Friday, January 21, 2011
Asian Correspondent - All the Senior General’s Men in Burmese Parliaments
By Zin Linn Jan 21, 2011 7:38PM UTC
Burma’s military junta has appointed 388 members of parliaments to fill the military share of the three chambers of parliament which will first assemble on January 31, junta’s media said today.
The junta has appointed 110 military officers for the people’s parliament (lower house), 56 for the national parliament (upper house), and 222 for regional-and-state parliaments, The New Light of Myanmar newspaper reported Friday.
All appointed MPs are military officers in commission, including one brigadier general, 19 colonels; the other 368 officers are majors and captains in ranks.
Under country’s new constitution, the military can appoint 25 per cent of all lawmakers in three chambers of parliament. It is enough for the military to veto any legislation and to control the picking of a new president and cabinet.
Meanwhile, the controversial Conscription Law, dated November 4, 2010, which is to be ratified in Burma, has been criticized by the National League for Democracy (NLD) on 19 January. As said by the draft law, it will come into force on the day that the military regime endorses the law by an article in an official decree.
According to NLD, a draft law is related to the whole population in the country and it should be approved through lower and upper parliaments. Releasing the draft law ahead of the approaching parliament assemblies looks like a dishonest tactic. And it also shows the military is above the parliament which is really a fake. The military authorities will be misused the rights of grassroots people under this law in the name of ‘the State’, NLD pointed out in its statement.
Although the 1959 Public Military Service Act said the state had the authority to order any person who is qualified to serve in the armed forces, the current junta’s draft law prescribes that all male and female adults between selected ages should be subjects to serve in the military, the NLD statement pointed out.
“If the law comes into life, the authorities will misuse the law as the corruption is prevalent. The law will open the door of evildoings for the authorities and it will put heavy burdens on the people who are under poverty line due to junta’s bad-governance”’, said NLD’s statement dated 19 January.
Burma or Myanmar, under military absolute rule since 1962, held its first general election in two decades on November 7 last year. Parliament is to hold its first session on January 31 to commence the procedure of choosing a new president. The parliament meetings would likely to take at least 14 days and people may only allow perceiving who will be the first president around mid-February, as said by an observer.
Besides the 25-per-cent ratio of appointed military parliamentarians, the pro-junta Union Solidarity and Development Party (USDP) took 77 per cent of the seats in three chambers of parliament by vote-rigging. Whoever won the presidential throne, there may not be any amazement during the first parliamentary session which will be held under junta’s tightly control.
The 2008 constitution says that the president and two vice-presidents needn’t to be elected members of parliament except acquaintance with military affairs. Many observers deem that Senior General Than Shwe, 77, boss of the junta since 1992 and commander-in-chief of the armed forces, is an expected candidate, while ex-Generals Maung Aye and Shwe Mann are likely to be the deputies under Than Shwe.
If Than Shwe decided to take the presidential office, he has to resign from his military position. The president will have the power to shape the new government. Most of the new cabinet members seem to be chosen primarily from the USDP MPs who also were once high-ranking military officers with the junta.
The over 1,000 representatives-elect and 388 appointed military representatives are preparing for the first parliament session on 31 January. All representatives have been cautiously instructed about dos and don’ts in the parliamentary compound including which costume they have to wear, and which kinds of thing they are not allowed not to bring.
The Members of Parliament will not be allowed to carry mobile phones, recorders and laptop computers into the Parliament, as said by Dr. Myat Nyar Na Soe, a representative-elect from the National Democratic Force (NDF) party.
An invitation letter delivered to the representatives-elect calls on Members of Parliament to inform to the fortified office of the parliament in capital Naypyidaw by 27 January.
Associated Content - Myanmar Junta's Widespread Repression and
Abuses Documented for First Time
Physicians for Human Rights Reveals Myanmar Government's Crimes Against Humanity
Russ Mayes, Yahoo! Contributor Network
Jan 20, 2011 "
Myanmar's junta government has long been known as one of the most repressive regimes in the world. A new report by Physicians for Human Rights (PHR) reveals just how repressive the government is, particularly against the Chin people. As the PHR blog reports, PHR went door to door in the Chin state of Myanmar and documented numerous cases of human rights abuse, including forced labor, disappearances, rapes, and killings.
PHR interviewed 621 households across all nine townships of the Chin State in Myanmar. The report documented an astonishing rate of abuse. Over 90 percent of the households reported abuse of some sort, and a full 98 percent of those abuses were conducted by the military or other government officials. The Foreword to the report, written by Richard Goldstone and Bishop Desmond Tutu, notes "Chin family members [were] forced to porter military supplies, sweep for landmines, labor as unpaid servants, build roads, and do hard labor."
The PHR report also documents hundreds of other abuses against ethnic Chins and Christians throughout western Myanmar. The abuses are an unfortunately common list used by repressive regimes: Torture, threats, intimidation, rape, unlawful detention, and murder are documented in the report. The authors believe that what is documented in the report may constitute crimes against humanity.
The United Nations Human Rights Council is scheduled to review Myanmar's human rights record next week. The authors of the report hope that this document will show that Myanmar continues to systematically abuse the rights of its citizens--particularly ethnic and religious minorities.
Myanmar has made some progress on human rights. In November 2009, Myanmar held its first democratic elections in over 50 years. However, as Amnesty International notes, the polling took place "against a backdrop of political repression." Also last year, the Myanmar government released Daw Aung San Suu Kyi from an illegal house arrest that had lasted 15 of the last 21 years.
Despite these glimmers of progress, this report from PHR shows that there is still widespread abuse by government and military officials in the country. As recently as Dec. 13, 2010, the United Nations Human Rights
Council's Special Rapporteur on Myanmar urged the government to release over 2,200 prisoners of conscience. This report came after the report of the death of a prisoner of conscience in early December. The UN Human Rights Council's report on Myanmar is expected later this year.
"First Widespread Survey of Burma's Chin State Shows Evidence of Crimes Against Humanity," Physicians for Human Rights.
"Foreword to Life Under the Junta: Evidence of Crimes Against Humanity in Burma's Chin State," Desmond Tutu & Richard Goldstone.
"Life Under the Junta: Evidence of Crimes Against Humanity in Burma's Chin State," Physicians for Human Rights.
"Myanmar (Burma) Human Rights," Amnesty International.
"Myanmar rights report says minority group killed, raped," AFP.
"Myanmar: UN expert urges Government to release over 2,200 remaining prisoners of conscience," United Nations Council on Human Rights.
"New Report Reveals 'Life Under the Junta'," PHR Blog.
Posted by Mr Htay Tint at 2:10 PM