Friday, May 22, 2009

UNSC President refuses to read out press statement unanimously approved



By sj.bs

UNITED NATIONS (KUNA) -- In a first, the President of the Security Council, Russia, refused on Friday to read out a statement to the press because it dealt with he situation in Burma, but allowed the British UN envoy to read it on behalf of all council members, including Russia.

Recalling its previous statements, the council reiterated "the importance of the release of all political prisoners," the press statement, read out by British UN envoy John Sawers instead of council President Russian UN envoy Vitaly Churkin, said.

"The members of the Security Council express their concern about the political impact of recent developments relating to Daw Aung San Suu Kyi," in an indirect reference to the military junta crackdown on its chief opponent ahead of the election next year.

She is accused of violating the terms of her house arrest by allowing an American man, who swam across a lake, to spend at least one night in her house.

The council also reiterated the need for the Government in Myanmar "to create the necessary conditions for a genuine dialogue" with the pro-democracy leader and all concerned parties and ethnic groups in order to achieve an inclusive national reconciliation with the support of the UN.

222142 May 09NNNN
Politics 5/22/2009 9:42:00 PM

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Suu Kyi’s Letter of Thanks to Than Shwe

BARBER'S CHAIR (Satire)
By THE IRRAWADDY

Dear Senior-General,

I trust you will excuse my handwriting. I am writing by candlelight. It seems there is not much electricity in this part of Rangoon these days.

I would like to take this opportunity to thank you. After so many years of looking out at Inya Lake, a change of scenery was most welcome, although I must confess I am somewhat disappointed with the décor and landscape gardening in my new compound.

Most importantly though, I must thank you for your unflinching political support. I thought that the world had forgotten about me, but you made sure that my face reappeared on TV all over the world.

You had previously cautioned foreign governments not to focus so much on one person (me), but now you have magnanimously ensured that my name is on the lips of every diplomat in Rangoon.

The international community has a reputation for having a short attention span. Thanks to your efforts, Burma is back on the front pages of the newspapers.

I believe that the US and the EU were in a bit of a pickle about how to handle the economic sanctions issue and recognition of next year’s election.

Now, thanks to your clear-cut methods and no-nonsense approach, those countries will have no hesitation in making decisions with regard to the Burmese government’s status.

In fact, talking of the election, on behalf of my party, the NLD, let me also thank you for your PR efforts on our behalf. With so many members in prison and so few opportunities to canvas for contributions, we have not been able to promote our democratic cause as we would like over the last few years.

However, as you have single-handedly reminded the population of Burma of the differences between right and wrong, between truth and deceit and between justice and farce, I am sure we won’t need any other marketing campaigns to generate support. You have become the pro-democracy movement’s greatest benefactor. Well done!

If you ever find yourself overthrown by an internal coup, don’t hesitate to give the NLD a call. We always need a PR agent like you on our books.

And, of course, thanks for the exposure to your military justice system. I have been waiting a long time to see it up close and personal. Next time you permit reporters and diplomats in the courtroom, might I request that you invite the Australian ambassador? After all, with his experience in the Australian outback I am sure he will have a better understanding of a kangaroo court. (Lol!)

At least here in Insein I should be safe from crazy intruders. You would think that with all the security forces and intelligence personnel that the government has at its disposal that it would be impossible for even James Bond to get past them.

But I suppose if a secret agent disguised himself as a middle-aged, overweight, delusional American skinny-dipper then he would be a lot more difficult to catch. Right?

Anyway, I am sure you are busy with your Naypyidaw projects, so I won’t take up any more of your precious time.

Thank you again for everything you have done for our country. After the Burmese people have democracy, please allow us to reciprocate.

Yours in captivity,

Aung San Suu Kyi
Insein Prison

READ MORE---> Suu Kyi’s Letter of Thanks to Than Shwe...

Burma Court Accepts Case Against Suu Kyi

The Irrawaddy News

RANGOON (AP)— The court trying Burma’s pro-democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi agreed Friday to accept the charge she violated the terms of her house arrest after an American man swam to and entered her lakeside home.

The court's decision should allow her trial to proceed to a verdict that could see her jailed for up to five years. She has been in detention without trial for more than 13 of the past 19 years.

Suu Kyi's lawyer said presiding judge Thaung Nyunt declared the court accepted the charge after testimony had finished for the day, and asked Suu Kyi if she was guilty.

"I am not guilty. I said I am not guilty because I have not broken any law," she replied, according to her lawyer Nyan Win, who spoke to reporters afterward.

The same charge was also accepted against two women companions who stay with Suu Kyi, and the American, John W. Yettaw. All pleaded not guilty.

Suu Kyi's lawyers have said she asked Yettaw to leave, but allowed him to stay for two days after he said he was too tired and ill to immediately swim back across the lake.

In what her supporters are taking as an ominous sign, authorities have now removed the last of the barriers that were used to maintain roadblocks on either end on the street where her house is located, suggesting she may not be returning home any time soon.

The day she was taken away to prison, the barbed wire barricades on University Avenue were pulled aside, and then hauled away the next day, and the poles that were used to block the road were taken away after dark on Thursday.

Suu Kyi, who is being held and tried at Rangoon's Insein Prison, had been scheduled to be freed May 27 after six consecutive years under house arrest.

The trial was briefly opened to reporters and diplomats Wednesday but otherwise has been closed.

On Thursday, the prosecution showed a video said to have been shot by Yettaw at Suu Kyi's house during his latest visit, according to Nyan Win.

The video had a voice-over narration, apparently by Yettaw, which was translated into the Burmese language in the courtroom. In it, he said he had asked Suu Kyi to pose, but she had refused and looked nervous, so he felt sorry about the matter.

Yettaw on Wednesday also offered the first public clue to the motive for his actions, suggesting in a courtroom exchange that he had a premonition someone would try to kill the pro-democracy leader, according to Nyan Win, who attended the proceedings. He repeated the assertion in court Friday when he pleaded not guilty.

Yettaw, 53, is a part-time contractor from Falcon, Missouri, who became interested in Suu Kyi when he visited neighboring Thailand last year, his family has said.

READ MORE---> Burma Court Accepts Case Against Suu Kyi...

Burmese Army on Internal Alert

By MIN LWIN
The Irrawaddy News

The generals who run Burma don't encourage their subordinates to pay attention to the political affairs of the country. So when soldiers start huddling around radios listening to news of the trial of Aung San Suu Kyi, the generals start to panic.

According to military sources who spoke to The Irrawaddy recently, commanders around the country have been alerted this week by Naypyidaw to keep a close watch on armed personnel and their families.

The military head office reportedly issued a communiqué to all battalion commanders earlier this week ordering them to “strictly control” the activities of all personnel and their family members and warn them not to take part in any anti-government demonstrations that might occur in the near future.

Family members are currently not allowed to go outside the military compounds where they live, said the sources. Only armed soldiers on duty are allowed outside the barracks.

“It seems that Than Shwe is worried that his troops and their families may be Daw Suu sympathizers,” said a military source in Rangoon.

Normally, Burmese senior generals do not allow army, navy and air force personnel to listen to or watch broadcasts involving the NLD leader, but now the barracks are buzzing with rumors and updates from the Insein courtroom, said the source.

“We are interested to see if the government will sentence Daw Suu,” said a family member from Naypyidaw military regional command. “We certainly don’t think Daw Suu could be guilty of this crime.”

Meanwhile, Maj Aung Linn Htut, a former intelligence officer who currently lives in the United States, said in an open letter that many Burmese army staff want the world to know that there is a profound difference between the State Peace and Development Council (SPDC) and the Tatmadaw, the regular soldiers of the Burmese army.

Aung Linn Htut said that the SPDC was run by senior military generals who controlled the country’s government and economy. Their families were granted all the business concessions, he said.

On the other hand, low-ranked officers, soldiers and general staff members did not receive benefits and faced the same economic hardships as the general public.

In his open letter, Aung Linn Htut said that there were angry mutterings among the army regulars around the country because they were excluded from their superiors’ access to foreign currency and earnings from natural gas revenues.

According to the former intelligence officer, the Burmese military government earned several million of dollars selling natural gas to Thailand and had financed its new executive capital in Naypyidaw from the proceeds.

He accused the SPDC of rifling the nation’s wealth and said payments for natural gas were not transferred to the Ministry of Revenue, but were deposited in a bank account in an unknown foreign country run by the Union of Myanmar Economic Holding Limited (UMEHL).

UMEHL, also known in Burmese as U Pai, was founded in 1990 and deals with the investments and savings of military personnel, military units, retired military personnel, army veteran organizations and the Ministry of Defense.

According to the International Institute for Strategic Studies, the junta’s military expenditures account for more than 40 percent of the national budget while Burma’s health and education spending is 0.4 percent and 0.5 percent respectively, as reported in the UK-based Burma Digest online publication.

The Burmese military government buys most of its weapons from Russia, Ukraine, North Korea, China and India, according to researchers.

READ MORE---> Burmese Army on Internal Alert...

Burmese Soldiers Torture Civilians in Shan State

By SAW YAN NAING
The Irrawaddy News

The Burmese army arrested and tortured villagers in Hsi Hseng Township in Shan State on Tuesday including village headmen and school teachers, accusing them of having connections with ethnic rebels, according to ethnic sources.

On May 14, a 15-year-old girl was raped by a group of 12 Burmese soldiers led by Myint Oo when she went to her garden, villagers said. The girl is now in Taunggyi Hospital in Shan State.

Burmese soldiers also cut off the hands of a villager named U Lone, said Khun Joi Hto, a spokesperson for the Pa-O National Liberation Organization (PNLO).

The incidents followed a clash in which soldiers of the PNLA and the Karen National Liberation Army (KNLA) attacked Burmese troops on May 3 near His Hseng in Shan State. The PNLA is the military wing of the Pa-O National Liberation Organization (PNLO).

Twelve Burmese soldiers from Light Infantry Battalion 426 led by Myo Aung were killed, sources said.

On Tuesday, the Burmese army returned to the village. “They beat villagers and asked them where the rebels were,” said Khun Joi Hto.

The PNLO split from the ceasefire group known as Shan State Nationalities Peoples’ Liberation Organization (SSNPLO) in late 2007.

Local villagers said that Burmese soldiers beat and tortured them in revenge. Some villagers are still in hiding in jungle while others have fled to the Thailand-Burma border. The Burmese army also threatened local villagers that it would burn villages.

Sources also said that Burmese commander Bri-Gen Myo Aye who leads Military Operation Command 7 told the Pa-O ceasefire group, the Pa-O National Organization (PNO), that he would seize its region because the ceasefire group was not able to control the region.

The PNO, led by Aung Kham Hti, signed a ceasefire agreement with the Burmese regime in April in 1991.

READ MORE---> Burmese Soldiers Torture Civilians in Shan State...

Regime Accused of Trying to Humiliate Suu Kyi

By WAI MOE
The Irrawaddy News

Burmese activists accuse the authorities of trying to humiliate opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi by including in the prosecution evidence at her trial personal possessions taken from her home.

The evidence, listed in a police file obtained by The Irrawaddy, includes two sarongs, four towels, a T-shirt bearing the words “Don’t ever give up,” a pillow, map, plate and spoon.

The file also lists 54 items belonging to the American John W Yettaw who is on trial in the same Insein Prison court after swimming to her lakeside home.

“The regime tries to damage her dignity internationally,” said Bo Kyi, joint-secretary of the Assistance Association for Political Prisoners-Burma, a Burmese human rights group based in the Thai-Burmese border town of Mae Sot.

“Daw Aung San Suu Kyi is trusted by a majority of the people, including ethnic nationalities and soldiers,” Bo Kyi said. “Therefore Snr-Gen Than Shwe is jealous of her. As a result, he tries to destroy her good image.”

A Rangoon journalist in the former capital, speaking on condition of anonymity, said the junta was trying to “score points” by humiliating Suu Kyi.

Vicitta, a Burmese monk who marched in the September 2007 demonstrations and now lives in Penang, Malaysia, said the junta brought the case against Suu Kyi in an attempt to remove her from the public eye when the country is called on to vote in the 2010 election.

“Authorities might think the charge against Suu Kyi damages her internationally by showing that a man was staying at her home,” said one Rangoon political observer.

“But, in reality, the opposite is occurring and the world now knows the regime’s cunning motives.”

READ MORE---> Regime Accused of Trying to Humiliate Suu Kyi...

Harvard report calls on UNSC to investigate Burma

by Mungpi

New Delhi (Mizzima) - A Harvard Law School human rights group said they have found evidence of human rights violations committed by Burma’s military rulers and have called on the UN Security Council to establish a commission of inquiry into crimes against humanity and war crimes in Burma.

A new report titled ‘Crimes in Burma’ by the International Human Rights Clinic at Harvard Law School says documents from the United Nations and reports from various Human Rights Rapportuers to Burma provide grounds for investigation into international crimes and called on the UN Security Council to initiate more concerted action vis-à-vis Burma.

Tyler Gianni, Clinical Director of the Human Rights Program at Harvard Law School and one of the report’s authors, told Mizzima on Friday that the report was based on reports of various sources, the studies of UN documents and the resolutions of the Human Rights Council.

Gianni said the report is based on incidences of human rights violations committed by the Burmese military regime since 2002 and particularly on four types of abuse - forced relocation, sexual violence, extra-judicial killings and torture.

He said the study finds “there is strong evidence of systematic and widespread human rights violations [in Burma] and based on legal terms that crimes against humanity are taking place.”

The report also compares the situation of human rights violations, particularly in eastern Burma, to that of the former Yugoslavia and Darfur and calls on the UN Security Council to establish a commission of inquiry into crimes against humanity committed by the ruling junta.

The report says at least 3,000 villages have been forcibly evacuated in eastern Burma, more than in Darfur.

“So that’s why the commission of inquiry should look at this issue in more depth and do a thorough investigation,” Gianni said.

The 114-page report was commissioned by five of the world's most prominent legal experts on human rights - Judge Richard Goldstone of South Africa, Judge Patricia Wald of the United States, Judge Pedro Nikken of Venezuela, Judge Ganzorig Bombosuren of Mongolia and Sir Geoffrey Nice of Britain.

The jurists are known for their experience in investigating human rights abuses and prosecuting the alleged perpetrators in international rights tribunals.

The jurists in the preface wrote that UN resolutions and Special Rapporteurs have over and over again spoken out about abuses in Burma.

But “The UN Security Council has not moved forward as it should and has in similar situations such as those in the former Yugoslavia and Darfur," said the jurists, adding that in those cases the UN Security Council established a commission of inquiry once they were aware of the severity of the problem to further investigate the gravity of the violations.

“With Burma, there has been no such action despite being similarly aware (as demonstrated in UN documents) of the widespread and systematic nature of the violations,” the jurists argued.

Currently, Burma’s detained pro-democracy leader and Nobel Peace Laureate Aung San Suu Kyi is facing trial in a special court inside notorious Insein Prison in Rangoon. She faces charges of breaching her detention law because an American, John William Yettaw, allegedly visited her after swimming about a mile across Inya Lake, which abuts her home.

The international community, including the UN and world leaders, has reacted with strong words of condemnation for the Burmese military junta for putting Aung San Suu Kyi on trial and has called the trial a trumped-up case to continue detaining her, as she is to complete her six years of house arrest at the end of May.

Gianni said the trial against Aung San Suu Kyi is a classic example of the junta’s violation of the rights of the citizens of Burma.

“The report is specifically calling on the UNSC to establish a commission of inquiry and follow-up like it does in other areas such as in Darfur,” Gianni concluded.

READ MORE---> Harvard report calls on UNSC to investigate Burma...

Ban Ki-moon must ensure Suu Kyi's freedom: Analysts

by Salai Pi Pi

New Delhi (Mizzima) – If UN General Secretary Ban Ki-moon is to visit military-ruled Burma in the near future, the release of Burmese pro-democracy icon Aung San Suu Kyi should be mandatory, a Burmese analyst in exile said.

“If he is to visit Burma, he should try to ensure the release of Aung San Suu Kyi during his stay in the country,” Nyo Ohn Myint, in-charge of the National League for Democracy (Liberated Area) in exile, told Mizzima on Friday.

“He should not return until the junta releases her,” Nyo Ohn Myint said.

He said that Ban should also try to build mutual trust between Aung San Suu Kyi and Than Shwe, the Burmese junta supremo.

“He should also try to build trust between Aung San Suu Kyi and the Junta as is necessary,” Nyo Ohn Myint said.

“He also needs to make sure that Aung San Suu Kyi will not be a threat for them [military generals] as you know, they are so afraid of her,” he continued.

Nyo Ohn Myint’s comment came after Ban told CNN that he would go to Burma as soon as possible, to push the Burmese regime to free detained Aung San Suu Kyi and other political prisoners in the country.

“I am deeply concerned about what has been happening in Myanmar, in terms of democratization and I am going to urge for the release of political prisoners, including Aung San Suu Kyi, again,” CNN quoted Ban Ki-moon as saying.

He also said that the imprisonment of Aung San Suu Kyi was “unacceptable.”

Noble Peace Laureate Aung San Suu Kyi was put on trial as she was accused of harbouring US citizen, John William Yettaw, who swam to her lakeside home on May 3, and stayed there for two nights.

Aung San Suu Kyi spent over 13 of her 19 years in Burma, under house arrest. Her detention term will expire on 27 May 2009.

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

Along with Aung San Suu Kyi, her two house maids and Yettaw have also been arrested and put on trial.

The close-door trial against Suu Kyi entered the fifth day on Friday, in the premises of Burma’s notorious Insein prison. The junta did not allow foreign diplomats and journalists to access the court on Wednesday.

Although Ban is preparing to fly to Burma on a mission to rescue Aung San Suu Kyi, it is still not clear whether the regime will allow him to enter the country.

Meanwhile, speaking to Mizzima, another Burmese political analyst Aung Naing Oo, asked that if the junta was willing to permit the UN General Secretary his proposed visit to Burma, what sort of problems would he be able to address to usher in change in Burma.

“If the junta allows him to go there, I would like to ask him what he can do for change in Burma?” Aung Naing Oo said. “I would like to ask if he can do anything for the immediate release of Aung San Suu Kyi?” he added.

Aung Naing Oo said it is very premature to say that Ban will be able to press the military government to release Aung San Suu Kyi and also to usher in political change in Burma. His last visit to Burma, last year had made the junta relax the restriction on foreign aid workers in the Cyclone Nargis hit delta region.

“It is too early to say that though he plans to press the regime to release Aung San Suu Kyi, whether the regime will listen to what he asks them to do, like they lifted the restriction on humanitarian aid during his visit last year,” he said.

However, Aung Naing Oo said, “This is the right time for him to visit Burma”.

Earlier, the UN General Secretary’s spokesperson had said Ban would not visit Burma again, if there was no political progress in Burma.

READ MORE---> Ban Ki-moon must ensure Suu Kyi's freedom: Analysts...

National ID cards for Hindu community in Arakan

Sittwe (Narinjara): The Hindu community in Arakan has been issued national ID cards by the Immigration Department since the beginning of this month.

“We have received national ID cards of the colour Green. The immigration department will issue the national ID cards to all Hindu people in Arakan state. It is good for us and is better than having no documents,” a Hindu leader said.

The Burmese Immigration Department had not issued any kind of ID cards to the Hindu community in Arakan state earlier as they as they are considered foreign citizens.

“We have been living in Arakan state for a long time. My grandfather and grandmother were born here. So we are citizens of Burma. Now were getting the ID cards and it is great thing for our community,” he said.

However, the ID card issued to the Hindu community is a little different from the national ID cards issued to Rakhine and Burman.

An immigration official from Maungdaw said, “It is a green colour national ID card and it is for only citizens from foreign countries. It is a little different from the National ID cards issued to ethnic nationalities of Burma.”

In Sittwe, the capital of Arakan state, the Hindu community has received the ID cards but Hindu communities in rural areas are yet to receive the ID cards.

However, the immigration official said that the Immigration Department in Maungdaw is taking photographs of Hindu people in Maungdaw Township to issue national ID cards soon.

According to a local source, the Muslim community in Maungdaw is angry and disgruntled with the regime for neglecting to issue national ID cards to them despite having issued National ID cards to the Hindu community in Arakan.

READ MORE---> National ID cards for Hindu community in Arakan...

Entering Bangladesh illegally becomes risky for Rohingya

Ukhiya, Cox’s Bazaar (KPN): Entering Bangladesh illegally along the border, has become a risky proposition for the Rohingya community, as concerned authorities arrest and push them back into Burma, according to sources from Teknaf.

The Rohingya community, a Muslim minority and an ethnic group belonging to Burma, stay in Northern Arakan. They are under pressure from the ruling military junta socially, politically and economically, which forces them to cross the border from their motherland, the source added.

The Rohingya people cross the border into Bangladesh, for medical treatment, to visit relatives in refugee camps and for other social proposes. Some also come to seek a better life, a social worker from Teknaf said.

Recently, the Bangladesh Rifles (BDR), the country’s border security force has been put on high alert along the Bangladesh-Burma border.

The Rohingya, who have been living in the border area and facing various problems, after the alert along the border was issued, cannot move anywhere for fear of the BDR arresting them. They also cannot go to work, a Rohingya from Teknaf said.

Most of the Rohingya community crossed the border recently, as the Burmese junta was planning to fence the border, with forced labour.

After a clash between the locals and the army, Nasaka, on April 22 and 29 in Balukhali and Shweza, which caused further harassment for the Rohingya community, most of the Rohingya felt compelled to flee to Bangladesh, a student from Maungdaw said.

Yesterday, over 93 Rohingya people were caught and pushed back to Burma, from the Balukhali transit point under Cox’s Bazaar district, by the BDR of 17 Rifles Battalion.

The BDR detained and pushed back 49 Burmese nationals to Burma, on May 20 in Teknaf.

The 17th Rifles Battalion arrested seven Rohingya and pushed them back to Burma from Baisafari, under the Nikkongchari Upazila on May 17.

The 42 Bangladesh Rifles (BDR) pushed back 12 Rohingya, including women and children on April 3, at about 3 pm from Teknaf, according to sources.

READ MORE---> Entering Bangladesh illegally becomes risky for Rohingya...

5 killed in clash with rebels

By Hseng Khio Fah

(Shanland) -5 Burma Army soldiers and policemen were reportedly killed after a clash with the Shan State Army (SSA-South) on 21 May, which marked the 51st anniversary of the Shan Resistance Day.

At dawn yesterday, SSA fighters attacked a joint army- police road sentry box at the 21 milestone between Laikha and Panglong, southern Shan State.

It was defended by 8 men (5 from Infantry Battalion IB#64 commanded by Company Sergeant Major Tin Ohn and 3 commanded by Police Corporal Aye Min Tun).

Five defenders, including all three policemen, were killed and their weapons taken by the attackers, according to border sources.

SHAN has been unable to reach the SSA-South for confirmation. Loi Taileng, the SSA’s main base, is believed to be still celebrating the Resistance Day.

There are three SSA brigades reportedly active in the area. These are the 759th Brigade under the command of Lieutenant Colonel Kham Leng, Brigade # 198 under the command of Lieutenant Colonel Hsang Wi and the Awng Pay Hseuk Force, under the command of Lt-Col Pawng Kherh.

The Shan resistance was launched by Sao Noi aka Saw Yanda, a 31-year old transplanted Shan from Mongwan (Longchuan), Yunnan province, and his 30-followers in 1958, 6 years after Shan State was occupied by the Burma Army ostensibly to defend the Union’s territorial integrity against Kuomintang incursion.

READ MORE---> 5 killed in clash with rebels...

EU ministers to press Myanmar on Suu Kyi trial

By John Ruwitch

HANOI (Reuters) - European foreign ministers will press Myanmar at an Asia-Europe meeting next week to end the trial of opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi, but analysts expect only lukewarm backing from their Asian counterparts.

The Suu Kyi trial, which entered its fifth day on Friday, has sparked outrage in the West, and the European Union is considering tougher sanctions against the military government.

In Asia, no government has gone beyond chastising the regime for putting the Nobel Peace laureate on trial for breaking the terms of her house arrest after an American man swam uninvited to her lakeside home.

Swedish Foreign Minister Carl Bildt said on Monday Myanmar would be discussed at the Asia-Europe Meeting (ASEM) Foreign Ministers' meeting in Hanoi on Monday and Tuesday. Myanmar, formerly known as Burma, is expected to attend the meeting.

British Foreign Secretary David Miliband said Suu Kyi faced a "show trial," adding: "We...need to make sure that the Burmese regime understands fully the risks that it's taking."

The EU ministers said it was incumbent upon Myanmar's neighbors to try to sway the regime through political pressure.

The Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), which includes Myanmar, has said trial threatened the regime's "honor and credibility" and repeated a call for her release.

ASEAN, however, has historically opted for non-interference over confrontation and does not follow its words with actions in cases like this.

Myanmar's main backer, China, has already said Myanmar should be left alone to handle its internal affairs.

Sean Turnell, an expert on Myanmar's economy at Australia's Macquarie University, said China was the "big elephant in the room" and hinted that Beijing may ultimately be arm-twisted into playing a constructive role.

"It protects the regime in so many ways," he said.

"There are aspects of the Burmese regime that are quite impervious to pressure, but a group that may not be impervious to pressure is China."

BUSINESS IS BUSINESS

Resource-hungry China considers Myanmar an important partner, and the two signed a contract in March to build cross-border oil and gas pipelines which would help China cut oil cargoes' long detour through the congested Malacca Strait.

Aung Zaw, editor of the Thailand-based Irrawaddy magazine which reports on Myanmar, criticized Western governments for failing to take tougher action against the regime, such as cracking down on Western oil firms that operate there.

In a commentary in Friday's Bangkok Post, he said U.S. and European leaders should put pressure on the leaders of China, India, Russia and Thailand, "countries which are among the principal backers of the regime."

But Joseph Cheng of City University of Hong Kong said that despite Asia's distaste for some of the junta's actions, there was no political will to force them to do anything.

"We see no substantial political will from countries, say, like Japan, like Indonesia and Thailand. They are the kind of countries that can take the initiative...," Cheng said.

If found guilty, Suu Kyi could be jailed for up to five years. Critics say the trial is scripted and aimed at silencing the charismatic leader of the National League for Democracy until after elections in 2010 in Myanmar.

Suu Kyi has been detained for more than 13 of the past 19 years, most of them at her home in Yangon, guarded by police, her mail intercepted and visitors restricted.

(Additional reporting by Kittipong Soonprasert in Bangkok, and Ben Blanchard in Beijing)
(Editing by Darren Schuettler and Valerie Lee)

READ MORE---> EU ministers to press Myanmar on Suu Kyi trial...

France wavers over full EU sanctions on Burma

(DVB)–France has voiced concerns that the proposed ramping-up of EU sanctions on Burma would hit French oil company Total and therefore a significant proportion of the Burmese population who depend on it for oil.

Speaking to French parliament on Wednesday, Foreign Minister Benard Kouchner warned that imposing new sanctions on the regime could have far-reaching consequences.

"The only serious economic lever would obviously be Total," he said, adding that any decision would be decided at the “highest level of state”.

“That would mean cutting off gas supplies to a good part of the Burmese population, not to mention the city of Bangkok, since the gas goes to Thailand.”

The current package of European Union sanctions on Burma do not include bans on investing in Burma’s vast offshore natural gas reserves.

Discussions on sanctions have gathered pace recently, particularly in light of the trial of opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi, with some EU members arguing that sanctions should be toughened.

Yet the comments were countered by advocacy group EarthRights International (ERI), who have a special project set up to monitor the oil and gas industry in Burma.

“I think is it accurate to say that nearly all of the gas is exported from Burma, so very little…stays in the country,” said Burma Project coordinator Matthew Smith, adding that only supplies to Bangkok would be significantly affected.

Total is France's most profitable company, and has been a major investor in Burma’s Yadana gas field since 1992.

ERI have called the Yadana pipeline project a “human rights disaster” and “one of the world’s most controversial natural gas development projects”.

Cases of torture, rape, forced labour and murder by security forces guarding the pipeline are well documented.

Kouchner added that a “firm stand” on Total should be taken, but did not specify whether or not the French government wanted the company to leave Burma.

Reporting by Rosalie Smith and AFP

READ MORE---> France wavers over full EU sanctions on Burma...

Junta denies framing case against Suu Kyi

by Mizzima News

Chiang Mai (Mizzima) – Burma's Foreign Minister, Nyan Win, has denied allegations that the regime has framed its case against Aung San Suu Kyi, arguing instead that it was the synchronized foul play of the opposition forces that has resulted in the current trial.

"We are trying to restore constructive engagement with the outside world, including the U.S., Japan and E.U. At this crucial time, some opposition forces at home and abroad might try to sabotage and derail this work of constructive engagement with the international community with an intention of bringing back international pressure on Myanmar [Burma]. This [the situation surrounding the trial] may be the synchronized foul play of these elements," the state-run New Light of Myanmar reported today in citing the Foreign Minister.

It was the junta's first public announcement denying allegations of framing the case against Aung San Suu Kyi with the intention of prolonging her detention and barring her from contesting the upcoming 2010 election.

Additionally, according to the paper, Nyan Win and his Japanese counterpart, Foreign Minister Hiro Fumi Nakasone, talked over the phone on May 18th, the first day of Aung San Suu Kyi's court hearing.

The paper reported that the Japanese Foreign Minister expressed his worries over Aung San Suu Kyi's trial, saying he was concerned over the successful holding of the 2010 general election and the negative effect on the junta's image that this case may have in the international community.

"Though it is the judicial process of Burma, we urge you to take into consideration the opinions of the international community and to take action in a more appropriate way," Nakasone reportedly told Nyan Win according to the state-run daily. "Moreover, it is a crucial time for the transition to democracy in Burma, so that this democratization process should be made respectable to the international community too".

Aung San Suu Kyi’s present term of house arrest is set to expire on May 27th, after six consecutive years of detention, and cannot again be extended according to existing Burmese law.

The New Light of Myanmar added that Nyan Win gave his assurances that the trial would be conducted within the framework of the law.

READ MORE---> Junta denies framing case against Suu Kyi...

Myanmar: Suu Kyi visitor was anti-government plot

YANGON, Myanmar (AP) – Myanmar's junta alleged Friday that anti-government forces engineered an American's illegal visit to the house of pro-democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi to embarrass the government and aggravate its relations with the West.

Authorities detained John W. Yettaw after he left Suu Kyi's heavily guarded compound earlier this month and charged the Nobel peace laureate with violating terms of her house arrest by allowing the American to stay at her home without official permission.

The offense is punishable by up to five years' imprisonment. Her trial began Monday.

Responding to anger abroad over the trial, Myanmar's Foreign Minister U Nyan Win was quoted Friday in the New Light of Myanmar as telling his Japanese counterpart that the Yettaw incident was manufactured by internal and external anti-government forces — a term usually referring to pro-democracy groups.

At a time when the United States, Japan and the European Union were reviewing their policies toward Myanmar, Nyan Win said "it was likely that this incident was trumped up to intensify international pressure on Myanmar by internal and external anti-government elements who do not wish to see the positive changes in those countries' policies toward Myanmar," the paper said.

The paper reported that Japanese Foreign Minister Hirofumi Nakasone called on May 18 to express his concern about Suu Kyi's trial.

Critics have accused the junta of using Yettaw's visit as a pretext to keeping Suu Kyi in detention through polls scheduled for next year — the culmination of the junta's "roadmap to democracy," which has been criticized as a fig leaf for continued military rule.

Suu Kyi, who is being held at the infamous Insein Prison along with scores of other political prisoners, had been scheduled to be freed May 27 after six consecutive years under house arrest. She has been in detention without trial for more than 13 of the past 19 years.

Suu Kyi is standing trial with two female members of her party who live with her, and Yettaw, the American man who triggered the charges by swimming across a lake to Suu Kyi's property under the cover of darkness earlier this month to enter uninvited into her home.

Suu Kyi's lawyers have said she asked Yettaw to leave, but allowed him to stay for two days after he said he was too tired and ill to immediately swim back across the lake.

Authorities have now removed the last of the barriers that served as roadblocks on either end of the street where Suu Kyi's house is located, and supporters said they feared it was a sign she won't be returning home soon.

The day she was taken away to prison, the barbed wire barricades were pulled aside, and then hauled away the next day. The poles that were used to block the road were taken away after dark Thursday.

The trial this week has mostly focused on the motives and methods of Yettaw, a part-time contractor from Falcon, Missouri. The trial was briefly opened to reporters and diplomats Wednesday but otherwise has been closed.

On Thursday, the prosecution showed a video said to have been shot by Yettaw at Suu Kyi's house during his latest visit, according to one of her lawyers, Nyan Win. The video had a voice-over, apparently by Yettaw, which was translated into the Myanmar language in the courtroom.

"The video taken by Mr. Yettaw showed the portrait of Gen. Aung San (Myanmar's independence hero and Suu Kyi's father), a bookshelf and Mr. Yettaw himself standing in front of the portrait of Gen. Aung San.

"He was saying he is now in Yangon, at Aung San Suu Kyi's house and that he asked permission to film Aung San Suu Kyi but she refused. 'She looked nervous and I am sorry for that,' he was saying that, in his video," Nyan Win told reporters.

On Wednesday, 23 objects seized from Suu Kyi's house were presented as evidence, the most striking items being two black cloaks or robes described as being of a type worn by Muslim women, along with scarves to cover the face, two long skirts, and sunglasses.

Clearly implying that they could be used in an escape attempt, the prosecutor asked the police officer who seized the items whether "If a person wears this woman's Muslim dress and sunglasses, will you be able to identify the person?" The officer replied "No.'

Yettaw on Wednesday also offered the first public clue to the motive for his actions, suggesting in a courtroom exchange that he had a premonition someone would try to kill the pro-democracy leader, according to Nyan Win, who attended the proceedings.

His wife, Betty Yettaw, has said her husband wanted to talk to Suu Kyi as part of his research on forgiveness and resilience.

READ MORE---> Myanmar: Suu Kyi visitor was anti-government plot...

Myanmar looms large over Europe-Asia meeting

By IAN TIMBERLAKE

HANOI (My Sinchew - AFP) - European and Asian foreign ministers meet in Vietnam from Monday with the global financial crisis top of the agenda--but with differences over Myanmar threatening to steal the headlines.

The two-day gathering in the communist state's bustling capital Hanoi comes after official figures showed Europe's economy slipping deeper into trouble, with France, Austria and Romania joining the list of nations in recession.

The picture in Asia is also bleak, with blistering growth in China, India and Vietnam slowing sharply. And this week Japan, the world's second biggest economy, posted its worst contraction on record.

The ASEM (Asia-Europe) Foreign Ministers' Meeting will discuss "measures to overcome the crisis and ways to promote economic cooperation," said Doan Xuan Hung, Deputy Foreign Minister of Vietnam, which will chair the meeting.

Seated around the conference table will be foreign ministers or high-ranking officials from the European Union, the 10-nation Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), China, South Korea, Japan, Mongolia, Pakistan and India.

But the meeting takes place against the background of the ongoing trial of opposition democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi in military-ruled Myanmar, for breaking the conditions of her long-time house arrest.

One diplomat said the Myanmar issue might spark "a lot of discussions on the sidelines" of the ASEM meeting.

An Asian diplomat said that ASEM meetings were often dominated by one issue.

"If you look through the whole process of ASEM, I think both sides want better interaction but they're always hijacked by one issue, which is Myanmar," the diplomat said.

Several Western countries have criticised Myanmar's junta for putting Aung San Suu Kyi on trial and ASEAN this week issued a rare expression of "grave concern."

Myanmar's Southeast Asian neighbours traditionally prefer not to be seen as intervening in the affairs of their members.

Swedish Foreign Minister Carl Bildt said earlier this week that the issue of Myanmar could be addressed at the Hanoi meeting.

"Our relationship with Burma is nearly non-existent and that makes it complicated from this point of view, but we'll have to engage with the other countries in the region. Those are the ones who have a real possibility of influence," he said, using the former name for Myanmar.

Bildt named no countries in particular but his Luxembourg counterpart Jean Asselborn said the European Union must talk in particular to the Chinese "so that they put pressure on" the Myanmar government.

The EU's three-member "Troika" is expected to meet with Myanmar Foreign Minister Nyan Win on the conference sidelines Monday morning, a European diplomat said.

The "Troika" represents the European Union in external relations that fall within the scope of the common foreign and security policy.

There could also be a similar meeting with China, a close Myanmar ally, later on Monday, the diplomat added, unable to say what message would be conveyed to Nyan Win.

Infectious diseases and climate change are also on the preliminary agenda for the meeting, diplomats say.

And South Korea's Foreign Minister Yu Myung-Hwan will use the Hanoi talks to call for international cooperation to ease tension on the Korean peninsula, officials in Seoul said.

But one diplomat described the meeting as more of a "sounding board" than a forum for reaching binding agreements.

Diplomats said there were also expected to be talks about ASEM's expansion to possibly include Australia and Russia.

Senior officials are slated to start talks on Saturday to pave the way for the two-day ministers' forum.

MySinchew 2009.05.22

READ MORE---> Myanmar looms large over Europe-Asia meeting...

Extortion name of the game in Burma's northern Kachin State

By KNG

Each and every order from the Burmese military junta authorities to local administrators is tantamount to extorting money from civilians in different ways in the country's northern Kachin State, said local sources.

Two days ago, military authorities of Kachin State's capital Myitkyina misused orders and demanded money from small roadside family oil shops, goods trucks, unlicensed cars and motorcycles, said residents of Myitkyina.

Police seized oil from roadside shops in Myitkyina, the capital of Kachin State, northern Burma on April 25 and 26.

On Wednesday evening, students pasted "Free Aung San Suu Kyi” posters in the town. Administrators of the regime's Myitkyina Town Peace and Development Council or Ma-Ya-Ka and Town Reserved Fire Fighters were ordered to check the places where the students put up the posters by the regime's Northern Command commander Brig-Gen Soe Win, said local residents.

Soon after receiving the order, they started seizing oil from Tatkone, Shatapru, Du Kahtawng and Yan Gyi Aung quarters. Oil shop owners were made to pay money as fine, said local oil shop owners.

The extortion money is shared among the quarters' administrative offices (Ya-Ya-Ka), town reserved fire fighters and Town Administrative Office (Ma-Ya-Ka), oil shop owners added.

The Town Traffic Police were ordered yesterday by commander Brig-Gen Soe Win to check for what the junta calls "peace destructors", who travel in and out the town. Instead traffic policemen seized dozens of good trucks and unlicensed motorcycles without such an instruction being given, said local eyewitnesses.

An eyewitness said, yesterday he saw over 30 different types of cars and about 50 unlicensed Chinese motorcycles were kept at the Traffic Control Office in the town. All vehicles were entering Myitkyina from Waingmaw Township and were seized at the entrance gate on the edge of Balaminhtin Irrawaddy River Bridge.

Though some goods trucks and pickups have licenses they were seized for carrying Chinese oil, food and construction materials from Laiza, the unofficial border gate and the controlled area of the Kackin Independence Organization on the Sino-Burma border, said sources.

According to goods trucks' owners, they were transporting Chinese goods to Myitkyina by paying about 20,000 Kyat per truck as bribe to the town Traffic Police Office, on each occasion.

The traffic policemen will present the cases of all detained vehicles to the Town Court for a decision on either a fine or confiscation for each vehicle, said the owners.

A resident of Myitkyina told KNG today, that they see the latest seizure of oil and vehicles from civilians for extorting money by the town military authorities. It is a plain act of robbery.

The junta is yet to legalize the Laiza border gate as an official border trade gate. However the people in Kachin State rely on Chinese goods like--- basic food, clothes, plastic material, oil, satellite based wireless landline phones, stationery materials and construction materials imported from Laiza border gate for over a decade now, according to residents.

According to sources close to military authorities of Myitkyina, the regime always chooses Kachin State as the best place of sourcing money whenever it needs to meet the government’s budget and emergency funds.

READ MORE---> Extortion name of the game in Burma's northern Kachin State...

Yettaw visit the work of ‘anti-government elements’

If it was anti-government then why is she being defamed with ridiculous charges?
The regime playing the victim again...


(DVB)–Burma’s foreign minister has suggested that the visit by John Yettaw to Aung San Suu Kyi was engineered by opposition groups in Burma in order to capitalize on the mounting international pressure on the junta.

Speaking to Japan’s Minister for Foreign Affairs yesterday, Nyan Win denied rumours that the incident was the work of the Burmese government, and instead could be the result of work by “external anti-government elements”.

Suu Kyi faces charges of breaching conditions of her house arrest following the intrusion of Yettaw into her compound earlier this month.

Critics of the Burmese regime believe the trial is a pretext to keep Suu Kyi in detention beyond the elections next year, leading to unsubstantiated claims that the government played a hand in the incident.

The conversation between Nyan Win and Japanese FM, Hirofumi Nakasone, was reported today in the state-run New Light of Myanmar newspaper.

“Minister U Nyan Win expressed his opinion that, at a time when US, Japan and European nations are reviewing their policies on Myanmar, it was likely that this incident [was trumped up], to intensify international pressure on Myanmar, by internal and external anti-government elements who do not wish to see the positive changes in those countries’ policies towards Myanmar,” it said.

During the conversation, Nakasone had reportedly expressed concern about how the international community may respond to Suu Kyi’s trial, and urged the Burmese government to address her health conditions.

Suu Kyi was scheduled to be released on 27 May after six consecutive years under house arrest. She has been in detention without trial for more than 13 of the past 19 years.

The motives for Yettaw’s visit remain murky, although he apparently told the courtroom yesterday that he had had a premonition that Suu Kyi would be assassinated.

His wife, Betty Yettaw, has said that he had wanted to interview Suu Kyi as part of a research mission on peace and forgiveness.

Reporting by Francis Wade

READ MORE---> Yettaw visit the work of ‘anti-government elements’...

Sales of state-run newspapers surge during trial

People should buy a cup of tea instead of local newspaper

(DVB)–Government-run newspapers in Burma have reported unusually high sales since the trials of Aung San Suu Kyi and US citizen John Yettaw began on Monday.

News of Yettaw’s visit earlier this month to the house where Suu Kyi has been held under house arrest for the last six years has been closely followed in international media.

Yet the trial has received a muted response in Burma’s state-run newspapers, failing even to make headline news.

This however hasn’t prevented a surge in the number of Burmese people buying the state-run Myanma Ahlin and Kyemon newspapers, particularly on Wednesday when the government allowed journalists and diplomats into the courtroom to observe the hearings.

“Normally, no one really bothers to buy these newspapers but on [Wednesday] they were already sold out [by] the morning,” said a Rangoon resident.

The editor of a news journal in Rangoon reported earlier today that journalists working for private-owned publications, Bi-Weekly and Myanmar Times, were being prevented from publishing detail other than that already being said in government media.

“All the facts included in Bi-Weekly journal’s coverage were the same as the government newspapers, apart from a small difference in writing style and the headline,” said the editor, speaking under condition of anonymity.

“There was nothing new from what was aired on government television MRTV on Wednesday evening.”

Reporting by Naw Noreen

READ MORE---> Sales of state-run newspapers surge during trial...

Burmese Diplomat Suggests Yettaw Could be Suu Kyi’s 'Boyfriend'

NOTE: THIS NEWS SHOULD NOT BE POSTED, BUT IT COULD BE USEFUL IN THE SHORT FUTURE

By YENI
The Irrawaddy News

Burma’s Consul-General in Hong Kong, Ye Myint Aung, who added heat to the Royingya debate by calling Burma’s Muslim minority “ugly as ogres,” has now waded into the controversy over the Aung San Suu Kyi trial—suggesting that the American who swam to her lakeside home could have been her “boyfriend.”

The loose-lipped diplomat raised the possibility in a letter he posted on the consulate’s Web site, according to a report on Friday in the South China Morning Post.


(Soft CLEAR velvet skinned) Burma’s Consul-General in Hong Kong, Ye Myint Aung. (Source: South China Morning Post)

The newspaper carried the text of the letter, which reads: “Dear Friends. Frankly, we have no idea whether he [Yettaw] is either secret agent or her boyfriend at this moment. We shall try to learn it and tell you later.”

The words "secret agent or her boyfriend" are underlined and in bold, in case anyone misses the point. The letter is signed by the “Consulate General of the Union of Myanmar.”

Charges that Burma's democracy leader Suu Kyi breached the terms of her house arrest were lodged against the pro-democracy icon after American John W Yettaw swam across a lake to her house this month.

Suu Kyi's lawyer, Kyi Win, has described Yettaw as a "fool" for giving the junta an excuse to extend the detention of Suu Kyi, who had been due for release this month.

There are also evidently a few fools at work in Burma's Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

READ MORE---> Burmese Diplomat Suggests Yettaw Could be Suu Kyi’s 'Boyfriend'...

Nobel Laureates Call for Arms Embargo on Burma

By ARKAR MOE
The Irrawaddy News

Nine Nobel Peace Prize laureates, led by Archbishop Desmond Tutu and President Oscar Arias of Costa Rica, called on UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon on Monday to impose an arms embargo on the Burmese military junta and urged immediate action against the false imprisonment of fellow Nobel laureate Aung San Suu Kyi.

As prominent members of the PeaceJam foundation, they released a joint statement saying, “We called upon the international community to actively work to implement arms embargoes against the Burmese regime on February 19, 2008. We stand by this appeal and reiterate that call.”

In addition to the call for an arms embargo on the Burmese junta, the PeaceJam members said they were “gravely concerned about the news that Daw Aung San Suu Kyi has been moved to Insein Prison to face criminal charges” and referred to the trial as a “mockery.”

Besides President Arias and Archbishop Tutu, other signatories to the joint statement are Shirin Ebadi, Adolfo Perez Esquivel, Mairead Corrigan Maguire, Rigoberta Menchu Tum, Wangari Mathaai, Betty Williams and Jody Williams.

Shortly after the release of the statement, two more Nobel Peace prize winners—Tibetan spiritual leader the Dalai Lama and East Timor’s José Ramos-Horta— added their names to the PeaceJam petition.

The Nobel laureates also urged the Secretary-General to do everything possible to procure pro-democracy leader Suu Kyi’s immediate and unconditional release. They said they regarded Suu Kyi as an essential partner for dialogue in Burma’s national reconciliation.

The 2008 statement singled out China, Russia, India, Ukraine and Poland as providers of arms to Burma. It said many of the arms used by Burma’s military regime to retain its hold on power have been sold to the regime by foreign governments.

“This is not acceptable—no nation should sell arms to a regime that uses weapons exclusively against its own people,” the statement said.

Amnesty International urged the UN Security Council to impose a comprehensive mandatory arms embargo on Burma in 2007.

Accordingly to its statement in 2007, Burma’s military junta and its security apparatus of 400,000 armed personnel have a well documented record of serious human rights violations, especially against ethnic minority peoples.

The EU and the US imposed arms embargoes on Burma in 1988 and 1993 respectively. In 1996, the EU strengthened its arms embargo on Burma.

Speaking to The Irrawaddy on Monday, Win Min, a Burmese researcher in civil-military relations, said, “For the time being, an arms embargo on Burma is difficult to implement. Even if the Security Council decides to pass it, China and Russia will reject it by wielding their vetoes. However, at least it will isolate China and Russia and put pressure on them.”

On May 5, the All Burma Monks’ Alliance and the 88 Generation Students group, two prominent Burmese dissident groups fighting for democracy and human rights by peaceful means, wrote an open letter to US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton urging the US to consider additional measures against the Burmese regime, including calling for a global arms embargo at the UN Security Council and targeting more regime-affiliated business cronies with financial sanctions and visa bans.

Meanwhile, on May 15, Jeremy Woodrum, the director of the US Campaign for Burma called on President Obama to renew sanctions on the regime and urged him to “immediately pursue a global arms embargo at the UN Security Council, as well as an investigation into crimes against humanity and war crimes committed by Burma's military regime.”

READ MORE---> Nobel Laureates Call for Arms Embargo on Burma...

Burmese journalists restricted in trial reporting

(DVB)–Burmese journalists reporting on the trial of Aung San Suu Kyi are being prevented from publishing detail other than that already being said in government media, according to a journal editor in Rangoon.

On Wednesday, the Burmese government surprised observers by allowing 10 journalists – five from international agencies and five domestic - and around 30 foreign diplomats into the courtroom where Suu Kyi is facing charges of breaching her house arrest.

A news journal editor in Rangoon said that two private-owned media organisations in Burma, Bi-Weekly journal and Myanmar Times, who were among the five domestic publications allowed inside the courtroom faced heavy restrictions in their reporting.

“All the facts included in Bi-Weekly journal’s coverage were the same as the government newspapers, apart from a small difference in writing style and the headline,” said the editor, speaking under condition of anonymity.

“There was nothing new from what was aired on government television MRTV on Wednesday evening.”

All publications in Burma face strict censoring from the government’s Press Scrutiny and Registration Division board.

Articles are often required to be sent to the board for censoring days prior to publication.

The deputy director of exile-based Burma Media Association said the junta’s allowing of foreign and inside news reporters inside Wednesday’s court hearing was merely a trick to convince the international community that press freedom exists in the country.

“[The junta] did it to ease pressure from the international community and to maintain the support they receive from the [Association of Southeast Asian Nations], Russia and China, who have always been backing them,” said Zin Linn.

“That wasn’t a gesture of press freedom but merely their use of the media as a tool to protect their own profit.”

Last year, Paris-based media watchdog Reporters Without Borders ranked Burma 170 out 173 countries in their Press Freedom Index. Journalists in Burma are regularly imprisoned, some with sentences of 20 years.

Reporting by Ahunt Phone Myat

READ MORE---> Burmese journalists restricted in trial reporting...

American in Spotlight at Suu Kyi Trial

The Irrawaddy News

RANGOON (AP)— The middle-aged American man whose nighttime swim to visit democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi may cost her a chance at freedom came into fuzzy focus as a court in Myanmar showed a home movie he allegedly shot at her lakeside residence.

However, few outsiders were able to view the unique video Thursday because the court again closed the proceedings, barring reporters and diplomats after allowing them to attend a single session on Wednesday.

A handout picture taken on May 13, 2009, provided by Myanma News Agency shows US citizen John William Yettaw (C) meeting Colin P. Furst, second secretary (consul) of the US embassy at a police station in Rangoon. (Photo: Reuters/MNA)

The May 3 visit of John W. Yettaw, of Falcon, Missouri, who was not invited to Suu Kyi's lakeside compound, has ensnared her in a legal mess that could sink her chances of ending six years of continuous detention without trial. She has spent more than 13 of the past 19 years locked up because of her opposition to the country's military government.

Suu Kyi, two female members of her party who live with her under house arrest, and the 53-year-old Yettaw are being tried together for violating the conditions of her detention order, which bans visitors without official permission. The offense is punishable by up to five years' imprisonment.

Suu Kyi had been scheduled to be freed May 27, after which the law does not appear to allow her to be held.

The charges against her are widely seen as a pretext for the government to keep her detained through polls it has scheduled for next year as the culmination of a "roadmap to democracy," which has been criticized as a fig leaf for continued military rule.

Suu Kyi's supporters suspect some kind of trickery by the junta was behind Yettaw's intrusion, while his family insists he is a well-meaning admirer who merely wanted to interview her, unaware of the possible consequences.

Suu Kyi's lawyers have said that she told the uninvited guest to leave, but that she allowed him to stay for two days after he pleaded that he was too ill and tired to return across the lake.

The evidence introduced so far at the trial so far raises more questions than answers about Yettaw. Among those not yet explored by the court: How did he make a first visit late last year without being detected by authorities?

On Thursday, the prosecution spent almost two hours showing a video said to have been shot by Yettaw at Suu Kyi's house during his latest visit, according to one of her lawyers, Nyan Win. The video had a voice-over, apparently by Yettaw, which was translated into the Burmese language in the courtroom.

"The video taken by Mr. Yettaw showed the portrait of Gen. Aung San (Burma's independence hero and Suu Kyi's father), a bookshelf and Mr. Yettaw himself standing in front of the portrait of Gen. Aung San.

"He was saying he is now in Yangon (Rangoon), at Aung San Suu Kyi's house and that he asked permission to film Aung San Suu Kyi but she refused. 'She looked nervous and I am sorry for that,' he was saying that, in his video," Nyan Win told reporters.

On Wednesday, 23 objects seized from Suu Kyi's house were presented as evidence, the most striking items being two black cloaks or robes described as being of a type worn by Muslim women, along with scarves to cover the face, two long skirts, and sunglasses.

Clearly implying that they could be used in an escape attempt, the prosecutor asked the police officer who seized the items whether "If a person wears this woman's Muslim dress and sunglasses, will you be able to identify the person?" The officer replied "No."

Yettaw on Wednesday also offered the first public clue to the motive for his actions, suggesting in a courtroom exchange that he had a premonition someone would try to kill the pro-democracy leader, according to Nyan Win, who attended the proceedings.

He asked his lawyer to question a policeman who was testifying whether the officer had been told by Suu Kyi that he said to her, "In my vision, Daw Aung San Suu Kyi will be assassinated, so I came here." The lawyer asked permission to pose that question, but the court declined to allow it.

His wife, Betty Yettaw, has said her husband wanted to talk to Suu Kyi as part of his research on forgiveness and resilience.

"He's a very peace-loving person, well-meaning, forgiving, mild-mannered. He meant the very best for her," she told The Associated Press. She said he had been "somewhat troubled" due to several tragedies in his life, including the death of a teenage son several years ago.

A part-time contractor, he receives veterans' disability payments for injuries suffered many years ago while serving in the US military.

READ MORE---> American in Spotlight at Suu Kyi Trial...

French Aid Group Stops Work for Hmong Refugees

By GRANT PECK / AP WRITER
The Irrawaddy News

BANGKOK — The only aid agency working at a Hmong refugee camp in Thailand said Wednesday it would stop work there because of policies aimed at pressuring members of the ethnic minority to return to Laos, where they could be persecuted.

Medecins Sans Frontieres—the sole aid agency providing assistance to the camp's residents, mostly in the form of medical care and food—says Thailand's policies prevent the group from freely providing humanitarian assistance. The group, also known as Doctors Without Borders, is coordinating with UNICEF to find another nongovernment agency to take over its duties.

Hmong refugees at a Thai detention centre in Nong Khai province near Thai-Laos border. (Photo: AFP)

There are about 5,000 refugees at the camp in northern Thailand from the Hmong minority, whose members fought as US-backed guerrillas in Laos during the Vietnam War. They say that if they return they will be persecuted by the communist government that took power in 1975.

Thai authorities say the Hmong are not legitimate refugees and have entered the country illegally.

"We strongly believe that some people in that camp have credible reason to fear to be returned to Laos," Gilles Isard, the aid group's director in Thailand, said at a news conference in Bangkok. "These people should not be returned to Laos."

The group has called on both governments to halt the Hmong's forced repatriation until an independent third party can review their refugee status claims, a move that has not been allowed so far, Isard said. It has also called for a third party to monitor the repatriation and resettlement of any refugees sent back, he said.

Isard said the Thai army, which runs the Huay Nam Khao camp, "has introduced increasingly restrictive measures with the aim of pressuring the Hmong into dropping their demands for refugee status and returning 'voluntarily' to Laos."

The army has hindered access to the aid group's facilities, including its clinic, and has added checkpoints throughout the camp, intimidating both refugees and workers, he said.

The policies have also put the health refugees at risk, he said, citing the case of a woman who had to be pulled through a barbed wire fence to get to the clinic to give birth. He said another almost died in childbirth because of delays.

Isard said the military has tried several tactics to pressure the refugees to return to their homeland, including asking the group to restrict food handouts and jailing some camp leaders on flimsy pretexts.

"We can no longer work in a camp where the military uses arbitrary imprisonment of influential leaders to pressure refugees into a "voluntary" return to Laos, and forces our patients to pass through military checkpoints to access our medical clinic," Isard said.

READ MORE---> French Aid Group Stops Work for Hmong Refugees...

US Senate Passes Resolution against Junta

By LALIT K JHA
The Irrawaddy News

WASHINGTON — The US Senate on Thursday condemned the trial of Aung San Suu Kyi by the Burmese military government and called for her immediate, unconditional release.

A unanimous resolution passed by the Senate also recognized that the current conditions in the country are not conducive for a credible national election in 2010.

It also urged the US secretary of state to reinvigorate her efforts with regional governments and multilateral organizations, including China, India and Japan along with the Association of Southeast Asian Nations and the United Nations Security Council, to secure the unconditional release of Aung San Suu Kyi and all prisoners of conscience in Burma.

Authored by Sen Judd Gregg, the resolution was cosponsored by senators Dianne Feinstein, Richard Durbin, John McCain, Sam Brownback, Joe Lieberman, Susan Collins, Bob Bennett, Kit Bond and Mitch McConnell.

It was also cosponsored by the chairman and the ranking member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, respectively Sen John Kerry and Sen Richard Lugar.

“This resolution reflects the United States Senate’s unequivocal condemnation of the show trial currently being conducted by Burmese officials against Nobel Peace Prize laureate Aung San Suu Kyi,” Sen McConnell said in a statement.

“It is bad enough that Suu Kyi has been imprisoned for 13 of the past 19 years. Now the Burmese regime, the State Peace and Development Council, has come up with the flimsiest of pretexts to try to detain her further. It appears the Burmese regime will do anything to consolidate its grip on power,” he said.

“One suspects that the regime wants Suu Kyi behind bars at least until elections under its sham constitution are held in 2010,” the senator said.

Meanwhile, Rep Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, a ranking member of the House Committee on Foreign Affairs, in a letter has urged US President Barack Obama to take further steps under the Tom Lantos Burma Jade Act to toughen US policy on the Burmese regime.

She also urged the administration to pursue a global arms embargo on the regime at the UN Security Council, along with an investigation of the crimes against humanity and war crimes committed by the Burmese junta.

Ros-Lehtinen urged Obama to take into consideration the recommendations made by the All Burma Monk's Alliance (ABMA) and the 88 Generation Students, which sent a letter to Secretary Clinton on May 5, 2009, while they were in hiding from authorities. She said the monks represented the authentic voice of the Burmese people.

“The junta’s latest outrageous action of bringing trumped-up charges against Nobel Peace Prize laureate and designated Congressional Gold Medal recipient Aung San Suu Kyi demonstrates that the Burmese military leopard has not changed its spots,” she said in her letter to Obama.

The Obama administration is soon expected to complete a review of the US policy on Burma, even as the United States continued to express its concern over the current situation in the country especially with regard to the ongoing trial of the popular pro-democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi.

A State Department official, speaking to the press, clarified that the review does not mean a new policy would be “softer,” as is being apprehended in certain quarters and also by some law makers.

“Because we are saying that we are reviewing it does not necessarily mean that we are going to be softer. It is just trying different approaches of engagement,” the official said.

In her first visit to Asian countries after becoming secretary of state, Clinton had said that the Obama administration would review its Burma policy and that she believed that current economic sanctions against the military junta has not yielded the desired results.

This had given rise to speculation that the new administration might adopt a softer approach towards the junta. However, the recent statements coming from Clinton and the State Department in the aftermath of the trial of Aung San Suu Kyi do not indicate that will be the case.

During congressional testimony on Wednesday Clinton said that the 2010 elections in Burma could be considered illegitimate and would have no meaning for the international community if the current regime continues on its present path.

Meanwhile, State Department spokesman Ian Kelly renewed the US call on the Burmese authorities to release Aung San Suu Kyi and all of Burma’s more than 2,100 political prisoners immediately and unconditionally.

Clinton is very pro-active in trying to engage all the countries of the region to try to influence the junta to take concrete steps toward national reconciliation, Kelly said.

“We are trying every channel, every diplomatic channel, to try and get the Burmese authorities to release all of these political prisoners and allow a political process that will ensure a democratic and prosperous future for the people of Burma,” he said.

READ MORE---> US Senate Passes Resolution against Junta...

Mizzima UPDATES Day 5 - 22 May 2009

Aung San Suu Kyi to receive 2009 Gandhi award
Friday, 22 May 2009 22:05

Burma’s pro-democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi has been named recipient of Mahatma Gandhi International Award for Peace and Reconciliation.

The award, which will be awarded at a ceremony to be held in Durban, South Africa on July 20, is given to those who inspire young people to make a commitment to non-violence, forgiveness and reconciliation by South Africa’s Gandhi Development Trust.

The award was inaugurated in 2003 to mark the centenary of the Indian Opinion, a newspaper published by Mahatma Gandhi in South Africa.

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Kim Dae Jung donates US $ 10,000 for Suu Ky
Friday, 22 May 2009 20:41

Former South Korean President Kim Dae Jung on Friday donated US $ 10,000 to be used for Aung San Suu Kyi’s political cause during a meeting with Burmese members of Parliament and members of Aung San Suu Kyi’s party in exile at his home in Seoul, the Korean Times reported.

Kim invited the Burmese MPs and members of the Korean Chapter of the NLD-Liberated Area to his house and made the donation, the report said.

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Court accepts charges against Suu Kyi
Friday, 22 May 2009 20:28

The special court in Insein prison on Friday accepted the charges against pro-democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi, who has been accused of breaching her detention law.

The court at about 4:45 p.m. (local time) on Friday, after taking a 45-minute break, declared that the case has been accepted.

Two witnesses were produced and crossed examined on Friday. The court announced that the next hearing is to be held on Monday, May 25.

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Court adjourns for the day
Friday, 22 May 2009 19:28

Lawyers of Aung San Suu Kyi were seen coming out of Insein prison, where her trial is being conducted. Observers said, Friday’s hearing, the fifth day of the trial, took much longer than any other day.

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Irrawaddy NLD youths condemn Suu Kyi's trial
Friday, 22 May 2009 19:25

The National League for Democracy youths in Irrawaddy Division on Friday condemned the trial of party leader Aung San Suu Kyi saying it lacks openness.

In a statement, the youths described Aung San Suu Kyi as a person who needs to play an important role in the national reconciliation process and called on the junta to immediately release her.

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Interview with Naw Ohn Hla
Friday, 22 May 2009 16:03

A strong supporter of Daw Aung San Suu Kyi, Naw Ohn Hla, regularly leads a prayer team to Shwe Dagon Pagoda on Tuesday to pray for her release . She has been regularly waiting outside of the Insein prison, since Aung San Suu Kyi’s trial began on Monday.

Naw Ohn Hla, a former NLD member, in relation to the case expressed her view on the restrictions on the media in covering the case.

“The charge itself is unlawful. The blame is on the government. Though they may write anything in their newspaper, we all understand that they are the ones responsibile. Because all the newspapers and journals only reflect their policy and since they are only allowed to carry whatever the government wants. It is like a propaganda. Because there is no freedom of press and the reports carried in the papers are not like news. And that is because reporters cannot write what they want to write. Since all publications have to go through censorship board, they can filter it.”

“With Daw Aung San Suu Kyi’s case, everybody believes that it is the government’s ploy. And allowing foreign diplomats into the court is also understood to be a way to ease international pressure.”

“Everybody who came today were soaked in the rain. Currently there are about 300 to 400 people getting wet in the rain.”

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Excerpts from junta-run newspaper on Thursday’s trial
Friday, 22 May 2009 15:50

Burma’s state-run newspaper, the New Light of Myanmar on Friday carried a report of the court hearing of the fourth day of Aung San Suu Kyi’s trial on Thursday. A summary of the witnesses reported in the paper is as folows:

During the hearing, witness Police Major Aung Htut Kyaw, in charge of the computer section of the overseas division, produced a Canon camera and six memory cards, containing 331 photographs and one video file filmed by Mr. John William Yettaw himself in Daw Aung San Suu Kyi’s house, the paper said.

“The video file and photographs showed flippers, different stages of using the flippers, Mr John William Yettaw trying them on, Mr John William Yettaw in disguise, in the downstairs sitting-room of the house and pictures there, and his photographs taken by himself on his arrival at Daw Aung San Suu Kyi’s house at night. Police Major Aung Htut Kyaw showed the photographs with the help of a computer,” the paper said.

“In the video file, Mr. John William Yettaw said that he was in Daw Aung San Suu Kyi’s house and asked for her permission to take her photographs and to upload them on the YouTube website; that he thought she refused because she was frightened; that he had caused her a lot of trouble on 30 November 2008; that he left his family behind; that he believed God was with him and protects him; that he admired Daw Aung San Suu Kyi; that he did not blame her for not allowing him to take her photographs; that she would have to face lots of hardships in future; that he prayed that he might be able to help her; that he spent the previous night at the house; that today was 6 May; that he had been hoping the whole night to go back to Thailand; that he felt delighted and proud of staying there,” the paper said.

Testimony of witness Police Captain Tin Zaw Tun :

The paper said witness Police Captain Tin Zaw Tun testified that he had asked Daw Aung San Suu Kyi to put on a woman’s dress and took photographs of her. He was crossed examined by Nyan Win, counsel of Daw Aung San Suu Kyi.

Police Captain Tin Zaw Tun said he had arrived in Daw Aung San Suu Kyi’s residence on May 7, 7:20 a.m. (local time) to seize the items that John William Yettaw had left and to investigate his entry into the house. He asked Daw Khin Khin Win and Daw Win Ma Ma, the two women who live with Aung San Suu Kyi, to wear chadors and took photographs.

In response to John William Yettaw’s lawyer Khin Maung Oo, Tin Zaw Tun said that the reason he could say the two sets of clothes were the chadors of Muslim women was that they were usually worn by Muslim women; and that Daw Aung San Suu Kyi said the chadors were just given to her as a present, the paper said.

The paper also said Hla Myo Myint, lawyer of Daw Khin Khin Win and Daw Win Ma Ma, crossed examined Tin Zaw Tun on the security situation in Daw Aung San Suu Kyi’s residence. Though it mentioned that separate units take responsibility for the main security of the area, it was not clear how it actually works.

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Observer’s view on the situation near Insein prison
Friday, 22 May 2009 13:57

“The defense counsels have entered the prison at 10 a.m. I do not see anyone coming from the US embassy. But security is tight. There are plainclothes security officials and police vehicles. There are also prison vans. It is still raining. It rained earlier this morning and it is raining again.”

“Women's groups of the NLD have also come. Rangoon division NLD members have also joined in. And there are a lot of youths too.”

“U Win Tin has been here all morning. He just left a while ago. He said he has a meeting. I am not sure if he will come back. The meeting could be long.”

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Burmese Consul posts denigrating comment on Suu Kyi
Friday, 22 May 2009 13:11

The Burmese Consul General in Hong Kong on Friday posted a denigrating online message suggesting that the US citizen caught visiting Aung San Suu Kyi might have been her “boy friend”.

The message, titled ‘Secret Agent or “Boy friend”?’ posted on the consulate’s website and signed by the Consul General for Hong Kong and Macau SAR said, they have received a number of inquiries about an American man, who swam across Innya Lake and visited Aung San Suu Kyi.

In reply to the queries, the message said, “Dear Friends, Frankly, we have no idea whether he is either a secret agent or her boy friend at this moment. We shall try to learn it and tell you later.”

The Burmese Consul-General in Hong Kong earlier in January have also circulated a mocking message among diplomats on the issue of Rohingya boatpeople calling them “Ugly as Ogres” and rejecting their nationalities as Burmese.

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Interview with Aye Thar Aung
Friday, 22 May 2009 12:57

“I have arrived near the Insein prison where the security has put up barricades. Right now I am standing in front of the Insein Bazaar, and I think I am about 50 metres from the entrance to the prison. The court is about another 50 metres from the entrance.”

“U Win Tin has left, as he has a meeting. There are several other people along with me. I arrived here at about 11 a.m (local time).”

“People just come here and sit and wait to show their solidarity. There are about three police vehicles that I can see. They are parked on the other side of the road. There is also a prison van. Security personnel are seen around the Insein Bazaar.”

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Aye Thar Aung, Secretary of CRPP arrives outside Insein jail
Friday, 22 May 2009 12:29

An observer said, Aye Thar Aung, Secretary of the Committee Representing Peoples’ Parliament, an alliance of several political parties, arrived in front of Insein Bazaar to show solidarity to Aung San Suu Kyi, who is currently facing trial for the fifth-day in a court in Insein jail.

It has been raining Incessantly in Rangoon, and security has been beefed up around the Insein prison. There are about four police vehicles along with three prison vans stationed outside, the observer said.

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UNESCO writes to Snr. Gen Than Shwe on Suu Kyi’s trial
Friday, 22 May 2009 12:06

The head of UN Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) on May 20 sent a letter to Burmese Army Chief Snr. Gen Than Shwe urging him to release Aung San Suu Kyi unconditionally.

The UNESCO Director-General Koïchiro Matsuura, in his letter, said the charges and trial against Aung San Suu Kyi in Insein prison court are unacceptable.

Matsuura underscored the point that Aung San Suu Kyi has to play a very important role in Burma’s national reconciliation process.

Matsuura also expressed his concern over the trial that Aung San Suu Kyi stands weeks before her house arrest term expires.

Aung San Suu Kyi is a recipient of the 2002 UNESCO Madanjeet Singh Prize for the Promotion of Tolerance and Non-Violence.

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Fire breaks out in San Chuang
Friday, 22 May 2009 11:28

A fire broke out for a brief period in a fuel shop in Rangoon’s San Chuang Township on Friday morning. The fire was noticed at about 9:30 a.m. (local time) and started from a candle lit over a can of tar. Neighbours rushed to the spot and extinguished the fire, which burnt for about 15 minutes.

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Ban Ki-moon to visit Burma soon
Friday, 22 May 2009 11:25

United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon said he will visit Burma as soon as possible to press for the release of Nobel Peace Laureate Aung San Suu Kyi, who is currently facing trial, and other political prisoners.

Ban, in an interview with CNN, said “I am deeply concerned about what has been happening in Myanmar [Burma] in terms of democratization and I am going to urge the junta again to release political prisoners including Aung San Suu Kyi.”

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Do you know Yettaw?
Friday, 22 May 2009 11:23

John William Yettaw, an American citizen, visited the residence of Burma’s pro-democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi just weeks before she was about to complet six years of house arrest.

Following Yettaw’s visit, the Burmese military regime filed a lawsuit against Aung San Suu Kyi, charging her for violating her detention law by receiving a guest and providing him meals. Friday is the fifth day of her trial, which is being held in a special court inside the notorious Insein prison behind closed doors.

However, Yettaw's details, a character in the world famous case, is little known to the people. According to news reports Yettaw is said to be writing a ‘faith-based’ book on heroism and he had travelled earlier to Thailand and met some opposition groups who are supporters of Aung San Suu Kyi.

The 53-year old American is also said to have arrived in Rangoon on May 2, and the following day made makeshift flippers from a pair of sandals and used them and floating aids he mad, to swim one mile across Innya Lake to reach Aung San Suu Kyi’s lakeside home.

When he arrived he was asked to leave but he claimed that he was too exhausted from the swim and ended up sleeping on the ground floor of the house. He apparently also stayed a second night and then swam back across the lake, but was arrested by authorities on his way back.

The incident occurred at a time when Aung San Suu Kyi’s house arrest term was about to expire, according to the junta’s accepted law.

Reports said Yettaw is a resident of Falcon, Missouri in the United States.

If you have personally met him earlier or known him, we would appreciate it if you send us more information about him in the following email addresses – mizzima@mizzima.com This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it , editor@mizzima.com

Source:

READ MORE---> Mizzima UPDATES Day 5 - 22 May 2009...

Aung San Suu Kyi in Junta’s Kangaroo Court

By Sai Wansai

The Strategy of One Step Forward, Two Steps Backward

(Shanland) -And so we are back to square one. The Burmese junta on Thursday decided to close the door of its court room, where its conspiracy-ridden, ongoing trial of Aung San Suu Kyi has been taking place.

The court, which is located within the notorious Insein prison compound, allowed 29 diplomats and 10 reporters to have a glimpse of its court proceeding to show that the democracy icon is well treated, whom it has put under house arrest for the most part of her 19 years stay in Burma.

According to Debbie Stothard, co-ordinator of the regional rights network Alternative ASEAN Network on Burma, said 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."

Sai Wansai

"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."

Either way, it is just a kangaroo court and any amount of show on courtroom trappings of the trial will in no way change the nature of its conspiracy and likely outcome, synonymous to the junta’s preconceived idea of continued detention of Aung San Suu Kyi for as long as it is necessary.

When the British ambassador to Burma, Mark Canning, who observed the trial on Wednesday afternoon said, “I think this is a story where the conclusion is already scripted. I don't have any confidence in the outcome", he might be pinpointing the fact that the “show trial” is, in fact, only credible as a “kangaroo court”.

The whole episode actually stinks and is deeply flawed, substantively and procedurally .

Just consider that John Yettaw had once entered into her compound many months ago. The incidence was reported to the junta but it chose not to take any action, at that time . In fact, the potential security problems should have been taken care of to avoid any such future breaking in. One wonders, why the junta having full knowledge of John Yettaw’s intention would allow him to re-enter the country and let him repeat the break in again, if it is not facilitating or permitting this fishy scheme to take place, so that it could lock up Aung San Suu Kyi for some more years.

The Irrawaddy reported, according to Aung San Suu Kyi’s Washington-based counsel Jared Genser, procedurally, the conduct of the trial has been deeply flawed.

Problems with the trial include, failing to allow Suu Kyi her choice of counsel by revoking the law licence of Aung Thein; failing to provide adequate time for the defense to prepare for a trial; 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; failing to provide Suu Kyi a presumption of innocence; and 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.

In fact, this kind of kangaroo trial scenario has been played out again and again within Burma’s political landscape.

According to Assistance Association for Political Prisoners (Burma), the latest political prisoners count is 2156.

The junta has relentlessly used its draconian “security laws” and sham legal proceedings to charge, prosecute, and sentence to prison terms pro-democracy activists and politicians. The most absurd part of such proceedings have been to dole out ludicrous prison sentences ranging from 79 to 106 years.

Shan Herald Agency for News (SHAN) reported on 28 September 2008, that Shan national leaders were charged with treason and defamation of the state, among others.

The case in point is that kangaroo court proceeding is very real and in no way confined to just politicians and democracy activists. In non-Burman ethnic areas, sexual violence, forced displacements, torture, and extrajudicial killings are happening day in and day out, without a slightest hint of ending anytime soon. The tragedy about being indigenous in non-Burman ethnic areas is that the occupying Burma army don’t even need to justify its human rights abuses and wanton-killings by holding a kangaroo trail. It is enough to be suspected of belonging or abetting the armed resistance movements to fall prey to the occupying Burma army. It is as simple as that.

Finally, the junta has been quite well-versed in soothing the hostile international mood by giving in or drawing back a bit to stave off pressures. It has used the same tactics during the Saffron uprising and later the aftermath of cyclone Nargis. Thus, the recent Aung San Suu Kyi’s conspiracy trial is also nothing more than a one step forward, two steps backward move of the junta. Nothing more and nothing less.

Sai Wansai is the General Secretary of the exiled Shan Democratic Union - Editor

READ MORE---> Aung San Suu Kyi in Junta’s Kangaroo Court...

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