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BURMA RELATED NEWS – NOVEMBER 15, 2010
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AP – Myanmar’s Suu Kyi seeks to revive political party
Reuters – Myanmar people overjoyed but worry about Suu Kyi
AFP – Freed Suu Kyi calls for ‘non-violent revolution’
AFP – British PM calls Suu Kyi release ‘first step’
UPI – Suu Kyi invites Myanmar junta into talks
UPI – Amnesty wants more from Myanmar
CNN News – Bono cheers release of Suu Kyi, ‘Mandela of our moment’
CNN News – Do China and India hold key to Myanmar reform?
The Star Online – Suu Kyi release poses thorny questions for China
Newsweek – Corporate Cronies Help Burma’s Junta Rule by Proxy
MSNBC – After release, Suu Kyi tries to revive political party
CSM – Aung San Suu Kyi released in Burma (Myanmar), but don’t forget what happened in Depayin
Daily Telegraph – Western states hint at support for easing Burma sanctions
VOA News – UN Human Rights Chief Welcomes Release of Aung San Suu Kyi
CBC News – Burmese flee homes as tensions increase
Guardian Unlimited – Aung San Suu Kyi may be about to go free, but for how long?
ABC Radio Australia – Burma’s Suu Kyi ‘should lobby from outside’
Radio Prague – Czech Republic welcomes release of Burmese dissident Aung San Suu Kyi
BBC News – Aung San Suu Kyi’s Oxford connections
The Advocate – Karen factions reunite as Burmese forces close in
The Star Online – Q+A – What role could Suu Kyi play in Myanmar?
The Jakarta Post – Legislators urge govt to declare Myanmar election undemocratic.
ReliefWeb – Cyclone “Giri” Struck Myanmar : AAR JAPAN calls for support
Asia Times Online – Karen rebels go on offensive in Myanmar
The Hankyoreh – [Editorial] Aung San Suu Kyi’s release and the fraudulent election in Myanmar
Stuff.co.nz – Fears as Suu Kyi calls for ‘peaceful revolution’
Gulf Today – Two daughters of the East, their different flight paths
The Irrawaddy – Suu Kyi Willing to Work with USDP
The Irrawaddy – Leaders of Armed Ethnic Groups Support Suu Kyi
The Irrawaddy – Junta Censors Suu Kyi News
Mizzima News – The Lady meets the press, ‘release unconditional’
Mizzima News – ‘Work in unison’
DVB News – Opposition to officially denounce vote
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Myanmar’s Suu Kyi seeks to revive political party
1 hr 49 mins ago

YANGON, Myanmar (AP) – Myanmar democracy icon Aung San Suu Kyi began the nuts and bolts work of reviving her political movement Monday, consulting lawyers about having her now-disbanded party declared legal again.

Suu Kyi was released over the weekend from 7 1/2 years in detention. On Sunday, she told thousands of wildly cheering supporters at the headquarters of her National League for Democracy that she would continue to fight for human rights and the rule of law in the military-controlled nation.

The 65-year-old Nobel Peace laureate must balance the expectations of the country’s pro-democracy movement with the realities of freedom that could be withdrawn any time by the regime. Although her party is officially dissolved, it has continued operating with the same structure. But without official recognition, it is in legal limbo, leaving it — and her — vulnerable to government crackdowns.

The junta recently staged Myanmar’s first elections in 20 years, and in a step that will blunt some of the long-standing international criticism of its conduct, released Suu Kyi a week later. Having made those ostensible moves toward democratization after five decades of military rule, it is unlikely to make more concessions — like restoring the NLD’s legal status — without getting something back from Suu Kyi and her party, such as dropping opposition to Western sanctions.

Suu Kyi, who has been detained for 15 of the past 21 years, has indicated she would continue with her political activity but not whether she would challenge the military with mass rallies and other activities. She has been noncommittal on sanctions, saying that she would support lifting them if the people of Myanmar provided strong justification for doing so.

In an interview Monday with the BBC, Suu Kyi said she sought “a nonviolent revolution” and offered some reassuring words for the military.

“I don’t want to see the military falling. I want to see the military rising to dignified heights of professionalism and true patriotism,” she said.

The British-educated Suu Kyi also said she did not fear being detained again.

“I’m not scared,” she said. “I know that there is always a possibility, of course. They’ve done it back in the past, they might do it again.”

Nyan Win, who is her lawyer as well as a party spokesman, said Suu Kyi met with her lawyers Monday morning and also party officials from areas outside Yangon who have been keeping her political network alive during years of repression.

He said Myanmar’s High Court this Thursday will hold a hearing to decide whether to accept a case from Suu Kyi arguing that her party’s dissolution “is not in accordance with the law.” The party was disbanded earlier this year under a new law because it failed to reregister for Nov. 7 elections, complaining conditions set by the junta were unfair and undemocratic.

Suu Kyi’s side says the new Election Commission has no right to deregister parties that were registered under a different Election Commission in 1990. The party also contends that the court is legally bound to hear their case.

Full results from this month’s elections have yet to be released, but figures so far give a military-backed party a solid majority in both houses of parliament.

Many observers have questioned whether her release on Saturday was timed by the junta to distract the world’s attention from the polls, decried by Western nations as a sham designed to perpetuate control by the military which has ruled Myanmar, also known as Burma, since 1962.

The NLD won 1990 elections by a large margin but the regime barred it from taking power.

Nyan Win said Suu Kyi’s lawyers are also pursuing a separate legal case against the junta, involving an appeal to the Human Rights Council, a U.N. body, over her latest 18-month sentence of house arrest which has just ended.

Suu Kyi was convicted of violating conditions of a previous term of house arrest by briefly sheltering an uninvited American who swam to her home. Her legal team argues that the ruling — also applied to two women companions living with Suu Kyi — was illegal and unlawful as it was based on the 1974 Constitution, which was abrogated in 1988.

Since Myanmar’s Special Appellate Bench on Nov. 11 turned down an appeal to overturn lower court decisions in that case, Suu Kyi’s lawyers are taking her case to the U.N. council.

Although the junta often seems to defy critical international opinion, it has shown sensitivity to pressure from U.N. organizations. Past condemnation by the U.N.’s International Labor Organization over the junta’s use of forced labor led to the opening of a special U.N. office in Yangon to hear workers’ complaints.

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Myanmar people overjoyed but worry about Suu Kyi
By Aung Hla Tun
– 2 hrs 8 mins ago

YANGON (Reuters) – The release of pro-democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi is still being celebrated in Myanmar but fears about her safety or re-arrest are running high among her adoring supporters.

The Nobel laureate and daughter of the country’s independence hero was released on Saturday after seven years in detention but many are concerned her freedom could be short-lived if the country’s oppressive army rulers decide to wield their power.

“I’m very worried about her security,” said Soe Myint, a taxi driver in Myanmar’s biggest city, Yangon.

“If something happens to her, they will be responsible for this,” he added, referring to the army regime that has ruled the former British colony for 48 years.

In a country where distrust of the military runs deep, her supporters would have every reason to be concerned.

Suu Kyi’s motorcade was attacked in May 2003 by pro-junta thugs in the town of Depayin while on a countryside tour. She was placed back under house arrest, which the regime called “protective custody.”

“The Depayin incident is still haunting us,” said Hla Thein, a retired teacher. “To be honest, I doubt we can expect any meaningful changes following her release but we are all worried about her.”

Suu Kyi spent 15 of the past 21 years in detention because of her fight against military dictatorship in Myanmar.

“PEACEFUL REVOLUTION”

She already appears on a collision course with the generals, using her first major speech on Sunday to call for freedom of speech in a country where all media are strictly monitored by censors and urging supporters to stand up for their rights.

In an interview with the BBC that aired on Monday, she called for a “peaceful revolution” in the country of 50 million people.

“A non-violent revolution — lets put it that way,” she said. “Because a great change means a revolution whether it’s violent or non violent. And we would like a non-violent, peaceful, revolution.”

There is little doubt the military junta sees her as the biggest threat to its power. Suu Kyi has twice been freed and twice re-arrested since she was first placed in detention in July 1989 for “endangering the state.”

In May last year, Suu Kyi was weeks away from the expiry of a term of house arrest when American intruder John Yettaw swam to her lakeside home saying God had sent him to warn her terrorists would try to assassinate her.

She allowed the intruder to stay for two nights and as a result was given an 18-month extension to her term for breaking a law protecting the state against “subversive elements.”
Critics said the charges were trumped up to sideline her from politics. Some supporters fear something similar could happen again.

“To my great relief, another John Yettaw did not show up before she was released,” added taxi driver Soe Myint. “I thought the military would create some reason to extend her house arrest.” Suu Kyi was greeted by thousands of supporters when she was released on Saturday and she appears not to have lost her charisma and mesmerizing influence on the people. Although she will play no official political role following a November 7 election boycotted by her party and won convincingly by a pro-military party, few think she will fade from the spotlight.

Her National League for Democracy (NLD) party, which scored a landslide election victory in 1990 which the junta ignored, was disbanded by the regime in September because of its boycott.

She told her lawyer in October to file a lawsuit in the Supreme Court to have it declared still in existence. On Monday, she met two of her lawyers, Nyan Win and Kyaw Hoe, who agreed to go to the court in the capital Naypyitaw on November 18 to argue the case.

Her supporters expect her to push for reforms and freedoms, but know there are limits to how much she can do in a country tightly controlled by the military and governed by a new constitution critics say was designed to keep Suu Kyi at bay.

They are just happy to see her free.

“I don’t think we can expect anything out of her release since it does not depend on her alone. I’m just happy to see her free,” said Khin May, a retired bank clerk.

“I will be very glad if nothing happens to her. I hope she doesn’t get arrested again.”

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Freed Suu Kyi calls for ‘non-violent revolution’
by Hla Hla Htay – 33 mins ago

YANGON (AFP) – Newly freed democracy icon Aung San Suu Kyi called on Monday for a “non-violent revolution” in Myanmar as she knuckled down to the task of rebuilding her weakened opposition movement.

Speaking at her party headquarters in Yangon, where she met with senior regional members for the first time in years, she told the BBC she was sure democracy would eventually come to her country, although she did not know when.

“I think we also have to try to make this thing happen… Velvet revolution sounds a little strange in the context of the military, but a non-violent revolution. Let’s put it that way,” the 65-year-old said.

Suu Kyi was freed from house arrest on Saturday, less than a week after a controversial election that cemented the junta’s decades-long grip on power but was widely criticised by democracy activists and Western leaders as a sham.

The Nobel Peace Prize winner, who has been locked up by Myanmar’s regime for 15 of the past 21 years, gave her first political speech in seven years on Sunday, appealing to thousands of her jubilant supporters for unity.

She said in her latest interview, published on the BBC website, that she would take any opportunity for talks with the ruling military junta, which she wanted to change rather than fall.
“I don’t want to see the military falling. I want to see the military rising to dignified heights of professionalism and true patriotism,” she said.

“I think it’s quite obvious what the people want; the people just want better lives based on security and on freedom.”

When asked whether a letter would be sent to Than Shwe to request a meeting, Nyan Win, a spokesman for her National League for Democracy (NLD) said: “I don’t know.”

“We have asked since the beginning for dialogue. She is always ready for dialogue,” he told AFP on Monday.

After having only limited contact with the outside world for most of the past two decades, Suu Kyi’s telephone line at her crumbling lakeside mansion will be restored “soon”, an unnamed Myanmar official told AFP.

Nyan Win said the mother-of-two is also hoping that her youngest son Kim Aris will be able travel to Yangon and join her on a visit to Shwedagon Pagoda, the site of Suu Kyi’s first political speech in 1988.

Kim Aris, who lives in Britain, travelled to the Thai capital ahead of his mother’s release but it remained unclear whether he had received a visa that would grant him entrance to Myanmar.

On the political front, attention is now focused on whether Suu Kyi can unite the country’s deeply divided opposition and bring change to the impoverished nation.

“I want to work with all democratic forces,” she told her supporters on Sunday, saying she wanted to “hear the voice of the people” before deciding her course of action.

The daughter of the nation’s assassinated independence hero Aung San carries a weight of expectation among her followers for a better future after almost half a century of military dictatorship.

There was a new air of optimism on the streets of Yangon but some observers have warned that the dissident is no “miracle worker”.

“She has always voluntarily tested the military authorities, has always wanted to push the red line drawn by the regime,” said Renaud Egreteau, a Myanmar expert at the University of Hong Kong.

But with a powerful junta watching her every move, the situation “might make her avoid a direct confrontation for the time being”, he added.

Suu Kyi’s party boycotted the November 7 vote, a decision that deeply split the opposition. Some former members of her party left to stand in the poll, prompting accusations of betrayal from some of her closest associates.

The opposition leader swept the NLD to victory in a 1990 election, but it was never allowed to take power.

Her struggle for her country has come at a high personal cost: her British husband died in 1999, and in the final stages of his battle with cancer the junta refused him a visa to see his wife. She has never met her grandchildren.

Australia was the latest country to offer support to Suu Kyi on Monday, with Foreign Minister Kevin Rudd saying he had spoken with her and promised that his country would continue to be her “reliable friend” in the future.

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British PM calls Suu Kyi release ‘first step’
2 hrs 9 mins ago

LONDON (AFP) – Prime Minister David Cameron said Monday the release of Aung San Suu Kyi should be the first step towards the people of Myanmar being able to choose their leaders.

Cameron told parliament’s lower House of Commons that he had spoken to the newly-freed pro-democracy icon earlier Monday to pass on the best wishes of people in Britain.

“I’m sure the whole house would want to join with me in welcoming the liberation, at last, of Aung San Suu Kyi,” he told lawmakers.

“Her tenacity and courage in the face of injustice has been truly inspiring.

“I spoke to her this morning to pass on the congratulations of everyone in this country for her release and her remarkable stand on democracy and human rights.

“We must now work to ensure that her release is followed by freedom for more than 2,000 other political prisoners and that this becomes the first step towards the people in Burma being able to choose the person they want to run their country.”

The ruling military junta has held power for decades in Myanmar, which achieved its independence from Britain as Burma in 1948. Aung San Suu Kyi’s late husband was British.

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Suu Kyi invites Myanmar junta into talks
Published: Nov. 15, 2010 at 6:45 AM

YANGON, Myanmar, Nov. 15 (UPI) — Released Myanmar democracy advocate Aung San Suu Kyi told supporters to keep the faith and urged the junta leader to talk to her directly.

Suu Kyi’s release Saturday ended several days of speculation about her imminent freedom, coming just after military rulers had the first national election in nearly 20 years.

Suu Kyi, the 1991 Nobel Peace Prize laureate and head of the National League for Democracy Party, won the last election in 1990 but the junta failed to hand over power. She was barred from running in the recent election by a law created by the generals in April.

She was mobbed by supporters and well-wishers upon release from her home in Yangon, the country’s largest city and the former capital of Myanmar, called Burma before a name change by the junta.

“Please let us know what you are thinking, what is on your mind. I would like to know over the last six years what changes have taken place in the people and what they are thinking,” she said. “Please do not give up hope. There is no reason to lose heart, even if you are not political, politics will come to you.”

Later, at a news conference at the head office of the NLD, she reiterated her belief that there is a future for her party, although it didn’t contest the controversial election in which a pro-junta party won.

“I did not found the National League for Democracy just as a party,” she said.

“I founded it as a movement for democracy, an organization for change. As long as the people want democracy in Burma the organization will exist. We are trying to achieve it as quickly as possible, but I do not know how long it will take to get democracy.”

Suu Kyi also said she is ready to talk to the junta leader, Senior Gen. Than Shwe, saying “let’s speak to each other directly.”

Her release marks her continued effort to push the military toward allowing a more open and democratic society.

She said she also is concerned over economic sanctions that Western nations have placed on Myanmar. “If the people really want sanctions to be lifted, I will consider it,” she said. “This is the time that Burma needs help.”

Her release was greeted by many Western leaders, including U.S. President Barack Obama, and non-government organizations, who have criticized the election as not being free and democratic.

Obama said Suu Kyi’s release was “long overdue” and that “she is a hero of mine.”

U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said she was an “inspiration.” Moon, as did many NGOs, urged Myanmar to free what is believed to be around 2,200 political prisoners.

Western leaders considered Suu Kyi a political prisoner. But the junta hurriedly passed a law earlier this year that barred people with criminal records from standing for office. The move excluded Suu Kyi who has spent many of the past 20 years under some form of arrest and detention for her pro-democracy activities.

Because Suu Kyi was barred from running, her party decided not to register for the election, although a splinter group registered itself. The NLD is no longer an officially recognized party because it didn’t register.

Her release means the party must decide how it wants to reorganize and what it can do to bring about more democracy, she said.

But she stopped short of urging civil disobedience and told the thousands of her supporters to work together.

“We Burmese tend to believe in fate but if we want change we have to do it ourselves,” she said. “Nothing can be achieved without the participation of the people.”

She also said she would work “with all democratic forces” for a national reconciliation.

Suu Kyi said she wasn’t abused in captivity and had no grudges against her jailers.

“They treated me well,” she said. “I only wish they treated the people in the same way.”

The election was won by former Gen. Thein Sein who heads the Union Solidarity and Development Party, considered a proxy for the ruling junta. Prior to the election, many senior junta officials in government resigned their military posts, joined the USDP and ran as civilians.

The win by the USDP — it took around 80 seats — and also the 25 percent of parliamentary seats reserved for junta appointees, means the military likely will continue with its stranglehold on government for years to come.

Two of the largest anti-government parties claimed civil servants were forced to vote for the USDP.

The largest anti-government party, the National Democratic Force, took 16 seats, nearly all in Yangon.

It remains to be seen if the USDP will include any military appointees in its Cabinet.

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Amnesty wants more from Myanmar
Published: Nov. 15, 2010 at 1:36 PM

LONDON, Nov. 15 (UPI) — Authorities in Myanmar need to end the practice of imprisoning political opponents, Amnesty International said after the release of Aung San Suu Kyi.

Suu Kyi, a pro-democracy leader, was released from house arrest Saturday, ending more than a decade of being detained. Suu Kyi was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1991, a year after leading her National League for Democracy to an election victory that the military junta never recognized.

Her release came just days after the country had its first general election in nearly 20 years, a vote observers widely dismissed as a sham.

Amnesty International said it welcomed her release but said she was one of more than 2,200 political prisoners held by military authorities in Myanmar.

Amnesty International Secretary-General Salil Shetty said the detention and several false-starts for her release highlights the repressive nature of the military junta.

“The fact remains that authorities should never have arrested her or the many other prisoners of conscience in Myanmar in the first place, locking them out of the political process,” he said in a statement.

Authorities ahead of the general election barred people with criminal records from the political process, meaning Suu Kyi couldn’t take part.

Her release means her party must decide how it wants to reorganize and what it can do to bring about more democracy, she said.

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CNN News – Bono cheers release of Suu Kyi, ‘Mandela of our moment’
By the CNN Wire Staff
November 14, 2010 — Updated 1245 GMT (2045 HKT)

(CNN) — While Myanmar’s military rulers ordered Aung San Suu Kyi detained for two decades, legendary rock band U2 gave her a voice — in the form of the hit song “Walk On” — on the world stage.

Bono, the Irish band’s lead singer and a long-time political activist, was among those cheering the pro-democracy activist’s release Saturday.

In an exclusive CNN interview, Bono said he was “feeling great” for Suu Kyi, adding that he’s hopeful the action might signal real political progress in the south Asian country after decades of political strife.

“It’s sort of a cautious joy, because though she’s out in the world, … she’s perhaps more vulnerable,” Bono told CNN. “I’m very excited, very thrilled at the possibility that this might be the beginning of some sort of rational discussion.”

Bono said he’d spoken with members of Suu Kyi’s family recently, but hasn’t heard from them or the democracy leader since her release Saturday. Still, he said he’s been eagerly following the recent developments of a woman he has deemed a “real hero” for her humility, conviction and idealism over the years.

“She is kind of the Mandela of our moment,” said Bono, referring to Nelson Mandela, who spent decades in prison during South Africa’s apartheid era prior to his release and political ascent. “She’s a character of great grace. Her struggle has become a symbol of what’s best about our humanity and worst.”

U2 and Bono have long been among Suu Kyi’s most high-profile advocates.

The band wrote its hit 2001 single “Walk On” about the 1991 Nobel Peace Prize winner. Bono wore a t-shirt emblazoned with Suu Kyi’s face in the music video, while tens of thousands of concertgoers sometimes held up her picture while the song was played.

In a 2004 Time magazine article, Bono explained why U2 dedicated the song to a woman he called “a real hero in an age of phony phone-in celebrity.”

“Suu Kyi, with an idea too big for any jail and a spirit too strong for any army, changes our view — as only real heroes can — of what we believe is possible,” he wrote.

Suu Kyi’s MySpace page said that Myanmar’s ruling junta had banned the song, which contains the lyrics:

“And if your glass heart should crack

And for a second you turn back

Oh no, be strong —

What you got, they can’t steal it

No, they can’t even feel it

Walk on, walk on

Stay safe tonight.”

In 2004, U2 joined forces with R.E.M., Paul McCartney, Eric Clapton, Sting, Pearl Jam, Peter Gabriel and other rock stars on an album called “For the Lady,” which was released in support of Suu Kyi.

Bono said his excitement at Suu Kyi’s release was tempered by fears that she could be arrested again or become a target for political opponents. He said that he hoped the United Nations and other world bodies would seize the moment, and facilitate talks to create a permanent political resolution in Myanmar.

This was the third time Myanmar’s regime has released Suu Kyi from house arrest. Benjamin Zawacki, Myanmar expert for Amnesty International, noted that her last release had been unconditional and then she was thrown again into house arrest.

“For this to be real, there has to be progress toward real peace,” said Bono.

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CNN News – Do China and India hold key to Myanmar reform?
By Thair Shaikh, CNN
November 15, 2010 1:13 p.m. EST

(CNN) — Freed activist Aung San Suu Kyi has made a passionate plea for dialogue and reconciliation to build democracy and improve human rights in Myanmar, calling for her country to back her as she cannot “do it alone.”

But long-term fundamental political and economic reforms will not just depend on shifting internal dynamics, but also on the stance of its neighbors, particularly the regional superpowers China and India.

Both countries are significant investors in Myanmar, also known as Burma, and both are also competing for influence in the state, with neither country taking a genuine interest in reconciliation or democracy in Myanmar, some analysts say.

Maung Zarni, a research fellow on Myanmar at the London School of Economics, told CNN: “China and India both have a serious influence on Burma… both provide billions of inward investment into the country and they are dealing with a junta that is not accountable to anyone, and that serves the interests of Chinese and Indian investors.”

But according to Debbie Stothard, of the Thailand-based Alternative ASEAN Network on Burma, the competition between India and China serves only to stymie the cause of democracy in Myanmar.

China has been Myanmar’s closest ally since the hardline military took control in a bloodless coup in 1962. China has in the past refused to back Suu Kyi, saying the matter of her trial was an internal affair.

China is building pipelines to ship oil and gas from Myanmar to Yunnan province and is Myanmar’s second-largest trading partner — it is keen to tap Myanmar’s mineral, timber and other natural resources needed for its booming economy, analysts say

India also has been investing in Myanmar’s power sector as it looks to secure future energy supplies.

Many regional observers say that the generals of the Myanmar military junta, who have remained largely isolationist for 50 years, are more likely to listen to and accept pressure from China and India than either the West, the U.N. or ASEAN, the political and economic organization.

“Economics is one of the external enablers that have permitted the Burmese regime to stay the course. I am extremely skeptical of what the ruling elite in India and the communists in China will do to assist the Burmese people,” said Zarni.

Both China and India have had a difficult relationship with Suu Kyi, who won a landslide election victory in 1990 with the National League for Democracy party. The military junta rejected the results and despite the recent freeing of Suu Kyi, the regime is still holding an estimated 2,200 political prisoners according to Amnesty International.

Mark Farmaner, director of the Burma Campaign UK, told CNN: “Chinese officials were reluctant to talk to her [Suu Kyi] and Indian government officials didn’t want to upset the [Myanmar] government. Ordinary people in Burma feel betrayed by India and they see China as backing the generals.”

Thailand, another Myanmar neighbor, buys about 30 percent of its gas from Myanmar, estimated to have been worth $3.3 billion in 2008.

The sales are giving Myanmar a financial cushion, rendering ineffective economic sanctions imposed by the United States and the European Union designed to pressure the junta. Suu Kyi recently indicated she might be willing to support an easing of these sanctions.

“The Thais now feel vulnerable because they are so reliant on Burma for energy so it would not be in their interests to upset the regime. India’s main concern is China and its potential dominance of Burma… India doesn’t want Burma to become another Chinese outpost,” said Farmaner.

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Monday November 15, 2010
The Star Online – Suu Kyi release poses thorny questions for China

By Ben Blanchard

BEIJING (Reuters) – The release of Myanmar’s pro-democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi poses a host of thorny questions to vex Chinese policymakers, from fears about a loss of influence there to awkward questions about freedom at home.

Will she help usher in a government with which the United States and Europe feel it can do business? What would that mean for China’s considerable investments in the country that have benefitted from the Western sanctions on Myanmar?

“Inevitably a lifting or easing of sanctions would lead to more competition for Chinese companies in Myanmar, but that will not happen overnight just because Suu Kyi has been let out,” said Lin Xixing, a Myanmar expert at Guangzhou’s Jinan University.

“China will be paying close attention to what is happening in Myanmar. What the government most wants is stability there,” he added. “There is still a lot of uncertainty about what her release means and what she will be able to do.”

To be sure, Beijing’s worries about their southern neighbour are not new. Their long shared border hides rebel armies and drug lords, whose spats with Myanmar’s central government have spilled into China in the past.

China has been pondering how to deal with slowly thawing ties between the former Burma and the United States since President Barack Obama began tentative contacts last year, culminating in a rare meeting with Prime Minister Thein Sein in Singapore.

Senator Jim Webb, the chair of a Senate subcommittee on East Asia who is an outspoken proponent of deepening ties with the isolated country, said last month it risked becoming a “a province of China” if it remained out in the cold.

Suu Kyi said on Sunday she was willing to enter into dialogue with Western nations to lift sanctions on the country if the Burmese people wanted it. She also assured China that she did not consider it an enemy.

“China is a very important neighbour of our country. Don’t consider China as an enemy,” she said on her first full day of release from house arrest.

China has been careful to maintain links with opposition groups in Myanmar despite its close relationship with the current military rulers.

“She would know that if she wants to be a political player in Burma then she needs to have … a fairly clear path from China,” said Ian Holliday, a Myanmar expert at the University of Hong Kong. “It’s smart geo-politics on her part. She would not want to make an enemy of Beijing.”

CLOSE ECONOMIC TIES

The sanctions have been good to China. China has invested billions of dollars in Myanmar — $8.17 billion in the current fiscal year, accounting for two-thirds of its total investment over the past two decades, according to Myanmar state media.

Energy projects formed the bulk of the investment, with $5 billion in hydropower and $2.15 billion in the oil and gas sector of the resource-rich nation. However, analysts say official investment data for Myanmar is notoriously unreliable.

Bilateral trade grew by more than one-quarter in 2008 to about $2.63 billion, according to Chinese figures.

Myanmar also gives China access to the Indian Ocean, not only for imports of oil and gas and exports from landlocked southwestern Chinese provinces, but also potentially for military bases or listening posts.

In October, China’s state energy group CNPC started building a crude oil port in Myanmar, part of a pipeline project aimed at cutting out the long detour oil cargoes take through the congested and strategically vulnerable Malacca Strait.

China could actually benefit if the sanctions are lifted and Myanmar’s relations with Washington improve. A richer Myanmar would in turn help development in China’s poorer western provinces.

“Myanmar would speed up its opening up and reforms, bringing with it even more opportunities for Chinese brands and firms,” Yu Changsen, a professor at Guangzhou’s Sun Yat-sen University, told the Guangzhou Daily earlier this year.

“This will lead to even closer cooperation between the two countries.”

The Chinese government has yet to give a formal reaction to her release, though it has been reported on by some of the country’s closely controlled state media with a strange mix of incredulity and praise for her courage.

The Global Times, a popular tabloid run by Communist Party mouthpiece the People’s Daily, noted dryly that “the most excited people were Westerners”, adding there were many white faces in the crowd when she was released.

The regional Chongqing Evening Post called her the person “who causes the military government the worst of headaches”, but noted that despite her lack of money or official title, “she owns the hearts of Myanmar’s people”.

In a measure of China’s sensitivity about Nobel Peace Prize winner Suu Kyi, and the that fact that China’s own laureate Liu Xiaobo remains in jail, online comments about her were swiftly removed, though not before a few were published.

“Her genuine good heart is worthy of respect,” wrote one poster on the Global Times’ website (www.huanqiu.com). “Her unending support for peace and rationality has truly moved people.”

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Newsweek – Corporate Cronies Help Burma’s Junta Rule by Proxy
Not satisfied with simple vote rigging, Burma’s generals elect a class of tycoons to help them rule by proxy.
by Jerry Guo November 15, 2010

Elections in Burma last week, the first in 20 years, marked the isolated nation’s long-awaited transition from military to civilian rule. While many have rightly observed that the vote was little more than a rubber-stamp procedure designed from the start to allow the military junta to prevail, the regime has managed to maintain its iron-fisted rule not simply by vote rigging but also by creating a coterie of corporate cronies elected to help the generals rule by proxy.

It’s not yet clear how many business loyalists have won seats in Parliament. Yet outside analysts say roughly 100 of them campaigned for the elections, and some have already been brought into the government in an official capacity. “These businesspeople are acting partly according to command and partly out of a belief that favors and concessions might come their way later,” says Sean Turnell, a leading expert on the Burmese economy and professor at Macquarie University in Sydney.

Other business leaders have chosen to stay outside government, but over the past year they have used their ties to the regime to scoop up a large number of state-owned assets for virtually nothing. These tycoons—often the relatives or drinking buddies of the ruling generals—are increasingly calling the shots in what appears to be a counterpoint to Russia’s notorious oligarchs. “I don’t think the tycoons have any power yet over … the SPDC [the 11 military officers who make up Burma’s ruling Politburo], but they rank right below them, and certainly over the cabinet ministers,” says Turnell.

The government’s decision this year to privatize the nation’s mismanaged economy represents the biggest sell-off of state assets since 1962, when the junta came to power. Recent sales, totaling hundreds of millions of dollars, include the obvious: hundreds of government buildings and telecommunications facilities, as well as portions of the country’s seaports and the national airline. In Rangoon, Burma’s largest city, one sale by the state Privatization Committee listed 176 assets, many of them historic government buildings like the attorney general’s office, the Ministry of Industry, and the state archeological department, according to a report by The New York Times. In 2005, when the junta decamped to the out-of-the-jungle model city of Naypyidaw, these colonial masterpieces were left to rot.

Less obvious assets—schools, hospitals, power-distribution centers—are also being put on the auction block. Even the country’s golden-goose mines for precious minerals are being split apart piecemeal, as are dozens of factories and industrial-scale farms, which the junta nationalized nearly half a century ago.

The state’s retreat is not encouraging the private sector to flourish; experts say privatization was designed to benefit the regime’s civilian friends and relatives. Privatization of education and health care are, for example, seen as relief valves for the elite, who can now send their children to private schools and their families to private hospitals where services would be better and more modern than those available through the collapsed state system. So while, on the surface, the rise of Burma’s private sector may seem like the sort of Chinese-style reform that could finally loosen the generals’ grip on the economy, the properties are going straight into the hands of the business elite. And any hope that the proceeds from selling state property might go toward salary raises for beleaguered civil servants, or toward a welfare program for the bulk of the 55 million Burmese who still live in grinding poverty, has not panned out.

Indeed, unlike Vietnam or China, where privatization liberalized the economies by putting more nimble private entrepreneurs at the helm of sectors like manufacturing, Burma is merely rewarding its oligarchs for their role in propping up the flagging regime. According to one report, Tay Za, a Burmese millionaire sanctioned by the U.S. for his ties to the state, added several properties to his already vast empire and was appointed the head of a petroleum commission.

In theory, the rise of Burma’s crony capitalists could moderate the brutality of a regime that holds 2,000 political dissidents in prison and heavily controls almost all aspects of everyday life. While a quarter of the seats in Parliament are still set aside for military officers, the new Constitution stipulates that policy can no longer be decreed by military fiat and instead must be decided by the civilian Parliament. Earlier this year reports surfaced that there has been some relaxation of seemingly arbitrary rules such as a ban on private car ownership. And the regime appears to have loosened media censorship, as stories criticizing child and forced labor have begun appearing in the pages of state-owned newspapers. With the elections now over, the junta is also expected to release Burma’s most beloved dissident: Aung San Suu Kyi, the Nobel laureate who, along with her political party, boycotted the elections.

Yet any small political or economic freedoms brought about by the rise of these business leaders are likely a long way off. Outside analysts for the most part agree that the recent changes do little more than formalize the succession process for the junta, which will now rule through its civilian allies, the newly minted tycoons. Indeed, if anything, there has been a security crackdown in the past few months in the lead-up to the elections. Internet speeds have been significantly throttled to prevent news leaks from the elections, opposition parties were essentially forbidden to hold political rallies, and all manner of public debates were banned. Foreign journalists and observers were also blocked from entering the country to cover or monitor the elections. “One day … [the] tycoons will run up against this very tight control over the economy,” says Turnell. Until then, however, the rise of Burma’s corporate henchmen likely means business as usual for the long-suffering nation.

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MSNBC – After release, Suu Kyi tries to revive political party
Democracy icon tastes freedom after more than seven years in detention
The Associated Press
updated 23 minutes ago 2010-11-15T17:04:38

YANGON, Myanmar — Myanmar democracy icon Aung San Suu Kyi began the nuts and bolts work of reviving her political movement Monday, consulting lawyers about having her now-disbanded party declared legal again.

Suu Kyi was released over the weekend from 7 1/2 years in detention. On Sunday, she told thousands of wildly cheering supporters at the headquarters of her National League for Democracy that she would continue to fight for human rights and the rule of law in the military-controlled nation.

The 65-year-old Nobel Peace laureate must balance the expectations of the country’s pro-democracy movement with the realities of freedom that could be withdrawn any time by the regime. Although her party is officially dissolved, it has continued operating with the same structure. But without official recognition, it is in legal limbo, leaving it — and her — vulnerable to government crackdowns.

The junta recently staged Myanmar’s first elections in 20 years, and in a step that will blunt some of the long-standing international criticism of its conduct, released Suu Kyi a week later. Having made those ostensible moves toward democratization after five decades of military rule, it is unlikely to make more concessions — like restoring the NLD’s legal status — without getting something back from Suu Kyi and her party, such as dropping opposition to Western sanctions.

Suu Kyi, who has been detained for 15 of the past 21 years, has indicated she would continue with her political activity but not whether she would challenge the military with mass rallies and other activities. She has been noncommittal on sanctions, saying that she would support lifting them if the people of Myanmar provided strong justification for doing so.
In an interview Monday with the BBC, Suu Kyi said she sought “a nonviolent revolution” and offered some reassuring words for the military.

“I don’t want to see the military falling. I want to see the military rising to dignified heights of professionalism and true patriotism,” she said.

The British-educated Suu Kyi also said she did not fear being detained again.

“I’m not scared,” she said. “I know that there is always a possibility, of course. They’ve done it back in the past, they might do it again.”

Nyan Win, who is her lawyer as well as a party spokesman, said Suu Kyi met with her lawyers Monday morning and also party officials from areas outside Yangon who have been keeping her political network alive during years of repression.

He said Myanmar’s High Court this Thursday will hold a hearing to decide whether to accept a case from Suu Kyi arguing that her party’s dissolution “is not in accordance with the law.” The party was disbanded earlier this year under a new law because it failed to reregister for Nov. 7 elections, complaining conditions set by the junta were unfair and undemocratic.

Suu Kyi’s side says the new Election Commission has no right to deregister parties that were registered under a different Election Commission in 1990. The party also contends that the court is legally bound to hear their case.

Full results from this month’s elections have yet to be released, but figures so far give a military-backed party a solid majority in both houses of parliament.

In London, British Prime Minister David Cameron told the House of Commons he talked to Suu Kyi by telephone on Monday morning.

“Her tenacity and courage in the face of injustice has been truly inspiring. I spoke to her this morning to pass on the congratulations of everyone in the country on her release and her remarkable stand on democracy and human rights,” Cameron told lawmakers. “We must now work to ensure that her release is followed by freedom for more than 2,000 other political prisoners.”

Many observers have questioned whether her release on Saturday was timed by the junta to distract the world’s attention from the polls, decried by Western nations as a sham designed to perpetuate control by the military which has ruled Myanmar, also known as Burma, since 1962.

The NLD won 1990 elections by a large margin but the regime barred it from taking power.

Nyan Win said Suu Kyi’s lawyers are also pursuing a separate legal case against the junta, involving an appeal to the Human Rights Council, a U.N. body, over her latest 18-month sentence of house arrest which has just ended.

Suu Kyi was convicted of violating conditions of a previous term of house arrest by briefly sheltering an uninvited American who swam to her home. Her legal team argues that the ruling — also applied to two women companions living with Suu Kyi — was illegal and unlawful as it was based on the 1974 Constitution, which was abrogated in 1988.

Since Myanmar’s Special Appellate Bench on Nov. 11 turned down an appeal to overturn lower court decisions in that case, Suu Kyi’s lawyers are taking her case to the U.N. council.

Although the junta often seems to defy critical international opinion, it has shown sensitivity to pressure from U.N. organizations. Past condemnation by the U.N.’s International Labor Organization over the junta’s use of forced labor led to the opening of a special U.N. office in Yangon to hear workers’ complaints.

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The Christian Science Monitor – Aung San Suu Kyi released in Burma (Myanmar), but don’t forget what happened in Depayin
The last time Aung San Suu Kyi was released it was 2002, and to reporters like myself covering Burma, it was obvious that an olive branch had been extended, though we weren’t sure how far it would go.
By A correspondent / November 15, 2010

The world has cheered the release of Aung San Suu Kyi, after more than seven years under house arrest. She is busy giving interviews, meeting political allies, and getting her political bearings in military-ruled Burma (Myanmar).

The last time this happened was in 2002, as part of what was billed as a national reconciliation program. To reporters like myself covering Burma, it was obvious that an olive branch had been extended, though we weren’t sure how far it would go.

The mood of détente didn’t last. By the following year, Ms. Suu Kyi was attracting huge crowds as she toured the country, to the obvious irritation of junta hardliners who feared any challenge to their grip on power.

Then came the events of May 30, 2003. A deadly ambush in the northern district of Depayin by pro-government thugs on a convoy of Suu Kyi and her National League for Democracy (NLD) supporters marked the end of her brief spell of freedom and the start of another cycle of repression in Burma.

The official account of the Depayin incident was that rowdy NLD activists had clashed with local residents in a remote village. This gave a pretext for the regime to detain the opposition leader, for her own safety.

In reality, as I found out when I traveled to the scene, it was a one-sided attack by men armed with sticks and knives. Bodies were piled into trucks and taken away. I was told of men plied with alcohol and recruited to fight.

Few believed the government’s version of events. Why would they? I was skeptical when I went there to report the story.

But establishing what did happen, and the death toll, has been complicated by the fact that many of the witnesses were detained or went missing. One crucial witness was Suu Kyi, who was trapped in her car during the attack.

By some accounts, the attack may have been an attempt on her life, though it’s unclear how it failed. Nobody could doubt that such an attack had gotten a green light from Burma’s top generals, who remain in power today.

At the time, exiled Burmese activists put the death toll at 70. But this was mostly guesswork. Some supporters were arrested and are probably still in jail. I’m sure Suu Kyi will keep calling for the release of them along with all 2,000-plus political prisoners in Burma.

She may eventually give her account of the events at Depayin, another blood-soaked episode in Burma’s political history. Recall that Suu Kyi is the daughter of Gen. Aung San, who was assassinated in 1947 by a political rival on the eve of Burmese independence from Britain. Some NLD officials are nervous about her security in the current climate.

And the pro-government thugs at Depayin? In April, their organization, the Union Solidarity and Development Association, formed a political party, the USDP, which duly won a landslide in last week’s election.

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Daily Telegraph – Western states hint at support for easing Burma sanctions
Western states have indicated their support for an easing of sanctions on Burma, a fast change of position following the lead of Aung San Suu Kyi upon her release from detention over the weekend.
By Damien McElroy, Foreign Affairs Correspondent
5:13PM GMT 15 Nov 2010

After spending 15 of the last 20 years in confinement Mrs Suu Kyi, the Nobel peace laureate and democracy advocate, acknowledged that her release marked a potential moment of great change in the stand-off between Burma/Myanmar and the West. The freeze in relations has seen the former British colony grow increasing reliant on China.

Kevin Rudd, the Australian foreign minister and former prime minister, has told Mrs Suu Kyi that “reliable” friends were ready to be flexible on sanctions if she could make headway on domestic reform with the generals that run the country.

Mrs Suu Kyi used her second full day of freedom to indicate that her position on Burma’s international isolation had undergone changes from the view that the military regime could only be overthrown by sanctions and isolation. “I don’t want to see the military falling. I want to see the military rising to dignified heights of professionalism and true patriotism,” she told the BBC. “I think it’s quite obvious what the people want: the people just want better lives based on security and on freedom.”

International sanctions mostly target regime figures – banning travel, financial transactions and business dealing – and many Western countries have imposed an arms embargo on the regime.

As recently as last Thursday, the EU added judges responsible for sentencing Mrs Suu Kyi to the visa ban list and President Barack Obama of the US renewed sanctions in May.
However Senator Jim Webb, a prominent supporter of President Obama, has warned that sanctions and Western business boycotts had rendered Burma as little more than a “province” of China. And the sanctions were already deeply unpopular within Asia, including among intellectual opinion. Jose Ramos Horta, the president of East Timor and a fellow winner of the Nobel Peace Prize, hit out at the isolation of Burma as not “morally good”. “I’m very happy with the release of Aung San Suu Kyi from house arrest after more than 15 years without reason,” he said. “I see it as something good and I congratulate the military regime in Myanmar for handling this,” he said.

“I’m also waiting and hoping for two blocs, namely America and Europe, which have been applying harsh sanctions against Myanmar, to lift them.”

Derek Tonkin, a former British ambassador in Bangkok, said: “Suu Kyi’s reappearance is something that will be utilised at a time when the US and EU are looking for some kind of engagement. There are areas where she can play a considerable role. Suu Kyi could hold consultations with diplomats, even if the regime isn’t prepared to talk to them at this stage.

There are things she can do with the West that they can’t do with the regime.”

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VOA News – UN Human Rights Chief Welcomes Release of Aung San Suu Kyi
Lisa Schlein 15 November 2010

The U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights is welcoming the release of Burma’s pro-democracy dissident and Nobel Peace Laureate Aung San Suu Kyi, but says it does not go far enough.

On Monday, Navi Pillay described the Aung San Suu Kyi’s release from years of detention as a positive sign that Burma’s military rulers are serious about moving along the process of democracy and national reconciliation.

Aung San Suu Kyi is key in the political life of the country, she said, adding that she hoped the world-renowned dissident will be able to play an active role in this process.

Pillay’s spokesman, Rupert Colville, tells VOA it is hard to predict what will happen.  Everyone, he says, is in a wait-and-see mode, pointing out that there have been many past disappointments.

The pro-democracy leader has been released from house arrest on several occasions, only to be re-arrested again, actions Colville called illegal.

“So, let us hope that is not going to happen.  And, I think the outside world is looking very closely, obviously,” said Colville. “It appears her release was unconditional, which is very important.  But, what is equally important is that the authorities now allow her to play a proper part in the transition that hopefully is under way in Myanmar.  So, this could be a very, very welcome first step.  But, it is a first step,” he said.

The High Commissioner is extremely disappointed that Aung San Suu Kyi was not released before the elections, said Colville.  He added she does not want to speculate whether Suu Kyi risks being re-arrested if she tries to pull her pro-democracy party together.  The Burmese rulers have banned the party.

But Colville also said High Commissioner Pillay believes Suu Kyi needs to take the helm of her party again, something she has not been able to do for many years.

“I think one other very important part is we should not forget all the other political prisoners in Myanmar,” he said. “There are believed to be around 2,200 prisoners, some of whom are from Aung San Suu Kyi’s party.  Some of them were elected to the Parliament in the 1990 elections.  They have been in jail pretty much ever since.  So, there are many others who need to come out for the transition process to really get underway.  And, for everyone to see that actually there is a very serious process of change underway in Myanmar.”

Burma has many human-rights problems, said Colville, including long-standing problems with its ethnic minorities.

The country, he said, is on the U.N. human rights radar screen and will be watched with great interest to see what happens there.

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CBC News – Burmese flee homes as tensions increase
Last Updated: Monday, November 15, 2010 | 11:15 AM ET

Hundreds of people living along the border between Burma and Thailand fled their homes overnight Sunday, trying to escape renewed fighting between the Burmese army and one of the country’s largest ethnic rebel groups.

The fighting between the Burmese military and ethnic Karen rebels follows the release of pro-democracy leader Aung Sung Suu Kyi.

But this escalation in fighting does not come as a surprise. In fact, many analysts fear the country may soon be enveloped by widespread conflict as ethnic minorities, who make up 40 per cent of Burma’s population, challenge the elections earlier this month that were rigged largely in the military’s favour.

Citing “increased tensions” in the ethnically controlled area of the country, Burma’s rulers cancelled voting in more than 3,000 villages where 1.5 million people are eligible to vote.

And ceasefire agreements that exist between the military and some of Burma’s ethnic militias are now said to be on the verge of collapse. There are also reports army troop deployments are increasing in areas near several potential flashpoints.

Precarious position

Meanwhile, Suu Kyi worked Monday to revive her political movement Monday, consulting lawyers about having her now-disbanded party declared legal again.

Nyan Win, who is her lawyer as well as a party spokesman, said Suu Kyi met with her lawyers Monday morning and also party officials from areas outside Rangoon who have been keeping her political network alive during years of repression.

He said Burma’s High Court will hold a hearing Thursday to decide whether to accept a case from Suu Kyi arguing that her party’s dissolution “is not in accordance with the law.” The party was disbanded earlier this year under a new law because it failed to register for Nov. 7 elections, complaining conditions set by the junta were unfair and undemocratic.

Suu Kyi, freed from house arrest Saturday amid a divided political landscape and days after the widely criticized elections, has made it clear she faces a precarious position:
manoeuvring between the expectations of the country’s pro-democracy movement and the realities of dealing with a clique of secretive generals who have kept her locked up much of the past two decades.

She also admitted being re-arrested was always on the back of her mind.

“I’m not scared. I know that there is always a possibility. Because they have done that in the past, they might do it again,” she said. “My attitude is that I will do as much as I can while I am free and if I am re-arrested I’ll do as much as I can under arrest.”

This Southeast Asian nation, also known as Myanmar, has been ruled by the military since 1962, leaving it isolated from much of the international community and battered by poverty. The junta has an abysmal human rights record, holding thousands of political prisoners and waging brutal military campaigns against ethnic minorities.

In recent years, though, it has also become an increasingly important regional trading hub, and its natural gas reserves and hydroelectric possibilities have brought it close to energy-hungry China and India.

Earlier Sunday, Suu Kyi spoke to as many as 10,000 people who jammed the street in front of the office. While the speech was technically illegal — any gathering of more than a handful of people needs government permission — the authorities made no arrests.

The 65-year-old Suu Kyi is by far the country’s most popular politician, popularity the junta clearly fears. Dozens of secret police officers were on hand Sunday to record her comments and photograph those in attendance.

“I believe in human rights and I believe in the rule of law. I will always fight for these things,” she told the crowd. “I want to work with all democratic forces and I need the support of the people.”

She also urged her followers to work for national reconciliation.

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Guardian Unlimited – Aung San Suu Kyi may be about to go free, but for how long?
After 15 years, the Burmese opposition leader is expected to be released from house arrest in less than 48 hours
Jack Davies
guardian.co.uk, Thursday 11 November 2010 16.29 GMT

Every morning Aung San Suu Kyi wakes at 4am knowing there is nowhere she can go, no prospect she will be allowed outside.

Inside the mildewing two-storey villa the Burmese junta has made her prison, the 65-year-old Buddhist meditates, sometimes for hours, before turning her attention to one of five radios, tuned to stations from around the world.

These distant voices – broadcasts from the BBC, Voice of America, rebel news service Democratic Voice of Burma and others – are her only constant link with the outside world. She has no telephone, no TV and no internet. Her mail is heavily censored. Often it is not delivered.

She spends her days reading, in Burmese and English, philosophy, biographies and novels. John le Carré and Georges Simenon are favourites. She was once a keen pianist, but Burma’s muggy heat has warped the instrument.

But Aung San Suu Kyi is not alone. She lives with two long-serving and loyal maids, mother and daughter Khin Khin Win and Win Ma Ma who, bizarrely, have been sentenced with their employer for this final stretch of house detention.

She is allowed few visitors, those who come are strictly vetted and their visits closely monitored. A delivery man brings fresh food daily. Her family doctor pays a house call once a month.

And another of the few who see her is her long-time lawyer and confidant, U Nyan Win, who has a standing fortnightly appointment. He brings her magazines, Time and Newsweek, every time he visits, “because she must know about the news from around the world”.

“She has a simple life in her home. But she can never leave. Not even to go outside into the gardens, to the compound. She is always inside. She is healthy, she exercises in her home. And she has strong spirit, she is determined.”

The once-grand lakeside home she inherited from her mother at 54 University Avenue looks every one of its 90-odd years. Despite some renovations this year, it is still in need of repair and painting.

The electricity fails regularly. For days following Cyclone Nargis in 2008, she read by candlelight. And the villa’s gardens, once immaculately kept, are now overrun by unruly vines. Fifteen years of imprisonment has robbed her of much.

Her husband, British academic Michael Aris, died in 1999 of cancer. She could not visit him while he was dying without risking being exiled from her country forever, and the junta refused him an entry visa to Burma.

She has not seen her two sons in more than a decade. She has never met her grandchildren. Every year her sons apply for visas, every year they are rejected without explanation.
Until this week. In Bangkok yesterday, her youngest son, Kim was granted permission to enter the country. It is not known when he will come to Burma.

“It has been a hard life, she has sacrificed a lot. But she is used [to it] now. And she keeps working, waiting for the day she will be released,” said her lawyer.

For all of Burma, that day is expected as soon as Saturday which is when, according to U Nyan Win, her current sentence expires “and there is no mechanism under Burmese law to extend that detention, to keep her under house arrest. They must let her go.”

There can be no guarantees from a junta that has detained Aung San Suu Kyi, essentially arbitrarily, three times in two decades, but hints from “unnamed military sources” suggest she will be released.

“I have not been told that she will be released, but it is my expectation,” said U Nyan Win, wearing a bright blue longyi and sitting in a wicker chair in his concrete-floored law office in downtown Rangoon.

He was interrupted by a constant stream of phone calls, with half a dozen mobiles across the office ringing for him. Aung San Suu Kyi’s final appeal against her sentence has just been rejected by the supreme court, and her legal team is assessing what it means for her liberty, and deciding their next move.

For the most part, it appears the court’s decision is a moot point. She has almost completed the sentence that she had appealed against: her incarceration was extended by 18 months for “receiving” American John Yettaw, who swam unannounced, and uninvited, across the lake that backs on to Aung San Suu Kyi’s home.

The court, U Nyan Win was told, offered no reason for its decision, simply that the appeal had been rejected.

He is less concerned with the court’s ruling, entirely expected, than with what happens next, if and when she is freed.

Since 1989, when she was first detained, Aung San Suu Kyi’s previous brief spells of freedom have always come with strict conditions from the military. Previously, she has been prohibited from leaving Rangoon, or forced to register with the army whenever she intends to go out of the city.

But she has always railed against any restrictions. In 2000, she spent six days in her car at a military roadblock after being stopped from leaving Rangoon, the standoff only ending when she was put back under house arrest.

Again, U Nyan Win said, she would not accept any conditions on her release this time. “The lady will defy. She will not accept conditions from the regime. She must see her people, she is a politician, the people love to see her free, and she wants to meet with her people.”

U Nyan Win said Aung San Suu Kyi’s first act as a free woman would be to address the Burmese people and speak to the media, local and international.

“She will make a press conference, she needs to speak to the Burmese people but the world too. This is what she always does.”

She also wants to reinvigorate the National League for Democracy, the party she led to victory at the 1990 election but which has since been proscribed by the junta after advocating a boycott of last Sunday’s poll.

All of this is certain to raise the ire of the junta’s ruling generals. On past form, theirs and hers, Aung San Suu Kyi’s liberty could be short-lived. “She never thinks of that. She will do what she needs to do. For her people like before, like always.”

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ABC Radio Australia – Burma’s Suu Kyi ‘should lobby from outside’
Updated November 15, 2010 22:22:53

The reactions may have been a little more predictable than the event that preceded them – that is, the release of Burma’s opposition icon, Aung San Suu Kyi. While many in the so-called international community welcomed her release, many others also tried to keep up the pressure on Burma real. East Timor, on the other hand, is calling on the US and Europe to lift sanctions against Burma because as the president, Jose Ramos Horta, has put it, sanctions on a poor country are ‘not morally good’. Ms Suu Kyi seems open to new avenues herself and says that she hopes to engage with the Burmese junta and with international leaders. But the Burmese ethnic group, the Karen National Union, says Ms Suu Kyi, should leave Burma and lobby the international community from outside the country.

Presenter: Liam Cochrane
Speakers: David Tharckapaw, vice president, Karen National Union; Andrej Mahecic, spokesman, UNHCR, Geneva

COCHRANE: Aung San Suu Kyi may have only just emerged from a long period of political isolation but there’s already intense debate about how the opposition movement should continue.

David Tharckapaw is the vice president of the Karen National Union, an ethnic group with a military wing that’s been fighting the Burmese Army in one of the long running conflicts in the world.

He says Aung San Suu Kyi should think about how little progress has been achieved in the past two decades and consider changing tactics.

THARCKAPAW: She has to come out of Burma, like the Dalai Lama and one time [Jose] Ramos Horta. She would be more effective if she is outside to lobby the international community.

COCHRANE: Leaving Burma is not an easily option, though. The government requires citizens to apply for exit permits and it’s unlikely they would want the high profile opposition figure to leave.

David Tharckapaw says he welcomes the release of Aung San Suu Kyi and says she remains a uniting force amongst ethnic Burmese.

THARCKAPAW: The majority of the ethnic groups support her and see her as a national leader. She can easily, I think, unite all the ethnic groups.

COCHRANE: He stressed that while the KNU supports democracy and human rights, its priority remains fighting for the rights of the Karen minority, which make up around 7 per cent of Burma’s population.

David Tharckapaw says the KNU would not lay down their weapons even if asked to by Aung San Suu Kyi.

THARCKAPAW: We cannot do that because our war is not fighting for our rights. The Karen started resistance to protect its own people and its organisation.

COCHRANE: After the recent election, fighting broke out between Democratic Karen Buddhist Army and the Burmese army, causing 15,000 Burmese to flee across the border into Thailand.

The Democratic Karen Buddhist Army is a breakaway group from the KNU’s armed wing, the Karen National Liberation Army, but the two forces briefly cooperated.

David Tharckapaw says the fighting – and the cooperation – has ended. Now, he says, old suspicions have returned.

THARCKAPAW: The KNU is not sure whether the DKBA is sincere or not. Whether it was just a big hoax to win over the KNLA forces.

COCHRANE: Meanwhile, the UN High Commissioner for Refugees has said most of the 15,000 Burmese refugees who fled the fighting and crossed into Thailand have now returned to Burma.

The United Nations has mostly praised the coordinated efforts on the border between the UN Refugee agency, the Thai government, and non government organisations, but UNHCR spokesman, Andrej Mahecic, has expressed concerns that some refugees were rushed back across the border too soon after reports of clashes in Burma.

MAHECIC: We felt there wasn’t enough time given perhaps between the end of the fighting and the time by which the Royal Thai Army had given the all clear for the refugees to return home. In light of the confusing situation and the risks to safety we certainly are advocating with the Royal Thai government, the refugees should be given sufficient time before being encouraged to return home.

COCHRANE: The UN says it is not in a position to verify that all refugees returned to Burma voluntarily. Andrej Mahecic says amid the panic of fleeing from the fighting, several dozen children were separated from their parents. He says the children are being cared for by relatives, school teachers and community leaders.

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Radio Prague – Czech Republic welcomes release of Burmese dissident Aung San Suu Kyi
15-11-2010 15:21 |
Christian Falvey

The Czech Republic joined the world at the weekend in welcoming the release of Burmese dissident leader and Nobel Peace Prize laureate Aung San Suu Kyi, who has spent 15 of the past 21 years under house arrest. In that time, Prague has pressed hard for her release and done much at both state and non-governmental level to promote democracy in the country.

Aung San Suu Kyi emerged from her home on Saturday looking pleased and humbled as thousands of Burmese supporters gathered to cheer her release. Half a world away, the Czech Republic shared in the relief of the moment, having over many years kept a close eye on the situation in Burma, and developed what Foreign Minister Karel Schwarzenberg called an important connection.

“Her having won the Nobel Peace Prize can also be put down to the efforts of former president Václav Havel. It was his proposal. So we Czechs are connected to her in a certain way. We have always tried to keep in touch with her. And she has not backed down in spite of all those years of isolation. She is incredibly courageous and a great support to all of her people”.

The Czech Republic has, thanks to its own history with totalitarianism, taken a clear stance against the Burmese military regime, via funding and asylum for dissidents. Through the efforts of Václav Havel and the country’s EU presidency in 2009, the Czech Republic has been prominent in keeping the subject of human rights in the south-east Asian state alive in international diplomacy. Marie Peřinová, who runs the Burma projects of the humanitarian organisation People in Need, praises her country’s efforts on the Burmese front.

“The Czech Republic is actually among the greatest supporters of the Burmese democratic movement. The Czech Republic has long been providing direct financial support for projects within Burma, and at various international forums they have strived to support the Burmese democratic movement while at the same time applying pressure on the Burmese generals.”

In addition to supporting the international campaign for democracy, People in Need have been on the ground assisting the families of political prisoners and independent journalists since the mid-90s. I asked Ms. Peřinová how those projects could potentially be affected now that the opposition leader is free again.

“In our projects within Burma, People in Need is supporting all people who are striving for democratic reforms, so the release of Aung San Suu Kyi is actually a great opportunity, it will raise a lot of enthusiasm among the people and I’m sure they will be even more active in their projects struggling for democratic reforms. So we hope that we will have the chance to do even more inside Burma actually, and to work with more active people to support democratic changes.”

For Sabe Amthor Soe, the founder of the Burma Centre Prague, the Czech Republic is the kind of friend that the Burmese democracy movement needs most, actively defending its interests in the field of human rights on the international stage on which it always risks becoming overlooked.

“The Czech Republic’s role in the EU is definitely very important, because the CR is always reminding its colleagues that the human rights situation is more important than economic relations with the regime in Burma. I think that without restoring humans rights there can be no true democracy.”

Sabe Amthor Soe also says that the CR must continue to press, not only on the EU, but on Burma’s neighbours, which are hosts to thousands of Burmese refugees and play key roles in the situation. While the release of Aung San Suu Kyi is a happy development she says, there are still another 2200 political prisoners who played key roles in the democratic movement and are also very important leaders in society.

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last updated at 13:36 GMT, Monday, 15 November 2010
BBC News – Aung San Suu Kyi’s Oxford connections

Margaret MacMillan, the Warden of St. Anthony’s college, has spoken about Aung San Suu Kyi’s time in Oxford.

The Burmese pro democracy leader is in the news after her recent release. She has spent 15 of the past 21 years under house arrest.

But before her political career Ms Suu Kyi lived in Oxford and met her late husband, Michael Aris, studying here.

Professor MacMillan said: “We are linked, all of us in Oxford, to an exceptional human being.”

Ms Suu Kyi married Dr Aris on New Year’s Day 1972 in a simple Buddhist ceremony in England.

They subsequently lived in North Oxford and had two children together.

“It was a real love story. It was only when she went back to Burma to carry on her father’s work and her mother’s work that her life became very different,” said Professor MacMillan.

In March 1999 Dr Aris died of prostate cancer. It was his 53rd birthday.

At that point he had only seen his wife on five brief occasions in the preceding 10 years – the last being in Rangoon for Christmas in 1995 after her release from house arrest.

“When she married her husband, Michael Aris, she always said to him that she would always have to put Burma first and I think he understood that,” said Professor MacMillan.
Disputed elections

It is difficult to tell what will happen next in Burma where the government have recently claimed a majority of 80% in a widely disputed election.

Speculating on the future of the country Professor MacMillan said: “It may well be that the wiser heads in that government have decided that the time is now right for compromise.

“We hope that one day she may be able to travel again and one day we’ll be able to see her again.

“She is someone, who I think in many ways, is the Nelson Mandela of Burma.”

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The Advocate – Karen factions reunite as Burmese forces close in
CRAIG SKEHAN
16 Nov, 2010 03:00 AM

OO KRAY KEE, Burma: In the mountain village of Oo Kray Kee, the first rooster crows more than an hour before sunrise as soldiers of the Karen National Liberation Army roll from their hammocks.

During the night rocket-propelled grenades and mortars could be heard in the distance as rebel soldiers clashed with forces of Burma’s military regime.

Battles have escalated since the national election on November 7, partly because the poll was seen as unfair by the Karen and other ethnic minorities, many of whom were excluded from the vote.

Burma is one of the world’s most ethnically diverse nations, with more than 100 languages and dialects.

The Karen National Liberation Army has been fighting for the right of the Karen to rule themselves since Burma became independent from British rule in 1948.

But in 1994 the Karen split into Christian and Buddhist factions. The new Democratic Karen Buddhist Army sided with government forces and one of the places they attacked 16 months ago was Oo Kray Kee, about six kilometres inside Burma from the Thai town of Umphang. It was shelled and then razed.

But a KNLA commander, Nerdah Mya – son of the Karen leader, Bo Mya – encouraged refugees who had fled to Thailand to return and rebuild.

Now the fighting is again getting close to Oo Kray Kee, but this time the Buddhists and Christians are fighting on the same side, partly because both groups object to pressure from the junta for all ethnic minority armies to join a so-called border guard force under the command of the Burmese army.

The rapprochement is seen as significant because divisions among the ethnic minorities have been an impediment to making headway against the junta.

Members of the KNLA at Oo Kray Kee said the Burmese military had moved artillery from the border trading town of Myawaddy to a military camp only five kilometres away during the past few days. They believed preparations were under way for a full-scale assault.

Most of the 300 villagers have not waited to find out, and only a few dozen remain.

Most of the KNLA from the base camp at Oo Kray Kee have gone to the ”front line” to fight alongside the Buddhist comrades they have now re-embraced.

Issacs, 31, a KNLA sergeant who carries a rocket-launcher, said they had ringed the village with more than 1000 mines to keep the Burmese soldiers at bay.

Asked who destroyed the village previously, Issacs said: ”It was government troops and [the Democratic Karen Buddhist Army]. But we are all Karen. So now we can fight together.”

But because relationships can also hinge on co-operation and rivalry in lucrative cross-border trade and smuggling, it is yet to be seen if the new alliance will hold.

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Monday November 15, 2010
The Star Online – Q+A – What role could Suu Kyi play in Myanmar?
By Martin Petty

BANGKOK (Reuters) – The release of Myanmar’s Nobel Peace Prize laureate Aung San Suu Kyi has given a powerful voice to the country’s pro-democracy camp but her role in the future of the military-ruled country remains uncertain.

Since neither Suu Kyi nor her National League for Democracy (NLD) party ran in the much-maligned Nov. 7 parliamentary election, which was won convincingly by a pro-military party, their capacity to bring about any change to the authoritarian status quo is limited, despite their huge popularity.

WILL SUU KYI PLAY A POLITICAL ROLE?

Suu Kyi admitted on Sunday her latest seven-year stint of incarceration had left her out of touch. She said she had no concrete plans and wanted to hear views from the people before making any decision on her future.

Judging by her strong comments at her first major speech on Sunday, it is unlikely she will fade away. She talked of free speech, unity, the political empowerment of all people and of not giving up hope of positive change.

But Suu Kyi is burdened by huge expectations. Despite her international backing and massive show of support for her, the reality is there is very little she can do to challenge the military’s monopoly on politics, the economy and judiciary.

She has no official role in its new political system, which will see a new government formed in the next 90 days. She might seek to carve out a niche as an influential stateswoman championing more democratic rights or pursue a diplomatic role and work to try to bring about reforms.

WILL SHE SEEK TO REBUILD HER PARTY?

Her National League for Democracy (NLD) party was disbanded by the regime in September because it boycotted the election: it is now viewed as an “unlawful association” by the government. However, the NLD insists its dissolution was unconstitutional and its members are behaving as if it is still a functioning party.

Some suggest the NLD will work like a social organisation or advocacy group, perhaps strengthening its ranks to contest the next election in 2015. It might seek to work together with other pro-democracy groups that ran in the Nov. 7 poll and won a small number of parliament seats.

However, the NLD would be taking a risk. The military junta could easily crack down on the party’s activities, arrest its members and put Suu Kyi back in detention.

HOW MUCH FREEDOM WILL THE JUNTA GIVE SUU KYI?

Few people know anything of the inner workings of the ageing and ultra-secretive junta. Based on past actions, they may try to prevent Suu Kyi from strengthening her stature and popularity. By politicising the Burmese people and giving them hope, she’s on a collision course with the paranoid junta. The public has shown far more enthusiasm for Suu Kyi than they have the election.

Her re-arrest — as has happened twice before — for dubious legal reasons cannot be ruled out and her safety will always be a concern to supporters. Previously, Suu Kyi has provoked the military with strong speeches and riled them by touring the country to court support. That was a step too far for the generals, who confined her to her house.

WHY DID THEY FREE HER WHEN HER SENTENCE EXPIRED?

Some commentators suggest the generals might be trying to gain some international legitimacy after flawed polls but it is unclear if the junta cares much about its image.

However, the “pardon” they gave Suu Kyi and their uncharacteristic offer of help with “anything she needs” might mean they are ready to tolerate her, providing she behaves and doesn’t seek to challenge a new political system the generals have carefully crafted to entrench their power.

Suu Kyi refrained from attacking the junta or their election on Sunday, which could indicate a more conciliatory approach. Aware of the limits of her power, she might try to cooperate with the regime and seek small improvements to the lives of the Burmese people without going head-on with the generals.

WHAT ABOUT SANCTIONS?

Her release will almost certainly put Western sanctions back in the spotlight. Suu Kyi initially called for the embargoes but seems to have softened her stance, perhaps realising that they might be hurting the people rather than the regime.

She might act as an unofficial mediator towards having sanctions lifted, or relaxed at least, and this is her only real bargaining chip with the generals. There is speculation the junta released Suu Kyi in the hope she will pursue this route, possibly to have arms embargoes lifted to strengthen its army.

But this assumes the junta wants to engage the West, which it may not given support from China and other Asian allies.

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Legislators urge govt to declare Myanmar election undemocratic.
The Jakarta Post, Jakarta | Mon, 11/15/2010 3:40 PM |

A group of legislators has urged the government to denounce Myanmar’s recent general elections as undemocratic.

“We call upon the Indonesian government and members of ASEAN to neither recognize nor acknowledge Myanmar’s elections,” Eva K. Sundari, a legislator from House Commission III and a member of the Asian Inter-Parliamentary Myanmar Caucus (AIPMC), said.

Eva said that the elections failed to fulfill standard criteria for free and fair elections after some people, including Aung San Suu Kyi, were not allowed to run and no independent observers were allowed to monitor the elections.

She added that Indonesia and ASEAN must support the investigation of human rights violations in Myanmar. Indonesia will chair ASEAN in 2011.

Indonesia’s leadership could have a real impact on Myanmar’s democratization, she said.

“We request that Commission I issue a resolution on Myanmar and that the Indonesian government support the United Nation’s inquiry team [on Myanmar] which the United States initiated,” she said.

“Neighboring countries and other ASEAN countries must accommodate the needs of [Myanmar’s] people and not just the regime,” she said, regarding thousands of refugees fleeing conflict in Myanmar.

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ReliefWeb – Cyclone “Giri” Struck Myanmar : AAR JAPAN calls for support
Source: Association for Aid and Relief Japan (AAR)
Date: 15 Nov 2010

A few weeks after Cyclone “Giri” swamped the west coast of Myanmar on October 22, the emergency assistance is not sufficient to meet the needs of the 260,000 people affected.

More than 100,000 people lost their houses and 17,500 agricultural lands were destroyed before the harvest. There are areas where most of the livestock was perished. People need food and relief items to survive.

Association for Aid and Relief, Japan (AAR JAPAN) has launched distribution of food and non food items starting on 11th November in cooperation with the authorities and other actors. As some bridges have been severely damaged by the Cyclone, AAR JAPAN Myanmar office plans to send relief items by boat.

AAR JAPAN has opened its office in Yangon in 1999 to assist persons with disabilities. In May 2008 when Cyclone “Nargis” hit Myanmar, AAR JAPAN responded quickly and provided relief items to 13,000 people.

With 31 years of experience in relief operation in more than 50 countries and 11 years in Myanmar, AAR JAPAN is working on distribution of food, cooking tools and other relief items to 5,000 people in Rakhine State, the most affected by the Cyclone.

Your warm support is needed now to assist those affected by the Cyclone in Myanmar.

DONATE NOW!
Postal Account
Account: 00110-6-96509
Account name: Nanmin wo tasukeru-kai
For more information, please visit our website: http://www.aarjapan.gr.jp
Or contact us: TEL:03-5423-4511 FAX : 03-5423-4450 E-mail: info@ aarjapan.gr.jp
AAR JAPAN, Mizuho Bldg. 5F, 2-12-2 Kami-Osaki, Shinagawa, Tokyo, 141-0021, JAPAN

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Nov 16, 2010
Asia Times Online – Karen rebels go on offensive in Myanmar

By Brian McCartan

While Myanmar’s generals held their stage-managed elections, an ethnic rebel group forcibly seized control of two border towns and highlighted immediately the polls’ ineffectiveness at achieving national reconciliation.

Government forces on Tuesday forced the Democratic Karen Buddhist Army (DKBA) out of Myawaddy and Pyathounzu towns, but the attacks already had significant repercussions for the transition from military to civilian rule.

DKBA troops of the 902nd Battalion under Lieutenant Colonel Kyaw Thet entered Myawaddy on Sunday afternoon, the day of the elections, and took over government offices, including a police station and the local headquarters of Military Affairs Security (MAS), Myanmar’s military intelligence agency. Colonel Lah Pweh, the leader of the DKBA’s 5th Brigade, claimed it was necessary to intervene to protect people from being forced to vote by the military.

Lah Pweh’s motives, however, were apparently more calculated, according to Karen sources familiar with the situation. Realizing that the DKBA would likely be attacked for its refusal to join the government’s new Border Guard Force (BGF) units, which as proposed require ethnic armies to cede control of their arms and soldiers to the Myanmar military, he seized the initiative while international attention was focused on the country.

Myawaddy was the only significant border town that had never been seized by ethnic or communist forces during the 62 years of civil war that followed Myanmar – also known as Burma – achieving independence from colonial rule in 1948. A fierce battle was fought for the town in March 1974, but Karen National Union (KNU) and allied forces were forced to retreat after five days of fighting. Pyathounzu was seized from Mon and Karen rebels in 1990.

At least three civilians were killed during this week’s fighting, including one Thai who was killed by a stray mortar round that landed on the Thai side of the border. The exile-run magazine the Irrawaddy reported that witnesses saw around 30 bodies of army and DKBA soldiers in the town. At least 30 other people were injured. At Three Pagodas Pass, near Pyathounzu, reports said that at least one Myanmese policeman and two children were killed and more injured, including three Thai soldiers apparently hit by an artillery round.

As many as 20,000-25,000 townspeople and villagers from Myanmar fled to Thailand as a result of the fighting in the Myawaddy area. Refugee officials reported that another 3,000 refugees fled the fighting in Pyathounzu.

Most of the refugees from Myawaddy returned home from across the Thai border on Tuesday after the government announced that the DKBA had been driven out of the town. Others have since trickled back out, over fear of new fighting or to escape an army conscription drive to force civilians to serve as porters for military operations. Thai army and border police units were sent to guard the border and prevent a spillover of fighting.

Border trade was already severely curtailed by a unilateral border closure imposed by the Myanmese government on July 19. The reasons for the closure were never officially stated, but many observers felt it was tied to the elections. The Mae Sot-Myawaddy crossing is the most direct land route between Bangkok and Yangon and the most significant of the trade arteries between the two countries. The crossing at Three Pagodas Pass is less significant, but it is close to the controversial Yadana gas pipeline and a recently agreed US$8 billion project to construct a deep-sea port at Tavoy and a road linking it to Thailand.

On November 5, the Thai cabinet approved in principle a plan to establish a new Mae Sot economic zone to increase border trade and investment as part of the Asian Development Bank’s East-West Economic Corridor (EWEC) scheme. The EWEC aims to link the economies of Myanmar, Thailand, Laos and Vietnam through a network of transportation routes, especially the highway that runs through Myawaddy and Mae Sot. Thailand was projecting that around $1 billion in profits could be made this year through the Mae Sot–Myawaddy crossing.

Renewed hostilities
Instead, Thai-Myanmar border regions are teetering towards warfare. New fighting has also been reported in other areas of southern and central Karen State. DKBA units initially overran several army camps and captured a deputy battalion commander. Counterattacks by the army, however, have forced the DKBA out of their headquarters at the border village of Waley, south of Myawaddy.

There have also been reports of DKBA units ambushing troops being sent to reinforce units closer to the border, and that some BGF units have defected to Lah Pweh’s forces and smaller Karen ceasefire groups. Various Karen rebels may also have joined forces with Lah Pweh, as have some Mon fighters, though its unclear from which group.

The DKBA was formed in 1994 in response to perceived corruption by some KNU military officers and political leaders, most of whom were Christian while the rank and file was mostly Buddhist. The dissatisfaction led to a mutiny in the KNU’s armed wing, the KNLA, and the defectors formed an alliance with the Myanmar Army. The split resulted in the loss of the KNU.

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Editor - The Myanmar Gazette || First Amendment – Religion and Expression - Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.