Amnesty exposes Myanmar violence

Latest testimonies from inside Myanmar belie claims of return to normality.

    The US is pushing for additional sanctions against Myanmar's military government [AFP]

    The video and audio statements were of ongoing night raids, arbitrary arrests and what Amnesty described as "appalling detention conditions" in Myanmar.


    The latest testimonies from inside the country were compiled on film and by telephone by a team of Amnesty researchers on the Thai border.

    Further testimonies


    Shortly before her arrest on October 13, prominent activist Mie Mie said: "We have seen police asking money from families of detainees if they want their family members to be released.


    "They kicked me in the back and in the chest and they hit me on my head. And they used an electric wire to whip me"

    Nay Tin Myint, torture victim

    "Young people who are on their way to offices and schools are not only stopped and checked but also robbed."


    Amnesty's footage, shot in the Thai border town of Mae Sot, also featured first-hand testimony by a former detainee who was tortured by Myanmar security forces.


    Nay Tin Myint, who fled from Myanmar after 15 years of detention and torture, said: "They put a hood over my head and kept me in a kneeling position. If I fell down, then one of the five guards would kick me.


    "They interrogated me as a group. They kicked me in the back and in the chest and they hit me on my head. And they used an electric wire to whip me."


    On Wednesday, Catherine Baber, head of Amnesty's Asia-Pacific programme, said the military government had been misleading everyone about the country's return to normality.


    "These accounts of homes being raided at night, family members seized as hostages and people herded into overcrowded and unsanitary detention centres flies in the face of the authorities' persistent claims that normality has returned to Myanmar," she said.


    "Last weekend's arrests also contradict the authorities' assertions that no prisoners are being held."

    'New constitution'

    Also on Thursday, Myanmar's government said it had appointed 54 people to a committee to write a constitution, state media said.

    The committee is to write the document, which is to be voted on in a referendum.

    No timetable for the rest of the constitutional process has been set and analysts have said the new charter will only reinforce the military's role in government
    The formation of the drafting committee followed the conclusion in September of 14 years of talks on the guidelines for a new constitution.

    UN envoy


    Ibrahim Gambari, the UN's envoy to Myanmar, in an interview with Al Jazeera's 101 East, urged Myanmar's ruling generals to begin talks with opposition leaders for resolving the "immediate crisis".


    Gambari urged Asian countries to offer
    Myanmar incentives for reforms [Reuters]

    He said working with the Myanmar government was "the best way to get the kind of results we need" and hopes to continue widening the window of opportunity.


    "That's why I sincerely hope that my next visit … will be able to stay longer and see more people. I believe it is possible working with, not against, the government at this point," he said during his six-nation tour of Asia.


    "… because we just need that access we need the room to manoeuvre we need their co-operation and we need their support."




    The United States on Wednesday pushed for additional sanctions against Myanmar including blocking access to US financial institutions and the import of gemstones via third countries.


    Tom Lantos, the chairman of the House's foreign affairs committee, said: "This legislation will turn off a huge cash spigot for the thuggish Burmese regime."


    Meanwhile on Thursday Human Rights Watch urged China to impose sanctions and use its Security Council membership to help end the repression.


    Sophie Richardson, the organisation's Asia advocacy director, said China had been indifferent to the arrests, disappearances and killings of Myanmar's critics.


    "Even worse, the Chinese government has blocked most of the international efforts to effectively address the crisis," she said.

    SOURCE: Agencies


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