Articles

Burmese Blogger, poet, and Dissidents Sentenced

In Foreign Affairs, human rights, Injustice, internet, Technology, television on November 15, 2008 by Editor Z

The global scene now for the United States and the world is chaotic right now to say the least. Between Wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, constant tension in the Middle East, Genocide in Darfur, a financial collapse that has reverberated throughout the world , and the litany of crises could go on.

So its not surprising that following the Saffron Revolution last year and the Burmese Military Junta’s crackdown and detention of those who participated in the march would be lost in the myriad of troubles in our global state of Attention Deficit Disorder, where one crisis makes headlines until the most dramatic portion of it (dramatic to tv audiences that is) dies down and fades from the news casts and isn’t viewed as worthy of much ink or space in newspapers.

But from the thousands detained in the wake of the Fall of 2007 demonstrations and the recent sentencing of a blogger, accused of providing information to the outside world during the Saffron Revolution, and another dissenter, a poet who wrote a poem that criticized the leader of the military and country General Than Shwe.

Don’t forget much of the video footage and information that emerged from the isolated Asian nation was provided by bloggers and with the use of cellphones and most importantly the Internet.

CNN International:

YANGON, Myanmar (CNN) — Courts in Myanmar have sentenced a blogger, a poet and several dissidents to several years in jail for anti-regime activities, a court official told CNN Tuesday.

The verdicts were announced Monday and Tuesday, the court official said.

Blogger Nay Phone Latt was sentenced to more than 20 years in jail for his illegal Internet activities, the court official said.

The blogger was a “major source of information for the outside world” when the military junta used force last year to suppress anti-government demonstrations, said The Irrawaddy, an online newspaper published by exiles from Myanmar, which is also known as Burma.

The government exercises strict controls over media outlets in the southeast Asian country. Dissidents often turn to the Internet to disseminate information.

In the second case, poet Saw Wai received a two-year jail sentence for a poem he wrote for Valentine’s Day that contained a veiled jab at the junta’s leading figure, Senior Gen. Than Shwe.

The first words of each line in the eight-line poem, “February the Fourteenth” spelled out the message: “Senior General Than Shwe is crazy with power.More>>>

The Internet and other interactive technologies that can link oppressed people to the rest of the world is probably the best tool of the oppressed and conversely the greatest fear of tyrants. A message or news from a corner of the globe that might otherwise go unheard by the countless open ears of countries all over the world. The Internet is a resource that transcends the boundaries of states and although it is severely regulated by the autocratic ruling regime there. Still news internally comes out in trickles and the gradual yet constant flow of information has the ability too stream out of there. In the future, just think as the Internet expands and channels of communications reach further to these outposts, how much more pressure this will put on autocratic regimes. I mean if the Internet was around and widely used back then, don’t you think a few more dissident voices would have been able to at least make cracks in the cacophony of propaganda issued by Hitler, Stalin, and Mao?

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