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Myanmar activist says China ignores junta's graft

 Myanmar's Ka Hsaw Wa, one of six 2009 Ramon Magsaysay awardees, Asia's equivalent of the Nobel Prize, gestures during a press presentation Thursday A...
 Myanmar's Ka Hsaw Wa, one of six 2009 Ramon Magsaysay awardees, Asia's equivalent of the Nobel Prize, poses next to his portrait during a press prese...

Philippines Magsaysay Awards

Myanmar's Ka Hsaw Wa, one of six 2009 Ramon Magsaysay awardees, Asia's equivalent of the Nobel Prize, gestures during a press presentation Thursday A...

Philippines Magsaysay Awards

Myanmar's Ka Hsaw Wa, one of six 2009 Ramon Magsaysay awardees, Asia's equivalent of the Nobel Prize, poses next to his portrait during a press prese...

China and other governments with lucrative business deals in Myanmar are ignoring massive corruption by its ruling military junta, a pro-democracy activist said Thursday.
Ka Hsaw Wa said corruption has become the second worst problem in Myanmar after widespread human rights violations and afflicts all levels of its government.
He spoke to The Associated Press in Manila, where he was named one of six recipients of the prestigious Ramon Magsaysay award, considered Asia's version of the Nobel Prize, for documenting human rights and environmental abuses in his country.
Corruption in Myanmar should be dealt with urgently, since most people struggle to afford three meals a day, Ka Hsaw Wa said. But obtaining evidence is almost impossible, he said.
"It's simply economic plunder," Ka Hsaw Wa said, adding that "99.9 percent of the ruling junta, from a normal soldier to the top generals, are completely corrupt."
He said corruption within the military should be apparent to friendly foreign governments like China, but they look the other way.
"We won't turn a blind eye to that (corruption), of course," said Ethan Sun, a spokesman at the Chinese Embassy in Manila. He added, however, that trade and economic cooperation "benefit the peoples of both countries."
China has often supported the junta against international pressure in the past.
Most generals live in sprawling, heavily guarded compounds which are off-limits to the public, he said. When a secret video of the lavish 2006 wedding of senior Gen. Than Shwe's daughter surfaced on YouTube, it caused outrage in his country.
International watchdogs have consistently ranked Myanmar, also known as Burma, among the world's most corrupt nations. Transparency International's 2008 list put it next to last, ahead of only Somalia.
The junta does not publicly respond to accusations of corruption, but it has launched anti-corruption drives mostly targeting low-level offenses. A call to the embassy in Manila was not answered Thursday.
"A lot of countries want to swallow Burma alive, it's so rich in natural resources," Ka Hsaw Wa said. "But they try not to see (corruption) in a way that they can do business there."
While the Myanmar government officially restricts logging, middle-level military officers have cut down huge swaths of rain forests for personal profit, he said.
Ka Hsaw Wa, a member of Myanmar's ethnic Karen minority, was a 17-year-old student activist when the government violently suppressed 1988 pro-democracy demonstrations. After his arrest, he fled to the jungle where he witnessed atrocities committed against villagers, the Ramon Magsaysay Award Foundation said.
EarthRights, the nonprofit group he co-founded, filed a case in the United States in 1996 against the U.S.-based oil company Unocal for alleged complicity in human rights and environmental abuses committed by Myanmar's military in the building of the Yadana gas pipeline. After 10 years of litigation, Unocal agreed to compensate the 11 petitioners.
EarthRights also runs a school in Thailand that trains young people from Myanmar and other countries in nonviolent social change.


Updated : 2021-04-12 15:58 GMT+08:00