Burmese Protests to Take on a New Sound
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Wednesday, July 17, 2024

Burmese Protests to Take on a New Sound

By Yeni Thursday, August 30, 2007


Burmese households are being urged in an anti-regime pamphlet campaign to protest noisily on three evenings in September by banging pots and pans.

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Other pamphlets in circulation in Rangoon are urging a revival of the historic student union and calling for a “people’s power movement,” similar to the one in 1988 that led to the downfall of the previous regime.

Leaflets obtained by The Irrawaddy call on households to create a din on the evenings of September 11, 12 and 13 by banging pots, pans and other metal items. The action will have a mystical as well as a political purpose—“The time has now come to drive away evil from your homes by creating a din by beating any products made with tin, metal and steel,” the pamphlet says.

The noisy demonstrations should be timed for 7:02 p.m., 8:01 p.m. and 9 p.m., the pamphlet directs. The digits of the three separate times add up to nine, a number given mystic importance by Burma’s ruling elite.

Among the bad influences to be dispersed by the noise campaign, says the pamphlet, are: “natural disasters [flooding throughout the country], economic decline, arbitrary detentions, the greedy ruling government oppressing their people, the people in helpless situation, disunity among the people due to the evil spirits, thugs beating good citizens, scarcity of food and needy materials among Buddhist monks, other religious people being oppressed and the evils living at Naypyidaw."

The campaign is thought likely to attract a lot of support because of its anonymous, after-dark nature, but also on account of its astrological context. Sources told The Irrawaddy that the “pots and pans appeal” was being distributed by mobile phone, email and internet Web sites.

Astrology and superstition are part of everyday life in Burma, where the prophesies of fortune-tellers are followed by virtually every family—particularly by military leader Snr-Gen Than Shwe and his wife Kyaing Kyaing. One of their favorite "advisers" is E Thi— also known as ET—a woman with a speech impediment that only her sister can interpret.

The activity of banging pots and pans occurred when former president Sein Liwn—who became known as the ''Butcher of Rangoon'' for his order to open fire on democracy demonstrators—was resigned in August 1988.

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