Saturday, October 20, 2007
BURMA DEMOCRACY FUGITIVES APPEAL FOR HELP
id you hear about the Burmese junta's new first-class stamp?
The junta in burma has created a 43-cent first-class stamp.Wai Right Truth. Humour, as we've seen with the previously highlighted Moustache Brothers and with top comedian Zargana (who was released from custody a couple of days ago), constitutes an important ingredient in popular resistance against the regime. The tactic of sending dogs out wearing photos of the junta leaders is another example of this.
The stamp was not sticking to envelopes, which enraged the junta, who demanded a full investigation. After a month of testing, a special junta commission presented the following findings about why the stamps were not sticking:
1) The stamp is in perfect order.
2) There is nothing wrong with the adhesive.
3) People are spitting on the wrong side.
Retaining a sense of humour would seem like it must be a difficult thing to do, under circumstances like this.
A Buddhist monk has been jailed for 7- years for taking part in the mass protests, a monastic source said on Wednesday, the first monk known to have been sentenced for his part in the protests.Seven years hard labour for joining a peaceful protest, while chanting Buddhist sutras on compassion and loving kindness. Activists now in hiding, trying to keep one step ahead of the barbaric regime, have appealed directly to the UN Secretary General in a smuggled letter.
Eik Darea, 25, was sentenced by a district court in Sittwe, the capital of the northwestern state of Rakhine where there was a spate of protests, although on a smaller scale than in Yangon. The monk was defrocked and could end up in a labor camp.
In a letter written from hiding to U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon, three members of the "88 Generation Students Group" said the generals were duping the U.N. into thinking they were serious about compromising with Suu Kyi.Reuters in Bangkok, however, are keeping the contents of the letter undisclosed for some reason.
"This may be the last letter we send to you before our own arrest and torture and we send it with the utmost urgency," the trio -- Tun Myint Aung, Nilar Thein and Soe Htun -- wrote in the letter, a copy of which was obtained by Reuters in Bangkok.
U Gambira, a leader of the All-Burma Monks’ Alliance, has not been caught (yet) and spoke to Radio Free Asia's Burmese Service by telephone from his hiding place.
“My situation is not good. I have slept without shelter for two nights. I am not very well now. My security is pretty bad,” he said, speaking from an undisclosed location. “Now these fellows are trying to butcher me. Now if you are done talking, as soon as you hang up, I have to move somewhere…”In a message to U.N. Special Envoy Ibrahim Gambari, U.S. President George Bush, and to the world (which he read out to the interviewer), he said,
“The important thing for overseas Sanghas [monks] is to carry out the Burmese cause continuously, with unity. At the moment, as you know, we cannot do anything inside Burma. We have been assaulted very badly. A few got away, a few left. I am still trying to get away but I haven't succeeded.”
“Mr. Gambari… I wish to say, please do something effective and practical for Burma. Measures such as economic sanctions and arms embargo will take time (years) to achieve a political solution. What is most important is for today, for tomorrow. Please tell Mr. Gambari that I am very grateful for his active participation in Burmese affairs. I have a tremendous respect for him. But please tell him to implement the most effective practical measures in Burma. Please try. Please send U.N. representatives to Burma to carry out various ways and means to get political results now. For today.”The regime has been boasting of how many arrests it made after the crackdown (over 3,000, though the information from inside indicates it may be double that), and how many it has released (over 2,000, leaving more than 700 still being "interrogated"). What they don't say is that arrests are continuing, with citizens being snatched up in the middle of the night being the norm.
“To Buddhists all over the world and activists and supporters of Burmese movement, please help to liberate the Burmese people from this disastrous and wicked system. To the six billion people of the world, to those who are sympathetic to the suffering of the Burmese people, please help us to be free from this evil system. Many people are being killed, imprisoned, tortured, and sent to forced labor camps. I hereby sincerely ask the international community to do something to stop these atrocities. My chances of survival are very slim now. But I have not given up, and I will try my best.”
“...I would like to make an appeal to President Bush: Please take pride as a President who has worked hard for Burma to achieve something before his term expires.”
“I might not have very long to live. I, Gambira, speaking by phone with you right now, have a very slim chance of survival. Please try your best to relieve our suffering. It will be worse in future when they [the junta] have laid down their roadmap so they can remain in power forever—it will be a blueprint to oppress us systematically. Once they establish their constitution, the Burmese people will suffer for generation after generation.”
“It happened early this morning, at 1 a.m.,” Nyi Nyi, an anti-government activist now in hiding in an undisclosed location, told RFA’s Burmese service.When they failed to arrest Thet Thet Aung and her husband Chit Ko Lin, they arrested in both their mothers as an incentive.
“In Tamwe district, in Rangoon. At Number 4 Tagon Lwin Street, it happened,” he said. “My mother, my cousin [Thet Thet Aung], …they all were in hiding…”
Nyi Nyi said authorities had arrested his mother, Daw San San Tin, 56, along with four critics of the military government, three of whom began their activism during the mass uprising of 1988 that ended in a crackdown that killed up to 3,000 people.
They said that only when I was captured would they release my mother and my mother-in-law, my parents. They said they wouldn’t release them unless I was captured,” Thet Thet Aung said...Meanwhile, Mr. Gambari continues his tour of Asian capitals looking for support for his early re-entry into Burma, and hopefully a united front among the neighbours. I've always heard that you shouldn't take anything off the table (and that would seem to be most necessary of all when dealing with an intransigent bunch of barbarians and monk-slayers), but Malaysia's foreign minister Syed Hamid Albar appears to see things differently.
“I’m also concerned for my parents and my husband. They [the authorities] are really inhumane. My parents—my mother is over 50. She has heart disease, high blood pressure, stomach problems, and also terrible asthma. She has to be on constant medication for her asthma. She has to take her medicine day and night. My mother-in-law is over 70,” Thet Thet Aung said.
"If you want Myanmar (Burma) to continue to be engaged, first we should not be talking about suspending. Nobody can talk when you are threatening with all sorts of things," the foreign minister told a press conference.Malaysia sponsored Burma's entry into ASEAN 10 years ago and people who knew the regime well, said that the regional grouping would live to regret it. Perhaps it's time for the organisation to start thinking about expulsion mechanisms. To avoid thinking about this is equivalent to admission that there are no standards of behaviour within the 10 nation bloc. In that case, being an ASEAN member is certainly nothing to be proud of. As I wrote when the crackdown was in full swing, if ASEAN doesn't throw the Than Shwe regime out over this atrocity, the organisation will mean nothing.
"Secondly, there is no mechanism for suspension in ASEAN. ASEAN will never take that route," he said after a meeting with United Nations special envoy Ibrahim Gambari.
President Bush today strengthened the targeted sanctions against members of the regime, saying he will continue to review US policies and would consider more such measures if the leaders of that country "do not end the brutal repression of their own people whose only offense is the desire to live in freedom."
Mr. Bush said yesterday the Treasury Department had designated 11 more leaders of the junta for sanctions, and issued a new executive order that designates an additional 12 individuals and entities for sanctions.Here are some more photos sent out of Burma just before the crackdown and received by Richard Lloyd Parry, the Asia editor for Times UK. I haven't seen these elsewhere.
The executive order also grants the Treasury Department expanded authority to sanction individuals responsible for human rights abuses as well as public corruption, and those who support and provide financial backing to them or the government of Burma.