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Last Updated: Tuesday, 2 October 2007, 11:29 GMT 12:29 UK
Internet shows face of Burma's junta
Burmese soldiers
The Burmese military will arrest any internet users they find
The world's reaction to the protests against the Burmese military junta has been so different to that of the last uprising 19 years ago because of the internet, a veteran of the 1988 protest has said.

Myint Myint San, a student in the 1988 uprising who now lives in Chang Mai in Thailand, told BBC World Service's Digital Planet programme that technology has meant the world has been able to see how the military regime is dealing with the monks who have protested.

She said that in 1988, there was simply not the awareness or interest in the uprising, in which 3,000 people were killed.

"The main difference between 1988 and today is the advance of technology," she said.

"In 1988, we did not have the internet and we did not have mobile phones; many of us didn't know what a computer looked like."

Risking life

Protests by Burmese monks on the streets of the capital Rangoon began after some of them were hurt when government troops forcibly broke up a rally against an increase in the price of fuel in the country.

After the peak of the monks' protests, the government began to crack down with gunfire on the streets, although so far the numbers of dead have been small in comparison to 1988.

Ms San said that people are much more aware of what happening this time because of the internet and mobile phones, which have meant a lot of pictures have come out of Burma.

Burmese riot police
After protests built up, Burmese police cracked down last week
"The internet has been used to get these pictures out, by whatever means they can," she said.

"That's what all the media is getting."

However, she added that since the ruling junta started clamping down on the protests, the flow of information has dramatically slowed.

"Compared to last week, it is very hard to get pictures out of Burma," she said.

"Also, we are having more difficulty getting up-to-date information on what's going on in Rangoon, what's going on in Mandalay, and what's going on in other parts of the country.

"So it's getting harder, and I think that the military regime is succeeding in blocking internet sites."

She added that while she believes some people are still trying to get information out, Burma's internet services are mostly owned by the military, or supplied by people very close to the military government.

"The military government is also getting help from countries like Singapore, to be able to monitor the internet and every e-mail that comes into the country," she said.

People now attempting to get information out of Burma on the internet are risking beating, being taken to prison, and even losing their own lives, she added.

"The police here don't treat people like humans - they treat them like they're just nothing," she said.

"If you're caught right now in Burma talking on your mobile phone or even videotaping, you are risking your own life."

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