Friday, September 28, 2007

"Not Afraid to Die": On-The-Scene Reports From Myanmar

This is gutsy journalism--something that's become an Al-Jazeera trademark. Despite the crackdown on media, Internet access, bloggers, journalists, and the fatak shooting of a Japanese news photographer, Al-Jazeera has managed to embed an un-named correspondent between the civil battle lines in Myanmar.

He had a craggy face, a limp, he was 60 years of age and had a resolve that underlined Myanmar's new drive for democracy.

"I am not afraid to die," he told me in halting English. "They will only kill flesh and bones. Spirit cannot be destroyed, so in the end we will win."

Al Jazeera exclusive from inside Myanmar

Then he walked to the head of several thousand protesters in downtown Yangon and advanced towards the waiting soldiers, stern faced, fingers on the triggers of their weapons.

He raised his hand and stood there in a gesture of defiance.

It met with applause from the protestors and people who watched the unfolding drama from their windows and balconies.

The soldiers did nothing – but it was only temporary. Minutes later they acted.

Two army units closed both ends of the street in a pincer movement that trapped hundreds of civilians.

They poured out of their trucks, with guns and batons. Men in civilian clothes joined them with large bamboo sticks.

They waded into the protestors, beating and slashing. I saw people on the ground being beaten and pounded and kicked, blood pouring from head wounds.

Others were dragged off to a row of waiting buses.

Soldiers grabbed me. "Tourist!" I explained. They didn't believe me.

IN VIDEO: Al Jazeera exclusive from inside Myanmar

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