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Arrests continue in Burma

December 3, 2007

Two months after the violent crackdown on peaceful demonstrators, the Burmese government continues to detain monks and dissidents.

While the exact number of protesters killed and arrested during the September protests is not known, the violent crackdown on the peaceful protests has certainly claimed hundreds of victims. According to Amnesty International, up to 700 people arrested during and after the protests remain behind bars, and another 1,150 political prisoners held prior to the protests have still not been released. Detainees have been poorly treated,tortured and in many cases sentenced to lengthy jail terms after unfair trials. The Burmese government has still not accounted for those killed during the demonstrations, or carried out investigations into deaths in custody and other unlawful killings.

Intolerable cruelty

This might seem to run counter to the government’s repeated claims of a return to normalcy. However, systematic violent suppression of freedom of expression and association is nothing out of the ordinary for the Burmese junta. While Amnesty International state on their web site that they are deeply disappointed by the fact that activists are still being arrested, the arrests can hardly come as a surprise to anyone who has followed the Burmese situation for some time. The international community can no longer tolerate this situation.

Amnesty International is urgently calling on the Burmese government to stop making further arrests and to release all those imprisoned merely for the peaceful exercise of their rights to freedom of expression, assembly and association. If India and China find that any of these freedoms actually mean anything, they should follow Amnesty’s lead and put some pressure on Burma right now. It might be argued that the Chinese regime should do something about the human rights situation at home before they start making demands abroad. However, one should not rule out the other. Human rights cannot be neglected anywhere, especially not by the nation hosting the 2008 Olympics.

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