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The Internet Censorship

How Burmese Dissidents Crack Censorship 154

s-orbital writes "According to a BBC News article, "Images of saffron-robed monks leading throngs of people along the streets of Rangoon have been seeping out of a country famed for its totalitarian regime and repressive control of information. The pictures, sometimes grainy and the video footage shaky, are captured at great personal risk on mobile phones — but each represents a powerful statement of political dissent." The article goes on to tell the stories of how Burma's bloggers use proxy servers, free hosting services, and other technologies to overcome Burma's "pervasive" filtering of internet access and news."
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How Burmese Dissidents Crack Censorship

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  • Free Burma (Score:5, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday September 26, 2007 @07:56PM (#20762193)
    Get Involved in the Struggle to Free Burma! []
  • Call it Burma (Score:5, Informative)

    by spoonboy42 ( 146048 ) on Wednesday September 26, 2007 @08:56PM (#20762611)
    Noticing a tag about the name "Myanmar", I thought I'd explain the controversy over the country's name. The official name of Burma was changed to Myanmar by the ruling military junta. Since the pro-democracy movement doesn't recognize the legitimacy of military rule, they and their supporters around the world continue to use the name Burma.
  • by Miniluv ( 165290 ) on Wednesday September 26, 2007 @09:01PM (#20762633) Homepage
    Yes, lobby your government to stop taking a wait and see approach to human rights violations by illegal governments in third world countries. Tell them you won't abide them abandoning legitimate attempts to overthrow said regimes if there isn't oil in the country (see Burma, 1988). Barring that? Give money to groups like Amnesty International and the ICRC who do their best to document human rights abuses by any country they find doing them, even if its an unpleasant truth to have to hear.
  • by gvc ( 167165 ) on Wednesday September 26, 2007 @09:37PM (#20762855)
    I got this impression from Chinese graduate students I've talked to. They are generally aware that "some anarchists tried to disrupt things" but that's it. Web pages on this subject are specifically targeted by Chinese censors.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday September 26, 2007 @09:41PM (#20762879)
    Stop shooting heroin. Burma is one of the (if not the) largest producer of Opium in the world. Stop shooting smack if you want to hurt the Burmese Junta.

    Seriously though, the only way to get through to the Burmese leadership is through their (few) trading partners - India, China, and Russia.

    India can hopefully be brought onboard to apply economic sanctions against Burma. Unfortunately the Indian government seems to place more importance on oil & gas resources than on human rights (just days ago they signed a new energy agreement with Burma - while these protests are taking place on the streets), but perhaps they can be shamed into taking a more principled stand moving forward.

    China is more difficult, but perhaps if other countries started threatening to boycott the Beijing Olympic games it would do the trick - hell, we did it with the Soviet Union during the 1980 games in Moscow, and in my opinion China should already be facing the threat of an Olympic boycott over their conduct in Tibet, regardless of anything that's happening in Burma.

    Russia ... well ... I don't think there's much that can be done to force Russia to change their policy toward Burma. But they are a smaller player compared to the trade Burma has with India and China, so maybe it doesn't matter.
  • Re:Who? (Score:3, Informative)

    by Adambomb ( 118938 ) on Wednesday September 26, 2007 @09:46PM (#20762909) Journal

    Seriously, I think a U.S. invasion would be better than a weapons deal, simply because we wouldn't leave the weapons behind after the fighting is done.
    Ever seen Lord of War? Seems that munitions being left in a theater of operations was quite common as it would cost more to bring them back and re-inventory it than to simply restock. I have no idea how prevalent this would be, or whether such a cost saving measure would fly in Iraq or Afghanistan.
  • Re:no idea (Score:2, Informative)

    by ak3ldama ( 554026 ) < minus city> on Wednesday September 26, 2007 @10:02PM (#20763035) Homepage Journal

    From CNN [] :

    The agency also reported officials as saying that two other monks had been beaten to death. A protester who was not a monk had died after being shot, it quoted Yangon General Hospital as saying.

    This regime has no respect for life of any sort, just the maintanence of their power. Th UN doesn't care about the nation or people either, just that the protests are allowed. Nothing is mentioned of the fact that the Burmese rulers are totalitarian pigs. The UN just wants the problem to disappear, not fix the problem at the cause.

    "Noting reports of the use of force and of arrests and beatings, the secretary-general calls again on authorities to exercise utmost restraint toward the peaceful demonstrations taking place, as such action can only undermine the prospects for peace, prosperity and stability in Myanmar."
  • Re:Call it Burma (Score:3, Informative)

    by okdrdave ( 1138727 ) on Thursday September 27, 2007 @03:08AM (#20764985)
    I second this. I lived in Thailand for over a year, working in a refugee camp for Karen refugees from Burma (I volunteered for Doctors Without Borders, or MSF for those who know). Most folks who lived on the border of Burma, or who supported those fighting for their rights in Burma, use Burma rather than Myanmar. The only people who use the word Myanmar are those who support the regime, and those ignorant of the country and the struggles going on there. I am more than a little worried about what will happen to the country when the current regime falls. There are many ethnic groups fighting for independence. What will happen when the stupid idiots running the current regime fall out of power is anyone's guess. In the long run, things will likely get better, but anarchy is a likely short-term outcome. Too bad the world is not up to situations like this and Iraq. No one is ready to truly step up. The UN is a joke. Maybe one day. . . what a wonderful dream. . .
  • Re:no idea (Score:4, Informative)

    by Spasemunki ( 63473 ) on Thursday September 27, 2007 @05:28AM (#20765607) Homepage

    Those are mostly monks because the gov't is scared to bash a bunch of monks protesting. Despite being isolated from most of the world even the most hard handed regime is scared of pictures of monks getting beaten :)

    I imagine that they are more worried about what assaulting monks would do within the country, rather than outside. Within Theravada countries- Thailand, Burma, Cambodia, Laos, etc.- support for the Buddhist monastic institution is one of the traditional duties of government. As a result, it's also one of the most important ways that you can legitimize your power if you take over in a show of force. If you're taking care of Buddhism- building monasteries, sponsoring the ordination of young men, donating conspicuously to monks and temples- then you're fulfilling the role of a legitimate government. It's more important than making the trains run on time, and certainly more important than supporting human rights that have rarely been offered significant protection by any prior government.

    In Cambodia, the Vietnamese-backed post-Khmer Rouge government started to face questions from locals about its legitimacy. It's response? Import Vietnamese-educated Khmer monks and re-establish the Cambodian sangha. Every government in SE Asia that has stepped away from its traditional role as protector and promoter of Buddhism has eventually reversed their decision in the face of unrest (except the Khmer Rouge, who were batshit insane). After a coup, there's almost always a conspicuous show of piety on the part of the new ruling party in order to help shore up their legitimacy.

    Striking or shedding the blood of a monk- particularly if it's a senior monk, who might be popularly regarded as having achieved enlightenment- is one of the worst crimes imaginable in a Buddhist society. In scriptures, it's put on a level with murdering your own mother and father, or shedding the blood of the Buddha himself. It's certainly possible that Burmese police and grunts might refuse orders to fire on or otherwise attack monks. But just as importantly, ordering the killing of Buddhist monks means that the government is repudiating its duty to protect and promote the Sangha. Even if no pictures ever made it out to the West, knowledge of such attacks would spread inside Burma, and it will kick one of the legs out from under the ruling junta, which, despite previous abuses, has tried to position itself as a protector of Buddhism in order to justify its rule.

UNIX is many things to many people, but it's never been everything to anybody.