|Chinatown in Rangoon (2003).|
According to the only radio, Voice of Burma, and all the newspapers now nationalized and run by the army the selfish farmers had refused to sell their crops to the government and the greedy foreigners, an implied name for the Chinese traders who controlled the wholesale trade of rice and other commodities in major cities were hoarding the huge quantity of rice in their warehouses.
The army led government saw the golden opportunity to get out of the worsening rice crisis and started inflaming vigorously the latent hatred of the foreigners by the populace into a full-scale race conflict. For days and days the newspapers’ front pages carried the disturbing photos of Chinese students waving frantically the Chairman Mao’s little Red Books and many inside pages were also filled with endless tragic stories of Burmese teachers taken as the hostages inside the besieged schools.
After leaving our street I turned into Dalhousie Road and saw the huge crowd massing ahead at the intersection of Signal Pagoda Road which marked the beginning of Chinatown.
|Old Bengali Mosque in Rangoon (1920).|
First I thought they might be there well before the soldiers arrived. Only later I realized that some adventurous people were sneaking through the small gaps between the barricades even under the watchful eyes of the soldiers. Some soldiers were also visibly encouraging people to go through under their bayonet-drawn .303 rifles while their lone officer stood nearby, smoking with obvious disinterest to what was happening. These Burmese soldiers definitely had a clear order not to stop the rioting Burmese mob.
|Rangoon Bustling Chinatown (2000).|
Now standing near the edge of the roof of the same tall building was a young Chinese woman holding a tiny baby in one arm and waving fanatically the Chinese red flag in other hand. They might be the rest of the family that young Chinese man was trying desperately to defend. Suddenly I was overwhelmed by the feeling of a deep sadness as their fate was now hopelessly doomed in the mad hands of an extremely violent mob.