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Archive for March 27th, 2009

Myanmar: Junta Chief Sets Guidelines For 2010 Polls

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Myanmar: Junta Chief Sets Guidelines For 2010 Polls

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Myanmar generals attend the 64th anniversary of Armed Forces Day held in the country’s administrative capital Naypyitaw Friday, 27 March 2009. (Photo courtesy: AP Photo/Khin Maung Win)
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NAYPYITAW, MYANMAR: Myanmar’s junta chief set some ground rules Friday (27 March) for historic elections scheduled for 2010, calling on political parties to avoid smear campaigns and to remember it will take awhile to establish a “mature” democracy.

Senior Gen. Than Shwe rarely says anything in public except at the annual Armed Forces Day, a holiday celebrated Friday to mark the military’s might with a customary ostentatious display of troops and military equipment.

As a traditional practice, the public was not allowed to attend the tightly guarded event at a massive parade ground in Naypyitaw, the remote administrative capital the junta moved its government offices to in 2005.

After reviewing more than 13,000 troops from inside a moving convertible, Than Shwe gave a 17-minute speech that focused on elections scheduled for 2010 _ which will be the first polls in almost two decades.

The elections are the last stage of the junta’s so-called “roadmap to democracy,” a process critics have called a sham designed to cement the military’s four-decade grip on power.

The 76-year-old Than Shwe said political parties that contest the elections should “refrain from inciting unrest, avoid personal attacks and smear campaigns against other parties.”

Parties that carry out “mature party organizing work will receive the blessing of the government,” he said, but added the country should not expect a “well-established democracy” overnight.

“Democracy in Myanmar today is at a fledgling stage and still requires patient care and attention,” Than Shwe told the invited guests, which included military leaders, government ministers and reporters. Foreign media were denied visas to cover the event.

“As a Myanmar proverb puts it, ‘a recently dug well cannot be expected to produce clear water immediately’ _ understanding the process of gradual maturity is crucial,” he said.

A precise election date has not been set and it is not yet known who will contest the polls. Before a political party can participate it must meet the standards of a “political parties registration law,” which has not yet been announced by the government.

Myanmar has been under military rule since 1962.

The current junta took power in 1988 after violently crushing a pro-democracy uprising. Two years later it refused to hand over power when Aung San Suu Kyi’s political party won a landslide election victory.

Suu Kyi, a Nobel Peace Prize laureate, has been under house arrest for 13 of the last 19 years.

As part of its roadmap, the junta drafted a new constitution that enshrines the military’s leading role in politics. One of the provisions of the constitution effectively bars Suu Kyi from holding any kind of political office in Myanmar, also known as Burma.

Suu Kyi’s National League for Democracy did not participate in the drafting process and says last year’s constitutional referendum _ which adopted the charter by 92% _ was engineered by the junta. It has called for a review process that includes pro-democracy groups and ethnic representatives.

In his speech, Than Shwe clearly indicated there will be no review, saying the “constitution (was) adopted by the people.”

Armed Forces Day is held every 27 March to commemorate the day in 1945 when the Myanmar army rose up against Japanese occupation forces.

Initially called Resistance Day, the name was dropped in 1974 to avoid offending Japan, Myanmar’s top aid donor in the 1970s. In recent years, commemoration speeches have refrained from mentioning the fight against the Japanese. (AP)

http://www.mysinchew.com/node/22637


Written by Lwin Aung Soe

March 27, 2009 at 10:01 am

World focus on Burma (27 March 2009)

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China, Burma to build cross border gas pipeline

Mizzima.com – 

The New Light of Myanmar, Burma’s official newspaper on Friday reported that the Burmese Energy Minister Brig-Gen Lun Thi and Head of China’s National …

One killed, two injured in North Okkalapa blast

Mizzima.com – ‎‎

Bomb blasts in Burma are a rarity but not uncommon. Earlier this month, two bomb explosions occurred within a span of one hour in Padoma Park in Sanchaung …

UN reappoints Myanmar investigator, slams junta

eTaiwan News – ‎‎

The 47-nation body passed a resolution Friday condemning violations in the country also known as Burma. It urged the government to release all political …

Poverty, rebels push farmers to drug cultivation in India’s North East

MorungExpress – 

With a total land area of approximately 22, 327 sq km, Manipur state, which shares its border with Myanmar (formerly known as Burma) has one of the highest …

Hunt resumes for murdered yachtsman

The Press Association – 

Thai police arrested and charged three fishermen from neighbouring Burma on Tuesday with murder and robbery. Police said they confessed to climbing aboard …

Bomb explosion in Yangon inn assessed to have killed bomber himself

Xinhua – ‎‎

The authorities linked the incident with two anti-government armed groups in exile including the ABSDF (All Burma Students’ Democratic Front). …

RICS: Government Needs to Revise Zero Carbon Targets

PR Newswire (press release) – 

It also has members working across the region such as Bangladesh , Bhutan , Burma / Myanmar , Cambodia , Indonesia , Japan , Kiribati , Laos PDR, …

Bomb storm in Myanmar

Merinews – 

On all instances the regime has blamed armed groups operating from the Thai-Burma border and anti-junta forces. On Thursday a minor explosion rocked the …

TATA Motors to make trucks in Burma

Mizzima.com – ‎1 hour ago‎

The New Light of Myanmar, Burma’s official newspaper, on Friday reported that Mr. Manas Kumar Mishra of TATA Motors Ltd. on Thursday met Soe Thein in …

Lone protestor detained

Mizzima.com

Demonstrations in Burma are a rarity but not uncommon. On March 20, at least 20 victims of Cyclone Nargis in Twante Township staged a peaceful protest …

Myanmar junta open to talks after U.S. diplomat visit

(Reuters)- By Aung Hla Tun

… Myanmar’s military junta is open to talks with the United States, its information minister said after a rare visit by a top U.S. diplomat….

Family hails death sentence for musician’s murderers

Edinburgh Evening News – 

Two men have confessed to the killing and are currently being held in a Thai prison. A third is still at large and is believed to be hiding in Burma. …

Burma: US Officials in Rare Burma Talks

UNPO – 

“Myanmar [Burma] and the US have been friendly countries since the beginning,” a senior Burmese official told the French news agency AFP on condition of …

China’s handmaiden

Financial Mail (subscription)Editor’s note

We were a young democracy that was going to be a beacon for the world. For instance, a committee was established under Kader Asmal to ensure we did not sell …

World’s inaction in Burma a crime

Irish Independent – 

A recent report into the humanitarian effort following last May’s Cyclone Nargis, which killed 140000 people and left many hundreds of thousands homeless, …

Myanmar: Junta Chief Sets Guidelines For 2010 Polls

Sin Chew Jit Poh – ‎‎

One of the provisions of the constitution effectively bars Suu Kyi from holding any kind of political office in Myanmar, also known as Burma. …

Analysis: Clinton pushes for stronger China role

The Associated Press – 

Clinton then pleasantly surprised China by saying the Obama administration would not let its human rights concerns interfere with cooperation with Beijing. …

China and Myanmar seal gas export deal

AsiaOne – 

Few western companies will invest in the former Burma because of its poor human rights record and continued detention of Nobel Peace Prize laureate Aung San …

Myanmar leader warns on democracy at parade


AFP – 

Wearing his uniform with medals on his chest, the 75-year-old junta chief, who has ruled Myanmar, formerly known as Burma, since 1992, inspected troops from …

China, Myanmar in oil deal

Straits Times – ‎‎

Few Western companies will invest in the former Burma because of its poor human rights record and continued detention of Nobel Peace Prize laureate Aung San …

China and Burma sew up pipe deal

Upstream Online

Few Western companies will invest in Burma because of its poor human rights record and continued detention of Nobel Peace Prize laureate Aung San Suu Kyi, …

Blast in Lashio

Shan Herald Agency for News – 

Northern Shan State, apart from the Burma Army and militia units under its control, has 5 ceasefire groups: the United Wa State Army (UWSA), Myanmar …

So much for ubuntu

Mail & Guardian Online – 

This week it was the Dalai Lama, but South Africa has also shunned solidarity with the peoples of Darfur and of Burma if our votes at the Security Council …

Indonesia’s unlikely – and steady – democracy

Asia Sentinel

And Burma’s military dictatorship remains one of the world’s most reviled governments. Contrast them with Indonesia and things look pretty good. …

Out of Africa

guardian.co.uk – 

When he wasn’t squandering South Africa’s moral authority over Zimbabwe, Mandela’s successor was wasting it at the UN security council protecting Burma’s …

Analysis: Clinton pushes for stronger China role

International Herald Tribune – 

Clinton then pleasantly surprised China by saying the Obama administration would not let its human rights worries interfere with cooperation with Beijing. …

Group Presses for Action to Improve Human Rights in Thailand

Voice of America – 

… a trend of deteriorating human rights. Concern included Thai officials forcing back into the open sea ethnic-Rohingya boat people from western Burma. …

Chicago sets record for import-export trade, passes $150 billion

WorldCity

Burma (Myanmar)’s total trade with Chicago in 2008 was $1.01 million, a 801.21% change over 2007. Total Chicago exports were $1.01 million while imports …

Daily Press Briefing

US Department of State

QUESTION: I would like to go back to Burma, to Myanmar. QUESTION: You said yesterday that – well, you issued a statement yesterday saying that there is no …

World’s cutest animal? You be the judge

KHOU – 

In the wild, red pandas live only in temperate forests in the Himalayan foothills from western Nepal through northern Burma (Myanmar) and in the mountains …

Congressman Moran’s News Commentary

Falls Church News Press – 

The conference, organized by Northern Virginia human rights groups, included more than 100 Vietnamese, Burmese, Tibetan and Chinese-American activists. …

A Most Unlikely Activist: Jorie Butler Kent

Concierge – 

But sitting in my office not long ago, Butler Kent was speaking with passion about her company’s efforts to get emergency relief to Burma after the cyclone …

Senior US Diplomat Visits Myanmar

New York Times – 

(In something of a diplomatic slight, the State Department officially refers to Myanmar by the name it had before the junta, Burma. …

US diplomat, Myanmar foreign minister hold “cordial discussions”

SmartBrief

As part of the Barack Obama administration’s high-level review of its Myanmar policy, a senior US diplomat and the nation’s foreign minister held “cordial …

Trust the Burmese junta at your peril

เดอะ เนชั่น – 

Both Thailand and Asean have called repeatedly for the release of all political prisoners including the opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi. But the Burmese …

US, Myanmar diplomats meet

United Press International – 

… “does not reflect a change in policy or approach to Burma (as Myanmar was formerly known),” The Washington Post (NYSE:WPO) reported Thursday.

NLD urges US to talk with junta

Mizzima.com – ‎‎

by Mungpi New Delhi (Mizzima) – Burma’s main opposition political party the National League for Democracy said it has urged the United States to initiate …

Exile Burmese news agency faces libel lawsuit

Mizzima.com – 

by Salai Pi Pi New Delhi (Mizzima) – A Burmese political party – United Democratic Party of Myanmar (UDP) – said it has filed a defamation lawsuit against …

On Anti-Semitism, Boycotts, and the Case of Hermann Dierkes

Alternatives – 

Social justice movements have often called for boycotts or divestment, whether against the military regime in Burma or the government of Sudan. …

From ‘People’s Army’ to ‘Enemy of the People’

Mizzima.com – 

If someone was married to a non-Burmese or a foreigner, like Daw Aung San Suu Kyi, he or she would be disowned. The military’s view that they are the only …


Written by Lwin Aung Soe

March 27, 2009 at 2:27 am

Posted in World Focus on Burma

Tagged with ,

Trust the Burmese junta at your peril

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The Nation

EDITORIAL

Trust the Burmese junta at your peril

After repeated lies, Thailand must be wary and diligent in dealing with its pariah neighbour

Thailand’s Foreign Minister Kasit Piromya made his first official visit to Burma last week. It was a familiarisation trip coupled with discussions on key bilateral issues including the political situation inside the country. His visit comes at a time when several nations including the US, members of the European Union and Nordic countries as well as Thailand are reviewing their policies towards Burma.

US diplomat Steven Blake, became the most senior official to visit Burma since 1997. These countries are looking for positive signs from the junta.

Any change in the Thai position will have implications both regionally and internationally. For the first time since 2001 the Thai policy on Burma will be scrutinised closely by the international community. So it is imperative that there should not be any loose talk or comments on Burma that could be damaging to the country’s reputation and interests.

During the trip, Kasit met with Burmese Prime Minister Thein Sein and Foreign Minister Nyan Win to discuss the national reconciliation process. Thailand’s position is clear: that the process must be inclusive and must take into consideration all stakeholders.

Both Thailand and Asean have called repeatedly for the release of all political prisoners including the opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi. But the Burmese regime has ignored the calls, making all kinds of excuses. So far, the junta has got away with it. Cyclone Nargis, which ripped through the country last year, was a blessing in disguise. It allowed the flexibility to help one of the world’s most repressive regimes with humanitarian aid.

The post-Nargis reconstruction in the months to come will obviously take the thunder away from the political debate, due to the common desire to provide humanitarian assistance to the Burmese people. Thailand and Asean welcomed the Burmese government’s decision to extend for another year the work of the tripartite core group, comprising representatives from Asean, the UN and Burma.

This will help the regime because it will shift the focus to reconstruction of the devastated areas.

An independent report issued recently by the Centre for Public Health and Human Rights at Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health said that Burma’s ruling junta deliberately blocked aid to the victims of last year’s cyclone. The junta’s disregard for those who survived Nargis could amount to crimes against humanity under international law according to the report.

Currently, Burma is pursuing a 7-point road map, which was drawn up by former prime minister Khin Nyunt back in 2003 when he was in power. Since then he has been purged and disgraced and confined to house arrest, but his plan lives on. For Burma’s junta, next year’s election will be the ultimate step towards legitimising the regime, with a post-election government which it will dominate.

Thailand and Asean have called for a transparent, free and fair election. It has to be inclusive as well. Of course, nobody really believes the regime will respond to these appeals.

During the recent Asean Summit in Thailand, Asean leaders urged Burma to increase its cooperation with the UN. This week, the UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention found that the confinement of Suu Kyi was illegal under Burmese law. She has spent more than 13 of the last 19 years under house arrest.

Last week, Tomas Ojea Quintana, the UN special rapporteur on human rights in Burma, called on the junta to release more than 2,100 political prisoners.

The Burmese leaders have asked Thailand to help encourage the country’s ethnic minorities to take part in next year’s polls. These groups will take part in the election if they perceive it as an instrument for national reconciliation that will allow them to take part in a nation-building process. Thailand certainly can help but the answer lies with the regime in Burma and whether the electoral process, including the election laws, will be inclusive and fair.

The Abhisit government must be extremely careful in forging and building links with Burma. Previous Thai governments have submitted themselves to the junta’s countless manipulations because they were willing to give in to demands in order to maintain their vested interests. The only exception was the interim Surayud government of 2006-2007, when Thai-Burmese ties were at a standstill.

Prime Minister Abhisit and Foreign Minister Kasit have reiterated that the government has no ulterior motive but a genuine desire to see the realisation of national reconciliation in Burma, with all stakeholders involved. It is imperative for Thailand to review its Burmese policy and come up with credible proposals that all Asean members will be able to support. Any Burmese policy supported by the Asean countries will be able to win kudos from the international community.

It is a great opportunity to do so now.

http://www.nationmultimedia.com/2009/03/27/opinion/opinion_30098953.php

Written by Lwin Aung Soe

March 27, 2009 at 2:11 am

Posted in Editorial

Tagged with , , , , ,