By Zin Linn
Today, 4th January, is the 64th Anniversary Independence Day of Burma. President Thein Sein of the Union of Burma sent a message to honor the occasion of the 64th Anniversary Independence Day. The government-owned media covered his Independence Day message on Wednesday.
On the contrary, people are criticizing the president’s message as a hollow stance due to lack of sincerity. State-owned televisions and radios said Monday that President Thein Sein had signed a clemency decree in order to mark the country’s 64th anniversary of independence. However, it is not doing an adequate amount of political prisoners insisted by the activists.
The next day on Tuesday, Burma started releasing some prisoners, but many activists and relatives said President Thein Sein’s clemency did not meet a pledge made by him in quest of national reconciliation. Since the so-called amnesty is a sham, over a thousand political prisoners may perhaps remain behind bars at least two to three decades.
According to the State-owned MRTV, the decree says that death sentences will be commuted to life term, while some prisoners serving above 30 years will have their punishments reduce to 30 years. The inmates serving between 20 to 30 years must be cut back equal to 20 years. Those serving less than 20 years will have their sentences cut by one-fourth.
It means prominent political prisoner, who were sentenced to 65 years term, will have to languish 30 years in merciless jails. Several ex- political detainees and dissidents are showing their serious disappointment through exile media and Face-Book as the clemency order makes no difference to political detainees. It gives favor only to common criminals and oppresses the politicians who were thrown into jails for their political beliefs.
Meanwhile, the US State Department said on Tuesday that Burma’s current amnesty to prisoners was not good enough, urging the Thein Sein government to release all political prisoners.
State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland said the United States remained concerned about more than a thousand political prisoners that remain in prison adding that ‘a full political prisoner release’ is what the international community wants to see.
In his message to the 64th Anniversary Independence Day, President Thein Sein says: “All the people will be well aware of the fact that today, some powerful nations are attempting to influence weaker ones resorting to various ways and means. So, the entire people of the Union need to join hands in safeguarding and maintaining independence and sovereignty. Therefore, it is especially important for all the national people to try to ensure non-disintegration of the Union, non-disintegration of national solidarity and perpetuation of sovereignty.”
Then Thein Sein’s message is one and the same as the previous junta. The old wine is still in the old bottle. He’s unchanged seeing the democratic elements as pro-Western colonialists.
President Thein Sein did not mention clearly in his message that which powerful nation is attempting to manipulate Burma, the US or China. According to people’s concern, Chinese infiltration into the country by means of trade and development has been reached boiling point. It could explode at any time since people are awakening with patriotism.
He also said, “People are the simple and honest ones living in the nation in peace and unity. Always respecting their faith and culture, they are helpful to each other. All the national races have been living in amity and intimacy respecting each other’s tradition and culture.”
While President is saying to be helpful to each other among the ethnic groups, his armed forces have been fighting fiercely against the Kachin Independence Organization in the Kachin State.
What is the government’s objective launching the war against the Kachin rebels?
Although, President Thein Sein has been speaking seriously about the national unity for several times, the war against Kachin ethnic group keeps on ever more. If this conflict goes on in this way, the government’s promises of building a democratic nation as well as advanced member in the ASEAN seem to be in vain.
The worst of his message is that: “A Tatmadaw (Army) of international standard is required for national defense. Participation of the entire national people is necessary for forming a strong, patriotic and skillful Tatmadaw.”
It means the defense ministry will take the lion’s share of the national budget. Then, education and health budget-allotments will be underprivileged as usual. So, people do not believe Burma is marching towards a new modern, developed and democratic nation.