Archive for the ‘repressive’ Category

Prison Terms Cripple Myanmar Democracy Movement

November 16, 2008

In a devastating week for Myanmar’s democracy movement, dozens of its members have been sentenced to length prison terms, as the military-ruled government locks away writers and Buddhist monks — as well as musicians, a poet and at least one journalist.

By MICK ELMORE, Associated Press Writer

By the weekend, more than 80 had received sentences of up to 65 years — a move that seemed designed to keep them jailed long past the upcoming elections, activists and analysts said Sunday.

“They are clearing the decks of anyone who is likely to challenge their authority ahead of the election” in 2010, Larry Jagan, a Bangkok-based newspaper columnist and Myanmar analyst, said of the generals who rule the country.

Myanmar's pro-democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi. Twenty-three ... 
Myanmar’s pro-democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi. Twenty-three pro-democracy activists arrested during anti-junta demonstrations in Myanmar last year were each sentenced to 65 years in jail.(AFP/MYANMAR NEWS AGENCY/AFP)

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Fired General Likens Japan’s Government to Repressive North Korean Regime

November 4, 2008

Japan’s sacked air force commander compared his country to North Korea for a row over his assertion that Tokyo was not a World War II aggressor, prompting the government Tuesday to promise an inquiry.

As the government sought to reassure other Asian countries that it did not agree with his comments, Toshio Tamogami went on the offensive insisting he was right and had thought it was time for such views to be accepted.

“If you are not allowed to say even a word that counters the government’s statements, you cannot possibly call the country democratic,” the ex-general told a press conference.

“It’s just like North Korea.”

by Harumi Ozawa, AFP

Tamogami was fired from his post for an essay in which he wrote that Japan was falsely accused of being the aggressor and calling for the nation to shed elements of its post-WWII pacifism.

Japan's sacked air force commander General Toshio Tamogami, ... 

ABOVE: Japan’s sacked air force commander General Toshio Tamogami, seen here, compared his country to North Korea for a row over his assertion that Tokyo was not a World War II aggressor, prompting the government Tuesday to promise an inquiry.(AFP/HO/File/Jiji Press)

He retired Monday two years early rather than serve in a lesser position.

Tamogami said many Asian countries “take a positive view” of Japan’s past military actions, seeing Tokyo as a bulwark against Western imperialism.

The scandal comes at a bad time for Prime Minister Taro Aso, who criticised Tamogami’s remarks but has himself previously caused controversy by defending aspects of Japanese colonialism.

The Yomiuri Shimbun newspaper Tuesday released a survey showing that, for the first time since Aso took office in September, more people disapproved of his government’s performance than approved of it.

His government’s approval rating stood at 40.5 percent.

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Six Months after Myanmar Cyclone, Rebuilding Lags Due To Government Hastles

November 2, 2008

After the cyclone devestated Myanmar last May, the military junta governing the former Burma was so uncooperative and unhelpful that even international aid groups were delayed and hastled….

From the Associated Press

YANGON, Myanmar – Six months after Cyclone Nargis smashed into Myanmar‘s coastline, killing tens of thousands of people, aid groups say once-lagging relief efforts have picked up pace but the task of rebuilding and recovery is far from finished.

Foreign aid staffers were initially barred from cyclone-affected areas and the ruling military junta was criticized for its ineffective response to the May 2-3 disaster. During a visit by U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon in late May, it agreed to allow in some foreign aid workers and formed a “Tripartite Core Group” made up of the government, the U.N. and Southeast Asian countries to facilitate the flow of international assistance.

A Buddhist monk walks over the remains of his cyclone-destroyed ... 
A Buddhist monk walks over the remains of his cyclone-destroyed monastery in Kaunt Chaung. Six months since Cyclone Nargis lashed the secretive state of Myanmar – killing 138,000 people – the initial despair over the ruling junta’s inaction has been replaced by cautious optimism that more aid is reaching the country’s needy, the UN has said.(AFP/File/Lisandru)

Despite the slow initial response, “the relief effort for the first six months has been successful,” said Ramesh Shrestha, the representative in Myanmar for UNICEF, which has coordinated aid to women and children. “However, we cannot stop now.”

The U.N. said in a statement issued Sunday on behalf of the Tripartite Core Group that “there is a continued need for emergency relief, as well as support for early and long-term recovery efforts.”

Only 53.3 percent of the $484 million in relief money sought by a U.N.-coordinated appeal has been raised, it said.

The official death toll is 84,537, with 53,836 others listed as missing. Some 2.4 million people were severely affected by the storm, with the total damage estimated as high as $4 billion.

A major pressing issue is how survivors will be able to support themselves.

Recent visitors to the Irrawaddy Delta, the area worst hit by the storm, report that most cyclone victims have cooking utensils, mosquito nets and other basic necessities. But they express concern about opportunities to earn enough money to buy food.

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