Friday, 5 October 2007


I'll try not to overload you with too much Burma stuff now. Will just continue with some small updates [I will update this post for a few days - Saturday update below]. After all my links yesterday I think you know where to go for the info.


Here's some of the latest:

A senior US official is now to meet the generals, and Mr Gambari will brief the UN Security Council later on Friday.

Earlier, Burma's military leader agreed in principle to meet detained pro-democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi.

Gen Than Shwe, who has never previously indicated he may be ready for dialogue with Ms Suu Kyi, insisted on preconditions to any talks, state media reported.

In return for talks Ms Suu Kyi must drop her support for international sanctions and abandon her confrontational attitude, the reports said.

...BBC sources in Burma say as many as 10,000 people - many of them monks who led the demos - have been rounded up for interrogation in recent days.

More here.

The United States called for the military to talk to Ms. Suu Kyi without conditions and said the senior U.S. diplomat in Myanmar would visit its new capital, Naypyidaw, to urge them to begin a "meaningful dialogue" with opposition groups.

SMH today:
Mr Ban said that his special envoy had delivered a "strong message" to Burma's leaders but he also said he could not call the trip a success.

China yesterday praised the efforts of the UN envoy and repeated its own calls for the country's ruling generals to exercise restraint. But despite such calls, China opposes sanctions.

News about autopsy done on Japanese journalist (forensics attempt to prove he was shot at close range - it's pretty clear in the video evidence of course).

Good news! India supports UN Human Rights resolution to release Aung San Suu Kyi:

Moving further away from its "pragmatic" approach on Myanmar, India on Thursday voted in the UN Human Rights Council for the release of Aung San Suu Kyi.

Although it was patently uncomfortable with the "tone", India nevertheless went along with the resolution that called for democratisation and dialogue in the embattled country next door. India, however, forced a modification of the original document which was much more strident.

India's senior diplomat at the UNHRC Swashpawan Singh said, "The government of India believes that the release of Aung San Suu Kyi would be helpful in terms of the process of democratisation and that she can contribute to the emergence of Myanmar as a democratic country."

The resolution said it "strongly deplores the continued violent repression of peaceful demonstrations in Myanmar, including through beatings, killings, arbitrary detentions and enforced disappearances".

The resolution asked the government of Myanmar to engage urgently in a "reinvigorated national dialogue with all parties with a view to achieving genuine national reconciliation, democratisation and the establishment of rule of law".

UPDATE: Great article by Mary O'Kane on what the Australian Government should be doing to help Burma.

Australian Burmese Network


Washington’s charge d’affaires in Rangoon, Shari Villarosa, ... meeting with junta leaders, ... US State Department in Washington reported afterwards that the encounter had not been “productive.”

Burma told
the United Nations today that no action was warranted over the military junta's crackdown on pro-democracy demonstrators.

Its UN Ambassador Kyaw Tint Swe urged the Security Council to take no action that would harm its ability to use its "good offices" to defuse the situation in Burma.

... He said many of those detained had now been released. "To date ... a total of 2,095 people, including 722 monks, have been released [and] more releases will follow," he said.

However, yesterday the military were continuing to round up and interrogate hundreds of people as it continued investigating last week's protests.

[UN Envoy, Gambari] said
he had demanded the military leaders take action on a series of issues he presented them, including national dialogue with a deadline to achieve "results reflecting the will of the people."

"We want time-bound, concrete and serious results," Gambari said, adding that opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi is also "very anxious" to see those results.
When asked whether Suu Kyi had called for sanctions against the military, Gambari told reporters he could not interpret what she had said. [?]

UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon branded the repressions as "abhorrent and unacceptable," and said the "unknown predicament" of thousands of people arrested without due process is a matter of serious concern.

US Ambassador Zalmay Khalilzad expressed impatience with the inaction, saying it was "time for the council to do more than listen to briefings."

In Washington, the White House urged the council to respond "seriously" - including with possible sanctions.

Khalilzad said the US is ready to submit a draft resolution to impose sanctions on Burma's military junta, a move supported by British Ambassador John Sawers.

Sawers and Khalilzad said the situation in Burma is a threat to international peace and security, but that description was rejected by Chinese's Ambassador Wang Guangya, who also opposed a council statement suggested by his American counterpart.

A longstanding U.N. observer told IPS that Western oil companies such as Chevron and Total have a major stake in Burma's big gas fields, the financial mainstay of the military junta.

"So, the story is not just about brutal Chinese policy vs enlightened U.S. policy," he said. "The cynical maneuvers in these cases are revolting, as great powers seek their geopolitical interests, never the authentic defence of human rights."

issues get stuck in the UN (is because of US).


"The people of Burma have done all they can, they've been arrested, they've been killed, now it's time for the international community to do something.''

ABOUT two hundred people wearing red shirts and head bands have marched through Melbourne in a show of solidarity for detained protesters in Burma.
Members of Australia's Burmese community and human rights organisations, including Amnesty International, marched peacefully behind a banner with the words "No more bloodshed".

Demonstrators waved placards reading "Free Burma" and "Free Aung San Suu Kyi", the democracy icon under house arrest in Burma.

The protest was one of 26 taking place around the world today calling for international action on the crisis in Burma, where the ruling military junta last week cracked down on monks and civilians who called for an end to the regime.

The Melbourne protesters scattered flowers in the Yarra River in memory of those killed in Burma...

Marches also took place today in Sydney, Brisbane and Perth.


UK PM Brown: Meeting Burmese campaigners yesterday, Brown said: 'We will not tolerate the abuses that have taken place. And I want all the other leaders of the world to work with us, to achieve the progress that all of you want to achieve in Burma - an end to abuse of human rights.'

Journalists arrested/deported: The government is denying entry visas to journalists and arresting or deporting those already inside Burma.

Army cremates bodies: THE Burmese army has burnt an undetermined number of bodies at a crematorium sealed off by armed guards northeast of Rangoon over the past seven days, ensuring that the exact death toll in the recent pro-democracy protests will never be known.

... A more disturbing aspect of the Burmese regime’s conduct is the apparently continuous stream of deaths days after the guns fell silent.

“We have first-hand evidence from respected Burmese doctors that hospitals and clinics were ordered not to give any treatment to the wounded,” said a foreign medical expert, “so it’s not possible to assess the victims by those treated in public hospitals.

International protests.

"Malaysia has urged the Burmese military to drop preconditions for talks with pro-democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi."

MONDAY, 8 Oct:

A lot less news now unfortunately.

Singapore: Four leaders of an opposition party were arrested Monday while protesting the Singapore government's involvement in Burma.

Each of the Singapore Democratic Party (SDP) participants held a placard saying, "No Deals," "No Arms," "With the Junta," and "Free Burma."

The assembly of more than four people outside without a police permit is illegal in Singapore.

More than 400 Burma nationals packed a hotel room during the weekend to pray for their brethren.

Nagai buried: A Japanese video journalist shot dead during protests in Burma was buried today in Tokyo, with hundreds of Burmese exiles joining friends and family at the ceremony.

9 OCT: Burmese foreign ministry official resigns: A Burmese diplomat has told the BBC how "appalling" treatment of Buddhist monks during last month's protests prompted him to resign from the military regime. Ye Min Tun, who describes himself as a "good Buddhist", sent a letter of resignation to the Burmese embassy in London.
In an interview with the BBC, he described the crackdown on the September protesters as "horrible".
"I have never seen such a scenario in the whole of my life. The government is arresting and beating the peaceful Buddhist monks."

Aung San Suu Kyi rejects talks with Burma junta:
9 Oct
Last week Burma's reclusive military leader, General Than Shwe, agreed to meet Aung San Suu Kyi but only if she renounced her confrontational stance against the regime and renounced calls for sanctions on Burma
In a statement today issued by her party, the National League for Democracy, Aung San Suu Kyi rejected the deal. ...she refused to accept preconditions for the talks set by the junta.
The statement came after the junta said it hoped to achieve "smooth relations" with Aung San Suu Kyi, just a day after suggesting that her release from house arrest was unlikely anytime soon.

Plus, China has again rejected
sanctions against Burma.

Which (you know I'm only for sanctions that affect the military) isn't necessarily a bad thing:

The US has already toughened its sanctions against Burma, and the EU is set to follow suit.
"We would like to have democracy, but the most important thing for us is to have peace, and enough food on our plates," one woman said.
32% of the population live below the poverty line and, excluding a small rich elite, the rest are only just above it.

As a result, many Burmese are sceptical of sanctions, saying they have already made the country poor and will only make the situation worse if they are tightened further.
The US and EU sanctions that are already in place have undoubtedly affected Burma's overall economy, but they do not seem to have done much harm to the rich military generals, who are busy making deals with the rest of Asia.

Many of those who telephoned the UN during the crackdown asked why no-one was sending a peacekeeping force.
After the events of recent weeks, some Burmese people feel let down by the outside world.

"The international community did nothing to stop a three-day killing spree," one woman said. "That was when I realised we were on our own."

China may not support sanctions, but it does favour continued mediation by a UN envoy.

The UN Security Council's draft statement was being considered by the council's legal experts, but there was no timeline as to when the statement would be adopted and issued.
The draft called for a full account of "those jailed, missing or killed during the demonstrations, asking the government to allow the International Committee of the Red Cross to meet the detainees and investigate those reported missing.

Czech Republic sends third lot of aid this year - as help for the victims and the relatives affected by repressions in Burma (to the Thailand Burma Border Consortium).

Stupid junta claims monks have weapons... and porn!
8 Oct:
The regime newspaper The New Light of Myanmar (reviled by the general public) has reported that weapons and sex aids, including porn films, a dildo and and condoms, were found in monastery raids. ...apparently forgetting that Burmese Buddhism has no place for God or a military regime.
[And] that around 75,000 people had attended four pro-government rallies... Townspeople have reported that they are either paid to attend or forced to turn up.
Raids continued
overnight on homes and monasteries [even the children are taken away in the trucks].

At the UN today, the US, Britain and France are expected to press the Security Council to consider a non-binding statement condemning the Burmese regime's crackdown and calling for the release of opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi and other detained pro-democracy activists and the start of a dialogue "without preconditions".

Internet lines are now open at night.
But Junta targeting other communications:

9 Oct: They have already
blocked mobile and fixed-line phones. Now: Exiled dissident groups in neighbouring Thailand say up to 10 satellite telephones and countless computers earlier smuggled into Burma have been seized...

Plus: "They came to the Traders Hotel and Sakura Tower in an effort to identify the systems that allowed information about the demonstrations to get out," believed a UN official.
Among those taken [in raids] were the owners of computers suspected of being used to transmit images and testimony to the outside world.
Yesterday the British and US embassies in Rangoon, reachable by phone until late last week, were impossible to get through to from outside the country.
Of course both countries are major critics of the junta.

Former Pres. Jimmy Carter:
criticized the international community for not putting more pressure on Burma's military government in the past, and he called for more action now to bring about democratic change.

Burma has been at the forefront of President Jimmy Carter's worldwide human rights agenda since he left the White House in 1981. "When we first organized the Carter Center, we raised hell about what the military junta were doing in... Burma"

"If the world pressure can be brought on India and China to condemn what's going on in a very forceful but maybe subterranean and quiet way, that's the only avenue I see in the near future to bring about a change," he said.

Burma increasing opium: will make it second to Afghanistan in terms of opium production.

10 Oct: the military junta had 5 generals and over 400 soldiers arrested who had refused to open fire on those taking part in the marches.

Dumb generals: Singapore's senior statesman Lee Kuan Yew believes the ruling generals of Burma are "rather dumb" when it comes to managing the country's economy and will not be able to survive indefinitely, a published interview said Wednesday.

However, the Army must be part of the solution to the problems facing the country, he said. If the Army is dissolved, all of Burma's administrative instruments will go with it, and the country will have nothing with which to govern itself.

You could send emails to to tell them that you won't buy any tickets and will boycott the Beijing 2008 Olympics, since Beijing is protecting and supporting the brutal military junta of Burma.

Initial response will be: 谢谢您致信北京2008票务客服中心。我们会尽一切努力在五天内回复您的问题。您也可以登录我们的网站 或者拨打952008以获取更多的信息以及浏览常见问题解答。再次对你的咨询表示感谢。
Thank you for contacting the Beijing 2008 Ticket Support Center. We will make every effort to respond to your question in five days. You may also consult our website at or call our call centre at 95 2008 for additional information and answers to frequently asked questions. Thank you again for your inquiry.

Will let you know if I hear from them... (you don't think they're swearing at me in Mandarin or anything do you?).

PS - I forgot to add human rights abuses. Dang. Might have to send another email.

Although, J Fallows says:
it's a matter of knocking off the bombast and posturing -- ...about Olympic boycotts in the case of China and Burma -- and using our brains... to figure out where we might most effectively apply pressure. Ingloriously, but realistically, for Burma this will probably involve some scheme to buy the generals' way into exile, before they have further chance to slaughter more of their own people.

So... slogans and hollow threats, No. Continued pressure to enlist the Chinese, the Indians, the ASEAN countries, and others toward removal of the junta, Yes.

Wouldn't moving the Olympics to another country be some pressure for China? (Yes, I know this won't happen... but it's a good idea! It might work!)

10 Oct:
Nelson Mandela has withdrawn an invitation to Gary Player, the former Open champion golfer, to host a charity fundraising tournament in the name of the ex-South African president because of his business ties to Burma.

Suu Kyi:
Myanmar’s military junta suggested on Monday that opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi would remain under house arrest until a new constitution was approved — a dim and distant prospect, according to most analysts.

Holding a referendum on a new constitution is the fourth stage in a seven-step ‘roadmap to democracy’.

Stage one of the roadmap — a national convention to draw up the ‘detailed basic principles’ of the charter — took 14 years.

Stage two — “step-by-step implementation of the process necessary for the emergence of a genuine and disciplined democratic state” — is so unclear that few know what it means.

BBC 11 Oct: A Burmese pro-democracy activist arrested during anti-government protests last month has died in custody.
His death raises fresh concerns for the hundreds of people still in custody.
The 42-year-old activist died "as a result of torture during interrogation", the AAPP said.

"His body was not sent to his family and the interrogators indicated that they had cremated it instead."

The White House has demanded an investigation into his death.

11 Oct. Not happy Gambari: An organiser of the protest movement in Rangoon has blasted UN special envoy Ibrahim Gambari for bowing to the Burmese regime and achieving nothing in his visit to Burma.

Surinder Karkar Singh, also known as Ayea Myint and U Pancha (the Punjabi), helped organise the civilian protection circles that ringed the monks as they marched through the streets of Rangoon for eight days.

"Nothing was achieved. I am fed up," the Sikh Burmese man said.

"He saw Aung San Suu Kyi (the detained pro-democracy leader) but gave no press conference. He should announce what she said. This regime is full of lies. Gambari reports to the UN what the regime says, not what Aung San Suu Kyi says."

He tells of the protests:
"In the midst of our marching, Battalion 77 refused to take the order to shoot to kill," he said.

From September 21 to 25, the protests were peaceful and the crowds increased. On the night of 25th, the military command changed from 77th battalion to 66th battalion, he said.

He remembers the 26th and 27th as the most bloody days, with bloodshed on the roads.

"When three monks went to beg them not to use violence, they started beating the monks and shooting," U Pancha said.

"On the 26th, I led 100,000, with 5000 to 6000 monks. People were not scared. I thought we were winning. In the midst of flying bullets we were able to march. We had people in side streets with stones and rocks ready to give protection to the protesters."

US Campaign for Burma: In a letter to China signed by 20 former Presidents and Prime Ministers from many countries (in PDF format), the leaders call on China to change its position by supporting the release of Aung San Suu Kyi and national reconciliation in Burma and also supporting a global arms embargo on Burma.

This follows a similar call by Desmond Tutu, in which he said he would boycott the Olympics if China continues its all-out support for the military regime.

When one reads the Olympic slogan "One World, One Dream" it may seem hypocritical to some that China would block a UN initiative to ban arms shipments to a miltary regime that only uses them on their own people. Yet, it is true.

Elected MoPs in prison:
The Inter-Parliamentary Union is calling for the release of 26 parliament members jailed in Burma.
They say some of the MP's have served their complete sentences. But, before they were released, the Burmese authorities added two more years without any trial or due process.

Raids continue: "the crackdown continues even in the dead of the night. You know, the thugs of the regime knocking on the doors, even of the monasteries, trying to ferret out the activist monks and bring them to detention."

Monks/protesters regrouping: Monks fleeing the military crackdown in Burma say they are regrouping in preparation for more peaceful demonstrations.

Bo Kyi spent much of his adult life in jail, including time at Rangoon's infamous Insein prison, after he was arrested at the age of 20 for opposing the government as a student. He is now in his mid-thirties. He left Burma in July after his release from prison.

He shows a pair of iron shackles of the type he wore in prison, a symbol, he says, of the chains on his country.

13 Oct: EU foreign ministers are set to announce tougher sanctions on the government of Burma...
The EU has imposed a series of restrictive measures on Burma since 1996. These include an arms embargo, and an asset freeze and visa ban on the regime's top officials and their families.

Junta's reaction to UN:
Burma's leaders insisted they would co-operate with the UN but said the country would pursue its own road map for democratic reforms.

The statement from Burma's generals also said the UN agreement - which called for the release of political prisoners and detained protesters and a "genuine dialogue" with opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi - did not reflect the desire of the people.

(Uh huh)

Many of those who took part in the protests, even as onlookers, have fled to the countryside fearing the ongoing night-time sweeps by the intelligence services who video-taped demonstrators and are now putting names to faces.

In the aftermath of the protests the military has cut the country's internet connection to stem the flood of protest images to the outside world. Cable TV, however, remains connected and residents in Rangoon watched the brutal crackdown in their city on TV sets tuned to CNN and the BBC.

Thousands were killed in pro-democracy protests in Rangoon in 1988... Since then the military has grown richer, stronger and has invested more in maintaining power, he said.
...the economic sanctions by western nations simply benefit China and Asian nations that are still content to do business with the junta...

Now Burma's dogs are protesting!

PM dies 12 Oct - "The Prime Minister, General Soe Win, died this evening" at a military hospital in the country's main city Yangon [Rangoon], state radio said.

Mr Win, believed to be 59, had been treated in Singapore since March, reportedly for leukemia. He is believed to have returned to Rangoon in the last few weeks.
Mr Win's death was not expected to have a major impact on the Government, as all real power lies with Senior General Than Shwe and the military junta.

Mr Win rose in the ranks after allegedly masterminding an attack on the motorcade of opposition leader and Nobel peace laureate Aung San Suu Kyi in May 2003, an event known to her supporters as 'Black Friday'.

12 Oct - Tourism vs isolation:
More recently I've been back simply to see if the Burmese really did believe that isolation and boycotts by the outside world were the answer. Overwhelmingly their reply was no.
...the psychological damage of being isolated can be as bad as the economic damage.

12 Oct: Today the UN Security Council issued the first-ever "Presidential Statement" on Burma. Such a statement is agreed on by all members of the Security Council, but is not a real resolution and is not binding in any way. It could have been much stronger, however China watered-down the language so it is rather weak.

That said, it is the first-ever action by the Security Council and was given with unanimous endorsement of all 15 members, including China and Russia.

In the Statement, the Security Council unanimously and strongly deplored the use of violence against peaceful demonstrations in Burma. The Security Council emphasized the importance of the early release of all political prisoners and remaining detainees. It also called on the military regime 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.

"...An international arms embargo and a ban on investment are necessary measures to make the voice of the Security Council stronger," said Aung Din.

Also reported by BBC, who add that
UN special envoy Gambari is likely to visit Burma again soon - he begins a tour of Asia this weekend.

12 Oct - Australia's role: It is incumbent on Australia, as a member state, to act directly in response to the junta's atrocities and not just abrogate its responsibility to the UN Secretary-General, Ban Ki-moon, or Gambari.

Foreign Minister Alexander Downer must actively support the Security Council process that pushes for dialogue directly to regime representatives in Australia and Rangoon and at the UN and through exercising his special relationships with regional stakeholders.

Indonesia takes up the Security Council presidency for November. This is a crucial opportunity for the Australian Government to employ its special relationship with Indonesia to sustain political pressure on the Burmese junta.

If the Than Shwe-Suu Kyi talks don't proceed, or show signs of stalling or breaking down, Australia can call on the Security Council to authorise investigations into Burma to the International Criminal Court.

Failure to progress in talks with Burma's democracy leaders could be reason for Australia to call for Burma's seat at the UN also to be left vacant until satisfactory change is made.

17 Oct - Japan's role: Tokyo feels it is in a unique position when it comes to dealing with Burma.

Officials believe they have better access to the generals that run the country than other rich nations like Britain or the United States.

They do not want to squander that influence by cutting off aid completely.
The decision to cut around a fifth of the aid they supply to Burma sends a serious message.

BBC: Defiant Burma 'will not change'

Thailand finally taking a lead in regional efforts to force the Burmese regime to end its crackdown on political opposition and make moves towards accepting democratic change...

16 Oct - Japan adds to pressure on Burma: Japan is halting $4.7m in funding for a human resources centre in Burma, as economic pressure mounts on the military government there.
On Monday, the EU upped sanctions on Burma and the US urged "consequential" action against its leaders.
Japan is one of the leading donors of aid to Burma.

Japan would increase efforts to persuade the Burmese government to move towards democracy...

In Washington, a White House spokesman said the US was considering toughening its own existing sanctions.
George W Bush made it plain that it was his intention to act - and to act soon - against Burma.

He advocated "enormous international pressure to make it clear to the generals that they will be completely isolated and not accepted into the international community of nations".

Burma's security forces at the weekend rounded up three of the remaining leaders from September's demonstrations, according to human rights group Amnesty International.

16 Oct: Thailand has proposed that the United Nations host a four-party meeting to urgently seek solutions to the problems in Burma...
The proposal was made at a meeting between Prime Minister Surayud Chulanont and UN special envoy Ibrahim Gambari at Government House yesterday. The participants would be members of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean), including Burma, and the UN, India and China.

Brown proposes stick and carrot approach to Burma
October 15: Gordon Brown called again today for tougher sanctions against Burma while putting forward a global incentive scheme aimed at tempting the repressive junta into democratic reform.

UN Envoy Urges Burmese Government to Stop Political Arrests
The United Nations' top envoy to Burma is urging the military government to stop arresting pro-democracy activists, and release all political detainees. He is in Thailand at the start of a regional tour to build support for political reconciliation in Burma.
...even if Gambari does not achieve concrete results, his trip is crucial because it will keep international attention on Burma.

Mizzima: Burmese refugees in Coffs harbour, Australia organized a special programme on Sunday. They sang songs, shared testimonies and took stock of the current situation in Burma. After the briefing on Burma, church members prayed for ushering in democracy in the country.

18 Oct: British Prime Minister Gordon Brown says he would be willing to offer economic aid if the ruling elite embraces democratic reform.
The prime minister has written to world leaders outlining an economic recovery package if Burma's leaders introduce democratic reforms.

"Our strategy is not only to push the regime to change, but to offer for a new regime, new government support in economic development and social improvement, and I believe that all countries around the world, including China and the Asian countries, will be prepared to support this initiative," said Mr. Brown.

Mr. Brown says Britain would be willing to invest in a plan that would attack poverty in Burma.

Suu Kyi named honorary Canadian!!! Parliament on Wednesday unanimously passed a motion to designate Burma's democracy advocate, Aung San Suu Kyi, an honorary Canadian citizen.
"More than anyone else, she has focused international attention on the plight of her people. This is why we are bestowing honourary citizenship on Aung San Suu Kyi," Harper said.

A key role for Australia in Burma's democratisation: The task for regional countries and Australia would be to dialogue with China from a different starting point; one that accepts the major strategic importance of Burma to China. ...
Perhaps next year Kevin Rudd might help open up Chinese thinking on Burma?

19 Oct: AN AMERICAN tourist has told of seeing children and pregnant women among the families of pro-democracy supporters, chained together and under heavy guard on a river ferry deep inside Burma.
The encounter indicates for the first time that a crackdown on dissidents now probably extends to their relatives and is being carried out in a thorough and ruthless fashion by the ruling military junta, even in remote parts of the country.

A good article about conditions and restrictions in Burma: eg, A voice informed me that along with my Burmese liaison officer, I had to record our visit at the police station. "If you neglect to do this, you will be imprisoned," I was told. And I know many Burmese who have been arrested for the same. The rule of informing the police if you stay overnight anywhere has been put into force to squash any underground activity for democracy.

Yeah right: Burma's military government says it has appointed a committee tasked with drafting the country's constitution.
Critics say the roadmap to democracy is just a ruse to allow the generals to hold on to power.

Ibrahim Gambari, the UN special envoy to Burma, on Thursday called on the international community to offer incentives to the country’s military junta to move forward its democratic reform.
Mr Gambari, who was in Jakarta as part of his six-country Asian tour to press the region to help resolve the Burmese issue, also urged China to do more to “move the authorities” in Burma along the path of change.
“We need . . . a combination of strong encouragement to authorities in [Burma] to do the right thing, along with some incentives to the extent that if there is movement, the world is not there just to punish,” he said.

...Mr Gambari, in the first direct UN suggestion of how to proceed with national reconciliation, said the constitutional guidelines should be revised with active participation of groups shut out, or ignored, during the convention.
Ms Suu Kyi, under house arrest, is willing to take part in negotiations provided they are time-bound, the envoy said.

The United States is proposing more sanctions against military-ruled Burma, including blocking critical access to US financial institutions via third countries.
It also intends to stop the import of Burma gemstones through third countries and tighten a freeze of assets on Burma's political and military leaders.

Amnesty International released new video and audio testimony of ongoing night raids, arbitrary arrests and appalling detention conditions. The London-based rights group said the evidence contradicts government claims that no political prisoners are being held.
Just before her arrest last week, pro-democracy activist Mie Mie told Amnesty that there are about four-thousand monks and civilians still under detention.
The International Committee of the Red Cross says it is "deeply worried" about the fate of thousands of people arrested during the recent government crackdown in Burma and is seeking access to detainees. The group said that its efforts to see detainees had so far been unsuccessful.

China: New York-based non-governmental organization Human Rights Watch, in a letter to Chinese President Hu Jintao, said the country should take concrete steps to end repression.
In the letter, Human Rights Watch noted the August 8, 2008 opening date of the Beijing Olympics will also be the 20th anniversary of the 1988 pro-democracy protests in Burma, "during which an estimated 3,000 people were killed."

Assassins: Burmese pro-democracy activists who have fled across the Thai border fear death at the hands of assassins sent to track them down.
[activist, Hlaing Moe Than, 38] believes that if there is no political progress in Burma the democracy movement can be rekindled within a year.
"The people may be afraid now, but they are very angry," he said. "Most of the families of the soldiers don't like the government's actions. I heard that from inside the military."
Even in Thailand he moves location every day to avoid assassins. "After we succeed I will make a quiet life as an ordinary citizen," he said.
"I've been fighting for peace and democracy for 20 years. I'm so tired."

Crackdown continues on protesters: London-based Amnesty International said Wednesday that an increasing number reports from Burma tell of deaths, torture, lack of food and medical treatment in overcrowded detention facilities across the country.
"The current arbitrary arrests, secret detention and widespread reports of ill-treatment and torture make a mockery of promises made by the Burma authorities to cooperate with the United Nations ... for early release of all political prisoners," a statement from the human rights group said.
The U.N.'s special envoy for Burma Ibrahim Gambari said he hopes to return to Burma sooner than scheduled.

20 Oct: Burma in fact could be a time bomb for the whole region...
Perhaps, the repression in Burma could have been more difficult, or it could have even been averted, if the international response to the Thai coup had been something more than lukewarm.
The success of the repression in Burma could also inspire other generals in South East Asia who have been growing impatient with civilian rule at home.

A safe, peaceful exit strategy for the generals and a non-vindictive transitional government should be the ideal solution. This could prevent another risk in Burma -- its possible balkanization. With about 50% of the population made up by national minorities, a sudden return to “democracy” could trigger separatist tendencies of many Burmese minorities. This is something that could further destabilize the region.

India: Ibrahim Gambari, ...will arrive in New Delhi on Sunday, for two days of consultations on Burma with Indian officials.

India: Burmese women activists in New Delhi today staged a fleeting demonstration outside the office of Sonia Gandhi, President of the Indian National Congress, demanding that she and her party help free detained Burmese pro-democracy Daw Aung San Suu Kyi.

India's role: "In 10 years, Burma will be China's just like Tibet is"...
"The Burmese generals are very nice to us," says an intelligence officer in New Delhi...
Burmese military has received $200 million in military aid from India.
New Delhi would do well to trade in its friendship with the regime's generals in return for global goodwill and support for a much-coveted seat on the U.N. Security Council.

Singapore: MPs also want to know whether ASEAN will consider imposing targeted sanctions and even review Myanmar’s membership in ASEAN if the country fails to comply with the resolutions laid down by the United Nations and ASEAN.


22 Oct, Blood rubies: 95 per cent of all rubies... are mined in Burma.
...helped line the pockets of the junta's political elite and preserve it in power.
Under plans being finalised in Brussels, UK companies operating in the EU must stop importing luxury goods from Burma such as precious metals, wood products and gems including the so-called blood rubies.
The International Trade Union Confederation has written to leading retailers including Harrods demanding they stop stocking the stones although all denied buying rubies from Burma.
A spokeswoman for the Knightsbridge store said it was in "no doubt" the individual boutiques and brands operating there would comply with the new regulations. However, she added: "Harrods feels that it is up to the individual to make his or her buying decisions based on their own philosophy and beliefs." [What? So they assume some of their customers are fine with how the Burmese people are being treated? Are fine with fattening the pockets of the junta? Nice.]

Opponents of the Burmese regime said the mining industry there is unregulated with miners forced to work in often dangerous and atrocious conditions. A complete lack of environmental safeguards mean that mines can often cause major pollution to local drinking water supplies, said Mark Farmaner, acting director of the Burma Campaign UK which has been calling for these types of sanctions for more than a decade.

[And boy do I feel sick. The other day I began wearing a bracelet which was a gift from a few years ago. It has eight rubies on it... Urgk. This says something for the fake ones. (Did I mention *urgk*?)]

A summary. Includes: A tough response from the U.N. Security Council would be welcome but is unlikely, given the insistence of China and Russia that the Myanmar crisis is an "internal" matter.
But when does an internal matter become "external"? Apparently after a human tragedy reaches massive proportions, such as in the Darfur region of Sudan.
There are signs of history repeating itself in Myanmar, where the generals are reported to have been eradicating villages. We hope that global conscience isn't aroused only after hundreds of thousands of casualties, the dislocation of millions of people, pictures of emaciated children and the flow of refugees into neighboring Thailand, China and India.
[People are already fleeing over the borders. Refugees from the 1988 uprisings are still living on the Thai side of the border by the river! Why does the UN and its member nations let China and Russia get away with that argument?]


22 Oct: A leading monk—one of four being hunted down by the junta—told The Irrawaddy from his hiding place that monk-led demonstrations may resume in Burma in late October...
U Obhasa said life is uprooted, and he moves from safe house to safe house, sometimes daily.
"I have not been able to sleep for weeks," he said. "Our future is not certain even for the next few hours."
...He said he believes reports that some nuns were raped and sexually harassed by soldiers at detention centers.
...“If soldiers see a monk in a robe on the street, they will follow the monk,” he said.
U Obhasa said a report of explosives being found in a monastery in Rangoon was untrue and simply military propaganda designed to confuse the public.

US not happy with UK: One of Gordon Brown’s closest Cabinet allies has irritated the White House for “undercutting” President Bush’s tough stance towards the Burmese junta.

Douglas Alexander, the International Development Secretary, convened a World Bank meeting in Washington over the weekend to discuss how Burma could benefit from “aid, trade and debt relief” if it took verifiable steps towards democracy.
His talks with other development ministers attending the World Bank’s annual summit came only a day after Mr Bush had ordered tighter sanctions against Burma...
“It was seen as undercutting Mr Bush’s announcement and giving confused messages to the junta,” a Western diplomatic source said last night. “The Administration certainly wants to know why the UK failed to discuss this with them beforehand.”

Cbox news: Reports say that Junta is arresting students and civilians (believed to be involved in International Campaigns against SPDC) on arrival at the Yangon Airport.

What good are EU & US sanctions? - "Sanctions just mean that the government gets richer by exploiting this smaller piece of cake," said a former political prisoner and journalist based in Rangoon.
"They mean that countries like China can get cheaper prices for goods and take advantage of the plight of the people of (Burma). The government has plenty of contracts with China, India, Thailand and Japan. What do they need the US and Europe for?"

Even those US and European companies already operating in the country can often bypass sanctions.
European exporters of valuable Burmese teak, for example, will instead smuggle their goods through Thailand or China, thus shifting the country of origin from Burma.
One UK employee of a small-scale oil company said the sanctions wouldn't touch his business.
"Look," he said, refusing to name his firm. "We also do business in Syria and Iran. The Americans won't do anything to stop this kind of trade. Not unless they want oil at 100 dollars a barrel."

While one UN source said he believed the government does care about its international image - saying "it was certainly pleased to get Asean membership a few years ago" - sanctions have been in place for a long time without doing anything to bring an end to the dictatorship of the junta.
"It's a card that's already been played, he said. "And the generals know that."

Activists say they are hoping for a new approach and welcome UN envoy Ibrahim Gambari's proposal to offer economic incentives for cooperation.

Annoying: Burma's state-run media on Sunday belittled detained opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi as "Auntie Suu" and demanded she make concessions before political dialogue can occur.

21 Oct: Burma lifted a curfew on Saturday and ended a ban on assembly... the latest sign the military rulers are confident they have fully crushed the largest demonstrations in two decades.

The White House dismissed the move as "cosmetic".

Yeesh: the state newspaper in Burma lashed out at the US, accusing Washington of secretly training young monks and forcing them to stage the anti-Government protests.

23 Oct

Death and destruction (the usual): Burma's regime is stepping up efforts to oppress the country's ethnic minorities through torture, rape and arbitrary killing, a new report by NCA's partner TBBC shows.
...documents the eradication of 167 Burmese villages and the forced internal displacement of around 76,000 people from January to September 2007 alone. In total it is estimated that around half a million people are currently displaced in what is considered to be the toughest dictator state of our time.

Another beautiful article from Estes: This is a picture of Than Schwe’s latest publicity stunt in Burma, posting in public places, photographs of his innocent victims in chains and often beaten. Each prisoner is forced to hold a sign admitting to their crimes against Than Schwe.
They were rounded up for as little as clapping as the monks and nuns marched, for as little as giving food to the holy people.
One grim young couple who were arrested, appear to be holding their little child close in their arms. Arresting innocent people and babies. Beating people up. Murder in broad daylight...

India: Mr. Ibrahim Gambari, UN Secretary General's special envoy, should demand that India alter its foreign policy on Burma and adopt a proactive stance to push for democratic reforms in the Southeast Asian country, an Indian Parliamentary forum urged today.
Gambari, who is in New Delhi after his visit to Indonesia, will be heading for China and Japan for further consultations as a part of the United Nations initiative to push for changes Burma.
"We are really sorry that our government has taken the side of the generals, but I can assure that most parliamentarians are with the Burmese people," Kharshiing said.
"If today there is a vote in parliament on Burma, I am sure most parliamentarians will support the Burmese people and not the generals… it is sad that the country where Lord Buddha and Mahatma Gandhi were born is not supporting eternal values but is going for temporal gas and oil," he added.

US weak re China re both Burma and Tibet (wankers): Whether in Tibet or in Burma, saffron is apparently not the color the U.S. supports in a revolution. I hope we won’t be quietly lamenting about Burma and its monks 50 years from now, as we are in the case of Tibet...
[Sriram Khe not only writes a great article on this, but happens to be from Eugene, Oregon which is where I lived in The States. I heart Eugene (that's not something you hear every day...).]

Time for Asean and China to act: [Most] effective would be a core group or mechanism anchored in the region, rather than in New York. China in particular needs cover from regional neighbours before breaking with the long and now-outdated tradition of non-interference. ...
If Asean can agree to support a peaceful transition, with appropriate measures of carrots and sticks, there is no question that major powers like India, China and Japan, upon which the Burma authorities depend for vital trade and aid, will have to follow.
Time is running out. Once Asean heads of government gather in Singapore for a summit toward the end of November, if nothing concrete is proposed, the generals in Burma will correctly conclude that they have been given a pass again.
...There is an urgent need for Asean to end its disagreements and dithering, and work as one with China to shape a regional consensus. Burma has made it known that it will only speak to Mr Gambari, so Mr Gambari must go with the full backing of the region. Other major powers may want a role, but experience suggests interventionist diplomacy is best managed within the region.
(More on ASEAN summit.)

ASEAN reluctance: Singapore's foreign minister says Southeast Asian nations are reluctant to impose sanctions on Burma because they could further isolate the military-ruled government. George Yeo said Monday that the sanctions likely would be ineffective and could worsen pre-existing divisions in Burma. He warned that without the military, Burma could dissolve into civil war.

And yet: ...apartheid government was ultimately brought down by economic sanctions. And that's where the fight for Burma must go.

24 Oct

The Burmese junta is taking relatives of protesters hostage if it cannot find the people it wants to arrest.
...The regime “is conducting widespread arbitrary arrests in Rangoon and elsewhere.”
The rights group also distributed statements from anonymous witnesses. “A student leader was shot dead with one shot,” said the witness, identified as a “poet”. "After that they shot with a machinegun. People fell down. Many were shot. “Most of the people killed were monks as they were in the front of the march when the soldiers attacked.”

Guy Ryder, secretary general of the ITUC... “It is difficult to understand why some sectors, such as gas and oil, are excluded from the sanctions," he said.
The trade union group is also writing to the 400 foreign companies operating in Burma and plans to mobilise trade unions to protest at their national offices, he added.

Chevron: Chevron's involvement in Burma is coming under greater scrutiny as the US Congress considers legis­lation that could hit the oil group's investment in the country and even force it out of Burma.
..."As a consequence of divesting our interest in Yadana, there would be a capital gains tax that Chevron would have to pay to the government of Myanmar," Alex Yelland, a spokesman for the oil company said on Tuesday. This would be "hundreds of millions of dollars".
If Chevron was pushed out it would "enrich the regime and endanger our social development programmes".

Junta allow UN special rapporteur into Burma: UN special rapporteur, Paulo Sergio Pinheiro, will be allowed to visit the country to discuss human rights issues after last month's violent crackdown on protesters. Mr Pinheiro has not been allowed to visit Burma since 2003.
BBC: Burmese Foreign Minister Nyan Win wrote to the UN suggesting that Mr Pinheiro could arrive before mid-November.

UN special envoy on Burma, Ibrahim Gambari, will return to Burma for more talks in the first week of November. Burmese government had agreed to bring forward the date of his visit.
He said he was encouraged by promises from India to try to help resolve its neighbour's political crisis.
On Tuesday, he met Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Foreign Minister Pranab Mukherjee.
...But while India has expressed concern over the situation in Burma, it has opposed the use of coercion, including sanctions.

Minorities leaving: Hundreds of Burmese tribespeople have fled to India, saying they face huge fines if they fail to join pro-junta rallies... There are more than two million Chins in Burma, and their leaders say they have suffered long persecution for being Christians and non-ethnic Burmese.
Thousands have fled into Mizoram over the past two decades.

Students have accused Edinburgh University of turning its back on ethical investment by supporting a French oil company with extensive links to the military dictatorship in Burma.

26 Oct

Meeting: One possible hint of progress came yesterday when Ms Suu Kyi, leader of the National League for Democracy (NLD), met the regime's newly appointed liaison minister, Aung Kyi, for an hour. The retired general has been given the task of speaking with the 62-year-old democracy leader and creating "smooth relations" with her. [see more below]
[photo above from Assoc. Press]

Rangoon: the Burmese police is patrolling several religious sites in Rangoon, with the objective of preventing new protests. A Reuters journalist was kept from taking pictures but he witnessed the concentration of armed policemen in the zone that gives access to the pagoda of Sule and Shwedagon.
The increased security measures come the day after the meeting between opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi, and the minister of labour, general Aung Kyi, instructed to start a dialogue with the winner of the Nobel Peace Prize and the UN.
The regime's press office has announced that the meeting lasted 75 minutes and has shown a video in which the two are seen together: the general smiling, while Suu Kyi, who has been under house arrest for 12 out of the last 18 years, looks astonished.

Also of interest: A report published this week by a group representing the Kachin indigenous people of Burma, said that work had started on a 152m-high dam on the Irrawaddy river that the Chinese are building for the Burmese regime. The report, by the Kachin Development Networking Group, said the project would transmit electricity to China and potentially generate over $500m (£1bn) a year. It said the social and environmental costs to the Burmese people would be considerable.

25 Oct

AUSTRALIA slapped financial sanctions on Burma's generals and their families yesterday as supporters of the opposition leader, Aung San Suu Kyi, marked her 12 years in captivity with protests in 12 cities across the world.
Alexander Downer, said a ban had been placed on specified Australian financial dealings with 418 individuals who are members of the Burmese military regime or its supporters. Although there are some foreigners on the list, such as spouses of Burmese business figures, no Australians with commercial dealings with regime members in the oil, gas or publishing industries are included.
The list was announced yesterday and put on the website of the Reserve Bank of Australia...
Mr Downer said yesterday the measures were the strongest under Australian law against countries or individuals not subject to Security Council sanctions. [abc news: It means they are banned from transferring money without the Reserve Bank's approval.]
Those targeted include the regime's military leader, General Than Shwe, and his wife and children, as well as ministers and senior military officers.
The AFP confirmed they had been involved in the training of some 70 police from Burma, and argued that collaboration was needed to combat narcotics, human smuggling and terrorism. Mr Downer has rejected calls for the police links to be scrapped.

China promises to support UN in Burma: China on Wednesday praised the "remarkable" work by United Nations special envoy Ibrahim Gambari to improve the situation in Burma and promised support for his mediation efforts.
After talks on Tuesday with Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Foreign Minister Pranab Mukherjee, Gambari said the UN appreciated the help of China - Burma's main weapons supplier - in defusing the crisis by facilitating meetings with the junta leaders at the height of the crisis.

New PM: Lieutenant General Thein Sein has officially been declared prime minister of the isolated country following the former prime minister's death earlier this month... Soe Win, a junta hardliner, was best known for allegedly orchestrating an attack on democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi in 2003 that left up to 80 people dead
...all real power lies with Senior General Than Shwe and the military junta.

Protests: Campaigners held a day of protests around the world Wednesday to highlight the plight of Nobel Peace Prize winner and opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi and mark another year of her house arrest in Myanmar.
The protests were taking place outside Chinese embassies in London and 11 other cities -- one city for each year of Suu Kyi's detention.
BBC adds: Six female Nobel peace laureates have jointly appealed to the UN, urging it to help Ms Suu Kyi regain her freedom.
"The detention of Aung San Suu Kyi is the most visible manifestation of the regime's brutality but it is only the tip of the iceberg," they wrote in an open letter published in UK newspaper The Guardian.

UN Day statement: UN staff in Burma said the country's estimated gross domestic product was less than half that of Cambodia or Bangladesh, one in three children under five was malnourished and less than half of children completed primary education.
"The concerns of the people have been clearly expressed though the recent demonstrations, and it is beholden on all to listen," they said.

Cbox news: - On 23rd Oct, more than 200 people carried out a peaceful protest in Kyar Inn Township of Karen State. They peacefully asked for the release of political prisoners, democracy for Burma and supported the 3-way discussion between DASSK, junta and UN. No action has been taken against them yet.
- Led by comedian Zarganar, who was recently released from prison, a group of Burmese artistes offered alms (food) to 80 monks and 30 nuns at Bar-Ga-Ya monastery. This monastery has been refusing all form of alms from the military junta. Zargarnar and his group of friends will continue to offer alms to all monasteries which refuse to accept anything from the military junta.
- In memory of the fallen people and monks during 27th Sept crackdown on peaceful protests, there will be a memorial service by various religions in Australia, organized by Australians.

27 Oct

Mizzima - more panties for peace!: Women workers in Philippines today "attacked" the Burmese embassy in Makati by hurling panties in a demonstration against the junta's brutal crackdown on Burmese protesters in September.
The protest organized by Free Burma Coalition-Philippines and Alliance of Progressive Labor, had over 60 women activists on Friday pelting panties at the Burmese embassy condemning it for its brutality against its own people.
Burmese junta officials, are known to be highly superstitious and panties were deliberately thrown to condemn their actions, Jomar Bolo, spokesperson of the FBC, said.
"Some junta members believe that any contact with female undergarments - clean or dirty - will sap them of their power," Bolo told Mizzima.
Marlene Sindayen, spokesperson of the Alliance of Progressive Labor, said, "Throwing women's underwear at the Burmese embassy is our way of telling the junta we want democracy in Burma now. Panties also symbolize women's liberation in Burma because the junta is also known for being the world's number one women rights abuser."

BBC: At least 70 people detained in Burma during recent anti-government protests have been released, an opposition party official has said.
About 50 members of Aung San Suu Kyi's National League for Democracy (NLD) are said to have been among those freed.
They included the party's senior executive, Hla Pe, who is in his 80s...

Speaking to reporters in Tokyo, Mr Gambari said the meeting between Ms Suu Kyi and the junta official was only a first step.
"This should lead to the early resumption of dialogue that will lead to very concrete and tangible results," he said.
Previous attempts to open discourse between the NLD leader, who is under house arrest in Rangoon, and the military have come to nothing.

Irrawaddy: Influential Burmese leaders contacted by The Irrawaddy have dismissed a possible “nightmare scenario" raised by some Burma experts who say that—should the junta fall—the country might collapse because of a lack of civilian leaders with experience in government.

30 Oct

VOA: French Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner has proposed an international fund to provide Burma economic incentives to embrace democracy.
Kouchner told journalists in Singapore Monday Burma's military rulers must be urged to change through both sanctions and incentives.
Britain has already expressed support for France's idea of the fund.

The news is unlikely to include these images recently smuggled out of Burma (of murdered monks) from another article by Ms Estes).

31 Oct

More than 100 Buddhist monks marched in northern Burma, in the first public demonstration since the government's deadly crackdown on pro-democracy protesters.

On Saturday the UN special envoy Ibrahim Gambari will be making his second visit to Rangoon.

Children bought & sold: Burma's military government has been forcibly recruiting child soldiers through brokers who buy and sell boys to help the army deal with personnel shortages, which have been exacerbated by desertions and public aversion to its brutality, Human Rights Watch concludes in a detailed report being released today.
Military recruiters and civilian brokers have been collecting cash and other forms of compensation for each new soldier, ignoring questions of health and age, the study found.
Recruiters target children at train and bus stations, markets and other public places and threaten to arrest them if they don't join...
In the coming weeks, the UN Security Council's working group on children and armed conflict will take up the issue concerning Burma.

The UK will increase its aid for the poorest people in Burma from £9 million this year to £18 million by 2010...
"We will not turn our backs on the Burmese people who have courageously stood up for their rights. The recent protests showed their deep frustration with the lack of political and economic opportunities in Burma. The UK Government, alongside the international community, will continue to put pressure on the Burmese government to embrace freedom."

Aung San Suu Kyi is to be awarded Freedom of Glasgow, Scotland.

1 Nov

As many as 250 monks reportedly marched and chanted through the city of Pakokku in central Burma yesterday.

France pressures China: French Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner has urged China to use its influence with Burma's military government... Kouchner said China is pivotal to strengthening United Nations efforts to bring about reform in Burma. He said China must push the military junta in Rangoon to open real dialogue with the democratic opposition.

In the US: A new bill, the Burma Democracy Promotion Act, was introduced on the floor of the United States Senate on Tuesday. The proposed legislation would strengthen even further existing United States sanctions directed at the Burmese military junta.
According to Senator Biden's bill, existing extensive sanctions are not effective enough. Millions of dollars worth of gems originating from Burma still find their way onto the U.S. market, after having been processed through third countries.
The bill comes only days after reports of the alleged travel of several family members of top level Burmese generals and their associates to the United States.

2 Nov

Authorities in Burma have freed 46 more people arrested during unrest in August and September, an opposition party spokesman said. The release of the prisoners, most of whom are members of the National League for Democracy (NLD) party, occurred late Thursday, spokesman Nyan Win told AFP, just two days before the arrival of UN envoy Ibrahim Gambari on Saturday.
During the past week at least 165 people seized during the unrest have been released, but Nyan Win said dozens of NLD members remain behind bars.

Sanctions Missing the Target: One regime expert described the latest sanctions by several Western governments as little more than “theater.”
For instance, a list of financial restrictions recently imposed by the Australian government looks good at a glance, but on closer inspection is merely cosmetic.
The restrictions do not affect the one area where Naypyidaw earns the most money— gas and oil concessions and sales.
Although Australia says it has imposed financial curbs on more than 400 members of the Burmese military leadership or business affiliates, Australians and Australian companies engaged in oil and gas exploration on the regime’s behalf are not affected.

...Steinberg, a visiting professor at Singapore’s Institute of Southeast Asian Studies was quoted in the city-state’s media saying, “This is theater, not policy.”
He had criticized Western sanctions before as “emotionally satisfying” but ineffective. He advocates engagement with the junta rather than isolation to try to bring the generals to the negotiating table.

Burma Campaign UK names the Australia-based Danford Equities Corporation among five companies, mostly in tourism, on its “dirty list” for doing business in Burma.
Danford signed up last November for a joint venture with the junta-controlled Myanmar Oil and Gas Enterprise in the Yetagun offshore gas reserve in the Andaman Sea.

Land mines: In front of police station in South Oakkala Township in Yangon, there is a signboard that states "Mines have been put in place. No one is allowed to pass through". By taking such action, it seems that the military junta is treating Yangon as a war field.

www: After about two weeks of slow speed Internet line recovery, users in Rangoon today said access to the World Wide Web has been once again cut-off.

Warning: Following yesterday’s peaceful demonstration in Pakokku, local authorities have urged monks not to go ahead with any further protests, according to a local monk.

You can watch the videos on child soldiers in Myanmar at this link.

CNN video on the recent march by monks at Pakhoku Town in Burma.

A charity of South Africa's icon Nelson Mandela has withdrawn its support for a fund-raising golf tournament, because of its host's involvement in Burma.

The Freedom of Glasgow has been awarded to the leader of the National League for Democracy in Burma, Dr Aung San Suu Kyi.
Lord Provost Bob Winter said: "I hope our support may assist in securing her release and the achievement of a free, peaceful and democratic Burma."

3 Nov

UN official out: Burma's junta has thrown out a senior United Nations official in response to a UN statement last month denouncing the deteriorating humanitarian situation in the country.
The Government's decision will likely force Mr Petrie, who arrived in 2003, to leave the country.
n the aftermath of the junta's bloody suppression of demonstrations last month, Mr Petrie also made several public remarks that were critical of Burma's leaders.

4 Nov

Internet connections have been cut again since yesterday. ..."Burma is in the process of creating an Intranet in order to cut itself off from the international community... Without TV footage and without eye-witness news reports, it will be harder for the international community to evaluate the situation in Burma, but it will be much easier for the military regime to do as it pleases."

5 Nov

United Nations special envoy Ibrahim Gambari on Sunday met with the Burmese foreign minister and minister for relations to discuss a framework for launching a "meaningful dialogue" between the junta and opposition figures.

Around 100 monks carried out a peaceful protest in Moe Gote Saturday.

6 Nov

Another protest: In the second such instance after the September protests in Burma, over 50 monks marched peacefully in Mogok town in upper Burma.
Meanwhile, authorities are reportedly imparting riot training to police and civil servants in Sagaing, Rangoon, Mandalay, Pegu and Moulmein towns and parts of Arakan state.

UN visit: It is not clear if Gambari will meet with Burma's military leader Than Shwe during his visit. But he is scheduled to meet Tuesday with opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi, who has spent most of the past decade under house arrest in Rangoon.
Gambari met Sunday with Labor Minister Aung Kyi, who also serves as the government's liaison to Aung San Suu Kyi.
A U.N. statement said Gambari held extensive discussions with the minister on an "agreed framework for meaningful dialogue" between Aung San Suu Kyi and the government. The statement provided no details.

US govt urged the Singapore govt to carry out either financial sanctions against the bank accounts of SPDC or travel restrictions.

8 Nov

UN special envoy Ibrahim Gambari has announced he will meet detained pro-democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi on Thursday, before concluding his visit to Burma the same day...

Burma Rejects Third Party Mediation: Burma's military rulers on Wednesday rejected a proposal by the United Nations for three-way talks involving detained pro-democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi in an effort to return the country back to democracy.
Burmese Minister Kyaw Hsan told Gambari, "Currently, the tripartite meeting will not be possible. We will welcome positive co-ordination and co-operation for Myanmar [Burma] affairs, but will never accept any interference that may harm our sovereignty.
"I would like you to know that Myanmar is a small nation and if a big power bullies her with its influence by putting Myanmar's affairs on UNSC [UN Security Council], we will have no other way but to face and endure."

ie. We're making lots of money and want to keep it.

And to better understand the silly crap of 'junta speak' see:

smh article - Burma's junta plays the game, but always to win: ie. "when the generals speak of moving towards democratic reform, expect diversions, not genuine concessions."

Paper protests: State-run newspapers are the target of a new anti-government protest action in Rangoon. Protesters are buying copies of such government-owned newspapers as The New Light of Myanmar and then ripping them up and scattering them in various parts of the city.

7 Nov

Aung San Suu Kyi, was visited twice by a doctor at the weekend in an unusual break from the regime-ordained routine, which allows her only two medical calls a month. wasn’t known why Suu Kyi needed medical treatment, but he had been told she was now better.
NLD spokesman, Myint Thein, said the party would ask permission for Suu Kyi to receive one doctor’s visit a week.
...a row between the UN representation in Rangoon and the Burmese Foreign Ministry has cast doubt on the meeting [between Suu Kyi and Gambari], according to a diplomatic source.
And: NLD spokesperson Nyan Win said they had not received any notice for a meeting with the visiting UN diplomat.
"So far we have not received any notice for a meeting. And we don't know who Gambari is meeting," said Nyan Win.

The UN envoy to Burma, Ibrahim Gambari, still has not managed to hold talks with the leader of the country's ruling junta, days into his second visit

The ASEAN Inter-Parliamentary Myanmar Caucus is holding a seminar in Singapore on 9 November to discuss possible solutions to the crisis in Burma.
The seminar will be attended by politicians, diplomats, academics and activists...
The AIPMC has timed the seminar to bring additional pressure to bear on ASEAN leaders, who will hold their annual summit in Singapore from 18 November.

9 Nov

Gambari said a process has begun that would lead to "substantive dialogue" between the government and Aung San Suu Kyi.
However, on Wednesday, Burma's military leaders rejected Gambari's proposal to arrange a three-way meeting between a Burmese official, Aung San Suu Kyi and himself.
He had hoped to also meet with Burma's top military leader, General Than Shwe, but that meeting did not occur.

Detained Burma opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi says she is ready to work with the country's military junta to ensure proposed negotiations on political reform are a success.
"In the interest of the nation, I stand ready to cooperate with the Government in order to make this process of dialogue a success."

Such a lovely boy: Australian Idol co-host James Mathison is ... becoming a prominent face of the movement for freedom in Burma.
“My grandmother’s family were in Burma in 1962 when the government was overthrown by the military,” he said.
“There was widespread panic and they fled the country with nothing. They had to leave everything behind.
Sadly, 45 years later the military is still in power and things have gone from bad to worse...
There are a lot of little things people can do, like supporting the rally this weekend and writing to local members of parliament.”
This weekend’s rally, organised by the Sydney Burma Network, is calling for an end to an Australian aid project in which the Australian Federal Police is training Burmese police.

Amnesty International: "Widespread arbitrary detentions, hostage-taking, beatings and torture in custody and enforced disappearances clearly disprove any claims from the Burmese government of returning normality.
...Appalling detention conditions including the denial of adequate food, water and sanitary facilities as well as the keeping of detainees in "dog cells"... [full briefing here]
"Instead of protesting about interference in sovereignty, the Burmese authorities must honour their promises of 'full cooperation' with the UN through full access for Mr Pinheiro and full delivery of concrete human rights improvements identified by the UN Human Rights Council and Security Council."

Burmese DVB News: Yesterday at around 1PM, on Bo Aung Kyaw Road in Yangon, a group of young students carried out a small protest. They carried a poster with Than Shwe's head covered by a woman's panties while chanting slogans: We don't want the military junta that killed the monks. The people around them supported them by clapping their hands. After a while, the police came and everyone had to run away. It is not confirmed whether anyone was arrested.

10 Nov

Suu Kyi's message is that she is not looking for regime-change but for “democratic solidarity and national unity.”
Suu Kyi stressed again that she is seeking the path of dialogue and not the devastation and confrontation regime leader Snr-Gen Than Shwe accuses her of. “To that end, I am committed to pursue the path of dialogue constructively and invite the government and all relevant parties to join me in this spirit.”

Hooray: Aung San Suu Kyi spent two and a half hours with four NLD leaders at a government guest house in Rangoon on Friday afternoon, according to a party spokesperson. It was first time she has been allowed to meet with any of her colleagues in three years.

Aung San Suu Kyi yesterday morning left her house to meet with a high officer of the junta, Aung Kyi, the retired general promoted in the past weeks to the role of Burmese 'relations minister'.

11 Nov

Very little news today, but what news I did find looks positive!

In a sign of progress, Burma's democracy icon Daw Aung San Suu Kyi, who has been under house arrest for 12 of the past 18 years, will be released soon, a party spokesperson said on Saturday.

Myint Thein, spokesperson for the National League for Democracy (NLD), told Mizzima today that the detained party leader will soon be released and conditions to kick-start a dialogue process are taking shape.

"Currently the situation is good. She [Daw Aung San Suu Kyi] is in good health. She is not yet released but will be released soon," said Myint Thein.

A UN human rights expert is due to visit Burma (his first visit to Burma in four years) as rights groups demanded the ruling military release all political prisoners.

12 Nov

The United Nations human rights envoy has arrived in Burma on the first visit he has been allowed to make to the country in four years.
The envoy, Paulo Sergio Pinheiro, says he is determined to meet political prisoners and find out exactly how many people died when Burma's military Government crushed pro-democracy protests in September.

Tokyo - About 1,300 Burmese expatriates rallied in the capital’s Yoyogi Park on Sunday afternoon, appealing to the international community to put pressure on the Japanese government to cut aid to their military-ruled country.
...Than Thon Oo works in a Chinese restaurant in Tokyo and her father has been in a Burmese prison for the past seven years. She told IPS: "The money doesn't go to the people. We don't want Japan to give our country ODA. It has to stop!"
Japan is the largest donor of aid to Burma.

13 Nov

Paulo Sergio Pinheiro, the UN's independent rights investigator for Burma, spent at least two hours at Rangoon's notorious Insein prison, where political prisoners have been tortured and held in solitary confinement.
...also visited the Ngwe Kyar Yan monastery on the outskirts of Rangoon, which was raided by troops in late September...
Pinheiro has a troubled history with the junta. He abruptly cut short a visit in March 2003 after finding a listening device in a prison room where he was interviewing political detainees. He has been barred from the country since November 2003.

UN: The military government and opposition parties in Burma have agreed to hold "meaningful and substantive" talks to resolve the political crisis, UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon said.
Ban said he wants Gambari to make an "early return to (Burma) as part of an open and regular process of mutual engagement."

14 Nov

Arrests Continue Despite Pinheiro’s Visit: Three Burmese dissidents, including civil rights champion Su Su Nway, were arrested in Rangoon on Tuesday morning, according to reliable sources. Two activist monks who took part in the September demonstrations were also arrested by authorities earlier this month. (also here)

Weapons: Fourteen officials from seven Korean corporations, including a former president of Daewoo International, will be tried on Thursday in Seoul on charges of conspiring to illegally export weapons to the Burmese military regime.

15 Nov

Canada announced tougher sanctions against Burma today... "Canada has long had measures against Burma. Now we are going to impose the toughest sanctions in the world"

Human Rights Watch ask for gem trading to stop (gem sale has started, 14-26 Nov), especially as Chinese merchants are looking to buy a bunch of jade for Olympics souvenirs.
Human Rights Watch says mining facilities are often the sites of a multitude of human rights abuses, including forced labor and land confiscation. The organization also states that the areas are subjected to poor healthcare and an increased incidence of HIV/AIDS infection.
In recent years the gem industry has risen to be the third highest hard currency earner for the regime, following the petroleum and timber industries.

16 Nov

UN human rights envoy [has met] with top Myanmar junta officials as the Security Council said the generals must do more to ensure a dialogue with the opposition.
Paulo Sergio Pinheiro would also meet with Labour Minister Aung Kyi who was appointed to liaise with detained opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi, an official said.

UN human rights envoy has visited prominent political activists held at Burma's notorious Insein jail before departing the military-ruled nation.
Paulo Sergio Pinheiro said the detainees included Labour activist Su Su Nway, who was arrested on Tuesday.
His request to meet detained opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi was refused.
Mr Pinheiro said he also held talks with journalist Win Tin, who has been held since 1989 and is now in his late 70s.
He said he was also permitted to meet members of the 88 Generation Students group...

An article on "the moral disintegration of Burma's military".

17 Nov

Lots of GOOD NEWS today!

In what seems to be a sign of slowly relenting to the onslaught of the United Nations and the international community, the Burmese military junta on Thursday released 75 detainees including six political activists.
The activists released on Thursday were arrested in 2003 and 2004 and were forced to sign a bond saying that they would not be involved in politics in future, sources said. ...Kyaw Kyaw, who refused to sign the pledge, was taken back to prison, the source, who is close to the activists, said.
"I think I was freed because my health condition became critical and it would be dangerous to continue to keep me in prison. It seems they did not want to keep me in prison anymore because they feared I might die in custody," added Tun Lin Kyaw.

Burmese government will grant amnesty to 35 Thais now being held in Burmese jails or prisons in deference to the auspicious year when Thailand celebrates the upcoming 80th birthday of His Majesty King Bhumibol Adulyadej.
...the Office of the Supreme Commander may help Myanmar to identify these people and will prepare C-130 military aircraft to transport them as soon as the Myanmar government gives permission for their release.

The British House of Lords is taking action to respond to continuing human rights abuses in Burma.
The Burma Justice Committee will explore possibilities of providing legal help to victims of repression and their families.
Being comprised of lawyers, parliamentarians and other representatives, it "will be able to draw on a wide range of legal expertise with experienced barristers and other lawyers in a range of disciplines to assist victims and their families." Furthermore, it will also examine available steps which can be taken to hold the military government accountable for its human rights abuses.

On the subject of Burma, President Bush and [Japan's new] Prime Minister Yasuo Fukuda called for dialogue between pro-democracy activists and the military government.
"The prime minister and I condemn the regime's crackdown on democratic activists," said Bush. "We call for the release of Aung San Suu Kyi and all other political prisoners."

And go here to read about this guy:
"I climbed the Eiffel Tower to help draw more attention to the atrocities and the pro-democracy movement in Burma."
Mike was arrested by the French police at circa 219 m, circa 100m short of the top of the symbol of Paris. "I wore a shirt with 'Total leave Burma' on it... I tied a red scarf - the colour of the Monk's attire in Burma - on the lower arch, at about 230ft... I was arrested at around 720ft, where I felt it prudent to 'come quietly', especially in view of a possible jail term"
(according to ...Aung San Suu Kyi "TOTAL [oil company] is the biggest supporter of the military regime in Burma.")

22 Nov

Philippine President Gloria Arroyo has said her country is unlikely to sign a new ASEAN charter unless Burma frees the opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi.
...The United States has warned that ASEAN's credibility was at stake over its handling of the crisis in Burma.

Sources on the China-Burma border have claimed that Chinese military equipment and vehicles have been sent into the country over the past month at the Jiang Hkong border crossing.

21 Nov

Monks' leader faces death penalty: Amnesty International has deep concern over the future of U Gambira, the 27-year-old leader of the All-Burma Monks Alliance (ABMA).
The ABMA was instrumental in getting thousands of monks onto the streets in pro-democracy demonstrations at the end of September this year.
'U Gambira went into hiding shortly after the crackdown, but Amnesty International has now received reliable reports that he has been arrested and charged with treason for his role in the demonstrations. If convicted he faces either life imprisonment or the death sentence.
'His exact whereabouts remain unclear and Amnesty International believes he is in grave danger of torture or ill-treatment.'
Other members of his family have been arrested as 'hostages' in an attempt to force him out of hiding... and like U Gambira, Amnesty does not know where they are being held and has fears over their safety.

20 Nov

Lots of frustrating news today.

A top US trade official warned on Monday that “the credibility and reputation” of the Association of South East Asian nations had been undermined by its failure to push Burma’s ruling generals into meaningful reforms.
Just hours later... Asean leaders cancelled a planned briefing by Ibrahim Gambari, the United Nations special envoy, to regional leaders after strong objections from General Thein Sein, the Burmese prime minister, who said the recent unrest in Burma, and subsequent crackdown, were “a domestic affair”.

After hours of intense discussion, Lee Hsien Loong, Singapore’s prime minister, told journalists: “Asean leaders agreed they would respect Myanmar’s wishes, and make way for Myanmar [Burma] to deal directly with the UN on its own.”
But ...most of the region’s leaders felt that the military regime “should not go back or stay put” and had to pursue a dialogue with the democratic opposition.
The diplomatic manoeuvres came a day after Asean rebuffed a unanimous US Senate resolution calling for the suspension or expulsion of Burma’s military rulers from the organisation until the regime improved its human rights record.
Burma is “part of our family”, Ong Keng Yong, the secretary-general, said. “It’s like you as a parent. If you have a troubled child, do you say, ‘Go out of the house, I don’t want to talk to you’?”

The European Union formally adopted tougher sanctions against Burma’s rulers on Monday in spite of criticism from some non-governmental organisations that the measures will lack bite... partly because they do not target Burma’s energy and financial sectors.
Plus: The EU foreign ministers urged Burma's military government to enter into a "meaningful dialogue" that will lead to democracy. They also called for the lifting of all restrictions on detained opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi.

More on ASEAN here. Including: Burma Foreign Minister Nyan Win said his country would this week sign ASEAN's first charter, which commits members to promote human rights and democracy - but provides no mechanism for punishing those who do not obey.

Burma's detained opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi has met with a Burmese government liaison, the latest bid to move forward political reconciliation in the military-ruled country.
The two met for about an hour. Details of their discussions were not disclosed.
The meeting was their third since Aung Kyi was appointed...

Junta authorities in northern Burma's Kachin State on Sunday began to seize widely used Chinese mobile phones from civilians, local residents said.
"The local police are aware who are using Chinese mobile phones. So, they [authorities] just went into the houses and seized the phones. But the people were not arrested nor were action taken against them,"...

19 Nov

The head of the Association of South-East Asian Nations (ASEAN) has rejected a call from the US Senate to suspend Burma from the organisation... warned that such a confrontational approach would not yield good results.

...Burma will sign an ASEAN agreement this week committing the 10 member states to strengthening democracy and protecting human rights.

Meanwhile, an official in Singapore says Burma is making a last-ditch effort to prevent UN special envoy Ibrahim Gambari from briefing Asian leaders about the situation in the military-run state.
Mr Gambari, who has visited Burma twice since a deadly crackdown on street protests two months ago, is to brief leaders from 10 south-east Asian nations plus Australia, China, India, Japan, New Zealand and South Korea on Wednesday.

18 Nov

The U.S. Senate voted unanimously on Friday to urge the 10-member Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) to suspend Myanmar until the military rulers there show respect for human rights.

France and its European Union partners will follow Canada's lead and step up economic sanctions against Myanmar

Burma's military leader says he is committed to going ahead with the country's "road map" to democracy.
Under the ruling generals' road map, Burma will adopt a constitution in a referendum that would eventually lead to free elections.
But the United States, European Union and United Nations have dismissed the lengthy proceedings as a sham, due to the absence of detained pro-democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi's political party.

The United Nations Rapporteur on Human Rights for Burma, Paulo Sergio Pinheiro, has given some details about his visit to the country.
He says torture is routine when anyone is detained by the military regime.
He says he was shocked by the level of violence.
"...also expressed my shock in terms of the numbers of people detained and the ways of the operation," he said.

More about how satellite images are showing the destruction of villages.
The American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) presented these images at the UN this week during a panel discussion on human rights abuses in Burma.
Thanks to this "geospatial technology", non-governmental organisations have partnered with scientific groups to chart rights abuses in inaccessible countries.