ASIO stalks Burmese activists

Issue 

ASIO stalks Burmese activists

BY SEAN HEALY

SYDNEY — The Australian Security and Intelligence Organisation (ASIO) has been following Burmese refugees in Australia and phoning them every day to check up on their activities, Maung Maung Than, national coordinator of the All-Burma Students Democratic Organisation, told Green Left Weekly.

Than said that one ASIO agent had followed him every day for weeks before a May 25 pro-democracy demonstration outside the Burmese embassy in Canberra. The agent called Than frequently to ask what the group's plans were and showed him her identification as a member of the International Terrorism Suspects unit. She also asked about who had occupied the Burmese embassy in Bangkok in October.

Another Burmese democracy activist was visited by an ASIO agent who inquired about the activist's movements after his telephone was disconnected. A third was told that ASIO knew of his attempts to gain a visa to enter Thailand under another name. A fourth was quizzed about Than's activities and Burmese activists' plans during the Olympic Games.

Both ASIO and the Australian Federal Police are concerned that pro-democracy activists may stage demonstrations against the Burmese regime during the Olympics. The head of Burma's Olympics committee, Khin Nyunt, is also the feared chief of the country's security services. He may visit Australia with Burma's Olympic team.

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