- The Washington Times - Friday, May 19, 2006


NEW DELHI — An attempt by India-based Burmese democracy activists to rescue a small child in Burma — after her father was sentenced to death and her mother was imprisoned — failed when the Burmese military watching the child intercepted the rescuers, a relative of the child in India said this week.

Because her father was a pro-democracy activist and supporter of 1991 Nobel Peace Prize winner Aung San Suu Kyi, 4-year-old Ei Po Po has become the youngest prisoner in military-ruled Burma.

Burmese security forces picked her up in January while she was visiting her grandparents in Yan Lem Phai in northern Burma.

A top U.N. envoy, Ibrahim Gambari, arrived in Burma on Thursday to press the junta on human rights and democratic reforms, in the highest-level mission for more than two years.

It is not known whether he will discuss the child’s case with government officials, or whether he will be allowed to meet with Mrs. Suu Kyi, Agence France-Presse reported on Thursday.

In February, Ei was released and authorities ordered her grandparents to care for her. Despite her grandparents’ pleas, the Burmese military refused to allow the girl to see her parents.

Two days before the child and her mother were picked up in Burma — on Jan. 14, along with a colleague — the girl’s father, Chit Thein Tun, an India-based Burmese Solidarity Organization (BSO) activist was abducted from Moreh, India, and taken to Burma by Burmese soldiers. With the mother in jail and the father now on death row, Burmese activists started worrying about the child’s future.

“Born in India and living with her parents, Ei attended a nursery school in Manipur. In [Burma], it is impossible for her impoverished grandparents to take her to another nursery school now. They appealed to send the child to her aunt in India, but Burmese authorities turned down their prayer,” said Dr. Ko Thura, a BSO leader who lives in India. “It is a ruthless treatment to the little child.

“The 4-year-old child is under a virtual house arrest. Burmese agents are keeping a constant watch on her. She is not free to move. She cannot even go out of Yan Lem Phai, let alone out of [Burma],” Dr. Thura said.

Amnesty International has condemned the government’s treatment of the child. The activists said that earlier this month another attempt to bring the child out of Burma failed when one of two activists on the mission was intercepted by the Burmese agents. Both activists managed to escape to India.

The writer asked that his name be withheld, fearing retaliation from the Burmese government.

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