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2010年10月26日 (火)

ビルマNow

現在アウンサンスーチーさんを筆頭にビルマ民主化運動を扇動した罪で2200人あまりが拘束留置されている。
ここでは国連で認められている人権はまったく無視されている。
刑務所(留置場)では執拗な暴行が公然と行われている。
それでタイに逃げ込む人が多いのだ。
国連でそれらの人々を難民として認めてもらえばタイ政府もビルマへの強制送還はできない。
こまったことに難民として認められないケースが多いということだ。
難民と認められていない人がタイで捕まると、本国ビルマに強制送還される。
捕まって強制送還されるくらいなら自殺の道を決意している人たちもいる。
現在タイで暮らしている違法滞在者(民主化運動)は不安な毎日を過ごしている。
(スラチャイ記)

Former Political Prisoners Fear Repatriation
民主化運動の政治犯は(タイ政府による)ビルマ本国強制送還を恐れる

By ALEX ELGEE
Wednesday, October 20, 2010 

MAE SOT, Thailand—For six years, Thiha Yazar was isolated from the world in a prison cell in eastern Burma. The prison guards had been ordered not to communicate with him.

“The worst thing about that time was having no sense of the future or the past,” Thiha told The Irrawaddy. “I was completely alone and lost.”

The cell had one  small window, and to keep himself from being too lonely, he would talk to birds.  “I would ask them to go and say hello to my daughter for me.”

At night, he would talk to the moon and stars. “They kept me company; they were my only friends,” Thiha said.

Despite the isolation and depression he felt over the years, he doesn’t see that period of  isolation as the worst part of  the 18-years he spent in prison. The worst part was during  the 25-day period when he was tortured following his role in a hunger strike over the lack of prison rights.

They stripped him  and beat him till he couldn’t stand up any more. “The next day I woke up with bruises all over my body, but they propped me up and beat me again,” he said, still visibly shaken by the memory. “And the next day and the next, for 25 days—I thought I would die.”

Thiha’s story is one of thousands which have come out of Burmese prisons, where many political prisoners are tortured and denied basic prison rights. Their only crime, Thiha says, “is to fight for democracy, freedom and basic human rights in our country where the regime has denied the people everything.”

To raise awareness about the situation of political prisoners, Thiha has teamed up with Canadian journalist Paul Pickrem and written an account of his imprisonment. The book, “No Easy Road: A Burmese Political Prisoner’s Story,”
chronicles his life growing up as the  child of an army colonel,   his sentence to death for high treason at the age of 25, and up until the time he fled to the Thai-Burma border.

“I want the international community to know about my life so people can better understand the situation for all political prisoners, and what our families go through,” he said.

When he went to prison, his daughter was three years old and on his release, she didn’t  recognize him.  “She said she knew I was her daddy but didn’t know who I was. Then she blamed me for her mother’s death.”

Her mother had a heart attack when his  daughter was six years old. She had a bad heart, and Thiha believes the pressure of having her husband in prison was too much for her.

“It is not only my case, but all political prisoners. Our families are bullied and stigmatized by local pro-junta groups. It was too much for her.”

The book's release has coincided with the upcoming 2010 election, to be held on on Nov. 7. Like many political prisoners who have sought refuge on the Thai-Burma border, Thiha sees no hope for any real change after the  election.

“If we get the rotten food in prison, and then they change the plate from a red plate to white plate, the food will still taste the same. It means, if the regime changes their clothes, it will still be a bad situation for our country,” he said.

“We can see that the generals are doing everything the way they want. How can we expect change when there are still 2,200 political prisoners inside prisons on Election Day?”

Bo Kyi, the joint secretary of the Assistance Association for Political Prisoners-Burma (AAPP), echoed the sentiment. “Now all the key political leaders are in prison, like Aung San Suu Kyi, Min Ko Naing and other ethnic leaders; as long as they are in prison there will be no national reconciliation process,” he said.

“People really trust those leaders. People really want them to lead the country so people will not want to vote. They will only vote because they are threatened by the USDP.

“If the regime really wanted  a credible election, then they would release all political prisoners so they can be included in the national political process,” he said.

Bo Kyi said that he received messages from some of the student leaders inside prison, who have stated that they all reject the upcoming elections.

Although the regime offered them freedom if they publicly supported the election, they  declared that they stood by the “Maubin Declaration,”  an agreement between a group of student leaders that said they would not accept the elections unless all political prisoners are released.

There are currently nearly 2,200 political prisoners  in Burmese prisons across the country. The AAPP says political prisoners  are denied adequate medical treatment and placed in prisons far from their families as a form of psychological torture.

The AAPP has documented the torture of political prisoners in a report that was released on Tuesday titled “Torture, Political Prisoners and the Un-rule of Law: Challenges to Peace, Security and Human Rights in Burma.”

In the report, many political prisoners said the effects of torture remain with them for the rest of their life. Pa Htee Than Hla, a 63-year-old resident of Umpium refugee camp, said he  still suffers from injuries sustained during torture.

An ethnic Karen, he worked with the Karen National Union and received a death sentence when he was  captured, later changed  to 23 years in prison.

Like many political prisoners who flee to Thailand, he said his life was at risk in Burma and he faced constant harassment by the authorities.

Recalling the days after his release, Thiha said members of the Union Solidarity Development Association would come to his house every day and try to force him to become an informer.

“I just wanted to live with my daughter, but it got worse and worse. Finally, they were physically attacking me in the street and shouting that I was a terrorist when I visited the market,” said Thiha.

Although many former political prisoners come to Thailand with high hopes of a better life and freedom in a new country, their dreams are often shattered. In this area, more than 120 former political prisoners are unrecognized by the United Nations as refugees, and they live in fear of arrest and repatriation by Thai authorities.

Aye Myin Soe, a spokesman for a campaign recently launched to try and bring attention to the plight of unrecognized political prisoners, said: “We asked the UN why we cannot be registered, and they said it is out of their hands, only Thailand decides that. So we are left in limbo, concerned about our future, and our families’ future.”

Many unrecognized political prisoners icing in Thailand say it sometime feels like prison here because they are always worried about being arrested.

With the election just weeks away and with little hope that it will change the political situation in Burma, many political former prisoners are concerned that Thai authorities will repatriate them, and they are preparing for the worst.
Thiha said he has already made up his mind about what he will do, should that happen.

“I will commit suicide before being sent back,” he said. “It doesn’t matter. If we are sent back, the regime will take away our lives. We will have no future.”

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