02/22/2010, 00.00
MYANMAR - INDIA
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Burmese exile: regime pursuing harsh crackdown ahead of elections

by Tint Swe
Tint Swe, a member of the government in exile, denounces a campaign launched by the military dictatorship against monks, journalists and political opponents. The impotence of international organizations and the complicity of neighbouring countries like China and India, attracted by economic wealth.

New Delhi (AsiaNews) - In recent days we reported the sentencing to seven years in prison, imposed on a Buddhist Monk  for "illegal association". Gaw Thita was arrested last August at the international airport in Yangon, as he was returning from a trip to Taiwan. The Buddhist Monk was sentenced February 17 by a special court in Insein Prison, the infamous prison where many Burmese opposition members and human rights activists are imprisoned.

 

The condemnation came during the visit of UN official for human rights, Tomas Ojea Quintana, in Myanmar. We have solicited the opinion of Tint Swe, a member of the Council of Ministers of the National Coalition Government of the Union of Burma (NCGUB), consisting of refugees from Myanmar after the 1990 elections won by the National League for Democracy and never acknowledged by the military junta. Fled to India in 1990, since 21 December 1991, he has lived in New Delhi. Since then he has been a member of the NCGUB where he holds the post of information officer for South Asia and East Timor

 

This is Burma’s Rule of no Law. The  Buddhist monk was found guilty and accordingly sentenced to 7 years because he helped the victims of devastating cyclone which hit delta region in 2008. The relief efforts of Cyclone Nargis was different those of the earthquakes of Sichuan of China and Port-au-Prince of Haiti. So far no one from China and Haiti has been arrested for helping the victims. But a Buddhist monk, Venerable U Gawthita was arrested on 26 August because of his charity work and sentenced to 7 years on 17-2-10. His crime was of helping the victims of destructive cyclone. Impossibilities are possible in military ruled Burma.

There are documented reports of religious discrimination and persecutions in Burma under the military regime. The reports mostly point out non-Buddhist practices. But a couple of years ago the Buddhist monks have been seen on TV screens and You Tube protesting against unjust rule and then persecuted. The Burmese generals were born Buddhist. But when it comes to threat to their control any religion is enemy of them.

Before the well meaning monk, a female journalist Hla Hla Win was sentenced to 27 years on 3012-09 and male one Tun Kyaw was for 13 years on 27-1-10. Their offenses are that they sent out authentic news to Burmese language radio station based outside Burma. Including those two, all political prisoners are transferred to remote prisons so that families also have to suffer too.

Those punishments are to set examples before the upcoming election in this year. All those oppose to their plan will face the same. The election in Burma is topic of the day. Nobody except the sole dictator Than Shwe knows when and how this election will take place. Speculations prove habitually wrong. The pre-election landscape is not encouraging at all.

This week, on February 17, the shop of an NLD Divisional organizer was confiscated and auctioned. On the same day the appeal of 16 activists including a physician from Myingyan was rejected. They have been sentenced to 5 to 50 years. Moreover, on 15 February 2010 Naw Ohn Hla and 3 other women organizers from NLD were sentenced to two years in prison because they had regular weekly prayers at pagoda for the release of their leader Aung San Suu Kyi.

Moreover on 19 February 2010 Su Su New’s special appeal to reduce 12 and a half years sentence was also rejected. The wrongdoing committed by that patient hearted female member of NLD was that she pasted pro-democracy posters in 2007 after monk-led protests.

The message is that all those, monk or journalist or else who oppose to their plan will face the same. Before the election held in 1990, such punishments were absent. It was because that election was free and fair. So the coming election will surely be unfair and tightly controlled.

Tomas Ojea Quintana, the UN human rights investigator has completed his third visit to Burma. The Central Executive Committee of the NLD, the party of Aung San Suu Kyi raised the issue of rule of law. The NLD Vice Chair, U Tin Oo, who was just released from 6 years of house arrest on February 13 confirmed that the ‘Black Friday’ massacre taken place near Depayin on May 2003 was a deliberate political crime orchestrated by the authorities. The UN envoy acknowledged that all court hearings including ‘The Lady’s’ case are not public.

During his weeks trip to Burma the UN diplomat did not get any relevant information about dates for the election, party registration or the election commission. He also admitted that there won’t be any release of political prisoners before the election, the condition demanded by NLD and international community.

The International Labour Organisation (ILO) has produced a few results. A division court in central Burma reduced jail terms for 12 farmers who were sentenced to up to five years imprisonment with hard labour last October.

In the meantime two bodies under the UN are also working on Burma.  Amnesty International (AI) has called on Burmese military junta to end repression of ethnic minority groups ahead of election this year. The ILO began circulating leaflets on forced labour and child solider recruitment across Burma, which one of the world’s highest counts of child soldiers. But these leaflets have to pass through the regime’s notorious censor board.

Meanwhile western neighbors are busy on Burma. The Indian cabinet approved fresh investment in Burmese oil and gas by allowing Oil and Natural Gas Corporation (ONGC) to invest 832.5 million dollars and the gas transport corporation GAIL 502.06 million in additional funding in the project. Bangladesh unleashed a crackdown of unprecedented violence against Muslim refugees from Burma. Bangladesh coast guards arrested 8 Burmese on suspicion of spying.

For now China is overlooking Burma as it has to express anger at Obama for having met with the Dalai Lama. It is looking good for the junta as neighbours are unperturbed by the unjust or unfair things happening in Burma ahead of the election”.

 

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