Myanmar minister promises ‘free and fair’ election

3 October 2009 SIEM REAP, Cambodia – Myanmar’s foreign minister promised Saturday his country would hold ‘free and fair’ elections next year, despite the detention of democracy campaigner Aung San Suu Kyi.
‘In my country free and fair elections will be held. We have already announced it,’ Myanmar foreign minister Nyan Win told reporters after a meeting with counterparts in Cambodia’s northwestern tourist hub.

‘(Whether) the elections are free and fair or not, so far no one can judge it. After the elections will be held, you can judge whether the elections are free and fair or not.’

A Myanmar court Friday rejected an appeal by Suu Kyi against her conviction over an incident in which a US man swam uninvited to her home in May, earning her an extra 18 months’ detention.

The sentence sidelines her from the elections promised for 2010, leading critics to say the polls are a sham.

The minister made the remarks after meeting with the foreign ministers of Japan, Cambodia, Thailand, Laos and Vietnam for talks intended to foster development within the Mekong region.

Myanmar has been under military rule since 1962, and the junta refused to acknowledge the landslide win of Suu Kyi’s National League for Democracy party in the last elections in 1990.

Japanese foreign minister Katsuya Okada said the talks raised ‘Myanmar-related questions’.

‘We hope that Aung San Suu Kyi will be released and transparent elections will be conducted with the participation of all political parties,’ he told reporters.

Myanmar’s foreign minister told his counterparts that ‘democracy can’t be imposed from outside,’ Japanese foreign ministry spokesman Kazuo Kodama said.
Japan’s new government has voiced hopes of fostering ties with countries in the Mekong region.

Suu Kyi, who has spent much of the last 20 years in detention, had a rare meeting with junta minister Aung Kyi Saturday, in which her lawyer said they probably discussed how to end Western sanctions against Myanmar.

Japan:military-ruled Myanmar that it was not developing nuclear weapons even though it was working with Russia on a nuclear energy program.

Japan said on Saturday it had been assured by military-ruled Myanmar that it was not developing nuclear weapons even though it was working with Russia on a nuclear energy program.

Myanmar says nuclear ambitions are peaceful – Japan
By Ek Madra

SIEM REAP, Cambodia (Reuters) – Japan said on Saturday it had been assured by military-ruled Myanmar that it was not developing nuclear weapons even though it was working with Russia on a nuclear energy programme.

Myanmar has remained tight-lipped about its nuclear plans, despite speculation it has been receiving help from North Korea to build nuclear facilities near its remote capital with the intent of developing a weapon.

Myanmar’s Foreign Minister Nyan Win told his Japanese counterpart Katsuya Okada that his country was seeking Russia’s expertise, but only in developing a peaceful energy programme for its people.

“(Nyan Win) told Japan’s foreign minister that Myanmar has no intention to have a nuclear weapon,” Japan’s Foreign Ministry spokesman Kazuo Kodama told reporters on the sidelines of a Mekong-Japan ministerial meeting in Siem Reap, Cambodia.

“Myanmar has conducted a consultation to have assistance from Russia for a peaceful use of nuclear energy.”

Kazuo did not say if the issue of any nuclear links with North Korea was discussed.

Academic researchers said in August Myanmar was building a secret nuclear reactor and plutonium facility in caves tunnelled into a mountain, citing intelligence from two defectors.

The defectors also said Myanmar, which has known reserves of uranium ore, had provided refined “yellowcake” processed uranium that can be used as nuclear fuel to Iran and North Korea.

The isolated country has been under Western sanctions for two decades and analysts say a nuclearised Myanmar could trigger an arms race in the region.

U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said at a security forum in Thailand in July that she was concerned about the possible transfer of nuclear technology to Myanmar from North Korea.

In reference to ties between North Korea and Myanmar, U.S. Assistant Secretary of State Kurt Campbell, the top U.S. diplomat for Asia, said there were “some signs that that cooperation has extended into areas that would be prohibited”.

However, many analysts have said evidence of attempts to develop nuclear weapons is scant and have questioned the reliability of the defectors’ information.
SIEM REAP, Cambodia (Reuters)

deadline for the ceasefire groups-Junta waging war of nerves

SATURDAY, 03 OCTOBER 2009 12:42 S.H.A.N.

As the October deadline for the ceasefire groups to respond positively to the ruling military council’s demand to transform themselves into Burma Army-run Border Guard Forces (BGFs) draws near, Burmese military officers are increasingly waging a psychological warfare designed to put out the fight in the ceasefire groups, according to reports coming to the border.

While ceasefire groups are being informed of the United Wa State Army (UWSA)’s “acceptance” of the BGF program, the UWSA itself is being fed with news of “impending surrender” by the non-ceasefire Shan State Army (SSA) “South” led by Col Yawdserk.On 29 September, Ta Zong, Commander of the Mongjawd-based 772nd Brigade, opposite Chiangmai’s Chiangdao district, was informed by the visiting unidentified operational commander of Mongton that the SSA had agreed to “exchange arms for peace,” a junta euphemism for surrender.

“You have nothing to worry about an attack by the Burma Army,” he was quoted as saying, “as we are busy making arrangements for Yawdserk’s surrender.”

The news was greeted with dismay among the Wa officers, said a source close to the Wa.

The SSA, through civilian couriers, had recently called for the talks, according to a local police source. Loi Taileng, the SSA main base, opposite Maehongson, had rejected the report.

It was Col Yawdserk himself who disclosed earlier that he had been approached by Naypyitaw via Thailand for a meeting, a move seen by veteran Burma watchers as a ploy to discourage the embattled Wa from joining it.

US embassy to put up lawyers for detained citizen Aung Kyaw Zaw

Friday, 02 October 2009 21:28

New Delhi (Mizzima) – The US embassy in Rangoon has got in touch with lawyers to defend its detained citizen, Aung Kyaw Zaw, arrested on arrival in the former Burmese capital’s international airport on September 3.

Kyi Win, a high court advocate, on Friday told Mizzima that he was contacted by the US embassy to defend Aung Kyaw Zaw (alias) Nyi Nyi Aung, currently detained in Rangoon’s notorious Insein prison.

“The embassy contacted us to defend him and offered us a fee equivalent to the amount paid to the lawyer they had hired for John William Yettaw. But we said we are willing to provide ‘Pro Bono’ [free of charge] service,” Kyi Win said.

Kyi Win said the embassy had contacted him and his colleague Nyan Win, with whom he teamed up to defend detained opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi, to take up Nyi Nyi Aung’s case.

Both Kyi Win and Nyan Win are advocates practicing in the high court.

“I don’t know if Nyi Nyi Aung has been charged yet. I am yet to receive a reply from the embassy,” Kyi Win said.

While it is still not clear whether he has been charged and on what grounds, a report in the state-run media the New Light of Myanmar newspaper last week accused Nyi Nyi Aung of trying to instigate civil unrest in cahoots with underground activists inside Burma. Continue reading “US embassy to put up lawyers for detained citizen Aung Kyaw Zaw”

Breaking news brief:Than Shwe to visit cyclone-hit delta

by Mizzima News
Saturday, 03 October 2009 16:35

(Mizzima) – The Burmese military junta supremo Snr. Gen Than Shwe will pay a two-day visit to the cyclone-hit region of the Irrawaddy delta next week as part of a good will trip to show solidarity and support to victims of Cyclone Nargis, which ravaged the area in May 2008.

Sources in the military said, Than Shwe’s trip will commence on October 6. He will attend the inaugural ceremony of the Yuzana Cyclone Shelter in Pyar Pone Township. Other cyclone shelters cannot be inaugurated as they have not been completed in time, the source added.

Than Shwe is currently in Rangoon, meeting and accepting gifts and offerings from military officials and his business cronies, the source said.

Surprising as it may seem, the military top brass has been speculating that Than Shwe is likely to meet detained opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi.

“If everything goes well, Than Shwe is likely to meet her. Otherwise, somebody else will meet Aung San Suu Kyi,” the source said without elaborating on the terms and conditions that Than Shwe is looking for meeting the detained opposition leader. Continue reading “Breaking news brief:Than Shwe to visit cyclone-hit delta”