China and Russia, which are both close to the regime, have repeatedly blocked UN sanctions against Myanmar. The United States and EU have both imposed tough sanctions against the country.

“Now he has to go back to New York and brief the Security Council and basically say ‘We have got nowhere. We have to seriously rethink our engagement strategy,’” Human Rights Watch’s Mathieson said.

“This really shows that he’s got to put more pressure on China and Russia in the Security Council, I think that’s one thing to come out of it.”

Aung Myo Thein of leading activist group the Assistance Association for Political Prisoners of Burma, based in Thailand, said Than Shwe’s hard-line stance could itself backfire by causing international outrage.

“In a way it’s a good situation. People can now know the intentions of the regime and discuss with each other about the situation,” he said.

“They should now take whatever the regime says with a grain of salt.”

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DVB has received an anonymous tip-off in the form of a letter that it was the splinter group who was responsible for the attack. The letter details Karen Peace Council anger at being excluded from lucrative smuggling concessions.

Victims of the Great Dividing Game
Joseph Allchin

July 3, 2009 (DVB)–When the pro-Burmese junta Democratic Karen Buddhist Army commander San Pyone fell to an ambush on the Moei river last week, many assumed that he was the victim of a revenge attack.

The Karen National Liberation Army (KNLA) opposition group was perhaps seeking retribution for his alleged involvement in last year’s assassination of Pado Mahn Shah, the then secretary of the Karen Nation Union (KNU), the political wing of the KNLA. Mahn Shah was said to have been a peaceable, diplomatic leader whose passing was strongly felt amongst the KNU members and followers.
Rumours are now circulating, however, that the KNLA may not have been involved in the ambush. Vice president of the KNU, David Thackrabaw, stops short of outright denial of KNLA involvement but has claimed in conversation with the author that they did not have forces in the area at the time, adding that “we don’t want to point fingers”. Continue reading “DVB has received an anonymous tip-off in the form of a letter that it was the splinter group who was responsible for the attack. The letter details Karen Peace Council anger at being excluded from lucrative smuggling concessions.”

Has the Burmese regime grown immune to UN initiatives?

by Mungpi
Sunday, 05 July 2009 21:42

New Delhi (mizzima) – Burma’s military rulers have once again proved their indifference towards world opinion by rejecting the request of the United Nations Secretary-General to meet with opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi. The opposition has said it is a major setback for Burma’s reconciliation, while critics say it is a direct insult to the world body and that it is time for the UN to take alternative steps in its approach to dealing with the junta.

On Saturday, Ban Ki-moon, UN Secretary-General, wound up his second visit to the impoverished Southeast Asian nation expressing deep “disappointment”. Ban, at a press briefing before leaving the country, told reporters that he had twice requested a meeting with detained Nobel Peace Laureate Aung San Suu Kyi, but Burma’s military supremo, Senior General Than Shwe, refused to yield.

Before arriving on a two-day visit to the country, Ban stated he would attempt to persuade the generals to free the more than 2,000 political prisoners, including Aung San Suu Kyi, and to immediately engage in a meaningful dialogue with the opposition in order to create conditions conducive for a free and fair election in 2010.

But none of his goals have apparently been achieved, with the generals carefully planning his schedule, arranging meetings with selected political parties and ethnic armed ceasefire groups, who told Ban what the generals wanted him to hear.

“When I met General Than Shwe yesterday and today, I asked to visit Ms. Suu Kyi. I am deeply disappointed that he refused,” Ban told reporters in Rangoon on Saturday before leaving the country.

“I believe the government of Myanmar [Burma] has lost a unique opportunity to show its commitment to a new era of political openness,” he added. Continue reading “Has the Burmese regime grown immune to UN initiatives?”

Victory over KNU, new order on Thai-Burma border

by Brian McCartan
Sunday, 05 July 2009 21:20

Mae Sot, Thailand (Mizzima) – The victory of the Burmese Army and its proxy, the Democratic Karen Buddhist Army (DKBA), in attacks on bases of the Karen National Union (KNU) last month, puts the regime in firm control of a major portion of its border with Thailand for the first time in 60 years. Success brings with it a whole new order of forces along the border.

Burmese and DKBA forces took the border camps of the Karen National Liberation Army (KNLA), the armed wing of the KNU, after a month-long battle in June. The fighting was relatively light with many of the 200 Burmese and DKBA casualties the result of landmines. Fighting, the threat of landmines and fear of being taken as porters by the attackers resulted in over 3,500 Karen villagers fleeing their homes to take refuge on the Thai side of the border.

The Burmese regime and the DKBA have big plans for the border now that it is under their control. The State Peace and Development Council (SPDC) has long aimed to establish several economic zones along the stretch of the border from Myawaddy north to the confluence of the Salween and Moei Rivers. One of these special economic zones is slated for construction on the outskirts of Myawaddy and another to the east of the township capital of Hlaing Bwe.

Past Thai governments have given their verbal support for these plans, although little money has of yet been put into them. Now that the area is in firmer control and the threat from the KNLA reduced, the economic zone plans may be dusted off again. Burma hopes to entice Thai investment and develop an otherwise economically poor area, while Thailand sees the economic zones as a way of using cheap Burmese labour without having to deal with a large influx of migrant workers. At one point, the area around Hlaing Bwe was also seen as a potential repatriation point for Karen refugees in the Mae La refugee camp. Continue reading “Victory over KNU, new order on Thai-Burma border”