How much stock to put in reports of massacres? It's impossible to say at this point, although last night's PBS NewsHour considered the reports important enough to feature on their broadcast. But at the moment I will rely on DVB's large network of informants inside Burma. Here is the report on the broadcasts, filed for The Scotsman October 2 by Ethan McNern and Aung Hla Tun in Rangoon:
BURMESE authorities are holding about 6,000 anti-government protesters at four sites, including the notorious Insein prison and a racecourse, a dissident group, the Democratic Voice of Burma, said yesterday.
DVB, which has continued to broadcast TV and radio into Burma from its Norwegian base in Oslo, added that at least 138 people were killed in last week's protests.
"Our own estimate is about 6,000 people detained, not killed, but detained," including about 2,400 monks, said DVB's chief editor, Aye Chan Naing. He said they were being held in at least four places: the Insein prison; a pharmaceutical factory; a technical institute and a disused racecourse.
Ominously, it was reported many would be sent to prisons in the far north of the country.
Monks appear to be paying a heavy price for spearheading the demonstrations. An Asian diplomat said all the arrested monks were defrocked and made to wear civilian clothes. Some were likely to face long jail terms, the diplomat said.
Insein prison, near Rangoon, was built by the British during the colonial period. It is now the junta's maximum security jail. One dissident who was held there has described it as the "darkest hell-hole in Burma".
The junta has been forced to use other facilities to hold people simply because of the numbers it has picked up.