UPDATE 3-UN council delays statement on Suu Kyi sentence

* Draft statement condemns verdict on Suu Kyi

* China, Russia, others ask to consult governments (Updates with council meeting adjourned to Wednesday)

By Patrick Worsnip

UNITED NATIONS, Aug 11 (Reuters) – Western nations pressed the U.N. Security Council to adopt a statement condemning a detention sentence passed on Myanmar opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi on Tuesday, but other countries stalled for time.

A council meeting called by France to discuss the verdict ended without result and was adjourned until Wednesday, the president of the 15-nation body, British Ambassador John Sawers, said.

“There was considerable support for the principle of a statement, but a number of delegations wanted to refer it back to their capitals overnight for advice and instructions,” Sawers told reporters.

Diplomats said the countries concerned were China, Vietnam, Russia and Libya. China, which has a veto in the council, has consistently opposed tough action such as sanctions against its neighbor and trade partner Myanmar.

Suu Kyi, a Nobel peace laureate, was sentenced to 18 months of house detention for violating an internal security law after an uninvited American visited her house where she was already under detention.

The verdict will keep her off the political stage through elections the military government has set for next year. Continue reading “UPDATE 3-UN council delays statement on Suu Kyi sentence”

In considering a military dictatorship such as the Government of Burma, it is easy to see only its crudity and absurdity

Burma’s cunning plan to keep democracy at bay — especially at election time

In considering a military dictatorship such as the Government of Burma, it is easy to see only its crudity and absurdity — the needless poverty of its people, the ludicrous verbiage of the official rhetoric and the judicial persecution of the country’s rightful leader, Aung San Suu Kyi. It is also easy to assume that such governments have an inbuilt obsolescence, that the march of history must fell Senior General Than Shwe, just as it brought down dozens of despots in Asia and the former Soviet bloc at the end of the 20th century.

But if Burma’s generals are cruel, stubborn and pompous, they are also cunning and strategic. The State Peace and Development Council, as it styles itself, is a junta with a plan, and yesterday’s conviction and sentencing of Ms Suu Kyi is part of its unfolding.

If it all works out, then within a few years the Burmese Government will cease to be an assembly of tinpot generals with the political credibility of toy soldiers and be reborn as a superficially civilian regime. It will not by any means be a responsive democratic government, but it will be easier for those countries that would prefer to ignore its iniquities to defend.

The point about Ms Suu Kyi’s 18-month sentence is that it will prevent her from taking any direct part in the biggest political upheaval in Burma for five years: next year’s scheduled general election and the introduction of a new constitution. continue

Southeast Asian neighbours such as Thailand will be able to continue their valuable commercial relationships with Burma in gems, oil, natural gas and hydroelectric power. Russia and China will be able to go on selling arms and extending their influence over the highly strategic territory.

And the generals and their families will be able to continue pocketing the profits.

UPDATE-UN Security Council on Verdict of Daw Aung San Suu Kyi

“The United States will join with others in introducing a statement for consideration by the council that condemns the conviction of Aung San Suu Kyi, that calls for her immediate release,” US Ambassador Susan Rice told reporters.
But she conceded that other council members may take “different views” on the matter, a sign that countries such as China and Russia might seek to water down the statement.
Rice said the goal of the United States and its allies on the 15-member body was to seek a statement in line with “the principles of the UN Charter, the principle of democracy and respect for human rights that we are committed to.”

British Ambassador John Sawers, this month’s council president, said the debate would likely resume Wednesday after the draft council statement was sent back to capitals for diplomatic consideration.

“I haven’t heard anything yet so I have to send it back,” Deputy Chinese Ambassador Liu Zhenmin told reporters in passing while hurrying out of the meeting.

The draft statement calls on Myanmar to release Suu Kyi and all other political prisoners and expresses “grave concern about the political impact” of her conviction. It also urges free and fair elections next year “with full participation of all political actors” including Suu Kyi.

Security council members – who first put Myanmar on their agenda three years ago over strong objections from Russia and China – called in May for the release of all 2,100 political prisoners including Suu Kyi.

Four ethnic ceasefire groups in Burma’s north have got together and decided to retaliate against the ruling junta, if it starts any offensive against any member of the alliance, said local sources.

The groups in the military alliance are the Kachin Independence Organization (KIO) based in Kachin State and Northeast Shan State, Mongla-based National Democratic Alliance Army-Eastern Shan State (NDAA-ESS), Kokang ceasefire group and United Wa State Army (UWSA), said KIO sources.

KIO officials in Laiza headquarters on the Sino-Burma border said, the groups in the military alliance have decided to wage against the Burmese Army in their territories if the latter launches an offensive against any group in the alliance.

As tension builds up, an increasing number of Burmese troops are being deployed around the KIO headquarters in Laiza and the controlled areas of the other three groups— UWSA, NDAA-ESS and Kokang ceasefire group, said Sino-Burma border sources.

Maj-Gen Soe Win, the junta’s negotiator with the KIO and Commander of the junta’s Northern Regional Command based in Kachin State’s capital Myitkyina visited Laiza on July 31. He tried to ensure that the ceasefire continues and the problems between the two sides are resolved through discussions in the coming days, said KIO officials in Laiza. Continue reading “Four ethnic ceasefire groups in Burma’s north have got together and decided to retaliate against the ruling junta, if it starts any offensive against any member of the alliance, said local sources.”

Banned from campus, Mon freshman university class forced to celebrate at Rangoon restaurant

Tue 11 Aug 2009, IMNA, Asah, Kon Chan
On August 9th 2009, Mon University Students from Rangoon University gathered together to welcome incoming Mon freshman and celebrate departure graduated students. The students held the celebration on Banyin Naung Street, at the Lion City Restaurant, where they also honored a student who summated a winning essay on Mon Language for a contest arranged by he Mon Culture and Literature Committee (MCLC).

Mon Students have been banned from holding such ethnic graduation celebrations on Rangoon University campus since 2005. This ban does not only apply to Mon, but all ethnic students who attend the university. Currently 7 ethnic groups are represented on Rangoon University campus.

Previously the Burmese government had acknowledged Mon Students in Rangoon and allowed them to practice their culture legally; however they have since curtailed this policy, placing more restrictions and outright bans on Mon cultural rights. According to students, in addition to being unable to hold their cultural welcoming ceremony, they are not allowed to discuss politics, and when speaking at an event must have a Burmese translator. Continue reading “Banned from campus, Mon freshman university class forced to celebrate at Rangoon restaurant”

A few soldiers from the Mon splinter group Rehmonnya defected to the Burmese army at Alaesaken village, Yebyu Township in Tenasserim division.

Rehmonnya groups defected to Burmese army
Tue 11 Aug 2009, IMNA,
A few soldiers from the Mon splinter group Rehmonnya defected to the Burmese army at Alaesaken village, Yebyu Township in Tenasserim division.

According to an interview conducted by IMNA with Nai Khin Maung, the Major-General of Rehmonnya, three soldiers, Aaga, Zaw lin and his brother, defected to the Burmese Army. The soldiers’ weapons (M-16, AK-47 and pistol) were confiscated by the `Burmese army.

Major-General Nai Khin Maung said, “The defectors participated in the Rehmonnya groups for the last three months. Before joining they had problems in their village with the Burmese army, so they ran and joined us. When they traveled to Aleasaken village to demand money they defected to the Burmese army.’’

The Major-General is unsure which battalion of the Burmese army his soldiers joined. However, he assumes they are now in one of the Light Infantry Battalion (LIB), either No. 282, No. 408, No. 409 or No. 410 (No. 409 and No. 410 often travel to Yebyu township although they are based in Tavol) because they are stationed in Yebyu township.

“Three soldiers from Rehmonnya arrived in Aleasaken and demanded money from the village headman, The Burmese army surrounded the soldiers and arrested them,” said a villager liveig close to Aleasken village. “The soldiers then said that they came to defect to the Burmese army.”

The soldiers defected earlier this month during a clash with the Burmese army in Yebyu Township. One of the soldiers was injured during the fighting.

Rehmonnya groups have been active on the Thai-Border areas since July. The groups often demand money from villages in the New Mon State Party and Burmese controlled areas of Ye township.

Month long programme to honour U Ottama

Sittwe: Monks and youths in Sittwe have embarked on a month long programme for Arakanese nationalist hero venerable Monk U Ottama from August 9 by distributing statements and leaflets among the people, said a youth campaigner.

However, the programme is being adopted secretly as the authorities do not allow any kind of commemoration for the monk even though he (Ottama) scarified his life for Burma’s independence.

“We started the programme on August 9 by distributing statements and leaflets among the people. We also put up posters on walls and trees. It is a part of our programme. We will carry out many such programmes,” he said.

U Ottama was a famous monk of Burma. He was a nationalist leader of Burma’s independence struggle as he took Burma’s nationalism to the Burmese people to fight against British rule for the country’s independence.

U Ottama died on 9 September 1939 during Burma’s independent movement under British rule.

“On September 9, it is the monk’s 70th death anniversary. We would like to honour him on the occasion. So we have drawn up programmes for this,” he said.

U Ottama is Burma’s impendence hero but the Burmese junta has never honoured him because he ( the monk) was Arakanese.

Monks and youths held many meetings in Sittwe to go ahead with the program successfully. A number of students from Sittwe, Mrauk U, Min Bya, KyauK Taw went to the temples in their respective towns on August 9 to light candles and pray for the monk.

The Arakanese community honours Ottama secretly everywhere in Arakan as the authorities have banned functions in his honour.

HRW:Burma: Aung San Suu Kyi Verdict ‘Reprehensible’

Burma’s Allies Should Increase Pressure for Her Release
NEW YORK – August 11 – The politically motivated guilty verdict against the Burmese democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi is a reprehensible abuse of power by Burma’s military government, Human Rights Watch said today. Human Rights Watch called on Burma’s allies and other governments to condemn the verdict, demand the Nobel Prize laureate’s immediate and unconditional release, and impose additional targeted sanctions against the military leadership.
On August 11, 2009, a criminal court inside Insein prison in Rangoon sentenced Suu Kyi to 3 years of imprisonment for violating her order for house arrest, with the sentence reduced to 18 months, to be served under house arrest.

“This trial was a farce, a brutal distortion of the legal process,” said Brad Adams, Asia director at Human Rights Watch. “By silencing prominent opponents through bogus trials, the generals are clearly showing why the elections they have been touting for next year won’t bring change.”

Police arrested Suu Kyi, 64, and her two assistants, Khin Khin Win, 65, and her daughter, Win Ma Ma, 41, on May 14, 2009, and transferred them to Insein prison in the commercial capital, Rangoon. They went on trial on May 18, charged with breaching the terms of Suu Kyi’s house arrest order by permitting the uninvited visit of an American, John William Yettaw, on May 4 and 5.
Continue reading “HRW:Burma: Aung San Suu Kyi Verdict ‘Reprehensible’”

THE WHITE HOUSE Office of the Press Secretary


Office of the Press Secretary
For Immediate Release August 11, 2009

Statement by the President on Aung San Suu Kyi’s conviction and sentencing
Statement by the President on Aung San Suu Kyi’s conviction and sentencing

The conviction and sentencing of Daw Aung San Suu Kyi today on charges related to an uninvited intrusion into her home violate universal principles of human rights, run counter to Burma’s commitments under the ASEAN charter, and demonstrate continued disregard for UN Security Council statements. I join the international community in calling for Aung San Suu Kyi’s immediate unconditional release.

Today’s unjust decision reminds us of the thousands of other political prisoners in Burma who, like Aung San Suu Kyi, have been denied their liberty because of their pursuit of a government that respects the will, rights, and aspirations of all Burmese citizens. They, too, should be freed. Suppressing ideas never succeeds in making them go away. I call on the Burmese regime to heed the views of its own people and the international community and to work towards genuine national reconciliation.

I am also concerned by the sentencing of American citizen John Yettaw to seven years in prison, a punishment out of proportion with his actions.

Obama calls for Suu Kyi’s release

Washington – US President Barack Obama called on Myanmar’s ruling junta to immediately release human rights activist Aung San Suu Kyi, who received an additional 18 months of detainment on Tuesday for allegedly violating the terms of her house arrest.
Obama issued a statement saying the conviction and sentencing ‘unjust’ and a violation of human rights. The trial that handed Suu Kyi, 64, another 18 months of house arrest and effectively sidelined her for the upcoming elections has drawn worldwide condemnation.
‘I join the international community in calling for Aung San Suu Kyi’s immediate unconditional release,’ Obama said.
US State Department spokesman PJ Crowley said he was premature to conclude whether the United States will pursue additional sanctions on the UN Security Council. Myanmar’s rulers have already been sanctioned by the United States, United Nations and European Union.
‘We’ll be comparing notes about the implications of this case and what the consequences will be,’ Crowley said. Continue reading “Obama calls for Suu Kyi’s release”