Myanmar Junta Denounces US As 'Bully'
YANGON, Myanmar (AP) — Myanmar's military government stepped up its propaganda campaign against the United States on Sunday, accusing Washington of inciting last month's pro-democracy demonstrations in hopes of installing a puppet government.
Demonstrations that began Aug. 19 over high prices for fuel and consumer goods grew into a broad-based movement for democratic reform that attracted tens of thousands of people in Yangon, the country's biggest city.
Troops crushed the protests by shooting at demonstrators on Sept. 26-27 and arresting almost 3,000 protesters, including Buddhist monks. The government said 10 people were killed, but dissident groups put the toll at up to 200 and say thousands more people were arrested.
"Recent protests in the country were created by the loudmouthed bully, using the exiled dissidents and traitors together with communists, internal and external anti-government destructionists," said a commentary Sunday in the Myanmar-language Myanma Ahlin daily.
Myanmar state-media commonly uses the phrase "loudmouthed bully" without naming the nation it is referring to, but in a context that clearly points to the United States.
The author, who called himself Maung Pwint Lin — roughly meaning Mr. Frankly Speaking — said the U.S. had tried to revive the mass uprisings of 1988 in Myanmar in connivance with "exiled dissidents and internal axe-handles" in order to install a puppet government.
The commentary said the majority of people in Myanmar opposed the protests, but a gullible minority came out on the streets, instigated by foreign broadcasters such as the BBC and the U.S.-government funded Voice of America and Radio Free Asia.
The crackdown has ignited worldwide anger, and international demands have grown for the junta to release 62-year-old pro-democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi, a Nobel peace laureate, who is under house arrest.
The propaganda campaign includes billboard signs saying, "Those who rely on America are axe-handles." Axe-handle is jargon used by the junta to mean traitors or puppets.
Junta commentaries in the past have referred to the U.S. as "a super power nation," but articles in the state-run media have recently begun naming the U.S. and accusing it of instigating unrest.
Sunday's commentary said that although the United Nations and the international community wanted the U.S. and its allies to withdraw from Afghanistan and Iraq, the "neocolonialists" refused to leave these countries even after they had installed puppet governments.