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Activists File Complaint Asking United Nations to Respond to Brutal Attacks on Human Rights Activists in Burma (click to view PDF)

Rare Photographs of Aftermath Illustrate Cruelty of Military Regime

For Immediate Release

April 23, 2007
Contact: Jeremy Woodrum: (202) 234-8022

(Washington, DC, April 23, 2007) A leading group of activists today filed a complaint with the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights to investigate a government-organized mob attack on two human rights activists in the Southeast Asian country of Burma.

Aftermath of the attack – which took place four days ago – was captured in rare photographs of activists after they were taken to a nearby hospital. The photos are attached to this press release.

The attack was carried out by the same Para-governmental organization in Burma that orchestrated an attack on 1991 Nobel Peace Prize recipient Aung San Suu Kyi that resulted in the death of up to 100 of her supporters in 2003. After that attack, Aung San Suu Kyi was placed under arrest where she has been held ever since as the world’s only imprisoned Nobel Peace Prize recipient.

“We have sent a letter to Hina Jilani, UN Special Representative for Human Rights Defenders, and Professor Pinheiro, UN Special Rapporteur on Human Rights Situation in Burma, calling for them to immediately condemn these attacks and those responsible,” said Aung Din, a former Burmese political prisoner and Policy Director at the U.S. Campaign for Burma (USCB). “If the Burmese regime can get away with brutal attacks on peaceful, nonviolent activists in broad daylight, no one is safe in Burma.”

The two human rights defenders, Myint Naing and Maung Maung Lay, were attacked in Burma by members of the Union Solidarity and Development Association, a civilian arm of the ruling military junta, on April 18, 2007. They had traveled about 30 miles out of the country’s largest city Rangoon to conduct a human rights training when their motorcycles were forced off the road and they were attacked by over 50 USDA members armed with bamboo truncheons and sling shots.

The local leader of the USDA stood nearby, issuing orders to the attackers with a loudspeaker. Luckily, some Buddhist monks intervened to stop the attack and brought the victims to a hospital where the photos in this release were taken. They remain in intensive care.

“The United Nations, Burma’s neighbors, including ASEAN, China and India must not remain silent or many more Burmese will be attacked just like this,” added Aung Din.

Burma is ruled by one of the world’s most brutal military dictatorships, led by General Than Shwe. Besides locking up Suu Kyi and over 1,200 other political prisoners, Than Shwe’s regime has destroyed over 3,000 ethnic minority villages in a scorched earth policy designed to root out all opposition to its rule. Over one million refugees have fled the country, while an additional ½ million remain internal refugees, where many are hunted down and killed like animals. Many people continue to die and flee as a result of the regime’s policies. While the world is aware of atrocities in Darfur and Rwanda, the highest levels of the UN have been unwillingly to deal with the regional instability created by mass abuses in Burma.

Despite oppressive rule, the non-violent movement for democracy continues in Burma. Yesterday, a group of civilians protested in front of a busy market in a suburb of Rangoon, demanding that the military regime control skyrocketing commodity prices. Seven of the peaceful protestors were arrested by police and members of USDA. The leader of the protestors, Htin Kyaw, was reportedly severely beaten by police.