Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Burmese Dissidents Jailed

Welcome to Pyidaungzu Myanma Naingngandaw. What could possibly have been the most prosperous country in Asia except for the Junta. The Junta who by the way originally ran the place under the catchy name "The Socialist Republic of the Union of Myanmar". Now they've shortened it to "The Union".

Why do socialists in the West fail to see that every "People's Republic" is some sort of dodgey hell hole?

Burma arrests 13 dissidents

Burma's military rulers have arrested 13 leading dissidents in a series of midnight raids designed to quash protests against rising fuel prices and falling living standards.

In a rare announcement in all state-run newspapers, the junta said the group had been arrested for "undermining stability and security of the nation". The reports confirmed names given to Reuters by relatives and friends.

Min Ko Naing, Ko Ko Gyi, Min Zeya, Ko Jimmy, Ko Pyone Cho, Arnt Bwe Kyaw and Ko Mya Aye - all leaders of a 1988 student-led uprising put down ruthlessly by the military with heavy loss of life - were among those detained, they said.

Min Ko Naing, winner of US, Canadian and European human rights awards, was released in November 2004 after 15 years in jail, but was detained last September for four more months.

"Military intelligence and government intelligence seized their house and searched their house," another dissident, Ko Htay Kywe, said in a recording emailed to Reuters by Burma exile groups in neighbouring Thailand.

Ko Htay Kwe had managed to evade capture when government agents raided his family house in Yangon, the former capital, and had gone into hiding, the exile group said.

The arrests came ahead of a planned protest on Wednesday against huge fuel price rises, the latest in a rare series of small demonstrations over deteriorating living conditions and galloping inflation in Burma.

The US Campaign for Burma said it feared those arrested would be ill-treated.

"Min Ko Naing and the other leaders arrested have all been severely tortured during previous incarcerations and we are gravely concerned for their immediate well-being," said Aung Din, policy director for the Washington-based group, in a statement.

Min Ko Naing's 88 Generation Students Group had condemned publicly the fuel price increases, imposed without warning last week, and organised a 400-strong peaceful protest march through Yangon city centre on Sunday.

Min Ko Naing - a nom de guerre which means "conqueror of kings" in Burmese - was not linked to Wednesday's planned demo under the auspices of Ko Htin Kyaw, a social activist who has been arrested four times this year.

Ko Htin Kyaw had said Wednesday's protest would go ahead unless the military regime that has been in charge for the last 45 years rescinded the price rises.

The world's biggest rice exporter when it won independence from Britain in 1948, Burma is now one of Asia's poorest countries.

Its most prominent detainee, 62-year-old Nobel laureate Aung San Suu Kyi, has been confined for more than 11 of the past 17 years.

Human rights groups and the United Nations say as many as 1,100 others are behind bars for their political beliefs.