A year after thousands of monks took to the streets of Burma’s towns and cities to protest against the tyrannical rule of the Military Junta were broadcast across the world via the internet, the Junta has shown that it will not tolerate any semblance of critical opinion being voiced over the World Wide Web.
Judge Daw Soe recently sentenced Nay Phone Latt to a total of twenty years and six months for possession of a banned video and having a blog to express his concerns about the increasingly difficulty of Burmese people to voice their opinions since the protests last year.
Nay was first arrested in January but was released, along with a handful of National League for Democracy (NLD) politicians, a few hours later but was arrested again a few days later. Since then he has been held at Insein Prison, infamous for grotesque treatment of its political prisoners.
Nay Latt’s mother wasn’t allowed into the courtroom to see her son get sentenced for a crime that she expected him to get ten to twelve years.
When he was sentenced to twenty years and six months it served as a shock to not just her but Nay’s lawyer as well.
“The blogger's lawyer was himself jailed for criticising the special court's procedures,” reports Reporters without Borders, who have also published that the celebrated poet Saw Wai has been sentenced to two years in prison for a poem that stated that Dictator Than Shwe is power crazy.
What does this mean for the Constitution that was rushed through regardless of Cyclone Nargis’ devastating impact on the country?
Well, a document that secures 110 out of the 440 seats for the military illustrates that the Junta are firmly in control and do planning to cave into the international pressure put on the country and the shuttle diplomacy of UN Secretary General’s Special Envoy Ibrahim Gambari.
The seemingly liberal and enlightened Constitution guarantees basic rights, such as freedom to form political parties and unions; the freedom of press; religion and the rights of minorities is a far cry from the laws used to sentence Nay Latt and Saw Wai.
With the long awaited visit of UN Secretary General, Ban Ki-Moon, pending, it is hoped that he can make some headway with a Junta determined to stonewall any progress to free Nobel Laureate Aung San Suu Kyi from her twenty years’ house arrest, let alone grant the rights enshrined in the Constitution.
With the international media and public moving onto the cause de jour, the pressure has eased off of the secretive Junta. With the first anniversary of Nargis looming it seems as though the country has been in stasis with the Military not even wishing to pay lip service to their masterpiece (the Constitution), which took nearly twenty years to compete!