Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Meeting with Ban “Unsatisfactory”: NLD

The Irrawaddy News

The Burmese opposition party National League for Democracy (NLD) said a meeting between the party leaders and UN chief Ban Ki-moon during his two-day trip to Burma was “unsatisfactory” because of the severe time limitation.

Win Naing, a spokesperson for the NLD, told The Irrawaddy on Wednesday that his party will release a statement on Thursday about the details of the meeting with Ban in Naypyidaw on July 3.

Four central committee executives of the NLD, Hla Pe, Soe Myint, Nyunt Wai and Than Tun, met with the UN general secretary in Burma’s new capital.

Win Naing said his party leaders were firstly allowed to meet and talk with Ban for only two minutes. The party leaders were then given ten minutes after they asked for more time.

“We are not satisfied with the time limit. We wanted to discuss current events far more and submit our proposals, but we had no choice,” said Win Naing.

During the meeting with Ban, the NLD’s executive members talked about the release of political prisoners, calls for dialogue and a review of the current constitution, said sources in Rangoon.

During his two-day visit, Ban also talked with Burma’s No 1, Snr-Gen Than Shwe, and urged him to release an estimated 2,100 political prisoners and opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi, and embark on democratization ahead of multi-party elections scheduled for next year.

Ban also asked for a meeting with the detained opposition leader Suu Kyi. Than Shwe rejected his request, reasoning that the opposition leader was under trial.

Ban ended his visit to Burma on July 4 as Burmese observers were commenting that his trip had been “a failure” due to his failure to meet with Suu Kyi.

Before he left Rangoon, the UN general-secretary said he was "deeply disappointed" that junta chief Than Shwe had refused his requests to visit the detained pro-democracy leader.

Journalists in Rangoon, however, said that though Ban had been humiliated by junta leader Snr-Gen Than Shwe, his frank message to the generals would have irked them.

The NLD also stated that the failure of Ban’s trip was due to the Burmese generals’ unwillingness to move forward to democratization in Burma and not the efforts by the UN secretary general.

Win Naing said, “Ban Ki-moon tried his best. But, he failed to achieve what he wanted because of decisions by the Burmese government.”

“We recognize what the UN has tried to do for Burma, on the contrary,” he added.

Nyan Win, the main spokesperson for the NLD, also said that the failure was due to "a lack of willingness and genuine goodwill on the part of the government.”

Ban’s first trip to Burma was in May 2008 after Cyclone Nargis had slammed into Burma’s Irrawaddy and Rangoon Divisions. During his first trip, he eased the junta’s tight control over the inflow of international humanitarian aid to parts of the country affected by the cyclone.

READ MORE---> Meeting with Ban “Unsatisfactory”: NLD...

‘SOS BURMA,’ time for UN to do the right thing

by May Ng
Mizzima News

Unlike in the past visit, this time there was no real expectation that the United Nations General Secretary’s visit to Burma would change anything.

The State Peace and Development Council (SPDC) wanted Ban Ki-moon only to see a sterile and desolate Naypyidaw and forget the long suffering Karen and Shan people living in armed conflict areas, or the hellish lives of exiled Rohingyas, or the Chin, Kachin, Arkan, Mon, Hindus, Muslims, Christians and Chinese who lack citizenships or human rights, and the revered Buddhist monks living under severe oppression.

But one thing is certain that conflicts are only between the SPDC and the rest of Burma. Be it among ethnic nationalities or people of different shade of skin or faith it is only when SPDC enters the picture sparks of resentment ignite and even the same ethnic brothers are persuaded to take up arms against each other.

The generals may consider Naypyidaw their spanking modern Kyan-sit-thar fantasy land. But in reality they are surrounded by enemies they have created. They are digging tunnels deeper underground and they do desperately seek nuclear and missile capability. There is every reason to assume that the latest North Korean ship which has turned back might have been carrying suspicious weapons for the military junta in Burma.

In 1952 the great traveler Norman Lewis wrote that to cross the Burmese frontier was to pass behind a curtain excluding all news of the outside world. And he said that while in Vietnam the established authority was challenged by a united opposition with a single ideology, in Burma the government was opposed by countless band of oppositions and ideologies. He also wrote that unlike Vietnam in the 50’s where even after the years of Japanese occupation and the war with the French, much of the ordinary routine of life had survived, Burma in comparison had remained isolated and mysterious.

The military in Burma therefore came to power by default rather than by its ability. Its intention now is to hold Burma a hostage to its past. But things have changed since the internet generation came of age as seen in the 2007 Saffron Revolution.

Without true liberty and equality, small minorities even while oppressed by the mighty military or invaded by a major ethnicity, will continue to rebel. Political turmoil across the globe from Baghdad to Urumqi in Xinjiang clearly suggests that the use of force alone gains very little. No matter how large the military force the ghost of discontent will continue to circle unseen, only to show its anger and ferocity in another unexpected corner.

The battle ground will shift but Generals in Naypyidaw will continue to be haunted by ghosts of yesterday’s rebels long after their tunnel complexes are built and their arsenals fully assembled.

The Shan State armed movement initiated first by a small band of July 7th student rebels after the 1962 coup, has evolved into today’s Shan State Army South. Its present chairman Colonel Yawd Serk said that a political party without an army is similar to a tiger without claws and fangs; nevertheless he also believes that it is the political force which must lead the army. And to be able to lead, the political force must have a good competitive constitution, rules and regulations and clear political policy. The humanitarian wing of the SSA organization, the Shan Health Committee member Sai Khur Hseng has been trying to procure funds to provide political and democracy lessons to its fighters. The priority and the frontline of Burma’s fight for freedom have moved on and now traverse across linguistic, cultural, political and racial barriers. It is now expected that uniting the efforts of all political and ethnic movement is more possible than ever.

Besides, with the electronic speed of traversing borders, Burma is now clearly visible on the world’s stage. The challenge for Ban ki-moon is what can the United Nations do to stop the overt hostility of the Burmese military junta against their own people, and to help end the political persecution and military aggression on ethnic areas in Burma? For a start Ban should press the UNSC to forbid all arms sale to the military regime. The Saffron Revolution central leader U Pyinya Zawta urged that to be effective President Obama, ASEAN and EU must all work together to continue to pressure the Burmese military. It is right that Ban Ki moon asked for the release of Aung San Suu Kyi and all political prisoners to make clear to the regime of Naypyidaw that the 2010 election will be a sham without freedom for the people in Burma.

The Burmese people will never forget their leaders in junta’s jails. Not withstanding what James George Scott wrote in 1886 that ‘Pohn-gyee’ or Burmese monk’s person is sacred and inviolable and nothing he does can subject him to the civil law. U Pyinya Zawta, a Saffron commander in exile confirmed that Ashin U Gambira, the spokesperson and a distinguished monk leader of the ABMA during the Saffron Revolution is now sick in prison from torture and severe punishment by the military in Burma.

Min Ko Naing’s poem written in 2007,

Slavery by foreigners
Or slavery by military dictators
No slavery will be tolerated
Flag of the Peacock!
Atop the student union
We shall resurrect ‘Daun A Larn’ the Peacock flag

and the traffic volume on Ko Moethee Zun’s web blog are evidences that, even in the aftermath of the bloody show of force against the young leaders during the 2007 Saffron Revolution, nothing will stop the anti-government activities continuing in the shadow of bloody oppression in Burma. The new generation leaders believe that the freedom prize they seek is not worth anything if it isn’t worth dying for.

(May Ng is a member of Justice for Human Rights in Burma.)

READ MORE---> ‘SOS BURMA,’ time for UN to do the right thing...

Uighurs protest outside Chinese consulate in Sydney

(SMH) - Uighur protesters have rallied outside the Chinese consulate in Sydney, demanding freedom and justice for their Muslim countrymen in China.

They chanted "freedom to Uighurs" and "shame on you murderers" in front of the closed consulate in Camperdown.

Some carried banners reading "World listen to our plea" while others draped themselves in chains symbolising the oppression of their people in China.

The rally was in response to the deaths of 156 Uighurs in a Chinese military crackdown in Xianjing in western China at the weekend during what was intended to be a peaceful protest.

Retaliatory attacks have continued and ethnic tensions remain between the Uighurs and Han Chinese.

Australian Uighur Association spokesman Kuranda Seyit contrasted the Sydney protest with the Chinese rally.

"We are gathered here today at a peaceful protest," Mr Seyit told the crowd.

"There's nobody shooting us. There's nobody hitting us with sticks. There is nobody oppressing us.

"We want our freedom and democratic rights to express our disappointment and anger with the Chinese authorities.

"This is how a free and open society can be and this is what we want in China ... for the Uighur people."

However, police tackled and arrested one protester after he threw an egg at the consulate gates.

The 41-year-old was issued with a court order for throwing a missile in a public place, police said.

Mr Seyit called on the international community to pressure China after it supported Beijing's successful bid to host the Olympic Games.

"With one hand they open their palms to welcome the people of the world and with the other they are beating and killing Uighur people," he said.

"How on earth can the rest of the world tolerate this injustice against the Uighur people?"

The Uighur association's general secretary Mamtimin Ala said about 2,000 Uighurs live in Australia.

"I strongly urge the Australian government to put diplomatic pressure on China to exercise maximum restraints to handle this problem in a more ration and moral and legal way," Mr Ala said.

Australian Federation of Islamic Councils president Ikebal Patel said he deplored the attacks in China's only region with a Muslim majority.

He said a longstanding relationship between Muslims and Chinese for more than 1,400 years should not be allowed to be overtaken by violence and injustice.

"Australian Muslims appeal to the Chinese government to realise that persecution of its Muslims will not go unnoticed nor uncommented upon," Mr Patel said in a statement.

South Australian independent MP Kris Hanna has organised a rally in Adelaide on Thursday calling for the military crackdown in Xianjing to be condemned.

"Just as in Tibet, this is a disturbing case of old-fashioned imperialism by a repressive autocracy intolerant of cultural diversity," Mr Hanna said in a statement.

"In spite of our economic relationship with China, we need to tell Beijing that brutal violence and unjustified killing on ethnic or religious grounds is wrong and an offence to humanity."

AAP - July 8, 2009 - 5:21PM

READ MORE---> Uighurs protest outside Chinese consulate in Sydney...

China's Urumqi divided along tense ethnic lines


The flashpoint city of Urumqi has become China's Baghdad, a fearful resident said, as thousands of troops draw a line in the sand to prevent new ethnic unrest between the Han and Uighur people.

A demarcation line was set up along Renmin Road, the east-west artery through the city where troops carrying semi-automatic machine guns and heavy batons cut the city in half to separate the two communities.

Thousands of Han Chinese, armed with clubs, metal pipes and blunt weapons, had crossed the road the day before seeking revenge against Muslim Uighurs after riots Sunday.

Residents welcomed the security but many, especially Uighurs, expressed fears for the future.

"I'm afraid there will be more violence," said a Uighur man named Ali, who was allowed through security along with many other Uighurs to head home after spending a tense night at his workplace on the north side of the boundary.

"There was too much hatred around now. The future looks bad."

He also expressed fear about going home because of reports circulating among Uighurs that Chinese police were breaking into Uighur homes to arrest suspected rioters from Sunday.

The Han are China's dominant ethnic group, making up 91.5 percent of the nation's 1.3 billion people, according to the latest government figures.

But in Xinjiang, a vast region of deserts and mountains bordering Central Asia, eight million Turkic-speaking Uighurs make up nearly half the population.

Uighurs have consistently complained about discrimination and repression under communist Chinese rule over the past 60 years, accusations the government denies.

Many Han people also felt the dividing line between the two sides in Urumqi would likely last a long time, in a figurative if not physical sense.

"This will be very difficult to resolve. There is a lot of bad blood now because of the Uighurs," said Chen Xiping, 32.

"We needed this security because Urumqi has become our Baghdad."

But other Han were more optimistic.

"We will return to normal soon. I'm confident," said a Han man named Run as he watched army trucks rumbling along Renmin Road.

"This week we have seen the worst violence in Urumqi in 60 years. That shows that we basically have stability between the people."

However, illustrating the ethnic division, he rejected Uighur accusations of political, religious and cultural oppression by China.

"No, no, no, that's nonsense," he said.

"There is religious freedom and cultural freedom in China. They have as much freedom as we do."

But a Uighur eye doctor named Halisha said that type of attitude was one of the reasons behind the recent unrest.

"The Uighur people are always kept down by Chinese. So there will continue to be anger," said Halisha, who spent Tuesday night in his clinic in the Uighur district because he could not return to his home north of the security line.

July 8, 2009 - 4:02PM

READ MORE---> China's Urumqi divided along tense ethnic lines...

Crowd vents fury at police after bloodshed

Fury ... a woman shoves Chinese soldiers in riot gear as angry locals confront authorities in Urungi. "Release our husbands, free our sons," they chanted. Photo: Reuters (check the video on the SMH site)

John Garnaut Herald Correspondent in Urumqi -SMH
July 8, 2009

CHINA'S far-western Xinjiang province was again at flashpoint last night after a large crowd of distraught Uygur women carrying their babies confronted riot police in the heart of the provincial capital, Urumqi.

About 100 women in traditional Uygur dress and headscarves openly defied Chinese police - many carrying revolvers, rifles and tear-gas guns - to punch their fists in the air and demand the release of their sons and husbands, who they said had been beaten by police and taken to unknown destinations.

"Release our husbands, free our sons," chanted the women in the Uygur language. The crowd was swelled by hundreds of local residents who at one stage were beaten back by riot police with batons. Further bloodshed was narrowly averted - directly in front of the Herald - when a small group of Uygur men held back the crowd when it coalesced in a line to advance on riot police who were brandishing batons and advancing on them.

The line of riot police was engaged in a violent skirmish before being ordered to retreat. Later, senior police officers shouted amid the mayhem to restrain their troops, many of whom were armed and visibly angry.

A teenage Uygur boy next to me picked up a brick, broke it in half on the kerbside and moved to throw it at police before being persuaded to drop it.

Yesterday's extraordinary protests were fuelled by unconfirmed rumours that police had opened fire in a nearby area on Sunday night, killing many, and that mass arrests were continuing late yesterday.

The majority of protesters appeared beyond caring about their own physical safety despite, or perhaps because of, Xinjiang's recent history of protesters and rioters being met with brutal police reprisals.

The Chinese Government said 156 people were killed on Sunday night, mainly in Urumqi, by far the biggest officially acknowledged death toll from any civil unrest since the massacre in Tiananmen Square 20 years ago.

One Uygur onlooker told the Herald he had seen police shooting protesters on Sunday night - he said hundreds had been killed - but the Herald was been unable to verify any of the claims. Yesterday's protests began about 11am local time, and within 30 minutes police separated the protesting men and chased them down an adjacent lane.

The women and children remained to stage a sit-in on the bitumen of Dawen South Road, sandwiched between approaching lines of armed police in military camouflage and riot police with loaded tear gas canisters.

One young man who had incited the crowd was taken away in handcuffs but the Herald witnessed no further arrests. The women were leaving the scene about 11.45am when the Herald and other foreign journalists were asked to leave.

The incident appeared to have been inadvertently triggered and then constrained by the presence of foreign journalists who had been taken there by bus by the Government.

The tour had been intended to display the damage to burnt out car yards from Sunday and show that the tension was under control. Before the protests, a worker at the Geely car yard, who gave his name as Mr Xi, showed bruises on his arm and abdomen from rioters who swept through the area on Dawan South Road on Sunday night.

"I was protecting the yard with about 10 others when a couple of Uygurs entered," he said.

"I thought I could stop them but they chased me into the basement, where I hid under cars. But they dragged me out and beat me before I escaped back under the car again. I couldn't see clearly - I was covering my head - but I was beaten with sticks, rocks and other objects."

He said there were about 600 or 700 people in the crowd on Sunday night.

While the Herald interviewed him, before yesterday's protests, police shouted at Uygurs to disperse as I approached them, making it difficult to report their side of the story.

One young Uygur man, Atili, showed me a large bruise on his arm, which he said he received on Monday afternoon when police beat him while he was attempting to sell naan bread on the side of the road.

I asked if he had seen TV footage of the riots and he replied: "Our electricity has been cut off; we have not been allowed out even to get food."

Other Uygurs confirmed they were hungry and had not been allowed out since Sunday, even though the official police curfew applies only at night.

The short guided tour of Dawan South Road confirmed beyond doubt that large numbers of Xinjiang's Uygurs, who comprise nearly half the autonomous region's population, are fed up with decades of what they say is political, economic and physical repression under the tight leash of the Chinese Communist Party.

The cycles of protests, police violence, riots and further police repression have not ended.

Yesterday at 3.20pm more than a thousand angry Chinese vigilantes marched down the road outside the Haide Hotel and past the People's Square, one of Urumqi's most heavily guarded areas.

They were all armed with heavy, metre-long wooden and metal poles and some carried large carving knives.

"I've volunteered to protect the streets," said one man, carrying a wooden pole.

An elderly man chanted: "Protect the fruits of development."

After marching for four blocks the vigilante crowd was dispersed with tear gas, according to witnesses.


Who are the Uygurs?
They are Muslims who live in Xinjiang, an enormous oil-rich desert province to the north of Tibet. Uygurs have their own Turkic language and a rich cultural and trading history.

Why are they rioting?
The protest was to call for an inquiry into the deaths of two Uygur factory workers in southern China last month. However, the Uygur population has grown increasingly resentful of Chinese rule.

Does Xinjiang want independence from China?
Communist officials say there is a threat from Uygur nationalists. After the September 11, 2001, attacks, China pushed the US to classify two little-known separatist groups, the East Turkestan Islamic Movement and the East Turkestan Liberation Organisation, as terrorist organisations. Several Uygurs were held in Guantanamo Bay. But there remains scant evidence of a serious separatist movement.

Telegraph, London

READ MORE---> Crowd vents fury at police after bloodshed...

Chinese troops flood into restive Urumqi

Armed Chinese soldiers in riot gear run down a main street leading to the end of the city occupied by ethnic Uighurs in the city of Urumqi in China's Xinjiang Autonomous Region. Photo: Reuters

(SMH) -China poured troops into the restive city of Urumqi today in a massive show of force, but fresh unrest flared as Han Chinese and Muslim Uighurs armed themselves with makeshift weapons.

As one of the worst spikes in ethnic tensions to have hit China in decades showed no signs of easing, President Hu Jintao abandoned a Group of Eight summit in Italy to deal with the crisis.

In Urumqi, the capital of the remote northwest Xinjiang region where 156 people died in riots on Sunday, army helicopters circled overhead as thousands of soldiers and riot police filled the city shouting out "protect the people".

"We support this. The government has to take action to protect the people," said a Han Chinese man surnamed Run, 45, as he watched the troops roll by in trucks.

"But they should have got here sooner. It took them three days to do this. Why so long?"

After authorities blamed Muslim Uighurs for Sunday's unrest that also left more than 1000 people injured, Han Chinese took to the streets Tuesday with shovels, meat cleavers and other makeshift weapons vowing to defend themselves.

The city descended into chaos as mobs, sometimes made up of thousands of Han, surged towards Uighur neighbourhoods, only to be pushed back by security forces who fired volleys of tear gas.

After a night-time curfew was declared on Tuesday, Chinese authorities appeared determined to show they were able to maintain order, with some troops carrying rifles with bayonets affixed.

Thousands of riot police wearing helmets and carrying shields lined up on a main road in Urumqi dividing the city centre from a Uighur district, with columns of soldiers behind them.

Military trucks rolled by with loudspeakers blaring: "Everybody please cooperate, please go home."

But while the mobs had not returned and there was no more bloodshed, many Han Chinese and some Uighurs were still carrying makeshift weapons in the city centre and outlying districts, AFP reporters witnessed Wednesday.

In one incident, about 200 Uighurs armed with sticks, pipes and rocks began protesting directly in front of a police cordon that was dividing their neighbourhood from a Han-populated area, one AFP reporter said.

A smaller group of Uighurs had been trading insults and accusations with Han who were on the other side of the cordon and similarly armed with makeshift weapons.

The crowd of Uighurs grew after a helicopter dropped leaflets blaming Sunday's unrest on exiled Uighur leader Rebiya Kadeer, but they also claimed police had overnight allowed Han Chinese to freely attack Muslim areas.

"Last night about 300 Han came through the security over there (pointing to the police cordon) and they attacked people's homes and smashed up a restaurant," Akbar, 20, told AFP.

It was not immediately possible to verify the accusations.

During Wednesday's stand-off the Uighurs yelled at police but there were no immediate violent clashes. Police moved foreign reporters away from the scene after about 15 minutes, stopping them from being able to witness events.

Earlier in the day and in the mainly Han-populated part of town, one woman in her 30s was seen walking on the street carrying a large stick with nails coming out of it, while others were carrying knives and steel poles.

Many shops and businesses remained closed and there were no buses or taxis running through the centre of town.

Highlighting the severity of the crisis, the government announced Hu had cut short a trip to Italy for the G8 summit.

"In light of the current situation in Xinjiang, President Hu Jintao returned to China early this morning," the foreign ministry said.

International alarm over the crisis intensified, with Muslim countries, the United Nations and the European Union expressing concern.

Xinjiang's eight million Uighurs make up nearly half the population of the region, a vast area of deserts and mountains rich in natural resources that borders Central Asia.

The Turkic-speaking people have long complained of repression and discrimination under Chinese rule, but Beijing insists it has brought economic prosperity to the region.


READ MORE---> Chinese troops flood into restive Urumqi...

Burma Rebuilding Uneven After Cyclone

The Irrawaddy News

KYON DA VILLAGE, Burma — As the UN helicopter skimmed above the placid Irrawaddy Delta, Burma's military junta was putting the final touches on its showcase village.

This picture provided by the United Nations shows UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon arriving at the village of Kyon Da in the Delta of Burma to see the progress of reconstruction from last year's devastating cyclone which killed over 130,000 people.

Throngs of people lined the muddy walkways of Kyon Da village, a relief camp erected in this cyclone-hit area, while others stayed in their homes—neat rows of small houses made out of dried palm and matted bamboo.

The new houses on stilts replaced the plastic tents and stacks of supplies put on display for visitors a year earlier, after Cyclone Nargis devastated the delta in May 2008.

For last weekend's visit by UN officials, some villagers smiled, and their kids sported freshly starched and ironed white linen garments. Many of the women and children wore Thanaka, a cosmetic used by Burmese women for 2,000 years—golden-colored tree bark that is ground, made into paint and used to draw circles on the cheeks and even their ears.

About 1,000 homes collapsed and more than 100 people died in Kyon Da when the cyclone struck.

The angry waters that swallowed 138,000 lives in the cyclone have receded. Seen from above, where there had been a monolith of shimmering water was now a patchwork of rice field and border, river and shoreline, muddy pond and gray cloud.

Gone were the endless stretches of flooded rice fields and islands of destroyed homes with a few people standing on the rooftops. It affected more than two million, leaving a quarter-million homeless.

The biggest health threats remain HIV and AIDS, malaria and tuberculosis, according to the International Organization for Migration, which began partnering with Myanmar's government in 2005. In the past year IOM-led medical teams treated 110,613 people in 858 of the affected villages.

Local medical officials in Kyon Da Village began to explain to a reporter last Saturday how the clinics were all busy, with the village and the broader Irrawaddy Delta region suffering from a high number of respiratory infections.

But after government minders began listening in, the medical officials suddenly seemed to lose their ability to speak English. End of conversation.

Residents spoke of some improved health conditions—fewer cases of diarrhea and several new clinics nearby. Some other improvements were obvious, but this was the camp that the xenophobic junta that rules Burma wanted the world to see.

"Clearly, they are living in their own world," a senior UN official along for the village inspection said of Burma's ruling junta, speaking on condition of anonymity to avoid angering authorities.

Many Western nations haven't fully opened their wallets to the UN's three-year, $691 million recovery plan, lacking trust in Burma or not wanting to provide too much help to an authoritarian regime, a senior UN humanitarian official said on condition of anonymity to protect his relationship with Burmese authorities.

UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon's first trip to Burma more than a year earlier helped overcome the reluctance for which the junta was widely condemned in granting foreign aid agencies access in the first weeks after the disaster, which almost certainly added to the death toll.

But to focus on securing cooperation from Burma's government with various humanitarian agencies, Ban dropped any appeals to the ruling generals to improve their human rights' record or to release jailed democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi and thousands of other political prisoners.

Ban's visit last weekend was meant to make up for that. He held two rare meetings with the junta chief, Snr-Gen Than Shwe, but was not allowed to see the 64-year-old Nobel Peace Prize laureate, who has been detained by the ruling generals for nearly 14 of the past 20 years.

Suu Kyi is now on trial, charged with violating her house arrest, and faces five years in prison if convicted in a trial that has sparked global outrage.

On a brief visit to Kyon Da Village carefully scripted by Burmese regime, the UN chief was haunted by the memory of a baby girl he encountered here a year ago. "She was only one day old," Ban mused aloud.

He had seen the mother living in a tent with the girl, hours after her birth. He'd seen another girl, too, just 19 days old, sick and clinging to life, but lacking medical support. He'd told the mothers not to lose hope, the United Nations was there to help.

But the UN's World Food Program, which has operated in Burma for 15 years, still cannot muster 44 percent of the $79 million it says is needed over three years. The World Health Organization still lacks 57 percent of $42 million in projected needs for 325 townships.

Ban wasn't able to determine the whereabouts of those fledgling lives he'd seen the year before. Instead, he and his entourage—top aides and two journalists—got a snapshot that showed some improvements while masking remaining problems.

Ban, who carried the same message as last year that the UN was there to help and keep hope alive, said he was satisfied "the government has taken necessary measures."

Nearly a quarter-million people in remote villages rely on boat deliveries of clean drinking water, rice fields remain bare or contaminated with salt from the floodwaters, and food handouts are increasingly scarce.

Schools are rebuilt but short of teachers, and a half-million people still live in the most basic of shelters.

READ MORE---> Burma Rebuilding Uneven After Cyclone...

US Expresses Concern over Burma

The Irrawaddy News

WASHINGTON — The United States expressed concern on Tuesday over the state of democracy in Burma, and urged the military junta to release all political prisoners including Aung San Suu Kyi.

“I think our concerns with the state of democracy are very well known. We, of course, have called for the release of the 2,100 political prisoners in Burma,” the State Department spokesman, Ian C Kelly, told reporters at his daily press briefing.

Kelly said the Obama Administration has called very specifically for the release of Aung San Suu Kyi, who has spent 13 of the last 19 years under house arrest.

The spokesman said the Obama Administration is currently reviewing its Burma policy. “We have a new Assistant Secretary for East Asian and Pacific Affairs, Kurt Campbell. So I would suspect that we will have more to say when we will begin to wrap up this policy review and have more to say at that time,” he said.

Meanwhile, the UN Secretary General, Ban Ki-moon, announced in Bangkok on Saturday that Ibrahim Gambari, the Special UN Envoy for Burma, would convene a meeting of the Group of Friends on Burma for a briefing upon his return to New York.

READ MORE---> US Expresses Concern over Burma...

Hu Jintao leaves G8 as riots in China escalate

( -CHINESE President Hu Jintao, on an official visit to Italy for the G8 summit, has decided to return to China due to the situation in Xinjiang where riots have claimed more than 150 lives, ANSA news agency reports.

"Given the worsening of the disorder in Xinjiang, President Hu Jintao has decided to move forward his return to China and not participate in the G8 summit'" which opens on Wednesday in the central Italian town of L'Aquila, Tang Heng, first political counsellor at the Chinese embassy in Rome, was quoted as saying.

Mr Hu, visiting Pisa in Tuscany, "is leaving this town to return to Beijing," the Italian news agency said.

State Councillor Dai Bingguo would take part in the summit of the Group of Eight and major developing countries on Mr Hu's behalf, China's official Xinhua news agency reported.

Fresh ethnic strife erupted in Urumqi, capital of China's remote northwest Xinjiang region, yesterday as thousands of angry Han Chinese armed with poles, meat cleavers and other makeshift weapons stormed through the streets as the flashpoint city riven by ethnic tensions descended into chaos.

Heavily armed security forces fired tear gas at the crowds and ordered a night curfew in an effort to restore calm in Urumqi, where 156 people died in weekend clashes.

G8 leaders gathering in Italy faced deepening crises in Iran and China and a warning that the worst political and social effects of the global economic downturn are still to come.

Leaders of the Group of Eight (G8) industrialised nations and a host of emerging powers meet until Friday in the city of L'Aquila, which was devastated in April by an earthquake that killed nearly 300 people.

From correspondents in Rome
Agence France-Presse

VIDEO below by Sydney Morning Herald: Violence in China: eyewitness

READ MORE---> Hu Jintao leaves G8 as riots in China escalate...

Ahmadinejad vows changes to team

Let's watch the dictator and welcome the changes
( -IRANIAN President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has vowed to make changes to his team and "respect" young people when his new government takes office after his disputed re-election.

"The structure of government should change, the changes in the government will be considerable," Mr Ahmadinejad said in a televised address to the Iranian people overnight.

He said his new government will put "housing, employment and economic reform" on its agenda.

"I am against police confrontation with people... We must respect people's tastes especially the youth," said Mr Ahmadinejad, whose opponents say was only re-elected through vote rigging.

The hardliner, who enjoys the backing of supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, was announced the winner of June 12 poll amid fraud allegations by former prime minister Mir Hossein Mousavi and reformist candidate Mehdi Karroubi.

The disputed results spurred hundreds of thousands to take to streets in week-long protests which police admit led to the death of at least 20 Iranians and the arrest of more than 1000.

Human rights groups say the number arrested was more than 2000 in the biggest upheaval since the Islamic Republic was established 30 years ago.

Iran has accused Western powers, notably Britain and the United States, of stoking post election unrest.

Mr Ahmadinejad hit out at world powers over their "interference and childish acts" and vowed that Iran "will not back down in seeking its deserved position and rights".

Iran is locked in a standoff over its controversial nuclear program which the West fears is a cover for weapons development, a charge than Tehran denies.

Mr Ahmadinejad insisted that the election was fair, saying: "This was the most beautiful and cleanest election."

From correspondents in Tehran
Agence France-Presse
July 08, 2009 04:48am

READ MORE---> Ahmadinejad vows changes to team...

Everyone is complicit in propping up the evil Burmese regime

BANGKOK -The Nation

Re: "Burmese junta does not respect anyone", Editorial, July 7.

You rightly address the visit of the secretary-general of the United Nations to Burma in your Tuesday editorial as it is of regional and international importance, and you are rightly dismissive, in general, towards the effectiveness of this visit. I share your feelings but mine are far more extreme as they are simply derision.

This man in his toadying to a regime which everyone seems to have conveniently forgotten is totally illegitimate - having acted to prevent a democratically elected government taking office and removing its leader from society and keeping her in total isolation - has yet again given it credibility and legitimacy.

He, his office and the United Nations have been comprehensively ridiculed by a murderous thug parading as the leader of Burma. This is a man who ruthlessly suppresses the people of Burma, murders monks, and while the country starves happily organises a wedding for his daughter that made the excesses of the American soap operas "Dallas" and "Dynasty" look small beer.

Yet Thai ministers merrily trot off to this vile regime, along with an endless collection of others, to, in their words, "engage" with the generals in the hope of encouraging them to have a Pauline conversion and happily move the country to a democracy.

In what drug-fuelled fantasy do these sycophants live? It does not take the intellect of Einstein nor the reasoning power of Euclid to deduce this is as likely to occur as Kim Jong-il seeing the errors of his ways next Tuesday, closing down all his nuclear facilities and inviting McDonald's to open a chain of stores throughout the country.

The world in general and the UN, Asean and those countries bordering Burma specifically have brazenly betrayed the people of Burma under the cruelly fatuous nonsense of engagement.

China's behaviour of not caring a jot can be expected as it has little concern for its people, having cheerfully announced that Western style democracy would never be allowed to be established in the communist dictatorship. It simply wants raw materials at any cost to keep the juggernaut of economic progress rolling, as any blip in that might unseat communist control.

India, despite being a democracy, does no better, being presumably motivated by base greed and jealousy of China's gains in resources from Burma, and happily looks the other way while trying to feed from the trough.

The UN is regretfully an excessively expensive, impotent irrelevance, and Asean but a callous collection of dictatorships and faux democracies trying to play on a world stage. All lack the ability, motivation or intention to right this grotesque aberration that blights the modern world.

READ MORE---> Everyone is complicit in propping up the evil Burmese regime...

China's Urumqi province capital in chaos

China has imposed a curfew on the chaotic city of Urumqi
after two days of riots that killed 156, amid
signs of growing anti-Han Chinese protests
by Muslim Uighur residents like this woman.

By: Bangkok Post - AFP

Beijing: Thousands of angry Han Chinese armed with poles, meat cleavers and other makeshift weapons stormed through Urumqi Tuesday as the flashpoint city riven by ethnic tensions descended into chaos.

Heavily armed security forces fired tear gas at the crowds and ordered a night curfew in an effort to restore calm in Urumqi, capital of China's remote northwest Xinjiang region, where 156 people died in weekend clashes.

But tensions remained at boiling point, with Han Chinese roaming the city wielding machetes, bricks, chains, steel bars and other weapons while calling for revenge against Muslim Uighurs who they blamed for Sunday's carnage.

"The Uighurs came to our area to smash things, now we are going to their area to beat them," one protester, who was carrying a metal pipe, told AFP.

World leaders have urged restraint from protesters and the authorities to prevent further violence.

"I urge Uighur and Han civic leaders and the Chinese authorities at all levels to exercise great restraint so as not to spark further violence and loss of life," said Navi Pillay, the UN's top human rights official.

White House spokesman Robert Gibbs on Monday said the United States was "deeply concerned" about the reports of deaths in Urumqi and called for "all in Xinjiang to exercise restraint".

Sunday's unrest, which also left more than 1,000 people injured, began with protests by Xinjiang's Uighurs, who have long complained of repression under Han Chinese rule.

Chinese authorities have blamed exiled Muslim Uighurs for masterminding the unrest -- charges they deny -- and announced Tuesday they had arrested 1,434 suspects for murder, assault, looting and other crimes linked to the violence.

But Han Chinese in Urumqi declared they were not satisfied with the government response.

"It is time we looked after ourselves instead of waiting for the government," said Dong Sun, a 19-year-old leader of one mob.

Police prevented the crowds, one of which an AFP reporter estimated was more than 10,000-strong, from entering Uighur neighbourhoods by firing tear gas and erecting barricades.

But in other areas of Urumqi police and other security personnel simply looked on as mobs swept through the streets shouting nationalist slogans.

Others chanted, "Protect our families! Protect our homes!", the official Xinhua news agency reported.

The only incident of direct violence against a Uighur that AFP witnessed was when a small mob stopped a car being driven by a Uighur man. The mob smashed his car but the man was able to drive off.

There were no reports from Chinese state media of direct violence against Uighurs.

Xinjiang Communist Party chief Wang Lequan called for calm as authorities announced a night-time curfew.

"Neither the Han nor Uighur people are willing to see the Han people being attacked," Xinhua quoted Wang as saying.

"It is the same the other way around. If the Han people attack the innocent Uighur people, it is also heart-breaking."

Earlier Tuesday, more than 200 Uighurs, mostly women, staged a protest in front of foreign reporters to demand the release of their relatives detained in the security sweep that followed Sunday's unrest.

The women, with tears rolling down their faces, shook their fists in the air and yelled at police in a tense stand-off that lasted about an hour before ending peacefully.

China's eight million Uighurs are a Turkic-speaking people who have long complained about the influx of Han Chinese into what they regard as their homeland, a vast area of mountains and deserts that borders Central Asia.

Exiled Uighur groups have sought to lay the blame for Sunday's violence on Chinese authorities, saying the protests were peaceful until security forces over-reacted and fired indiscriminately on crowds.

China has accused exiled Uighur leader Rebiya Kadeer of masterminding the violence but she has denied the accusations and called on Monday for an international probe into the violence.

The identities of those killed and injured in the riots remained unclear on Tuesday. Chinese authorities have not said how many were Han Chinese or Uighur.

READ MORE---> China's Urumqi province capital in chaos...

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