Wednesday, November 14, 2007
FUGITIVE BURMESE LABOUR ACTIVIST ARRESTED
hose who have watched IN FREEDOM'S CAUSE will remember this young woman, whose friends protectively linked their arms around her as a barrage of the regime's plainclothes thugs tried to drag her away from a small public demonstration in August. She is a prominent labour rights activist named Su Su Nway, and she has been in hiding from the secret police since that day.
Su Su Nway was detained yesterday as she was putting up a leaflet near the hotel where UN human rights investigator Paulo Sergio Pinheiro is staying.
Su Su Nway was active in protests in Yangon in August against an oil price hike and dramatically escaped arrest when a demonstration was crushed on Aug. 28. Video filmed at the time and broadcast around the world showed her comrades protecting her as the pro-government thugs tried to pull her away...The arrest of All-Burma Monks Alliance leader U Gambira was confirmed by activists recently arrived at the Thai border, according to a Thailand-based National League for Democracy spokesman, though details differed.
After the Aug. 28 confrontation, Su Su Nway, 35, said she had a heart condition and could not take part in street demonstrations, but wanted to show solidarity with other prominent activists in jail.
Since then she has been in hiding, but there have been reports of her occasionally surfacing for more protest activity. She had regular contact with the media until her mobile phone was disconnected early September.
The Democratic Voice of Burma, a Norway-based radio station run by Myanmar dissidents, reported that on Oct. 27 she laid lay flowers at the spot where Japanese video journalist Kenji Nagai was shot dead by government security forces while covering the demonstrations in Yangon a month earlier.
Su Su Nway served nine months in prison in 2005-2006 for her labor activism when she was convicted of defamation after she won a conviction against four officials for using forced labor.
"I am very worried about U Gambira," said Bo Kyi, head of the Thailand-based Assistance Association for Political Prisoners (Burma). "I fear he will be tortured."Mr. Pinheiro is expected to meet with some junta officials today, though not with the top leaders. It's not known if he will be permitted to meet Aung San Suu Kyi before he leaves tomorrow.
In an e-mail to The Associated Press, Bo Kyi appealed to Pinheiro to meet with U Gambira before he leaves Myanmar.
Other dissident groups also reported U Gambira's arrest, although details differed. Some said he was arrested Nov. 4, the same day an article he wrote was published in the Washington Post. In it, he vowed to continue the struggle against the military regime...
Another account said he lost touch with colleagues Nov. 10. He has been active in publicizing his cause abroad, apparently using a satellite phone.
UN special envoy to Burma, Ibrahim Gambari delivered a briefing to the Security Council yesterday regarding his six day visit last week. He claimed that "positive outcomes" had resulted, though the targets of the ongoing manhunts could not be reached for comment.
"On balance, the positive outcomes of this latest mission show that the government of Myanmar, while stressing its sovereignty and independence, can be responsive to the concerns of the international community," Gambari said.He is expecting to return soon at the invitation of the regime, though a date has not been set.
The current Council president Indonesia stressed its "renewed sense of unity" however Burma apparently still has its protectors among the fifteen member states.
But Khalilzad's deputy, Alejandro Wolff, said members could not agree on how this sense of unity should be expressed.The ASEAN meeting next week should be interesting. Mr. Gambari has been invited to attend.
He said the United States and its allies wanted a formal presidential statement while others were opposed. He said consultations would continue Wednesday.