By Subrata De, NBC News senior producer
I received this e-mail today from a friend living in Myanmar. He's in Yangon (formerly Rangoon) and would like to remain anonymous, at least for now. It seems everyone there is clinging to the lifeline that technology has given them.
It's eerily quiet here in Yangon. It's 10:30 and the streets have been empty and more silent than I've ever heard them, ever since the curfew hour of 6 pm. The schools have been closed down until the situation normalizes. I met a student tonight who was at Shwedagon Pagoda when the riot police charged; he thinks that 2 of the monks he saw being beaten died of their injuries. Later this afternoon he saw a sit-in of monks downtown shame a cordon of riot police into giving way and letting the monks pass. Moments of horror, moments of slight hope.
My Burmese friends are sending me messages on GoogleTalk; their status messages reflect their states of mind. "Freedom is never voluntarily given by the oppressor; it must be demanded by the oppressed." Martin Luther King,Jr "Buddha + Suu Kyi + Students + People - Army = Democracy under Suu Kyi"
We huddle inside, listening obsessively to the BBC and checking the internet. Who knows what tomorrow will bring? Rumours swirl: Than Shwe's family have fled the country, Aung San Suu Kyi has been taken to prison, 1 or 3 or 5 or more monks have been shot dead.
It has been a few days of extreme emotion here, both for us foreigners and for our Burmese friends and colleagues. After the euphoria of Saturday, Sunday and especially Monday, the menace yesterday and the violence today has deeply depressed people. We have seen the faint hope of progress and decency and good government badly damaged today, although not completely extinguished. Today as we said goodbye, perhaps forever, to my Burmese boss (our organization has closed down indefinitely), there wasn't a dry eye in the room as we realized that all our efforts to give Burmese people a brighter future may simply evaporate over the next few weeks and months.
In a country so intimately connected to George Orwell's life and work, perhaps it's appropriate to close with a quote from 1984: "If you want a picture of the future, imagine a boot stamping on a human face --for ever." I hope that events prove this prediction wrong, but I fear that the Burmese people will continue to live out an Orwellian nightmare for the foreseeable future, barring a miracle."