Army Officers Held Over Publication of Sensitive Material
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Army Officers Held Over Publication of Sensitive Material

By SAW YAN NAING Thursday, July 16, 2009


Ten high-ranking Burmese army officers have reportedly been arrested on suspicion of divulging to Western and exiled media news of a secret visit to North Korea by the junta’s No 3, Gen Shwe Mann, and photographs and video footage of tunnel construction in and around Naypyidaw.

The suspects, all holding the rank of lieutenant-colonel, will be court-martialed and face the death penalty if convicted, according to one of several sources, a former intelligence officer with close contacts to the seat of power in Naypyidaw.

Some suspected of complicity had gone into hiding, the source said.

In recent weeks, several photographs of Shwe Mann visiting the North Korean capital Pyongyang in November 2008 were carried by several media outlets, including the BBC, CNN, Al Jazeera, the Democratic Voice of Burma, and The Irrawaddy

Photographs and video footages of a tunnel construction site in Burma were also carried by the media organizations.

Official sources said members of the suspects’ families also feared the consequences of the crackdown.

The Bangkok-based English language daily newspaper The Nation reported at the weekend that several senior Burmese officials had been sacked in recent weeks after publication of photographs of secret tunnels in Burma built by North Korean experts from 2003 to 2006.

In their investigations into the leaks, Burmese intelligence officials reportedly interviewed associates of former intelligence chief, Lt-Gen Khin Nyunt, who was toppled in 2004.

The Nation reported that the authorities had also arrested several journalists thought to have had access to the sensitive material.

During his seven-day visit to Pyongyang, Shwe Mann signed a memorandum of understanding at the defense ministry with North Korea’s Chief of General Staff, Gen Kim Kyok-sik, to formalize military cooperation between the two countries.  

Shwe Mann and his followers was also taken on a tour of construction sites where secret tunnels were being built into the mountains to house jet aircraft, missiles, tanks and nuclear and chemical weapons in Pyongyang and Myohyang.

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Ko Maung Wrote:
It is obvious that there are some officers inside who are not happy with the SPDC anymore. I still hold some hope that there will be a kind of People's Tatmadaw in the future led by a new generation of officers.

Moe Aung Wrote:
Whistleblowers can be risking their jobs or a lawsuit even in the liberal democracies, and here these officers must know they were heading for a court martial and possibly execution.

Why go for half measures when you can plot a palace coup or a mutiny for no greater risk? It may well be trumped up charges as usual for something more serious than a security leak.

The more officers and men wake up to the reality of the junta's misrule and tyranny so damaging to the country the better, and not a moment too soon.

George Than Setkyar Heine Wrote:
The debacle has begun.
Dogs are eating dogs now.
This is the scenario awaiting to unfold since day one.
I salute and commend the brave and duty- conscious officers for divulging the truth to the world.
Executing the officers would only make martyrs out of them. Their sacrifices would be certainly rewarded and recognized one day in the same league as our late Gen Aung San and others.
Surely there are many of this ilk and kind in the Burma Army founded by Daw Suu's late father.
Today's officers were students during the 8888 nationwide uprisings in Burma. They know they are sinning—doing injustices, raping, burning, killing etc—in order that Than Shwe and his thugs could rob at will and hang onto power today.
Hence, here is a good option for the monk murderer to save his hide.
Talk to Daw Suu and her people, work things out accordingly and in the people's interests also before he dies in the hands of his own officers.
This is just the beginning of the end for the monk murderer, I say.

Moe Aung Wrote:
We get surprised at every turn by their capacity to sink lower still. About time these lower ranking officers realized their future lay with a democratic Burma and did what they should have done a long time ago—rise up and overthrow the junta for everyone's sake. Unless they make it really happen—no undue tardiness, indecision or cock-ups—they are destined to follow the same fate as Capt Ohn Kyaw Myint and the rest of them.

Saw Dennis Wrote:
If the SPDC military junta is really moving towards democratic change, even towards a displined one, according to its 7-step Road Map, the arrested officers should not be given a death sentence, even if they are found guilty. After all,the visit to North Korea and tunnelling should have been public knowledge in the first place, like the trial of Daw Suu.The democratic forces should send a strong message to the junta warning or urging it of the need to respect human rights of these officers and allow due process of law in the case. The US, Russia and China know all about the supposedly top secret activities. The revelation by these officers about the secret has not changed any thing. If the junta executes the officers and the journalists, the junta will be seen as having sunk to the level of a dog--eat-dog world.

Nat Ka Lay Wrote:
The overview is the sign of disloyalty under command. Generals should realize that their commands were clinically followed without obedience. Soldiers with this kind of heartless obedience will swiftly change their side once the opposite camp seems safe for their escape. They will never confront the enemy when the real battle comes. So, generals, please do not go on with robotic soldiers. You're bound to fail already.

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