Thursday, May 21, 2009

Mizzima UPDATES Day 4 - 21 May 2009

Mizzima News D4

Court fixes next hearing on May 22
Thursday, 21 May 2009 19:47

The special court in Insein prison has fixed the next hearing of Daw Aung San Suu Kyi’s case on May 22, the fifth continuous day since the trial began on Monday.

Nyan Win, one of Daw Aung San Suu Kyi's defense lawyer, said, Thursday’s court hearing was longer than usual as the court showed the video clip produced by the witness, which was found in the possession of John William Yettaw.

In the video, Yettaw was heard explaining that he had arrived in Daw Aung San Suu Kyi’s house, but she had refused to allow him to take her picture and that he wants to go back to Thailand, Nyan Win told Mizzima.

All together, four witnesses were produced on Thursday.


Interview with Ral Hnin, General Secretary of Chin National Council
Thursday, 21 May 2009 19:31

“The trial is a ploy to detain Daw Aung San Suu Kyi, because they are making up the case from nothing. It is not a legal law suit. They are making it up because they don’t want to release Daw Aung San Suu Kyi by the end of this month. In my personal view, I think they will not release her.”

“In my opinion, I believe Daw Aung San Suu Kyi is really important for the unity of all ethnic nationalities in Burma.”


Interview with Hkun Markoban (chairman of United Nationalities League for Democracy – Liberated Area), Member of Parliament elect- Phekon Township, Kayah state
Thursday, 21 May 2009 18:34

“Daw Aung San Suu Kyi is like her father. She takes the issues of democracy and ethnicity seriously. And in return she is well respected by all ethnic nationalities and recognised as a true leader.”

“As ethnics, we call for the release of Daw Aung San Suu Kyi and all other political prisoners, and advocate dialogue and amendments of the junta-drafted constitution.”

“So, we want to call on our mother organisation inside Burma to oppose the junta’s constitution and the 2010 elections.”


NLD youths demand an open court for Aung San Suu Kyi trial
Thursday, 21 May 2009 18:34

Members of the National League for Democracy (NLD) Youth wing on Thursday called on the government to conduct the trial of party leader Aung San Suu Kyi in an open court, where the public can have access.

The NLD Youth (working group) made the demand in a statement, which also called on the government to allow international legal experts to observe the trial.

Meanwhile, in a separate statement released by the Humanitarian group of the Rangoon division NLD along with the Rangoon division NLD youths, said Daw Aung San Suu Kyi is honourable and a person who is essential who cannot be excluded out of the process of national reconciliation and transition to democracy.


Court adjourns for the day
Thursday, 21 May 2009 17:18

Defence counsels of Aung San Suu Kyi at about 4:30 p.m. (local time) came out of Insein prison, where the Nobel Peace Laureate is being tried in a special court.


Israel concerned over charges against Aung San Suu Kyi
Thursday, 21 May 2009 17:16

Israel on Wednesday said it is “deeply concerned” over the new charges against Burma’s opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi and her transfer to Insein prison.

The Foreign Ministry of Israel, in a statement on May 20, called on the Burmese government to “release Aung San Suu Kyi immediately” and expressed hopes for the restoration of the democratic and national reconciliation process in the country.


Testimonies of witnesses on Wednesday’s hearing
Thursday, 21 May 2009 17:12

The state-run newspaper, New Light of Myanmar, on Thursday carried a report detailing the testimonies of witnesses during Wednesday’s court hearing in Aung San Suu Kyi’s trial.

On Wednesday morning Police Captain Sa Kyaw Win of the Special Investigation Department (Foreign Affairs Division) was the first witness to testify in court, the paper said.

According to his testimony, he had conducted an investigation at the Beauty Land Hotel (2), where the American John William Yettaw had stayed, on May 6 at 1:5 a.m. (local time) and found a rucksack containing 61 items.

But after Yettaw told them that he had left three currency notes of USD 100 in the telephone directory in the room, he along with witnesses searched the hotel room for the second time and found three currency notes of USD 100, the newspaper said.

On Wednesday afternoon, witness Police Captain Tin Zaw Tun, head of Bahan Township Police Force was examined. He testified that together with Nga-htet-kyi Ward (West) PDC of Bahan Township Zaw Tin and Kyaikkasan Ward PDC Khin Nyunt went to the residence of Daw Aung San Suu Kyi at 54/56 on University Avenue of Shwedaunggya Ward, Bahan Township at 7.20 am on May 7, with a search warrant issued by the judge of Bahan Township court, the newspaper said.

He said Daw Aung San Suu Kyi admitted knowing John William Yettaw, when he showed her his photograph and also said Yettaw had arrived in her house on May 4 morning and left on May 5 evening.

The witness also said, Daw Aung San Suu Kyi showed him the things that Yettaw had left one by one and he listed them. Yettaw also left two black chadors usually worn by Muslim women, the newspaper added.


Interview with Hkun Okkar (Chairman of Pa-O Peoples Liberation Organisation)
Thursday, 21 May 2009 16:09

“The current trial of Daw Suu is not a legitimate trial. It is like creating a law suit out of nothing. And since the charges against her are not under a genuine law, we cannot say that she is charged under the law. So, she cannot be guilty of committing any crime and since it is not a charge under the law we cannot call it a case. It is clear that this a made-up case, so we demand that the case be immediately withdrawn and closed.”

“When we look at our country, we can see that there are various groups with different strengths. There is the military, which grabbed power in a coup, and also there are the ethnic armed groups, ceasefire armed groups, similarly there are also students, youths, monks, and civilians, who long for democracy.”

“The junta is unable to bring these diverse groups together. And nobody is able to do it. The only person that can bring all these groups together is Daw Suu. The participation of Daw Suu is essential to usher in national reconciliation.

“I think the junta may be coming up with some proposals before coming to a verdict on the case and before setting Daw Suu free. I think they might come up with something like – what will we gain by releasing Daw Suu. Will sanctions be withdrawn? Will 2008 constitution be recognised, and will the 2010 elections be endorsed etc? They might come up with a proposal.”

“And if the opposition continues saying that they reject the 2008 constitution, cannot endorse the 2010 election and will continue demanding sanctions, I think the junta will just continue detaining Daw Suu and go ahead with their plans.”

“So, it is crucial that we know how to deal with the regime in this three to four months time before they come out with a verdict.”

“They might deal with the ethnics, or with the international community, or with opposition groups inside the country. They might also do it with all groups.”

“And it also times with the junta’s offer to the ethnic armed groups on transforming their groups into militias controlled by the regime. The regime has told them to decide by August or September. And at that same time, the trail will reach a verdict. The junta has timed everything together and based on the results of all these, I think they will decide whether to continue detaining Daw Suu or to release her.”

Swan Arrshin members hired for 3,000 kyat a day
Thursday, 21 May 2009 14:00

Burmese military junta authorities are reportedly looking for more members of Swan Arrshin, a pro-junta group, and are hiring them for 20,000 kyat (USD 20) per day for security during the trial of Aung San Suu Kyi.

Swan Arrshin members are to be positioned at main junctions in Rangoon and the surroundings of Insein prison. They are reportedly being paid 3,000 kyat (USD 3) per day in a normal situation but have been promised 20,000 kyat per day if there is any anti-government protest, which they will have to suppress.

In some townships and quarters, the number of Swan Arrshin members remained short, forcing the authorities to offer them more.

Though a number of armed uniformed policemen and soldiers are visible in Insein Township, the number is less in other townships of Rangoon.

In most crowded junctions, members of Swan Arrshin, plainclothes policemen and Military Affairs Security personnel are visible.

During the September 2007 monk-led protests, sources said members of Swan Arrshin were hurriedly recruited and were given 3,000 Kyat, with free lunch and a packet of cigarettes as a bonus per person per day to be used in cracking down on protestors.


Aung San Suu Kyi late for court session
Thursday, 21 May 2009 14:00

Aung San Suu Kyi on Thursday was reportedly brought to the court later than the scheduled time. It is still not clear why she arrived late.

Meanwhile, near the Insein Bazaar, Central Committee member of the National League for Democracy Win Tin and party members gathered to demonstrate their support for party leader Aung San Suu Kyi and in protest against the trial.

In an interview with Mizzima, Win Tin said they are gathering near the Insein bazaar as a demonstration of their solidarity with Aung San Suu Kyi and in protest of her trial.

Members of Swan Arrshin, a pro-junta civilian group, have increasingly become emboldened and were seen checking people with cameras and for journalistic identification.

Main roads to Insein prison remained close on Thursday, but a small lane for by-passers and for vehicles was kept opened.

Shops near the Insein prison reportedly saw a drastic drop in customers.


Swan Arrshin members used for security in Insein
Thursday, 21 May 2009 13:20

Observers said, security forces have been drastically reduced around Insein prison, but members of the Swan Arrshin – a pro-junta civilian outfit – are seen increasingly around the area. They are being used by the authorities as informers to check on peoples’ movements.


Aung San Suu Kyi's trial again behind closed-doors
Thursday, 21 May 2009 11:44

The fourth day of the trial of Aung San Suu Kyi will be again conducted behind closed doors.

Burmese junta authorities on Thursday did not invite any diplomat or journalist to attend the court hearing like it did yesterday.

READ MORE---> Mizzima UPDATES Day 4 - 21 May 2009...

Suu Kyi Lawyer Says UNSC Should Meet if She’s Convicted

The Irrawaddy News

Lawyers representing Burmese opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi will press for an emergency meeting of the UN Security Council if she is convicted and imprisoned by the court now trying her in Rangoon,
according to her Washington-based counsel Jared Genser. He told The Irrawaddy in an interview that Suu Kyi’s lawyers also supported moves to arraign the Burmese military junta before the International Criminal Court.

The interview in full:

Jared Genser

Question: What is your professional assessment of the case against Aung San Suu Kyi and the way the trial is being conducted?

Answer: I believe firmly that the case is both deeply substantively and procedurally flawed. Substantively, Aung San Suu Kyi has been charged with violating the terms of her house arrest under Article 22 of the State Protection Law. But the junta had exclusive responsibility for providing security around her home. Particularly given that John Yettaw reportedly broke into her compound once before many months ago and this was reported to the junta, it was on notice of the potential security problems. The fact that the junta allowed Mr Yettaw to reenter the country and break into her compound again is entirely its responsibility.

Procedurally, the conduct of the trial has been deeply flawed. Problems with the trial include:

(1) failing to allow Suu Kyi her choice of counsel by revoking the law licence of Aung Thein;

(2) failing to provide adequate time for the defense to prepare for a trial;

(3) failing to provide a fair and public hearing by a competent, independent and impartial tribunal. There is no independent judiciary in Burma—the judges take instruction from the junta;

(4) failing to provide Suu Kyi a presumption of innocence;

(5) failing to comply with prior rulings of the UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention that the law under which she was held was itself in clear violation of international law.

Q: The case against Suu Kyi comes less than two weeks before she was due legally to be released after serving six years of house arrest. Do you think this is a political case rather than a legal one?

A: Yes. I think there is little doubt that this charge was a pretext for continuing to detain Suu Kyi and ensure that she remained imprisoned until well after the scheduled 2010 elections, despite the fact that those elections are already rigged by the rules established in the so-called constitution that was adopted in the flawed referendum.

Q: According to reports in The New Light of Myanmar and other official newspapers, Suu Kyi and her two personal assistants are accused of breaking Section 22 of the “Law to Safeguard the State Against the Dangers of Those Desiring to Cause Subversive Acts,” because they gave food and shelter to an American intruder. Do you think this is an appropriate charge?

A: I think this charge is patently ridiculous.

Q: What could you do if the court sentences her to a prison term, which could be as long as five years?

A: We will immediately file another case to the UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention arguing that her sentencing under the State Protection Law is again in violation of international law. In addition, we will request an emergency meeting of the UN Security Council to discuss the situation in Burma.

To be clear, this is not merely because of her sentencing, which I do believe has a destabilizing effect on the region, but actually because the Burmese junta has failed to abide by the demands of the Security Council's presidential statement issued in 2007 after the Saffron Revolution.

Among other demands, the Council urged an early release of political prisoners including Suu Kyi, a renewed effort towards achieving national reconciliation and a restoration of democracy in the country, and open access for humanitarian aid. The junta's continuing conduct has flouted the will of the Security Council and if the junta were to give Suu Kyi an additional term of imprisonment, it would be symbolic of the junta's ongoing oppression of the Burmese people. The Security Council should reengage on the situation in Burma because of the threat it poses to international peace and security.

Q: Exile opposition groups are trying to have leaders of the Burmese military government brought before the International Criminal Court on charges of crimes against humanity. Do you think their action has any chance of success in ending human rights abuses in Burma?

A: While I personally believe that crimes against humanity are being committed in Burma, I think it will be challenging to persuade the UN Security Council to refer the situation in Burma to the International Criminal Court because of the veto right of China and Russia in particular.

As readers will recall, China and Russia previously vetoed a non-binding, non-punitive resolution on Burma proposed in January 2007. Because Burma is not a signatory to the Rome Statute which established the ICC, the only way to get the situation considered there is through a Security Council referral.

I think the best way to end the abuses in Burma will be for national reconciliation to be achieved. Ultimately, it should be for the Burmese people to decide how justice should be meted out.

All that said, however, there is definitely an important role for advocacy groups to play to press for a Security Council referral to the ICC to raise awareness of the terrible abuses taking place in Burma because these abuses fall squarely within the definition of crimes against humanity.

READ MORE---> Suu Kyi Lawyer Says UNSC Should Meet if She’s Convicted...

UN Study Advises Caution over Dams

The Irrawaddy News

BANGKOK — A dam-building spree in China poses the greatest threat to the future of the already beleaguered Mekong, one of the world's major rivers and a key source of water for the region, a UN report said Thursday.

China is constructing a series of eight dams on the upper half of the Mekong as it passes through high gorges of Yunnan Province, including the recently completed Xiowan Dam, which—at 958 feet (292 meters) high—is the world's tallest. Its storage capacity is equal to all the Southeast Asia reservoirs combined, the UN report said.

Laos, meanwhile, has started construction on 23 dams expected to be finished by 2010 on the Mekong and its tributaries, the UN said, as a means to spur development and lift the country from poverty. Cambodia and Vietnam also have ambitious dam-building plans.

"China's extremely ambitious plan to build a massive cascade of eight dams on the upper half of the Mekong River, as it tumbles through the high gorges of Yunnan Province, may pose the single greatest threat to the river," the report said.

The report went onto to say that the impacts of the proposed dam development include "changes in river flow volume and timing, water quality deterioration and loss of biodiversity."

China's Foreign Ministry spokesman Ma Zhaoxu said in a regular briefing the government pays equal attention to the development of the Mekong and its protection. The Mekong is known as the Lancang river in China.

"I would like to point out that the Chinese government attaches great importance to the exploration and the protection of cross-border rivers and conducts the policy of equal attention to development and protection," Ma said.

The proposed dams would add further pressure to the Mekong, which runs through China, Burma, Laos, Thailand, Cambodia and Vietnam. The 307,000-square-mile (795,000-square-kilometer) river network is home to dozens of rare bird and marine species, including the Mekong giant catfish, and is a source of food and jobs for the 65 million people who live in the river basin.

The river and its vast tributary network already face threats from pollution, climate change and the effects of earlier dams that were built in China and have caused water levels to drop sharply on the upper Mekong.

Still, the UN report said for the time being, the Mekong's pollution levels were not at "alarming levels" while water shortages and conflicts over water on the Mekong have so far not emerged.

"The Mekong is in good condition at this time and can take more pressure such as irrigation development or industrial development," said Mukand S. Babel, one of the reports' authors.

The report, however, found several river basins in the Mekong that are under threat, including the Tonle Sap in Cambodia, Nam Khan in Laos and Sekong-Sesan Srepok in Vietnam and Cambodia due to increasing development and demand for water.

It called for countries bordering the Mekong to work more closely together to ensure that the region's growing population and expected economic development doesn't further strain the capacity of the delta.

"The time to tackle these challenges is now, otherwise the projected growth and development may impact on the basin's ability to meet future water needs," said Young-Woo Park, a UN regional director.

READ MORE---> UN Study Advises Caution over Dams...

Top Jurists Want Probe Into Alleged War Crimes In Myanmar

BANGKOK, May 21 (Bernama) — Five of the world’s leading international jurists have commissioned a report from the International Human Rights Clinic at the Harvard Law School, calling for the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) to act on what they describe as more than 15 years of condemnation from other UN bodies on human rights abuses in Myanmar.

The Harvard report, “Crimes in Burma”, comes in the wake of renewed international attention on the country, with the continued persecution of Nobel Peace Prize recipient Aung San Suu Kyi who is now on trial on charges of harbouring a United States man who swam to her home.

On that charge, she faces up to five years in detention.

The report, released today, concludes with a call for the UNSC to establish a Commission of Inquiry into alleged crimes against humanity and war crimes in Myanmar.

The Harvard report is based on an analysis of scores of UN documents, including UN General Assembly and Commission on Human Rights resolutions as well as reports from special rapporteurs.

The report said that the documents indicate that human rights abuses in Myanmar are “widespread, systematic and part of state policy” — the legal terms that justify further investigation and strongly suggest that the military regime may be committing crimes against humanity and war crimes prosecutable under international law.

Major abuses cited by the UN include forced displacement of over 3,000 villages in eastern Myanmar, mass exodus of at least 250,000 Rohingyas in 1992, and widespread and systematic sexual violence, torture and summary execution of innocent civilians.

“The UNSC, however, has not moved the process forward as it should and has in similar situations such as those in the former Yugoslavia and Darfur,” the jurists write in the report’s preface.

“In the cases of Yugoslavia and Darfur, once aware of the severity of the problem, the UNSC established a Commission of Inquiry to investigate the gravity of the violations further.

“With Myanmar, there has been no such action from the UNSC despite being similarly aware of the widespread and systematic nature of the violations.”

The five jurists are Judge Richard Goldstone (South Africa), Judge Patricia Wald (United States), Judge Pedro Nikken (Venezuela), Judge Ganzorig Gombosuren (Mongolia) and Sir Geoffrey Nice (United Kingdom).

Tyler Giannini, the Clinical Director of the Human Rights Program at the Harvard Law School and one of the report’s authors, said its findings clearly demonstrate that a Commission of Inquiry on Myanmar should proceed.

“The UNSC has taken action regarding Yugoslavia, Rwanda and Sudan when it identified information strongly suggesting the existence of crimes against humanity and war crimes,” said Giannini.

He said that UN documents “clearly and authoritatively” suggest that the human rights abuses occurring in Myanmar are not isolated incidents.

He warned that failure by the UNSC to take action and investigate these crimes could mean that violations of international criminal law would go unchecked.

– BERNAMA By D. Arul Rajoo

READ MORE---> Top Jurists Want Probe Into Alleged War Crimes In Myanmar...

2010 Burmese Election may be Illegitimate: Clinton

The Irrawaddy News

WASHINGTON — US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton on Wednesday said the Burmese regime’s 2010 national election could be considered illegitimate and not be recognized, if it continues on its current path.

The statement from the US secretary of state may indicate a tougher stand in the Obama administration, which after coming to power had shown earlier signs of considering a softer approach towards the Burmese junta, announcing a review of the US policy on Burma.

Clinton herself had gone on record to say that US economic sanctions against Burma had not worked.

However, the ongoing trial against Aung San Suu Kyi, the Burmese pro-democracy leader, appears to have resulted in a tougher stand from the US.

“We reject their (junta’s) baseless charges against Aung San Suu Kyi, their continuing resistance to a free and open electoral process,” Clinton told senators at a hearing on Wednesday, in reply to a question while testifying before the Senate Appropriations Committee Subcommittee on State and Foreign Affairs.

“If they stay on the track they're on, their elections in 2010 will be totally illegitimate and without any meaning in the international community,” Clinton said in a warning to the Burmese military.

Referring to the ongoing review of its Burma policy, Clinton said: “We are absolutely committed to trying to come up with an approach that might influence the regime.”

A senator asked if it was time for the US to take more affirmative actions to try to influence the military regime.

Clinton said there are several countries that have influence on the Burmese junta. “We are going to try to do our best to influence them to see that this repressive regime is not one that we should continue to support, and hopefully get a greater international base to take action against them,” she said.

Referring to the response the US has received from these countries, Clinton said: “I have been heartened by the response that we have received. I have spoken to a number of the foreign secretaries of Asean countries, who've issued strong statements.”
The United States is working to get more support in the United Nations, Clinton said.

READ MORE---> 2010 Burmese Election may be Illegitimate: Clinton...

UN chief says to visit Burma 'as soon as possible'

(AFP)–United Nations chief Ban Ki-moon said he was "deeply concerned" by the trial of Burma democracy icon Aung San Suu Kyi and would visit Burma as soon as possible to urge the junta's chief to release her.

Ban spoke out as the Nobel Peace Prize laureate faced five years in jail over an incident last month when an American man swam across a lake to her prison home where she has been held for most of the last 19 years.

"I'm going to visit Burma as soon as possible. Now I am very serious in discussing with (the) government of Burma when I could be able to visit Burma," Ban told CNN in an interview filmed on Wednesday.

"I'm deeply concerned about what has been happening in Burma, in terms of democratisation and I'm going to urge again the release of political prisoners, including Aung San Suu Kyi," he said.

"When I go there in person, I'll discuss with senior General Than Shwe and other government officials on this matter," he said, referring to the head of the military regime.

Ban said the UN resident coordinator in Burma, Bishow Parajuli, had attended the third day of Aung San Suu Kyi's trial on Wednesday when the junta briefly opened the hearing up to diplomats and journalists.

"In procedural matters he met Aung San Suu Kyi and he had found that Aung San Suu Kyi was in good, healthy conditions. But, we are again deeply concerned about the detention."

Ban said that it was "unacceptable" for a Nobel Peace Prize winner to be kept in one of Burma's most notorious prisons.

"She's a democracy believer. We have a full support and trust in her. And also, she is indispensable patron for reconsidering the dialogue in Burma," the UN chief added.

The UN says there are more than 2,100 political prisoners still being held in Burma.

The regime refused to recognise a landslide victory by Aung San Suu Kyi's party in the last elections to be held in Burma in 1990. The military has ruled Burma since 1962.

READ MORE---> UN chief says to visit Burma 'as soon as possible'...

Court access for diplomats merely ‘a gesture’

(DVB)–Burma opposition party, the National League for Democracy, have said that allowing diplomats to observe Aung San Suu Kyi’s trial was merely a “gesture” and still falls short of making it an open trial.

In a statement released yesterday, the NLD, whose leader Suu Kyi is facing charges of breaching conditions of her house arrest, denounced the trial and said that proceedings were not consistent with the regulations of the court.

NLD Central Executive Committee Member Win Tin added that allowing journalists and diplomats into the courtroom did not make it a free and fair trial.

“This is merely a thing the government do similar to when they invite foreign diplomats to events where they destroy confiscated drugs in a gesture to convince them they are doing things properly.”

Similarly, the secretary of the Committee Representing the People’s Parliament said that it was a superficial move aimed only at convincing people that the trial is fair.

“In reality, the court should let the NLD and the family members of [Suu Kyi], and reporters from the media inside and outside of the country to enter it and study its procedures, in order to make it an open trial,” said Aye Thar Aung.

One of the diplomats allowed inside the courtroom yesterday, Britain’s Mark Canning, told the BBC that the move was welcomed but did little to alter the reality of the situation.

"All the paraphernalia of the courtroom was there, the judges, the prosecution, the defense,” he said.

“But I think this is a story where the conclusion is already scripted."

Reporting by Aye Nai

READ MORE---> Court access for diplomats merely ‘a gesture’...

Burma bars access to Suu Kyi trial again

(AFP)–Burma's military regime put the trial of opposition icon Aung San Suu Kyi back behind closed doors today, after allowing diplomats and journalists to attend the hearing for just one day.

The junta had opened up the proceedings at the notorious Insein Prison near Yangon on Wednesday, in an apparent concession to fierce international criticism of the charges against the Nobel Peace Prize winner.

"The press will not be allowed today (Thursday). Only for one day were diplomats and press allowed," a Myanmar official told AFP on condition of anonymity.

Diplomats said on Wednesday that they had been informed they would only be allowed in for one day, but the situation for the media was unclear until the official confirmation on Thursday.

A smiling, healthy-looking Aung San Suu Kyi, 63, had thanked diplomats for coming to the trial on Wednesday and said she hoped to meet them again in "better days."

Authorities allowed one diplomat from each of the 30 foreign embassies in Yangon to attend, while Aung San Suu Kyi met envoys from Thailand, Singapore and Russia.

Five journalists working for foreign news organisations and five from local groups were also allowed into the trial, which had previously only been reported on by the tightly controlled state media.

Aung San Suu Kyi faces up to five years in jail if convicted of charges of breaching her house arrest stemming from an incident earlier this month in which an American man, John Yettaw, swam to her lakeside house.

Myanmar's ruling generals have kept her in jail or under house arrest for 13 of the past 19 years.

READ MORE---> Burma bars access to Suu Kyi trial again...

Southern Wa get fresh squeeze

(Shanland) -Its senior commanders are in Panghsang to deliberate on recent junta demand to get it transformed into a border security force, but that has not stopped the Burma Army from applying additional pressure on the United Wa State Army’s southern region along the Thai-Burma border, according to Wa and Shan sources on the border.

Brig Gen Kyaw Phyoe, Commander of the Kengtung-based Triangle Region Command, who is on a visit in Monghsat and Mongton-townships, opposite Chiangmai, was reported to have given two options on Monday, 18 May: “You can become a border security force. Otherwise, you have to go back to where you come from” meaning the Was’ original area along the Sino-Burma border.

(The ugly velvety snake) Brig Gen Kyaw Phyoe

The deadline for compliance is June. Kyaw Phyoe also demanded that the 171st move out from 3 sensitive positions without delay:

• Loi Ksarm Hsoong, the 6654ft high mountain that stands between Monghsat and Tachilek

• Kiu Hulom, the strategic mountain pass between Nakawngmu and Monghta in Mongton township

• Hwe Yao, just opposite Chiangmai’s Wiang Haeng district

“We are concerned every time our superiors come this way during their inspection trips,” he told the Wa officers, who replied that they were not authorized to say or do anything until they receive instructions “from above.”

Tensions between the Burma Army and the UWSA have been on the high since the end of May 2008, when Naypyidaw announced 92% of eligible voters had cast yes ballots for the junta-drawn draft constitution.

Notable incidents during the past year includes:

• Call for UWSA to surrender and move out of areas along the Thai-Burma border by August 2008, which the Wa had ignored

• Wa confiscation of a shipment of mortars and machine guns for the Burma Army liaison unit in Panghsang in January

• Increased Burma Army presence along the Wa border

• Census taking in the Wa areas that the UWSA has cooperated half-heartedly

• Non-attendance by high-ranking junta officers at the Wa ceremony marking the 20 year ‘peace construction’ on 17 April

• The Burma Army’s revised proposal to the Wa as well as other ceasefire groups to become border security forces under the Tatmadaw (Burmese Armed Forces) on 27 April

• The torture and killing of a Wa fighter on the Thai-Burma border on 4 May allegedly by junta troops

The Southern Wa area, known as the 171st Military Region, stretches from Mongton township to Tachilek township opposite Maehongson, Chiangmai and Chiangrai. It is under the nominal command of Wei Xuegang, wanted by both US and Thai drug control officials.

“The Burmese still hopes to persuade Wei to leave the UWSA,” remarked a veteran border watcher. “It will certainly be quite a coup if the ploy works.”

READ MORE---> Southern Wa get fresh squeeze...

Forty nine Burmese nationals pushed back to Burma

Teknaf, Bangladesh (KPN): The Bangladesh Rifles (BDR) detained and pushed back 49 Burmese nationals to Burma yesterday, according to sources.

The Burmese nationals were arrested from various places such as Teknaf bus terminus, Nila, Whykong and Leda as they entered Bangladesh illegally.

Crossing the Naff River, the Rohingyas entered Teknaf from Arakan in Burma a few days ago.

Major Helal Mohammed Khan of Teknaf 42 BDR Battalion said the Rohingyas were arrested during a drive from 9 am to 5 pm at bus terminal and adjacent areas.

The drive to nab Rohingyas will continue, the officer added.

Earlier, over 83 Rohingyas were arrested while intruding into Bangladesh through different points of the border. Later, they were pushed back to Burma by BDR, according to sources.

“We come to Bangladesh to take shelter to avoid persecution by Burmese military authorities and we are not allowed to go from one village to another in Arakan.

READ MORE---> Forty nine Burmese nationals pushed back to Burma...

The brief charade of an open trial

By Francis Wade

(DVB)–Yesterday, as diplomats and journalists caught a rare glimpse into the notoriously secretive Burmese judicial system, there was the briefest glimmer of hope that international pressure had finally worked its way to the heart of Burma’s ruling junta.

With growing numbers of world leaders, including the normally reluctant Association of Southeast Asian Nations bloc, adding their voices to calls for an open and fair trial for opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi, it seemed the generals’ stubbornness had momentarily wavered.

In a surprise announcement yesterday, 10 journalists from both domestic and international agencies were allowed to enter Insein prison, accompanied by 30 foreign ambassadors. To add a further lick of paint, three ambassadors were then allowed to meet with Suu Kyi in person following the close of hearings.

Few outsiders are permitted to enter such bastions of Burmese military autocracy as Insein prison, let alone witness the trial of such a high-profile political prisoner in Burma. Newspapers across the world tentatively heralded what they saw as the results of mounting pressure on the regime, which had thus far brushed off repeated accusations of a “bogus” trial and a “mockery” of judicial law and kept the door firmly shut.

Yet one of the diplomats allowed inside the courtroom, Britain’s Mark Canning, took no time in quashing expectations.

"The access we had today was welcome, but doesn't change the fundamental reality," he told the BBC yesterday.

"All the paraphernalia of the courtroom was there, the judges, the prosecution, the defense. But I think this is a story where the conclusion is already scripted."

And the feedback received from yesterday’s observers would confirm this. Most of the 30 diplomats who observed the hour-long hearing were left twiddling their thumbs, with no-one present to translate what was being said. Only the US consuls were given language aid, while the Chinese, Japanese and North Korean officials had a basic grasp of the Burmese language. That left 25 forced to accept that they had fallen for the generals’ tricks. While their appearance no doubt gave the slightest of cosmetic lifts to the trial, the substance of their presence could only benefit those behind the controls.

According to reporters, Yettaw looked nervous as he sat alone in the courtroom. Suu Kyi on the other hand remained composed, the superficiality and futility of the situation all too familiar. At the close of hearings she thanked the observers for attending, and hoped that they would meet “in better days”.

Then came the next act in the generals’ diplomatic performance. Suu Kyi was ushered out at the close of court and into the company of three of the diplomats. That those chosen were from Russia, Thailand and Singapore, three of the handful of countries that remain close to the regime, signals the extent that Burma will go to answer to its critics.

A Thai foreign ministry official said on Tuesday that it “will not use strong measures or economic sanctions against [Burma] because it is not an appropriate resolution for the current problem”, despite expressing “grave concern” for Suu Kyi’s situation. In other words it will go no further than rhetorical condemnation: water off a duck’s back for the junta.

Singapore have been slightly more venomous in their condemnation of the trial, expressing “dismay” and warning of a setback to Burma’s national reconciliation, but as a key member of ASEAN, and therefore subject to its policy of non-interference epitomized by Thailand’s stance, it is unlikely to go further.

What must have been the ultimate kick in the teeth for Suu Kyi was the presence of Russia, one of Burma’s key allies and leading supplier of military equipment to those holding her in detention. The technology used by the government to monitor and charge members of Suu Kyi’s National League for Democracy (NLD) party is provided largely by Russia. Indeed, many government intelligence officials are graduates in Defense Electronic Technology at the Moscow Aviation Institute.

Little is known of the talks, and nothing seems to have been achieved. After this rare fling with the outside world, Suu Kyi, her two caretakers, and the US citizen John Yettaw are back behind closed doors, the gates to Insein once again barred.

One can safely assume that the conclusion of the trial is foregone: indeed the bulk of the script for this episode was written long before Yettaw arrived on the scene, decades ago when Suu Kyi channeled Burma’s discontent with military rule right to the voting booths. The junta will have found a way to keep her behind bars - the threat of not doing so too great for the paranoid generals - but Yettaw provided a perfectly tangible excuse, whether legitimate or not, to bring her to court.

A renowned former political prisoner at Insein and pivotal member of the NLD, Win Tin, summarised the charade that this trial has already, all too predictably, turned out to be.

“This [the diplomats allowed into the courtroom] doesn’t mean the trial has been transformed to be free and fair,” he said.

“This is merely a thing the government does similar to when they invite foreign diplomats to events where they destroy confiscated drugs.

“It’s a gesture to convince them they are doing things properly.”

READ MORE---> The brief charade of an open trial...

Ethnics draw inspiration from Aung San Suu Kyi

by Solomon

New Delhi (Mizzima) - Expressing concern for democracy icon Daw Aung San Suu Kyi, currently facing trial in Rangoon’s Insein prison, Burma’s ethnic nationalities have said that they look at her as a turning point for national reconciliation in the country.

Duwa Mahkaw Hkunsa, General Secretary of the Ethnic Nationalities Council-Union of Burma (ENC), in exile said, the Nobel Peace Laureate had won their hearts and trust and hoped that she could unite the various ethnics of Burma into a federal union.

“We believe, she can lead the process of national reconciliation and also build a federal union, which we, the ethnics have been demanding,” said Hkunsa.

Earlier, ethnic leaders have had opportunities to discuss with Aung San Suu Kyi, during her short periods of freedom from house arrests, and have spoken of issues, including the building of a federal union, he said.

“She has also promised the ethnic leaders of wanting to build such an union,” Hkunsa added.

The ENC was first established in 2001, as Ethnic Nationalities Solidarity and Cooperation Committee (ENSCC), with an objective of bringing together different ethnics and also to advocate for a tripartite dialogue, as the solution for Burma’s political crisis.

Later, it was transformed into the Council in 2004 and was renamed as the Ethnic Nationalities Council. The ENC was later re-structured and was made into a state-based organization, representing the existing states of Burma – Arakan, Chin, Karen, Karenni (Kayah), Mon and Shan.

Hkunsa said, the ENC is concerned over the current trial that Aung San Suu Kyi is facing and has called the charges against her, mere pretexts to continue detaining her.

“We already know that the junta will do something to her before her detention period ends, because they do not want to see her out before the 2010 elections,” Hkunsa said, adding that Aung San Suu Kyi continues to pose a threat to the junta, as she is well loved and is popular among the people.

“People love her, including soldiers and back her, so the authority are afraid and simply wants to continue detaining her,” he said.

Meanwhile, the Karen National Union (KNU), one of the longest running armed resistance groups in Burma, also expressed their concern over the trial against Aung San Suu Kyi.

Naw Zipporah Sein, General Secretary of the KNU, told Mizzima, she is concerned about Aung San Suu Kyi and believes that she is the only person, who can lead a tripartite dialogue, in the process of national reconciliation.

“She means a lot of hope for all of us and as a leader, she has proved her ability to work with all ethnics,” Naw Zipporah Sein said.

Meanwhile, without Aung San Suu Kyi, it is almost hopeless to talk about a tripartite dialogue, which is being demanded by all ethnic groups, the KNU leader said.

Condemning the current trial of Aung San Suu Kyi, Naw Zipporah Sein, called on the United Nations Security Council to intervene and stop the junta from detaining her further.

“We oppose this trial. It is simply unjust, the international community must pressurize the junta to release her,” Naw Zipporah Sein said.

READ MORE---> Ethnics draw inspiration from Aung San Suu Kyi...

EU discusses Burma with China

by Salai Pi Pi

New Delhi (Mizzima) - The European Union has talked to China about military ruled Burma, which was one of the regional issues in the bilateral summit held in Prague, capital of Czech Republic on Wednesday.

Burma was among the many issues ranging from global challenges including the financial crisis, climate change, and international affairs which EU officials and Chinese representatives discussed for nearly two hours, according to a Joint Press communique of the 11th China-EU Summit released on May 20.

“Discussions focused on China-EU relations, the global economic and financial crisis, climate change and energy security as well as an exchange of views on regional issues [Korean Peninsula, Myanmar, Iran, Sri Lanka, Afghanistan and Pakistan],” said joint statement of China-EU Summit.

It did not reveal the details of the discussion on Burma by China’s Premier Wen Jiabao led delegates and EU officials represented by President Václav Klaus of the Czech Republic, the rotating EU presidency.

Meanwhile, Harn Yawnghwe, Director of the Brussels based Euro-Burma office said, the main issues in the discussions on Burma in yesterday’s summit could be the Burmese pro-democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi’s trial and seeking the help of China to pressurize the Burmese military regime for political change in Burma.

“Possibly, regarding Burma, they had talked of Aung San Suu Kyi and China’s help to pressurize Burma,” Yawnghwe told Mizzima on Thursday.

However, Deutsche Presse Agentur, on Wednesday reported that EU and China failed to bridge the difference on areas including Myanmar, North Korea, Taiwan, climate change, trade liberalization and minority rights.

Wen Jiabao called on the 27 countries bloc to expand "practical cooperation" instead of pushing China to change its position on international as well as internal affairs, the report said.

EU, which imposed measures such as economic sanctions, an arms embargo and visa ban on Burmese military officials and their family members, on Monday said it is looking for possibilities of applying fresh sanctions against the Burmese regime after Noble Peace Laureate Aung San Suu Kyi was put on a trial for an allegedly harbouring a US citizen, John William Yettaw, who swam to her house on May 3 and stayed there for two nights.

The Burmese regime charged Aung San Suu Kyi for violating the terms of detention and accepting Yettaw and providing him food. If she is convicted, she is likely to face up to five years in prison.

Last week, the EU and its foreign minister strongly urged the junta to release Aung San Suu Kyi and engage in an inclusive process of national reconciliation.

Besides, in a bid to make its restriction on Burma effective, the EU foreign ministers and officials said they are looking forward to Burma's giant neighbours, China and India to increase pressure on the regime.

"I don't think additional sanctions will help because you have seen they have not helped," reports quoted the EU External Relations Commissioner Benita Ferrero-Waldner as saying.

“We have to reinforce dialogue with Burma's neighbours ... I think that is the way forward it should always be a subject of discussion with China, India and others,” Waldner said.

However, China, which is a major trading partner and close ally of Burma, holds the view that Burma’s problem should be best addressed internally.

In a press briefing, China’s Foreign Ministry spokesperson Ma Zhaoxu said, "I'd like to point out that the affairs of Myanmar [Burma] should be decided by the people of Myanmar [Burma].”

“As a neighbour of Myanmar [Burma], we hope that the relevant sides in Myanmar[Burma] will use dialogue to achieve reconciliation, stability and development," Ma added.

International reaction

Aung San Suu Kyi’s trial has also triggered criticism of the junta by the international community, including United Nations, United States and ASEAN leaders.

On Tuesday, the Israeli government also joined the call for her release and expressed hope for the restoration of democracy and national reconciliation in Burma.

On May 18, Japan’s foreign minister Hirofumi Nakasone make a personal telephone call and had a conversation with Burmese foreign minister Nyan Win on the matter related to the charges against Aung San Suu Kyi.

Nakasone conveyed Japan’s deep anxiety over the charges brought against Aung San Suu Kyi and warned that the charges would have a great impact on the junta’s ensuing election in 2010.

Similarly, Hillary Clinton, US Secretary of State on Wednesday told the Senate Appropriations Committee Subcommittee on State and Foreign Affairs that Burma’s 2010 election will be illegitimate if the junta kept treading the same path.

She also said the charge against Aung San Suu Kyi was “baseless.”

READ MORE---> EU discusses Burma with China...

Suu Kyi’s Shrewd Message of Reconciliation

The Irrawaddy News

The lady in the kangaroo court of the Burmese junta made a smart and important move when she met with diplomats in the Insein Prison compound on Wednesday. It concerned national reconciliation.

The pro-democracy leader told the diplomats she spoke with, “There could be many opportunities for national reconciliation if all parties so wished...,” according to a statement by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Singapore, whose ambassador met with Suu Kyi.

The statement said that she also “expressed the view that it was not too late for something good to come out of this unfortunate incident,” referring to her trial, in which she is charged with violating the terms of her house arrest.

Her words are so true and so important for the country. Suu Kyi didn’t emphasize her concern about the trial during her meeting with the diplomats. “She did not wish to use the intrusion into her home as a way to get at the Burma authorities,” read the statement.

National reconciliation is the only way to solve Burma’s political stalemate. In the past two decades, opposition groups and the international community have repeatedly called for it—and the military regime has turned a deaf ear.

To date, national reconciliation is just an idealistic dream for Burma. Certainly, it’s more difficult following the regime’s brutal crackdowns, such as its violent attack on Suu Kyi’s motorcade in Depayin in 2003, the monk-led civil protests in 2007 and the lengthy imprisonments of prominent former student leaders in 2008.

Such hostile and systematic blows against democracy by the junta make it harder for the two sides to reach reconciliation. But it’s clear, once again, that the opposition has the will to reconcile. The question is, once again, does the regime?

The answer is clear: No.

Just look at the generals’ show trial against Suu Kyi. They want her out of the picture during the 2010 national election, despite calls by the international community to make the election inclusive with the National League of Democracy party and other opposition and ethnic organizations.

Suu Kyi has tried to rise above the antagonistic moves made by the junta in the past and, instead, take the initiative to encourage reconciliation. The importance of her message to diplomats was that it was directed at the international community, both Western countries and neighboring ones.

After the meeting, Singaporean Ambassador Robert Chua, as Dean of the diplomatic corps, expressed the hope that there would be a peaceful national reconciliation.

He said Suu Kyi told the diplomats, “I hope to meet you all in better days.” Thai Foreign Minister Kasit Piromya quoted the Thai diplomat who met with her that she also expressed the hope to work with the Association of Southeast Asian Nations one day.

The diplomats and their representative countries all understand that won’t happen in the near future. Because Suu Kyi’s detention will be extended by the generals, who have already written the lines for the trial’s verdict: Guilty, five years.

Among the diplomats, the British Ambassador Mark Canning accurately read the trial situation and the current political scene. “I think this is a story where the conclusion is already scripted,” he said. “I don’t have any confidence in the outcome. While the access we had today was very welcome, it doesn’t change the fundamental problem.”

He is absolutely right. The top leaders of the regime have already decided how many years Suu Kyi should be punished and where she will serve out the sentence—in her home or in prison.

As Suu Kyi said, it is important now to try to get something good to come out of this unfortunate incident. The international community, including Asean and neighboring countries, especially China and India, has to try to get something good out of this opportunity.

All countries are being judged like never before, in hope that this time they will take effective actions to influence the regime. It’s time to show more principle, more leadership, to be on the side that’s right—not simply on the side of power.

READ MORE---> Suu Kyi’s Shrewd Message of Reconciliation...

If The Lady is Jailed

The Irrawaddy News

On Wednesday, Burma's ruling generals opened the iron gate to Rangoon’s notorious Insein Prison allowing 10 reporters and 30 diplomats to enter for a few hours to bear witness to the criminal trial against democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi.

It appears that the regime relented to the global outrage against the Nobel Peace Prize laureate’s arrest and international diplomatic pressure.

An aerial view on Rangoon's Insein Prison. (Photo: clkr)

Three of the diplomats were allowed to meet Suu Kyi briefly at the conclusion of Wednesday’s proceedings: Ambassador of Singapore Robert Chua, who is doyen of the diplomatic corps in Burma, and senior Russian and Thai diplomats. The Russian ambassador had reportedly been invited because his country is currently president of the UN Security Council, while Thailand has the chairmanship of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean).

However, Debbie Stothard, coordinator of the regional human rights group Alternative Asean Network on Burma, told The Associated Press that Wednesday's move “was definitely a stunt by the regime to stave off pressure so they can proceed with their kangaroo court to jail Suu Kyi.

“They wanted to say they are not ill-treating her, so go away! You don't need to see the rest,” she said. “It also means the regime doesn't have a strong case against Suu Kyi and has no grounds to proceed.”

For 63-year-old Suu Kyi, who has spent 13 of the past 19 years under house arrest, the charges of harboring a foreigner at her house come less than two weeks before she was due to be released.

Now, many observers question whether she will ever see the light of day again.

British Ambassador to Burma Mark Canning, who was one of the diplomats at the trial on Wednesday, also said that he thought Suu Kyi would be incarcerated by the junta.

“The outcomes in these sorts of trials—and don’t forget we’ve seen over 1,000 political prisoners locked away over the past 16 months—tend to be pretty predictable, sadly,” he said.

Assuming that Suu Kyi’s fate is already assured by the junta’s ruthless consistency at these farcical summary trials, draws attention to those who have endured similar convictions since the 2007 popular uprising known as the Saffron Revolution.

Last year, dozens of leading activists from the 88 Generation Students group, including Min Ko Naing, were given draconian sentences of up to 65 years and sent to prisons in remote rural areas. Many of those imprisoned were middle-aged; if they are forced to serve their full sentences, many will die in prison.

There are now more than 2,000 political prisoners being held in gulags and labor camps across the country.

The harsh sentences are, of course, designed to discourage dissent. Furthermore, under the current judicial system, there is little chance of a fair trial; even the lawyers who represent dissidents have been reprimanded and, in several cases, charged with contempt of court and disbarred.

The latest case involved two of Suu Kyi’s lawyers, Aung Thein and Khin Maung Shein, who had already served time in prison and who were on Friday dismissed from the bar.

Most of these summary proceedings take place far from the public eye and out of sight of the international community. Not even the International Committee of the Red Cross sees political prisoners nowadays after it was forced to suspend prison visits in 2006.

A report entitled "Silent Killing Fields," published last week by the Thailand-based Assistance Association for Political Prisoners-Burma (AAPP), paints a horrific, case-by-case picture of systematic abuse behind bars, including torture, deaths in custody, denial of medical assistance and a deliberate policy of transferring prisoners to remote regions to prevent families’ access and support.

According to the report, more than 350 activists have been sentenced since October, and the majority of them have been transferred to remote jails far from their families. Due to the lack of proper healthcare in Burma’s jails, political prisoners rely on their families for medicine and food.

At least 127 political prisoners are in poor health, according to the report, and 19 of them require urgent medical treatment.

In the report, the mother-in-law of activist leader Nilar Thein, who is being held at Thayet prison in Magwe Division, said, "We could not meet her for nearly two months. Now we are worried about her health after hearing she is vomiting almost daily. She is said to have a peptic ulcer and is in solitary confinement."

According to AAPP, since 1988 at least 139 political prisoners have died in detention, as a direct result of severe torture, denial of medical treatment, and inadequate medical care.

"The situation for Burma’s political prisoners is dire. Not only are there more political prisoners than ever before, they are facing harsher sentences," Bo Kyi, the joint-secretary of AAPP, said. "Leading activists have been transferred to the most remote prisons, where there are no prison doctors, and they are more likely to contract diseases like malaria and tuberculosis. This is a new cruel and inhumane strategy by the regime."

Shortly before her arrest, it was reported that Suu Kyi had been suffering from low blood pressure, dehydration and had trouble eating. At 63 years of age, the democracy icon—who was brought up in relative comfort—would most likely suffer more bouts of ill-health is she is kept incarcerated in Insein Prison.

Of course, a weak Suu Kyi means a weakened NLD and this is exactly what Snr-Gen Than Shwe and his oligarchy want. Make no mistake, the stakes are high. Any prospects of democracy and stability in Burma in the near future are drastically diminished if Suu Kyi is thrown in jail.

READ MORE---> If The Lady is Jailed...

British Ambassador Says Suu Kyi Clearly Still a “Major Figure”

The Irrawaddy News

Britain’s Ambassador to Burma, Mark Canning, said on Thursday it’s clear from the reaction of officials at the trial of opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi that she remains a “major figure” in her country.

“It was interesting to see security officials craning to get a look at someone who is clearly still a major figure,” Canning told The Irrawaddy when asked to describe the courtroom scene.

Canning was one of 30 international diplomats allowed to attend Wednesday’s session of the trial.

The Irrawaddy asked him to describe his impressions:

Mark Canning

Answer: It's taking place within the compound of Insein jail and we were allowed in to watch proceedings for about one hour. We were able to see, at quite close quarters, the four defendants—Daw Aung San Suu Kyi, her two companions from University Avenue and the US citizen, Mr Yettaw. Daw Suu, given all she has been through, looked in reasonable health and spirits. She was poised, upright, alert and dignified, and was clearly in command of her legal team. It was interesting to see security officials craning to get a look at someone who is clearly still a major figure. The proceeding consisted of a presentation of physical evidence to support the government case of a break-in to Aung San Suu Kyi’s compound, and afterwards three diplomatic colleagues were allowed to meet with Daw Suu at her accommodation close by.

Question: Will it be a fair trial?

A: It looks pretty much like a courthouse anywhere else—judges, defense, prosecution— all the physical trappings. But the outcome in these sorts of trials—and don't forget we've seen over 1,000 political prisons locked away over the past 16 months—tends to be pretty predictable, sadly.

Q: Why were diplomats granted this access?

A: It looks as though the government, with the deadline for the expiry of Aung San Suu Kyi’s term of house arrest approaching, seized on what looked like a God-given opportunity to shut her away until well after the elections. We've seen in recent days a surge of international criticism and in particular some strong statements from Asean— which expressed grave concern and made clear that the honor and credibility of Myanmar was on the line—as well as from a range of neighbors. The decision to allow access to the court, and for some to Daw Suu, appears intended to soften the criticism.

Q: Will that work?

A: We'll see. It's obviously welcome we were allowed access, but I don't imagine many people will confuse a one hour trip to Insein with progress on the fundamental issue, which is the illegality of her detention. Whatever the truth of the alleged break-in, the fact is that she shouldn't have been under house arrest in the first place. She, and the 2,000 other prisoners of conscience held around the country, should be released, and until that reality is addressed the situation will continue to attract international criticism. There looks to be an increasing sense within the region that the progress being made in so many ways, including in efforts to embed common standards of human rights, should not continue to be tarnished by what is happening here. I've seen two editorials carried in major regional papers to that effect just today.

Q: With the arrest of Aung San Suu Kyi, how do you see the road map and repeated calls for inclusiveness in the political process and coming election? Was the arrest an indicator that Su Kyi and the National League for Democracy are no longer allowed in the road map process? What is the British government’s stance on the coming election?

A: The events of the past week have served to demonstrate once again and very clearly the nature of 2010. Clearly the elections will carry no credibility unless we see the release of political prisoners, the start of a meaningful dialogue between government and opposition and ethnic nationalities (to which, if allowed the chance, Daw Suu has again committed herself) and cooperation with the UN.

READ MORE---> British Ambassador Says Suu Kyi Clearly Still a “Major Figure”...

Threats Reported against the NLD’s Win Tin

The Irrawaddy News

Fears are being expressed within Burma’s opposition National League for Democracy (NLD) over the safety of its veteran executive committee member Win Tin.

According to Rangoon sources, threats have been made against Win Tin by members of the pro-regime Union Solidarity and Development Association (USDA) and the paramilitary group Swan Arr Shin.

Senior National League for Democracy leader Win Tin (in blue), 80, sits among party members on a pavement in front of a closed shop outside the inner barricade on the main road in front of Insein Central Prison in Rangoon on May 19. (Photo: Reuters)

Aung Thein, a prominent Rangoon lawyer, told The Irrawaddy on Thursday: “I am concerned about the security of Win Tin and all pro-democracy activists. Win Tin is a very important person for the NLD.”

Aung Thein said he thought that despite the threats, Win Tin would reject any idea of employing bodyguards.

The 80-year-old former editor was released earlier this year after serving 19 years in Rangoon’s notorious Insein Prison. This week he joined youth members of the NLD who gathered outside the jail during the opening days of Aung San Suu Kyi’s trial.

The USDA, a mass-based governmental organization, and Swan Arr Shin have been involved in several past attacks on democracy activists, particularly during the demonstrations of August and September 2007.

The Burmese Lawyers Council said in a statement in March that the USDA's affiliations with members of the military government and its own comments on transforming into a political party violated the Unlawful Associations Act as set out by the government.

Furthermore, the USDA's documented role in abuses against Burmese citizens, including the 2003 Depayin massacre in which hundreds of opposition party supporters were killed, also contravened Burmese law.

Meanwhile, five jurists of the International Human Rights Clinic at Harvard Law School in the US have urged the UN to open an inquiry into atrocities in Burma.

According to a report issued by the jurists, the Burmese military junta forced the displacement of more than 3,000 villages in eastern Burma, and was also guilty of systematic sexual violence, torture and summary execution of innocent civilians.

The report was written by Judge Richard Goldstone of South Africa, Judge Patricia Wald of the US, Judge Pedro Nikken of Venezuela, Judge Ganzorig Gombosuren of Mongolia and Sir Geoffrey Nice of Great Britain.

READ MORE---> Threats Reported against the NLD’s Win Tin...

UWSA Leaders Reject Border Guard Offer

The Irrawaddy News

Burma’s most powerful ethnic ceasefire group, the United Wa State Army (UWSA), this week rejected an offer from Burmese military authorities that it reassign its soldiers to duties as border guards under joint-command of the Burmese army, according to sources at the Sino-Burmese border.

Leaders of the UWSA—which has some 20,000 troops in strength—personally responded to Burmese Military Affairs Security Chief Lt-Gen Ye Myint that they can not accept the offer and that the Wa rebel army would maintain its current ceasefire status. According to sources, the Wa leaders said the junta’s offer will be reconsidered in the future, but did not mention when.

The move came one month after Lt-Gen Ye Myint met for talks with a delegation of UWSA representatives in Tang Yan, eastern Shan State.

“Ye Myint was very angry after he received the response from the UWSA,” said Aung Kyaw Zaw, a military analyst at the border.

He said that Ye Myint phoned the Wa leaders accusing them of looking out for only the interests of the central committee and of ignoring the will of their soldiers.

“Ye Myint warned the Wa leaders that this was a final offer and a very good opportunity for them,” said Aung Kyaw Zaw.

The Burmese security chief also said that he will conduct a survey among UWSA soldiers by himself to monitor the personal opinions of the Wa troops.

Aung Kyaw Zaw said that so far there have been no signs of tensions between the Burmese army and UWSA troops.

The military analyst said that the Burmese regime would not take any direct action against the UWSA at the moment as they are under heavy pressure by the international community with respect to the ongoing trial of pro-democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi.

Sources at the Sino-Burmese border speculated that Burmese army leaders were pressuring the UWSA to disarm and to withdraw from strategic positions in southern Shan State along the Thai-Burmese border. However, to date there is no sign that the UWSA will withdraw its troops, they said.

Sources speculated that the most probable reason for rejecting the border guard offer was that the UWSA did not want to be subservient to Burmese command.

Seventeen insurgent groups have signed ceasefire agreements with the ruling generals since 1989, according to official Burmese reports.

READ MORE---> UWSA Leaders Reject Border Guard Offer...

Junta Links Free Eye Treatment to 2010 Election

The Irrawaddy News

The Burmese military government is linking free medical treatment for rural people to 2010 election politics, according to sources in Mandalay and Sagaing divisions.

In recent years, senior generals and officials regularly toured areas across the country to promote free treatment of eye diseases by visiting eye specialists from Rangoon and Mandalay.

Maj-Gen Khin Maung Myint, the minister for Electricity (1) and Construction, recently arrived in Sagaing Division in upper Burma to launch an eye-treatment program and campaign for the 2010 general election.

“Maj-Gen Khin Maung Myint arrived in Sagaing, where he told people lining up for free services that they should look carefully and clearly chose the right candidates from the military in the 2010 election,” according to a local resident, who said an estimated 4,000 people came to get treatment.

A resident in Sagaing Township said the government medical team treated eye diseases from May 18-20 in Sagaing District Hospital.

Khin Maung Myint is also in charge of the Union Solidarity and Development Association (USDA) in Sagaing District. The USDA, a government-backed civil organization, is expected to form a proxy party to contest the 2010 elections, according to USDA sources.

The USDA played a key role in monitoring and organizing the national referendum on the constitution in May last year.

Meanwhile, sources said that Kyaw Hsan, the minister for information, recently toured Pale Township in Sagaing Division on a similar medical-political campaign among local people.

Other senior generals and officials also have begun making visits to rally support for the 2010 election in their respective areas across the country.

READ MORE---> Junta Links Free Eye Treatment to 2010 Election...

'Crackling with energy', Suu Kyi finally emerges into the light

By Phoebe Kennedy in Rangoon
Independent UK

Burmese democracy leader leaves her home for the first time since 2003 as 'secret' trial begins

Aung San Suu Kyi is escorted to court accused of breaching house arrest

After nearly six years hidden from sight, suddenly yesterday Aung San Suu Kyi was back on public view – tranquil, composed, yet "crackling with energy".

Until yesterday Burma's democracy leader was being tried in secret, somewhere deep inside Rangoon's Insein prison. Then without warning or explanation, the generals threw open the doors of the court to diplomats and even a handful of (local) journalists.

Hardly anybody has set eyes on Ms Suu Kyi since she last disappeared behind the doors of her home in July 2003. UN special envoy Ibrahim Gambari has met her a couple of times, at his insistence, as have the senior leadership of the National League for Democracy (NLD), her party. In November 2007 she came out of her home to pay respects to thousands of monks demonstrating against the regime who had succeeded in getting as far as her villa. But that's it.

No diplomats, no friends, no relatives, no journalists, no party members, practically no one has seen her – with the disastrous exception of John Yettaw, the American who got it into his head to swim Inya lake to drop in on her, and gave the regime the excuse to put her on trial.

But there she was in court, in a salmon Burmese jacket and maroon sarong, as poised as ever. "She was ramrod straight, dignified, composed," said British ambassador Mark Canning, a witness to the event in company with 10 other ambassadors. "She seemed to crackle with energy – you could see the way she commanded her defence team, and in fact commanded the wider courtroom."

"She sat listening intently and alertly to what was going on," said Philippines chargé d'affaires Joselito Chad Jacinto. "She exuded an aura which can only be described as awe-inspiring."

It was at 10 o'clock yesterday that the secret trial abruptly turned into a show trial. "We were called to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs at 10 o'clock in the morning," said Mr Canning. "We thought it was going to be the usual explanation of the Myanmar [Burma] government position. Instead we were told that within two hours we would be in the courtroom." Overnight the secret trial turned into a show trial.

The democracy icon and Nobel Peace Prize-winner, who has spent 13 of the past 19 years under house arrest, is accused of violating the terms of her detention by allowing Mr Yettaw, a Vietnam veteran and Mormon, to spend two nights in her family's villa on Lake Inya in the suburbs of Rangoon. Ms Suu Kyi reportedly pleaded with him to leave but relented when he insisted that he was too exhausted to swim back. If found guilty she could be jailed for up to five years.

Her latest spell of detention expires later this month. She remains hugely popular with the Burmese masses, and the trial is widely seen as an excuse for the regime to keep her out of the way during elections scheduled for next year. In 1990 the National League for Democracy won a landslide victory in Burma's last general election, but the military junta refused to honour the result.

The hearing itself was humdrum: a policeman gave evidence for the prosecution. At the end of the proceedings she asked the court if she would be violating any security laws if she addressed the diplomats. Receiving a negative answer she called out to them in English, greeting them and saying: "I hope to meet you again in better times."

It was unclear whether diplomats will also be allowed to attend subsequent hearings. But it did not change the gloomy consensus that the trial itself is a fix. "It was good as far as it went," Mr Canning said of the opening up of the trial. "It was better to have access than not. But we shouldn't lose sight of the fundamental issues. We demand her release, and the release of the other 2,000 political prisoners locked up in Burma."

READ MORE---> 'Crackling with energy', Suu Kyi finally emerges into the light...

Burma’s Ploy Backfires Big Time

By Buffalohair

What was going to be an open and shut case with regard to Daw Aung San Suu Kyi has gleaned unprecedented international attention and distain. Never before has there been such keen awareness on all levels of the world population. From the Internet, radio, television and feature films Burma is in the limelight like never before. The plight of Aung San Suu Kyi and the people of Burma are no longer a quiet diplomatic issue relegated to the impotent United Nations and meaningless sanctions. Now the people of the world are watching with great intensity and they are not pleased.

Than Shwe’s plan to eliminate Aung San Suu Kyi’s presence during his sham 2010 election has woefully backfired. Inquisitive citizens from every nation on Earth are seeking out information and hard facts about the plight of Burma and they are shocked at with they’ve discovered. Finally the world is paying attention and the efforts of all the pro democracy organizations over the years is bearing fruit in Than Shwe’s unexpected harvest. Now people are fast becoming aware of the once secret and corrupt world of Gen. Than Shwe and his criminal regime.

Average people who only a few weeks ago did not even know where Burma was are educating themselves about the criminal regime and the criminal corporations who’ve sponsored Than Shwe’s bloody exploits. International corporations and nations who’ve financed Burma’s blood bath for financial gain are coming under the microscope and it will not be long before Than Shwe’s secret partners in crime are dragged into the streets of public opinion. Guilty of slavery, rape and murder many corporations from around the world gleaned a handsome profit from Than Shwe’s criminally corrupt regime and now the gory details of their exploits have a willing audience.

Though the military junta of Burma is struggling with damage control the cat is out of the bag. The floodgates have burst as outrage of not only Than Shwe’s government but with impotent politicians and the United Nations become a central issue. The public from all points of the globe are coming to realize the power they truly have. They are the consumers of the world who’ve filled the coffers of international corporations. Without the consumer dollar corporations would shrivel up and disappear fore no one can be forced to buy anything they don’t want to. Now these once invincible conglomerates face an adversary they are powerless to influence, extort or lobby, the angry consumer. And as the truth about once secret deals with Burma’s criminal regime comes into focus the public will exclude products associated with these firms.

There will be no bail-out for these corporations and the individuals who were the liaison and go betweens with the regime will undoubtedly join Than Shwe and his generals in the court of public opinion. They will also be held accountable for the people who were used as slaves and murdered with the blessing of Than Shwe. International corporate goons will be identified by junta generals who seek immunity in the eventual international tribunal for “crimes against humanity”. Ironically this is an aspect of Globalization corporations did not calculate into their equation as they gleaned handsome profits at the expense of humanity on every continent.

“If corporate and economic issues are to take precedents over humanity then it’s time for humanity to use economics in its battle for human rights, fight fire with fire”

The plight of Aung San Suu Kyi and the People of Burma is a microcosm of the plight of the people of the world in the face of corporate greed. The consumer dollar is the Achilles Tendon in the once invincible corporate body armor. Now the individual consumer is becoming aware of the power they truly have as average folks around the world rally support for Aung San Suu Kyi and the People of Burma. By withholding one dollar from any corporation who does business with Burma you pierce the armor of corporations fore without your money they are nothing. Everything comes full circle and the days of brow beating from corporations and lack luster politicians is coming to an end. In releasing Aung San Suu Kyi and the People of Burma we will break the stranglehold of corporate greed around the world as well fore we possess the ultimate weapon of corporate mass destruction, the all mighty dollar.

If you don’t buy, they will die.

Dirty List provided by Burma Campaign UK

Kabar Ma Kyay Bu!

Your Devil’s Advocate

READ MORE---> Burma’s Ploy Backfires Big Time...

KIO promises people it will listen to their voice

Written by KNG

Kachin people’s opinion will be given cognizance and not rejected by the Kachin Independence Organization (KIO), the largest ethnic Kachin ceasefire group in Burma's northern Kachin State, said local sources.

Lt-Gen Gauri Zau Seng, Vice-president I of KIO and the only KIO officer who met junta supremo Senior General Than Shwe in 2005, stressed on the need to take suggestions from all Kachins in Burma and around the world at the public meeting in the KIO's Laiza HQ on the China-Burma border on May 15, "We (KIO) are servants and you (all Kachin people) are masters. So, we will implement what you (all Kachin people) want us to do."

The meeting was held between KIO leaders and over 300 Kachin people's leaders from Kachin State, Shan State and the rest of Burma--- Church leaders, cultural headmen, university students' leaders and delegates from the two groups which split from the KIO--- Lasang Awng Wa Peace Group and the New Democratic Army-Kachin (NDA-K), which were specially invited to attend the meeting by the KIO, said participants.

The KIO's call to the public was followed soon after its armed wing the Kachin Independence Army (KIA) was directed to transform to a Border Security Force with over 300 troops including Burmese Army soldiers by the junta's Northern Command commander Brig-Gen Soe Win in Myitkyina, the capital of Kachin State on April 28.

Looking back to the early ceasefire period, the KIO signed a limitless ceasefire agreement with the junta on February 24, 1994 without taking the consensus of elder Kachin politicians like Wabaw Zau Rip and Kachin people. Elder Kachin politicians wanted to keep the ceasefire agreement to certain limits, where it could break if there were no political parleys.

Since 2004, the KIO has been rejecting any political suggestions from Kachin elders, politicians and Kachin people. The civilian politicians had been warned to stop making suggestions to the KIO leaders by the KIO, according to Kachin civilian politicians.

Besides, creating personal assets like building fine houses, buying luxury cars and setting up personal business ventures in Myitkyina, Mandalay and Rangoon cities most KIO/A officers have moved away from the Kachin people on the Kachin autonomy commitment, said local sources.

From early this month, the KIO/A has begun garnering consensus regarding the transformation of KIA to a battalion of the Border Security Force from within its organizations, the other Kachin Peace Groups--- Lasang Awng Wa Peace Group and NDA-K and Kachins from Burma and around the world in a meeting conducted by the KIO. It also invited individual or organizational suggestions by way of letters and emails, said KIO sources.

Tomorrow, the KIO delegates will open the will of all Kachin people and its own organizations in front of the junta when they meet for the second time the junta's Northern Command commander Brig-Gen Soe Win in Myitkyina, said the KIO's Laiza HQ sources.

At the moment, the junior leaders in KIO/A and Kachin people in Burma and around the world have completely rejected the junta's proposal to transform KIA to a Border Security Force before Kachins get their self-determination or autonomous rights in Kachin State, according to KIO and the Kachin media in exile.

Dr. Manam Tu Ja, the KIO's Vice-president II said, he believed that both the KIO and the junta will avoid resuming civil war between them on the current issue.

Kachin elders, politicians and all Kachin people believe that Kachins have to fight the Burman-dominated junta both militarily and politically in order to acquire political rights and autonomy for Kachins in Burma.

May 19, 2009

READ MORE---> KIO promises people it will listen to their voice...

A Reporter's Diary - Aun San Suu Kyi Trial - 19-20 May 2009

The Irrawaddy News

Tuesday, May 19

INSEIN, Rangoon—Since 8 o’clock in the morning, curious locals, NLD supporters and devotees of Aung San Suu Kyi have been gathering on Myochit Street in Insein. The road is blocked with wooden barricades and barbed wire.

Two or three hundred yards down the road, Burma’s most famous daughter is on trial on trumped-up charges of harboring a foreigner at her Inya Lake home.

Multimedia (View)
At 9:50, a white saloon car from the American embassy pulls up and the barricade is widened to let it pass toward the prison.

In front of Insein Market, trucks full of Swin Ahh Shin members frown at the crowd. The notorious junta-backed thugs appear drunk, their bloodshot eyes staring menacingly at passers-by.

Although the authorities have allowed Insein Market to reopen, most of the shops remain closed. On the upper story of the market, policemen with video cameras keep a watch on customers.

Everyone wants to know what will happen today. Whether milling around the street or sitting in a tea shop, they all keep an eye on the barricade.

“I would very much like to see someone rescuing Auntie Suu from the prison. Perhaps like a Hollywood movie where marines drop from helicopters behind the enemy lines to rescue their comrades,” says a 30-year-old NLD member.

“For what they have done to Daw Suu, they are dogs!” an old woman cries out emotionally, starling several people in the crowd. “Everybody knows who is right and who is wrong in this case!”

The atmosphere is intense and has been growing steadily. You get the feeling that if a public demonstration broke out spontaneously everyone would join in.

“I don’t think the junta will dare convict her because of the international community,” says an elderly man sitting in a café near Maha Myaing Movie Theatre.

His friend disagrees. “No, I think they have put her in prison and they won’t let her out. They don’t care about the international community and they always do whatever they want anyway,” he states.

“Remember, they even beat up Buddhist monks,” he whispers.

The two old men continue their conversation in hushed tones. They recall the words they have heard on the radio in English: “denounce,” “concerned,” “call for her immediate release,” “inhumane treatment.”

By noon the sun is scorching hot and everyone tries to find shade. The police, the Swin Ahh Shin, the NLD members and curious locals regard each other suspiciously.

Every few minutes, each person turns to look at beyond the barricade toward Insein Prison. No noise or movement comes from that direction.

They continue waiting and watching, their faces sketched with mixed emotions of anxiety, anger, fear and hope.

Wednesday, May 20

Supporters and members of Burmese pro-democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi’s NLD party gather around 11 a.m. next to Insein Township’s fire station. Security personnel and soldiers stand behind the road block.

Several people are huddled together talking about the news that five journalists from local media and five correspondents from the international media have been allowed inside the courtroom.

At 11:30, an embassy vehicle crosses Insein Railway Bridge. Onlookers wave and smile in its direction.

“The government seems to be heeding the international pressure at last,” said an NLD member with a satisfied grin.

Several hundred people watch as the embassy vehicle slowly passes through the makeshift barrier on the road to Insein Prison.

At one o’clock, more people join the crowd at the bridge and outside the fire station.
There is the click and flash of cameras from Myoma Market as shadowy figures continue taking pictures of the spectators.

But the crowd’s mood seems more confident now. They make no attempt to hide their faces and talk animatedly among themselves while soldiers, police, Swam Ar Shin members and plain-clothes informers stand their ground.

By two o’clock, many of Suu Kyi’s supporters are openly self-assured. They stare back at the government photographers defiantly. One young man in a dark blue shirt gives a two-fingered salute to a cameraman.

The embassy vehicles come out one by one at 2:30 in the afternoon. The crowd smile and wave quietly as the vehicles pass.

Following the cars come the 10 Burmese journalists who were allowed inside the courtroom. One of them gives a thumbs-up to the crowd and mouths, “Everything is good.”

An elderly woman dressed in a white blouse and Yaw longyi turns to her colleagues and smiles. “Truth never collapses,” she says.

READ MORE---> A Reporter's Diary - Aun San Suu Kyi Trial - 19-20 May 2009...

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