BurmaNet News, September 25 - 27, 2010
editor at burmanet.org
Mon Sep 27 14:18:27 EDT 2010
September 25 27, 2010 Issue #4050
Canadian Press: Suu Kyi's disbanded Myanmar opposition party marks
anniversary under police surveillance
Irrawaddy: 262 monks and nuns still in Burmese prisons
DPA: Pro-democracy party urges voters to join Myanmar elections
New Light of Myanmar: One more white elephant emerges
ON THE BORDER
SHAN: Druglords to contest on junta party tickets
AFP: UN chief urges Asia nations to pressure Myanmar
Irrawaddy: Obama urges Burma to embark on process of reconciliation
Mizzima: Ireland weighs in on UN inquiry into Burma abuses
DVB: Mass cyber attack paralyses Burmese media
Kaladan Press: Rohingya issues debated in 15th UN Human Rights Council in
OPINION / OTHER
VOA: U.S. continuing to engage with Burma Editorial
Irrawaddy: An anniversary written in blood Editorial
Nation (Thailand): Bring pressure to bear on the Burmese generals before
their sham election goes ahead
DVB: They who dared to dream once more Joseph Allchin
SHAN: Press conference by Shan Drug Watch
September 27, The Canadian Press
Suu Kyi's disbanded Myanmar opposition party marks anniversary under
Yangon, Myanmar The disbanded party of detained Myanmar opposition
leader Aung San Suu Kyi vowed Monday to continue fighting for democracy,
marking what would be its 22nd anniversary under tight police
The National League for Democracy was dissolved by the military government
earlier this year after deciding to boycott Nov. 7 elections, saying the
rules governing the balloting were unfair and undemocratic.
The elections will be Myanmar's first in two decades. Critics say the
polls are designed to cement nearly 50 years of military rule.
"The government has disbanded the party, but the National League for
Democracy will undauntedly continue its struggle for democracy despite all
the hardships," senior party member Win Tin told a cheering crowd. A
former political prisoner, Win Tin was released in September 2008 after
serving almost 19 years behind bars.
Suu Kyi co-founded the party amid massive pro-democracy protests in August
1988 and officially registered it on Sept. 27, 1988, after the
demonstrations were violently suppressed by the junta. The party won 1990
elections by a landslide, but the results were not recognized by the
military government. Suu Kyi has been jailed or under house arrest for 15
of the past 21 years.
On Monday, about 300 party members gathered at the home of Tin Oo, the
party's other co-founder. The NLD cannot officially hold party gatherings
at its Yangon headquarters after it was officially disbanded.
"We hold this ceremony to show that the National League for Democracy
still exists, and we will continue to exist despite all kinds of
repression," said party spokesman Nyan Win.
More than three dozen plainclothes police officers monitored the ceremony
from a distance.
Party loyalists said they supported Suu Kyi's call to boycott the elections.
"I am here to show solidarity with the party," said party member Daw Nay,
88, whose granddaughter was killed during the 1988 pro-democracy protests.
"I totally support the NLD's election boycott, and it is time all the
people stand united with the NLD."
A group of renegade NLD members have formed a new party, the National
Democratic Force, which held its own gathering Monday to announce it will
field 163 candidates in the elections.
Candidates are vying for 1,157 seats, including 494 seats in Myanmar's
two-chamber Union Parliament and 663 spread among 14 regional parliaments.
The only party fielding candidates in almost all constituencies is the
junta-backed Union Solidarity and Development Party.
September 27, Irrawaddy
262 monks and nuns still in Burmese prisons Wai Moe
Three years after Burma's military regime crushed monk-led protests, at
least 262 Buddhist monks and nuns remain behind bars.
Three years after Burma's military regime crushed monk-led protests in
September 2007, at least 262 Buddhist monks and nuns remain behind bars,
according to an exiled human rights group based in Thailand.
At an event marking the third anniversary of the uprising, known as the
Saffron Revolution, the Assistance Association for Political
PrisonersBurma (AAPP) said that there are currently 256 monks and six
nuns still in the country's notorious prisons, including some who are old
and in poor health.
According to our data, Burma holds more clerics behind bars than any
other country. It is quite unfortunate that the Burmese military regime
often claims it is promoting Buddhism, said Bo Kyi, the joint-secretary
of the AAPP.
We have learned that the well-known leading monk Ashin Gambari, who is
currently being held in Kale Prison [near the Indian-Burmese border], is
not well due to torture and other mistreatment during interrogation and in
prison, he added.
Ashin Gambira was arrested in November 2007 and later sentenced to 63
years in prison for his role in the protests.
His sentence is second only to that of Ashin Nanda Vantha in its severity.
Ashin Nanda Vantha, who is currently being held in Lashio Prison, in
northern Shan State, is serving a 71-year sentence after being found
guilty of a variety of charges related to the uprising.
More than 30 people are believed to have been killed when the military
moved in to end the demonstrations, including Japanese photojournalist
Kenji Nagai. No Burmese military official has ever been charged in
connection with Nagai's murder, and despite repeated requests from the
Japanese government, his belongingsincluding video footage of the
military assault on protestershave never been returned.
None of the victims' families are likely to see justice anytime soon. It
has recently been learned that several of the leading commanders
responsible for the crackdown have been promoted and may be in line to
hold high-level positions after this year's election, which will see a
return to ostensibly civilian rule.
It is believed that the crackdown was overseen by former Lt-Gen Myint Swe
under the orders of the office of the Commander-in-Chief (Army). Assisting
him in carrying out the orders was Maj-Gen Hla Htay Win, the then
commander of the Rangoon Regional Military Command, and Brig-Gen Win
Myint, the former commander of Light Infantry Division 77.
Myint Swe retired from his military post as part of a reshuffle in late
August and is now a candidate of the junta-backed Union Solidarity and
Development Party (USDP) for the Rangoon regional parliament, running in
Seikgyi Khanaungto Township.
Observers in Rangoon say he is tipped by junta head Snr-Gen Than Shwe to
become chief minister of the Rangoon region, where Burmas largest city
and chief commercial hub are located, after the Nov. 7 election.
Hla Htay Win has also risen significantly since the crackdown. A year
after the uprising was crushed, he was promoted from major general to
lieutenant general and reappointed chief of armed forces training and made
a member of the ruling State Peace and Development Council.
Win Myint, whose LID 77 was responsible for killing Nagai and an unknown
number of protesters on Sept. 27, 2007, subsequently became Hla Htay Win's
successor as Rangoon regional commander post and was promoted to major
general. In the latest reshuffle, he was promoted to the position of
military appointment general.
Marking the third anniversary of the Saffron RevolutionBurma's largest
mass uprising against military rule in two decadesNew York-based Human
Rights Watch called for an open and impartial investigation into the
In its statement, the group also called on the United States and Southeast
Asian leaders to press the Burmese junta to end its escalating campaign of
repression, release more than 2,100 political prisoners and start a
genuine dialogue with the democratic opposition.
However, the regime shows no signs of relenting in its efforts to snuff
out dissent. In February, it sentenced former political prisoner and monk
Ashin Nyana to 22 years in prison for writing a Buddhist tract calling on
monks to be more involved in worldly affairs. Currently held in Myitkyina
Prison in Kachin State, he also served sentences in the 1980s and 1990s.
September 27, Deustche Press Agentur
Pro-democracy party urges voters to join Myanmar elections
Yangon One of Myanmar's new pro-democracy political parties standing in
the November 7 elections urged citizens Monday to get involved in the
first electoral process in two decades.
National Democratic Force leader U Khin Maung Swe told about 250 gathered
at a NDF ceremony Monday that 'people who neglect to vote in the upcoming
election are committing a political crime.'
The NDF leader urged voters to 'clean the government.'
The NDF and the Democratic Party Myanmar, the main pro-democracy parties,
have only registered 160 and 49 candidates, respectively.
Two pro-government parties, the Union Solidarity Development Party and the
National Unity Party, have fielded more than 1,160 and 990 candidates,
There are 37 registered parties, but only the military-supported parties
have been able to field enough candidates to win a majority in the polls
for the lower, upper and regional houses of parliament.
Many have complained that the registration fee of 500 dollars is
prohibitively expensive in a country where the per capita income is less
than 600 dollars a year.
Myanmar's pro-democracy icon Aung San Suu Kyi has urged her supporters not
to vote in the general elections.
Suu Kyi and her disbanded National League for Democracy (NLD) party are
boycotting the general election to protest regulations imposed by the
junta that seemed designed to bar the Nobel laureate and her followers
from the polls.
The NLD won the last election, in 1990, by a landslide, but the junta
refused to hand over power.
Some 93 parties ran in that election, the first democratic polls in the
country since 1962, when General Ne Win toppled elected premier U Nu in a
A new constitution ensures that even if a pro-democracy party wins the
November polls, the military will be able to block legislation in the
Senate, where 25 per cent of the seats will be appointed by the junta.
September 25, New Light of Myanmar
One more white elephant emerges
Nay Pyi Taw There have emerged white elephants in the time of the State
Peace and Development Council. Now, there one more white elephant, the
fifth one has emerged.
According to the information of local people, groups of Forest Department
and Myanmar Timber Enterprise caught one more white elephant in Maungtaw
Township, Rakhine State on 23 September afternoon. It is about 18 years
old, seven feet and one inch tall and its girth is 10 feet and three
According to the ancient treatises, it is very hard to seek a white
elephant in a thousand elephants.
There have emerged four white elephants in Myanmar over the past decade
from 2001 to 2010. And emergence of one more white elephant is a national
People are heartening to note that the fifth white elephant has more
characteristics of a white elephant.
The elder persons, monks and well-informed people say that a white
elephant would emerge in a certain place where Buddha Sasana flourished
and rulers governed the nation in a just way.
The emergence of more white elephants is an omen that the nation will
remain peaceful and free from various forms of dangers. Paddy and crops
and gems will be abundant and the Union and the entire national people
will enjoy greater progress than at present.
People are holding discussions cheerfully that the auspicious occasion
coincides with the democratic transition of the nation and it is a good
sign for the success of general elections and for the people to enjoy
peace and stability and prosperity in the time of a new government like in
the time of existing government. MNA
ON THE BORDER
September 27, Shan Herald Agency for News
Druglords to contest on junta party tickets Hseng Khio Fah
A number of junta-backed local militia chiefs, notorious among local
people as drug dealers in Shan State Norths Kutkhai, Muse and Namkham
townships, have been handpicked by the Union Solidarity and Development
Party (USDP) to contest in the 7 November polls, according to election
watchers on the Sino-Burma border.
There are so far four men. All are heads of militia groups. Two are from
Kutkhai, one from Muse and another one from Namkham, a source from Muse
The two from Kutkhai are identified as U Myint Lwin and U Ti Khun Myat.
U Myint Lwin, aka Wang Guoda (60) Kokang Chinese chief of Tamoeng-ngen
militia group, had attended the junta-organized National Convention (NC)
as a national races delegate.
All people from the town know him as a drug king, a source from Kutkhai
Similarly, U Ti Khun Myat (57) is the leader of 600-strong Kutkhai
militia. He had also attended the NC. He was one of the shareholders of
Myanmar Mayflower Bank which was infamous for laundering black money into
The two are said to be contesting for State legislature in Kutkhai.
The other two are U Kengmai from Muse and Panhsay Kyaw Myint from Namkham.
U Kengnmai (50) chief of the 200-strong Mongpaw militia unit is said to be
contesting for the State legislature in Muse, Constituency No.2.
Most drug production in Muse and Kutkhai are by U Myint Lwin and
Kengmais groups. Most of U Ti Khun Myats men transport the products
through U Kengmais controlled region to China.
Another one, Kyaw Myint aka Li Yongqiang (51), well-known Panhsay militia
chief from Namkham is an executive member of the Union Solidarity and
Development Association (USDA) of Muse District. He will contest for a
seat for State legislature in Namkham Township.
Kyaw Myint was also a representative at the NC, in the national races
category. He is known more for his drug business. Yongyang Casino on the
Mao-Shweli River near Muse is owned by him. His group is helping the
Burmese Army to earn pocket money, a local villager in Namkham said.
Many ferry crossings on the Mao-Ruili River that serves as a boundary
between China and Burma are guarded by Kyaw Htwe aka Li Yongping, younger
brother of Kyaw Myint, who enjoys close relations with former regional
commander Myint Hlaing. His men tax the wayfarers and also reportedly
traffic in drugs.
Kyaw Myints relative Sai Htun Maung, is also reported to have been
selected to represent the Lisu nationality and contest at the 0.1 per cent
ethnic minorities in Shan State, sources from Namkham said.
There will be five ballot boxes in each polling station: one for upper
house, one for lower house, two for state/region legislature and another
for minority candidates representing communities with at least 0.1 per
cent of the total population. The New Light of Myanmar reported that the
ballot boxes will be classified in four colours: blue, green, purple and
white. Blue is for upper house, green for lower house, purple for the
State/Region Legislature and white for ethnic minorities candidates, the
White Tiger, the bilingual newsletter of Shan National Democratic Party
(SNDP) quoted it as saying.
September 27, Agence France Presse
UN chief urges Asia nations to pressure Myanmar Tim Witcher
United Nations UN chief Ban Ki-moon has warned Asian nations that their
credibility could suffer if they do not take a tougher line with the
Myanmar junta ahead of a national election in November.
Ban exhorted the military government's neighbors to do more ahead of a
meeting on Myanmar on Monday on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly.
The meeting will discuss human rights, and humanitarian conditions, as
well as preparations for the November 7 election, which Britain, the
United States and Canada have said will be held in "oppressive"
The UN secretary general has expressed mounting "frustration" with the
junta, which has stopped Nobel prize winner Aung San Suu Kyi and other
opponents from standing in the election.
Ban told leaders from the 10-nation Association of Southeast Asian Nations
(ASEAN) on Friday that the UN and the group "share the aim of stability
and development in Myanmar.
"We agree on the critical need for a democratic transition and national
reconciliation, and for ensuring free, fair and inclusive elections."
But he added: "Failure to meet these expectations could undermine the
credibility of the process -- which, in turn, could reflect on ASEAN?s
collective values and principles."
Ban said the UN and ASEAN "must also help Myanmar, so that they can
address these humanitarian and development challenges."
ASEAN -- made up of Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar,
the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam -- has a strong principle
of non-interference in members' affairs, but Myanmar has been a source of
embarrassment for more democratic members of the bloc.
The UN chief said he wanted to work with the military government "to
enable a successful transition to civilian and democratic rule" and called
on ASEAN to show support "in encouraging Myanmar?s engagement with my good
He highlighted the issue in individual talks with ASEAN leaders in New
York, including the new Philippines President, Benigno Aquino. Ban pressed
on Aquino "the importance of engagement by the countries in the region," a
UN spokesman said.
Ban has increasingly thrown his usual caution to the wind in his comments
Already this month he has "expressed his frustration concerning access to
the Myanmar authorities" and noted with "some concern" the junta's
decision to ban Aung San Suu Kyi's National League for Democracy and nine
other parties from the election.
"The international community is at something of a loss over how to propose
a way forward with the intransigent Myanmar government," said one UN
Security Council diplomat.
"The UN secretary general is just reflecting that. The rights situation is
bad, even everyday life is bad for many people there."
US President Barack Obama also pressed the 10 ASEAN nations at a luncheon
he hosted for them the same day.
Washington has admitted it is also disappointed with efforts to use
dialogue to promote democratic change.
"The president believes in the importance of democratic reform and
protection of human rights and renews his call on Burma to embark on a
process of national reconciliation," a US statement said after the lunch.
Obama called for the release of all political prisoners including Aung San
The ASEAN leaders also called for free elections, and welcomed US
engagement with Myanmar, hoping it would encourage the military government
to undertake political and economic reforms.
September 27, Irrawaddy
Obama urges Burma to embark on process of reconciliation Lalit K Jha
Washington US President Barack Obama on Friday urged the Burmese
leadership to embark on a process of national reconciliation by releasing
all political prisoners, including Nobel Peace Prize laureate Aung San Suu
Obama renewed his call during a meeting with the leaders of the
Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean) in New York, held on the
sidelines of the United Nations General Assembly. The meeting was attended
by Burmese Foreign Minister Nyan Win, but there was no direct contact
between him and the US president.
The president believes in the importance of democratic reform and
protection of human rights and renews his call on Burma to embark on a
process of national reconciliation by releasing all political prisoners
including Aung San Suu Kyi and by holding free and fair elections in
November, the White House said in a statement after the meeting.
In a joint statement issued together with their US counterpart, the Asean
leaders said they welcomed the continued US engagement with the
government of Myanmar [Burma] and expressed hope that Asean and US
engagement encourages Myanmar to undertake political and economic reforms
to facilitate national reconciliation.
Reiterating a call made at the first US-Asean meeting in Singapore last
November, the statement said this year's election in Burma must be
conducted in a free, fair, inclusive and transparent manner in order to
be credible for the international community.
We emphasized the need for Myanmar to continue to work together with
Asean and the United Nations in the process of national reconciliation,
the joint statement said.
Meanwhile, in Washington, the State Department reiterated that the US does
not believe that the election in November will be legitimate.
We have made it clear all along that we think the Nov. 7 elections are
going to lack legitimacy, State Department spokesman Mark Toner said.
We obviously remain concerned about the oppressive political environment
in the country and we urge the authorities to release all the political
prisoners, including Aung San Suu Kyi, and I believe theres 2,100
additional political prisoners, he said.
We dont believe those elections can be free or fair, and we continue to
urge the Burmese authorities to begin a genuine political dialogue with
the democratic opposition
and also the ethnic minority leaders, as a
first step towards national reconciliation, Toner said.
September 25, Mizzima News
Ireland weighs in on UN inquiry into Burma abuses Thomas Maung Shwe
Chiang Mai (Mizzima) Taoiseach (Prime Minister) Brian Cowens Irish
government has joined a growing list of Eurpoean Union and other countries
voicing support for a UN inquiry into crimes against humanity and war
crimes committed by Burmas ruling junta.
In an e-mail sent to Mizzima in which it was confirmed Ireland supports
such a UN commission of inquiry, Irish Department of Foreign Affairs
spokeswoman Amanda Bane wrote: We remain actively engaged at national, EU
and international level in monitoring the situation in Burma and in our
efforts to support the Burmese people in their struggle for democracy and
In March, the UN special rapporteur on the human rights situation in
Burma, Tomas Ojea Quintana, submitted a report to the UN Human Rights
Council, which stated that in Burma there existed a pattern of gross and
systematic human rights abuses that suggested the abuses were a state
policy that involved authorities at all levels of the executive, military
and judiciary. It also stated that the possibility exists that some of
these human rights violations may entail categories of crimes against
humanity or war crimes under the terms of the [Rome] Statute of the
International Criminal Court.
He urged the UN to look further into rights abuses committed by the
Burmese regime and consider launching a commission of inquiry with a
specific fact-finding mandate to address the question of international
Ireland sees no indication that regime listening to international criticism
Bane, also told Mizzima that it was the view of Dublin that at this point
there are no indications that the Burmese regime had responded to calls
by representatives of the Irish government for the release without delay
of all political prisoners, including Aung San Suu Kyi and for the
initiation of a process of national dialogue and reconciliation, involving
all opposition and ethnic groups, in advance of the elections.
September 27, Democratic Voice of Burma
Mass cyber attack paralyses Burmese media Francis Wade
Websites belonging to exiled Burmese media organisations have been hit
with cyber-attacks on the anniversary of the September 2007 uprising.
It mirrors a similar incident in 2008 on the first anniversary of the
uprising, also known as the Saffron Revolution, which became Burmas
biggest show of defiance since the 1988 student protests.
Websites belonging to The Irrawaddy magazine, Mizzima and DVB all exiled
media groups founded by former activists were today attacked using DDoS,
or distributed denial-of-service, which fires thousands of malformed web
connections against the site.
The strategy has become the Burmese juntas key weapon of cyber warfare,
despite many countries outlawing it in the UK, conviction of DDoS can
carry a 10-year prison sentence. But the laws are comparatively relaxed in
a number of other countries, and a similar, but less serious, attack on
the DVB website on 20 September used equipment in Russia, Georgia,
Vietnam, Israel and Kazakhstan, amongst others.
Concerns will arise as to possible tactics used to control the flow of
information around the 7 November elections, with the country already
tightening its borders to restrict journalists and observers from entering
during the politically sensitive polling time the government-appointed
Election Commission (EC) has already made it clear that foreign election
monitors are banned from the country.
But with much of the scenes and details of the Saffron Revolution already
in the public sphere, not to mention the Oscar-nominated Burma VJ
documentary that covered media and the protests, questions are being asked
of the motive behind todays assault.
We dont know why they attacked today, said Kyaw Zwa Moe, managing
editor of The Irrawaddy. Its more serious because of the elections in
five or six weeks, and this attack is much more powerful than previous
I think they organised this attack in advance to prepare for the
elections. Exiled media will cover extensively the elections so theyre
testing the water with the exiled media.
It appears part of a coordinated effort to bring down the websites, and
todays attack was very big, according to the executive director of DVB,
Aye Chan Naing, who warned that more are likely to come.
September 27, Kaladan Press
Rohingya issues debated in 15th UN Human Rights Council in Geneva Tin Soe
Chittagong, Bangladesh: A Rohingya delegation from the Burmese Rohingya
Orgnisation UK (BROUK) made a presentation on human rights abuses
committed by the Burmese regime against the Rohingya community in northern
Arakan, Burma in the 15th United Nation Human Rights session in Geneva on
September 22, according to Khurshid Ahmed, Joint Secretary of BROUK.
The programme was held in Room 23 in the United Nations Main Building from
15:00 to 17:00 hour, the Joint Secretary.
Htun Khin (aka) Ziaul Gaffar, president and Khurshid Ahmed, Joint
Secretary of BROUK attended the session as members of NGOs, Islamic Human
Rights Commission UK, where other two members of Islamic Human Rights
Commission UK (IHRC) also attended.
The presentation was delivered by Htun Khin. He highlighted the worst
human rights violation against all the people in Burma, particularly the
Rohingya ethnic in northern Arakan committed by the Burmese military
Htun Khin mentioned all kinds of human rights abuses against Rohingya
community of northern Arakan in detail; religious persecution; restriction
in marriage; restriction in movement; forced labour; extortion; among
others. He also spoke of the Rohingya community, who have been expelled
from their homeland by the regime and have been sheltered in different
countries around the world such as Bangladesh, Saudi Arabia, UAE,
Thailand, and Malaysia, where the community needs all kinds of basic
humanitarian aids for their survival.
Htun Khin also discussed how the Rohingya community feels and their need
for education and healthcare both inside and outside northern Arakan.
Htun Khin concluded his presentation, urging the international community:
to establish an UN Commission of Inquiry to investigate crimes against
humanity committed by the junta against the Rohingya ethnic and other
ethnics in Burma; to call on the regime to lift all restrictions on the
Rohingya community; to provide humanitarian aid, education and healthcare
for Rohingyas in Arakan State and Rohingya refugees in Bangladesh, Saudi
Arabia and Malaysia and to find and resolve the root cause of the long
term suffering of Rohingya refugee problem. Finally, Htun Khine urged the
UN Human Rights Council to establish a UN Fact-Finding Mission with the
mandate to investigate all human rights violation against Rohingya in
After the presentation, Htun Khin and Khurshid Ahmed answered questions
which the audience raised.
The Human Rights Council, the principal UN intergovernmental body
responsible for human rights, opened its 15th session in Geneva from 13
September to 1 October, according to OHCHRs website.
In a speech to the Council, High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay
stressed the pressing need for human rights protection both in
emergencies and chronic human rights situations.
Special procedures mandate holders, press reports and advocates
consistently point out that human rights defenders, journalists, and civil
society activists in all regions of the world face threats to their lives
and security because of their work, Pillay said on 13 September.
She pointed out that in some countries, peaceful dissidents, human rights
advocates, lawyers, and press representatives have been targeted and
violently attacked and ad hoc laws or other restrictive measures have
been used to curtail civil societys scope of action and social
I urge the Human Rights Council and the international community to
support squarely and vocally human rights defenders.
OPINION / OTHER
September 27, Voice of America
U.S. continuing to engage with Burma Editorial
The United States reaches out to the Burmese government as the country
prepares for its upcoming national elections.
Burma's military government continues to prepare for upcoming national
elections, the first since 1990 when the opposition National League for
Democracy swept the polls but was prevented from taking power. Steps taken
so far for the November 7 balloting, including the disbanding of
opposition parties, cancelling balloting in many ethnic minority areas,
and an electoral guarantee that military candidates will win a quarter of
all legislative seats, suggest that it too will lack international
The list of 37 parties approved by Burma's Electoral Commission to offer
candidates was published in a state-run newspaper the same day that it
announced the NLD's formal dissolution. The approved parties include
pro-government, unaffiliated, and democratic opposition groups. But this
deceptively diverse group masks the sway that the 2 major pro-government
parties the Union Solidarity and Development and National Unity parties
are likely to hold. Each offers close to 1,000 candidates and employs
strong-arm campaign tactics.
Meanwhile, Burmese troops and their families in barracks will have
separate ballot boxes from ordinary citizens, 1 of several electoral
procedures that will likely intimidate those under government control who
might otherwise support the opposition.
Over the last year, the United States has reached out to the Burmese
government, aiming to establish a workable dialogue and an opening of the
political process there. Years of isolating the military regime have not
borne substantial fruit. Engagement, while maintaining a variety of
sanctions, was initiated in an effort to persuade the junta to free
political prisoners, including opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi, improve
treatment of ethnic minority groups, and encourage an inclusive,
meaningful national dialogue.
The regimes response to the United States engagement efforts has been
disappointing. As evidenced by the steps taken to prepare for November's
vote, the junta has not undertaken genuine political reform, and its
electoral process doesn't meet basic international standards.
Among the difficult options in dealing with the regime, however,
engagement remains a possible means to encourage reform and a change in
regime behavior. New players and new political forces may emerge from the
elections, and the United States is prepared to engage with the new
government to pursue positive change.
September 27, Irrawaddy
An anniversary written in blood Editorial
On the third anniversary of the violent suppression of the Saffron
Revolution, the international community should consider taking immediate
concerted and focused actions to secure the human rights, dignity and
future of Burma's 54 million people.
Three years ago, Buddhist monks overturned their alms bowls during their
morning rounds of the streets of Burma's old capital, Rangoon, and other
principal cities and refused to receive offerings from the Burmese ruling
generals and their familieshistorically seen as an act of defiance.
Thus began the protests that came to be known as the Saffron
Revolutionwhich reached its climax on Sept 27, when troops put a violent
end to the monk-led demonstrations.
The outside world hasn't forgotten the blood-stained anniversary. But
neither has the regimeshortly after midnight on Monday, a cyber attack
was launched against the Web sites of activist movements and of media
organizations, including The Irrawaddy. The exiled media is now accustomed
to these crude displays of censorship, which fail to silence the voices of
freedom for very long.
The immediate cause of the Sept. 2007 protests was a sudden,
government-ordered cut in fuel subsidies, which increased the price of
gasoline by as much as 500 percent overnight and led to a spike in the
cost of food and other necessities.
The price rises sparked demonstrations that were initially led by a
charismatic political group, the 88 Generation Students. The junta cracked
down on the movement by arresting many demonstrators, including 13
prominent leaders such as Min Ko Naing, Ko Ko Gyi, Min Zeya, Jimmy, Pyone
Cho, Arnt Bwe Kyaw and Mya Aye.
On September 5, 2007, Burmese troops forcibly broke up a peaceful
demonstration by Buddhist monks in Pakokku, injuring three monks.
The society of Buddhist monks, the Sangha, demanded an apology by the
regime, setting a deadline of Sept. 17. The junta refused, and the monks
began their protest, taking to the streets of major cities. Soon they were
joined by pro-democracy activists, nuns and local residents.
Within a few days, thousands of demonstrators from all walks of life were
pouring onto streets across Burma, demanding political and economic
reforms from the military government.
The ruling generals responded by sending soldiers on nighttime raids of
dozens of monasteries. Eyewitnesses reported that monks were beaten and
Despite the raids, hundreds of thousands of Rangoon residents, led by
monks, took to the streets of Rangoon on Sept. 27, again demanding
political and economic reforms.
The regime response was again a violent one. Soldiers opened fire on the
crowds, killing at least nine unarmed protesters. A Japanese
photojournalist, Kenji Nagai, also died in the gunfire, his death captured
on video and beamed around the world.
The September 2007 peaceful protests and the violent crackdown created new
dynamics inside Burma. The country's young, technologically advanced
generation acquired a role as publishers of text, audio, and video files
illustrating the brutal events within their country.
Suddenly, Burma was attracting the full attention of such international
media as the BBC, CNN and Al Jazeera. Condemnation of the regimes
suppression of the protests followed from regional and international
Under the increasing pressure, the head of Burmas military junta, Snr-Gen
Than Shwe, announced in March 2008 that he would allow a civilian
government to assume control of the country after a general election.
In present-day Burma, however, all segments of the population have grown
hostile to the regime, and the countrys future is still unknown, just
weeks ahead of the election, slated to take place on Nov. 7.
The reason for the continued unpopularity of the government is clearthe
abuses committed by the junta haven't ceased during the past three years.
Oppression of pro-democracy activists continues.
The level of fear, but also anger, among the general population remains
unprecedented, fueled by actions taken against religious leaders and also
the government indifference to the plight of survivors of the 2008 Cyclone
Meanwhile, Burmese jails still hold more than 2,200 political prisoners,
including 256 monks and six nunsmore than double the number imprisoned
before the 2007 protests.
The junta has sentenced more than 230 political detainees to lengthy
prison sentences, some as long as 68 years, for their leadership roles in
the Saffron Revolution. In effect, the Burmese junta is mocking the UN
Security Council, which issued a statement in Oct. 2007 calling for the
release of all political prisoners, including Nobel Prize winner Aung San
Suu Kyi, who remains under house arrest. Despite the regime's
indifference, the Security Council has taken no action.
International attention in recent months has focused on the power-play
between the military and the governments proxy parties on the one hand
and the armed ethnic minority groups, the National League for Democracy,
and a small number of new opposition parties on the other, according to
In a statement on the third anniversary of the violent crackdown on the
Saffron Revolution, Benjamin Zawacki, Amnesty Internationals Burma
researcher, said: While the international community, including Burmas
Asean neighbours, has been calling for free, fair and inclusive elections
there, the plight of thousands of political prisoners has been
The political prisoners are being punished merely for peacefully
exercising their rights to free expression, assembly and association.
Without their voice, peace, human rights and democracy in Burma are
The lives, human rights, dignity and future of Burmas 54 million people
require immediate concerted and focused commitment and actions from the
September 25, The Nation (Thailand)
Bring pressure to bear on the Burmese generals before their sham election
The National League for Democracy (NLD) won a landslide in the 1990
election in Burma, taking 392 out of the total 492 seats available. The
military junta refused to accept the election result, which led to
violence and political unrest in the country. On November 7 this year, the
Burmese people will be able to cast their first vote in 20 years. However,
the story of reviving political freedom in Burma is not as rosy as it
Aung San Suu Kyi, the opposition leader who has been under house arrest
for more than 14 years, has boycotted the upcoming election. More than
2,000 political prisoners, including Suu Kyi, are prohibited from
participating in the poll under the new election laws. Other political
parties have struggled to get their members approved in the registered
list of candidates. Bribery, censorship, oppression and a huge
registration fee of US$500 (Bt15,350) per candidate are among the
unscrupulous measures used by the junta against the political opposition.
It is obvious that the Burmese military government, led by the State Peace
and Development Council (SPDC), is manipulating the election in its effort
to retain power. Many thus cast doubt on the transparency and
inclusiveness of the election.
What does the junta really want from the election, then? Probably, it
wants to create a rubber stamp to legitimise the SPDC-led government, to
quell the international call for Burmese democracy, and ease the
international pressure that demands an improvement in the dreadful record
of human rights' violations in Burma.
Does the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean), of which Burma is
a member, suspect the real intention of the junta in setting up the
election under these shoddy conditions? Yes, of course. Asean has offered
to send election observers - and this could increase the credibility of
the poll - but to no avail. The junta immediately turned down the
So why does Asean still view the situation optimistically, and why doesn't
the regional organisation state its honest criticism in public? There are
three reasons. First, each individual Asean member is interconnected with
the junta in terms of business, political and security advantages. No one
wants to upset the generals.
Second, the diversity of Asean creates a huge technical problem for
regional cooperation. By definition, it is hard to compromise between the
different interests of the 10 member nations. And with very wide gaps in
economic and social development, as well as a huge variation in the
political systems among the Asean members, it is even harder for this very
diverse regional grouping to come up with agreed collective action.
Finally, Asean has always lacked so-called "institutional power". The
grouping has become a legal entity under the Asean Charter of 2008. But
Asean is not a supranational organisation like the EU, which has
established a regional parliament that is elected by European citizens.
Asean as an institution does not possess a regional autonomous power
structure to manage regional problems. Instead, the 10 Asean leaders are
hidden behind a unified image of Asean. The rules of consensus and
consultation in making policy decisions, the policy of non-interference
that enhances national sovereignty, and the power of state leaders are all
strongly preserved within Asean.
In fact, Asean as a regional organisation has no power to bargain with
Burma, or to demand that the junta adheres to the values of human rights
and democracy, even under the terms of its own Charter.
The statements made by the Asean chair and the secretary-general in
response to Burma issues are thus always restrained, optimistic and
opaque. This indeed reflects the deficient power of Asean as an
institution in coping with regional problems and controlling its members'
Knowing its own weaknesses, Asean should therefore seek cooperation with
third parties, especially the United Nations, the United States and the
European Union, to put additional pressure on Burma to reform.
Before the election in November, at least three significant meetings are
scheduled. First, this weekend, the 10 Asean leaders will meet with US
President Obama in New York on the sidelines of the annual UN General
Assembly. In this meeting, the issue of Burma's election will be on the
agenda, as well as the issue of tensions in the South China Sea. The
second event is the Asia-Europe Meeting (Asem) to be held in Brussels on
October 4 and 5. And finally, from October 28-30, Asean leaders will
convene in Hanoi for a summit meeting and bilateral meetings with
extra-regional partners including the United States and the EU.
The international community must give greater priority to concern over the
actions of the Burmese junta. Asean and the UN should jointly call for an
immediate meeting to evaluate the election situation. There are only a few
weeks left before the poll. The international community should not give
up. We need another big push to ensure political rights and freedom for
the Burmese people, and also to prevent possible unrest and bloodshed as a
consequence of this fraudulent election set-up.
Sarinna Areethamsirikul is a lecturer at Naresuan University.
September 27, Democratic Voice of Burma
They who dared to dream once more Joseph Allchin
For some, those saffron-thronged vistas of Rangoon three years ago lead to
a remote hillside of a refugee camp on the Thai-Burma border.
Three years after Burma dared to dream once more, monks, activists and
elected MPs gathered in exile, with the revered saffron-clad community
leading a ceremony to remember those days of defiance, and those whose
defiance spelled the end.
Here, in many respects, were two of the pillars of opposition politics in
Burmese society for the last quarter century. Exemplary was monk U Nyar
Nathara who addressed the crowd, dressed in saffron with a pendant of the
red flag, emblazoned with the fighting peacock of the All Burma Students
Democratic Front (ABSDF) on his lapel.
He had not been a monk in September 2007 but displays laid out for the
event were testimony to why what happened then was life changing; horrors
depicted in photographs, wounded monks, corpses and soldiers. His
participation, he said, not only engendered him with a renewed sense of
admiration for the order of monks but with a personal spirituality he
did not intend to remain in the robes for this long.
Amongst the elected MPs speaking was Khun Myint Tun, MP for Thaton 1
constituency in Mon state. It is a seat, needless to say, that he has
never been able to sit in. His address to the assembled stuck to the
themes of unity and diversity, appropriate given the variety who had
assembled and sheltered from the heavy rain that intermittently battered
the steep settlement.
Here, on the hearth of the camp monastery, were people of all ages,
multiple religions and ethnicities. Khun Myint Tun MP, also an active
member of the PaO National Liberation Organisation (PNLO), used the
occasion to foster inter-ethnic unity, whilst berating the military for
their attempts to control the monkhood and commending monk, U Wi Zaya, for
his leadership during the protests.
Amongst the crowd was Saffron veteran and camp resident, Htay Htay Win.
The Saffron Revolution was her third uprising, having been involved in the
student protests in 1974 and 1988. The latter was her first taste of
military justice as she was jailed at the tender age of 15 for her
involvement in protests. She fears for the future: lack of leaders, she
says, will leave the opposition bereft of options.
There was little reference to the route cause of the protests the sudden
hike in fuel prices with the day being more about commemoration than
economics. But the pertinence of this should not be forgotten for it says
something peculiar about a regime when something of this sort occurs in a
nation richly endowed with fossil fuels. This was also the root cause of
the 1988 protests, and in the grand scheme of things, the two events, plus
harsh crackdowns and fuel shortages, show a regime that is not only brutal
and vindictive but incompetent to boot.
September 27, Shan Herald Agency for News
Press conference by Shan Drug Watch
Junta militias: the new drug lords in Burma
10.30 am Wednesday September 29, 2010
This is not an FCCT-sponsored event. It is a paid function and
responsibility for program content is solely that of the event organizer
Khuensai Jaiyen, editor-in-chief of the Shan Herald Agency for News and
researcher of Shan Drug Watch, will launch the latest Shan Drug Watch
newsletter, which exposes how pro-junta militias in Shan State have become
the main players in the drug trade.
The Burmese regimes War on Drugs has fallen way behind schedule, with 46
of Shan States 55 townships still growing opium. Shan Drug Watch
attributes this to the Burma Armys reliance on taxation of opium, and its
policy to allow numerous proxy local militia to deal in drugs, including
methamphetamines, in exchange for policing against resistance activity.
The favored status of the militia has enabled them to take over from
ethnic ceasefire groups as the main drug producers in Shan State. Most
ceasefire groups, including the United Wa State Army, have faced increased
military pressure and restrictions after refusing to come under the
regimes control as Border Guard Forces.
Also presenting at the conference will be Nawdin Lahpai, editor of the
Kachin News Group, and Lway Aye Nang of the Palaung Womens Organisation.
Tel :081 531 2837
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