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Brutality in Myanmar

Posted October. 04, 2007 07:56,   


“As armed military and police stopped giving kicks to six kneeling men, they started beating them with sticks. The men putting their hands on their heads as they were being brutally beaten by the police, were dragged to waiting police cars.”

CNN transmitted this scene on October 3 as Myanmar security forces quashed demonstrations. It showed a corpse of a monk floating in a river. Their bloodstained saffron clothes showed how brutally they had been beaten. CNN did not give the source of the video clip.

Though anti-government demonstrations wound down yesterday, the international community severely condemned the military government for brutally cracking down on a peaceful public uprising.

Myanmar has been categorized as one of the worst human rights violators in the world by international human rights monitoring organizations, including Human Rights Watch, Amnesty International and Freedom House.

According to a report that those organizations released, the military government has control of all major Internet servers and censors web content, the press, and publications. Poets who criticized the government were sentenced to 7-19 years in jail in February this year. Furthermore, two photographers who sent pictures of the new capital of Myanmar, Naypyitaw, were sent to jail for leaking classified national information. Professors and students in possession of biographies of historic figures were also prosecuted.

It is common for anti-government figures to be apprehended and executed without due legal process. The number of political prisoners in Myanmar is estimated to be about 1,200, and prison conditions have deteriorated as the military bans food privately offered to prisoners and has cut the budget for food and medical supplies for prisoners. Inspections from the International Red Cross have also been banned.

The government has given $16,000 in subsidy to soldiers who marry women from ethnic groups like the Chin. Local women activists say ethnic cleansing using marriage sometimes degenerates to gang rape.

Experts expect that the casualties have been much higher in the process of the military suppressing the protesters. According to the AP, people in Myanmar held a silent protest by turning off their TVs last night when the government reported the situation in Myanmar.

The UN Human Rights Committee passed a resolution at a special meeting on October 2 decrying the violence. Johan Hallenborg of the Swedish Embassy in Thailand testified that “Security forces fired shots at the public, giving them only a few minutes to disperse.”

United Nations Special Envoy Ibrahim Gambari left the country after a four-day visit to Myanmar and holding a meeting with pro-democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi. He will report on the situation in Myanmar at the UN on October 5.