'Climate of fear in Myanmar ahead of referendum’
Military-ruled Myanmar is gripped by a climate of fear ahead of a May 10 constitutional referendum, according to three Buddhist monks who led a failed revolt against the junta and other activists.
"People are threatened, (some) brutally beaten by unknown assailants," said U Kovida, who was in the forefront of last September's "saffron revolution" that was brutally suppressed by the military.
"The closer the May referendum is, the more scared and concerned the people are about their safety and security," said Kovida, who fled to neighbouring Thailand and was recently accepted as refugee in the United States together with his two compatriots.
He testified at a Congressional hearing Thursday that he was informed by his colleagues in Myanmar that security had been tightened with police and security forces deployed in the main streets of the former capital Yangon.
Kovida, a leader of the "Monks Representative Group" which organised some of the first demonstrations, suggested that the junta might not accept any unfavourable referendum result.