Monks slam Burma whistleblower execution

Jan 13, 2010 (DVB), A prominent Burmese monks' association has criticized as "cruel" and counterproductive the recent sentencing to death of two whistleblowers who leaked sensitive information to exiled media.

In December last year, government officials Win Naing Kyaw and Thura Kyaw were handed death sentences by a Rangoon court for allegedly leaking the details of senior governmental visits to North Korea and Russia.

The All Burma Monks Alliance (ABMA) said that such "political" acts by the government "will not solve the basic problems faced by the nation".

It also said that the sentencing throws into light the threat posed to all military and government officials by a junta that does "not hesitate to cull people of its own kind when it comes to their profit".

Death sentences however are rarely carried out in Burma, and are normally commuted to life imprisonment.

Despite monks traditionally being an apolitical community, their prominence in the September 2007 uprising has made them iconic figureheads for resistance against Burma's military junta.

Around 240 monks are currently held in prisons across Burma, according to the Thailand-based Assistance Association for Political Prisoners-Burma (AAPP).

"We are calling the military leaders, including [junta chief] Senior General Than Shwe, to release all monks and lay political prisoners, including the two people facing death sentence, Daw Aung San Suu Kyi, and ethnic leaders," said U Awbartha, from the ABMA.

Burma is due to hold its first elections this year since 1990, and both the US and EU have said that the release of all political prisoners must be secured before polling takes place. Critics of the junta claim however that the 2008 constitution guarantees a continuation of military rule in the country.

"The 2010 elections are not a solution for peace in the country," said U Awbartha. "We would like to suggest [the junta] hold dialogue, which we have been constantly calling for, if they really want to bring peace to the people."

Reporting by Maung Too

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