Contact: Roland Watson, roland@dictatorwatch.org


10 June 2004

Nan Bway Poung was a 22 year old Wa woman and she had been married for about a year. She lived in Kyaukyi township, Nyaunglabin District, Karen State, Burma. Two years ago today, on 10 June 2002, she was the only woman in a group of villagers out looking for vegetables that was captured by SPDC Light Infantry Battalion 349. Later that day the group, excluding Nan Bway Poung, was released.

She returned home the following day and told her husband and father-in-law that about 20 Burmese soldiers at the Burma Army's Pah Klaw Hta Camp raped her. She said, "I was raped by column commander Captain Ye Htut first, then he ordered his soldiers to rape me." He said to his soldiers, "You all must rape this woman, those who refuse to rape will be shot and killed." Nan Bway Poung was very ashamed and said, "I am not willing to live in this world anymore." Then before anyone noticed, she drank poison and committed suicide, the same evening she arrived back.

Source: "Shattering Silences, Karen Women speak out about the Burmese Military Regime's use of Rape as a Strategy of War in Karen State," prepared by the Karen Women's Organisation, available online at www.womenofburma.org.

Than Shwe, Khin Nyunt and Maung Aye, and their subordinate officers such as Ye Htut, are savages - the equivalent of rabid dogs. Dictator Watch is firmly opposed to the death penalty, in part because it is in no way a sufficient balance to, or punishment for, such crimes. However, in this case we would make an exception. When Burma is free, the country should hold a Nuremberg-style trial. The generals of SPDC/SLORC should be eradicated from the face of the earth.

The fact that they remain in power, and commit such atrocities, is now fully the responsibility of the International Community. The people of Burma must continue their struggle, but at present they cannot win freedom on their own. The International Community could easily step in - the SPDC is weak - and end their suffering.

In December 2003, a senior U.S. State Department official said to me, "The U.S. has done enough." I beg to differ. As an American, I want the government to do much, much more. U.S. policy towards Burma is half-hearted and politically calculated. And, it is focused solely on the National League for Democracy. There is little concern and no aid at all for those who are suffering the most, the ethnic nationalities of the country, particularly internally displaced persons who have been driven from their homes. The implementation of economic sanctions is the absolute minimum that the United States should do.

Refusing to do something ("negative action") is not as significant as taking the next step, as actually doing something ("positive action"). The U.S. cut off new investment and trade, which is negative action in the sense that it refuses to allow new business between the country and the SPDC. But it has yet to force Halliburton, Unocal, Caltex and others to disinvest from Burma, or to take other stronger steps such as the initiation of U.N. Security Council proceedings.

The European Union is doing nothing, at least nothing of any consequence - in either sense - towards the goal of achieving democracy. The member states and the European Council and Parliament have learned nothing of substance from the continent's tribulations with the Nazis, of what genocide means and how it must be fought.

Japan, regarding Burma, is still pursuing its former Imperial ambitions. It too has learned nothing from its own savage past.

The United Nations, again regarding democracy, is useless. In fact, it is worse than useless. It seems dedicated to preventing action where it is needed most. Secretary-General Kofi Annan is a failure, the Neville Chamberlain of the Twenty-First Century, not because he ignores one threat, as with Chamberlain and the Nazis, but because he ignores - he refuses to act on - so many. Secretary-General, for Burma, it is time to expel the SPDC from the U.N.!

To Daw Aung San Suu Kyi and the NLD, as courageous as you are, please do more. There is an asymmetry of suffering in Burma. The ethnic nationalities experience disproportionate levels of abuse. Please speak out strongly and frequently on their behalf. Further, may I suggest a follow-up action to the tremendous leadership that you exhibited in boycotting the National Convention. I believe you should now request the governments of the world, by diplomatic channels or publicly if you are willing to take the risk, to treat the generals of the SPDC as the pariahs that they are, and to intervene - in one way or another - to stop Burma and its people from being destroyed.

To Nan Bway Poung, we beg your forgiveness, for allowing the world to be as terrible as you experienced it.

Nan Bway Poung can no longer speak, so we must speak, and act, as a fitting response - from Humanity - to her final words.