Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Than Shwe Is the Real Prisoner, not Suu Kyi

The Irrawaddy News

Aung San Suu Kyi remains in the international limelight as her trial in Rangoon continues into a second week.

Although hidden from the public eye for several years, Burma’s pro-democracy icon has garnered resounding international support, showing a calm defiance in the face of the injustices handed out by the country’s military rulers.

The truth is that Suu Kyi remains deeply respected and loved. The huge respect she commands was seen at Tuesday’s court session, when foreign diplomats, reporters and even some security officials rose from their seats as she entered—an awkward moment for the officials.

There is no doubt that Suu Kyi remains a figurehead of Burma’s beleaguered democracy movement, and her trial before a kangaroo court in Rangoon’s Insein Prison is provoking endless international outrage and condemnation.

US president Barack Obama, whose administration has just extended sanctions against the Burmese regime, hailed Suu Kyi’s patriotism, sacrifice and her vision of a democratic and prosperous Burma.

“It is time for the Burmese government to drop all charges against Aung San Suu Kyi and unconditionally release her and her fellow political prisoners,” Obama declared.

Despite these appeals from the highest international levels, the fear remains that Suu Kyi’s captor, Snr-Gen Than Shwe, is determined to keep her in prison. The junta leader lives in a state of fear and paranoia.

Than Shwe and Suu Kyi are not equal contenders in a fight for a political ideology. Suu Kyi fights for democracy and freedom in Burma, while Than Shwe runs an infamous gulag and keeps Burma locked into the status of a pariah state. His hatred of Suu Kyi is immeasurable.

Thus, Burma’s dissident community, Burmese political observers and Suu Kyi’s lawyers have expressed fears that the international pressure won’t cause Than Shwe to budge an inch.

Mark Canning, the British ambassador to Burma, told the British daily The Guardian the regime had been "taken aback" by the strength of international opposition to Suu Kyi's arrest. He did not expect Suu Kyi to be acquitted, however, although he felt that continued pressure could force the court to consider a lighter sentence.

“There's no doubt in my mind that this will end in a guilty verdict, but they may trim their custodial ambitions and give her another year under house arrest rather than five years in prison,” Canning said. “That way they can keep her out of the way during the elections next year. That is what this is all about.”

International pressure and media coverage of the trial and Suu Kyi’s plight are remarkable but won’t be enough to move the mountain of Than Shwe’s obduracy.

He and other leading generals have established similar kangaroo courts in the past to frame rivals and dissidents and they have always strongly resisted domestic and international pressure, countering it with lie after lie.

Brig-Gen Myint Thein disingenuously told reporters that the regime had intended to free Suu Kyi when her latest term of house arrest expires this month, but because of John William Yettaw’s intrusion “we unavoidably and regretfully had to take legal action against her.”

Who on the earth is going to believe that?

Like her father, independence hero Gen Aung San, Suu Kyi doesn’t lie and she doesn’t fabricate a story. Insisting on her innocence, she said she had only given Yettaw temporary shelter.

A senior Burmese journalist who attended an open session of her trial said she acted gracefully before the court. “We are proud of her and her demeanor,” he said. Which is more than most Burmese will say about Than Shwe and his regime.

The sad fact is that the verdict in Suu Kyi’s trial has already been written and she is going to spend time in Insein Prison. The question is: how long?

If Mark Canning is correct, the regime leader may consider a shorter prison sentence than the maximum five years. However long her sentence, Suu Kyi—like many other political prisoners—is no doubt prepared accept her fate with courage.

While Than Shwe probably doesn’t even bother to read statements by such world leaders as President Obama, he must surely be upset at the worldwide outpouring of support for Suu Kyi. He would like to see her condemned to oblivion, but just the opposite is occurring.

Therein lies Than Shwe’s defeat. Suu Kyi is in the dock of a kangaroo court, but the real prisoner is Than Shwe—a prisoner of his own irrational hatred and disappointed ambitions.

READ MORE---> Than Shwe Is the Real Prisoner, not Suu Kyi...

Two bombs explode in Mon state

(DVB)–Two bombs exploded near government buildings in the capital of Mon state this morning, following state-run newspaper reports yesterday on alleged bombing plots by exiled opposition groups.

According to police in the Mon capital, Moulmein, the first bomb had been planted in a drain in front of the government’s Economic Bank, and was detonated at around 9 o’clock this morning.

Shortly afterwards, a second bomb exploded near the Forestry Department building. No one was injured in either attack.

“So far we have no report on causality and we are still investigating the case,” said a police official on duty at Moulmein police station.

Yesterday, the state-run New Light of Myanmar newspaper reported that a bomb had been found aboard a train headed for Burma’s capital, Naypyidaw.

Information was found, it said, which pointed towards student-group All Burma Students Democratic Front (ABSDF), a member of the Forum for Democracy in Burma (FDB), as likely being responsible.

FDB General Secretary Naing Aung said however that the accusations were part of government plans to discredit opposition groups prior to the 2010 elections.

“[It is] also to prevent the public, who have awoken politically due to the current situation with Daw Aung San Suu Kyi, from joining further anti-government movements,” he said.

Reporting by Naw Say Phaw and Aye Nai

READ MORE---> Two bombs explode in Mon state...

Asean’s Patience Frayed by Burma—Again

The Irrawaddy News

If you’re looking for a barometer of how badly Burma’s junta is misbehaving, just wait and see how the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean) responds to the generals’ latest headline-grabbing outrage.

Generally reluctant to weigh in on any issue relating to the “internal affairs” of one of its members, the regional grouping rarely speaks out over Burma—and then only when silence is no longer an option.

If Asean does criticize the regime—as it did when it expressed “revulsion” at reports of Burmese soldiers gunning down monks and other protesters in the streets of Rangoon in September 2007—you know that things have really gotten out of hand.

The bloc’s uncharacteristically tough language at that time was due to deepening concerns about the effects of the junta’s actions on Asean’s reputation. As Singaporean Foreign Minister George Yeo put it: “Unless we put things right, and set Myanmar [Burma] to a new course, we will all be affected and dragged down with Myanmar.”

It was probably with these thoughts in mind that Asean, along with its Asian and European partners at the Asia-Europe Meeting (Asem), yesterday issued a statement in Hanoi calling for “the early release of those under detention and the lifting of restrictions placed on political parties” in Burma.

“Those under detention” include, of course, Aung San Suu Kyi, whose trial on charges that could put her behind bars for five years has attracted intense international attention and cast a harsh light, once again, on Burma’s egregious generals—and, to some extent, on their regional “partners.”

During its 12 years as a member of Asean, Burma has been a lightning rod for criticism of everything that’s wrong with the association.

In a region better known for its authoritarian governments than its respect for the rule of law, Burma has revealed time and again Asean’s inability to promote even the most basic standards of good governance among its members.

But Asean seems determined to correct the perception that it can’t get its act together, and few issues—including even the recent imbroglio over Thailand’s failed attempts to host key Asean events due to domestic political disturbances—have been more damaging in this respect than Burma.

This has prompted some to propose drastic measures.

On Tuesday, a 21-year veteran of Singapore’s parliament called on fellow Asean members to do the unthinkable and cut Burma loose, lest the country’s rulers ruin the regional body’s efforts to enhance its standing in the international community.

Charles Chong, a member of the Asean Inter-Parliamentary Myanmar Caucus, said that “Asean must consider, regretfully, suspending Burma from the association,” adding that he didn’t want to see the grouping “drawn down to the level of Burma.”

Chong’s radical suggestion was soon shot down, however, by none less than Surin Pitsuwan, the former Thai foreign minister who now serves as Asean’s secretary-general.

“We don’t have any provision to suspend or eject any member,” said Surin, whose own government was taken to task earlier this week for expressing “grave concern” over Suu Kyi’s trial and its potential impact on the region.

“It is sadly noted that [Thailand] failed to preserve the dignity of Asean, the dignity of [Burma] and the dignity of Thailand,” the Burmese junta said on Monday, in response to an Asean statement issued through its current chair, Thailand, last week.

But the Burmese junta’s attempts to invoke “the dignity of Asean” in its own defense are not likely to sit well with other members of the association, who have grown tired of repeatedly seeing their agenda hijacked by the regime’s shameless behavior.

For now, Asean may stick with its policy of closing ranks around Burma in the name of regional solidarity. But if the junta goes ahead with its plans to imprison Suu Kyi, Asean could, for once, be forced to do more than merely echo the sentiments of governments and public opinion in the rest of the world.

READ MORE---> Asean’s Patience Frayed by Burma—Again...

Thailand’s Rohingya ‘deterrence’ breaks refugee obligations

(DVB)–Thailand’s denial of entry to Burmese Rohingya refugees violates international legal obligations towards asylum seekers, claims the first full report into the mistreatment of Rohingya refugees in Thailand.

International outrage was sparked in January this year when photographs emerged of Thailand’s treatment of the Rohingya ‘boat people’, the majority of whom had fled Burma’s western Arakan state and sailed to Thailand.

The Rohingya, a Muslim minority, don’t have a citizenship of any country, and thousands are believed to have left Burma, many in the direction of Thailand’s southern coast.

According to the report released yesterday by Human Rights Watch, Rohingyas arriving on the Thai coast have been held on isolated islands with limited access from staff at the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees.

“Steadily increasing numbers of Rohingya arriving in southern Thailand have sparked a deterrence policy that violates Thailand’s international legal obligations towards asylum seekers,” said the report, entitled Perilous Plight.

Thai authorities were found to have towed Rohingya boats back to sea with little supplies, a move which is in violation of international laws on refugees.

“Any refugees or migrant workers actually entering the country can’t be immediately dragged back to the sea; they have to be processed by the law and dealt with accordingly,” said David Mathieson, Burma consultant at Human Rights Watch.

Earlier this year, Thai Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva acknowledged the towing of Rohingya refugees out to open sea, following denial from a navy chief that the allegations “were even possible”.

He added that it wasn’t in line with the authorities’ policy and that those responsible would be brought to account if enough evidence was found.

“Most Rohingyas see Thailand as a transit point, they don’t want to stay in Thailand; they want to go to Malaysia,” said Mathieson.

Thailand has reportedly claimed the Rohingyas are economic refugees, and a threat to national security.

Proposals to set up temporary holding centres have been dismissed, and they remain unrecognised as refugees, asylum seekers or undocumented migrants.

“There are actually very low numbers of Rohingya in Thailand as far as we know compared to other nationalities from Burma,” said Mathieson.

“Some people say that there’s 20,000 Rohingya in Thailand but I would say it is significantly less than that, just a few thousand.”

Burma has repeatedly claimed the Rohingya are originally from Bangladesh, not Burma, and have denied them citizenship or status as an ethnic minority. (JEG's: correct, in the old days in the 1500s, 1700s but the ones we are dealing with right now were born in Burma therefore they are Burmese with all the human rights entitlements)

Most of the Rohingyas in Arakan state rely on international aid organisations for survival.

Reporting by Rosalie Smith

READ MORE---> Thailand’s Rohingya ‘deterrence’ breaks refugee obligations...

Burmese Citizens are Angry, but Silent

The Irrawaddy News

The trial of Aung San Suu Kyi has gripped the hearts of the Burmese people because they respect and love her. Rationally, however, they know they can have little affect on the junta’s show trial now unfolding in Insein Prison.

A prominent writer in Rangoon summed it up in a phone conversation with The Irrawaddy on Wednesday: “The trial has made people feel helpless and even more hopeless.”

There are three factors that account for the lack of even modest public protests by ordinary citizens and political activists—economic hardship, harsh military oppression and lack of opposition leadership.

The people know the trial of the pro-democracy leader is rigged, and that she will soon be sentenced to up to five years in prison. They’re angry, but their anger is suppressed, boiling but contained—they can’t afford to let it overcome their daily struggle to survive and provide for their families.

Win Tin, a prominent member of Suu Kyi’s National League for Democracy (NLD), the main opposition party, said: “People are angry, but they are more concerned with their daily living.”

There’s no doubt that many people are unwilling to openly show their support for Suu Kyi because of the junta’s well-known willingness to use violence against citizens, which creates real, understandable fear. Images of the bloody crackdown on the monk-led protests in 2007 are still fresh in people’s minds.

“The trial has made people harbor more hatred towards the generals than ever,” the writer said, speaking on condition of anonymity. “On the other hand, they are more frightened.”

For Burma, the political tide turned on May 14 when Suu Kyi was transferred from her home to Insein Prison and charged with violating the terms of her house arrest after an eccentric American intruder swam across Inya Lake and illegally entered her compound, where he remained for two days.

A lack of leadership within the political opposition has been a topic of concern. About 2,100 political prisoners, including many potential leaders, are in jail.

Sein Win, an outspoken and well-known Rangoon journalist, told The Irrawaddy on Wednesday, “The leading political party is weak.”

Even so, the ailing, respected journalist said he still believes in the people: “Our people are as courageous as ever since the era of the independence struggle,” in the early 20th Century.

On Wednesday, the NLD held its 19th anniversary of the election in which it won by a landslide, only to see the junta not honor the results, and it issued a strong statement calling for the release of its leader, Suu Kyi.

Since the trial began last week, the junta has beefed up security around Insein Prison and infiltrated members of Sawn Arr Shin, a junta-backed paramilitary group, among Suu Kyi’s supporters, who maintain a vigil outside the gates.

One supporter at the prison said, “They provoke us. One of them deliberately uttered a provocative remark: “‘Why are you guys coming to see the wife of a kalar?’” referring to Suu Kyi’s marriage to a British citizen. In Burmese, kalar is a vulgar term that refers to an Indian and Western people. The supporter said, “We have to hold back our anger.”

While anger is suppressed inside the country, the uproar within the international community is louder than ever.

“It is time for the Burmese government to drop all charges against Aung San Suu Kyi and unconditionally release her and her fellow political prisoners,” US President Barack Obama said on Tuesday. “Aung San Suu Kyi has represented profound patriotism, sacrifice and the vision of a democratic and prosperous Burma.”

The international community, including the European Union and the United Nations Security Council, has all expressed their concerns about Suu Kyi’s trial. Even members of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations have been more outspoken than ever against the junta.

However, seasoned observers are skeptical that the international community will take further steps beyond expressing concern. Again, the ruling generals are experts at gauging international reaction and moving ahead with disdain, ever tightening their grip on power while nullifying the moves of the opposition.

The international community’s competing policies of economic sanctions versus constructive engagement have both had little impact on the junta’s hold on power or influenced its movement toward democratic reconciliation.

Both critics and dissents are also saddened that mounting pressure from the international community will likely have no affect on the trial’s verdict or sentence. After attending the trial last week, British Ambassador to Burma Mark Canning summed it up, “I think this is a story where the conclusion is already scripted. I don’t have confidence in the outcome.”

What wasn’t scripted was the spontaneous sign of respect by international diplomats last week and on Tuesday, who rose to their feet when Suu Kyi walked into the courtroom. The gesture spoke louder than words.

READ MORE---> Burmese Citizens are Angry, but Silent...

Plight of Rohingya forgotten: HRW report

by Solomon

New Delhi (Mizzima) - Regional countries and neighbors should press Burma’s ruling junta to cease in the systematic abuse of the Rohingya and provide necessary assistance to those who have fled to their shores, Human Rights Watch (HRW) argues in a new report.

HRW, in a 12-page report entitled “Perilous Plight: Burma’s Rohingya Take to the Seas,” details how the Burmese government’s systemic rights abuses have caused the Rohingya, a Muslim minority living predominantly in Northern Arakan State, to flee their homes for other countries, often entailing a great risk to their lives.

The report says persecution and human rights violations against the Rohingya in Burma, particularly in Arakan State, have persisted for over 20 years, with insufficient international attention.

Persecution and abuse includes extrajudicial killings, forced labor, religious discrimination and restrictions on movement, all exacerbated by a draconian citizenship law that leaves the Rohingya stateless.

"The treatment of the Rohingya in Burma is deplorable - the Burmese government doesn't just deny Rohingya their basic rights, it denies they are even Burmese citizens," said Elaine Pearson, deputy Asia Director at Human Rights Watch, in a press statement.

"Instead of sidestepping the issue, ASEAN should be pressing Burma's military rulers to end their brutal practices," Pearson said.

According to a Rohingya community leader, now living in London, the Rohingya are prohibited from owning property and are not allowed to pursue higher education.

“Even marriage requires permission from the authorities for us,” the leader told Mizzima in an earlier interview.

The HRW report says such deplorable conditions at home have forced thousands of Rohingya to flee to Bangladesh and other Southeast Asian countries, where hostile conditions often await them.

David Scott Mathieson, Burma consultant for HRW in Bangkok, said members of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) have not taken effective action on the issue, stating, “The response has been uneven and counter-productive.”

“They [ASEAN] need to openly criticize the SPDC’s treatment of the Rohingya and call on them to stop their actions. They can create a mechanism within the grouping,” argued Mathieson, referring to the Burmese junta by its official name – State Peace and Development Council (SPDC).

In late 2008 and early 2009, hundreds of Rohingya boatpeople were rescued from the shores of Thailand, India and Indonesia, after they were found drifting in the Andaman Sea for weeks.

The issue became a hot topic after some survivors confessed that they were first captured by Thai authorities and sent back into the sea with little or no food in engineless boats, an allegation Thailand has denied.

The topic was discussed by officials of the countries involved. On the occasion, Burmese Foreign minister Nyan Win informed his ASEAN counterparts that while the Rohingya are not among the 130 ethnic nationalities registered in the country, the government would accept their return if they could prove their birth in Burma.

“The landing of Rohingya boatpeople in Southeast Asian countries is the direct result of persecution in Burma,” said Mathieson.

Though the topic was prominent for a while and regional countries agreed to address the topic at the Bali Conference, nothing has materialized since the conference culminated a month ago.

“There was a lot of attention in January and February this year…but there was no solution and that is unacceptable,” Mathieson stipulated.

The report calls on regional countries to provide assistance to the Rohingya boatpeople who fled their homeland due to severe rights violations and for the military regime in Burma to cease all persecution.

READ MORE---> Plight of Rohingya forgotten: HRW report...

NLD Issues List of Demands to Junta

The Irrawaddy News

Burma’s opposition party, the National League for Democracy (NLD), marked the 19th anniversary of its election victory by issuing a statement to the Burmese military government with a list of political demands.

Speaking to The Irrawaddy on Wednesday, party spokesperson Ohn Kyaing confirmed that the NLD had demanded that the junta:

• unconditionally releases all political prisoners, including NLD party leaders Aung San Suu Kyi and Tin Oo;
• sets proper conditions for political dialogue;
• allow the reopening of NLD offices across the country;
• allows free election campaigning;
• accepts the registration of political parties (including ethnic parties) that were banned after they won seats in the 1990 election.

The NLD pointed out in the statement that the Burmese military regime had broken the 1990 election law that required that parliament would be formed of parliamentarians elected in the 1990 national election.

The party further contended that the military government had previously accepted that the national convention would be made up of elected members of parliament (MPs). However, in the 1993 national convention, only 107 members out of 702 representatives at the convention were MPs—just 15.2 percent of the Burmese people’s representatives. The others were hand-picked by the junta.

The five-page statement also claimed that when the military junta reconvened the national convention in 2004, only 13 elected MPs out of 1,086 representatives were invited—a mere one percent of democratically elected representatives.

The NLD, led by detained leader Suu Kyi, won the 1990 national election with a landslide 82 percent of votes, but were never allowed to take office.

Also on Wednesday, the NLD released another statement on behalf of Suu Kyi. Link to that story:

The NLD marked the 19th anniversary of its election victory at its party headquarters in Rangoon at 12 o’clock noon on Wednesday. The event was attended by party members, MPs, representatives from allied ethnic parties, veteran politicians and Rangoon-based diplomats.

Several dozen members of the pro-junta Union Solidarity and Development Association (USDA) and Swan Arr Shin were stationed around the NLD headquarters in Bahan Township, but no trouble was reported.

“They [USDA and Swan-Arh-Shin] are waiting in three trucks on the street,” said a local resident in Bahan Township, “while plain-clothes policemen are coming and going around the NLD headquarters.”

Meanwhile, Asian and European Union foreign ministers made a joint-statement during a two-day meeting in Hanoi on Tuesday, calling on the Burmese junta to release detained political prisoners, as international pressure mounts on the regime over its trial and detention of Suu Kyi.

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 and encouraged the military government to engage all stakeholders in an inclusive process in order to achieve national reconciliation, and economic and social development.

READ MORE---> NLD Issues List of Demands to Junta...

India urged to pressurize junta to free Suu Kyi

by Salai Pi Pi

New Delhi (Mizzima) - Indian politicians and activists including artists today called on the Indian government to pressurize the Burmese military regime to release Nobel Peace Laureate Aung San Suu Kyi and to restore democracy in the Southeast Asia country.

Surendra Mohan, a former Member of Parliament of India on Wednesday said that India, which has been silent over the Burmese pro-democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi’s trial, should change its stance and take proactive action against the Burmese junta to free her and the country.

“I appeal to the Government of India to change its position. India should take a firm stand like other democratic countries to see democracy is restored in Burma,” Surendra Mohan said in a conference to show Indian people’s solidarity with Burma and lend its voice for the freedom of Aung San Suu Kyi. The conference was held in the Constitution Club in New Delhi.

Mohan also said India should not neglect the rights and freedom of the Burmese people for the sake of the economic interest of the country by cosying up to the regime.

“We understand why India has taken a soft stand on Burma. I won’t say it is ‘neutral’. It is not in line with democracy, in line with supporting democracy,” Mohan said, “We understand that you need gas and timber from Burma. For whatever reason it is, those should not be equated with the rights and the freedom of the Burmese people.”

Despite the Indian government taking a U turn in supporting the democratic movement in Burma, Mohan said, “There are a large number of people, various politicians and civil society in India who certainly want the restoration of democracy in Burma.”

Meanwhile, Nandita Das, Indian actress and social activist told Mizzima on Wednesday that the Indian government’s silence over the trail of Suu Kyi by the regime for allegedly harbouring the uninvited US citizen John Yettaw, who intruded into her home on May 3 and stayed there for two nights, is totally disappointing.

“I think it is a great failure and it is sad if we can’t raise our voice for the people suffering in jail and for Nobel Peace Laureate Aung San Suu Kyi.

“It is not just silence. It is like being indifferent and wishfully silent. That’s why the civil society, the government and anybody else need to put pressure on the India government, the international community and Burmese regime. So she [Aung San Suu Kyi] is free,” she added.

Moreover, Former Samata Party president Jaya Jaitley, Former Defence Minister George Fernandez, Sumit Chakravartty, editor of Mainstream weekly and film director Amar Kanwar and other Indian artists condemned India and called it to pressure the junta for the early release of Aung San Suu Kyi.

Though India has been pushed to take action against the Burmese junta, G. Devarajan, Secretary of the Central Committee of All India Forward Bloc didn’t expect that India, a trading partner of the regime, will come up with a statement urging the junta to release Suu Kyi and for political change in Burma.

“Since India is Burma’s trade partner, I don’t think it will come out with a very helpful statement to release Aung San Suu Kyi though they have given the Jawaharlal Nehru award to her before,” he added.

READ MORE---> India urged to pressurize junta to free Suu Kyi...

Suu Kyi Accuses Prosecution of Bias

The Irrawaddy News

Burmese opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi has issued a statement denying that she broke the terms of her house detention order and saying she gave John William Yettaw temporary shelter because she didn’t want to be responsible for his arrest.

In the statement, released on Wednesday by her National League for Democracy, Suu Kyi said: "I gave a temporary shelter as requested because I don’t push any one to be arrested and detained according to my political belief."

She added in her statement: "It is not important for me whoever the intruder is and what his aim is. I just did according to my political belief."

Accusing the authorities of bias against her, Suu Kyi, who has been held under house arrest for 13 of the past 19 years, questioned why legal action was not being taken against security officials guarding her home.

"This incident occurred because of a security breach (by authorities). However, until now no action has been taken on security," Suu Kyi said in her statement. "The fact that I am the only party being prosecuted shows the partiality of the prosecution."

Suu Kyi also rejected testimony by a prosecution witness accusing her of violating terms of her house arrest order barring contact with outsiders. She pointed out the 1974 state constitution containing the prohibition order lost its legality after the present Burmese military government took power in 1988.

Suu Kyi also said she had never been warned that she should report any outside intrusion to the authorities. She also rejected a statement by a prosecution witness claiming that she and the authorities were together responsible for the security of her home. “That statement is totally wrong,” she said in her statement.

Suu Kyi said she told Yettaw to leave when the American arrived at her lakeside home on the morning of May 4. Yettaw told her that he would be arrested if he left during the day and asked if he could stay temporarily, promising to depart under cover of night.

But Yettaw did not leave as promised, pleading poor health, and asked to stay one more night.

Suu Kyi said Yettaw had made an unauthorized visit to her home in November 2008, and she had asked her doctor, Tin Myo Win, to report it to the authorities. No action had then been taken, she said.

Suu Kyi faces up to five years imprisonment if found guilty of violating the terms of her house arrest order by allowing Yettaw to stay.

READ MORE---> Suu Kyi Accuses Prosecution of Bias...

Mizzima UPDATES Day 8 - 27 May 2009

Mizzima News D8

Suu Kyi’s testimony in court
Wednesday, 27 May 2009 20:17

The Rangoon North District court sitting inside Insein prison on Tuesday examined Daw Aung San Suu Kyi and prosecution witness Investigating Officer Police Captain Than Soe of the Special Branch. Below is an excerpt of the examination held on Tuesday in court, published by the junta’s the New Light of Myanmar newspaper.

Q : Do Daw Khin Khin Win and Daw Win Ma Ma (a) Ange Lay stay with Daw Aung San Suu Kyi?
A : Yes, in my home.

Q : Are the restriction order, prohibition order and the order for extension of the prohibition order issued?
A : Yes, the orders are issued to me.

Q : Did American citizen Mr. John William Yettaw come to your home on 30 November, 2008?
A : I was told about his arrival, but I didn’t see him.

Q : Did American citizen Mr. John William Yettaw intruded into your house compound swimming across the Inya Lake on 3 May night.
A : As for as I understand, he arrived at my home in the morning of 4 May.

Q : What time did he arrive at your home?
A : I don’t know. I was reported on his arrival about 5 am.

Q : Who reported to you?
A : Daw Khin Khin Win reported to me that a person was in my home.

Q : Who was that person?
A : I didn’t know who was that person then, but I knew him later on.

Q : Is that person American citizen Mr. John William Yettaw?
A : Yes.

Q : Did you report to the authority concerned on his arrival at your home?
A : No.

Q : Is it true that you received Mr John William Yettaw, gave food to him and arranged accommodation for him?
A : I permitted him to take shelter at my home temporarily.

Q : Did you provide food and talk to Mr. John William Yettaw and accept letters and gifts from him?
A : I talked to Mr. John William Yettaw. I am not sure whether letters and items remained or were left by Mr. John William Yettaw. Only Mr. John William Yettaw himself knows that matter.

Q : Which date and time did Mr. John William Yettaw leave your home?
A : Mr. John William Yettaw left my home between 11.45 pm and mid-night on 5 May.

Q : Which way did Mr. John William Yettaw take when he left your home?
A : I only knew that Mr. John William Yettaw went to the lake. Because of the darkness, I don’t know which way he took.

Q: Did Police Captain Tin Zaw Tun come and confiscate the things Mr. John William Yettaw had left at the residence of Daw Aung San Suu Kyi?
A: Yes, Police Captain Tin Zaw Tun came and confiscated the things Mr. John William Yettaw had left.

Q: Were there members of security force at the surrounding of the residence while Mr. John William Yettaw was at the residence of Daw Aung San Suu Kyi?
A: They were not in the compound. I don’t know whether they were out of the compound or not.

Q: Did American citizen Mr. John William Yettaw take photos and shoot video in the house of Daw Aung San Suu Kyi?
A: I don’t know whether he took photos and shot video while I was at my house. I only learnt that he took photos and shot video when I appeared in court.

Q: Do Daw Aung San Suu Kyi know the facts prescribed in restriction order, prohibition order and order for extension of the prohibition order.
A: Yes, I know the facts written in the orders.

Following Daw Aung San Suu Kyi’s testimony and questions by the court, prosecution witness Investigating Officer Police Captain Than Soe of Special Branch was examined.

The witness said he received the case, Bahan Police Station case (Pa) 302/ 09 under section 13 (1) of Immigration Act (Emergency Provisions), on May 11, to be examined. On the same day he questioned prosecution witnesses and on May 12, he continued to question the prosecution witnesses and received the search forms handed over by Police Captain Maung Maung Myint and Police Captain Tin Zaw Tun. And he also got the sample of Mr. John William Yettaw’s hand writing in connection with the case and sent it together with Mr. John William Yettaw’s hand writing confiscated at the house of Daw Aung San Suu Kyi to the Criminal Investigation Department in order to be examined whether they were written by same person.

He said, Mr. John William Yettaw was questioned on the same day and the prosecution witnesses were examined on 13 May, and he presented two search forms handed over by Police Captain Sa Kyaw Win and May on 14, Mr Yettaw was arrested as per Case No. 264/09 of Bahan Police Station and filed against him under section 13 (1) of Immigration Act (Emergency Provisions) at Rangoon North District Court.

The proceedings are adjourned until 10 a.m. on 28 May.


NLD calls for release of Suu Kyi and to kick-start dialogue
Wednesday, 27 May 2009 16:01

The NLD on Wednesday reiterated its call to the junta to release party leader Aung San Suu Kyi and to kick-start a political dialogue for national reconciliation.

The NLD made the call in its eight-page statement issued at the end of the 19th anniversary commemorative ceremony of Burma’s last election held at the party head office in Rangoon’s Shwegondine Street in Bahan Township.


Security beefed up in Kyaukpadaung Township
Wednesday, 27 May 2009 13:38

Security has been beefed up since last night in Kyaukpadaung township in Mandalay division. Police reportedly patrolled the town on motorcycles and plainclothes officials and members of USDA are seen positiond near the town’s pagoda.

Local residents said, security has been beefed up after NLD youths, students and civilians held prayer services at the pagoda for the release of Aung San Suu Kyi on May 25 and 26.

A local resident said, security has been tightened on Wednesday as it marks the 19th anniversary of Burma’s last general election and the date for the release of Nobel Peace Laureate Aung San Suu Kyi, who is currently facing trial in a court in Insein prison.


NLD observes 19th anniversary of general election
Wednesday, 27 May 2009 13:26

The Opposition National League for Democracy on Wednesday held a commemorative ceremony of the 19th anniversary of Burma’s last general election at its head office in Rangoon’s Shwegondine street in Bahan Township.

Authorities have stepped-up security with several plainclothes police monitoring the NLD’s activities. Meanwhile, police also continued patrolling the city of Rangoon.

“We held the anniversary at the NLD office. It started at noon (local time) and I think it will be over by 1:30 or 2 p.m.(local time). There are security personnel everywhere, I can’t say how many but there are a lot of them. They are in plainclothes. And are patrolling in vehicles. We see about 10 vehicles on the streets,” an eyewitness told Mizzima.

“I don’t know how many people came to attend the commemorative ceremony but it is a lot as people from other townships also came. NLD members from Myin Gyan, Thaung Thar, Taungoo, Kyaukpadaung etc have come,” he added.


Security beefed up in and around Rangoon
Wednesday, 27 May 2009 13:15

Security remains tight in Rangoon, particularly around Insein prison, where the trial against Aung San Suu Kyi continues on Wednesday, which also marks the 19th anniversary of Burma’s last general election.

Armed security forces are patrolling the streets and are stationed at road junctions, eyewitnesses said.

“Today, there are a lot more security personnel everywhere compared to other days. We don’t know what kind of information they [authorities] have for increasing the security to this level,” an eyewitness told Mizzima.

“As far as I can see at least eight vehicles used by the riot police have been parked in front of Insein Bazaar. And the police are fully armed. The Insein Bazaar is connected to the prison. And we can also see police vehicles and trucks patrolling the city. Some said about four to five police vehicles are patrolling the streets in Minglartaungnyunt and in other townships,” he added.

The eyewitness also said, members of the pro-junta groups, the Union Solidarity and Development Association (USDA) and Swan Arrshin members – are mixing among the people and some are even disguised as tri-shaw drivers.

“The weather is cloudy and the streets are quite clear,” he added.


Papers distributed in front of NLD office
Wednesday, 27 May 2009 12:58

Papers carrying a message that says bombers have come to town from the borders were scattered by a group of people from a vehicle in front of the NLD head office in Rangoon’s Shwegondine Street in Bahan Township.

A group of people, who came in a high speed light truck, threw about 15 papers in front of the NLD office on Tuesday at about 11:30 a.m. (loca time), eyewitnesses said. The A4 size paper had the NLD logo and a peacock sign, which is used by student activists, and carried a message that says bombers have sneaked into Rangoon from the border area.

An eyewitness, who arrived in the NLD office, said the people made it look like the NLD is spreading the papers.


Security alert in Bogyoke Market
Wednesday, 27 May 2009 11:21

Local junta authorities in Rangoon’s Bogyoke Market have alerted security forces saying there is a likelihood of public unrest or demonstrations on 27, 28 and 29 of May.

On Wednesday security was tightened in and around Bogyoke Market and along the Strand Road, with armed security personnel and members of pro-junta group, USDA, swarming everywhere on the street.


1990 election anniversary
Wednesday, 27 May 2009 11:09

The Opposition National League for Democracy on Wednesday, May 27, is set to hold a commemorative ceremony of the 19th anniversary of Burma’s last election, where the NLD won a landslide victory. Despite Daw Aung San Suu Kyi’s party winning over 80 percent of parliamentary seats, the junta refused to hand over power.ok,


Suu Kyi’s house guards transferred
Wednesday, 27 May 2009 11:05

Security personnel guarding the house of Opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi have been transferred to Inngapu Town in the Irrawaddy division, after the American, John William Yettaw, was arrested for illegally entering the house.

The riot police from the Police battalion (7) were transferred on May 7, the day after Yettaw was allegedly fished out from Innya Lake, on his way back from Suu Kyi’s house.

Moreover, the barbed wire barricades used for blocking the road in front of Suu Kyi’s house have also been shifted to the Insein Prison Road and to Htaukkyanh at the entrance to Rangoon city.

The riot police, who were guarding Suu Kyi’s house, were not included among the witnesses submitted by the prosecution.


A sketch of Daw Aung San Suu Kyi’s testimony at the special court inside Insein prison.
Illustration: Saimayku


US President Obama calls for immediate release of Suu Kyi
Wednesday, 27 May 2009 11:02

US President Barack Obama has called for the immediate and unconditional release of Burmese opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi on Tuesday.

In a statement issued by the White House on Tuesday, Obama condemned the trial against Aung San Suu Kyi saying it is a show trial based on spurious charges and it “casts serious doubt on the Burmese regime’s willingness to be a responsible member of the international community.”

Obama urged the Burmese regime to take the situation as an important opportunity to demonstrate that it respects its own laws and its own people, and is ready to work with the National League for Democracy and other ethnic and opposition groups, and is prepared to move towards reconciliation.

“It is time for the Burmese government to drop all charges against Aung San Suu Kyi and unconditionally release her and her fellow political prisoners,” said Obama, adding that such action would be a significant step “on Burma’s part to begin to restore its standing in the eyes of the United States and the world community and to move towards a better future for its people.”

READ MORE---> Mizzima UPDATES Day 8 - 27 May 2009...

U Gambira transferred to Kalay prison

by Phanida

Chiang Mai (Mizzima) – Buddhist monk Ashin Gambira who staged a protest in prison and demanded a meeting with military junta supremo Snr. Gen. Than Shwe was said to have been transferred to Kalay prison.

Gambira recently staged a protest by shouting and demanding a face-to-face meeting with Snr. Gen. Than Shwe. Following this show of defiance he was transferred to Kalaymyo prison from Khamti prison in Sagaing Division.

“Yesterday my mom called me and said that he was transferred to Kalay as told by her friends. But we still don’t know when he was shifted. We heard that he was moved due to his poor health,” his elder sister Khin Thu Htay told Mizzima.

The authorities tried him in Kyimyindine court in Insein prison for leading the 2007 Saffron Revolution. He was sentenced to 12 years in prison in three cases on November 19 last year. He was also charged with insulting the religion and committing crime against public tranquility.

He was later sentenced to an additional 56 years in prison in nine cases in Kamayut Township court and another four cases in Ahlone Township court. So his total prison term is now 68 years.

He was arrested in Singai Township, Mandalay Division on 4 November 2007 when he was on the run following a manhunt by the authorities.

Politically active Ashin Gambira became a leading monk of ‘All Burma Monks Alliance’ (ABMA) in the nationwide monk-led protests popularly known as ‘Saffron Revolution’ in September 2007 while he was pursuing his religious studies of ‘Dhamasariya’ at the age of 29.

He suffered from brain and neurological diseases while he was being held in Insein prison.

Though his mother Daw Yay was planning to visit his elder brother Aung Kayw Kyaw who is serving 14 years in Taungyi prison in Shan State, she changed her mind to meet Ashin Gambira in Kalay prison instead this week because of his poor health.

“My mom said that she would go there within a week and she would prepare food for him. Khamti is cold and he had asthma when he was young. We spent a lot of time and money to cure the disease. I think now this old disease has resurfaced. She would go to Uzin (monk) first,” Khin Thu Htay said.

Other family members who are serving in different prisons are in good health, she added. They are her younger brother Aung Ko Ko Lwin in Kyaukphyu prison in Rakhin State and her husband Moe Htet Lian in Mawlamyine prison in Mon State.

READ MORE---> U Gambira transferred to Kalay prison...

Nigeria: Chevron Shareholders and Executives Greeted by Protesters from Across the Globe


San Ramon — San Ramon, CA, Chevron’s annual shareholder meeting today became a referendum on the company’s global operating practices, with hundreds rallying outside the meeting against the oil giant’s environmental and human rights record, and representatives of Chevron affected communities inside the meeting speaking directly to the company’s senior executives, board of directors and key shareholders. Present were representatives or allies from communities in Nigeria, Burma, Ecuador, Kazakhstan, Iraq, Canada, the Philippines and Richmond, California.

Inside the meeting Tunde Okorodudu, a pro-democracy activist and former Senatorial candidate for Delta South, in the Niger Delta of Nigeria pronounced powerfully, “what is bad for my people is also bad for business. Communities where Chevron extracts oil have made it known to the company for many years that they were suffering as a result of Chevron’s operations. When villagers ask for jobs, environmental remediation for pollution the company caused, electricity, investment in education and healthcare and environmental audits and mitigations, Chevron responded with minimal investments in community projects that have not dented the community needs.”

“Chevron has known for years that an insurgency was building among frustrated residents of the Niger Delta as a result of the lack of development and environmental harms caused by oil development,” said Okorodudu. “And now, the company’s practices in the Niger Delta have contributed to harm their bottom line, with the attack yesterday of a major oil pipeline in Abiteyeye, which the Wall Street Journal reports reduced Chevron’s output by 100,000 barrels per day.” The company’s 10k report filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission in February 2009 states that its Nigeria oil production for 2008 was 154,000 barrels per day. This means that the current instability has reduced the company’s production by almost two thirds.

Laura Livoti, founder of Justice in Nigeria Now said “Chevron has a responsibility to its shareholders. In order to ensure security and stability for its operations the company must step up and promote development and adequate living standards in the communities from which they are making their profits.”

In addition, Okorodudu addressed the current humanitarian crisis in the Delta stemming from the Nigerian military’s attacks in Delta and Rivers State which have uprooted and displaced villagers, with reports of civilian deaths and starvation as a result. Okorodudu declared “the company must end its relationship with the notoriously brutal Nigerian military. As a 40% partner with the Nigerian government it must bear some responsibility for the destructive actions by the military and its brutal and notorious Joint Task Force (JTF)”.

Outside the meeting protestors carried colorful placards parodying Chevron’s Human Energy advertisements with beautiful photos of a Nigerian villager that read “I will give my baby contaminated water: Chevron refuses to clean up its mess in Nigeria” and another with a photo of a Nigerian boy reading ”I will continue fishing even though the fish are gone: Chevron pollutes fresh water in Nigeria.”

The coalition of groups and Chevron affected communities yesterday released an alternative annual report and a series of parody ads that address the company’s worldwide issues.

READ MORE---> Nigeria: Chevron Shareholders and Executives Greeted by Protesters from Across the Globe...

Burma Rejects Witnesses for Aung San Suu Kyi

By VOA News

The party of Burmese pro-democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi says a Burmese court has rejected all but one of her defense witnesses as she faces up to five years in prison for allegedly violating the terms of her house arrest.

A spokesman for her National League for Democracy said Wednesday that the court rejected three other witnesses, all of whom belong to the opposition party. Legal expert Kyi Win, one of Aung San Suu Kyi's lawyers, will be allowed to testify as her sole witness in the trial, which is expected to end this week.

Aung San Suu Kyi was accused of violating her house arrest by giving shelter to an American man who swam to her house in the early morning hours of May 4.

According to a statement released by her party, Aung San Suu Kyi testified Tuesday that the incident that led to the current charges occurred due to a security breach, although no officials have been held accountable.

NLD spokesman Nyan Win said the court heard three hours of testimony from American John Yettaw during the closed trial Wednesday. Nyan Win said Yettaw, in his first testimony to the court, described how he received a vision from God that terrorists planned to assassinate Aung San Suu Kyi. He reportedly told the court that God told him to come to Burma to warn Aung San Suu Kyi.

The pro-democracy leader testified Tuesday she gave Yettaw "temporary shelter" until he left the next day. Her lawyers say she asked the 53-year-old American to leave, but allowed him to stay overnight after he said he was too exhausted and ill to swim back.

Authorities lifted her latest home detention order on Tuesday, but she has been held at Insein prison since her arrest May 14 on charges of violating her house arrest.

Yettaw is also facing trial as are two caretakers.

Aung San Suu Kyi has spent 13 of the last 19 years in detention, most of it at her lakeside home in the main city of Rangoon.

Wednesday is the sixth anniversary of her latest round of detention, as well as the anniversary of the NLD's victory in the 1990 elections. The military refused to relinquish power.

Critics say Burma's military leaders are using the trial as a pretext to keep the opposition leader under detention so she cannot participate in next year's elections.

Her current trial has also provoked condemnation from the United States and across Asia and Europe.

On Wednesday, Britain's prime minister added his name to a new campaign for the release of Burmese pro-democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi.

READ MORE---> Burma Rejects Witnesses for Aung San Suu Kyi...

Underground medics: rebuilding Burma’s ruin

By Rosalie Smith

(DVB)–Government spending on healthcare in Burma ranks among the lowest in the world, eclipsed by the wealth of public spmoney that lines the pockets of the army.

While the Southeast Asian pariah state has no external enemies, indeed it has not been at war with another country since 1956, 40 per cent of its budget goes on military financing. Alongside this, the meagre three per cent used to support almost 50 million people pales in comparison.

In 2000, the World Health Organisation ranked Burma’s healthcare system second worst in the world, one notch above Sierra Leone, a country whose infrastructure has been obliterated by a decade of civil war.

Burma cannot use the same excuse. Wild financial mismanagement by the ruling junta, resistance to offers of aid from overseas, and a myopic focus on its own military might has caused a total breakdown in national healthcare. One of the largest groups of people in Burma paying the price for this are the internally displaced persons (IDPs).

Hospitals in Burma operate on a very rudimentary basis, lacking in vaccinations and other drugs, and riddled with corruption. In this context, IDPs are forced to rely solely on emergency health care.

Into this void have stepped voluntary medics, who travel into Burma’s remote areas where the concentration of IDPs is often high. In Burma’s eastern states alone there are over half a million IDPs who have fled either to escape the conflict between the Burmese army and armed ethnic rebel groups, or to avoid forced relocation by the army.

One such group is the Back Pack Health Worker Team (BPHWT), operating out of the Thai-Burma border town of Mae Sot. A BPHWT report published in 2006 found that child victims of forced relocation are 2.4 times more likely to die and around three times more likely to suffer from malnutrition than children allowed to stay in their own homes. Ironically, after fleeing, the use of contraception falls drastically as well. IDP’s are also nearly five times more likely to get injured by landmines, given the frequency with which they move from one location to another.

In this context, the ‘free agents’ of Burma’s underground healthcare system are invaluable. Another multi-ethnic volunteer organisation, the Free Burma Rangers (FBR), has conducted over 350 humanitarian missions of one to two months into the most conflict-heavy areas in Burma. They provide emergency shelter, food and clothing, along with medical care, and continue to document human rights violations inside Burma. Per mission, up to two thousand patients are treated.

Reversing a slide

In 1997, 500,000 people were found displaced in Karen state. Many schools and clinics had also been forcibly relocated. Compared to 1997, however, there are now 10 more clinics in Karen state, operated by FBR along with some partner organizations.

“Figures should be going the other way,” said Thauwa A Ta from FBR.

“In 2004 and 2006, the Burmese army conducted more offensives. Since the 2006 attack, however, there are again 10 more clinics and there are also more schools.”

Landmines, forced labor and the constant threat of Burmese army’s attack are only a small part of the health risks that IDPs face. Many preventable or curable diseases, such as diarrhea or vitamin deficiencies, can be fatal to IDP’s. Cholera, malaria and haemorrhagic dengue fever are endemic in Burma.

Ethnic Back Pack Teams work closely with local community leaders in areas where no healthcare is available. Training for Back Pack Medics is rigorous, with at least one year’s experience in the field compulsory.

“Basically, everyone must finish at least six months basic medical training, and every six months we do an upgrade short course or a workshop,” director Mahn Mahn explained.

The work these grassroots organisations do is highly dangerous. According to the first Geneva Convention, health workers should be offered protection. This, however, does not apply in Burma.

In the first eight years of the BPHWT program, seven backpack medics and one traditional birth attendant were killed, either from landmines or at the hands of the Burmese army. The Free Burma Rangers have also lost team leaders to disease and attacks.

An FBR member known only as Monkey acknowledged the tense environments they work in.

“Once the army was 10 minutes from where we conducted our mission. We were hiding in a small forest,” he said.

“The villagers told us not to worry, they would protect us. I looked at the villagers; they were very calm so I wasn’t scared anymore.”

Currently, there are 49 FBR teams and 70 Back Pack Teams operating in eastern Burma. The relief these organizations bring, however, is still inadequate compared to the extent of medical assistance needed.

“All FBR help to internally displaced people inside Burma is maybe 10 per cent of what is needed,” Thauwa A Ta admits.

“The army will eventually win. In 20 years there might not even be people in these areas anymore.”

READ MORE---> Underground medics: rebuilding Burma’s ruin...

Court rejects three witnesses in Suu Kyi’s trial

by Mungpi

New Delhi (Mizzima) – The special court in Insein Prison on Wednesday rejected three witnesses submitted by opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi’s lawyers, leaving just one remaining defense witness.

Nyan Win, a member of Aung San Suu Kyi’s legal team, told Mizzima that a judge of the special court on Wednesday announced the rejection of three witnesses – Win Tin, Tin Oo and Khin Moe Moe – accepting just Kyi Win as a defense witness.

“There is nothing much I can say. The facts speak for themselves. The prosecution had fifteen witnesses examined and we are left only with one,” Nyan Win said.

On Wednesday, the court heard the testimony of Aung San Suu Kyi’s live-in party members Khin Khin Win and Win Ma Ma, in addition to American Yettaw.

Nyan Win said the court has fixed the next hearing for 10 a.m. (local time) Tuesday but he is not sure whether there will be any examination of the defense witness.

“I think a verdict might be possible by Friday,” said Nyan Win, adding that authorities are in a hurry to get the case over with.

“But we are determined to fight the case in a higher court if Daw Aung San Suu Kyi is sentenced,” he added.

The Nobel Peace Laureate on Tuesday appeared before the court and gave testimony to the effect that she is innocent. In her testimony, reproduced by the NLD in a statement on Wednesday, she said she had not been warned or investigated by the authorities concerned when her doctor reported Yettaw’s previous visit, in November 2008, to them.

She admitted that she knew of Yettaw’s earlier visit through Khin Khin Win and had informed her doctor, Tin Myo Win, who reported the information to the concerned authorities.

“I informed the authorities on 4 December 2008 through Dr. Tin Myo Win who visited me on that day for a regular medical check-up. The authorities didn’t ask me any questions and I didn’t hear of any action being taken on this report either,” she said in her statement.

“There was no warning given to me to inform the authorities concerned in such a case as an intrusion into my residence,” she said, adding that she had intended to inform the authorities of Yettaw’s last visit through her doctor, who would be visiting her on May 7.

Following the pro-democracy leader’s testimony there has been speculation on the whereabouts of Dr. Tin Myo Win and the reason for not including him among the defense witnesses submitted by her lawyers.

Nyan Win, however, said Dr. Tin Myo Win, who was briefly detained on May 7 and later released, is currently safe with his family.

“We did not include Dr. Tin Myo Win as one of the defense witnesses because whatever Dr. Tin Myo Win knows and would testify to has already been testified to by prosecution witnesses,” Nyan Win explained.

Aung San Suu Kyi also pointed out that while security in her house was breached she did not see any security guards being produced as prosecution witnesses.

READ MORE---> Court rejects three witnesses in Suu Kyi’s trial...

Burma holds breath as Suu Kyi stands trial

By Tim Johnston in Bangkok

(FT) -For Burma’s beleaguered opposition, waiting to hear if Nobel Laureate Aung San Suu Kyi was to be sentenced to more years behind bars, Wednesday marked a series of grim anniversaries: 19 years since the vote where she led them to overwhelming victory and six years since she was last free.

Mrs Suu Kyi is on trial in Rangoon’s Insein prison, charged with breaching the terms of her house arrest after an American citizen swam the lake that backs on to her home and stayed two nights.

Mrs Suu Kyi, who sees herself as warrior rather than victim, has come out fighting against the charges.

“This incident occurred because of a security breach [by authorities]. However, until now no action has been taken on security,” she said in a statement to the court on Tuesday. “The fact that I am the only party being prosecuted shows the partiality of the prosecution.”

There was a heavier-than-usual police presence on the streets of Rangoon on Wednesday, but a group of some 250 supporters of Mrs Suu Kyi’s National League for Democracy gathered outside the party’s dilapidated headquarters to release birds and pray for freedom.

“We call for the immediate and unconditional release of all political prisoners,” Ohn Kyaing of the NLD told the crowd.

It was a stark contrast to May 27 1990, when jubilant crowds dared to hope they had unseated the military government with an overwhelming vote for the NLD. But it soon became clear that the army regarded the vote not as a general election, but as a vote for a constitutional assembly, and was not willing to hand over the reins of power to the NLD.

Mrs Suu Kyi’s challenge to the army provoked a backlash which has seen her spend almost 13 of the intervening 19 years under house arrest; her party reduced to a shell by arrests and intimidation; and a consolidation of the military’s power.

Mrs Suu Kyi and the two house keepers who are charged alongside her could face up to five years in prison if they are found guilty. John Yettaw, her American visitor, who says he swam across the foetid waters of Lake Inya to warn her that he had had a vision that her life was in danger, could face seven years in prison if he is convicted of immigration offences and entering a restricted zone.

Her supporters say that if Mrs Suu Kyi, who is 63 and in uncertain health, is forced to spend five years in the notoriously unsanitary conditions of Insein prison, her life could indeed be in danger.

They believe that the Burmese authorities are using the uninvited visit of Mr Yettaw, a 53-year-old veteran of the Vietnam war who lives in Falcon, Missouri, as an excuse to keep Mrs Suu Kyi locked up until after the elections they have scheduled for next year.

The authorities have written a constitution which they say will herald an age of “discipline-flourishing democracy” but which critics say will merely entrench the power of the military.

The trial has sparked almost universal condemnation, even from Burma’s traditional allies.

Mrs Suu Kyi’s detention has hurt the image of south-east Asia’s regional group and strained its policy of quiet diplomacy, Asean chief Surin Pitsuwan said on Wednesday.

”The organisation is mindful of the fact it does not want to interfere in the internal affairs of any member state,” Surin, secretary-general of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean), told reporters in Phnom Penh.

Barack Obama, US president, added his voice to the chorus on Tuesday.

“Aung San Suu Kyi's continued detention, isolation, and show trial based on spurious charges cast serious doubt on the Burmese regime’s willingness to be a responsible member of the international community,” Mr Obama said.

READ MORE---> Burma holds breath as Suu Kyi stands trial...

Jailing Suu Kyi again 'not good for region' : Thai FM

By Supalak Ganjanakhundee
The Nation

Jailing Burma's opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi again could risk regional security, Foreign Minister Kasit Piromya said yesterday in defending Thailand's decision to issue an Asean chairman's statement on the issue as made with the "best of intentions".

"It is worrisome that the trial to extend her detention would not be a good thing for the region," Kasit told reporters on the sidelines of the Asia Europe Meeting in Hanoi.

Burma could not protest that Suu Kyi's case would not affect regional security. As long as there was instability there, it could affect the whole region, he said.

Thailand as the current chair of Asean would continue to dialogue with Burma although the junta regarded the move as intervention in the country's internal affairs, he said.

Many countries welcomed and praised Thailand's brave decision to respond to the situation, he said.

"What we said (in the chairman's statement) is not different from what the Asean leaders had voiced in concern during the summit in Thailand," he said.

The foreign ministers of Asean would discuss the situation in Burma and Suu Kyi's trial again when they meet in Phnom Penh from May 27-28, he said.

Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva as the chair of Asean issued a statement on May 18 expressing "grave concern" over Suu Kyi's situation as she faced a trial in connection with American John Yettaw, who swam across the Inya Lake to her residence where she has been under custody since May 2003.

Suu Kyi testified at a court in Rangoon yesterday that she did not violate the terms of her house arrest when she temporarily sheltered the American man.

The Burmese junta has lashed out the Asean chairman's statement, saying it was not in conformity with Asean practice, incorrect in facts and interference in Burma's internal affairs.

The junta has "sadly noted" that Thailand had "failed to preserve the dignity of Asean, the dignity of Burma and the dignity of Thailand".

The Foreign Ministry yesterday issued a clarification, saying the issuance of the Asean chairman statement was a "similar action [that] had been taken before".

Asean senior officials had discussed and expressed their views on May 18 when they met in Phuket and agreed that Thailand should issue a statement about recent developments

concerning Suu Kyi and to inform Asean foreign ministers accordingly, said the Foreign Ministry's press statement.

In practice, a joint Asean statement is a negotiated text that must be prepared by officials and approved by foreign ministers or leaders.

"An Asean chairman's statement, however, is issued by the government which is the current chair of Asean, without the need for joint drafting by Asean officials," it said.

READ MORE---> Jailing Suu Kyi again 'not good for region' : Thai FM...

900 boatpeople seized en route in Indonesia

(The Australian) -ALMOST 900 suspected asylum seekers have been detained by Indonesian police while en route to Australia.

As border protection authorities prepare to spend millions of taxpayer dollars in an effort to disrupt people-smugglers before they set sail, a top Indonesian defence official has warned that Australia should get used to an increased flow of boats.

Defence Minister Juwono Sudarsono said stemming the flow of boatpeople from the archipelago would require even closer bilateral co-operation between Australia and Indonesia.

"I think you are condemned by your prosperity to be a magnet for all kinds of people - illegal fisherman, refugees," Dr Sudarsono told The Australian in Jakarta yesterday. "I can't find a long-term solution for you. The best we can do is to increase our capacity to intercept."

Yesterday, a Senate estimates committee hearing was told that since September, Indonesian police had detained 887 people suspected of entering the country with a view to travelling to Australia.

Australian Federal Police deputy commissioner Tony Negus told the committee the figure did not include the 749 asylum seekers caught by Australian border protection authorities.

"So you're talking well in excess of 1500 people in the last six or seven months," he said.

The figures came as outgoing commissioner Mick Keelty denied reports the AFP had produced intelligence briefings for the Rudd Government warning that policy changes would encourage people-smugglers. Under questioning from Opposition legal affairs spokesman George Brandis, who appeared to be reading from part or all of an AFP document, Mr Keelty said the AFP did not produce intelligence reports for government.

"There is no report that I have authored to the minister or any minister in this Government to describe in any way, shape or form the impact of their policy on people-smuggling," he said.

But in a cryptic line of questioning, Senator Brandis asked Mr Keelty if he was familiar with a document entitled Strategic Forecast for Transnational Criminal Trends and Threats. Mr Keelty said he was not.

Senator Brandis then asked. "Did that document contain these words? 'Reporting indicates that people-smugglers will market recent changes in Australia's immigration policy to entice potential illegal immigrants. This may cause a rise on the number of attempted arrivals."'

Citing a long-standing convention that intelligence matters not be discussed at estimates, Mr Keelty refused to answer.

Dr Sudarsono said he saw the issue of illegal migrants linked with political stability in Indonesia as a long-standing security concern for Australia.

He said he fully understood Canberra's concern that Indonesia not become a filter for illegal migrants from other parts: "You are an attractive place economically, and you are so underpopulated that you are a constant magnet from various parts of the world. Indonesia has been a staging point for many of these illegal migrants."

READ MORE---> 900 boatpeople seized en route in Indonesia...

Obama dismisses Aung San Suu Kyi hearing as 'show trial'

YANGON (AFP) – The trial of Aung San Suu Kyi was due to continue Wednesday as US President Barack Obama urged Myanmar to immediately free the pro-democracy icon, describing her hearing as a "show trial."

The Nobel Peace Prize winner testified for the first time at her trial on Tuesday, telling the court that she did not violate the terms of her house arrest by offering shelter to a US man who swam to her lakeside home.

In Washington, Obama called on Myanmar's military rulers to "immediately and unconditionally" release the 63-year-old democracy leader

"Aung San Suu Kyi's continued detention, isolation, and show trial based on spurious charges cast serious doubt on the Burmese regime's willingness to be a responsible member of the international community," he said in a statement.

"It is time for the Burmese government to drop all charges against Aung San Suu Kyi and unconditionally release her and her fellow political prisoners," Obama said, referring to Myanmar's leaders using the country's former name.

The case has drawn widespread international condemnation of the country's iron-fisted military junta.

Aung San Suu Kyi testified at the maximum security Insein Prison in Yangon Tuesday that she had not breached the restriction order keeping her at her residence, according to reporters and diplomats present at the hearing.

The long-standing figurehead of Myanmar's opposition movement, Aung San Suu Kyi faces up to five years in jail if convicted. She has been under house arrest or in jail for 13 of the last 19 years, including the last six.

She said the first she knew of the bizarre visit by American army veteran John Yettaw was when her assistant woke her up at around dawn on May 4 to tell her that a man had arrived at the house.

The junta is also trying Yettaw and two female aides who live with Aung San Suu Kyi in her house. Yettaw has said he swam across a lake to the house to warn her of a vision he had that she would be assassinated.

Critics accuse Myanmar's junta of trumping up the charges in a bid to keep Aung San Suu Kyi locked up during elections due in 2010. Her party won the country's last elections, in 1990, but was never allowed to take power.

In a surprise development, Myanmar authorities informed Aung San Suu Kyi on Tuesday morning that her six-year period of house arrest was officially over -- although she still remains in detention at the prison, her party said.

"We don't know whether we should be happy or sad, because she is still in detention on these charges," said Nyan Win, spokesman for the National League for Democracy (NLD).

"I cannot guess the verdict but according to the law she should be completely free."

A senior policeman had said on Tuesday morning that the regime could legally keep her under house arrest for another six months, a statement contested by her lawyers, who said it was due to expire on Wednesday.

The ruling generals made a rare concession on Tuesday by allowing diplomats and some Myanmar journalists inside the notorious prison to see Aung San Suu Kyi testify.

"I don't have any confidence that it (the trial) will produce an impartial judgment," British Ambassador Mark Canning said, adding that the government was keen to show "openness" after being stung by international criticism.

He said that the proceedings appeared to have sped up in recent days and that the court had also apparently rejected a request by Aung San Suu Kyi's defence team to have an hour alone with their client.

The military has ruled Myanmar, formerly known as Burma, since 1962.

READ MORE---> Obama dismisses Aung San Suu Kyi hearing as 'show trial'...

Human Rights Watch: Will the world wake up to the plight of the Rohingya boat people?

(The Independent UK) -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.

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 February.

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.

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 neighbours 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 "generalised 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."

Taken from a Human Rights Watch report, 'Perilous Plight – Burma's Rohingya Take to the Seas', published yesterday

READ MORE---> Human Rights Watch: Will the world wake up to the plight of the Rohingya boat people?...

Cyclone Aila lashes Burma–Bangladesh border and coastal belts

Written by Webmaster
Tuesday, 26 May 2009 19:09

Maungdaw, Arakan State: Cyclone Aila ripped through the Burma-Bangladesh border area, accompanied by heavy rains and raised river tide levels, burst mud embankments, flooded homes, and destroyed houses, schools in Maungdaw yesterday, a local elder said. READ MORE...

and also read
Cyclone Lashes Bangladesh and India, 33 dead


READ MORE---> Cyclone Aila lashes Burma–Bangladesh border and coastal belts...

BRAJ Press Release: Release Democracy icon Daw Aung San Suu Kyi immediately

Tuesday, 26 May 2009 21:10
Burmese Rohingya Association in Japan (BRAJ)

Tokyo, Japan
Press Release

We, Burmese Rohingya Association in Japan, strongly condemned the Burmese brutal regime’s new designated trial of National hero pro-democracy leader Nobel Peace Prize Laureate Daw Aung San Suu Kyi, The current regime doesn’t care about national reconciliation and thoroughly ignores the future of the country. The regime is pushing ahead with its “seven-step roadmap”, determined to silence all political opposition, citing the case of the imprisoned political detainees of the 88 Generation Students, including leaders Min Ko Naing and Ko Ko Gyi.

The fate of Suu Kyi was pre-determined, and she would be detained again and unable to influence the general election politics of 2010. The pro-democracy leader faces up to five years in prison term if found guilty on charges that the regime accuses of she violated the terms of her house arrest. It is not acceptable for all of us to charge Daw Suu, because she did nothing wrong. She is not guilty. Daw Suu has spent 13 of the past 19 years under house arrest; it was a big crime that the regime committed.

Now it is time for the SPDC to create the necessary conditions for a genuine dialogue with Daw Aung San Suu Kyi and all concerned parties and ethnic groups in order to achieve an inclusive national reconciliation with the support of the United Nations. She is the most prominent of the opposition leaders in Myanmar . She heads the NLD party that won the only credible elections in 1990 and the regime needs to come to stipulations with that, but has failed to do so.

The ruling junta is very unjust to accuse and make the charges stem from May 3 incident in which an American, John William Yettaw, 53, swam across a lake to her house, Suu Kyi's asked Yettaw to leave her home immediately, but Yettaw refused, first saying he didn't want to swim in daylight for fear of being captured, and later blaming leg cramps. the pro-democracy advocate Daw Suu knew nothing about the American's plan to visit her and that she tried in vain to get him to leave.

The accident was merely breach of security where the authorities watched over her house. The regime’s security officers failed to protect Daw Suu .The trial against her in the notorious Insein Jail is nothing but a design to justify another extension of her yearlong detention, which ends May 27, 2009. The United Nations and international jurors have had said that her house arrest is illegal even under Burmese law.

We also express our concern that her transfer from her home to notorious Insein jail will aggravate her health due to the harsh prison condition.

We urge upon the international community, the United Nations, EU, ASEAN and neighbouring India and China to put pressure on the SPDC:

• To provide proper medical care to Daw Aung San Suu Kyi and all inmates.
• To immediately release Daw Suu and all other political prisoners.
• To engage in genuine dialogue with the democratic forces and ethnic nationalities on the basis of all-inclusive democratic and political process.

Thank you,

Yours sincerely,
Nay Lynn
Information and Publication
Burmese Rohingya Association in Japan (BRAJ)

Kaladan Press

READ MORE---> BRAJ Press Release: Release Democracy icon Daw Aung San Suu Kyi immediately...

Recent Posts from Burma Wants Freedom and Democracy

Recent posts from WHO is WHO in Burma


The Nuke Light of Myanmar Fan Box
The Nuke Light of Myanmar on Facebook
Promote your Page too