Burma burns

In the past few years satellite imagery has uncovered or helped document all kinds of interesting things: The giant new Chinese submarine, for instance, and the genocide in Darfur. Now satellite imagery is being used to monitor the violence in Burma.

Satellite images confirm reports of burned villages, forced relocations and other human-rights abuses in Myanmar, scientists said on Friday.

The American Association for the Advancement of Science said the high-resolution photographs taken by commercial satellites document a growing military presence at 25 sites across eastern Myanmar, matching eyewitness reports.

“We found evidence of 18 villages that essentially disappeared,” AAAS researcher Lars Bromley said in an interview.

“We got reporting in late April that a set of villages in Karen state had been burned. We were actually able to identify burn scars on the ground — square-shaped burn scars the size of houses,” Bromley added.

The junta can cut off the local internet and silence bloggers, but it can’t blind satellites. It also can’t stop all of the on the ground journalists by killing one of them. Here’s a video on the government’s crackdown that emerged back in April. It’s graphic, but worth a watch.

Like North Korea’s gulag archipelago, photographed and reported on four years ago, Burma’s brutal crackdown can’t be swept under the rug.