Friday, August 14, 2009

‘De jure, we are the government, not the military’

The Jakarta Post -Dozens of MPs elected in Burma’s (Myanmar) 1990 elections have since fled the country to escape imprisonment and prosecution by the ruling military junta, who to this day refuse to acknowledge the landslide victory of the National League for Democracy (NLD), led by Nobel Laureate Aung San Suu Kyi. The Jakarta Post’s Lilian Budianto talks to one of them, Sein Win, who, from his home in Maryland, the United States, serves as Prime Minister of the government in exile. Sein Win came to Jakarta this week to hold a conference to seek international support for reforms in Myanmar. However, Wednesday’s conference was shut down by the police at the very last minute on the grounds that it was organized by an ‘illegal group’ and might damage Indonesian-Myanmarese relations. Below are excerpts from the interview.

Question: The Indonesian Foreign Ministry said Jakarta cannot issue a permit to a government in exile, whoever they may be. This ban was made despite Jakarta’s loud calls for the release of Aung San Suu Kyi. What do you want to say about this?

Answer: This is an unfortunate thing. De jure, we are the elected government, based on the results of the 1990 elections. However, the government being recognized by Indonesia and other countries is the de facto government, which is, let’s say, illegal. We are very disappointed with Indonesia’s position, of course. We have chosen Indonesia to launch our proposal for a democracy in our country because we think Indonesia has similarities with Burma. Indonesia’s transition from a military regime to a democracy should lend the world spirit that change can happen in Myanmar. But of course, Indonesia, no matter what, is still a part of ASEAN together with Myanmar and leans toward to the grouping’s principle of noninterference. This is unfortunate. We are very disappointed.

Could you please explain the proposal for democracy in Burma?

We finished the draft recently after a year of preparation. Some points date back to the 1990s. We need to do a lot of things, like make reforms in the banking system, financial arrangements and monetary policy. You have it in the book. (The 23-paged proposal features calls for a review and amendment of the 2008 Constitution, the release of all political prisoners, including Suu Kyi, and the reform of security and social policies.)

The proposal has many very sensitive points of reform, how will the proposal be accepted?

Well, whether they accepted it or not is not really the matter. The most important thing is that we start a dialogue. Negotiations must go on; that’s what we want. The proposal contains our vision of Burma in the future. That economy and other things should go in a certain way. If they [the military] cannot accept it we are willing to have a dialogue with them asking what’s on their mind and find out how they are going to solve the problems. But we see that they are avoiding a dialogue; they want an election and a referendum, not dialogue. The military will not talk to us. We know that.

The military will not participate in a dialogue. What do you think the key to approaching them is?

There are many countries that could influence Burma – China for example. But China is always saying that it is an internal problem, and so, as long as they take this as an internal problem, they will not do much. Our people have traveled to China; they met with some officials in Kunming, Yunnan, although we want our message to go to the decision makers in Beijing. Besides China, our neighboring countries and regional countries also play an important role.

How do you think Indonesia or ASEAN play a role in the restoration of democracy in Burma?

What we want is ASEAN to be active and outspoken. The Indonesian government has already given a statement about the verdict in the trial of Suu Kyi. It was the right action and we are thankful for it. We also know that ASEAN is not comfortable with the military because ASEAN is outward looking. When you visit Indonesia you will see lots of foreigners, foreign companies and media. Even Vietnam and Cambodia are outward looking. They don’t like the military. However, politics in ASEAN are based on two things: they are politics of noninterference and quiet diplomacy. This is unfortunate. If you go quiet, you will not come to anything. The military will not be affected. They don’t care.

How do you see economic relations relating to the way ASEAN deals with Burma?

There are ASEAN investments in Burma and may be because of that ASEAN is not outspoken. Burma is using its national resources for his own benefit. I am not allowed to enter Thailand because of pressure from the [Myanmarese] military.

What do you have to say about next year’s election?

The military will try anything to win. They don’t want to see a reoccurrence of the results of 1990 election.

What about the future of the struggle against the military?

We are all getting old. It was 20 years ago when my friends and I were elected MPs. We will have to think about having the youth join us. They can be people inside and outside Burma. Inside Burma, it is of course an underground movement; the question is how to recruit them.


In Maryland, Sein Win, 64, lives with his wife and a daughter, who joined him from Burma in 2000, as well as a son, who was born in the US. He earned his doctorate in Mathematics from Hamburg University in Germany and taught at universities in Burma and abroad before entering politics in 1988. The cousin of Aung San Suu Kyi, he is the chairman of Party of National Democracy (PND), which was set up in 1988 as a back up party for Suu Kyi’s NLD. He is currently serving his fifth term as prime minister of the National Coalition Government of the Union of Burma (NCGUB). He works with 10 other Burmese in the NCGUB office in Maryland.

READ MORE---> ‘De jure, we are the government, not the military’...

Ex-Burmese child soldier in final fight to avoid deportation

By Jason Warick, Saskatoon StarPhoenix

SASKATOON (Vancouver Sun)— A former child soldier now living in Saskatoon has one final hearing Friday morning before a federal court judge in his fight against deportation, say advocates.

If Nay Myo Hein is sent back as scheduled next week to Burma, a southeast Asian military dictatorship also known as Myanmar, his Saskatoon lawyer and others say that as a deserter, he'll be imprisoned or worse.

He would be the first known case of a Burmese refugee claimant deported from Canada, said Kevin McLeod of the group Canadian Friends of Burma.

"He's at risk of being imprisoned, tortured and killed," Saskatoon lawyer Chris Veeman said Thursday. Veeman was meeting with Hein, Hein's mother-in-law Zin Marlin and friend Khaing Kyaw to plan for the federal court Friday.

While pursuing these final attempts at a legal solution, Veeman, McLeod and many in Saskatoon's 1,000-strong Burmese community are also appealing to Public Safety Minister Peter Van Loan to intervene and grant a stay on deportation. McLeod said his group contacted the minister's office Thursday but no response has been received yet. The minister's office could not be reached late Thursday afternoon.

Hein, who repairs car bumpers in Saskatoon and has been in a common-law relationship with a Burmese immigrant in the city for the past year, said he was kidnapped by military officials while waiting for a train on the outskirts of the capital of Rangoon.

During his "training," he was beaten and abused. "I'm against killing and wanted to get as far away as possible from them," he told officials at a Canadian hearing, where he represented himself.

He fled to the Burmese countryside and finished high school with the assistance of his aunt. He lived in constant fear of being recaptured. When a fellow deserter was arrested and sentenced to prison, he decided to flee.

Hein paid an "agent" to obtain travel documents and bribe airport officials. He flew to Columbia, but was not allowed to stay. He made his way into a shipping container, which stopped in New Orleans.

American officials would not let him get off the ship. It sailed to Cuba, but Hein feared the Cubans would send him back to Burma, so he stayed put. After more than a month on board, the ship docked in New Brunswick on New Year's Eve, 2007.

Hein fled to a relative's house in Moncton before filing for refugee status.

He came to Saskatoon shortly after to live with an uncle, got a job and met his now common-law wife, Haymar Zin.

"I like Saskatoon. It's okay," Hein said. "I am very afraid. I don't want to go back to Burma. It just depends on the judge and the government."

Hein's claim was rejected a the first stage because the judge didn't believe his story. Another official didn't believe he faced danger if returned, according to Hein's advocates.

READ MORE---> Ex-Burmese child soldier in final fight to avoid deportation...

KIO trains administrative staff

by Myo Gyi

Ruili (Mizzima) – The Kachin Independence Organization (KIO), which has refused to transform itself to a Border Guard Force (BGF), is imparting military training to departmental staff members now into administrative work, in the areas under its control.

“The staff members are from the Education, Immigration, Police, Administrative, and Health Departments. Teachers from the Education Department have not been included. There are about 300 staff members in the Administrative Department. They are being summoned for training in batches leaving only a skeleton staff to take care of the concerned offices,” a KIO source said.

It is learnt that after the training, all trainees will be equipped with small arms.

The Burmese Army is deploying more combat units in Don Phon Yan and Nam San Yan, which are not far from the KIO headquarters in Lai Za.

The junta is trying to force ceasefire armies based along the Sino-Burma border to transform into a Border Guard Force but all the groups have rejected the junta’s proposal. Following this the relation between the Burmese Army and ceasefire groups has soured and there is palpable tension between them.

READ MORE---> KIO trains administrative staff...

Bowing down to junta pressure a setback for Indonesia

By Lilian Budianto , The Jakarta Post

Civil groups, legislators and experts expressed regret over Indonesia's decision to cancel a meeting held by members of the Burmese government in exile in Jakarta, saying it has hurt the country's democracy credentials by bowing to the junta's pressure. (JEG's: the junta can do their way without nuclears what it would be once the reactor is ready to shoot?)

"Indonesia has bowed to Myanmar's military regime at the expense of its democracy and sovereignty," Indonesia's Solidarity for Burma said Thursday in a statement.

"The ban was in contradiction to the government's calls for Myanmar to release Aung San Suu Kyi and to restore democracy... Indonesia has fallen back on its commitment to push for reforms in Myanmar."

The solidarity comprised nine groups: Human Rights Watch, Kontras, Indonesian Legal Aid Foundation, Imparsial, Jakarta Legal Aid Foundation, Padma Indonesia, Hikmahbudhi, Arus Pelangi and INFID.

On Wednesday, Indonesian police ordered Burmese government members in exile to cancel a meeting to seek international support for reforms in the junta-led Myanmar. The junta has refused to acknowledge the victory of Suu Kyi and her National League for Democracy (NLD) party in the 1990 elections.

Members of parliament elected in 1990 and Burmese ethnic groups living in exile had planned to launch a proposal for a national reconciliation during the Jakarta meeting. The meeting itself had been attended by dozens of diplomats from Western countries.

The proposal features requests for a review and/or an amendment to the 2008 Constitution, the release of all political prisoners, including Suu Kyi, and reforms in security and social security affairs.

Indonesian Foreign Ministry spokesman Teuku Faizasyah said Wednesday the ban was due to Indonesia's recognition of only one Myanmar government, and could not allow any political activities by members of its government in exile.

Indonesian Institute of Sciences senior researcher Dewi Fortuna Anwar said although it was understandable Jakarta could not recognize the government in exile, it should have not banned the meeting, aimed at wooing support for the release of Suu Kyi.

Suu Kyi was sentenced to another 18 months of house arrest after being found guilty of allowing a US citizen to stay at her home.

"The government could have issued a statement saying it has nothing to do with the activity or the conference they convened," she said.

"They shouldn't have banned it as it will only have an adverse impact on our democracy credentials and backfire on the government."

Eva K. Sundari, a legislator and member of the ASEAN Inter-Parliamentary Myanmar Caucus (AIPMC), said the police had claimed the government in exile was an illegal group that might pose a threat to Indonesian-Myanmar diplomatic ties.

"We reported the meeting in May and there was no objection from the police," she said.

"Two days ago, they suddenly informed us about the cancellation in response to objections from the Myanmar Embassy to the meeting."

Legislator Marzuki Darusman, also from the AIPMC, said the ban was a big Indonesian failure at the international stage, considering Jakarta had always thrown its weight behind democracy in Myanmar at regional and multilateral forums.

"We do understand the sensitivity of the Myanmar issue, the objection from the Myanmar Embassy and the position taken by the Foreign Ministry," he said.

"However, as a democracy, the government's ban should not take place. They could have helped by finding solutions to have the meeting go on without having to insult the Myanmar government."

READ MORE---> Bowing down to junta pressure a setback for Indonesia...

Asean to seek pardon for Suu Kyi

By Supalak Ganjanakhundee
The Nation

Asean would ask Burma's military junta to grant pardon for opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi who was sentenced by a Burmese court to be under house arrest for another 18 months, Thai Foreign Minister Kasit Piromya said Friday.

Thailand, as the Chair of the group, has circulated the letter to other members including Burma, asking for consensus on the move.

After all members agree, the pardon request on behalf of Asean would be sent to Burma's paramount leader Gen Than Shwe, he said.

Aung San Suu Kyi was sentenced to another 18 months under house arrest after an American John Yettaw swam across the Inya Lake to her resident-cum-prison in Rangoon in May.

The verdict raised international outrage and leaders of many countries condemned the decision which they regarded as a political motivation to keep her away from the planned 2010 general election.

READ MORE---> Asean to seek pardon for Suu Kyi...

Junta’s ploy: Push Kokang to shoot first

S.H.A.N. - Knowing the ceasefire groups’ major concern is the border closure imposed by China, Burma’s military leaders are pushing the Laogai-based Kokang army to the limit until it sees no choice but to shoot thereby incurring the wrath of Burma’s giant neighbor, according to reports coming from the Sino-Burma border.

For example, says one, the Burmese military is crowding Kokang positions on the strategic mountain northeast of Qingxuehe (Chinshwehaw). While the Myanmar National Democratic Alliance Army (MNDAA), as the Kokang Army prefers to be known, still occupies the higher peaks, lower peaks are being taken one by one by the Burma Army. “They stopped shoving us only when we told them we didn’t want them to stray into minefields surroundings our places,” a Kokang officer was quoted as saying.

China has reportedly warned both sides not to fire first. Accordingly, the Peace and Democracy Front (PDF), of which Kokang, Wa, Mongla and the New Democratic Army-Kachin (NDAK) are members, has long adopted at least two principles that they believe China would approve:

• Not to shoot first
• Not to secede from Burma

“Laogai is now a ghost town,” said a local, “because nine out of ten of its population has left.”

The current crisis that arose amid Naypyitaw’s demand that all the ceasefire armies transform themselves into Border Guard Forces is said have started when 3 of the top members informed earlier to Naypyitaw that their top leader Peng Jiahseng was involved in the production of drugs and arms.

The three had also accused Peng of favoring kinfolks over the others. The upshot of it was the demand by Naypyitaw to send on investigation team to Kokang and when the latter had tried to stall the move, the former arrived in the territory in force on 8 August which sparked the present stand-off.

Sources in Wa, so far left strictly alone by the junta since June, say attack on any member organization of the PDF will be regarded as one against the grouping and as such will retaliate accordingly.

The new constitution, drafted and approved by Naypyitaw, has promised both Wa and Kokang self-administrative status.

Kokang declared opium free in 2003 followed by Wa two years later. But both are still reported in drug-related news stories.

READ MORE---> Junta’s ploy: Push Kokang to shoot first...

Military training continues in another guise

By Hseng Khio Fah

(Shanland) -Burma Army’s recruiting campaign and military training are still going on in northern Shan State’s Muse Township on the Sino-Burma border, according to local source.

In early this month, local police officials have forcibly recruited over a hundred of youths from the town and rural areas saying they would be employed in the fire brigade. However, those recruited people actually being given a month long military training.

Each town quarter was ordered to provide at least 10 to 30 people and each village surrounding Muse at least 3 people.

“No excuse for the service. Parents are also afraid to refuse for fear of punishment,” a resident said.

The recruits are being trained at Muse’s football field since 11 August, he added.

Each trainee is provided Kyat 500 ($0.45) each day.

Since early 2009, the Burma Army has been forcing villagers in several townships in Shan State to join militia units and have been conducting many military trainings.

In May, hundreds of villagers in Shan State East’ Tachilek township, opposite Maesai and people in Namkham, northern Shan State were similarly ordered to sever either in the fire brigade or in the Union Solidarity and Development Association (USDA), but all were forced to undergo militia training, according to report by SHAN in May.

READ MORE---> Military training continues in another guise...

Mandalay authorities arrest people for using old bags

IMNA, Asah

The local authorities in Mandalay arrested some residents who used old plastic bags to carry vegetables and meat from the city market.

The Mandalay traffic police stopped people with already used rubber bags. They have been arrested and fined, according to witnesses.

“They made us pay a fine of 5000 kyat, because we were carrying the goods we bought in old bags. Another 10 people were arrested with us”, a source close to those arrested previously revealed.

The authorities in Mandalay city announced that people couldn’t use any more old plastic bags. The reason is the bags contain a virus which could harm the health of the people and could spread a disease.

“I noticed 4 or 5 persons paying each a fine of 10 000 kyat to police officers. They all were using old bags”, a witness said.

A new plastic bag costs 50 kyat. The police usually impose a fine between 5000 and 10 000 kyat to those who breach the regulations. Most of the people in Burma prefer to use bags as it is easy to bring anything.

The announcement which bans the use of the old plastic bags was made in June 2009, the “New Light of Myanmar” reported. There are more than 30 spots where the residents of the city can buy new bags from.

READ MORE---> Mandalay authorities arrest people for using old bags...

AH1N1 virus hits Thailand refugee camp

(DVB)–Four Burmese children living in a refugee camp close to the Thai-Burma border have been infected with the AH1N1 virus, according to a medical aid group working in the area.

According to Saw Nay Hser, chief of the Mae La camp hospital run by Aide Medical International (AMI), a three-old-girl was first confirmed with the virus on 2 August.

“She was showing symptoms such as coughing, sneezing and a high body temperature but we didn’t think she was infected with the AH1N1 virus,” he said.

Following tests by another medical group, the Shoklo Malaria Research Unit, the girl was confirmed as the first to be infected in the camp.

Risk of the virus spreading in the camp is high, particularly so given the close proximity to one another that people live.

Since the first case was diagnosed, another three have been confirmed, all of whom are close neighbours of the girl.

“On the same day we had the test results, I went to the children’s house with other medical workers,” said Saw Nay Hser.

“They were not doing too badly apart from some coughing and sneezing. We are giving them treatments at their homes.”

He added that the families of the children infected with the virus have been advised not to go outside while neighbours were told not to go visit them. One of the children apparently had visited someone outside of the camp with her family before she fell ill.

About 50,000 Burmese refugees live in Mae La camp, and many are said to be worried that they will also catch the disease.

The camp’s authorities say they are doing as much as they can to distribute medicine and educate people about the disease. Tests are still being conducted to find out exactly how many people have been infected.

According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), so far 1462 people worldwide have died from AH1N1, with 177457 cases reported, although it warns that this figure is likely to be below the actual amount.

Reporting by Naw Noreen

READ MORE---> AH1N1 virus hits Thailand refugee camp...

Washington Hopes Webb Can Clarify Its Policy to Junta

The Irrawaddy News

Burma's military junta led by Snr-Gen Than Shwe is set to meet an American senator at its administrative capital, Naypyidaw, this weekend just days after pro-democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi was convicted and returned to house arrest.

The meeting will be the first between a senior US official and the secretive leader of Burma's ruling military government. US Sen Jim Webb, a Democrat who chairs the Senate Foreign Relations subcommittee on East Asian and Pacific Affairs, also plans to meet representatives of Burma’s leading opposition, the National League for Democracy.

US Sen Jim Webb (Photo)

The senator’s visit to Burma has been described as non-official, and The New York Times, quoting senior US officials, said he is "not carrying a message from the administration." But US officials say they welcome the visit, which they viewed as affording an opportunity for Washington clarify its policy to Burma's top leader directly.

“It is important for the Burmese leadership to hear of the strong views of American political leaders about the path it should take toward democracy, good governance and genuine national reconciliation,” said Mike Hammer, a spokesman for the National Security Council.

“The recent conviction of Aung San Suu Kyi, which was a serious step backward, indicates the magnitude of the challenge the international community faces in persuading the Burmese leadership to embark on that path,” he said. “Sen Webb can convey American views effectively on such subjects.”

Although a member of President Obama’s Democratic Party, Webb is known for his strong criticism of the administration’s Burma sanctions, arguing that isolating Burma has strengthened China's grip, weakened US influence and done nothing to improve the junta's behavior.

Currently, the US administration says its policy on Burma is still very much under review. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has made clear that the US could expand its relationship with Burma and allow US investment there if Suu Kyi were released. But the sentencing of Suu Kyi to a further term of house arrest seems have made any forward movement difficult.

Webb’s Burma trip has also led to speculation that he might negotiate the release John W Yettaw, the US citizen tried alongside Suu Kyi and sentenced to seven years imprisonment with hard labor. Yettaw triggered the case against Suu Kyi by staying illegally at her home after penetrating security around the property.

Observers following the Yettaw case point to the visit to North Korea last week by former President Bill Clinton, who secured the release of two American women journalists after weeks of quiet negotiations between the US State Department and North Korea. The North Korean regime hailed the release as a sign of its "humanitarian and peace-loving policy."

Aung Naing Oo, a Thailand-based Burmese political analyst, told The Irrawaddy he saw no sign that Webb’s visit to Burma would secure the release of Yettaw.

"Webb's visit is posed as just a point of entry to start the lines of communication between the United States and Burma, “he said. “So far, I don't see any indication that Webb would secure the release of Mr Yettaw. But I guess that the result might depend on how bad Mr Yettaw's health is."

Concern is growing over Yettaw's health after he spent several days in hospital being treated for epileptic seizures. Yettaw suffers from diabetes and other medical conditions, including post-traumatic stress disorder from his time serving in the US military.

"How is he going to do hard labor if he is so ill?" a former wife, Yvonne Yettaw, asked in a telephone interview with The Associated Press after hearing the verdict. "Maybe they'll realize he won't make seven years, and they'll send him home."

A spokesman for the US embassy in Rangoon said the issue had "not been officially discussed."

The meeting between Webb and the regime leaders is seen by some observers as an effort by the junta to exploit the different reactions by international and regional governments to Suu Kyi's conviction and her return to house arrest.

The UN Security Council released a press statement heavily influenced by Burma's biggest ally, China, which inserted indirect praise for Than Shwe's act of "mercy" by halving Suu Kyi's sentence and allowing her to return home.

A tougher US draft would have condemned Suu Kyi’s conviction but ran into opposition not only from China but also from Russia, Vietnam and Libya.

Explaining why the Security Council statement had been watered down, Britain’s UN Ambassador John Sawers, the council chair this month, said: “I think we all know that different members of the Security Council have different views on the situation there and that the strong views in various Western capitals are not entirely shared in countries elsewhere."

Applauding the regime's policy line, the regime’s official mouthpiece The New Light of Myanmar said on Friday that Than Shwe's intervention in the Suu Kyi verdict was "designed to ensure a win-win situation." It gave the opposition "good opportunities to accept the situation and keep on carrying out political activities," the newspaper said.

Naypyidaw had made a giant step towards change, the newspaper said—adding: "We should show loving kindness in return when someone shows loving-kindness for us. Only then will there be a change."

READ MORE---> Washington Hopes Webb Can Clarify Its Policy to Junta...

Thailand Weakens Sanctions against Burma

The Irrawaddy News

Thai Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva said that Thailand had no problem with other countries putting more pressure on the military regime including arms sanctions, but opposed banning gems, the Bangkok Post reported on Friday.

Thailand and China are the two largest importers of Burmese gemstones.

Abhisit made clear Thailand's position on gems sanctions in talks with US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton in Bangkok on July 21, and said Thailand opposed banning Burmese gems in order to put more pressure on the military regime after the sentencing of opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi this week.

Former US President George Bush signed the Burma Jade Act into law on July 29, 2008, restricting the import of Burmese gemstones and extending existing import sanctions on Burma.

According to the Burmese Central Statistical Organization, Burma produced 30,896.44 tons of jade and 20.5 million carats of gems in 2008. The gems included ruby, sapphire, spinel, peridot and pearl.

British ambassador to Thailand Quinton Quayle said after talks with Abhisit that more measures would be imposed on Burma if the junta continued to ignore calls for Suu Kyi's release. Britain now holds the presidency of the United Nations Security Council.

"I think Prime Minister Abhisit and his foreign minister, Kasit Piromya, will have to hold talks with all Asean country leaders in order to find out what steps can be taken next, apart from issuing a [Asean] statement," Quayle said.

As chair of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, Thailand released a statement on Wednesday in which it expressed "deep disappointment" at the Burmese court's ruling on Tuesday.

Thailand is largely dependent on Burma for its energy needs and also has investments in telecommunications there.

Some analysts said that the effectiveness of international sanctions on Burma are limited owing to the Burmese junta’s close links with China, India and Thailand.

According to Agence France Presse, "They are a huge block [against international action]," said Ian Holliday, dean of social sciences at the University of Hong Kong and an expert on Burma. "China is the essential one, and India and Thailand follow in its wake."

The EU, US and other countries have targeted Burma with economic sanctions and travel bans.

The European Union on Thursday said it is expanding its sanctions against Burma after the Burmese junta sentenced pro-democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi to an additional 18 months of house arrest.

"It would not be appropriate for India to join the US-led efforts if it wants to retain any influence in Burma," said C Uday Bhaskar, head of India's National Maritime Foundation think tank.

READ MORE---> Thailand Weakens Sanctions against Burma...

EU Sanctions Target Burmese State-run Media

The Irrawaddy News

The European Union has added four state-run media outlets to its list of Burmese sanctions targets in response to the court ruling against pro-democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi.

Four media enterprises—the Myanmar News and Periodicals Enterprise, which publishes three state-run newspapers; the Tatmadaw Telecasting Unit, which runs Myawaddy Television; Myanmar Radio and Television; and the Myanmar Motion Picture Enterprise—were added to the revised sanctions list published on Friday.

The EU stated that it put the media organizations on the list because they have been involved in promoting the regime’s policies and propaganda.

Responding to the move, journalists in Rangoon noted that the listed enterprises were not the only ones used by the regime to promote its policies. Private journals and magazines owned by the junta’s associates also play a similar role, they said.

“Like the state-run media, these privately owned journals and magazines run by associates of the ruling generals also play a significant role in spreading the regime’s propaganda,” said a Rangoon-based journalist who spoke on condition of anonymity.

Also added to the sanctions list were judges and government prosecutors from the Northern District Court, which sentenced Suu Kyi on August 11.

The EU sanctions on Burma includes visa bans, an arms embargo, limiting diplomatic contacts, freezing officials’ offshore accounts, and suspending non-humanitarian aid or development programs.

The European bloc first introduced sanctions on Burma in 1996. The sanctions have been updated, renewed and extended every year since then, and are set to expire on April 30, 2010, if they are not renewed.

On August 13, two days after Suu Kyi’s conviction, the Council of the European Union announced the adoption of additional sanctions against the Burmese regime to condemn “the unjustified trial of and the verdict against” the pro-democracy leader.

“Under the new restrictive measures, members of the judiciary responsible for the verdict are added to the existing list of persons and entities subject to a travel ban and to an assets freeze,” the EU council said in a press release on Thursday.

“Moreover, the persons and entities subject to the restrictive measures is extended to cover the assets freeze to enterprises that are owned and controlled by members of the regime in Burma/Myanmar or by persons or entities associated with them,” the council added.

Forty Burmese enterprises owned by cronies of the junta are included on the EU sanctions list.

READ MORE---> EU Sanctions Target Burmese State-run Media...

NLD Members Invited to Naypyidaw

The Irrawaddy News

Four leading members of Aung San Suu Kyi’s National League for Democracy (NLD) were invited by the Burmese military government on Thursday to go to the capital, Naypyidaw, according to the opposition party.

Speaking to The Irrawaddy on Friday, a representative of the NLD, Ohn Kyaing, said that four members of the party’s central executive committee (CEC)—Thankin Soe Myint, Than Tun, Nyunt Wai and Hla Pe—had been invited to travel to Naypyidaw on Friday, though they were not told why or who they would meet with.

Ohn Kyaing said that the Burmese authorities had contacted the CEC members through the NLD’s chairman, Aung Shwe, and had offered to take the four from Rangoon to the capital with “government transportation.”

“These are the four members who met with the UN secretary-general in July,” he said. “In fact, the military authorities selected and invited our members according to their own criteria. We had no say in who would go.”

On Thursday, NLD spokesman Nyan Win said he had heard about the invitation, but had received no agenda or details about the proposed meeting.

“I think this invitation may be related to US Senator Jim Webb’s visit the same day, he said.

Webb is scheduled to meet with high-ranking regime leaders, including Sen-Gen Than Shwe,” said a statement issued by his office.

“If the Than Shwe meeting takes place, it will be the first time that a senior American official has ever met with Burma's top leader,” the statement said.

Webb, the chairman of the East Asia and Pacific Affairs Subcommittee of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, is known to support a pro-engagement policy with the military regime. Burma is the first country he will visit on an Asian fact-finding tour.

According to the senator’s official Web site, his trip is to “explore opportunities to advance US interests in Burma and the region.”

The senator said in April that the US needed an “aggressive diplomatic posture” on Burma, but one that was more “constructive.”

Webb is the first US lawmaker to visit Burma in a decade. There was no word from the senator’s office if he would meet with Aung San Suu Kyi, the pro-democracy leader, or has made a request to the junta in that regard.

Webb, who served in Vietnam as a Marine Corps officer, has had a long personal involvement in Asian and Pacific affairs that predate his time in the US senate.

In addition to his more recent visits as a member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Webb has worked and traveled throughout the region, from Micronesia to Burma, for nearly four decades, as a Marine Corps officer, a defense planner, a journalist, a novelist, a Department of Defense executive and as a business consultant.

READ MORE---> NLD Members Invited to Naypyidaw...

China Warns Commander to Avoid Instability in Shan State

The Irrawaddy News

Chinese officials have warned the junta’s northeastern military commander not to create instability in Shan State bordering with China, according to sources on the Sino-Burmese border.

Two Chinese officials from Yunnan Province met with northeastern commander Aung Than Htut in Loigai Township on August 10.

Aung Kyaw Zaw, a Burmese analyst based on the border, said the Chinese officials told the commander they were worried about a migration of refugees from Shan State into China, if armed clashes between junta troops and ethnic armed groups break out.

About 10,000 people, including Kokang and Chinese migrants, reportedly entered China earlier this month after tension increased between government troops and the Myanmar National Democratic Alliance Army (MNDAA), a Kokang ceasefire group.

The two Chinese officials expressed their views forcefully, according to the source.

Tension have increased following an attempted raid by 70 government troops on the home of the MNDAA chairman, in search of illegal drugs. About 300 Kokang troops blocked the government troops on their way to the residence, sources said.

Chinese officials reportedly told Vice Snr-Gen Maung Aye of the Burmese army, to handle border area conflicts among the ethnic armed ceasefire groups peacefully during his visit to China in June, according to sources.

The government is trying to force ethnic armed groups, the Wa, Kokang and Monglar, in Shan State to transform their forces into a border guard force under the military government.

The three groups have refused the offer, increasing tensions. The junta has deployed more troops in the area as a result. Some analysts say that the government appears to be preparing an offensive against the armed ethnic groups. Other sources say they believe government troops will not mount any immediate offensives in Shan State because of China’s concern and the upcoming national election in 2010.

The three ethnic armed ceasefire groups have formed an alliance to support each other if there are clashes with government troops, said sources in Shan State.

READ MORE---> China Warns Commander to Avoid Instability in Shan State...

UN Security Council fails to slam Aung San Suu Kyi's conviction

(Channel News Asia) -UNITED NATIONS: The UN Security Council on Thursday opted not to condemn the extended detention of Myanmar's democracy icon Aung San Suu Kyi but unanimously issued a fresh call to the military regime to free all political prisoners.

After two days of closed-door bargaining, the 15-member body could only agree on a watered-down statement expressing "serious concern at the conviction and sentencing of Daw Aung San Suu Kyi and its political impact" and reiterating "the importance of the release of all political prisoners."

Britain's UN Ambassador John Sawers, the council chair this month, described the non-binding statement as "an important expression of serious concern about the outcome" of the Suu Kyi trial.

A court at Yangon's notorious Insein Prison on Tuesday sentenced Suu Kyi to three years' imprisonment and hard labour for breaching the terms of her house arrest following an incident in which a US man swam to her lakeside residence in May.

Than Shwe, head of the ruling junta, commuted the sentence to 18 months under house arrest but the trial and the verdict have created international outrage.

"I think we all know that different members of the Security Council have different views on the situation there and that the strong views in various Western capitals are not entirely shared in countries elsewhere," Sawers noted as he sought to explain why an initial US draft was watered down.

The tougher US draft which would have condemned Suu Kyi's conviction ran into opposition from China, a key ally of Myanmar, as well as from Russia, Vietnam and Libya.

The four countries invoked the principle of non-interference in the domestic affairs of a UN member state.

The text approved on Thursday noted the decision by the Myanmar government to reduce Suu Kyi's sentence and urged the military regime "to take further measures 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."

It also affirmed the council's

"commitment to the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Myanmar" and reiterated that "the future of Myanmar lies in the hands of all its people."
On Tuesday, the council's 15 ambassadors adjourned formal, closed-door consultations without agreement on a condemnation of San Suu's extented detention.

Veto-wielding council member China urged the international community to "fully respect Myanmar's judicial sovereignty."

In a related development, the European Union on Thursday broadened its sanctions against Myanmar in the wake of the Suu Kyi trial.

Brussels imposed a visa ban and asset freeze on members of the judiciary and in what it called "targeted measures," the 27 EU nations widened the bloc's existing assets freeze to cover businesses "owned and controlled by members of the regime" and their associates.

Suu Kyi has been confined for 14 of the past 20 years, ever since the military regime refused to recognise her National League for Democracy's landslide victory in the last elections held in 1990.

Unless she qualifies for an amnesty, the 64-year-old opposition leader and Nobel peace laureate will not be able to contest elections planned for next year. - AFP/de

READ MORE---> UN Security Council fails to slam Aung San Suu Kyi's conviction...

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