Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Burma Crisis Update: A Blogger Gets 20 Years, 14 Democracy Activists Get 65 Years Each; Meanwhile, Business as Usual for Energy Giants

Image: Aung San Suu Kyi, TIME 100

Burma Crisis Update: A Blogger Gets 20 Years, 14 Democracy Activists Get 65 Years Each; Meanwhile, Business as Usual for Energy Giants

By Richard Power

I have not written about Burma in a few weeks. Not because the crisis has ended, far from it. But simply because there have been no new developments worthy of note, good or bad. Just a continuum of misery. Until now, and this news is bad.

At least 14 democracy activists, including three Generation 88 student leaders, who participated in the 2007 protests were sentenced to 65 year prison terms.

A young blogger, who was responsible for getting the truth out to the world during the uprising, was sentenced to 20 years in prison.

No one should go to prison for advocating democracy in their own country, no one should go to prison for practicing free speech on the Internet -- not even for one year, not even for one moment.

The cruel sentences meted out to these brave dissidents prove that the Burmese thugocracy has no intention whatsoever of loosening its grip or changing its ways.

The sentences also prove that those governments and corporations that posture and pontificate while continuing to do business with the thugocracy are, at best, engaged in ineffectual efforts, or worse (and more likely), simply providing cosmetic cover for their own profit-driven agendas.

It is tragic, both for those who will suffer and for those who do not realize that when they are culpable in the infliction of such suffering, they also do irreparable damage to themselves.

Here are brief excerpts from the two news stories, with links to the full texts:

A young Burmese blogger who was a major source of information for the outside world on the brutal regime crackdown on the September 2007 uprising was sentenced to 20 years and six months imprisonment on Monday.
Nay Phone Latt, 28, was sentenced by a court in Rangoon’s Insein Prison, according to his mother, Aye Than. He was convicted of contravening Public Offense Act 505 B by posting a cartoon depicting junta leader Snr-Gen Than Shwe on his blog site.
Irrawaddy, 11-10-08

Today's sentencing of at least 14 dissidents who took part in the 2007 anti-government demonstrations--each to 65 years in prison--is a powerful reminder that Myanmar's military government is ignoring calls by the international community to reverse its shameful human rights record, Amnesty International said.
"In the midst of its so-called 'Roadmap to Democracy,' the government of Myanmar reveals its true intentions by sentencing these dissidents for nothing more than peacefully expressing their views during last year's demonstrations," said Benjamin Zawacki, Amnesty International's Myanmar researcher.
Three of those sentenced are Min Zeya, Kyaw Min Yu (also known as Ko Jimmy), and Ko Jimmy's wife, Nilar Thein. They are prominent 88 Generation Students group leaders who spearheaded the pro-democracy uprising in Myanmar 20 years ago. Their sentences today were related to their involvement in the 2007 demonstrations, popularly known as the "Saffron Revolution." Additional charges against them remain outstanding.
Amnesty International, 11-11-08

Some Burma-Related Words of Power Posts

While Palin Rattles A Saber She Should Not Have Been Given; Aung San Suu Kyi Quietly, Peacefully Delivers Another Blow to the Burmese Thugocracy

Weigh the Coverage of Sarah Palin's Ascension Against the Coverage of Aung San Suu Kyi's Hunger Strike & Ask Yourself What Happened to Your Culture?

"Over 200 insurance companies have stated they do not provide (re)insurance services to companies operating in Burma. They have set an example ..."

1,000 Tibetans Disappeared, Almost 100% of Darfur Refugee Women Raped, Volunteer Grave-Diggers Arrested By Burma's Junta; Still Going to the Olympics?

From Katmandu to Karthoum, from Burma to Beltwayistan, the Conscience of the World Seems Cut-Off from Action; Here's How to Break the Spell

The Bitter, Urgent Lessons of Burma & Darfur

Burma Crisis Update: One Question -- Is Aung San Suu Kyi Alive and Safe in the Chaotic Aftermath of Cyclone Nargis?

Burma Crisis Update: Perhaps Chevron Should Re-Name the Yadana Pipeline After Condolezza Rice?

Why Protecting the People of Darfur, Tibet & Burma is in Our Own Self-Interest; & What These Crises Tell Us about Our Own Slide into the Pit

Don't Forget Darfur, Tibet or Burma This Summer, Don't Forget Men & Women of US Military Either; Reflections On Speaker Pelosi's Visit to Dharmsala

Burma Crisis Update: Non-Violent, Democratic Resistance of Burmese People Offers Stark Contrast to US Political Scene

Burma Crisis Update: Talk is Cheap, Business as Usual; On Martin Luther King Day -- Remember Aung San Suu Kyi

In Burma & Sudan, Business As Usual -- What Must & Can Be Done Now!

Burma Crisis Update 11-10-07: Amnesty International on "Grave & Ongoing Human Rights Violations"; Alternate Media Vital to Resistance

Burma Crisis Update: An Open Letter to the Executives of Chevron

Burma Crisis Update: Two Weeks Into the Crackdown, China Has Not Tempered the Thugocracy's Hand; Chevron Has Not Even Slapped Its Wrist

Human Rights Update 10-6-07: Chevron, Condoleeza Rice & the Burmese Thugocracy

Human Rights Update: Blackwater, Burma, Darfur & You

Human Rights Watch to Business: "Keeping quiet while monks & other peaceful protesters are murdered & jailed is not ... constructive engagement."

Human Rights Update: Blackwater, Burma, Darfur & You

Hard Rain Journal 9-27-07: Aung San Suu Kyi was Elected in 1990, Al Gore was Elected in 2000 -- Consider What Has Befallen Both Countries Since

For a directory of Words of Power Human Rights Updates, click here.

Richard Power's Left-Handed Security: Overcoming Fear, Greed & Ignorance in This Era of Global Crisis is available now! Click here for more information.

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