Thu 15 Mar 2007
Filed under: Inside Burma,News
The Burmese military regime said on Thursday a debate at the American Center last month and an anti-government demonstration, which took place at different locations in Rangoon, incited public unrest, according to a state-run newspaper.
The New Light of Myanmar accused organizers of the debate and demonstration, which both took place on February 22, of holding â€œillegalâ€ activities and inciting â€œpublic unrest and violence.â€
The regime’s mouthpiece newspaper said participants in the two events were members or sympathizers of opposition groups, including the National League for Democracy and the 88 Generation Students group and the separate events were more than coincidence.
The article said Zarganar, a well-known Burmese comedian, gave a threatening talk at the American Center that encouraged unrest and violence.
Speaking to The Irrawaddy, Zarganar denied the allegation and said there was no connection between the two events.
â€œWe frankly spoke about the aims of the debate,â€ Zarganar said. â€œThere was no mention of such things in my speech. I was focusing on students to improve themselves amid their economic hardship and to work toward their professional careers.â€
An audience of about 100 people, mostly students, attended the debate sponsored by the American Center. The center, operated by the US embassy, offers English language courses, a library, films and other facilities that are open to Burmese citizen.
Previously, the junta has accused the US center and some western embassies in Rangoon of violating diplomatic codes of conduct, saying their missions are aimed at interfering in Burma’s internal affairs. The embassies denied the allegations. The American Center is intended to improve people’s language skills and knowledge, according to the US embassy.
A prominent former student leader of the 88 Generation Students group, Ko Ko Gyi, blamed the inaccurate account on the New Light of Myanmar government newspaper.
â€œThe New Light of Myanmar is a state-run newspaper,â€ Ko Ko Gyi told The Irrawaddy. â€œBut it often carries such inaccuracies and accusations. According to the international norm, the Information Minister should resign when there is such a big mistake.â€