Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Tension between junta and KIO; DVB TV aired on KIO TV

Written by KNG

Growing tension between the Kachin Independence Organization (KIO) and the Burmese ruling junta was evident at the surprise airing of the Norway-based Democratic Voice of Burma Television also called DVB TV, which is pro-democracy, on the Kachin ceasefire group controlled TV in Burma's northern Kachin State, said local sources.

Laiza TV, run by the KIO has included the DVB TV channel in the KIO's HQ Laiza Muklum on the orders of Maj-Gen Gunhtang Gam Shawng, Chief of Staff of the Kachin Independence Army (KIA) and the armed wing of KIO since May 10, said residents in Laiza.

After the KIA was officially informed to transform to a battalion of the "Border Security Force" by the junta's Northern Command commander Brig-Gen Soe Win on April 28 in Myitkyina, the capital of Kachin State, the DVB TV has been ordered to be aired on Laiza TV.

In the past, the airing of DVB TV was banned on Laiza TV by KIO senior leaders because they (not) supported the junta’s National Convention and Referendum on the country's new constitution. It was felt that the DVB TV would harm the relation between the KIO and the junta, said KIO officials in Laiza.

The DVB TV channel is one of a total of 35 different TV channels on Laiza TV including the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC), Central China Television (CCTV), the Burmese junta-run televisions. The DVB TV is included in the top ten most favourite channels of subscribers, said local subscribers.

Laiza TV also telecasts news about KIO and KIA every evening and night between 4 p.m. and 8 p.m., according to subscribers.

At the moment, Laiza TV has over 700 subscribers and they are mainly KIO/A residents, ordinary civilian residents and guest subscribers, said Laiza TV authorities. The monthly service fee for Laiza Cable TV is 25 Chinese Yuan (US $3.7) per TV, added subscribers.

The Laiza TV began to broadcast in 2004 and the first time, the TV programmes are aired by TV aerials, said residents of Laiza.

Meanwhile, the KIO leaders are trying to form a "Peace Mediator Group" in order to negotiate the transformation of its armed wing KIA with the ruling junta, said KIO leaders.

At the same time, the KIO Central Committee is receiving many letters of suggestion, advice and opinion and comments from Kachins from both Burma and around the world expressing disagreement on the proposal to transform KIA to a "Border Security Force," according to KIO sources.

KIO leaders have promised that they will listen to the Kachin people's suggestion regarding the transformation of KIA ordered by the Burmese junta.

READ MORE---> Tension between junta and KIO; DVB TV aired on KIO TV...

Frequency of rape by Burmese army appalls researchers

(DVB)–Rape of women by Burmese soldiers in Kachin state is common, and could be part of a campaign of ethnic cleansing by the Burmese army, a group investigating human rights abuses in northern Burma has found.

Despite a ceasefire agreement in 1994 between the Burmese army and the Kachin Independence Organisation (KIO), human rights violations remain very serious, said Christian Solidarity Worldwide (CSW) who recently conducted a three-week research trip in Kachin state.

“We heard many stories of land confiscation, religious discrimination, human trafficking and various other violations,” said Benedict Rogers, South Asia’s Advocacy Officer for CSW.

Rogers was particularly appalled by the frequency of rape. In the CSW report, a Kachin claims that Burmese army soldiers raping Kachin women is a deliberate policy aimed at “mixing blood”, designed to achieve “ethnic cleansing”, although the report acknowledge the difficulty in verifying this accusation.

Earlier this month, however, a group of British MPs urged the United Nations to investigate “a campaign of ethnic cleansing Burma’s military regime is carrying out against its ethnic nationalities,” including use of “rape as a weapon of war”.

The report highlighted the impunity which the Burmese army can operate under, documenting cases of rape and human trafficking that went ignored by authorities.

“We met for example a 21-year-old woman who had been raped just a few months ago. She had been getting off a train on her way to her village to visit her mother,” he said.

“Two soldiers had approached her, raped her and then strangled her and left her for dead.”

Like many others, she has filed complaints to the authorities but the perpetrators have not been punished.

Another threat to Kachin women is human trafficking. The report states that since 2006, there have been 138 documented cases of human trafficking in Kachin state.

The cases have primarily involved women between the ages of fifteen and 30 years who are usually trafficked to China and sold as wives to local men. Many of them have been sold multiple times.

The tense situation in Kachin state has been compounded since the Burmese regime asked the KIO to disarm and turn into border guards, which the KIO seem unlikely to accept, say CSW.

Reporting by Rosalie Smith

READ MORE---> Frequency of rape by Burmese army appalls researchers...

Aung San Suu Kyi’s house arrest lifted

by Mungpi

New Delhi (Mizzima) - Burma’s military authorities on Tuesday lifted the house arrest order of opposition leader Daw Aung San Suu Kyi, her lawyer said. But she remains under detention inside Rangoon’s notorious Insein Prison, where she is facing trial on charges of breaching her terms of detention.

One of her lawyers, Nyan Win, told Mizzima that Police Brigadier General Myo Thein, along with Burma’s Police Chief Khin Yi, on Tuesday morning read out an order removing restrictions imposed on Aung San Suu Kyi under her former sentence of house arrest.

“It implies that Daw Aung San Suu Kyi is no more under house arrest, but she remains under detention as she is currently facing a trial,” Nyan Win explained.

Myo Thein also told foreign diplomats and journalists that authorities had been thinking of releasing Aung San Suu Kyi when her current term of detention expires on May 27, but the American’s visit had interrupted their considerations.

Khin Yi and Myo Thein said authorities had considered releasing her even though her detention period could still be extended for another six months. However, they did not cite any legal reasons for why her house arrest could have been extended.

Aung San Suu Kyi’s International Lawyer, Jared Genser, was outraged at the news, saying no legal grounds – both by international and domestic law – can allow the extension of her detention.

Genser, in an email message, said the junta’s claim has already been considered and rejected by the United Nations Working Group on Arbitrary Detention, which is part of the U.N. Human Rights Council.

Genser said Daw Aung San Suu Kyi cannot be legally placed under further house arrest. He cited the U.N. Working Group on Arbitrary Detention’s opinion issued on the holding of the Burmese pro-democracy leader. (JEG's: this is why the new drama...)

The opinion, issued by the Working Group on August 29, 2008, states that Burma’s 1975 State Protection Law allowed Aung San Suu Kyi to be detained only until May 2008.

“Therefore, the most recent extension on 28 May, 2008, amounts to a prima facie violation of the Union of Myanmar’s own laws,” the opinion read.

And even if the junta claims that the order to restrict her was issued only on November 28, 2003, she could only be detained up to November 27, 2008, the opinion stated.

Court Testimony

Aung San Suu Kyi on Tuesday gave her testimony to the court, stating that she had not invited and had not known of the visit of John William Yettaw until she was informed of his presence by her housemate, Khin Khin Win, on May 4.

The Nobel Peace Laureate also said she had given Yettaw temporary refuge as he pleaded with her to allow him to stay. She also admitted providing food.

Further, she confirmed she had not informed the police after Yettaw left her home, saying that her political convictions did not allow her to push Yettaw into danger by informing the police about his visit.

“Aung San Suu Kyi said that by herself and her friends facing restrictions, and not receiving protection under the law, her political convictions could not allow any other person to be put in danger,” Nyan Win, one of her lawyers, recounted of her testimony.

Nyan Win said the court on Tuesday did not allow for any cross examination of Aung San Suu Kyi, the judge only reading out questions to which she gave short but precise answers.

Nyan Win also said the judge on Monday refused to allow him a meeting with his client to prepare for Tuesday’s testimony.

The court has fixed the next hearing to be on Wednesday, but Nyan Win said it will only be concerned with the cases against Khin Khin Win, Win Ma Ma and Yettaw. Aung San Suu Kyi is not slated to appear again until Thursday.

“I think at this rate the trial could be over within days. It might take only about another three or four days,” said Nyan Win, adding that the verdict could probably already have been given to the judge.

“But if the court reaches a verdict and sentences her, we will move to higher courts for appeal and will continue fighting,” he added.

‘Half-open’ court again

Authorities for the second time on Tuesday allowed 25 journalists – 15 correspondents for foreign media outlets and 10 domestic correspondents – along with 29 diplomats into the court to witness the proceedings against Burma’s pro-democracy leader.

They were also given a press briefing by Police Brigadier General Myo Thein, where Police Chief Khin Yi was also present.

A correspondent for a foreign news service in Rangoon told Mizzima that the junta probably wants to signal to the world that they are not restricting journalists and diplomats to hear the testimony of Aung San Suu Kyi and wants to prove they are conducting an open court.

“But what an open court it is? I don’t understand,” he said.

Last Wednesday authorities had allowed 10 journalists and 30 foreign diplomats into the special court in Insein Prison. Kyi Win, a member of Aung San Suu Kyi’s legal team, said they welcomed the move but would like to see the trial be even more open.

He termed the court “a half-open court” and urged the government to open up more.

But the following day, Thursday, the court was again conducted behind closed-doors, with no other people present except those directly involved in the case – judges, legal advisors and security officials.

READ MORE---> Aung San Suu Kyi’s house arrest lifted...

Asem Foreign Ministers Issue Statement on Suu Kyi


Asian and European Union foreign ministers concluded a two-day meeting in Hanoi on Tuesday with a statement calling on Burma’s junta to release detained political prisoners, as international pressure mounts on the regime over its trial and detention of democracy icon Aung San Suu Kyi.

“In light of the concern about the recent developments relating to Daw Aung San Suu Kyi, ministers ... called for the early release of those under detention and the lifting of restrictions placed on political parties,” said the chair’s statement issued at the end of the annual Asia-Europe Meeting (Asem) of foreign ministers from the two regions.

Asem groups the ten-member Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean) with the EU, China, South Korea, Japan, Mongolia, Pakistan and India. Burma is a member of Asean.

According to reports from Hanoi, the statement also reaffirmed the “sovereignty and territorial integrity of Myanmar [Burma]” and stated that the “future of Myanmar lies in the hands of all its people.”

In their statement, the foreign ministers called on Burma to prepare for and conduct elections scheduled for next year “in a free and fair manner.”

They also encouraged the government to engage “all stakeholders in an inclusive process in order to achieve national reconciliation and economic and social development,” and called on the international community to increase humanitarian assistance to Burma.

The statement came a day after Burmese Foreign Minister Nyan Win met with his counterparts from Sweden, the Czech Republic and Japan.

Czech Foreign Minister Jan Kohout, whose country holds the rotating chair of the EU, pressed for Suu Kyi’s release in his talks with Nyan Win.

Japanese Foreign Minister Hirofumi Nakasone also raised the issue of Suu Kyi’s treatment during the meeting.

According to a Japanese foreign ministry spokesperson, Nakasone stressed that this is “a very important period for Myanmar’s democratization” and that the junta should “respond in an appropriate manner to the voices of the international community.”

Nyan Win declined to make any comment.

The Burma issue will be at the top of the agenda of the Asean-EU meeting in Phnom Penh on Wednesday and Thursday.

The Asem foreign ministers also condemned North Korea’s second nuclear test, urging Pyongyang to refrain from future tests and calling on the country to return to the Six-Party Talks process.

READ MORE---> Asem Foreign Ministers Issue Statement on Suu Kyi...

Asean Tiptoes toward Statement on Suu Kyi Trial

The Irrawaddy News

Further action is expected from the leaders of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean) against the Burmese regime over the trial of opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi.

Burma observers and regional activists believe that Asean is not doing enough in rebuking the Burmese junta, while the Western world has taken a strong stance and has been very vocal in its criticism of the Burmese junta’s appalling human rights record and its recent move to convict the Nobel Peace Prize laureate.

On Tuesday, Asean released a short statement saying that Thailand, in its capacity as the current Asean Chairman “shall continue to pursue constructive dialogue with the Government of the Union of Myanmar [Burma].”

Beyond that, the statement offered no condemnation or criticism of the Burmese military regime nor mentioned the trial of democracy icon Suu Kyi, which is widely seen as a farce.

Speaking to The Irrawaddy after the Asean statement was released, Debbie Stothard, the coordinator of the Alternative Asean Network (Altsean), said, “We hope [Asean Secretary-General] Dr Pitsuwan will be working more actively to generate political will among Asean leaders; for Asean to be a genuine vehicle of change. And it should start with Burma.”

Roshan Jason, the executive director of a regional rights group known as the Asean Inter-Parliamentary Myanmar Caucus (AIPMC), said that it is necessary that the nine Asean leaders—excluding Burma—come out together with a collective agreement to address what is happening with Suu Kyi.

Jason said that an emergency meeting regarding Suu Kyi’s case among Asean leaders—facilitated by Surin Pitsuwan—is also needed, adding that Asean leaders should not only release “statements of concern,” but also take action.

AIPMC released a statement on Tuesday urging Asean to suspend Burma’s membership in the regional bloc if the Burmese regime continues to detain the pro-democracy leader.

The statement said although several Asean states had expressed their deep concern over the detention of Suu Kyi and other political prisoners, Asean leaders have failed to take the measures necessary to force the junta to end human rights abuses.

The statement urged Asean to assume its responsibility by supporting, if not calling for, decisive measures—for instance, an international commission of inquiry into the widely documented crimes against humanity allegedly committed by the junta.

“Change cannot be achieved in Burma if Asean’s current positions and policies remain. Asean cannot afford patience any longer,” said the statement.

On Tuesday, Lim Kit Siang, the parliamentary leader of the Democratic Action Party in Malaysia, said: “I will call on Surin Pitsuwan to take a stronger stand. He will of course have to consult actively with [Asean] and use his experience to persuade Asean leaders to take a stronger stand in keeping with the regional and international expectations.”

Meanwhile, Thai Foreign Minister Kasit Piromya said at an Asia-Europe Meeting (Asem) in Hanoi that the release of Suu Kyi and all political prisoners in Burma was significant for national reconciliation and a general election in 2010.

The EU used the Asem in Hanoi to call for the "immediate release" of Suu Kyi. The message was conveyed to Burmese Foreign Minister Nyan Win on the sidelines of the meeting, Czech Foreign Minister and EU senior official Jan Kohout said.

READ MORE---> Asean Tiptoes toward Statement on Suu Kyi Trial...

UN Receives Petition with 600,000 Signatures

The Irrawaddy News

A petition with 600,000 signatures in support of the release of all political prisoners in Burma has been sent to UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, accordingly to the Campaign Committee of the Free Burma’s Political Prisoners (CCFBPP).

The signatures were gathered from more than 150 countries and by more than 200 groups in support of Burma over a 10-week period.

The CCFBPP held a press conference in Bangkok on Tuesday to announce the petition, on this the seventh day of the trial of pro-democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi by the Burmese military government.

International condemnation of the trial has been widespread, including unprecedented criticism from the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean).

The petition campaign has been led by the Assistance Association for Political Prisoners (Burma) (AAPP) and the Forum for Democracy in Burma, representing former political prisoners and pro-democracy activists.

Since October 2008, more than 350 Burmese political activists have been sentenced to harsh sentences of up to 104 years. Burma now has 2,100 political prisoners, according to the AAPP.

Bo Kyi, a co-founder and joint-secretary of the AAPP, said, “We intend to urge the secretary-general to take more measures in the Security Council. It’s time for the international community and for the Burmese people to demand more from the UN.”

A broad-based consortium of Burmese exiles and solidarity groups around the world worked to secure the petition signatures, including Avaaz, an online community of activists.

Avaaz executive director Ricken Patel said, "Aung San Suu Kyi is Burma's Nelson Mandela. The UN secretary-general must insist that her release be the condition for any further international engagement with the Burmese junta."

Since the campaign launched on March 13, commemorating Burma's Human Rights Day, one person has signed the petition every 10 seconds.

READ MORE---> UN Receives Petition with 600,000 Signatures...

South Africa Urges Burma to Adopt Civilian Rule

The Irrawaddy News

The South African government has called on the Burmese military regime to release opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi, saying it wants to see Burma adopt civilian rule under a democratic multiparty system.

The South African stand was delivered by Deputy Minister of International Relations and Cooperation Ebrahim Ebrahim at a meeting on Monday with Burma’s ambassador designate to Pretoria, Tin Oo Lwin.

Ebrahim said South Africa was ready to assist Burma in a transition to democracy, and he proposed the dispatch to Burma of a delegation tasked with facilitating “a negotiation process among the various political parties."

Ebrahim’s department issued a statement on Friday expressing the South African government’s grave concern at the arrest and trial of Suu Kyi.

The statement called for a free, fair and all-inclusive general election in 2010. It urged the Burmese regime to free all political prisoners, including Suu Kyi, to allow them to participate in the electoral process.

“The South African government reiterates its position that the solution to the current challenges facing the people of Burma lies in a negotiated political solution between the government and the opposition, culminating in an all-inclusive free and fair elections,” the statement said.

South Africa was one of the few countries at the UN which voted in January 2007 against an attempt initiated by the US and Britain to raise the Burma issue before the UN Security Council. China and Russia, Security Council permanent members, used their veto powers to block the attempt.

Suu Kyi is a popular figure in South Africa, and her fate has often been likened to Nelson Mandela’s. The South African freedom fighter served many years in prison before the repressive policy of apartheid was abandoned and he became the country’s first black president.

This year, South Africa’s Mahatma Gandhi Foundation awarded its Mahatma Gandhi International Award for Peace and Justice to Suu Kyi.

READ MORE---> South Africa Urges Burma to Adopt Civilian Rule...

Suu Kyi Tells Rangoon Court She’s Innocent


Burmese pro-democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi testified for the first time at her trial on Tuesday, denying that she had violated any law by giving shelter to John William Yettaw, who is being tried in the same court.

Reporters and diplomats were again allowed to attend the trial, after witnessing one afternoon session last week. They said that when a judge asked her whether she had breached the terms of her house arrest by allowing Yettaw to stay for two nights at her Rangoon lakeside home, she replied: “I didn’t violate any law.”

A Buddhist monk, center, stands next to riot police officers at a checkpoint on a road to the main entrance of Insein Prison where the trial of detained pro-democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi is ongoing. (Photo: AP)

Suu Kyi presented to the court a letter she had written, explaining why she felt she had not broken any law, according to her lawyer, Nyan Win, who also is a spokesperson of Suu Kyi’s National League for Democracy.

"She claimed in her letter she did not commit any crime because she was detained by security forces tightly,” Nyan Win told The Irrawaddy. “If the security had been proper, the American would not have got here."

Suu Kyi said one of her two women companions alerted her at 5 a.m. On May 3 that Yettaw had entered the property.

"I allowed him to have temporary shelter," Suu Kyi said when asked about charges that she had given Yettaw food and allowed him to stay.

"I did not inform them," she said when asked by the judge whether she had told security authorities about the intrusion. No security personnel had been inside her residence during Yettaw’s stay, she said.

Suu Kyi said Yettaw left at 11:45 p.m. On May 5. "I only knew that he went to the lakeside. I did not know which way he went because it was dark," she said.

Asked about police evidence that books and other items belonging to Yettaw—including a video camera, black Muslim robes, stockings and dark glasses—had been found in her home, Suu Kyi said: “Yettaw himself would know rather than me.”

One newsman said 10 journalists from local journals, 15 reporters from Rangoon- based foreign media and 19 diplomats were allowed to attend Tuesday’s proceedings in the Insein Prison courtroom.

He said they all rose to their feet as a sign of respect when Suu Kyi entered the court room, remaining standing even when a policeman indicated they should sit. They only sat down after Suu Kyi had taken her seat after she finished a discussion with her lawyers.

Suu Kyi and her lawyers left after her testimony, and the court continued in closed session, resuming the case against Yettaw. Reporters and diplomats were barred.

Yettaw is on trial for immigration violations and for breaching municipal sanitation codes by swimming in the lake. He faces a possible sentence of six years imprisonment.

The court accepted on Friday the prosecution’s charge that Suu Kyi’s had violated the terms of her house arrest by allowing Yettaw to stay at her home.

READ MORE---> Suu Kyi Tells Rangoon Court She’s Innocent...

Thailand reacts to Burma anger

(DVB)–Thailand insisted it had its neighbour’s best intentions at heart following Burma’s outrage at a statement released by Thailand that expressed “grave concern” over the trial of Aung San Suu Kyi.

On Sunday, the state mouthpiece New Light of Myanmar newspaper published an article rejecting the statement, made on behalf of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), of which Thailand is the current chair.

The statement, it said, was “not in conformity with ASEAN practice, incorrect in facts, [and] interfering in the internal affairs of Myanmar”.

Burma also said that “consensus” on the statement should have been reached before it was issued.

It was a rare rebuke for Thailand, who maintains close ties to Burma’s ruling junta, and has repeatedly shunned pressure to implement sanctions on Burma.

Thailand reacted today by issuing a press release emphasizing that it was an ASEAN Chairman’s statement, rather than a Joint ASEAN Statement, and therefore did not require joint drafting by ASEAN leaders.

“[It] was issued with the best of intentions towards Myanmar and reflects the desire for the process of national reconciliation in Myanmar to move forward on the basis of inclusiveness, with the participation of all sectors of society,” the press release said.

The ASEAN bloc, whose members maintain a policy of non-interference in external affairs, has been criticised for not taking stronger action on the trial of Aung San Suu Kyi.

Thai MP, Kraisak Choonhavan, who also heads the ASEAN Inter-Parliamentary Myanmar Caucus, said yesterday that the situation in Burma, in light of Suu Kyi’s trial, now justified foreign intervention.

“It would be very difficult to arrive at that, but now there is a movement of those who want to protect the people of Burma by bringing the International Criminal Court (ICC) into play,” he said.

“If they [ICC] are in their right mind and they go through the facts, there is no denying that [junta leader] Than Shwe and his cronies should be persecuted at the ICC.”

Reporting by Francis Wade

READ MORE---> Thailand reacts to Burma anger...

Official: Burma Had Planned to Release Suu Kyi

The Irrawaddy News

RANGOON (AP)— Burma considered releasing pro-democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi from house arrest this week, but canceled the decision after an American stayed at her house in violation of the country's security law, a top police official said Tuesday.

Suu Kyi was expected to testify Tuesday in a trial that observers say the military government is trying to wrap up quickly. She is widely expected to be found guilty, and faces up to five years in prison.

Brig-Gen Myint Thein told reporters and diplomats that authorities had been talking of releasing the 63-year-old Nobel Peace Prize laureate Wednesday from nearly six years of house arrest on "humanitarian grounds and because she is the daughter of the country's founder Aung San."

But earlier this month, Thein said the "unexpected incident of the intrusion of the American happened."

Suu Kyi has been charged with violating conditions of her house arrest by sheltering John W. Yettaw at her home, communicating with him and providing him food. Yettaw, 53, swam across a lake to her residence earlier this month, but Suu Kyi's lawyers say she did not invite him and asked him to leave.

She pleaded not guilty Friday, but Burma's courts operate under the influence of the ruling military, and almost always deal harshly with political dissidents. Two women assistants who live with her, and Yettaw, also pleaded not guilty to the same charge.

Reporters and diplomats were allowed into the courtroom for Tuesday's session, the second time during the trial that such rare access has been granted.

The charges against Suu Kyi are widely seen as a pretext for the government to keep her detained during elections 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.

Prosecutors Monday withdrew nine remaining witnesses, paving the way for Suu Kyi to testify Tuesday.

Nyan Win, one of Suu Kyi's lawyers, said Monday her defense team was unhappy that it was not given sufficient time to consult with her about her planned testimony.

Asked Monday if he thought the court is rushing through the trial, Nyan Win said, "It is very certain."

Suu Kyi's side does not contest the facts of the case—that Yettaw swam across a lake to her property under the cover of darkness earlier this month to enter uninvited into her home. Her lawyers have said she allowed him to stay for two days after he said he was too tired and ill to immediately swim back.

Suu Kyi told her lawyers she did not report him because she did not want him or security personnel in charge of her house to get into trouble because of her.

Suu Kyi told them the incident occurred because of a security breach—the house is tightly guarded—so the responsibility for allowing Yettaw in lies with the security forces.

When he pleaded not guilty, Yettaw, from Falcon, Missouri, explained he had a dream that Suu Kyi would be assassinated and he had come to warn her that her life was in danger.

Suu Kyi rose to prominence as a leader of the 1988 democracy uprising, which was brutally suppressed. Her father was the greatly revered Aung San, who led the independence struggle against Great Britain but was assassinated in 1947.

Suu Kyi's party won general elections in 1990 but the military, which has ruled the country since 1962, never accepted the results.

READ MORE---> Official: Burma Had Planned to Release Suu Kyi...

Indonesia to Send Rohingya to Bangladesh

Rohingya boat people queue for their lunch in a temporary shelter
in Idi Rayeuk district of the Indonesia's Aceh province. (Photo: Reuters)

The Irrawaddy News -AP

BANDA ACEH, Indonesia — Indonesia will send more than 100 Rohingya boat people who washed up on the country's west coast earlier this year to Bangladesh, a government official said Tuesday.

The group of stateless Muslims volunteered to leave after several months in military shelters in Aceh province, Foreign Ministry official Mochamad Asruchin said.

The 114 men washed up along with 277 others in rickety boats in January without food and water. Dozens were admitted for hospital treatment.

They had initially said they were from Myanmar, but none had identification papers. They now say they are Bangladeshi citizens.

Officials in Bangladesh could not immediately be reached for comment Tuesday. Bangladesh has in the past said it does not accept the Rohingya as its citizens and would not take unwanted boat people from other countries.

The Rohingya number about 800,000 in Burma, but are not recognized as a distinct ethnicity. Rights groups say they face abuses including forced labor, land seizures and rape. Thousands have risked their lives fleeing to neighboring countries, such as Malaysia, Bangladesh and India.

Their plight recently gained international attention and prompted a regional crisis, straining generally good relations between governments in Southeast Asia.

The Indian navy said hundreds were believed to have drowned after the Thai navy towed their boats out to sea and released them without engines or provisions.

Asruchin said the Rohingyas in Indonesia may be granted refugee status by the United Nations and resettled in a third country.

READ MORE---> Indonesia to Send Rohingya to Bangladesh...

Mizzima UPDATES Day 7 - 26 May 2009

Mizzima News

Interview with Nyan Win, one of Daw Aung San Suu Kyi’s defence lawyers
Tuesday, 26 May 2009 19:04

“Burmese military authorities announced this morning the removal of Article 10 (b), which kept Aung San Suu Kyi under house arrest. So, there is no more house arrests. The fallout of the removal is that she is no longer restricted to the State Protection Law.”

“According to her testimony, she said she was imprisoned. And along with her two friends, they did not receive protection according to the law. As she had been imprisoned for a long time, Daw Aung San Suu Kyi said her political conviction does not allow her to push another person into danger and in trouble. That is the reason she had not informed the police about Yettaw’s visit.”


Daw Aung San Suu Kyi’s cross-examination
Tuesday, 26 May 2009 18:10

Burmese opposition leader Daw Aung San Suu Kyi on Tuesday looked a little weak, but otherwise appeared fine. She spoke to the audience before and after today's hearing but since her voice was low the only words that could be heard were reportedly, “Thank you for your concern,” and “I am happy to see you.”

Diplomats and other invited guests stood up as a sign of respect as she entered the courtroom, prompting security personnel to remind them to sit down.

The trial began at 1:05 p.m. (local time) and concluded at 2:00 p.m. (local time). One of her lawyers, Nyan Win, apparently complained to the judges that he had not had adequate opportunities to meet with his client. But his complaint drew no reply from the judicial panel.

As the proceeding began the judge read out questions to Daw Aung San Suu Kyi, who generally answered in one or two sentences.

She was first asked whether she knew about the restriction order on herself and her two live-in aides, to which she answered she only knew of the restrictions on her.

When asked of whether she knew about a November 30, 2008, incident in which American John Yettaw reportedly made his first visit to her house, she said she had heard about it but did not see him.

Asked of whether she knew about his subsequent intrusion on the night of May 3, 2009, she replied she knew about it only in the morning at around 5 a.m. (local time), adding that it was Khin Khin Win, one of her live-in aides, who informed her.

Asked whether she knew Yettaw prior to his visit, Daw Aung San Suu Kyi said she only learned of him and his identity when he was found in her home.

She was then asked whether she reported to the police when Yettaw left the premises on May 5 at about 11:45 p.m. She replied, "No."

Next asked whether she had spoken to Yettaw, she responded, "Yes."

She was then questioned as to whether she knew of Yettaw's return path following his visit. She replied that she knew he headed toward the lake but that since it was dark she could not say for sure what route he took.

The judge then asked whether Yettaw had left items, including a Mormon book, at her home on purpose or had forgotten them. She replied she did not know whether he had forgotten them or deliberately left them behind.

She was then asked whether she had provided food and accommodation to Yettaw. She said she had afforded him temporary refuge.

Asked whether she knew about Yettaw taking photos and video, she replied that she only knew of the photos and videos when they were presented in the court.

The judge then asked of the situation of the security personnel at her home. She replied that there were no security guards inside her compound, but did not know the situation outside her compound.


Aung San Suu Kyi and her guests
Tuesday, 26 May 2009 17:54

Wearing a purple coloured dress, Daw Aung San Suu Kyi arrived in court at about 12:55 p.m. (local time) on Tuesday.

As she walked in, her lawyer Nyan Win handed her a note. She then wore her spectacles and read through it. After reading it, she greeted diplomats, who had come to hear her testimony in court.

Foreign diplomats and other invited guests stood up as a sign of respect to Daw Aung San Suu Kyi, as she walked into the court and took a seat.

Security officials in the court urged the people to take their seat, but the invited guests stood until Daw Aung San Suu Kyi sat down.

The court convened at 1:05 p.m. (local time).


Summary of Aung San Suu Kyi’s testimony
Tuesday, 26 May 2009 16:01

On Tuesday afternoon, opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi gave her testimony to the special court in Insein prison. Below is a summary:

Aung San Suu Kyi testified that she had lived with party members Daw Khin Khin Win and Win Ma Ma and gave a brief explanation of her house arrest. She testified on how she came to know that the American citizen John William Yettaw had arrived at her residence and that because of his pleading had agreed to allow him to stay for a while and that she also spoke to him.

But she said she does not know whether Mr. Yettaw had deliberately left some materials at her home, and that she had thought that Yettaw had left the house by May 5, between 11:45 p.m. and mid-night (local time).

She said she saw Yettaw heading towards the lake but since it was dark she could not see where he had gone.


Court adjourns for the day
Tuesday, 26 May 2009 15:07

The Insein special court has adjourned for the day. Lawyers of Daw Aung San Suu Kyi, foreign diplomats, and journalists were seen coming out of the Insein prison at about 2:30 p.m (local time).


In the court room
Tuesday, 26 May 2009 14:09

Foreign diplomats and selected journalists have entered the Insein special court room, where opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi will be giving her testimony.

Win Tin, the central executive committee member of the National League for Democracy, whose name had been submitted as one of the witnesses for the accused, however, on Tuesday was not allowed to enter the court.

“Only when the court sends me a notice, I will be giving my testimony. Because if the judge accepts me as one of the witness, they will send me a notice,” Win Tin told Mizzima.

Outside the prison precincts, about 200 supporters and party members of Aung San Suu Kyi have gathered, waiting for the outcome of the trial.

“Till today, the roads are blocked. There is heightened security everywhere. I think it looks more than other days. They have blocked the bazaar. The security forces are also all around the bazaar. Previously, there were about two, but today there are about four people in a group,” Win Tin said explaining the situation around the Insein prison.


Suu Kyi’s house arrest term can be extended to six months: Police
Tuesday, 26 May 2009 10:54

A police officer on Tuesday told journalists, during a press briefing inside the Insein prison, that the house arrest term of Aung San Suu Kyi can be extended to another six months, even if there were no new charges levelled against her.

The police officer Myint Thein of the Special Branch explained to journalists and diplomats that the house arrest term, which will expire on May 27, can be extended up to November. He explained that while the authorities were still in the processes of considering whether or not to extend the house arrest term, the American man appeared on the scene.

The press briefing was also attended by Burma’s Police Chief Khinyi along with 29 foreign diplomats, 15 foreign correspondents and 10 domestic correspondents.

The court is currently taking a break but will reconvene at 12:30 p.m. (local time), sources said.


South Africa wishes to send delegation to Burma
Tuesday, 26 May 2009 10:50

South Africa’s Deputy Minister of International Relations and Cooperation, Mr Ebrahim Ebrahim on Monday met the Ambassador Designate for Burma, Mr Tin Oo Lwin, and proposed to send a delegation to Burma to facilitate a process of negotiation.

He also expressed South Africa’s continued concern about the rearrest of the leader of the National League for Democracy, Aung San Suu Kyi and called on her immediate and unconditional release.

Mr Ebrahim said the South African government would like to see Burma returning to civilian rule, with a multi-party and functioning democracy and urged the creation of a normal political climate conducive to free and fair elections.

READ MORE---> Mizzima UPDATES Day 7 - 26 May 2009...

Perilous plight - Burma’s Rohingya take to the seas

Source: Human Rights Watch (HRW)


In late December 2008, several small boats packed with hundreds of people, mostly ethnic Rohingya Muslims from western Burma, many of them emaciated, landed in India's Andaman Islands. Passengers told Indian authorities they had originally landed in Thailand, that Thai authorities held them for two days on a deserted island, and that they then towed them back out to sea, giving them only a few sacks of rice and a little water. Some told officials and doctors that while at sea they had been tortured by Burmese sailors who stopped their vessel.(1)

Sadly, this was not an unusual story. Rohingya, and other people fleeing Burma to escape oppression or to find a better life elsewhere, are a fact of life in Southeast Asia. What was different this time was that in January and February 2009 the plight of this group was captured on camera. The televised images of hundreds of men and boys crammed into rickety boats, gaunt, some of them bloodied, and expressing equal parts shock and surprise at having reached land were almost from another time. The pictures showed hundreds of Rohingya men lying head first in rows along the beach guarded by armed Thai authorities, including police, navy and national park service officials. Thai officials claimed later that their tactics were standard operating procedures for controlling large numbers of suspects, even though the approach appeared brutal to onlookers.

Some of these graphic photographs of Rohingya detained by authorities on Thai tourist beaches were taken by foreign tourists. If not for the fortuitous presence of these foreigners, these stories may have remained little more than a rumor or even completely unknown. Images of the Rohingya on Thai beaches appeared first in the South China Morning Post, the BBC, and then on CNN.(2)

The international outcry about the treatment of the Rohingya in Thailand centered on Thailand's callous "push-back" policy, which the new administration of Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva at first denied, then announced it would investigate. As international concern grew, more boats began arriving as part of the annual transit organized by smugglers, many of the passengers unaware of the events on Thailand's coastline. Ultimately, Thai officials blamed media distortion, saying that the Rohingya were economic migrants, not refugees, and that Thailand could not absorb the flow.(3)

The Thai government dismissed proposals to set up temporary holding centers for the Rohingya to ascertain their status as refugees, asylum seekers, or undocumented migrants. It granted the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) only limited access to the hundreds of Rohingya in Thai custody. Thai authorities fined most for illegal entry, and prepared to send them back to Burma.(4) Rohingya fear being returned, given the likelihood that they will be harshly received by the Burmese authorities and vulnerable to arbitrary arrest as punishment for illegal exit from Burma, including imprisonment and fines, and being stricken from household registration lists.(5)Many of the men detained in January and February remain in custody in southern Thailand.

While the Rohingya finally gained international media and governmental attention, the reality is that this group was only the latest influx in an annual sailing season for people escaping poverty, misery, and rampant human rights violations in Burma and Bangladesh.(6) The Arakan Project, a Bangkok-based non-governmental organization, estimatesthat more than 6,000 men and boys have made the journey in dozens of fishing boats from Burma and Bangladesh since November 2008. Reports suggest that twice as many Rohingya are making the perilous journey than a year earlier.(7)

Recent media attention meant that instead of ignoring them as in the past, national leaders from the region announced that they would discuss the issue of the Rohingya "boat people" on the sidelines of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) summit in Thailand in late February 2009. A regional solution was clearly needed. Little was done by the regional grouping, however, except to postpone solutions until a meeting in April of the Bali Process for People Smuggling, Trafficking in Persons, and Related Transnational Crime, a multilateral mechanism created in 2002 by Australia and Indonesia for increased cooperation between regional governments and law enforcement agencies on human trafficking and smuggling.

Instead of seeking real solutions, the Rohingya issue was relegated to a discussion outside the formal agenda. The only action agreed was an ad-hoc working group to discuss Rohingya movements at future meetings. The Burmese delegation, led by the National Police Chief, Brigadier-General Khin Ye, denied that the Rohingya were from Burma, prompting the foreign ministers of Australia, Indonesia and Bangladesh to criticize Burma's State Peace and Development Council (SPDC) for the harsh treatment which caused them to flee.(8)

ASEAN's failure to adequately address the issue reflected a long-standing disregard for the treatment of the Rohingya. The lack of urgency showed that the claims by Burma and many of its neighbors that the Rohingya pose a threat to national security are a smokescreen. For the countries involved, the Rohingya are a relatively minor case of unregulated human movement.

Raymond Hall, UNHCR regional coordinator for Asia, summed it up when he said that in terms of "generalized and systemic oppression of their most basic rights, the suffering of the Rohingya is about as bad as it gets. Other people in this situation often have homes they can return to, but for these people, they have nowhere they are welcome. That sense of home is being denied them. It is a terrible plight."(9)

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READ MORE---> Perilous plight - Burma’s Rohingya take to the seas...

Asia, Europe ministers agree on NKorea, Burma

(Bangkok Post-AFP) -Foreign Ministers from Asia and Europe were to condemn North Korea's announced nuclear test and to call for the release of Burma opposition democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi, according to draft statements seen by AFP.

Delegates said the two issues vaulted to the top of the agenda at wide-ranging talks by the Asia-Europe (ASEM) Foreign Ministers, who were to end two days of discussions later Tuesday.

Ministers "condemn" the underground test, which Stalinist North Korea announced on Monday, said the draft.

The draft statement said North Korea's test constitutes "a clear violation" of six-party agreements and relevant United Nations Security Council resolutions.

North Korea announced its test Monday morning as the ASEM ministers began their talks.

It said the test, its second since 2006, was for "self-defence," but the move angered Pyongyang's allies as well as its enemies and sparked unanimous condemnation from the United Nations Security Council.

ASEM groups the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean) with the European Union (EU), China, South Korea, Japan, Mongolia, Pakistan and India.

Japan and China are also involved with Russia, the two Koreas, and the United States in the six-party effort to persuade North Korea to give up its nuclear programmes in exchange for economic aid.

"We had good discussions at the working dinner yesterday evening and it produced a clear and specific statement deploring the test," British junior foreign minister Bill Rammell told reporters before AFP saw the draft document.

A separate draft pronouncement called for the release of Aung San Suu Kyi, who was set to testify on Tuesday at her trial in Rangoon.

"In light of the concern about the recent development to Daw Aung San Suu Kyi, ministers... called for the early release of those under detention and the lifting of restriction placed on political parties," said the draft, seen late Monday.

She faces up to five years in jail on charges of violating her house arrest after an incident in which an American man swam to her house.

Ministers have agreed to a text that "makes specific reference to the release of political prisoners and particularly Aung San Suu Kyi," Rammell said.

But Swedish Foreign Minister Carl Bildt cautioned that:
"Things are moving forward but nothing is ready until it's ready."

France's human rights minister, Rama Yade, said that while ministers had agreed to the statements about North Korea and Burma, "everything could change again, but for the moment they are along that line."

During a meeting Monday with Burma Foreign Minister Nyan Win on the sidelines of the ASEM talks, the EU called for Aung San Suu Kyi's immediate release, Czech foreign minister Jan Kohout said.

In a rare move, the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean) last week issued an expression of "grave concern" over the treatment of Aung San Suu Kyi.

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

Burma belongs to both the 10-member Asean and ASEM.

An Asian diplomat said the foreign ministers' closing statement was also expected to include a reference to Sri Lanka. The government recently proclaimed victory in its long-running war against Tamil Tiger rebels but the fighting has left about 300,000 people displaced.

READ MORE---> Asia, Europe ministers agree on NKorea, Burma...

Burmese Junta crimes - Harvard Law School Full Report

Junta Crimes Full Report May 09


READ MORE---> Burmese Junta crimes - Harvard Law School Full Report...

Singapore politician says ASEAN should consider expelling Myanmar

Bangkok (M&C)- South-East Asia's main political grouping has failed in its efforts to make Myanmar more democratic and should consider expelling it, as well as imposing limited sanctions, a Singaporean politician said Tuesday.

The Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) intended to reform Myanmar, also known as Burma, when it voted it into the regional grouping in 1997, but that has failed, Charles Chong, a 21-year member of Singapore's parliament, said Tuesday.

'ASEAN has failed to influence Burma in any way,' Chong said. 'ASEAN must consider, regretfully, suspending Burma from the association.'

He said limited sanctions - such as freezing the assets of members of Myanmar's ruling junta - should also be considered although that could prove problematic because they could 'hurt the people more than the government.'

Chong added his voice to a growing chorus condemning Myanmar's human rights record, and most currently the trial of independence icon Aung San Suu Kyi.

Chong spoke at a press conference at the Foreign Correspondents Club in Bangkok where the campaign Free Burma's Political Prisoners Now! said more than 650,000 people from more than 200 countries and territories have signed their petition since it was launched March 13.

The petition calls on UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon to 'make it his personal priority to secure the release of all political prisoners in Burma.'

Myanmar joined ASEAN in 1997 amid staunch objections from the EU and US and considerable debate within ASEAN itself. In addition to Myanmar, the regional grouping includes Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam.

Myanmar's membership has been controversial since day one and has been reignited with the current trial of Suu Kyi.

'We don't want to be drawn down to the level of Burma,' Chong said of ASEAN.

Chong made it clear he was expressing his personal views and not speaking for the Singapore government, but said behind the scenes there is growing frustration with the junta in Myanmar.

Myanmar's military regime ranks among the world's pariah states. It has kept Aung San Suu Kyi, the 1991 Nobel Peace Prize laureate, under house arrest for 13 of the past 19 years.

Myanmar legal expert said her current detention term is set to expire on Wednesday, but but a Myanmar police brigadier general claimed Tuesday the term was not due to end until November 27.

She faces another three to five years if she is found guilty of allowing US national John William Yettaw, 53, to swim into her compound-cum-prison on Yangon's Inya Lake earlier this month.

Suu Kyi has been charged with breaking the terms of her detention, a charge that carries a minimum of three years in jail and a maximum of five.

Her trial continued Tuesday.

READ MORE---> Singapore politician says ASEAN should consider expelling Myanmar...

E.U. backs Thailand over Suu Kyi's trial

by Usa Pichai

Chiang Mai (Mizzima) – The European Union has announced its support for Thailand’s statement as ASEAN Chair on the political situation in Burma, according to Thailand's Foreign Minister.

The announcement came after Thai Foreign Minister Kasit Piromya met with Jan Kohout, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Czech Republic, which currently holds the Presidency of the E.U. and heads the European's delegation to the 9th Asia-Europe Meeting (ASEM) underway in Hanoi.

They reportedly discussed recent developments in Burma, with Deputy Prime Minister Kohout welcoming the recently issued statement by Thailand as the ASEAN Chair on the current situation.

In the statement, Foreign Minister Kasit reiterated Thailand’s support for the process of national reconciliation and democratization in Burma, as well as its call for the release of political prisoners so as to ensure that elections in Burma next year will be more inclusive, according to a statement from Thailand’s Foreign Ministry.

However, the Burmese junta rejected the missive, arguing that the statement was tantamount to interfering in Burmese domestic affairs – with non-interference in the domestic affairs of member (ASEAN) states a pillar of the organization's strength.

"This statement, issued by the alternate ASEAN Chairman - which is not in conformity with ASEAN practice, incorrect in facts, interfering in the internal affairs of Myanmar [Burma] - is strongly rejected," the junta's mouthpiece New Light of Myanmar reported.

The response "sadly noted" that the Thai government had "failed to preserve the dignity of ASEAN, the dignity of Burma and the dignity of Thailand."

However, Kasit let it be known in Hanoi that the statement was issued in accordance with ASEAN practices and that the Burmese representatives knew about it right from the start.

"ASEAN has done this out of love, good intentions and the hope to see national reconciliation in Myanmar [Burma]," he said. "We are not interfering in domestic affairs, but showing our concern," according to a report in The Nation on Tuesday.

Meanwhile, Thai Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva yesterday met with Benita Ferrero-Waldner, E.U. Commissioner for External Relations, who stopped by Thailand on her way to Hanoi.

The Thai Prime Minister said the E.U. was headed in the right direction with its moves to engage the Burmese junta. "We share a common view that we should engage Myanmar [Burma] and the country should not be isolated," he said.

“I also support the E.U. in their providing more humanitarian aid to Myanmar [Burma] which will create more trust between them. However, the next ASEAN action will wait for the result from the summit in Hanoi. ”

Abhisit said on Monday that Thailand wants to keep on good terms with all neighboring and regional states. He also said the case of the Rohingya boat people from Burma's Arakan State is not only Thailand’s problem but a regional problem concerning five or six countries.

READ MORE---> E.U. backs Thailand over Suu Kyi's trial...

ASEM Foreign Ministers Derailed by Burma, North Korean Nuclear Test

By Matt Steinglass

(VOA) -The foreign ministers of 45 Asian and European countries met in Hanoi Monday for talks on the global economy but found themselves wrapped up with the issues of Burma and North Korea.

The foreign ministers had expected to take up the question of how Europe and Asia could cooperate to pull the world's economy out of the downturn it has fallen into since the global financial crisis began. But the highest-profile session of the so-called ASEM group (Asia Europe Meeting), took place between representatives of the European Union and Burma.

The European Union called for the Burmese government to release opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi. She is on trial for violating the terms of the house arrest under which the government has held her for 14 of the past 20 years.

Swedish Foreign Minister Carl Bildt said releasing Suu Kyi was crucial to pave the way for planned elections in Burma next year.

"What is necessary for those elections is to have an inclusive dialogue with all political forces in the country. That is the necessary precondition for the stability that I think everyone is seeking for the country to be able to move forward," Mr. Bildt said. "And for that to be possible, there must of course be freedom for the different political forces."

By the time Bildt and Czech Foreign Minister Jan Kohout finished meeting with the Burmese, North Korea announced it had tested a second nuclear bomb. Bildt had to respond to that issue, too.
General view of the opening ceremony of the 9th Asia-Europe ministerial meeting (ASEM) in Hanoi, 25 May 2009
Opening ceremony of the 9th Asia-Europe ministerial meeting (ASEM) in Hanoi, 25 May 2009

"It is alarming, it is a condemnation of the provocative regime in Pyongyang. I think it further isolates the country, I think it further aggravates the long-term situation of the country," Mr. Bildt said.

The North Korean move prompted the strongest response from the Japanese delegation. Japanese Foreign Ministry spokesman Kazuo Kodama said Japan would press for the ASEM meeting to issue a joint statement condemning the nuclear test, apart from the conference's normal closing statement.

"This nuclear testing poses a grave threat, a challenge to the NEPT regime and also poses a grave threat to the peace and security, stability, not only in the Northeast Asian region, but also the whole global community," Kodama said.

The Chinese, South Korean and North Korean delegations were reported to have met on the sidelines of the ASEM meeting, but no results of that meeting were made public.

READ MORE---> ASEM Foreign Ministers Derailed by Burma, North Korean Nuclear Test...

Myanmar's Suu Kyi set to testify as outcry grows

YANGON (AFP) – Myanmar pro-democracy icon Aung San Suu Kyi was set to testify at her trial, as European and Asian foreign ministers stepped up international pressure on the ruling junta to free her.

The military regime said it would reopen the court to diplomats and journalists for part of the day in a small concession to global criticism of its treatment of the 63-year-old Nobel Peace Prize laureate.

Critics say Aung San Suu Kyi's trial, on charges of breaching her house arrest over an incident in which a US man swam to her house, is an excuse for Myanmar's ruling generals to lock her up for elections due next year.

The spokesman for her opposition party, Nyan Win, said the defence felt that the mostly closed proceedings at the notorious Insein Prison near the main city of Yangon were being rushed through.

"She will be questioned by the judge (on Tuesday)... This was a surprise to us because we need more time to discuss the case with Daw Aung San Suu Kyi," Nyan Win said on Monday night.

Aung San Suu Kyi pleaded innocent last week to the charges, under which she faces between three and five years in jail. She has been detained for 13 of the last 19 years, mostly under house arrest.

The defence is also planning to call Tin Oo, the detained deputy leader of her opposition National League for Democracy (NLD) party, as one of its witnesses.

Asked whether he thought the ruling junta would allow testimony by Tin Oo, who has been in jail or under house arrest since 2003, Nyan Win told AFP: "They have to, otherwise it will be one-sided."

Diplomats from all foreign embassies in Yangon had been told to report to the court early on Tuesday for a briefing by a magistrate, and they would be allowed to attend the trial later in the day, a western diplomat said.

Authorities will also allow 10 journalists from local media and 11 from international organisations to report on part of the proceedings.

The trial has provoked a storm of international outrage.

More than 40 foreign ministers from Asia and Europe meeting in the Vietnamese capital Hanoi this week are to jointly call for the release Aung San Suu Kyi, according to a draft statement.

"In light of the concern about the recent development to Daw Aung San Suu Kyi, ministers... called for the early release of those under detention and the lifting of restriction placed on political parties," said the draft statement.

During a meeting Monday with Myanmar Foreign Minister Nyan Win on the sidelines of the talks, the EU called for Aung San Suu Kyi's immediate release.

In a rare move, the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) last week expressed "grave concern" over her treatment. Myanmar's neighbours normally prefer not to be seen as intervening in the affairs of their members.

Myanmar issued an angry rebuttal to the statement on Monday.

The junta is also trying the American intruder, John Yettaw, and two female aides who live with Aung San Suu Kyi in the house.

Yettaw has said that he swam across a lake to the house to warn her of his belief that she would be assassinated, but the junta accuses Aung San Suu Kyi of illegally communicating with and sheltering him.

The latest, six-year period of Aung San Suu Kyi's house arrest is due to expire on Wednesday but Myanmar authorities have not said whether they will extend the term.

Aung San Suu Kyi and her deputy Tin Oo have both been detained since an incident in 2003 in which their motorcade came under attack during a political tour.

Wednesday is also the 19th anniversary of Myanmar's last democratic elections. The NLD won a landslide victory in the polls, but the military never allowed it to take office.

READ MORE---> Myanmar's Suu Kyi set to testify as outcry grows...

N Korea nuke 'comparable to Hiroshima'

(News.com) -WASHINGTON is seeking "a strong resolution with strong measures" by the United Nations against North Korea for the nuclear test it conducted yesterday, US ambassador to the UN Susan Rice said.

The hardline communist state, which stunned the world with its first atomic bomb test in October 2006, made good on its threat to stage another test after the Security Council censured it for an April rocket launch.

The North "successfully conducted one more underground nuclear test on May 25 as part of the measures to bolster up its nuclear deterrent for self-defence in every way,'' the official Korean Central News Agency said.

"The current nuclear test was safely conducted on a new higher level in terms of its explosive power and technology.''

Meeting in emergency session, the UN Security Council unanimously condemned the test, while council president Vitaly Churkin of Russia said members would immediately begin working on a resolution to address Pyongyang's latest move.

"The US thinks this is a grave violation of international law, and a threat to regional and international peace and security,'' Ms Rice said about the test.

"And therefore, the United States will seek a strong resolution with strong measures.''

The force of yesterday's blast was between 10 and 20 kilotons, according to Russia's defence ministry, vastly more than the estimated one-kiloton blast three years ago.

Japan's Meteorological Agency said that based on recorded seismic activity, the energy level of the test was four times bigger than the last one.

Baek Seung-Joo of the Korea Institute for Defence Analyses told AFP that if rough estimates by some private analysts were right, "the power of the second blast is comparable to the bombs which hit Hiroshima and Nagasaki".

READ MORE---> N Korea nuke 'comparable to Hiroshima'...

North Korea clears sea for missile tests

(News.com) -NORTH Korea is preparing to test-fire short-range missiles in the Yellow Sea, one day after it staged a nuclear test, South Korea's Yonhap news agency said.

"North Korea has declared an off-limits area for vessels in the Yellow Sea off Jungsan county in South Pyongan province,'' it quoted a Seoul government source as saying.

"The North is likely to fire short-range missiles today or tomorrow.''

Jungsan is about 40km west of Pyongyang.

The Joint Chiefs of Staff said it could not comment on intelligence matters.

The North yesterday staged its second underground nuclear test, with an explosive force much larger than the first in October 2006.

It also fired three short-range ground-to-air missiles from locations near its east coast, Seoul's military said.

Several times in recent years, the North has test-fired ground-to-ship or ship-to-ship missiles in either the Yellow Sea or the Sea of Japan.

The launches are often staged to coincide with periods of regional tension.

Yonhap said the North was preparing to launch ground-to-ship missiles with a range of 160km, which use technology based on China's Silkworm missiles.

The South summoned an emergency meeting of top military commanders to review its defence posture, a Joint Chiefs of Staff spokesman said.

The meeting would stress the need to heighten vigilance against the North's "militarily provocative acts'', the spokesman said.

READ MORE---> North Korea clears sea for missile tests...

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