Gloom in Yangon as Aung San Suu Kyi trial resumes
By JOHN HEILPRIN
Along the shores of artificial Inya Lake, the empty compound of Aung San Suu Kyi lies within plain sight as couples stroll the path. Her home also is a curious attraction to onlookers from a hotel a minute’s walk away.
But it is her absence from it that has been on people’s minds lately in and around Yangon _ a hub of commerce and scholarship and the epicenter of anti-government sentiment _ with the trial of the pro-democracy leader set to resume Friday.
The failure of visiting U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon to gain a meeting with the opposition leader last weekend or win her release seems to have only intensified widespread feelings of gloom and frustration, though only brief interviews were possible without raising suspicions in this police state. Continue reading ““I will never see real democracy flourish in Myanmar. Not in my lifetime. We live in a hopeless situation where even the U.N. secretary-general fails to nudge the stubborn regime,” said U Hla Shwe, a 72-year old retired lawyer.”
An alliance that threatens the Asia-Pacific region and farther-flung shores, too.
By AUNG ZAW From today’s Wall Street Journal Asia.
The North Korean ship that tried to steam to Burma last month isn’t the only problem facing the U.S. and its allies. There’s a much broader military relationship growing between the two pariah states — one that poses a growing threat to stability in Asia-Pacific.
A government report leaked by a Burmese official last month shed new light on these ties. It described a Memorandum of Understanding between Burma and North Korea signed during a secret visit by Burmese officials to Pyongyang in November 2008. The visit was the culmination of years of work. Diplomatic relations between the two countries were cut in 1983 following a failed assassination attempt by North Korean agents on the life of South Korean President Chun Doo Hwan while he was visiting Rangoon. The attack cost 17 Korean lives and Burma cut off ties.
One of the first signs of warming relations was a barter agreement between the two countries that lasted from 2000 to 2006 and saw Burma receive between 12 and 16 M-46 field guns and as many as 20 million rounds of 7.62 mm ammunition from North Korea, according to defense analyst Andrew Selth of Griffith University in Australia. In exchange, Burma bartered food and rice.
The two countries formally re-established diplomatic relations in April 2007. After that, the North Korean ship the Kang Nam — the same ship that recently turned away from Burma after being followed by the U.S. navy — made a trip to Burma’s Thilawa port. Western defense analysts concluded that the ship carried conventional weapons and missiles to Burma. Continue reading “Burma and North Korea, Brothers in Arms”
Co-operative signs Mediaburst to help jailed journalists
By Richard Morris
The Co-operative Group has appointed Alderley Edge-based mobile messaging firm Mediaburst to run a campaign to highlight the plight of people imprisoned in Burma.
Along with Manchester-based digital marketing agency Substance, Mediaburst will try to get the public to support a move to have five journalists freed from prisons in Burma along Nobel Peace Prize winner Aung San Suu Kyi.
The public will be able to join the campaign through a website, postcards in cinemas, social messaging service Twitter and text messages.
Col Chit Thu, the commander of the Democratic Karen Buddhist Army (DKBA) Battalion 999 is now believed to be the most powerful man in the DKBA administration.
According to Karen sources on the border, he ordered the week-long offensive against the Karen National Liberation Army (KNLA) Brigade 7 that ended on 21 June, and he has ordered his forces to move against KNLA Brigades 6 and 5.
Though other commanders like Gen Kyaw Than, chief of the DKBA, and Thar Htoo Kyaw, chairman of the DKBA’s political wing, are more senior, Chit Thu is more popular because he gets things done, the sources said.
“Chit Thu is an active man,” said a DKBA source. “He is also popular for his community development work in education, health care, and Karen culture, and he is good at lobbying people.”
Chit Thu is now believed to the most powerful decision-maker in both the DKBA’s military wing and its political administration.
DKBA sources report that Col Chit Thu owns large businesses dealing with logging and auto trading, and is involved in drug trafficking. He regularly flies to countries such as Singapore and Hong Kong to facilitate his car importing business, the sources said.
The DKBA remains the only ceasefire group that has signed an agreement with the military regime in June to transform its troops into a border guard force.
Since April, Chit Thu has been overseeing the conscription, possibly forced, of new recruits for the new battalions of the border force. Each battalion must consist of 326 soldiers.
The DKBA has also been assigned the role of cleaning up the KNLA areas and reinforcing troop strength along the Thai-Burmese border.
During the recent attacks against KNLA Brigade 7, the DKBA soldiers were paid to take front line positions, and local Karen villagers were forced to work as porters in the front line with them.
Col Chit Thu, the commander of the DKBA Battalion 999. (Photo: Phil Thornton)
Some DKBA leaders realized that they were wrong to attack fellow Karen in the KNLA and Karen civilians, Karen sources said.
“The DKBA leaders knew that they were being used by the Burmese regime. But there is no possibility for DKBA leaders to rejoin the KNU [Karen National Union] because of their business interests,” said one Karen source on the border.
Many members of the DKBA get nothing while their leaders get richer and richer, however.
“This inequality will just get worse,” the border source commented.
According to a DKBA businessman, the DKBA plans to join the Burmese authorities in managing the border trade after they have destroyed the KNLA bases along the Thai-Burma border.
The DKBA leaders are hoping to increase their business activities and build a road connecting their headquarters at Myaing Gyi Ngu with the Thai border, he said. Continue reading “The Junta Hit Men(DKBA KILLERS)”
Burmese pro-democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi is denied access to a radio during her time in Rangoon’s Insein Prison, according to her lawyer, Nyan Win.
Suu Kyi was able to keep in touch with world events by listening to the radio during her house detention, but that possibility has been denied her since she was removed to Insein Prison, where she is on trial for transgressing the terms of her house arrest.
Nyan Win said Suu Kyi was allowed to read the state-controlled press, but was denied the possibility of receiving “uncensored information via foreign broadcasting.”
Nyan Win met Suu Kyi on Wednesday, and said afterwards that she was in a good mood and healthy.
The meeting was to allow Nyan Win to prepare for Suu Kyi’s next appearance in court, scheduled for Friday. He said he didn’t know if a verdict could be expected then. She faces a sentence of up to five years imprisonment if convicted of allowing an American intruder to stay at her home.
A scheduled session of the trial last Friday was postponed because of the visit to Burma by UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon.
The UN chief asked for a meeting with Suu Kyi, but his request was rejected by junta leader Snr-Gen Than Shwe.
“I believe the government of Myanmar [Burma] has lost a unique opportunity to show its commitment to a new era of political openness,” Ban commented.
“Allowing a visit to Daw Aung San Suu Kyi would have been an important symbol of the government’s willingness to embark on the kind of meaningful engagement that will be essential if the elections in 2010 are to be seen as credible,” he said.
Ban is expected to brief the UN Security Council shortly on his Burma visit.
Analysts say the Burma issue is sure to be raised before the Security Council in August, when the UK has the chair, and in September, when the US takes over the position.
Burma has been able in the past to rely on the vetoes of two permanent members of the Security Council, China and Russia, to block unfavorable resolutions. But diplomatic sources say China is disappointed by the Burmese regime’s treatment of Ban.
by Myint Maung
Thursday, 09 July 2009 20:30
New Delhi (mizzima)- Burma’s detained opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi has refused to comment on the just concluded visit of United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, after she was briefed by her legal team, who met her on Wednesday.
Three members of the democracy icon’s legal team on Wednesday met the detained Nobel Peace Laureate in Rangoon’s Insein prison to discuss preparations for the final argument of her trial. During the meeting, the legal team briefed her on the details of the visit by the UN Chief.
Nyan Win, a member of Aung San Suu Kyi’s legal team and spokesperson for her party said, “We briefed her about the visit of Ban Ki-moon. I told her of the meeting between the NLD Central Executive Committee members with Ban Ki-moon but she did not make any comment.”
Four CEC members of the NLD on July 3 met the visiting UN Chief for a mere 10 minutes and were able to highlight the party’s stand and aspirations.
The NLD urged Ban to call on the junta to release party leader Aung San Suu Kyi and those of other political parties, to kick-start the process of national reconciliation, recognise the 1990 election results, and to review the 2008 constitution.
The world body chief, during his visit, requested a meeting with detained Aung San Suu Kyi but it was turned down by Snr. Gen Than Shwe.
Nyan Win said, on Wednesday he along with two of Aung San Suu Kyi’s lawyers – Kyi Win and Khin Htay Kywe – were allowed to meet her for about two hours in Insein prison to discuss the preparations for the final argument of her case.
“We have drafted an 18-page final argument and shown it to Aung San Suu Kyi. We will have to discuss it later. We met her to discuss the final argument and she has approved the draft we have prepared,” Nyan Win said.
The district court in Insein prison has fixed July 10, for the hearing of one of Aung San Suu Kyi’s witness Khin Moe Moe.
Khin Moh Moh along with veteran journalist Win Tin and NLD vice-chairman Tin Oo were rejected by the district court as defence witnesses. But following appeals by the defence team, Khin Moh Moh was reinstated as a defence witness. But the divisional court as well as the high court continued to reject Win Tin and Tin Oo.