03/09/2011, 00.00
MYANMAR

Yangon: regime pours funds into army and intelligence to block web protests

The junta is concerned that the "Jasmine Revolution" will also spread to Myanmar. National Bureau of intelligence, closed in 2004, is reopened. 20% of the 2011/12 budget for military spending, only crumbs for education and health. AsiaNews sources: the people are too busy trying to survive to even imagine a mass uprising.

Yangon (AsiaNews) - The Burmese government's draft budget for fiscal year 2011-2012 shows that Parliament and the executive - a military and civilian mixture – commits most available funds to the national army and security departments. The junta is concerned that ongoing wave of “Jasmine Revolution”, that flared up in North Africa and even lapped China, could extend in Myanmar. This is why they are attempting to strengthen prevention and control measures, on the streets and the Internet. AsiaNews sources in Yangon confirm that "the controls are tight" and "protests would be difficult in the country."

The Burmese government and the new Parliament - the result of contested elections of November 7 last year, met for the first time in late January - consider military investment a priority, while most of the population starves and is begging for food and development. The budget for the next fiscal year, among other things, was signed by General Than Shwe himself, in fact obscuring the role of the new president of Myanmar Thein Sein and parliament.

The plan provides for the distribution of 1.318 trillion kyat (about 1.50 billion dollars) to the Ministry of Defence, which represents nearly 20% of the total funds, which is around 7.65 billion dollars. This is followed by investments in energy and finance, as well as construction. A ridiculous amount of the funds have been dedicated to education (4% of the budget), Healthcare (1.31%) and welfare (0.26%).

Fearing that the " Jasmine Revolution" will also include Myanmar, the Burmese military junta plans to reopen the National Intelligence Bureau (NIB) - banned in 2004 - and expand the surveillance network. The military is concerned about the project promoted by Burmese pro-democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi, aimed at creating a "network of people" that would give rise to protests. For this reason, the leadership will form a new security system and strengthen intelligence.

Recently, some Internet users in Burma, close to the opposition, have opened a Facebook page called "Just Do It." It appeared for the first time online on February 13, the birthday of Aung San, Burma's national hero, leader of the struggle for independence in the 40s and the father of Nobel Peace Prize. AsiaNews sources in Myanmar, anonymous for safety reasons, explain that "the wave of protest in the country could come, but the junta has a very efficient control system that will be able to stop or otherwise control dissent."

The source states that "it is possible to give rise to protest movements, because today more than in the past, it is more difficult to block content," but "surfing speed is slowed down on purpose" and the population is more concerned with daily survival, than the birth of a true revolutionary wave". "We need a movement of people - he concludes - but right now people are more concerned with trying to get enough to eat”.

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