Arroyo: Senate won’t ratify ASEAN Charter if Suu Kyi isn't freed
News adapted from: “ABS.CBN News Online by Marvin Sy,The Phillippine Star ” 28 Jan 08
President Arroyo reiterated her call for Myanmar’s military junta to free detained political leader Aung San Suu Kyi as part of its commitment to institute democratic reforms.
Speaking at the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) session of the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, the President warned Myanmar that the Philippine Senate would not ratify the ASEAN Charter if it fails to make good on its commitment.
The President noted that when the 10 heads of state, including Myanmar, signed the ASEAN Charter in Singapore last year, the military junta had in effect committed to institute political reforms.
Mrs. Arroyo emphasized that the first step in the reform process would be the release of Suu Kyi.
"We must see political reform. We must see Aung San Suu Kyi released. Our present ASEAN knows our position on this," the President said.
"Not only are we committed to seeing political reforms in Myanmar. Our Senate will not ratify the ASEAN Charter, unless they see real political reforms take place in Myanmar. So we must work together to make the tough choices to make ASEAN real and Aung San Suu Kyi free," she added.
The President has been a strong advocate for political reforms in Myanmar and the release of Suu Kyi from detention.
Opposition and administration senators were united in their call for Myanmar to follow the road map of democracy and release Suu Kyi immediately.
Senate Minority Leader Aquilino Pimentel Jr. has been pushing for means to compel Myanmar to become democratic and to release Suu Kyi, including the possible expulsion of the country from ASEAN.
However, several ASEAN nations have strongly adhered to the ASEAN’s policy of non-interference, which has prevented the group from taking any action against Myanmar.
Arroyo: Senate won’t ratify ASEAN Charter if Suu Kyi isn't freed
[Source - AP]
Wednesday, January 23, 2008
YANGON, Myanmar (AP) Hundreds of children under age 5 die from preventable diseases each day in military-ruled Myanmar, the second-worst mortality rate for children in Asia after Afghanistan, U.N. officials said Wednesday.
Dr. Osamu Kunii, the nutrition expert in Myanmar for the U.N. Children's Fund, said there were 100,000 to 150,000 child deaths per year in the country or between 274 and 411 daily.
He was speaking at a briefing by UNICEF for its annual report on ''The State of the World's Children,'' released Tuesday. The under-5 mortality rate is a critical indicator of the well-being of children.
About 21 percent of child deaths in Myanmar are caused by acute respiratory infection, followed by pneumonia, diarrhea and septicemia.
The report rated Myanmar as having the 40th highest child mortality rate in the world, surpassed in Asia only by Afghanistan, which has the third-worst record after Sierra Leone and Angola.
It said, however, the death rate for young children in Myanmar had been reduced by 1.6 percent between 1990 and 2006.
In 2000, the World Health Organization ranked Myanmar's overall health care system as the world's second worst after war-ravaged Sierra Leone. Tens of thousands of people in Myanmar die each year from malaria, tuberculosis, AIDS, dysentery, diarrhea and other illnesses.
Most of Myanmar's health care is funded by international sources, with the government spending only about 3 percent on health annually, compared with 40 percent on the military, according to a report published this year by researchers from the University of California, Berkeley and Johns Hopkins University.
(Copyright 2008 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)
[Source - Irrawaddy]
By Min Zin January 19, 2008
A few weeks after the September protests last year in Burma, a Chinese diplomat approached an influential Burmese advocate in New York and asked why the Burmese dubbed their protest the "Saffron Revolution."
"The diplomat was quite uncomfortable with this particular saffron name while he whispered to me," said the Burmese advocate, who spoke on condition of anonymity. "Chinese are very sensitive to the 'color revolutions'," she said.
In the wake of successful "color revolutions," meaning the victories of nonviolent democracy struggles in post-communist countries, such as Georgia's 2003 Rose Revolution and Ukraine's 2004 Orange Revolution, Beijing is anxious to prevent similar movements at home or among its neighbors.
Then, a country in its backyard triggered the "saffron revolution," and the military's subsequent crack down captured the world’s attention. Along with Burma's crisis, China was drawn into the spotlight in unflattering coverage in international media and diplomatic pressure increased against its support of one of the world's most odious regimes.
Public outcries have called on China to assume larger role in helping to resolve Burma's crisis.
However, contrary to common perceptions, China has a limited sway with the junta’s generals. China is not a patron that pulls the strings and the self-isolated, delusive Burmese regime is not a puppet. The relationship runs in both directions. This is what complicates Burma's problems and their resolution.
Of course, China has more power and influence on the generals than any other country. It also intends to use that leverage to its own benefit.
According to Chinese diplomats, Beijing has been gradually changing its Burma policy since the removal of former Prime Minister Khin Nyut in 2004 and the recent deadly crackdown in Burma. However, they warn that the policy shift should not be expected to be quick or dramatic. It will be slow and well-calculated.
"Than Shwe and Maung Aye are more intransigent than former dictator Ne Win, and they often do incredibly silly things," said a Chinese official during a meeting with a Burmese opposition activist. "China knows that Burma will not prosper under their leadership."
China’s special envoy, Vice Minister of Foreign Affairs Wang Yi, was sent to Burma in November. He met with the junta's top leader, Snr-General Than Shwe, and asked the military "to resolve the pending issues through consultations so as to speed up the democratization process."
However, the regime responded that it will go with its own pace for unilateral implementation of its "Seven-Step Road Map," according to a Western diplomat.
"The Chinese keep telling us that the international community is overstating their influence over Burmese generals," said a European diplomat. "Beijing said they don't have ability to tell the regime what to do."
Aung Kyaw Zaw, a Burmese analyst living on the China-Burma border, disagrees with that interpretation.
"Persuasion, without power backup, will not work. The soft-soft approach should be changed. China must show the ‘stick’ part of its diplomacy," said Aung Kyaw Zaw.
However, Beijing is clearly not ready to go that far. It still believes that working to resolve Burma's problems is secondary to its principal economic and strategic interests in its relationship with the junta.
But simultaneously, China would like to maintain its international role as "a responsible stakeholder."
The time has come for concerted international diplomatic pressure on China to tip the balance toward the “responsible” direction. China must take up Thucydides’ advice: an amoral foreign policy is neither practical nor prudent.
At the same time, the United States and the European Union cannot outsource Burma's democracy reform to China, which itself lacks democracy.
The West’s most powerful countries should coordinate with China to facilitate a real transition in conflict-ridden Burma.
However, diplomacy alone is not enough to compel China to play an effective role.
Public action is needed.
"China was very annoyed to see the wave of protests taking place outside its embassies in major cities of the world in the wake of the September protests," said Aung Kyaw Zaw. "More importantly, they were really worried when demonstrators linked Burma's cause with a 2008 Olympic boycott."
The vice mayor of Beijing warned in October 2007 that any move to link China's role in Burma to a boycott of the 2008 Olympics would be "inappropriate and unpopular." China is very much anxious to prevent any negative effect on the Olympic Games. They might even accommodate their Burma policy and give more support to the UN's Burma mediation role if they sensed a real damage to the much-hyped gala this summer, even though it might be a tactical and temporal accommodation.
However, the Burmese opposition has so far failed to seize and exploit this opportunity effectively. During the peak of Burma's "Saffron Revolution" in late September, The Washington Post labeled one of its editorials the "Saffron Olympic," highlighting the dynamics of an international campaign against Beijing's summer gala. But that effort has run out of steam.
"The Burmese opposition in exile cannot accelerate the campaign in a consistent manner,” said Nyo Ohn Myint, the head of the Foreign Affairs Office of the National League for Democracy (Liberated Area). “Our campaigners are going after ad hoc protests without a focus. We fail to form a wider coalition with other Olympic detractors. Unless we can launch a coordinated international grassroots action, China would not be swayed to our direction."
Beijing plans to start its Olympic gala on 8/8/08, a date that is surprisingly similar to the 20th anniversary of Burma's "Four Eight (8/8/88) Democracy Movement."
Whether or not Burma can make the best out of this coincidence remains to be seen.
It has been four months after the September Revolution or Golden Revolution was cracked down by force by the military regime. I would like to remind the world citizens not to forget our little Burma since our fellow native brothers and sisters are losing their freedom whilst the world enjoys the growing freedom and humanity.
The following photos are taken from individual sources rather than from the news agencies. I salute every photographers or enthusiasts for involving in the news distributions and photos distributions. The international community should not forget this crackdown especially during the most advanced time of humanity in the world. The International community must take actions to force the regime to start a genuine dialogue with the people and people representatives.
By Kyaw Zwa Moe
January 22, 2008
Who remembers her now? Actually, she was well-known about four months ago. But today few seem to remember her. Four months is a long time in today’s fast-moving world.
Nilar Thein is a fugitive with a price on her head. She has been hiding in different locations in Rangoon since September when Burma’s military authorities began hunting down activists who led demonstrations in August and September.
If that’s not reason enough to feel sorry for the 35-year-old activist, her whole family is also suffering along with her.
Her husband Kyaw Min Yu, known as Jimmy, is in the notorious Insein Prison. A prominent activist since 1988 and a leading member of the 88 Generation Students group, he played a prominent role in the first street demonstrations in Rangoon in August.
Nilar Thein’s 9-month-old daughter, Nay Kyi Min Yu, has been living with her grandparents. Her grandparents say she is doing well, but she doesn’t experience the protective, loving kindness of her parents.
The daughter is taken to the prison occasionally to visit her father. But she hasn’t touched her mother in the past months.
If that’s not enough, Nilar Thein spent eight years in jail from 1996 to 2003 for her political activity. Her husband spent 16 years in prison after the 1988 pro-democracy uprising.
Nilar Thein told The Irrawaddy in a conversation from where her hiding place, “I love my daughter like any mother. I had to leave her, but I believe she will later understand why.”
Her husband is likely to receive another long prison sentence, as Nilar Thein continues to try to evade the security forces.
Can you imagine a beautiful end to this sad story?
Do you believe the ruling generals will stop their oppression? Do you believe the United Nations can achieve change in Burma? Do you believe Burma’s neighbors will truly seek change in Burma?
The UN Special Envoy to Burma, Ibrahim Gambari, said in a recent interview with Newsweek magazine, “I don’t have the instruments to change the regime.”
Yes, true regime change is hard to imagine. “The UN is not in the business of changing regimes,” Gambari said. Yes that’s true.
So what about one, single issue: the release of political prisoners, including Aung San Suu Kyi?
Gambari attempted that, but again, with no success.
“The release of Aung San Suu Kyi and the other political prisoners is long overdue,” the envoy said in the interview.
But the junta hasn’t budged, sticking closely to its “seven-step road map,” which is intended to install the military institution legally as the legitimate government of Burma.
Can you imagine political reconciliation? “It’s long overdue,” said Gambari. Opposition groups and the international community have called for reconciliation since the junta took power 20 years ago, especially after Suu Kyi’s party, the National League for Democracy, won the 1990 election by a landslide.
Can you imagine a true dialogue between the junta and the opposition?
Gambari said, “If they [talks] were combined with real engagement and with some incentives at the appropriate time, they could work.” To try to achieve dialogue, sanctions have been imposed by the United States and the European Union since the mid-1990s. Still, it’s hard to imagine sanctions working because Burma’s two biggest neighbors, China and India, and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations remain opposed.
How about the world’s super power, the US? In a recent trip to Hanoi, US Deputy Assistant Secretary of State Scott Marciel said Burma is going “downhill on all fronts.”
“The economy is going downhill, the education system is getting ruined,” he said. “The health care system isn’t functioning…you’re getting more and more cases of resistant strains of tuberculosis and malaria out of Burma. You’ve got refugee flows out of Burma. It’s just a whole series of problems.”
The US is the strongest critic of the Burmese regime and recently it imposed new sanctions targeted at the generals, their family and business cronies. But it doesn’t have any real means to change the regime or open its prisons or get the generals to sit down and talk to opposition and ethnic leaders. It might be another story if Burma were in Middle East, perhaps.
So, how can Nilar Thein, and the Burmese people be saved?
You can imagine only one person who could save Nilar Thein—Rambo.
[Original Source – niknayman]
Translated by Burmese Bloggers w/o Borders
Before the recent “Saffron Revolution”, there were approximately around 2000 blogs and most of them concentrated on writing about the topics of their own personal interest and their personal experiences in life.
In September, Burmese people could no longer endure the years of poverty and as a result of increase in diesel prices, many of them took to the streets for peaceful demonstrations. Such demonstrations were shown to the world through the Burmese blogs in the form of instant news, pictures and videos. After that, everyone, including SPDC, became aware of the significant role that Burmese bloggers played in this “Saffron Revolution”.
After seeing the impact that Burmese blogs can have as transmission medium for news, SPDC declared that they will retaliate in a similar manner, that is, to “fight media (blogs) with media (blogs)”. They began to see the urgent need to implement actions according to their declaration. Therefore, they chose a group of their trusted people and gave them training on blogging. They then asked those people to write blogs according to their tune, thus resulting in the rise of various pro-SPDC blogs in Burmese bloggers’ community. Not only do those blogs were asked to write pro-SPDC posts, but also asked to attack the posts written by pro-democracy bloggers and to incite discord among the Burmese bloggers’ community.
Their techniques also included writing vulgar words, writing spam, impersonating identities of certain bloggers and writing nonsense under their nicknames in commonly-used message boards (aka c-boxes).
Knowing their techniques, many Burmese bloggers have simply ignored their provocations in c-boxes by just deleting their messages.
Hence, they decided to attack from another direction, that is, to block certain Burmese blogs so that the people in Burma would not be able to view them. Many well-known pro-democracy blogs were their first targets.
However, with the advanced technology, the people in Burma found a way to overcome such restrictions. Subsequently, SPDC resorted to slowing down the internet speed for their networks and even to the extent of limiting the internet usage by shutting down their networks for public usage.
They also restricted the usage of internet cafes by asking the users at those places to register using their identity cards, filling in their personal details, keeping a log of visited sites and taking screenshots of various pages.
Their latest attacks include blocking the access to the whole of www.blogger.com from Burma and the possibility of increasing the price for usage of internet in Burma.
Pro-SPDC group has also tried to hack into the Gmail accounts of well-known pro-democracy Burmese blogs. After being successful, they would change or redirect the URLs of those blogs to porn website addresses and advertised addresses for businesses.
In addition, they have also tried to create bogus blogs with similar addresses of pro-democracy blogs by adding some words to the URL. The well-known pro-democracy blogger, niknayman’s blog, fell victim to such attack recently. As shown in the picture below, they created a bogus blog with the URL (http://niknayman.blogspot.com.corp.st) and put the name of the blog as “This is myanmar NLD stupid sucking blog”. If you open the bogus blog, you will be directed into a porn site.
[Disclaimer: Women are advised not to open the bogus blog’s link as it contains a lot of porn materials. The screenshot of the bogus blog is shown in this post just to prove as evidence of SPDC’s doing.]
They have also advertised this bogus blog’s address in various c-boxes of Burmese people, especially women, under the nickname of “admin” as shown below in picture. By doing that, they tried to trick people into misunderstanding that Niknayman has changed his blog’s address and he, himself, was the one going around informing the people of this new address.
When the check was done on the identity of the person who went around advertising the bogus blog’s link, the person turned out to be a pro-SPDC blogger, by the name of Opposite Eyes. Though he used a fake IP address, his lie was exposed as shown below.
Niknayman has also discovered how the pro-SPDC group created the bogus’s blog address. They registered as a member of a French business company and made use of the domain name given by typing “niknayman.blogspot.com” in the blank in front as shown in picture below.
Niknayman has declared that such lies and attacks by pro-SPDC groups in Burmese websites, forums, blogs and emails definitely will be exposed after gathering enough evidence. With such evidence, their cases will be presented to international internet usage authority and human rights authority, etc.
Finally, Niknayman urged his fellow Burmese bloggers to be careful of such attacks from SPDC side and to unite against SPDC and their lackeys.
To download the above article for distribution, please click here
I read "Living Uncertainly in Exile" commentary by Ko Aung Zaw with great interest. It gave me a chance to glimpse into the lives of exiles and their feelings. Though I am not very familiar with some of the prominent names mentioned in the commentary, I feel that 1988 uprising has actually claimed many extraordinary lives, which might otherwise have remained ordinary. In particular, I empathize with the students who fled to the border and the families who lost their children after the uprising. Staying true to their faith to free Burma, many students traded in their books and school uniform for revolution. For them, their personal dreams in life became secondary to the pursuit of freedom for Burma.
It has been almost twenty years of struggle since 1988 and Burma still remains as the "prisoner of the military junta". Many years of seeing only numerous sacrifices without tangible results, seem to have taken a toll on some or many of them . Such pessimism also seems prevalent among many ordinary Burmese people.
However, with the "Saffron Revolution", we have proven once again that our desire to free Burma still remains strong in our hearts despite many sacrifices and struggles that we have had over the years. Therefore, I sincerely hope that everyone, regardless of being in exiled community or inside Burma or outside Burma, will always remember the "fallen stars" and the agony of the families who have lost their loved ones.
Let our hearts rekindle with optimism for Burma's freedom so that the sacrifices over the years will not be in vain.
 Driving Burma - ko Si Thu's interview - http://www.thevarsity.ca/article/1453
[Source - Irrawaddy]
By Aung Zaw
January 16, 2008
Last week, I received a sad message from a colleague in Bangkok. “My mother died of a brain tumor in Rangoon hospital.”
The former political prisoner, who now lives in Bangkok, missed the funeral of his beloved mother.
If he had returned home for the funeral he risked being imprisoned again. After spending nearly 10 years in Rangoon’s notorious Insein prison, he didn’t want to repeat the experience. So he went to a Bangkok temple and prayed for his late mother.
Several of my colleagues who were forced to live in exile are longing to return home. They miss loved ones and family members whom they haven’t seen for decades. Like my colleague in Bangkok, some of them have also missed the funerals of dead parents, relatives and friends.
Burma’s political stagnation and military rule have resulted in ever-increasing numbers of Burmese fleeing the country into exile.
Many of my friends who left Burma after their involvement in the 1988 uprising have sad stories to share.
My younger brother and I both missed our mother’s funeral when she passed away in 1994. My brother was in prison after being sentenced unjustly for his involvement in student activism, and I could not return home from exile. If I had, it would probably have been the end of my career and perhaps my life. The military intelligence officers who constantly monitored our house would have happily locked me up.
On the day of our mother’s funeral, I spoke on the phone with one close relative, who told me “Please, do not come back, it is not safe to come back here.” The line was then cut.
I later received a letter from my grandmother saying the funeral was well attended. She also told me: “You don’t have to come back”. I understood that she didn’t want to see me in prison.
Many of my Burmese colleagues living in exile in the West quietly return to Thailand where they arrange meetings with family members from Burma. They spend a few days or weeks together and then say emotional farewells—perhaps for ever.
Since the 1962 military coup, many Burmese have left the country and are now waiting for the chance to go home. Large exile communities live in Thailand, the US and Europe.
The democracy uprising in 1988 provided them with a glimmer of hope of returning home soon. I remember some prominent faces and names. Tin Maung Win and Ye Kyaw Thu, both then in their early 30s, went into exile in 1969, together with former Prime Minister U Nu, and returned from the US to Thailand in 1988 to assist the pro-democracy movement along the border. They both died in Thailand without ever having the chance of seeing a democratic Burma.
Shan scholar Chao Tzang Yawnghwe, son of Sao Shwe Thaike, Burma’s first president, and his friend Khun Kyar Nu, also died in exile.
On the border, Karen leader Gen Saw Bo Mya, Brig-Gen Maung Maung and Gen Shwe Sai, who were active in the Karen armed struggle and led the Karen fight against the Burmese army for several decades, have gone.
In 2007, we lost our beloved poet laureate Tin Moe, who spent time in Insein prison and finally left Burma in 1999. Tin Moe was one of Burma’s most respected poets and was hated by the regime. He passed away in California. I am sure he wanted to spend his last days at home in Burma.
Life in exile is full of uncertainty. It is not easy to live and stay in a foreign land while hoping to return home. The anxiety, false hopes, fears, anguish, struggles and deep depression dominate daily life in exile. But, like many Burmese, I never feel I have left my country. Dreams of my hometown, school days, the faces of friends and the good old times always return to me in my dreams.
Many exiled Burmese realize that change is not coming soon and some are skeptical about seeing change in their lifetime. When students and activists arrived on the border in 1988, they were hopeful that change was imminent, and their optimism was widely shared by senior exiled Burmese like Ye Kyaw Thu and Tin Maung Win and ethnic leaders along the border. The simple reason was that they all loved their homeland and missed it.
But now I wonder if that optimism is still shared among Burmese who left in 1988. Many have migrated to western countries and have lost touch with the movement inside the country and on the border.
But the recent September uprising in Burma did offer a return of faint hope and a reason to be optimistic even though the regime is unyielding. That faint hope, I am sure, is felt throughout the exiled Burmese community.
[Source - AFP]
Friday, January 18, 2008
TOKYO -- Myanmar's foreign minister Thursday called on Japan to invest in the country's rich natural resources, boasting that China and India were doing business there despite Western sanctions.
Myanmar faced heavy international criticism for its crackdown on pro democracy protests last year, with the United States and the European Union tightening sanctions on the military-ruled regime.
But Foreign Minister Nyan Win told a seminar of investors in Tokyo that Japanese investors would be missing out if they shunned the country.
"A business-friendly environment is created for foreign investors in Japan," Nyan Win told the seminar sponsored by Japan's foreign ministry and the local office of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations.
"Therefore, we invite all the Japanese entrepreneurs to come and invest in Myanmar's oil and gas sectors and other sectors," he said.
[Source - AFP]
UNITED NATIONS (AFP) — The Security Council has bemoaned the slow progress in initiating democratic reforms in Myanmar and pressed for an early visit to the country by UN mediator Ibrahim Gambari.
After huddling with Gambari, the 15 council members said in a statement that they "regretted the slow rate of progress so far toward" meeting objectives they set out last October, a month after Myanmar's military junta crushed the biggest pro-democracy protests in nearly 20 years.
Underscoring the importance of "further progress" toward the goal of reconciliation between the military regime and the opposition, they noted that "an early visit by Mr. Gambari could help facilitate this."
Gambari, the UN's point man in efforts to foster reconciliation between the military government and the Western-backed opposition, said all council members stressed, during closed-door consultation "the need to accelerate progress."
Gambari has visited Myanmar twice since the bloody military crackdown in September on peaceful protests led by Buddhist monks.
The repression was sparked by protests against a steep rise in fuel prices a month earlier, which rapidly escalated into demonstrations against the military junta which has ruled Myanmar for decades.
Gambari said he asked to return to Myanmar this month but was told by authorities that an April visit would be more convenient for them.
He added that all council members supported an "early visit as a means to engage the government of Myanmar in all areas of concern."
Last October, the Security Council adopted a non-binding statement calling for "the early release of all political prisoners and remaining detainees," including opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi.
Aung San Suu Kyi, a Nobel Peace laureate, led her National League for Democracy (NLD) to a landslide victory in 1990 elections, but the result has never been recognized by the junta which placed her under house arrest.
After Thursday's meeting, US Ambassador to the UN Zalmay Khalilzad told reporters that "in order for success to be achieved, we need to increase the pressure" on the military regime.
He stressed the need to "reduce the gap between where things are and where they need to be" in terms of democratic reforms, full respect for human rights, an end to forced labor and to repression of ethnic minorities.
Khalilzad specifically urged countries with influence on Myanmar, such as China, India and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations to persuade the military regime to cooperate with Gambari.
China is a major supplier of weapons to Myanmar and has come under criticism for its policy of non-interference in the reclusive southeast Asian nation's affairs.
India has also cultivated close ties with Myanmar's military rulers in recent years, citing its huge energy requirements as well as its need to jointly battle separatist rebels who are active along the two countries' jungle border.
In Geneva, an international forum also urged Asian powers India and China to exert stronger pressure on the military junta in Myanmar to free its political prisoners.
"India and China should be more engaged and more involved in Myanmar," said Canadian senator Sharon Carstairs, the president of the Inter-Parliamentary Union's rights committee.
"India and China and in a certain measure Thailand, who are major trading partners with Myanmar, could be extremely helpful to intervene on behalf of their (detained) parliamentary colleagues."
The IPU is a Geneva-based forum that groups leading parliamentarians from 146 nations.
At least 31 people were killed, 74 went missing and 3,000 were arrested in the September crackdown, according to a UN report. The violence sparked worldwide condemnation of the regime, with the United States and the European Union tightening sanctions against the country's top rulers.
Last month, US President George W. Bush threatened to spearhead a global campaign to step up sanctions against Myanmar if it continued to ignore calls for a democratic transition.
61 years ago, on the 3rd January 1947 on his way to London General Aung San stopped off in New Delhi to discuss and study. General Aung San spoke at a reception given by the Committee of the Inter-Asian Relations Conference. On the 5th he met the press and replied to questions at the press conference. The following is extracted from his informal speech and replies, as published in “ THE HINDU” of Madras, dated on the 5th and 7th January respectively.
We want complete independence. There is no question of dominion status. The AFPFL has directed those of us who are in the Governor’s Executive Council to leave the Council if, by the 31st of January no satisfactory settlement could be reached with the British Government. So, in London, we must either reach an agreement before the end of the month, or there will be a deadlock.
Burma wants a Constituent Assembly to be elected, and no intermediate stages. We want the present Government in Burma to be invested with the powers of an interim Cabinet Government.
Question: On the Indian model?
Answer: After coming to India, I would hesitate to say on the Indian model (laughter). We are not going to ask for anything on the Indian model or any other model. We are just going to tell them what we want.
Question: Will you be asking in London for the withdrawal of British troops from Burma?
Answer: I don’t think we will. Most of the “British” troops in Burma happen to be Indian anyway (laughter). We have already asked for the withdrawal of all foreign troops. We have raised the question of withdrawal of Indian troops with Pandit Nehry and the Commander-in-Chief here.
Question Before you left Rangoon you indicated that if your demands were not satisfactorily met you would have to launch another struggle for independence. Are you contemplating a violent or a non-violent struggle, or both?
Answer: We have no inhibitions of any kind (laughter).
Replying to another question, U Aung San said that the position of members of the Executive Council was very “funny”. He was Defence Counsellor to the Governor who himself had no control over the armed forces. These forces came under the control of the Commender-in-Chief, Allied Land Forces, Southeast Asia. Similarly, he was in charge of External Affairs, but that was a subject controlled by the Burma Office in London.
Question: That may well be the constitutional position, but has there been any advice tendered by you that has been rejected?
Answer No, but then I haven’t tendered any yet. (laughter).
Our policy towards the frontier areas peoples is to offer them the option of joining us with a great measure of autnomy. I have been to some parts of the frontier areas and I have met some of their leaders and I can say that all this propaganda about the loyalty of the frontier peoples to the Brithis Government is not true. If there is a struggle for the independence of Burma, I shall not be surprised if there is a deep stir among the peoples all over the country.
Question Do you apprehend that your delegation may not meet with the success you seek?
Answer I hope for the best but I am prepared for the worst.
After I read Bo Gyoke’s (General Aung San) speech and replies extracted above, I am thinking whether the national consolidation built by Bo Gyoke is still exist in today Burma and if Burma really reached the complete independence that Bo Gyoke aimed and struggled. ...
Recently, I read the Irrawaddy editorial article, "Who Lost the Most in the 2007 Uprising?". The article stated as followed:
The truth is everyone involved lost—the Burmese people, the military junta and the international community.Their conclusion,
Most Burmese people lost faith in a better future, their dreams again destroyed by the dark reality of oppression and ruthlessness.
The generals lost their chance to show the world they wished to move towards a legitimate government and gain the world’s recognition as leaders who guided Burma to true democracy.
It’s the people who have lost the most, by far.hit me pretty hard. Have we really lost the most? Below is what I feel.
If we look back at Burma's history, people of Burma have been subjected to a string of military junta's control and suppression since General Ne Win took over power in 1962. And Burmese people had also tried to free from the military control through major uprisings such as those in 1974 and 1988. Many lives were lost during those uprisings under the brutal hands of the military. Now, we have "Saffron Revolution" where more lives have been sacrificed. Despite all those sacrifices, our struggle to free Burma remains the same through the decades. As a result, the strength and hope of many ordinary people in Burma start to waver. Many begin to wonder whether it is truly possible to break free from such strong-hold of the military power over Burma.
If we were to look at the number of lives being destroyed under the brutal acts of the military, if we were to look at the ways our hopes were shattered repeatedly during 1974 and 1988 uprisings, we, Burmese people, have indeed lost the most. However, recent "Saffron Revolution" is different. I refuse to accept that Burmese people have lost their hopes over this September movement. In fact, we are all aware that this is probably the last chance for us. Having that notion, we continue to strive on. This September movement has become a catalyst for decades of suppression and subsequently, our strength and hopes to free Burma have been awakened. Therefore, people of Burma have NOT lost.
Then, what about the generals? Have they "lost their chance to show the world they wished to move towards a legitimate government and gain the world’s recognition as leaders who guided Burma to true democracy"? In my plain opinion, I do not think so. In fact, I do not even think that the generals care much about what the world thinks of them as long as they have the backing of certain countries which they can depend to sustain their power in Burma. So the question of whether they have lost "that chance", does not even seem applicable to them.
In conclusion, I feel that it is still too early to say who have lost. Afterall, our battle to free Burma is still not finished. So my fellow countrymen, let us replace the fear that the generals are trying so hard to instill into us, with perseverance for Burma's freedom. Let us do whatever we can so that the term, loss, would never be imprinted upon Burma's history again.
[Source - AP]
2 hours ago
YANGON, Myanmar (AP) — An explosion in the capital of military-ruled Myanmar killed one woman Friday morning, a government official said.
The official, who insisted on anonymity because he is not authorized to release information, said the explosion took place in a bathroom at the railway station in Naypyitaw at around 4:20 a.m.
He had no further details, and it was unclear whether the explosion was caused by a bomb. There were no immediate claims of responsibility and the government has not yet blamed any group.
Terrorism is rare but not unknown in Myanmar, which has been under military rule virtually continuously since 1962. The country experienced extreme political turmoil last September, when the government crushed non-violent, pro-democracy demonstration, detaining thousands and killing at least 31 people, according to a U.N. investigator, whose tally was twice the toll acknowledged by the junta.
Naypyitaw is in a remote area of the country, 250 miles to the north of Yangon, the country's former capital and biggest city. It became the country's new administrative capital — and main military stronghold — in November 2005, and is well-guarded.
The most deadly terrorist incident in recent years in Myanmar took place on May 7, 2005, when three bombs went off almost simultaneously at two upscale supermarkets and a convention center in Yangon. About two dozen people were killed and another 162 injured.
In that case as well as several other smaller bombings, the government blamed political opponents and ethnic rebels, though no firm evidence was ever produced. Government opponents deny carrying out attacks on civilians.
Bomb explodes in Myanmar’s new capital, woman dies
[source - Merinews]
11 January 2008, Friday
A BOMB exploded in Myanmar’s new jungle capital Nay Pyi Taw for the first time, killing a woman. The new capital hidden behind dense woods, deep inside Myanmar, has an overpowering blanket of security, and there have been no reports of a security breach after the military junta began governing the country from there, reports in the Myanmar media in exile said.
The ruling junta constructed the new capital in November 2005, and shifted its administrative offices in phases.
The blast was triggered at about 4:30 a.m. (local time) in the toilet of the Nay Pyi Taw railway station, killing a woman on the spot, who was inside. Railway officials were quoted as saying on condition of anonymity.
The toilet was badly damaged. Security in the railway station and the capital was beefed up soon after the blast. Train schedules, however, have not been changed or disrupted.
The body was identified as that of a woman of Karen ethnicity at the Pyinmana hospital; a nurse, who again, requested anonymity, was quoted as saying. The body is being sent for autopsy.
The Nay Pyi Taw police have launched an investigation to figure out whose hand was behind the bomb explosion.
Myanmar has to contend with innumerable rebel groups of many ethnicities, some of which have ceasefire pacts with the repressive military regime.
Dissident activity, an old feature in Myanmar has surfaced afresh after the junta ruthlessly crushed an uprising by monks, students and the people in September 2007. An undisclosed number of monks and people were killed by security forces and thousands arrested. The junta has put the death toll at just 10.
There have been sporadic bomb explosions in Myanmar, and there are regular firefights between the Burmese Army and the different rebel groups. But this is the first time that a bomb has gone off in the heavily fortified new capital. The junta, which is quick to blame the opposition for dissident activity, has so far been strangely quiet.
Protesters had difficulty communicating until they landed in jail, where they traded e-mail addresses and cellphone numbers. Many are out again, building a network for what they call a new revolution.
By Paul Watson
Los Angeles Times Staff Writer
[Source - LA Times]
January 7, 2008
YANGON, MYANMAR — During 45 years of military rule, Myanmar's generals drilled fear and suspicion so deeply into the minds of their people that when their opponents tried to harness the rage seething on the streets last fall, no one knew whom to trust.
The generals quickly took advantage, crushing the pro-democracy demonstrations, killing at least 15 people and jailing thousands. It was a brutally simple strategy that had worked before.
But this time may be different. An information revolution has come slowly to this poor, isolated country, and the military government may have inadvertently handed its enemies the keys to organizing a more effective underground movement.
Opposition activists and exiled leaders had tried before to tap into the growing discontent, but constant surveillance kept them off balance and on the run.
There seemed little chance of getting organized until more than 2,000 protesters, arrested and jammed into crowded jail cells, met one another and overcame their distrust. Now, most of them are on the streets again, carefully building a network for what they call a new revolution.
Their digital tools are e-mail and text messages, which are more powerful than a megaphone, and cellphone cameras that are so common that thousands of people are potential journalists.
The country's current turmoil is rooted in the military rulers' mismanagement, which has reduced a country rich in natural resources to an economic basket case surrounded by neighbors enjoying rapid growth.
Even as the generals and their cronies enriched themselves on oil and natural gas exports, they ended subsidies for their people in August, sharply increasing fuel prices overnight and compounding inflation. Anger rose with prices, and what began as small, isolated protests exploded into a full-blown crisis in September.
Many who joined the protests were ordinary people moved by the courage of marching Buddhist monks to take their own stand against the government. The peaceful demonstrators were easy targets for the military.
The government acknowledged killing 15 protesters; the United Nations says at least 31 died. Many others found themselves behind bars, where they could either try to sleep on the crowded concrete floor or get to know other protesters.
Most spent only a few days in jail, long enough to overcome distrust, make new contacts with the underground, and organize more cells that now communicate through coded messages, Internet drop boxes and old-fashioned couriers.
"Nobody knew what they were doing in the revolution. There was no organization," said a small businessman who joined the street protests out of frustration with mismanagement of the economy.
"But when people were in jail, they got to meet each other. They could exchange e-mail addresses, cellphone numbers and make plans," added the entrepreneur, who spoke on condition of anonymity because police are still arresting and torturing dissidents.
They walked out of jail with a new determination to tap into the growing sense that the generals are losing their grip, pro-democracy activists and their leaders inside and outside Myanmar said in interviews.
In the aftermath of the September protests, the businessman said, he took charge of a cell of young pro-democracy activists who are trying to keep information on the movement flowing to the outside world.
During the uprising, video, photographs and blog reports posted on the Internet played a key role in breaking the wall of silence surrounding Myanmar, which is also known as Burma.
The government has restored Internet links that it severed in the fall, and though access to some popular e-mail services is still blocked, many people here are savvy enough to breach the Web barricades, using proxy servers and other devices.
Secret couriers, who already run messages between exiled opposition leaders and supporters in Myanmar, could smuggle video and photos into Thailand to be sent across the Internet from there.
Despite the chinks in the government's defenses, it still has a vast army of spies and routinely taps telephones. Speaking at dinner on the edge of a quiet, dark restaurant, the activist businessman frequently looked over his shoulder to make sure no one was eavesdropping.
A Western diplomat said the generals hobbled their own intelligence operations by turning against former prime minister and intelligence chief Gen. Khin Nyunt, who is now under house arrest.
He was sentenced in 2005 to 44 years in prison for corruption in what was widely seen here as a power play by the government's leader, Senior Gen. Than Shwe.
Meantime, the military leaders have staked their future on a well-tested strategy: While attacking protesters, they tried to appease international outrage with promises to talk with the opposition. When world attention quickly shifted to new crises, the generals tightened their grip again.
A government minister named to lead talks with detained opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi hasn't met with her since Nov. 19 and has not scheduled any further meetings with the Nobel Peace Prize laureate, according to Western diplomats.
"There was great hope when the first meeting took place, and people welcomed this," said U.S. Charge d'Affaires Shari Villarosa, the top American diplomat here. "But where's the follow-through?
"Everybody keeps saying it's a process, but 'a process' means something is going on. Here, it's stopped."
Ibrahim Gambari, the United Nations' special envoy to Myanmar, is due back soon. But he has won few concessions from the generals on previous visits, so people here have little faith that he can persuade the military to start serious negotiations with Suu Kyi.
The government is still holding more than 800 political prisoners after releasing about 1,400 rounded up after the September protests, Western diplomats estimated. It is still hunting for people it accuses of undermining stability and security.
The diplomats said the jailed activists include Buddhist monks and leaders of the 88 Generation Students group, named after a 1988 uprising in which troops killed thousands of protesters.
"People have not given up," said Soe Aung, a spokesman for a coalition of opposition groups in exile based in the Thai border city of Mae Sot. "They are just backing off because of the junta's strong onslaught. But if the junta's security slackens, then they will come out on the streets again."
Activists and diplomats say the government has become more like a greedy mafia than an all-powerful military regime. And it appears increasingly shaky.
"Living in any authoritarian country, while you're in the midst of it, it's hard to see that they'll ever cede power or go away -- or anything," Villarosa said. "But actually, they cause their own destruction. And their foundations are rotting.
"It's going to happen here," she added. "It's a question of time. None of these [regimes] go on forever. It is going to collapse. The foundations are getting weaker and weaker."
Some activists suggest the 20th anniversary of the March-to-September uprising in 1988 would be an ideal time for a final push to bring the generals down. Activists say the timing is still being debated, but they hope to strike when they have a chance to sustain large protests across the country.
The economy could be the government's Achilles' heel.
The current crisis grew out of protests against an overnight fuel price hike of 66%. As the generals and their allies raked in higher profits from exports of oil and natural gas, they rationed fuel supplies for everyone else.
Under strict government quotas, private vehicles are allowed 2 gallons a day in the country's principal city, Yangon, while those in Mandalay, the second-largest city, receive half that amount.
Drivers who can afford to are turning to the black market. There they can buy as much as they need, at just over $2 a gallon, 75% above the government-set price. Sharply higher fuel costs are driving up inflation, which is the highest in Asia at more than 35%, according to the International Monetary Fund.
Tourism, which the United Nations says is an increasingly important source of jobs and foreign currency for Myanmar, has been hit hard by images seen around the world of soldiers beating and shooting protesters.
Suu Kyi has asked tourists to avoid her country until democracy prevails.
It is high season for tourism in Myanmar, yet most hotels in popular spots, such as those surrounding the ancient Buddhist temples of Bagan, are virtually empty. That's hurting laid-off cooks and chambermaids as well as curio hawkers, tour companies and craft industries.
About 150,000 tourists visited the country in 2007, half the number who came in 2006, a record year for tourism in Myanmar.
There is hope here that Suu Kyi's example will inspire ordinary people to take bigger risks for freedom. But the few people who take the chance to talk to strangers about politics have another dream as well.
Those brave enough to broach the subject with a foreigner often ask the same question: "When is the U.S. going to bomb our military?"
That, they say, would topple the generals in an instant. News of airstrikes and invasions toppling tyrants has fed a fantasy here that Myanmar might be freed the same way. Diplomats are unusually blunt in discouraging that kind of thinking.
"There are too many people here who would like to see us do more," the Western diplomat said. "And I say, 'It's not going to happen. What you can count on from us are words.'
" 'We will speak out in support of your desires for freedom and democracy. We will criticize human rights abuses. But don't expect more.' "
By Reggie B
(Sent through email)
Was it yesterday?
The summer of 88
For a brief taste of Freedom
and a glimmering ray of Hope
What a heavy price we paid
Was it yesterday?
December seventy four
In the name of Dignity
We claimed the coffin of Mr Clean
A Deed worth Paying for
I see green and I see red
Oh! Mr. Gambari
Can you hear me!
My brothers are lying dead
To the west, India –
the world’s largest Democracy
Hand and glove with generals
Or is the largest Hypocrisy?
To the east Big Brother, China
Readying for their Olympics
They had Tiannemen Square,
while we had our bitter share
and probably the same Bullets
It happened yesterday
But what about tomorrow?
Will the generals give you another finger?
As we continue our sorrow?
US of A – the world’s greatest Democracy
With not enough oil to make you move
How many more lives do we have to lose?
Are you rather - the greatest Hypocrisy?
I see green and I see red
Oh! Mr. Gambari
Can you hear me!
My brothers are lying dead
Saffron robes soaked in Blood
The world sees yet, another day
Ashes to Ashes, Dust to Dust
Memories won’t fade away
We want an affirmation
To define our destination
A place with freedom from fear
If not right now or not tomorrow
God willing, maybe….next year
I see green and I see red
Oh! Mr. Gambari
Please hear our calling,
My brothers are lying dead
By Dr. K K Lay
They all fought for the country
Bo Gyoke Aung San and his army
They were all heroes and that is a fact
When the blood flowed, it was all crimson red.
They all fought for freedom, side by side,
Some of them lived, and so many died.
We mustn't forget them, not one single soul,
We must make sure their story is told.
They fought for freedom across our golden land
They were courageous until the last man stands.
Now it is our turn to pay back, our duty
To fight and reclaim our freedom and democracy
So please raise your hands and be counted in harmony
And let's make a pledge on Independence Day, the 4th of January
URGENT ACTION NEEDED Except for shower time, all the political prisoners are banned from going outside their cells. Apart from the famous and well-known leaders, the rest, and especially younger prisoners are subjected to physical and mental abuse and torture. (Information obtained by Generation Wave, one of the underground activist group inside Burma) ------------------- Source copied from Dr. Lun Swe Blog : Here Political Prisoners Locations Insein Jail ------------------------------ Source copied from Dr. Lun Swe Blog : Here
Dear Bloggers around the world! Your Help is much Needed ! Please spread the news of political prisoners inside Insein Jail, the most notorious jail in Burma!
Source copied from Ko Htike Blog. Here.
The latest news of Insein Prison is reported as follows;
Political Prisoner, Ko Kyaw Soe (aka Talky Kyaw Soe) was moved from a special unit to the main unit on 27 December. His head was badly injured during arrest which has effected his brain and neuro system. Until now, Ko Kyaw Soe and 6 other protesters have not been seen by family members. Instead, they can only send packages to them.
Political Prisoner, Ko Myint Lwin Oo (aka Thar Gyi) appeared before court on 26 December.
Five monks from Ngwe Kyaryan monastary (U Nanda, U Zarni Ya, U Ega Dama, U Indria and U Lar Thaka) have all been charged under Sections 505 b, 295 and 143.
Political Prisoner, Ko Kyaw Swa Htay has been charged under Section 7, Political Prisoner, Ko Htun Htun Naing has been charged under Section 505, Political Prisoner, Ko Aung Min Naing has repeatedly been given court appointments, which have not been kept. Political Prisoner, and one of the leaders of 88 generation, Ko Hla Myo Naung is still in the main unit's hospital where treatment is of the lowest standard.
There was a meeting on 26 December between the judges and attorney generals, who decided not to hold hearings for the time being.
The Decision Issued By 88 generation leaders, Ko Min Ko Naing, Ko Ko Gyi and Ko Htay Kywe as follows :
"It has now been 4 months and 8 days (130 days) since we have been arrested and
detained. This waiting time is far longer than permitted under International (including Burmese) Laws, which state that detainees must be put on trial within 90 days. If we are not brought before the Magistrate Courts, our families will file a suit against the SPDC (junta).
If we are to be prosecuted, the court hearing must be held in public and systematically , according to the laws and legislation. If the SPDC is trying to hold the trial in private and the decisions made behind the close doors, we will not agree to sign it".
At Blk 1 – leaders of 88 generation Ko Minn Ko Naing, Ko Jimmy, Political Prisoner Ko Tin Htoo Aung, Ko Zin Linn Aung, Ko Myo Thant, Pat Khan Kwar, U Soe Han (NLD member)
At Blk 2 (short building) – leaders of 88 generation, Ko Ko Gyi, Ko Mya Aye, Political Prisoners U Nine Nine (NLD member), U Myint Lwin (whose health is deteriorating and he has not met his family), Ko Wai Linn Ko Ko Naing (who have not met his family), U Saw Tin Winn (who have not met his family), U Saw Gay Thay Moo (whose health is deteriorating and he has not met his family), Ko Kyaw Kyaw, and Ko Kyaw Minn
At Blk 2 (long building) – political prisoners U Winn Myint, Thiha, Zaw Minn Oo, Maung Maung Latt, Thurein Aung, Myo Minn, Nyi Nyi Zaw, U Khine Soe (whose health is deteriorating and he has not met his family), Mone Ywa Aung Shin, U Tin Myint, Ko San Ya, Ko Ye, U Khin Maung Winn, U Nay Minn (whose health is deteriorating and he has not met his family), one of 88 generation leaders Ko Kyaw Kyaw Htwe (a) Mar Kee, political prisoner Ko Myo Khin
At Blk 3 – political prisoners Dee Nyein Linn, U Hla Myint Thann, U Thein Lwin Oo, U Ye Myint, Ko Maung Maung Myint, Ko Aung Than, Ko Thein Swe
At Blk 4 (long building) – political prisoners Ko Kyaw Htay (whose health is deteriorating and he has not met his family), Nyan Gyi, Kyaw Myo Minn, Ko Myo Thway, Naing Yakka, Zayya Aung, Kyaw Soe Soe, Aung Gyi, Yu Noot, Winn Aye (a) Ko Latt, and Phyu Lay
At Blk 4 (short building) – Lwin Ko Latt, Maung Maung Aye
At Blk 5, Political prisoners Thet Naing Aung, Soe Thein (a) Ye Thiha (whose health is deteriorating and he has not met his family), Soe Nyunt Zaw, Aung Ko Oo, Than Zaw Oo (who have not met his family), U Khin Winn (a) Boe Daw, U Aung Naing (who have not met his family), Mya San Htoo (who have not met his family), Ko Paw Lwin, Aung Myo San (who have not met his family), Khin Kyaw, Zaw Linn Htun (who have not met his family), Han Winn Aung (whose health is deteriorating and he has not met his family), U Ba Tint, U Aung Thein,
Jailed monks U Ti Sa (who have not met his family), U Nanda Vunsa (who have not met his family), U Sandaw Barsa(who have not met his family), U Sumana (who have not met his family), U Tay Jainda (who have not met his family)
At Blk 6 – Political prisoner Ko Thet Oo
News Inside Insein Jail
At Blk 1, 88 generation leaders Ko Minn Ko Naing, Ko Jimmy, political prisoners Ko Tin Htu Aung, Ko Zaw Lin Aung, Ko Myo Thant and Ko Pud Khan Kwar are held together with others criminals and also with Kywe Gyi aka Khin Maung Thaik ( a crminal who committed murder 2 times ) who was appointed as the supervisor of that Blk 1.
At Blk 2, 88 generation leaders Ko Ko Gyi, Ko Mya Aye, Ko Kyaw Kyaw Htwe aka Mar Kee, political prisoner Ko Myo Khin aka Mone Khet are held together with the criminals who are on death row.
At Blk 3, Ko Dee Nyein Linn and Ko Thein Swe are held together with the criminals who are on death row.
At Blk 5, one of 88 generation leaders, Ko Htwe Kywe is held together with other 30 criminals.
At Prison Hospital, one of 88 generation leaders, Ko Hla Myo Naung and political prisoner, Ko Htin Kyaw are held together with ex army officer Hla Win Aung who is already mentally abnormal and another mad criminal.
Political prisoner, Ko Myo Khin is going to sentence under Section 505/143 and political prisoner, Ko Thein Swe is going to sentence under Section 6.
Except for shower time, all the political prisoners are banned from going outside their cells. Apart from the famous and well-known leaders, the rest, and especially younger prisoners are subjected to physical and mental abuse and torture.
(Information obtained by Generation Wave, one of the underground activist group inside Burma)
Source copied from Dr. Lun Swe Blog : Here
Political Prisoners Locations
Source copied from Dr. Lun Swe Blog : Here
Wednesday, January 02, 2008
Richard J Tilley
[Source - Irrawaddy : Letter to the Editor]
We are put in an irreconcilable position concerning the future of Burma. There is little hope the Burmese junta will hold talks with Daw Aung San Suu Kyi or any other interested party in the coming year. 2008 will be another stifle hold on an already limping movement. I only say the movement is limping because it is being held back in every direction. The UN Security Council cannot pass any measures due to China and Russia. Asean will not take firm steps to deal with the junta for fear of trade fallouts as well as the fear of the organization falling apart at the seams. The US does not wish to get too deeply involved other than more rhetoric from a lame-duck State Department and the EU would just as easily prefer to trade with Burma if they could escape the public outcry for doing so. So, where does that leave us for 2008?
Unfortunately it seems it is up to the people and the organizations skills of laymen, monks and the NLD [National League for Democracy] members who have managed to escape imprisonment. They and they alone can help bring democratic reform to Burma. The reason this is a bad thing is because they will no doubt pay the price with their lives. The rest of the world will stand behind them, not alongside them, and watch and as they valiantly march towards their fate—prison, labor camps and even death.
The rest of us outside Burma must help the cause by educating anyone who will listen. Only by striking a blow against ignorance can we render the lack of knowledge of what is going on in Burma as no longer an excuse for it to continue for another year. We must speak for those who are unable to speak for themselves. This seems to me our best option at this time.
As an American, this is difficult. Our nation is preoccupied with Iraq and the war on terror. Look at us. We even left Afghanistan behind in our march to war. It seems to me half the nation is too war weary to hear about another oppressed nation, BUT the other half wants to know more, wants to do more, wants to do something to make a difference. This is where we can make a difference.
This is where we can make our stand. Martin Luther famously said, “Here I stand.” And the writer Erasmus answered back, “I stand here and here and here.”
Well, I too stand here and here and here. I stand for the people of Burma across the entire nation facing a varied sort of oppression and violent abuse on a day-in day-out basis.
But there is hope. The struggle for democracy and individual freedom does not end with any one individual. We have many to look up to who have each in their own way given something up for the cause of the people of Burma. Daw Aung San Suu Kyi, U Gambira, Ko Min Ko Naing, Su Su Nway, Dr Cynthia Maung, Ko Htay Kywa, U Win Tin, the 88 Generation Students group leaders inside and outside of Burma. We have many heroes to look up to: The survivors who escaped the burning of Karen villages, the women of Chin State, the Free Burma Rangers. The list goes on and on and on.
How can we be lacking in inspiration? We, being the average individual who watches and mourns for the Burmese and ethnic people of Burma. How can we let 2008 be like 2007? We must not wait for the people to rise. We must prepare the world for their rise. We must let the world know. I once told myself, we must help the people to help themselves. But really we must help ourselves to help the people. That is where the truth stands.
by Wai Moe
January 4, 2008
[Source - Irrawaddy]
A newly formed dissident group in Burma, the Steering Committee of Mass Movement, or SCMM, called Friday for the military government to “speed up political reform in the country” and take a step toward sustainable progress in the interests of the Union of Burma.
The umbrella group also urged the junta to release Burma’s democracy icon, Aung San Suu Kyi, and all other political prisoners, including monks and protesters who were arrested for demonstrating in August and September.
The SCMM issued an open letter to Snr-Gen Than Shwe and other member of the ruling State Peace and Development Council on January 4, the day of the 60th anniversary of Burma’s independence from British rule. The statement called for the release of prisoners by February 12, the country’s union day.
“If we start genuine dialogue one day earlier, the country will benefit by one day; but the country will fail if the talks are delayed,” said the umbrella group in the open letter. “So we are willing to work together with a constructive attitude and approach to meaningful and inclusive dialogue as soon as possible.”
The group is comprised of 12 pro-democracy and professional groups, including the Alliance of All Burmese Buddhist Monks, the 88 Generation Students group, the All Burma Federation of Student Unions, the Burma Muslim League for Peace, the Burma Lawyers’ Union, the New Generation Journalists Union (Burma), the Organizing Committee of Mass Movement (Mandalay), the Committee of Mass Movement (Rangoon Division), and The Association of Writers and Artists.
Tun Myint Aung, a spokesperson for the 88 Generation Students group, said that the umbrella group issued the open letter because they wanted to end the nightmare that began last September and in times past. For the sake of Burma’s happiness, all Burmese need to be liberated from the long-term crisis in the country, he said from his place in hiding.
“The way to liberation is through meaningful dialogue between the junta and Daw Aung San Suu Kyi and the ethnic leaders,” he added.
Meanwhile, a further crackdown against pro-democracy activists was under way in Burma. Nine people, including physician Aung Moe Nyo and former student activist Ko Ko Maung were arrested this week. On Thursday, the security forces also arrested a monk and two laymen in Rangoon while a house in Rangoon was raided by soldiers hunting for a young student activist, Kyaw Ko Ko.
Rumors of potential mass protests spread through the streets of Rangoon as the security forces prepared by training pro-junta militias in anti-riot methods. On December 25, authorities in Rangoon mobilized members of the pro-government Union Solitary and Development Association and Swan Ah Shin groups, according to reports from inside Burma.
“We heard protests would start in January. It’s a neighborhood rumor,” said a housewife in Rangoon, who spoke to The Irrawaddy by phone on Thursday on condition of anonymity, out of fear for her safety.
“But I don’t know if it will develop into something like last September,” she added. “At that time, people died and nothing came out of it.”
[Source - Itar-Tass]
MOSCOW, January 3 (Itar-Tass) -- The third counsellor of the Myanmar Embassy in Moscow was found dead at the embassy premises in downtown Moscow, a source in the Moscow police told Itar-Tass on Thursday. Doctors said in a preliminary diagnosis report that the diplomat died of intestinal poisoning and acute heart attack.
“An alarm call about the incident came at 6.14 p.m. Moscow time on Thursday to the police alert force. The 40-year-old third counsellor of the Myanmar Embassy was found dead at the premises of the embassy situated at 41, Bolshaya Nikitskaya Street,” the police source said.
The investigation into the incident is underway.
[Source - VOA]
By Rory Byrne
02 January 2008
In the months since Burmese troops crushed anti-government demonstrations, the military government has moved to detain the Buddhist monks who led the protesters. Soldiers have closed many monasteries and placed others under armed guard. Human rights activists, diplomats and ordinary Burmese say hundreds of monks and nuns remain in detention. Yet despite the clampdown, some monks vow to take to the streets again if talks between the government and the opposition do not bring political reform. Rory Byrne has this report for VOA from Rangoon.
Buddhist monks are revered in this profoundly devout nation.
They took the lead in anti-government protests in September, after authorities more than doubled the price of fuel, forcing millions deeper into poverty. And when troops crushed the demonstrations, leaving monks among the dead and wounded, many people were stunned and angry.
"Don't retreat - fight back! We will sacrifice our lives at their feet," says one citizen.
Oo Win Naing is a prominent opposition member living in Rangoon. He was jailed for giving rice to protesting monks.
He says the attack on the monks will not easily be forgotten.
"Nobody has dared to touch the monks before," he says. "Now this thing has happened - the monks were beaten, the monks were shot at, the monks are imprisoned. Well these things are very, very serious to us and nobody is going to forget the whole thing easily."
Since the protests, the government has closed many monasteries. Others are nearly empty. Many monks are missing - dead, imprisoned, hiding or back in their villages.
Shwedagon pagoda in Rangoon is the most holy site in Burmese Buddhism. Before the protests, crowds of monks often gathered here. In September, it was a gathering point for monks who lead demonstrations.
Today, there are few monks here.
Security forces guard the temple, and razor-wire barricades and military vehicles are kept nearby in case of more demonstrations.
Since the crackdown, the food the monks used to give to the poor has largely dried up, threatening the lives of some of the most vulnerable here.
With their monasteries closed, some monks are themselves destitute.
U Zawana is a monk from Burma's second city Mandalay. Speaking at great personal risk, he says that he and other monks have decided to march again to try to get freedom from the military government. The only question is: when?
"This time we will demonstrate - the government dare not kill all the people," he says. "So maybe 10,000 people - if 10,000 people were killed - will be killed, we will get democracy. Surely, we hope so. If necessary I'm ready to sacrifice my life, really. Me, including other monks, same."
Similar sentiments are whispered widely in Burma today. Many monks and others appear determined to continue their struggle against the military government whatever the cost.
Translated by Thway Ni (BBWOB)
Original poem in Burmese by Ka-Mar-Pa-Leh (Sone-sea-yar blog)
At the work-table,
Splattered with my comrades' blood,
I flipped through old "files".
Some are still luminous,
Some have lost their shine,
Alas, some have even dissolved conveniently into this materialistic world.
Carelessly, I turned the pages of a diary,
That I was afraid to write in, for a long time.
The words depict a bloody chronicle,
Including the life of my mother.
We have not blundered,
The path, chosen with our lives, has not been in vain.
May the movement of 2007,
Upheld by sacrifices of Sangha,
Who is among Three gems of Veneration,
Remain as a symbol of revolutionary touchstone for Burma.
Ka-Mar-Pa-Leh belongs to All Burma Students' Democratic Front (ABSDF).
Sydney - Australia
1 January 2008
Three months ago I was very relaxed following my spiritual path where I created my sweet pinky world, where nothing could upset me, no one could touch me either, I was free living in my happy world. Then suddenly the news started throwing gruesome pictures of our dearest Monks. What was that? Where was that? Why is it happening?
As a westerner I was to view the pictures and toss the images out of my mind, I just could not because as a human being I belong to a wide community known as the world, I simply could not stand aside and become conveniently blind. Two days of pictures were enough to graduate as an activist for the first time in my life.
I knew nothing about Burma and through a petition against the Singaporean death penalty I found out the highlights of the unreasonable imprisonment of Aung San Suu Kyi in 2001. It all came out to the open with the Monks’ protests, it all started making sense, Burma decided to let the world know that she existed.
The corruption, the fabrications from the government, the lies covering up something that was at clear view to the world is very difficult to ignore and it is a vicious cycle people in Burma has accepted for years.
Blogging on Burma rised very quickly in the past months, every Burmese wanted to tell their story, every blogger wanted to air their anger, their pains, they wanted to exposed the croonies, etc. Feelings were and still are alive but those feelings are negative feelings towards the government, what else is expected from Burmeses forced to live in exile? While fear is chronic inside Burma, vengeance is stronger outside Burma, and it is justifiable.
The government is very sharp controlling its people. Psychology is used and emotional blackmail is applied to turn citizens into instruments towards the benefit of the very few “generals” enjoying power. People are spendable in Burma, even the ones in white shirts will become disposable eventually.
People are not able to make their own decisions. They are fed ideas and manipulations. They simply have no choice if they want to stay alive. And then, what guarantees the government provides them that the people will be allowed to survive in peace?
Fear not only exists inside Burma, it was carried out into exile as well… How can people heal and learn to trust themselves? How can people in exile learn to relax? How can the ones in exile learn to be themselves again? The ones in exile may be living a much better lifestyle compared to the ones left behind, but they are not free either. For many, it is not easy to live abroad with different customs, without a language.
What does it take to gain courage? How to gain confidence in self again? How to step out of the secret world in confidence? How to trust that kind hand offering help?
The government has made a good job indoctrinating people “not to trust” anybody and people has accepted the manipulative ideas as true. It is for this reason that we must create unity in the outside to encourage the ones in the inside.
I belong to a wonderful world and I am part of a large community. These days geography has become part of our imagination, as we are just an email or a phone call away. I belong, I eat, I breathe, I walk, I smile the same way as Burmese people do.
The international community is there. They are happy to help out but they must be accepted as they are. They want to share the pains, the joys and for the triumphant freedom we are to achieve soon, we just have to integrate and work as one.
We all make choices in life. We choose to live, to smile, to eat, to be better beings. We choose our feelings as well and it is at that very minute we make a choice that we must stick to that decision and move forward. If we make a mistake with our choice then, we learn from that choice, correct it or modify it and try again and again until we succeed.
Every human being enjoys a collection of beliefs… whatever those beliefs are they are personals and no one can force anybody to change those beliefs.
I strongly believe that Burma IS Free soon… when I think about it I feel it, I enjoy the few minutes and I am thankful that I have come across few Burmese that feel the same way as I do. It has nothing to do with the present reality of Burma. I simply focus on what I want, and as the owner of my belief I clutch to it. As along as I believe it, it will become true to me. If I waste away time worrying about something I cannot solve then I’ll be blocking my progress.
I find that believing in Burma’s freedom is important. If people do not believe it will happen then, they should move aside and allow the believers to continue with their work. There should be respect for peoples’ viewpoints.
We all have a personal value. We all were born with human rights. Just because some are more privileged than others it does not diminish the value of the person. People should be seen for who they are; loving, caring, helpful, respectful, opposite to privileges that provide them a place in society. Of course many inside Burma are the whos we prefer in another dimension.
In the past weeks I have noticed a shift in our bloggers’ attitudes. I am thankful and happy for those changes.
I am very thankful for Burma’s pain, as it has changed me. It has helped me to grow stronger. The lives of Monks and Civilians lost in the past three months should be honored and we should gain strength from their sacrifice.
As a strong supporter of freedom for Burma movement, Judi shares her views on Burma from the eyes of a non-burmese.
[Source - Burma Digest]
In BURMA DIGEST poll for Person of the Year 2007 (Burma), we got hundreds of direct votings on the website, and many more thousands of votes sent via email. U Gambira, and his fellow monks, who led Burma’s Saffron Revolution in 2007 got highest number of votes; and accordingly, named here as “The Person of the Year 2007 in Burma”.
U Gambira, the 29-year old leader of the All-Burma Monks’ Alliance that spearheaded nationwide protests in Burma in September, became a fugitive following the deadly Sept. 26-27 crackdown on protesters in Burma. He made important announcements to the world outside Burma about the alliance’s aims and in a climate of fear and arrests of pro-democracy activists, became one of the new leaders of Burma’s freedom movement.
U Gambira led the life of a monk until summer 2007, dedicating his life to religious study and working compassionately for the benefit of all people. Following the SPDC/USDA/SAS attacks on monks in Pakkoku, U Gambira became involved with what we now call the ‘Saffron Revolution’. His actions and those of his fellow monks brought the world’s attention to the protests in Burma, and gave enormous impetus to the pro-democracy movement inside Burma and with the activist movements around the world. The SPDC saw him and the rest of the protest organisers (and participatants) as their enemy; He was targeted by the SPDC and went into hiding, his family taken hostage until he gave himself up.
U Gambira now languishes in a grim prison cell, and like other protesters beaten and tortured by sadistic SPDC minions. He is reported to be incarcerated at Insein prison and it seems likely that he will be charged with treason and given what amounts to a life sentence behind bars. It was these risks that U Gambira took on himself just a few months ago; he knew the risk, but acted on his conscience and his belief – a belief that non-violent protest and the power of prayer against guns and tanks will eventually win the freedom that the people of Burma so desperately need.
U Gambira acted not for personal gain, or to better himself, or out of any wish for political power; he acted out of compassion and humility and a great love for his fellow man, in a manner true to the fundamental calling of the Sangha. He very deservedly receives our nomination as ‘Person of the Year 2007 in Burma.’
The Alliance of All Burmese Buddhist Monks/ All Burma Sangha Coalition
Describing themselves as The Alliance of All Burmese Buddhist Monks, the author of a widely distributed leaflet gave the military government until September 17 to issue an apology for its brutal suppression of demonstrating monks in Pakkoku by police, soldiers and pro-government paramilitary thugs. When the junta failed to apologize, the alliance urged all Buddhist monks in the country to hold a “patam nikkujjana kamma”—a boycott of alms from members of the military regime and its supporters. The call prompted tens of thousands of monks and civilians around Burma to stage the largest protest marches against the military government in nearly 20 years, calling for better living conditions for the people and national reconciliation.
When the protests began, no one knew the identity of the leaders of the monks’ alliance. However, the Burmese people heard from some of the leaders of the underground network when they gave telephone interviews to overseas radio stations. U Gambira, U Obhasa, U Khemeinda and U Zakada are now household names. All went into hiding when the crackdown began.
Unfortunately, in early November U Gambira was arrested at his hiding place in Kyaukse in central Burma. His brother and father were taken hostage in October in an exchange for U Gambira turning himself in. However, his brother and father have yet to be freed. The 29-year-old leading monk has been charged with treason by the Burmese junta, according to his family. The punishment for treason is a life sentence or death.
Other related posts on the overview of Burma can also be found at this link