Latest news about oppression in what the military junta renamed Myanmar:
Burma shuts down last communication links
Â· Satellite phones seized in information blackout
Â· Crackdown reflects worry over world opinion
Ian MacKinnon, south-east Asia correspondent
Tuesday October 9, 2007
Burma’s regime is targeting the last remaining communications links that brought images of the bloody crackdown on the recent pro-democracy protests to the outside world.
Exiled dissident groups in neighbouring Thailand say up to 10 satellite telephones and countless computers earlier smuggled into Burma have been seized, the last lines of contact after the government shut down the internet and blocked mobile and fixed-line telephones.
Officials from Burma’s foreign affairs ministry and home department security officers also visited a UN office in the Traders Hotel in downtown Rangoon late last week and demanded to see the organisation’s permits for its satellite phones.
The officials also inspected the Japan International Co-operation Agency at the Sakura Tower and offices at the Sedona Hotel, which has a vantage point overlooking the Shwedagon Pagoda, one of the flashpoints for the demonstrations.
“I think they came to the Traders Hotel and Sakura Tower in an effort to identify the systems that allowed information about the demonstrations to get out,” said a UN official.
The junta’s determination to snuff out the last trickles of information signals its paranoia over the damage images of the military’s suppression of the demonstrations had inflicted. The pictures, coupled with accounts from bloggers, fuelled the international community’s anger over the beatings and arrests of monks, and the killing of at least 13 that heightened demands for tougher sanctions.
Among the most shocking were images of a monk floating face down in a pool and others of the Japanese video journalist, Kenji Nagai, being shot at close range, giving the lie to the regime’s claim that he died accidentally from a stray bullet.
Burma activist dies under interrogation, says rights group
Matthew Weaver and agencies
Wednesday October 10, 2007
An active member of Aung San Suu Kyi’s opposition party in Burma has died under interrogation, as the crackdown against last month’s protests continues.
Win Shwe, a 42-year-old member of the National League for Democracy was arrested with five colleagues on September 26, the day the junta began to put down the demonstrations.
According to a Thailand-based human rights group, the Assistance Association for Political Prisoners, the security forces told Win Shwe’s family that he had died during interrogation.
“They didn’t say when he died or the reason why he died, but they did say he had been cremated,” the AAPP spokesman, Ko Bo Kyi, told Guardian Unlimited.
He described Win Shwe as an “ordinary but active member of the National League for Democracy”.
The AAPP is also concerned about the fate of the pro-democracy leader, Hla Myo Naung, who was arrested today while on his way to seek treatment for an eye problem.
Hla Myo Naung is the main spokesman for the 88 Generation Students, a group that takes it name from the 1988 uprising in which 3,000 protesters were killed.
Hla Myo Naung was quoted yesterday by the Irrawaddy, the Thai-based Burmese news website, at the launch of a campaign for the release of political prisoners in Burma.
“It is a peaceful expression and I don’t think the authorities will respond to our campaign by punishing participants,” Hla Myo Naung said.
The AAPP spokesman said he was concerned that Hla Myo Naung would be tortured.