Than Shwe biographer deported from Myanmar

25th March 2011, Comments 0 comments

The British author of a biography of Myanmar strongman Than Shwe told on Friday how he was deported from the country after being identified by secret police.

Benedict Rogers said he was "a bit frustrated" after being flown out of Myanmar, also known as Burma, on Wednesday at the end of a week in the country.

Speaking in Bangkok, the author of "Than Shwe: Unmasking Burma's Tyrant" said plain clothes officers referred to a file containing a photocopy of the front cover of his book when they arrived at his hotel late Tuesday night.

Rogers, who works for Christian Solidarity Worldwide, said the experience of being deported was "surreal" and "definitely a sad feeling particularly as I have been working on Burma for more than 12 years".

But he said he was not surprised that he had been expelled.

He was told by officials at the airport that his books, particularly the one about Than Shwe, were behind the decision.

"Inside Burma, the name Than Shwe inspires fear, loathing, and ridicule in equal measure. He is a man who has presided over a regime guilty of every possible violation of human rights, including war crimes," Rogers said in his introduction to the biography.

A Myanmar official said Rogers was deported from Yangon after entering Myanmar as a tourist.

"The authorities later found out as he was the one who wrote about Senior General Than Shwe and they deported him. He cannot come back here as he's on black list now," the official said.

Than Shwe began his authoritarian rule in 1992 and continues to dominate the impoverished nation, which has been ruled by the military for nearly 50 years.

Myanmar has a new political system after a controversial election last November, but the army hierarchy retains its grip on power, with a key Than Shwe ally named as president and other ex-generals throughout the new parliament.

Rogers, who stressed he had not sought publicity after the incident, said he had used the opportunity to question the Myanmar officials, asking one why he was being sent out if the country now proclaimed itself democratic.

The official said "Myanmar will become a democracy one day, but slowly, slowly", Rogers said, but when pressed conceded there had been "no change" in the country.

© 2011 AFP

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