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Asian Tribune is published by World Institute For Asian Studies|Powered by WIAS Vol. 12 No. 2963

Burma Army continues to rape and kill as national convention re-convenes

London, 20 July, ( Rape, torture, forced labour and killings continue in Burma as the military regime this week re-convened its National Convention to draft a constitution for the country.

According to the latest report from the Free Burma Rangers, a relief organisation working in the conflict areas of eastern Burma, the Burma Army’s offensive in Karen State has continued throughout May and June. In Mon Township, Nyaungelbin District, six villagers were killed on 2 June. Three weeks later, in P’Na Ner village, the village headman was captured by Burma Army troops who slit his throat. Since the beginning of the year, the Burma Army have constructed at least 10 new military camps in Nyaunglebin District alone.

Two young women, aged 18 and 22, from Takehder village in Luthaw Township, Papun District, were captured while they were gathering vegetables in the jungle. According to the Free Burma Rangers, they were raped, their breasts and ears were cut, and then they were killed by Burma Army soldiers. The exact date of the attack is not known.

On 23 June, the Burma Army murdered an entire family of five people in Htee K’bler village, including two children, Kyaw Eh Wah, aged 4, and Saw Pa Heh Soe, aged 13, and their grandmother, Naw Pler Poe, aged 65.

On 18 July, the military regime, the State Peace and Development Council (SPDC) opened the final session of the National Convention. The overwhelming majority of delegates are handpicked by the regime. In elections held in 1990, nine pro-democracy parties won 90 per cent of the parliamentary seats, but all are excluded from the constitution-drafting process. The ethnic nationality groups are also excluded. Questioning or criticising the National Convention and communicating with international media about the process are crimes under the regime’s Order 5/96 and carry a 20-year jail sentence.

The Constitution, which is expected to be completed by this final session of the National Convention, is based on the regime’s “104 principles”. These include a requirement that the President of the country “shall be a person who has been residing continuously in the country for at least 20 years” with “political, administrative, military and economic experience” and whose spouse, children and spouses of children are not citizens of another country. The President should also have at least 15 years of military service. These requirements automatically disqualify Burma’s democracy leader, Nobel Laureate Aung San Suu Kyi, whose deceased husband was British, from becoming President. Aung San Suu Kyi’s party, the National League for Democracy (NLD), won over 80 per cent of the parliamentary seats in 1990. She is now in her 12th year of house arrest.

Stuart Windsor, National Director of Christian Solidarity Worldwide (CSW), said: “The National Convention is a complete sham designed to entrench and extend the military regime’s power. The exclusion of the major democracy and ethnic groups, combined with the military’s continuing crimes against humanity in the ethnic areas, is surely proof enough that the regime is not sincere about reform. The international community should give absolutely no credence to this process, and should increase pressure on the regime to enter into meaningful dialogue with the NLD and the ethnic nationalities.”

- Asian Tribune -

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