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March 7, 2009

Myanmar junta: US reports on human rights ‘politically motivated’
Myanmar's military junta angrily dismissed two recent US government reports critical of its human rights record and counter-narcotics efforts as unfounded and politically motivated, state media reported Thursday.

Myanmar's Foreign Ministry issued two separate statements carried in the English-language New Light of Myanmar saying the country was the victim of a "disinformation campaign."

The US State Department issued a report February 25 on human rights around the world. It said Myanmar's junta committed "severe human rights abuses" and "brutally suppressed dissent" through a campaign of extrajudicial killings, disappearances and torture.

"Instead of making false allegations at other nations, the United States should concentrate on uplifting its own human rights records," one ministry statement said.

In recent months, the junta has launched a judicial crackdown on dissidents that rights groups say was aimed at putting vocal critics behind bars before elections in 2010.

Myanmar now has more than 2,100 political prisoners, according to rights groups.

The junta also reacted angrily to the State Department's annual survey of global counter-narcotics efforts, released February 27, which said Myanmar had "failed demonstrably" to combat drug trafficking. Myanmar is the world's second-largest producer, after Afghanistan, of opium and heroin.

The US report said in 2007 rising opium values pushed poppy cultivation into new regions of Myanmar. It noted it had not received 2008 UN statistics on Myanmar in time for the annual report.

The Foreign Ministry said authorities have tried to wage a war against drugs with little or no external assistance.

"It is a sad fact that these sincere efforts have not received the full acknowledgment and support that they deserve," said the statement. It called the US report "inaccurate and politically motivated."

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