Monday, 8 November 2010
Sunday, 24 October 2010
By: Roland Watson, firstname.lastname@example.org
October 23, 2010
Dictator Watch has received information that the number two general in Burma’s military junta, Vice Senior General Maung Aye, was placed under house arrest on August 27th. We have had this information for some weeks, but did not publish it earlier because there was no confirmation. While we still do not have confirmation, Maung Aye’s absence from the SPDC’s media since this date makes us increasingly inclined to believe that it is true.
A silent purge has been conducted by Senior General Than Shwe of his subordinate officer, under the cover of a broad military reshuffle.
It is revealing how the reshuffle developed. First, it was reported on August 27th that both Than Shwe and Maung Aye would retire. Then, the next day it was reported that they had in fact retired. But, a list of personnel changes published on September 1st failed to confirm this. Instead, it was reported that Than Shwe would retire sometime in September, which event did not occur, and with no mention of Maung Aye. Now, in late October, it has been reported that some of the generals who were forced to resign are upset that the top two generals have not yet done so.
We have previously reported that there was a split at the top of the SPDC between Than Shwe and Maung Aye, over the latter’s unwillingness to retire. As we understand it, Maung Aye was also more inclined to support negotiation with Daw Aung San Suu Kyi, and resisted attacking the ceasefire groups that refused to transform to Border Guard Forces. Such ideas are anathema to Than Shwe. He will never talk to Daw Suu, and he wants to attack the Wa and the Kachin, among others. Now, with Maung Aye out of the way, it appears that he has prevailed. Impending conflict is therefore much more likely, and may be funded by the new $4 billion dollar loan from China, notwithstanding Beijing’s supposed reluctance to see conflict across its border.
Than Shwe’s purging of Maung Aye and his refusal to retire also has significance for the upcoming election. He has no intention whatsoever of allowing any truly democratic developments in Burma, and will retain absolute control until he dies. Anyone who believes that good can come from the election is like a deer in a truck’s headlights waiting to be run over and killed. The only appropriate response is to oppose the election:
It is essential that Burmese pro-democracy media, including DVB, Irrawaddy, Mizzima, BNI, etc., secretly monitor polling places and calculate how few people vote and therefore how the entire exercise, and the individuals supposedly elected to office, are frauds.
Friday, 13 August 2010
August 12, 2010
Burma has a substantial population, believed to number above fifty million people. For context, Israel and Palestine have eleven million. Afghanistan, which is about the same size as Burma, has twenty-nine million. Iraq, with a third less territory, has thirty-one million.
Inside Burma, everyone - except the small cabal of generals and their cronies who rule the country - is suffering. The Burmese people are suffocated by fear. Anyone is subject to arrest and torture, and at any time. Moreover, there is general but severe deprivation in food, education and health care. Large regions are also war zones, with the Burma Army perpetrating scorched earth attacks against ethnic minority villagers, which attacks constitute nothing less than crimes against humanity.
A basic comparison, then, of Burma with Israel and Palestine, Afghanistan, and Iraq, suggests that the situation in the country should have far greater prominence. For years, though, international concern with the crisis in Burma has been small. This is now changing. Burma pro-democracy leaders, resistance forces and activists, by creating a great amount of publicity and pressure, have been able to force the problems in the country onto the international stage.
In fact, there is so much going on now about Burma that it is difficult to keep track, especially of what is significant. For example, many things that are not significant are being given undue attention by Burmese and international media and commentators. Foremost of these is the SPDC’s plan to have an “election,” and the actions of the different pro-junta parties that have announced they will participate.
This entire event is a charade. It is a psychological warfare operation conceived by the dictator of Burma, Than Shwe. Its primary goal is to distract everyone from the real situation in the country, and secondly, to forestall a popular revolution and other decisive bids for pro-democratic change.
For the most part, Than Shwe’s operation is succeeding. Many people are consumed by the election. Few are focused on what will actually be required to free the people of Burma, much less involved in organizing it.
The end of the Senior General?
The true situation is much more complex, and unstable. Than Shwe is under great pressure. He has experienced three major defeats this year. The first of these is that Daw Aung San Suu Kyi and the NLD rejected the election. This makes it extremely difficult, as they are the legitimate leaders of Burma, for the International Community to accept the result (if and when a vote is ever even held).
Secondly, Than Shwe hatched another plan, to regain control over areas of Burma that had been ceded to various ethnic armies in return for ceasefire deals. He demanded that they reorganize as Border Guard Forces, under Burma Army - read Burman officer - control. But these groups, content with the autonomy that they have experienced since they signed the ceasefires in the mid-1990s, refused to accept the transformation. Further, they actively prepared their troops and villages to defend against Burma Army attacks.
Thirdly, the one ceasefire group of any size that had actually been willing to fight for the Burma Army, the DKBA, is now in the process of splitting over the BGF issue. A major DKBA unit, Brigade 5, has created an alliance with the pro-democracy resistance group, the KNU/KNLA. The split between the Karen that occurred at Manerplaw appears to be healing. And, if pro-SPDC DKBA units, such as Chit Thu’s Brigade 999, attack Brigade 5, there is a likelihood that his rank and file soldiers will change allegiance as well, effectively ending the DKBA. (Some 999 troops are already changing sides.) This would create a unified, potent Karen fighting force in eastern Burma.
There are also two other important factors but which are less well recognized. The first is that the morale of Burma Army troops is extremely low. There have been dozens of instances of desertion and insubordination in the last two years, all over the country, and in the police as well. Many soldiers and police are now demanding early retirement, and repayment of the portions of their pay that have supposedly been invested as pensions. It is because of the morale problem that the Burma Army has not attacked the major ceasefire groups, the Wa and Kachin, not the argument that China objected to the refugee crisis that might develop.
Finally, there is a split at the top of the SPDC over the election. The reason why the election date has not been announced is that this split has not been resolved. Than Shwe’s Roadmap, of which the election is the most important step, is intended to transfer power to a civilian administration. He believes this type of regime will protect him following his retirement. If power remains directly within a military junta, the future leading generals could purge him - and his family - at any time, just as he did to the original dictator of Burma, Ne Win.
The problem of course is that there is no place in this plan for Maung Aye, the second top general of the junta. Maung Aye leads his own clique of officers, and with their own divisions and battalions. The Burma Army - the Tatmadaw - is not unified. It has two major factions, and perhaps a third as well under General Shwe Mann.
The Maung Aye group, fearing arrest, as occurred with former Intelligence chief Khin Nyunt, has refused to retire, and, frankly, there is nothing Than Shwe can do about it. If he tries to move his units against Maung Aye’s, this will constitute civil war within the Tatmadaw, and it will inevitably collapse.
This is the real situation in Burma, and which everyone would do well to contemplate. Than Shwe’s position, underneath the apparent calm, is desperate. The election is a diversion and a farce. Its only true significance is what the lack of a date for the vote reveals.
International pro-dictatorship supporters
Than Shwe has a lot of foreign friends, who do not want to see him fall. These include China, Russia, North Korea and Singapore, and also India and Thailand. Even though the last two are democratic, with governments that presumably would support the aspirations of the Burmese, they do not. India and Thailand fear the unrest that might develop in Burma during a democratic transition, as well as a resurgent free Burma. India also worries that autonomy and separatist claims by ethnic groups such as the Naga in its northeast would be magnified following Burma’s freedom. And, business groups in both countries are profiting heavily from natural resource deals with the SPDC, and for Thailand from exploitation of migrant workers.
The lobbying of multinational corporations, who are blind to if not direct partners in the SPDC’s crimes, has also undermined the foreign policy of the United States, European Union, Japan and Australia. It is not an overstatement to say that these countries and the EU are Than Shwe’s friends as well, and this also applies to ASEAN and the United Nations.
The nuclear solution
Even with all of this international support, Than Shwe’s hold on power is tenuous. The five factors listed earlier (the situation on the ground within Burma's borders right now) are much more important:
- Rejection by DASSK of the election.
- Refusal of the ceasefire groups to transform to BGF.
- Breakup of the DKBA and re-alliance with the KNLA.
- Burma Army morale problem including desertions and unwillingness to follow orders.
- Split at the top of the SPDC.
There is no real solution for Than Shwe to these problems. Freedom and democracy for Burma are coming. In a last-ditch attempt to prevent this historical inevitability, he is trying to produce a nuclear trump card. He is working hard with his allies to obtain a functioning atomic weapon, as quickly as possible. The purpose of this weapon, however, is not - as many have speculated - to deter a United States invasion. Indeed, the nuclear program may push the U.S. to the point where it has to intervene. Rather, if Than Shwe, personally, has his finger on a bomb inside Burma - his mansion connects directly to Naypyidaw’s command bunkers and tunnels - he believes this will protect him even after he retires.
Dictator Watch has published reams of intelligence about the nuclear program over the last four years, and which intel has been confirmed by other sources. The basic situation is that the SPDC is mining uranium, milling at least some of it into Yellow Cake, and then bartering this as well as raw ore to North Korea and we believe also Iran. The junta, with North Korean assistance, and European and Japanese machine tools, is further producing components necessary to enrich uranium to bomb grade, and to extract plutonium from spent reactor fuel that could further be shaped into a bomb core. While construction of a reactor is as yet unconfirmed, the number of officers studying reactor science and operations in Russia is proof that this plan exists.
As expert commentators have pointed out, though, this is still a long-term project, potentially five years or more from yielding a functioning weapon. Than Shwe does not have this much time. He knows it. His regime could fall this year - indeed, at any time. He needs a bomb now.
We believe that this will force him to focus on the enriched uranium route to a bomb instead of the reactor/plutonium path. It would also be amazing if he did not attempt to buy a weapon directly from either China or North Korea. Probably the only thing preventing this type of sale is that both countries would be afraid of supplying one to such an unstable regime. Were it to be detonated, under any circumstances (Thailand beware!), this could easily lead to war in East Asia, and which would bring about their own downfall.
Dictator Watch has received more intelligence about the nuclear program:
- China has signed a long-term lease on the Mo Meik uranium deposit.
- High-grade raw uranium is being transported through China to North Korea.
- In return, North Korea, and with China's direct involvement, is helping the SPDC escalate its atomic weapons program. Factory construction is being accelerated.
Both North Korea and China sent ships to Burma in April. The North Korean shipment at a minimum included equipment for Burma's nuclear factories. The Chinese ship may have as well. Neither was interdicted by the United States.
More such shipments are a certainty, and may have already occurred. We think it is probable, because of the pressure on North Korea following its sinking of a South Korean naval vessel in March, that the plan for the shipments has been modified. Everything that can be transported overland will be sent through China. Some items will first be shipped from North Korea to Chinese ports. Other items will be sent in cargo flights, including from both North Korea and China. Everything that must be sent by sea will be transferred from North Korean ships to Chinese vessels in the China Sea, and then transported all the way to Burma waters, for offloading to Burma Navy vessels. Even though the U.S., under the United Nations sanctions against North Korea, could intervene to disrupt this system, it is unlikely to do so as this would require it to publicly confront China.
The Communist Party of China does not want Burma to become democratic. Hu Jintao and Wen Jiabao will actively help Than Shwe obtain an atomic bomb if they believe this is the only viable option to prevent it.
It is also likely, with increased nuclear equipment and material deliveries, and with the thousands of trained scientists returning from Russia, that the junta will vastly expand the nuclear program's management structure. Just as the SPDC now has a missile directorate, we expect a similar directorate for the weapons program will be established, if it is not already operational.
With all of this expansion underway, and against the backdrop of the Tatmadaw’s internal instability, we further expect an increasing flow of defectors and other sources with new intel about the program. Than Shwe will not be able to keep it secret.
The real question, then, is how will the world respond.
It is important never to forget that Burma is a failed state. It is being pillaged by a gang of mass murderers and their international co-conspirators.
There is no real government, only a collection of warlords, both inside the SPDC and in the ceasefire areas. Matched against them is the nonviolent pro-democracy movement, led by Daw Suu and the NLD, and the pro-democracy ethnic resistance armies that are fighting to defend their people.
The most apt analogy of the SPDC is that of a dog pack, but not of a collection of pampered pets. Rather, the generals of the SPDC are like the diseased mongrels that roam city streets, hide on the fringes of poor villages, and scavenge at garbage dumps. These types of dogs are always on the edge of survival, and to increase their chances they form packs. The packs are led by the toughest, meanest dogs, and they defend their territory ruthlessly, killing any intruders. As the top dog in such a pack, your life is not that bad. You get the most food, and mating opportunities. But this lasts only as long as your strength. When it fails, younger dogs in your pack, envious of your position, turn on you, tear you apart, and replace you. It is the law of the jungle - natural law.
Than Shwe is a pack leader but he is getting old. The other top dogs of the junta have their hackles up - they sense opportunity. Than Shwe’s days are numbered, and there is nothing he can do about it. Even a nuclear bomb will not protect him from his fellow generals, and more importantly fifty million angry Burmese.
One of Burma's most respected pro-democracy leaders, U Win Tin, recently commented that no one wants to see more instability in Burma. While in principle we agree with this sentiment, we feel obliged to note that this is not the way the real world works. A true democratic transition - not a “power-sharing” arrangement that allows the dictators to retain some control - cannot occur gradually. There must be a break, as the dictators are defeated, and this break will be accompanied by some form of instability. One would hope that it would be limited to violence within the junta itself, as lower-level officers initiate a pro-democracy coup. Offensives against the Burma Army by the ethnic groups and the ABSDF should also be encouraged.
In summary, and as we have been saying for over a decade, the crisis in Burma cannot be resolved by dialogue and activism alone. It requires revolution. The American colonists revolted over “taxation without representation.” A revolution in Burma to end mass oppression and crimes against humanity is more than justified. It is necessary.
Tuesday, 3 August 2010
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Thursday, 24 June 2010
The directive, which did not reveal a date for the polls, requires party members who want to gather and deliver speeches at places other than their offices to apply for a permit one week in advance, according to state media.
The rules prohibit "the act of marching to the designated gathering point and the venue holding flags, or marching and chanting slogans in procession" in a bid to enlist members, the New Light of Myanmar newspaper said.
Parties must have at least 1,000 members to contest the nationwide election.
Holding knives, weapons and ammunition are also banned, along with acts that harm security and the rule of law or tarnish the image of the military. Misuse of religion for political gains is also not allowed, state media said.
Critics have dismissed the election -- which is scheduled for some time later this year -- as a sham due to laws that have effectively barred opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi from participating.
The United States said Tuesday that the polls will "not be free or fair and will lack international legitimacy".
Suu Kyi's party won the last polls in 1990 but was never allowed to take office. Her National League for Democracy (NLD) was forcibly dissolved last month under widely criticised laws governing the polls.
The NLD refused to meet a May 6 deadline to re-register as a party -- a move that would have forced it to expel Suu Kyi, who is under house arrest -- and is boycotting the vote.
Under election legislation unveiled in March, anyone serving a prison term is banned from being a member of a political party and parties that fail to obey the rule will be abolished.
The latest directive for drumming up support among voters has upset some parties who fear they will make it harder to connect with people.
"The political parties will be in a tight corner because of these rules," said Ye Tun, chairman of the 88th Generation Student Youths (Union of Myanmar), which despite its name is pro-government.
"We are in difficult position to work in some places. They restricted our movements such as holding flags."
But other parties welcomed the rules, saying they could have been even more restrictive.
"We can transform from party politics to people politics if we can get in touch with the people through party meetings," said Phyo Min Thein, chairman of the Union Democratic Party.
A faction from within the disbanded NLD has applied to form a new political party, to be called the National Democratic Force, in a bid to advance the movement's two-decade campaign to end military rule.
According to official figures, 36 out of 42 groups which have applied to form political parties have been registered.
Tuesday, 22 June 2010
Khet Mar and her two sons in Rangoon, Burma
Photo: © Than Htay Maung
Arriving here in March 2009, Khet Mar, City of Asylum/Pittsburgh’s current writer-in-residence, journeyed with her family on a 45-hour trip from her home in Rangoon, Burma all the way to Sampsonia Way. Living with her husband Than Htay Maung and two sons, Khet Mar has resided on Sampsonia Way now for just over a year.
Since she was young, Khet Mar has written short stories, essays, and poems and continues to do so today on Sampsonia Way. Currently writing a short story, she is preparing to write her very second novel. But, at this point she is still trying to organize her thoughts.
Coming up in July, Khet Mar plans to partake in two readings of her previous work. She normally takes part in readings at local high schools, universities, museums, and at literary discussions about the Burmese community.
One of Khet Mar’s most recent hobbies since moving to America has been her garden.
“I’m currently planting flowers and vegetables in my backyard. I love gardening and seeing flowers grow. I walk in my neighborhood’s streets almost everyday and see the flowers that others have planted. I enjoy doing this a lot. One of my favorite places is my garden, where I can talk with the flowers and the plants. Another favorite place of mine is the bedroom, where I can travel in my thoughts and where I can just read.”
Khet Mar’s family is making sure they keep equally as busy with their new lives in Pittsburgh. While Khet Mar writes, her husband is painting a mural on the side of their home, and their children attending school and will soon go to summer camp. Both Khet Mar and her husband are studying at the GPLC (Greater Pittsburgh Literary Council) to help improve their written and spoken English.
“My family likes Pittsburgh very much. I like it too. A class mate of mine, who came here from Poland, told me she feels like the people from Pittsburgh are not welcoming to her family. I do not know what the difference is between her family and my family because not only the people of Pittsburgh but, also the rivers, bridges, trees and flowers welcomed us warmly.”
“Sometimes, I am thinking that I am in a dream. As a young woman who grew up in a fishing village and learned how difficult it was to survive; I never expected that kind of life I now have at City of Asylum/Pittsburgh. Now I am living safely and peacefully in the most livable city in the US. Our luck is very difficult to believe.”
Monday, 21 June 2010
Tay Za was also spotted at the Kunming regional trade fare on June 7, in China’s southern province of Yunnan. The purpose of his visit was to help the Burmese regime acquire the K-8 Karakorum, a two-seat intermediate jet trainer and light attack aircraft developed in a joint venture between China and Pakistan.
Estimates for the price of the aircraft vary widely. Last October, Bolivia announced that it would spend US$57.8 million to buy six of the planes. According to Jane’s Defence Weekly the deal also included “two spare engines, a KTS2000BW test vehicle, an Interactive Multimedia Instructor system, initial spare [parts], training and maintenance equipment”.
Since then, Venezuelan leader Hugo Chavez had announced on June 7 that his government would spend US$82 million on 18 of the planes. The air force of the country on the northern coast of South America already has at least 200 aircraft.
The Burmese Air Force had bought 12 K-8 Karakorum. Sources close to the air force told Mizzima that Burma’s rulers want more ground attack fighters than strategic fighters such as the Russian-made MiG-29 or its Chinese-built version, the F-5. Such ground attack fighters could be used to intimidate ethnic groups under ceasefire which have refused to bring their troops under the supervision of the junta’s Border Guard Force.
Aircraft part of a mystery deal announced by Hongdu Aviation in September?
Last year Jane’s Defence Industry (also part of the Jane’s Intelligence group) reported that K-8’s Chinese manufacturer Hongdu Aviation had released a cryptic statement in September saying it had just secured a contract with an “unnamed Asian country” to export 60 K-8 planes. According to Jane’s, the statement disclosed that a deal had been struck between Hongdu, the mystery Asian nation and China’s National Aero-Technology Import and Export Corporation on September 6 at Hongdu’s offices in Nanchang, Jiangxi province.
Jane’s speculated that the unnamed Asian partner could be Iran or Indonesia, both seeking to upgrade their air forces. While it is possible that the unnamed partner was in fact the Burmese regime, Mizzima was unable to determine if this was the case.
According to Jane’s the statement Hongdu issued in September disclosed that the deal would transpire in three stages. The first stage would involve the export of 12 aircraft. The second stage would involve the customer acquiring K-8 related technologies, equipment and tools. The third would involve the customer producing the final 48 aircraft under licence locally.
Mizzima has learned that Tay Za was looking to buy an ATR-72 twin-turboprop short-haul regional airliner from Chinese Southern Airlines for his own airline, Air Bagan. He had bought two A-310 Airbuses from China but was unable to use the aircraft because they were grounded in Rangoon for safety reasons.
China is one of the few places where Tay Za can now conduct business transactions with relative ease since he was put on the American, European, Canadian, Australian and Swiss financial sanctions blacklists for Burma. The US government, which commonly refers to Tay Za as “an arms dealer and financial henchman”, was the first Western nation to target the portly tycoon on their black list, citing his close financial ties to Than Shwe and the reclusive dictator’s children. Despite the sanctions against him Tay Za is estimated to have amassed a fortune of more than US$10 billon dollars.
News From Mizzima
The video was recorded during running battles between government troops from the 60th Light Infantry Battalion (LIB) and the Karen National Liberation Army’s (KNLA) 3rd Brigade, which took place in last year in Kyaukgyi Township in Pegu Division. It has been posted on You Tube since June 12 and has had 5,200 hits.
A person titled “Maungwto” who is living in Japan posted the video after receiving it from Saw Myo Khaing Shin, a top Karen representative in the country.
“This is my first ever posting of a KNLA battle on You Tube. Previously I posted a battle scene between SPDC and Shan State Army troops in March 2009,” Maungwto told Mizzima.
In the latest posting, seven junta troops and a KNLA soldier were killed, while two were seriously injured, Saw Myo Khaing Yan Shin said.
While You Tube was banned in Burma and internet speeds were still at dial-up-level quality, some people have still managed to download the footage using proxy servers, an internet-savvy youth in Rangoon said.
“I could watch this video clip sent by my friend with e-mail and feel sorry to see … what’s happening in our country,” he said.
IT professionals in Burma said that seeing such video clips on the Net was only possible thanks to new media, which was they said a new development for the country.
Despite tight controls on news media and the internet by the military regime, people are increasingly able to access banned information through new media such as social networking sites including Weblogs, Facebook and mail groups.
“We could receive some news, photos and information almost instantly through blogs, e-mail and Facebook,” a young IT professional from Burma told Mizzima.
Thai-Burmese border town Mae Sot based blogger Dr. Lun Swe examined the impact that Web 2.0 and other new media was having on the Burmese opposition community and those living in exile.
“The role of new media is a playing crucial role in our pro-democracy movement,” he said. “The quickest way to post Burma-related news on the internet is on blogs at home and abroad.”
Use of the new media has increased since the 2007 “saffron revolution”, when monks led nationwide demonstrations, as the Web was one of the only sources of unregulated news and information.
As the military regime tightly controls the flow of information over the internet, people in Burma use proxy servers to bypass censorship and news blackouts.
“These blogs are the earliest source of information and the government is facing difficulty in controlling them, but the quality and reliability of this type of news may be substandard,” Dr. Lun Swe said, without elaborating.
News From Mizzima
The Nobel laureate and Burmese opposition leader will celebrate her 65th birthday inside the dilapidated lakeside mansion, where she has been held a prisoner of the Burmese regime for nearly 15 years.
US president Barack Obama said: “I wish to convey my best wishes to Aung San Suu Kyi, the world’s only imprisoned Nobel Peace Laureate, on the occasion of her 65th birthday on June 19. Her determination, courage, and personal sacrifice in working for human rights and democratic change in Burma inspire all of us who stand for freedom and justice.”
The Elders, a group of prominent global figures founded by Mandela, yesterday left an empty chair for Suu Kyi as a gesture of her honourary membership of the group. Elder member Desmond Tutu lamented the “deep fractures in society” caused by nearly half a century of military rule in Burma, and urged reconciliation to “achieve the peace and prosperity [the Burmese people] deserve.”
Jimmy Carter, former US president and 2002 Nobel Peace Prize recipient, said that Suu Kyi remains “a global symbol of moral courage in the face of repression”.
“As she spends yet another year in captivity, we urge the world, and especially Burma/Myanmar’s partners in ASEAN, to recognise that it is an oppressive and misguided regime that excludes her and thousands of other political activists from playing a part in their country’s future.”
ASEAN refers to the 10-member Association of Southeast Asian Nations bloc, whose policy of non-interference in the domestic affairs of member states, including Burma, has been heavily criticised.
But perhaps the most striking message was delivered by one of Suu Kyi’s closest confidantes in a letter smuggled out of Burma and given to the Independent. The letter, penned by fellow Burmese pro-democracy icon, Win Tin, began: “I want to repeat and echo her own words”.
It went on to make a passionate plea to the outside world to “use your liberty to promote ours”, a quote first ushered by Suu Kyi in 1997. Win Tin added that Burma, one of the world’s poorest nations, was “starving” for freedom.
A collection of previously unseen photographs of Suu Kyi was published by the Guardian newspaper yesterday to mark her birthday. Gifted to the newspaper by Suu Kyi’s family, it gives a rare glimpse into the life of ‘The Lady’ before her return to Burma in 1988 and subsequent years under house arrest.
Activists from Australia to the Philippines to Britain today and yesterday rallied in tribute to Suu Kyi, urging the Burmese junta to release the 65 year old. But her current spell under house arrest is not due to expire until early 2011, months after Burma’s elections likely further cement the status quo in the country and leave Suu Kyi’s fate in the hands of the military generals.
News From DVB
Friday, 18 June 2010
Myanmar floods and landslides triggered by incessant monsoon rains in Myanmar and Bangladesh have killed more than 100 people.
Floods and landslides triggered by incessant monsoon rains in Myanmar and Bangladesh have killed more than 100 people, officials and reports said Thursday.Skip to next paragraph
At least 46 people died Tuesday in Myanmar's northern Rakhine state, according to the state-run Myanma Ahlin newspaper. Rescue workers are pulling residents out of the worst-affected areas and trying to open a key road damaged in the torrents. Bridges in the region have also been washed out.
State television reported Wednesday that 28 of the people were killed when houses built on mountains collapsed in landslides in Buthidaung, 360 miles (575 kilometers) northwest of Yangon, and 18 others died in Maundaw, south of Buthidaung.
Meanwhile, across the border, Bangladesh recovered three more bodies overnight in the southeastern Cox's Bazar district, raising the death toll from powerful landslides to 56, said local magistrate Mohammad Jasim Uddin. Rains in the area have now stopped, he said.
Flooding is common in both countries during the monsoon season that typically starts in late May. Cyclone Nargis struck both countries in May 2008, devastating large swaths of Myanmar where it left more than 140,000 people dead or missing.
The UN Special Rapporteur on the Human Rights Situation in Myanmar, Tomás Ojea Quintana, said in a statement that the country should “heed the call” of the UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention, which recently reiterated earlier calls for Ms. Suu Kyi’s release.
“The Working Group has found that the continuous deprivation of Aung San Suu Kyi’s liberty is arbitrary,” he said in the statement, issued in Geneva.
Ms. Suu Kyi, who will turn 65 on Saturday, is the leader of the National League for Democracy (NLD). She has been under house arrest for much of the past two decades.
The Working Group has requested that the Government conforms to the norms and principles set forth in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights which forbids arbitrary arrest, closed-court hearings and the suppression of free speech and assembly.
In today’s statement, Mr. Quintana – who serves in an unpaid, independent capacity and reports to the UN Human Rights Council – called on the Government to release all other prisoners of conscience “to create the conditions for an inclusive election process and to demonstrate that it intends to take a more serious and sincere approach to its international obligations to uphold human rights.”
Myanmar is expected to hold polls in October, the first to be held in the country in two decades, as part of a Government-designed timetable towards greater democratization.
Earlier this year, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon called for the elections to be “fair, transparent and credible” in which all citizens – including Ms. Suu Kyi – can take part freely.
The Secretary-General’s Special Adviser on Myanmar, his Chef de Cabinet Vijay Nambiar, met last week with officials from India, Singapore and China to discuss the issue.