Friday, November 30, 2007

Burma plays a “Blind man’s Bluff” game with ASEAN and UN

The Burmese junta has once again fooled ASEAN and UN with its latest arrest of Aung Zaw Oo, a member of the Human Rights Defenders and Promoters group on 26 Nov and the closure of the Maggin Monastery. All these happened after the signing of the human rights and democracy charter at the recent 13th ASEAN Summit. The monastery is famous for its hospitality in sheltering HIV/AIDS positive patients who went to Rangoon for treatment.

Obviously, the Burmese generals are playing their usual Blind man’s Bluff game with UN and ASEAN as the “It” and the generals as the teasers. Before you read the Amnesty International’s report on the arrest of Aung Zaw Oo below, perhaps you would like to take a moment to view the video of the killing of the Japanese journalist during the September crackdown.

Myanmar arrests continue two months on

Amnesty International condemns the new arrests of political activists inside Myanmar, despite the commitment by Prime Minister Thein Sein to the UN Special Representative Ibrahim Gambari in early November that no more arrests would be carried out.

"Two months after the violent crackdown on peaceful demonstrators, arbitrary arrests continue unabated as part of the Myanmmar government's systematic suppression of freedom of expression and association, contrary to its claims of a return to normalcy," said Catherine Baber, Amnesty International's Asia-Pacific Program Director.

"Normalcy for the military government may mean a return to systematic and widespread human rights violations away from media attention, but the international community must no longer tolerate this situation," added Catherine Baber.

Amnesty International confirms that the following arrests have occurred since early November:

  • On 4 November, U Gambira, head of the All-Burma Monks Alliance and a leader of the September protests, was arrested and reportedly charged with treason. Two of his family members previously detained as 'hostages' in an attempt to force him out of hiding, have been kept in detention;
  • On 13 November, the government arrested Su Su Nway, a member of the youth wing of the main opposition National League for Democracy party. Fellow youth activist Bo Bo Win Hlaing was arrested along with her while putting up anti-government posters;
  • On 14 November, at least three people were arrested in Yangon for passing out anti-government pamphlets;
  • On 15 November, authorities raided a monastery in western Rakhine State, and arrested monk U Than Rama, wanted for his involvement in the September protests. He was reportedly beaten during the raid and his whereabouts remain unknown.
  • On 20 November, Myint Naing, a senior member of the National League for Democracy was detained;
  • On 20 November, ethnic Arakanese leader U Tin Ohn was detained and his whereabouts remain unknown;
  • On 20 and 21 November, other ethnic leaders, including Arakanese Cin Sian Thang and U Aye Thar Aung, Naing Ngwe Thein from the Mon National Democracy Front, and Kachin political leader U Hkun Htoo were rounded up but released after questioning;
  • On 26 November, Aung Zaw Oo, a member of the Human Rights Defenders and Promoters group, was arrested in Yangon, likely on account of his involvement in planning events for International Human Rights Day on 10 December.

Amnesty International is deeply disappointed by the fact that these arrests are still taking place despite the government's promises to the contrary. Just last week, the Myanmar government was attending ASEAN's 40th Anniversary Summit, where it signed the organisation's new Charter committing it to the "promotion and protection of human rights".

To date, up to 700 people arrested during and since the September protests remain behind bars, while 1,150 political prisoners held prior to the protests have not been released.

Amnesty International is urgently calling on the government of Myanmar to release all those detained or imprisoned merely for the peaceful exercises of their right to freedom of expression, assembly and association, including both long-term and recent prisoners of conscience, and to stop making further arrests.

Check out more Burmese news and opinions on


Chemgen said...

The junta in Burma are just laughing at Asean. Asean also showed the world that they are there to back up even a "rogue" state in their midst.

James Chia said...

See how ASEAN is so quiet again and not condemning the latest human rights violations. The charter signed is useless.