Burma’s Bleak Prospect in 2009 NEWS ANALYSIS

irrawaddy- All parties in Burma can expect 2009 to be a busier year than the one now ending as the country heads for a general election in 2010, with uncertainty and many more challenges to be faced.

The election will be the fifth stage of the seven-step “road map” to a system of “disciplined democracy” unveiled by the ruling generals in August 2003.
14860-30_dec_3hl_s The year 2009 will be consequently quite exciting. The military junta, their cronies and proxy parties will be preparing for victory, applying various strategies to achieve that result.

According to the state-run media, Burmese government ministers and leading members of the regime-backed Union Solidarity and Development Association have been making field trips to rural areas, meeting with local people. These trips were seen as part of the preparations for the coming election. To continue http://www.irrawaddy.org/article.php?art_id=14860

BURMA: New Thai Policies Not Junta-Friendly

By Marwaan Macan-Markar

BANGKOK, Dec 30 (IPS) – If Burma’s military regime is showing signs of worry about the change of guard that has taken place in neighbouring Thailand, there are good reasons.

Thailand’s new coalition government in Thailand, headed by the Democrat Party, plans to unveil a Burma policy that is expected to be a break from what has largely prevailed since 2001 — where Bangkok pampered the junta with diplomatic niceties and offered a protective shield against international criticism.

Kasit Piromya, the new foreign minister, spelled out what the Burmese junta could soon expect during a conference for academics and diplomats held at a university here on the eve of his appointment. ”We are a democratic society, an open society, and our foreign policy should reflect this,” said Kasit, a veteran diplomat who has served in major capitals, including Washington D.C. and Tokyo.

”No personal business deals will shape our foreign policy. Our government will not mix business and politics,” he added. ”When there are no business deals with the military junta, we can talk. We will not be blackmailed by economic interests.”

Kasit also asserted that Thailand will observe human rights and environmental concerns. ”We shall treat the Burmese as we do Thais. We will not do anything to jeopardise the Burmese community.”

Such language is rooted in the diplomatic policies of previous governments headed by the Democrat Party, the last of which was from 1997 till 2000. ”When the Democrats were last in power, their foreign policy was firm and had a clear direction aimed to be in accordance with international norms,” says Kavi Chongkittavorn, a senior editor and columnist on regional affairs at ‘The Nation,’ an English-language daily.

The last Democrat-led coalition maintained Thailand’s support for democracy in Burma, Kavi told IPS. It was also during that period that Thailand became one of the few countries that placed human rights as a pillar of its foreign policy.

In fact that government, headed by former prime minister Chuan Leekpai, did not conceal its reservations towards the Burmese junta known for its oppressive rule and human rights violations.

On one occasion, the Chuan administration refused to fall in line behind Burma’s military leaders following a 1999 attack by Burmese dissidents on the country’s embassy in Bangkok. The Thai government described the dissidents as students fighting for democracy, much to the rage of the Burmese generals who had condemned them as terrorists.

Another piece of symbolism was the refusal by Chuan to visit Burma during his term in office. Such coldness towards an immediate neighbour contrasted with the customary visits he made to other members of the regional, 10-member Association of South-east Asian Nations (ASEAN).

In fact, the Chuan administration took the lead in pursuing a Burma policy aimed at influencing democratic change, which, at the time, appeared more assertive than the ASEAN approach. This policy, unveiled in mid-1999, was dubbed flexible engagement.

On the other hand, ASEAN, whose members include Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore and Vietnam, in addition to Thailand and Burma, was more content with a policy of constructive engagement. This regional policy served to cushion Burma from international criticism and was defended in South-east Asian capitals as a more prudent way of prodding the Burmese military towards democratic reform.

But a new foreign policy chapter between Thailand and Burma, or Myanmar as the junta renamed the country, emerged in 2001. It came with the electoral triumph that year of the Thai Rak Thai (Thais Love Thai TRT) party, led by the billionaire telecommunications tycoon Thaksin Shinawatra.

Within months Thaksin, the new premier, revealed his affinity for business opportunities in Burma at the expense of pushing for democratic reforms and strengthening human rights. Bangkok’s warmer ties towards its neighbour were described as forward engagement.

This shift paved the way for high-level visits between the leaders of the two countries, new business ventures in Burma with investments coming from Thailand and a more assertive defence of Burma’s international critics by Bangkok. Burma, in fact, was described as Thailand’s best friend by a ranking member of the Thaksin government early in this relationship.

Such ties did not fray during the over five years of the TRT administration, when, on many occasions, human rights violations by the Burmese regime were condemned by the rest of ASEAN. In 2003, the Thaksin administration was the only government in South-east Asia that came to the junta’s rescue following its brutal assault and subsequent detention of pro-democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi. to continue http://www.ipsnews.net/news.asp?idnews=45259

DEMONSTRATION IN RGN (burmese)from Moemaka

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ဆႏၵျပသူမ်ားက“ေဒၚေအာင္ဆန္းစုၾကည္ကုိ ျပန္လႊတ္ေပး” စာတန္းကုိင္ဆဲြကာ အဖဲြ႔ခ်ဳပ္ရုံးမွ ခ်ီတက္ခ့ဲၾကရာ ျပည္သူ႔လႊတ္ေတာ္ေရွ႕အေရာက္တြင္ တားဆီး ထိန္းသိမ္းခံခ့ဲရသည္။ (ဓာတ္ပုံ – MMT)

http://moemaka.com/index.php?option=com_content&task=blogsection&id=1&Itemid=40

photo

http://niknayman.wordpress.com/2008/12/31/ယမန္ေန-့က-အမ်ဳိးသားဒီမို/

“Let’s unite for Democratic Federal Union of Burma” Global Action for Burma : Second Struggle for National Independence

4th January, 2009 will mark the 61st anniversary of Independence Day for Burma. Since the fall of Mandalay Kingdom, People of Burma have never given up their fight to regain their independence. Thousands of people have sacrificed their lives. Why? They had only one hope to have a chance for the future generations to enjoy the fruits of independence.
However, People of Burma have not had this chance until now. They have been under the most oppressive and brutal regime in the world. Despite of their liberation from foreign colonization, they have not yet liberated from the dictatorial oppression of their own people. Without genuine liberation, no one can enjoy the fruits of independence. To have a genuine liberation, Burma must be established as a federal union that will guarantee democratic rights to all citizens and political equality for all ethnic nationalities.
Therefore, we call upon the People of Burma and overseas Burmese people around the world to the global action for the second struggle for national independence to establish a Democratic Federal Union of Burma. Demonstrations and a number of activities will take place in different countries. We would like to encourage everyone to join with us to show solidarity and unity.
“Add your voice to a call for Democratic Federal Union of Burma”
http://www.globalactionforburma.blogspot.com/

Please contact the following persons for detailed information.
Mr. Myo Thein (UK), Tel: +44 208 493 9137, Email: myothein19@gmail.com
Mr. Yin Aye , Tel: + 1 301 905 7591, Email: yindbso@gmail.com
Mr. Ko Ko Aung (Japan), Tel: + 81 090 1506 2893, Email: kokoaung_dfbjp@yahoo.com
Mr. Yin Htwe (Thailand), Email: yinhtway@gmail.com
Ko Kyaw Than (India), Burma Democratic Groups, Phone +91-9810601506
Mr. Si Thu (Canada), Email: oneloveoneburma@gmail.com
Ms. Khin Ma Ma Myo, Tel: +44 1224 524 077, Email: khinmamamyo@gmail.com
(Independence campaign is a results-oriented coalition dedicated to second struggle for national independence)

U.N. General Assembly isn’t the right forum for dealing with Burma regime

In a vote of 80 to 25 with 45 abstentions, the U.N. General Assembly on 24 December 2008 adopted a resolution condemning human rights violations by the Burmese military regime. The resolution called for the release of over 2,100 political prisoners, including Aung San Suu Kyi. continue http://www.chinapost.com.tw/commentary/the-china-post/special-to-the-china-post/2008/12/30/189820/U.N.-General.htm

Assistance Association for Political Prisoners Breaking News – for immediate release 30 December 2008

Today, the National League for Democracy (NLD) party held a ceremony to mark the 61st anniversary of Burma Independence Day at their headquarters. After the event, nine NLD Youth members marched from NLD headquarters to Sanchaung Township, Rangoon, holding photographs and placards with Daw Aung San Suu Kyi’s image. They called for the release of all political prisoners, and demanded national reconciliation.
When they arrived at the public square in Sanchaung Township, they were arrested by members of the Swan Arr Shin (People’s Power Force) the regime’s hired thugs, and brutally beaten. Their whereabouts are now unknown.
The nine are:
Tun Tun Win (from Sanchaung Township), Htet Htet Oo Way (from Shwepyithar Township), Ye Ni Oo, Pyae Pyae, Aung Phyo Wai, Min Thein, Win Myint Maung (aka) Pe Pyoat, Kaung Htet Naing, and Thet Maung Tun.
-ENDS-

from http://www.khitpyaing.org/news/December_08/30-12-08c.php

http://www.fbppn.net/

9 activists arrested in Myanmar for marching in support of detained opposition leader Suu Kyi

By Associated Press
6:03 AM EST, December 30, 2008
YANGON, Myanmar (AP) — Nine activists were arrested in Myanmar’s commercial capital Tuesday during a march calling for the release of Nobel Peace Prize laureate Aung San Suu Kyi, witnesses said.

The eight men and one woman from Suu Kyi’s National League for Democracy party were grabbed and shoved into waiting trucks by plainclothes police officers outside the old parliament building in Yangon, witnesses said on condition of anonymity because of fear of government retribution.

The protesters started their march at the party’s headquarters and walked silently along Yangon’s main road for about 30 minutes before they were detained, witnesses said. Some carried a banner calling for Suu Kyi’s release.

It was not immediately clear where the NLD members were taken.LD spokesman Nyan Win said he heard that female party member Htet Htet Oo Wei was among those who marched but he could not confirm her arrest.

Htet Htet Oo Wei has been arrested several times in the past and was detained for about a month in May after she and nearly 20 party members marched from party headquarters to Suu Kyi’s house.
http://www.orlandosentinel.com/news/nationworld/sns-ap-as-myanmar-activists-arrested,0,5381446.story

Artists pay homage to veteran cartoonists

Dec 30, 2008 (DVB)–Cartoonists, artists and literary figures from across Burma paid homage to three elderly cartoonists at the home of Pe Thein, one of the three, in Rangoon’s Hlaing township on 28 December.

It was the 33rd time artists have paid the traditional obeisance to senior cartoonists, but unlike in previous years, participants were not watched or harassed by the authorities at this year’s event, one cartoonist said.
“[The cartoonists] are Saya U Pe Thein, Saya U Aung Shein and Saya U Shwe Minthaa,” he said. http://english.dvb.no/news.php?id=2047

33RD ANNIVERSARY OF BURMESE CARTOONISTS PUZAW PWE

http://picasaweb.google.com/MoeMaKa.Net/33rdAnniversaryOfBurmeseCartoonistsReunionPuzawPwe?feat=embedwebsite#5285481383400527442

pics from http://www.moemaka.com/