Several people may be amazed to take notice of tipping Thein Sein as a candidate for the Nobel Peace Prize. Why? Active people do not forget the past. They do not fail to remember the Thein Sein who was the Prime Minister of the previous military junta that cracked down on the Saffron Revolution in September 2007, which was launched by Buddhist monks.
In addition, Thein Sein was the same Prime Minister responsible for refusing international humanitarian aid during an emergency period when Burma was ravaged by the Nargis storm in May 2008. According to the New York-based Human Rights Watch (HRW), the storm left 140,000 people dead and severely affected 2.4 million.
Right now, brutal warfare launched by the military-backed Thein Sein government goes on in ethnic areas, especially in Kachin State. The Burma Army continues merciless fighting on the ethnic Kachin people. It is the practice of government armed forces using landmines, bombarding artillery shells, attacking ordinary civilians, using rape as a war weapon, taking hostages for forced labor, destructing citizens’ properties, sustenance and agricultural farms and burning ethnic villages.
However, President Thein Sein, in an interview with the BBC’s Hardtalk Televised program that aired on 29 September, dismissed the human rights groups’ reports that Burmese soldiers have committed human rights abuses against local civilians in Kachin state.
Asked to comment on a report released earlier this year by the New York based Human Rights Watch alleging that government forces have routinely committed acts of rape and torture during the army’s 16-month-long Kachin offensive, Thein Sein responded that the charges are just one-sided accusations.
He answered that Burmese armed forces are well-disciplined and it is baseless to say the Burma Army has committed rape and homicide, Thein Sein told Stephen Sackur, host of BBC Hardtalk. The interview was done in New York while Thein Sein was attending the United Nations General Assembly.