Contact: Roland Watson, roland@dictatorwatch.org


January 4, 2012

Please forward.

(January 13th post-publication note: Burma's military regime released many political prisoners yesterday. The regime has been under a lot of pressure to do this since it failed to release them on January 4th. In any case, one aspect of this article has proved to be false. Min Ko Naing and U Gambira have been released. We also applaud Daw Aung San Suu Kyi for any role that she played in the release. It is great news that so many dissidents are now liberated.

On the other hand, hundreds remain behind bars, and also, some of the released prisoners have said that their freedom is subject to strict conditions. Any "criminal" activity, such as renewed protesting, will lead to their rearrest. Also, in the past week the Burma Army has killed two Kachin women, a Kachin farmer, arrested 60 Kachin villagers and forced them to become porters, and driven 4,000 new Kachin refugees across the border into China. There are reports that some BA units are keeping Kachin girls as sex slaves and gang-raping them every night.

Photo of Ying Wang, one of the two Kachin women murdered this week, and who was also pregnant. Source: Kachin News Group.

This is abominable and it demonstrates that, release or not, Burma is still far from freedom. We continue to believe that the regime is trying to do the absolute minimum to get the United States to drop its sanctions, nothing more. There is no sincere will on the part of the generals to allow real democracy.)

The military regime of Burma has failed to release the country's political prisoners, thus dashing the hopes of many people. While we don't like to be the bearer of bad news, we would point out that we anticipated this. In our recent article, Parallel Universes in Burma, we made eleven predictions, including:

"6. Burma's political prisoners will not be freed, and new arrests will be made."

On this issue we also said:

"...any future releases will be limited in scope and occur only as part of choreographed campaigns to increase the regime's international legitimacy."

Burma's junta already has international legitimacy. It will lead Asean in 2014. Diplomats and businesspeople are flying in daily. There is therefore no need to release additional prisoners. The regime further now has the support of the National League for Democracy (which may want to think about changing its name - not only its flag). With Aung San Suu Kyi and the NLD joining Naypyidaw, why would Senior General Than Shwe agree to free any political prisoners? Individuals such as Min Ko Naing and U Gambira undoubtedly will not be as compliant?

If you have not seen the other predictions, the following link leads to the full article.


We also have an observation on Burma's exile media. The principal outlets have developed the habit of repeating regime pronouncements, as if they were cast in stone. They are actually nothing more than rumors and disinformation. This publicity is helping the generals, by raising false hopes and expectations. You shouldn't be so trusting (or parrot the views of your funders). Burma is run by a military dictatorship. Everything it says, and everything its propaganda fronts such as Myanmar Egress says, is a lie. Show some journalistic objectivity! You may be dying to return to Rangoon or Mandalay, but the time is not yet right. Be cynical!