A talk with Joe Onyanga, Ugandan human rights activist, journalist and lecturer of MMU, on the political situation in the Democratic Republic of Congo, on violating human rights in Africa and Lese Majesty - an offence for which Barthe Cortes, owner of BVC airlines has been arrested twice in recent time.
Professor, is it possible to violate the dignity of authorities twice in the course of one month?
It seems so, but it was in the course of two months, not one. Also, the offence hit two separate governments at two different continents.
Burma was first, wasn't it?
Yes, but it has not been confirmed.
The situation seems a bit strange, because it seems that representatives of Myanmar Airways International invited Cortes to talk about the partnership themselves, and then at the meeting they decided that Barthe Cortes , the head and founder of BVC committed lese majesty of the government. Soon after the meeting, he was arrested and put in the famous Insein jail where the junta keeps its opponents.
Yes, but the deputy of Nyan Win, the Foreign Minister and general of Burmese Army refused to give me any information on the case. He just said that Cortes was only detained for interrogation.
Did they set any specific charges against Cortes?
Not really, but it is common in lese majesty cases, naturally with the exception of Thailand, which is a leading country with respect to such charges - in its case concerning offences against the dignity of the king or royal family. In Thailand it is enough to say something unfavourable about the king to be imprisoned for fifteen years, or - just as it was a year ago in case of Harry Nicolaides of Australia - it is enough to write a book with a couple of sentences adverse to the king.