BANGKOK (Reuters) - Myanmar’s generals accused the foreign media on Thursday of publishing a “skyful of lies” about a crackdown on anti-junta protests in which Buddhist monks say five of their ranks were killed.
“Certain western media and anti-government media are broadcasting leading news stories and distorted news stories to stir up the mass protests,” the official New Light of Myanmar newspaper said in an editorial.
“Now, the majority of the people who want to lead a peaceful life and are in favour of transition to democracy in a smooth way are gradually suffering from the evil consequences of the protests,” it continued.
On Thursday, as Yangon braced for repeats of the biggest protests against the military junta since troops killed an estimated 3,000 protesters in 1988, the New Light’s main front-page story was about the appearance of the full moon.
However, in a report on the unrest on the back page, it said the crowd used catapults to pelt troops with stones and burnt two police motorbikes. One protester was killed, and three demonstrators and eight police officers were hurt, it added.
The paper, the junta’s main mouthpiece, described in detail scenes outside the downtown Sule Pagoda, the end-point of more than a week of marches led by maroon-robed and barefoot Buddhist monks.
“The security forces near the Sule Pagoda using loudspeakers persuaded the crowd not to move forward and to disperse peacefully,” it said.
“However, the crowd mobbed the security forces in crescendo throwing stones and sticks at them and using catapults.”
“On account of the unavoidable circumstances, the members of the security forces fired some shots employing the least force to disperse the mob,” it said.
Unlike in 1988, when it took days for reports — let alone picture or video footage of the carnage to emerge — technology such as mobile phones and the Internet mean images of the protests and the crackdown are beamed around the world in hours.
The paper is available on the Internet at www.mrtv3.net.mm.