WORLD: Junta may move money out of Burma, AHRC director warns

(Hong Kong, September 29, 2007) Members of Burma’s junta may try to move vast sums of capital out of the country, pushing the country deeper into crisis, the Asian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) director warned on Saturday.

“There is a serious risk the generals may try to move much of their ill-gotten wealth abroad,” the Hong Kong-based rights group’s director said.

“Every time that a regime of this sort has been seriously threatened we have seen this happen, and it has taken years to get even a fraction of the money back into the country,” Fernando said, alluding to the Marcos and Soeharto regimes in the Philippines and Indonesia.

Protestors in Burma have labelled the generals “great thief-kings” due to their luxurious lifestyles.

The country, which is rich in natural resources and has millions of hard-working and capable people, is among the poorest in the world due to the regime’s corruption and economic mismanagement.

Last year, a video of the opulent wedding of the armed forces commander’s daughter caused outrage when it was widely distributed through black market VCDs.

“As Burma is already impoverished thanks to the greed and immorality of its military commanders, it could face economic collapse were a large amount of hard currency and other liquid reserves suddenly sent abroad,” Fernando said.

“Forty per cent of its children are already malnourished. Economic catastrophe right now would push the place towards utter ruin,” he said.

“We hope that the international financial community will be alert to this possibility and do its best to prevent it, particularly as there are reports at this time that close relatives of these generals are leaving the country,” Fernando added.

According to the Democratic Voice of Burma, the immediate family of armed forces’ commander and head of state Senior General Than Shwe has gone abroad.

On Friday the Democratic Voice of Burma (DVB) reported that his wife, Daw Kyaing Kyaing, had arrived in Singapore with other family members, but may have since proceeded to another destination.

On Saturday the Oslo-based radio station revealed that his daughter, Ma Shwe Aye, and her husband, the businessman U Teza, had arrived in Dubai and are staying at the 7-star Burj Al Arab Hotel.

A correspondent called the hotel and left a message for Teza, who owns numerous businesses, including a domestic airline, Air Bagan, to call him back for an interview.

The businessman had not yet complied with the request.

Document Type : Press Release
Document ID : AHRC-PL-040-2007
Countries : Burma (Myanmar),
Campaigns : Burma Peoples Protests