BANGKOK, AUG. 15 -- A U.S. human-rights group today accused the military government of Myanmar -- formerly Burma -- of "gross human-rights violations" that it said have continued despite the government's electoral defeat in May.
The military has failed to transfer power to the National League for Democracy, which the it concedes won more than 80 percent of the seats in the May 27 election for a new legislature. The leader of the National League, Aung San Suu Kyi, has been under house arrest for almost 14 months. Another party leader, Tin U, is in prison.
Despite the opposition victory, "the military government led by Gen. Saw Maung has maintained its hold on power and has continued to commit gross human-rights violations," said a report by the New York-based Asia Watch. The report cited the cases of a dissident who allegedly died while chained to his hospital bed and a doctor who is thought to have been poisoned after helping rebellious students.
"Thousands of political prisoners are believed to remain in custody and at least two dissidents, Min Thein and Kyaw Moe Thant, have died since May either in custody or in suspicious circumstances shortly after release," it said. "Torture, including electric shocks, beatings, sleep deprivation . . . has continued since the May elections," the report added.
Maung's junta has ruled by martial law since seizing power in September 1988, when soldiers killed hundreds of democracy demonstrators. The report said more than 10,000 people have been held for political offenses since then.
Asia Watch is affiliated with Helsinki Watch-Human Rights Watch, a group of organizations that monitor basic rights set forth in the 1975 Helsinki East-West Conference. Western diplomats in Yangon, formerly Rangoon, and sources along the Thai-Burmese border also have reported official abuses.