On Myanmar, UN Council’s Weak Response Belies Rice’s China and Russia Claim, of Total and UK Banks

UNITED NATIONS, August 13 — In a weakened and belated response to Myanmar’s sentencing of democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi to 18 more months of house imprisonment, the UN Security Council on Thursday afternoon issued a “press statement” that touted Myanmar’s sovereignty and noted Than Shwe’s reduction of the sentence from three years hard labor to 18 months at home.

Inner City Press asked the Council President for August, UK Ambassador John Sawers, if there had been any discussion of the credibility of the 2010 elections, even if Suu Kyi were released, given the limitation of top posts to those with military backgrounds. Sawers answered at length that the Council supports national reconciliation, that the elections must be inclusive, that Secretary General Ban Ki-moon has said that. Many read the press statement as heavily influenced by China, with its indirect praise of Than Shwe’s mercy and Myanmar’s sovereignty.

The weak press statement came less than 20 hours after U.S. Ambassador to the UN Susan Rice told an audience at New York University that she is working well with China and Russia, even fielding the latter’s ambassador’s call on the way to the NYU speech. The U.S. had proposed a stronger Presidential Statement, but it was delayed and watered down. Continue reading “On Myanmar, UN Council’s Weak Response Belies Rice’s China and Russia Claim, of Total and UK Banks”

Asean would ask Burma’s military junta to grant pardon for opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi who was sentenced by a Burmese court to be under house arrest for another 18 months, Thai Foreign Minister Kasit Piromya said Friday.

Thailand, as the Chair of the group, has circulated the letter to other members including Burma, asking for consensus on the move.

After all members agree, the pardon request on behalf of Asean would be sent to Burma’s paramount leader Gen Than Shwe, he said.

Aung San Suu Kyi was sentenced to another 18 months under house arrest after an American John Yettaw swam across the Inya Lake to her resident-cum-prison in Rangoon in May.

The verdict raised international outrage and leaders of many countries condemned the decision which they regarded as a political motivation to keep her away from the planned 2010 general election.

Is US Senator Webb on a mercy mission to Burma

by Larry Jagan
Friday, 14 August 2009 17:56

BANGKOK (Mizzima) – A prominent US politician, Senator Jim Webb has arrived in Burma’s capital Naypitdaw and is expected to meet the country’s reclusive leader, General Than Shwe on Saturday. American diplomats are tight-lipped about the trip. The whole visit is shrouded in secrecy, but there is increasing speculation that he may be on a mercy mission to try to free the 54-year-old American John Yettaw, who was sentenced to seven years in prison with hard labour on Tuesday for his part in the detained pro-democracy leader, Aung San Suu Kyi allegedly breaking the conditions of her house arrest.

Many are suspicious of his intentions: is he acting as a messenger on behalf of the US government or is there some other mercenary motive. The Burmese pro-democracy groups abroad have already condemned the visit as a publicity stunt on the part of the Burmese authorities, which they fear will not end well for democracy in Burma. Diplomats in Rangoon, remain sceptical that anything useful can come out of the trip – though some believe anything could happen if he does have a fruitful meeting with Than Shwe.

While he may not be an envoy, either for President Barack Obama or the Secretary of State Hilary Clinton, the White House certainly supports his trip, believing it was a good opportunity to convey the US’s “strong” views on the need for genuine political reform to the country’s leaders.

“We welcome Senator Webb’s trip to the region, including the stop in Burma,” a spokesman for the National Security Council Mike Hammer, told journalists in Washington on Friday. “It is important for the Burmese leadership to hear of the strong views of American political leaders about the path it should take towards democracy, good governance, and genuine national reconciliation,” he said.

Mr. Webb is the first member of the US Congress to visit Burma for more than ten years. “It is vitally important that the United States re-engage with Southeast Asia at all levels,” he said in statement released to the press on his arrival in the Lao capital Vientiane, on Thursday, the first stop on his five-country regional tour. Continue reading “Is US Senator Webb on a mercy mission to Burma”