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Junta Brutality Still Haunts Many Myanmar Dissidents

IMPHAL, Nov 16: Inspite of their leader Daw Aung San Suu Kyi recently freed from house arrest by the military junta there is still palpable fear among dissident Myanmarese who are scattered in different parts of India.

Memories of the brutal crackdown against pro-democracy activists still livid and the fact that many are still languishing in jails in military-ruled Myanmar, these self-exiled Myanmarese are unwilling to take chances by returning home at this juncture.

Even as the ruling military junta has freed Daw Aung San Suu Kyi from house arrest, her followers who have been taking asylum outside Myanmar since the last two decades are not willing return back to their country fearing repressive actions from the army-ruled government.

The apprehension prevailing among many Myanmar dissidents was evident when president of Burma Solidarity Organization (BSO) U Thura told this reporter, ‘We will go back to our country only when democracy comes. Our colleagues taking asylum across the world are firm on this stance.

‘Since the Junta has not released the political prisoners numbering over 2000 including student leaders and Buddhist monks, we are sure that we will face the same fate if we go to our country,’ Thura, who is presently at New Delhi, said while dismissing the recent election conducted in Myanmar as a farce intent on prolonging the same repressive grip.

‘However, we are looking forward to the new initiatives to bring about national reconciliation  and democracy taken up by our leader Suu Kyi since the junta freed her,’ he said.

A veterinary doctor, Thura is in charge of pro-democracy activists taking asylum in ‘˜Western Burma Border’ areas including Manipur, Nagaland and Mizoram.

‘We know how oppressive the junta is. Two of our colleagues ‘“ Muang Muangoo and Bothip ‘“ who were taking asylum in Manipur were apprehended by the Junta from near the border town of Moreh in 2006 after crossing the border lines in a clandestine manner,’ Thura recalled.

It is informed that the junta court later sentenced Maungoo to ‘˜40 years’ life imprisonment and slapping similar punishment for Bothip for five years.

Thura also revealed that due to his involvement in the campaign for restoration of democracy the military Junta sacked his father from the post of officer in education department.

Release of Nobel laureate Suu Kyi on November 13 after nearly two decades of detention had created scenes of joy and celebration in the neighboring country.

The Nobel Peace prize winner is the leader of National League for Democracy (NLD) that had recorded landslide victory in the election conducted twenty years ago.

According to Thura continued imprisonment of over 2000 political activists in different jails of Myanmar is another key factor for the pro-democracy activists reluctant to go back to their country.  Over three hundred activists belonging to several groups including BSO have been living in Manipur since the junta ordered a violent crackdown against pro-democracy demonstrators in August, 1988.

From over 10,000 refugees that managed to flee Myanmar in the aftermath of the massacre many have been granted asylum in the state.  ‘I fled my country as a young bachelor of 24 and settled in Manipur and in 1998 I got married in the state. Now we have a small family with two little daughters. My sweet daughters who have never seen Myanmar are studying in a school in Churachandpur,’ an emotional Thura said.  Like him many of his colleagues got married in the state and are leading a Manipuri style life, he said. ‘All of us are fully adapted to indigenous Manipuri dishes including our favorite Iromba,’ Thura said.

(Courtesy: The Sangai Express)

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