaths but also arrests."

The U.S. Campaign For Burma, a Washington-based pro-democracy group, says more than 100 people were killed in downtown Yangon after truckloads of government troops fired automatic weapons last Thursday at thousands of demonstrators. It also claims that 100 students and parents were killed the same day at a high school in Tamwe, in northeastern Yangon, after troops shot at them as school let out.

The Democratic Voice of Burma, a Norway-based dissident news organization, has received reports of soldiers burning protesters alive at the Yae Way cemetery crematorium on the outskirts of Yangon. The group also shot video Sunday of a dead monk, badly beaten and floating face down in a Yangon river.

Things are still pretty bad in Burma. The one thing I think about when I read this, is what about the soldiers? I know it's a soldiers duty to follow orders, but isn't there a point when enough is enough? Doesn't killing unarmed people that aren't even a threat to you have some kind of weight on your conscience, especially when it comes to burning someone alive? I guess that is why I could never be a soldier type, even if someone is giving you orders there is still right and wrong. Is "I was just following orders" going to be a viable defense when you stand before your god?


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