Friday, November 23, 2007

U.N. Calls on Myanmar to Release Child Soldiers, Drop Restrictions on Investigators

Source: The Tribune

Myanmar should release all its child soldiers and allow U.N. officials to verify government claims that officers have been punished for recruiting minors into the army, the U.N. chief said in a report released Friday.

There are credible reports that Myanmar's army continues to recruit children under 18 despite an official prohibition of the practice, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said in his report to the U.N. Security Council.

For the full report, please click here.

Attention Drawn to Burma's Women Leaders

Source: Mizzima News

Burma's women's leadership does not stop with detained opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi. A new publication profiles and draws attention to the detention and plight of some twenty other women who performed critical functions during the protests of August and September.

Accordingly, a group of rights activists is calling for 16 days of campaigning to bring attention to the plight of Burmese women activists in the country's ongoing struggle for human rights and democracy, from November 25, International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women, to December 10, International Human Rights Day.

"For women of Burma who face and are under state-sanctioned violence this call cannot be more relevant than ever and the international community needs to have strong commitment and will to work harder towards protecting and securing women's human rights," reads a statement from the Asia-Pacific Peoples' Partnership for Burma (APPPB).

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Myanmar Opposition Says Arrests Undermine Talks

Source: Reuters

Myanmar's National League for Democracy condemned on Thursday the arrest of two prominent politicians, saying it undermined talks to build "mutual confidence" between the opposition and military junta.

Myint Naing, a senior NLD member, and Pu Chin Sian Thang, chairman of the Zomi National Congress (ZNC) party, were detained by police on Tuesday, family and opposition sources said.

Their arrests came a day after detained NLD leader Aung San Suu Kyi met for a third time with General Aung Kyi, the junta's go-between appointed as a result of global outrage at September's crackdown on democracy protests.

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Indonesia: No Sanctions on Myanmar

Source: Antara News

President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono said Indonesia will not join other countries in imposing sanctions on Yangon in connection with the political and human rights situation in Myanmar.

"Indonesia will prefer giving constructive inputs rather than imposing sanctions," the president said after attending the 13th ASEAN Summit here on Thursday.

He said the Myanmar problem was one of the issues discussed in depth by ASEAN leaders at the summit.

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Arroyo Might Raise Myanmar Issue in Next China Trip

Source: Global Nation

President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo might raise the issue of Myanmar during her next visit to China, Press Secretary Ignacio Bunye said.

"The President acknowledges the fact that China is a very important player and China is in a position to influence the events in this part of the region," Bunye said Thursday.

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UN panel slams Yangon for crackdown on protests

Source: The Peninsula

A UN General Assembly panel put Myanmar back under the international spotlight yesterday, passing a resolution strongly condemning the military regime's suppression of anti-government protests.

But Myanmar's UN envoy Kyaw Tint Swe immediately dismissed the censure, saying the regime was neither discouraged nor surprised.

The non-binding text, adopted by a vote of 88 in favour and 24 against, with 66 abstentions, "strongly condemns the use of violence against peaceful demonstrators who were exercising their rights to freedom of opinion and expression and to peaceful assembly and association."

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Philippine president takes parting shot at Myanmar criticism before leaving SE Asia summit

Source: Desert Morning News

The president of the Philippines took a parting shot at Myanmar's junta Wednesday, deploring the pace of democratic reforms in the Southeast Asian nation as she hastily returned home to oversee preparations for a looming tropical storm.

"Let me be very clear. We ... remain concerned about the pace of progress of Myanmar on the issue of human rights," President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo said.

"We particularly deplore the treatment of Aung San Suu Kyi," the pro-democracy leader who remains under house arrest. "She must be released, now," Arroyo told reporters.

For the full report, please follow this link:,5143,695229607,00.html

Myanmar Releases Prisoners to Die at Home

Source: Spero News

Sources say Myanmar releases prisoners as a token of good will only to die days later because of ill treatment in prison.

“The international community does not want to do anything for the Burmese people; perhaps all that can be done is pray. Please, do not forget us,” said a desperate appeal, made by a group of Burmese, that reached AsiaNews. The members of this group no longer believe in the junta’s promises, nor do they think international action can be effective. “Acts of good will like releasing protesters arrested in September are false,” they said on condition of anonymity out of security concerns.

One of the prisoners released, who is from a northern region of the country, said that out seven cellmates who went home with him, three died soon after as a result of “disease contracted in prison or torture.”

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Yeni and Aung Zaw : Apocalypse Naypyidaw

Source: Irrawaddy News

After living for decades under a military-ruled Burma and witnessing the junta’s bloody crackdown on monks and innocent people on the streets in September, many Burmese have begun calling for, not diplomacy, but air strikes and international intervention.

“We need air strikes,” said a prominent editor and CEO of a successful privately-run publication in Burma.

He claimed many Burmese would welcome military intervention. “This is our hope,” he said. “The regime is unyielding. We have to teach them a lesson or two.”

For the full report, please follow this link:


Burmese Buddhist Temple in Singapore Halts Activists' Activities

Source: Earth Times

The Burmese Buddhist temple in Singapore has stopped activists from using the venue to stage pro-democracy activities on behalf of their homeland Myanmar, officials said Friday. Participants clad in red T-shirts have been holding massive prayer sessions, distributing pro-democracy leaflets and using the largest such temple in Singapore as their mailing address since the ruling junta in Myanmar cracked down on peaceful protesters in September.

"The temple is just a place of worship," The Straits Times quoted the management committee's honorary president David Lim as saying. "Anyone can come here for prayers, but we don't want it used for political activities."

The decision was made after Foreign Affairs Minister George Yeo visited the shrine. The Myanmar community numbers 30,000 in the city- state.

"The temple should be a place of peace," Lim said, not a domain for "activists shouting slogans."



EU, Asean Clash on Myanmar Sanctions, but Both Want Reforms

Source: IANS via Yahoo News

The EU clashed Thursday with the Association of South-East Asian Nations (Asean) on sanctions against Myanmar, but both organisations jointly called for democratic reforms in the military-ruled country.

Asean and the EU are holding a half-day commemorative summit in Singapore, marking 30 years of relations that have long been tense on disagreements over how to deal with Asean member Myanmar.

While the two groups hailed the economic growth in their partnership, 10-nation Asean's refusal to impose even temporary sanctions on Myanmar after its violent crackdown in September on anti-government protests has whipped up the issue again.

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Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Thai Firm Says May Cut Stake in Myanmar Dam Project

Source: Agence France-Presse via Google News

Thai energy firm MDX Group said Tuesday it was considering reducing its stake in a controversial hydro-power dam project in Myanmar, the biggest in the military-run country.

"We are looking for a business partner to go ahead with the project, and we are considering reducing our stake," an official from MDX said on condition of anonymity.

MDX has invested about six billion dollars in the Tasang dam project in eastern Shan State. It is to be built on the Salween River, the longest undammed river in Southeast Asia.

The Thai company has held an 85 percent stake in the project with the rest owned by Myanmar's military government, which is under global pressure over its deadly repression of pro-democracy protests in Yangon in September.

For the full report, please click here.

New Proposed US Sanctions Target Burmese Gems

Source: VOA News

A major gem auction is underway in Burma despite tightening Western sanctions that include calls for a boycott of Burmese gems. The sanctions follow the Burmese government's crackdown on pro-democracy protests and are aimed at stopping the trade in so-called "blood rubies" and other Burmese gems. VOA's Bill Rodgers reports.

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Burmese Opposition Groups Disappointed by ASEAN's Cancellation of UN Envoy Briefing

Source: VOA News

A Burmese political activist says opposition groups are disappointed by ASEAN's giving in to Burma's military government. Leaders of the Association of Southeast Asian nations, who are meeting in Singapore, agreed to the demands of the Burmese generals and called off a highly anticipated briefing on Burma by an envoy of the United Nations. Claudia Blume reports from VOA's Asia News Center in Hong Kong.

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Gambari Likely to Visit Myanmar in December

Source: Channel News Asia

United Nations Special Envoy Ibrahim Gambari is likely to visit Myanmar again next month.

Dr Gambari, who is in Singapore for the ASEAN summit, said this when he met several ASEAN leaders on Tuesday.

One of them was Philippine President Gloria Arroyo.

According to Philippine Foreign Secretary Alberto Romulo, Dr Gambari was disappointed that he had not been able to brief ASEAN and East Asian leaders.

Dr Gambari is however expected to meet ASEAN Foreign Ministers, to update them on his recent visit to Myanmar.

But when this meeting is taking place has yet to be confirmed.

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ASEAN to Stay Clear of Myanmar Crisis

Source: The Hindu

The Association of South East Asian Nations (ASEAN) on Monday agreed to “make way” for Myanmar, a member-state, to “deal directly with the United Nations and the international community on its own.”

The decision to stay clear of Myanmar’s current political crisis was made at a late-night in-camera session of informal talks among the leaders of all the 10 ASEAN member-countries. These talks were to set the stage for the 13th ASEAN summit here on Tuesday.

Although Myanmar broke ranks with the other ASEAN members over its democracy challenge, the collective forum decided to make efforts to “prevent” the issue from “obstructing” the group’s huge agenda for the future. The agenda ranges from the “integration” of the ASEAN member-states to the adoption of a common charter and the establishment of a regional “community” among themselves.

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Gambari to Meet with Asian Leaders Despite Canceled Address Before Annual Summit

Source: Associated Press

U.N. envoy Ibrahim Gambari's address on Myanmar to Asian leaders was canceled abruptly, but his trip to Singapore was salvaged Tuesday by holding private meetings to brief the leaders on his negotiations with the junta.

The envoy _ whose planned address on Wednesday was shelved while he was en route from New York _ was mobbed by reporters eager for his comments on the diplomatic muck-up when he arrived.

He declined comment before he started a slew of meetings with leaders and foreign ministers of Thailand, Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore and New Zealand. They are here to attend a summit of the 10-member Association of Southeast Asian Nations and six Asia-Pacific countries on Wednesday.

For the full report, please click here.

In Singapore, Burma Activists Keep Within the Law

Source: The Nation

About 40 Burma nationals were having coffee at the Starbucks cafe at Orchard Parade Hotel, or standing around nearby. As the clock struck 7pm Tuesday night, they gathered silently and organised themselves in rows of three, the Straits Times reported.

Dressed in red T-shirts, some of the men and women held up a banner that said: 'Listen to Burma's desires, don't follow junta's order.'

Others held up posters with messages targeting Burma's rulers, in town for this week's Asean Summit where a landmark Charter was inked.

'Signing Charter with generals makes Asean laughing stock,' said one. 'Asean has power to make a difference,' read another.

About 20 minutes later, a policeman approached one of them and asked to know the purpose of their gathering.

'We want to voice our feelings and push for change, but through lawful means.'

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Myanmar Row Sours Asean Meet

Source: The Peninsula

Southeast Asian leaders forged ahead with their annual summit yesterday, vowing not to have the talks derailed by a serious dispute over how to deal with troublesome member Myanmar.

Singapore Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong made a plea for the crisis in Myanmar, which has exposed divisions within the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean), not to completely dominate the summit.

"Asean leaders will strive to prevent the Myanmar issue from obstructing our efforts to deepen integration and build an Asean community," said Lee, who is hosting the bloc's 40th anniversary summit.

For the full report, please click here.

India PM Prods Myanmar Over Democracy: official

Source: Agence France-Presse via Google News

India's prime minister on Tuesday prodded Myanmar's junta to cede ground to pro-democracy forces, a government official said.

In a meeting with Myanmar's Prime Minister Thein Sein, Indian premier Manmohan Singh said "the reform process should be broad-based, including pro-democracy leader Aung Sang Suu Kyi and various ethnic nationalities."

He also said democratic reforms in Myanmar "should be carried forward expeditiously," Indian foreign ministry spokesman Navtej Sarna said.

For the full report, please click here.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

EU and US Discuss Burma Policy Coordination

Source: Irrawaddy News

The European Union's envoy to Burma discussed with US officials on Monday how to coordinate pressure on the ruling junta for political reform.

Piero Fassino's meetings in Washington came as EU foreign ministers approved implementation of new European sanctions against Burma.

Following a meeting with US Undersecretary of State Nicholas Burns and Deputy National Security Adviser James Jeffrey, Fassino said the EU and the United States agree on how to handle Burma, whose military-ruled government used troops and police to crush peaceful pro-democracy demonstrators in late September, killing at least 15 people.

"We have the same views on the isolation of the Burmese junta, right now," he said, speaking through an interpreter. "There is a common assessment that the central objective of the strategy must be to favor the dialogue among the various actors in Burma and of their reconciliation."

Fore the full report, please click here.

US Rules Out Free-Trade Deal with ASEAN, Citing Burma

Source: The Nation

Singapore - Current political conditions in Burma make a free-trade deal between the United States and the Association of South-East Asian Nations (ASEAN) impossible in the near term, US Trade Representative Susan Schwab said.

The relationship "can't be business as usual," she said as ASEAN readied for Tuesday's signing of a landmark charter giving the 40-year-old regional grouping legal status and committing the members to pursuing human rights, democracy and a blueprint for economic integration by 2015.

ASEAN leaders recognize that the bloc's reputation and credibility have been undermined by the situation in military-ruled Burma, where troops fired on peaceful protesters in September, killing at least 15.

Schwab, who is on a two-day visit to Singapore, met Monday with economic ministers to discuss progress made under the US-ASEAN Trade and Investment Framework Arrangement, signed a year ago.

"The issue of Burma did come up, and I expressed our concern," she told reporters. "ASEAN has special responsibility when it comes to the situation in Burma."

For the full report, please click here.

Parallel Editing in Burma

Source: Spero News

Recent and ongoing developments in Burma call for parallel editing - the filmmaking technique of running two scenes concurrently to suggest that they are happening at the same time while ratcheting up suspense.

For the full report, please click here.

Burma Slaps on Asean Face

Source: The Nation

SINGAPORE--Burma slapped on Asean's face as the United Nations special envoy Ibrahim Gambari, invited by the host Singapore to the Asean summit, was not allowed to brief the leaders of the group and the East Asia Summit.

Burma's Prime Minister Thein Sein told the Asean leaders during a working dinner late Monday night before the summit that Gambari should only report to the UN Security Council and not to the Asean or the East Asia Summit.

The military government made clear to the Asean leaders that situation in the country was a domestic affair and that Burma was fully capable of handling the situation by itself.

Gambari had visited Burma four times, and that Burma had implemented many of his proposals, Thein Sein was quoted as saying to his colleagues.

Singapore's Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong, the chair of group issued his urgent statement asking the military junta to continue cooperation with the UN envoy.

"The leaders noted that the recent visit by Professor Gambari had resulted in several steps in the right direction," he said in a written statement read to journalists after the dinner.

For the full report, please click here.

Monday, November 19, 2007

Junta Not Welcome in Singapore’s Little Burma

Source: Khaleej Times Online

Myanmar’s Prime Minister Thein Sein, in Singapore for the ASEAN summit, would not be too welcome at Peninsula Plaza, the hub for the city-state’s thousands of Myanmar nationals.

Thein Sein is the centre of attention here, as the gathering of leaders from the Association of Southeast Asian Nations is expected to focus on the Myanmar junta’s deadly crackdown on anti-government protesters in September.

As ASEAN leaders and ministers huddled in luxury hotels, Myanmar nationals made their weekly visit to Peninsula Plaza, an ageing mall where shops and eateries with signs in flowing Burmese script are spread across four floors.

For the full report, please click here.

Surprise Pressure from Myanmar's Neighbors

Source: International Herald Tribune

An emerging rift among Asian leaders over Myanmar burst into the open at a regional summit meeting on Monday when the Philippine president suggested that her country might not ratify a new regional charter unless Myanmar committed to democratic reforms and released the pro-democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi.

"The belief of the Filipino people and the Philippine Congress, as well as my own, that those who will sign the Charter agree to the objective, spirit and intent of establishing a human rights body — the full protection of human rights within Asean," she said, reading out a prepared statement, a copy of which was forwarded to reporters. "With this in mind, the expectation of the Philippines is that if Myanmar signs the Charter, it is committed to returning to the path of democracy and release Aung San Suu Kyi. Until the Philippine Congress sees that happen, it would have extreme difficulty in ratifying the Asean Charter."

For the full report, please click here.

Sunday, November 18, 2007

China Calls on Myanmar to Speed Up its Democratic Reforms

Source: Associated Press via Yahoo News

China has called on Myanmar to speed up democratic reforms, state media reported Saturday, in an unusual move for Beijing which has traditionally refrained from criticizing the country's military junta.

China's Vice Minister of Foreign Affairs Wang Yi made the call during a two-day meeting with the junta which ended Friday but which the state-controlled New Light of Myanmar newspaper only reported after the Chinese diplomat had left the country.

Yi also expressed support for United Nations-brokered attempts to reconcile the junta and the country's suppressed democracy movement led by Nobel laureate Aung San Suu Kyi, the newspaper reported.

For the full report, please click here.

Students Plan to Protest Burma Crackdown During ASEAN summit

Source: Deutsche Presse-Agentur via The Nation

University students plan to "make their voices heard" over Burma's crackdown on pro-democracy protests while ASEAN leaders sign a landmark charter that would create a human-rights body, organizers said Saturday.

Despite police warnings against any public protests, three National University of Singapore (NUS) students said they would walk with others in small groups Tuesday down Orchard Road.

With Burma's Prime Minister Thein Sein and Foreign Minister U Nyan Win attending the 40th anniversary summit of the Association of South-East Asian Nations (ASEAN), "We felt it would be negligent to do nothing," said a spokeswoman. "We plan to make our voices heard."

She said the protest would be "a gesture on behalf of Singaporeans who are afraid to speak out," noting that police action is expected.

For the full report, please click here.

EU Envoy on Myanmar Backs UN Action

Source: Agence France-Presse

European Union special envoy for Myanmar Piero Fassino expressed support Saturday for UN efforts to promote national reconciliation in the military-ruled country.

A day after meeting in New York with the United Nations special envoy for Myanmar, Fassino said the EU wants to help foster dialogue and reconciliation in the Southeast Asian nation after the military regime suppressed peaceful protests in September.

The EU "brings, with conviction, its support and backing to the action of the United Nations, Secretary General Ban Ki-moon and his special representative Ibrahim Gambari," Fassino said.

For the full report, please click here.

Situation in Myanmar 'Not Sustainable' - Singapore PM

Source: Agence France-Presse via

The situation in military-run Myanmar is "not sustainable" but ASEAN leaders have a limited ability to push for change there, Singapore's prime minister said in an interview published Saturday.

Ahead of next week's Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) summit in Singapore, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong said the bloc had "no choice" but to condemn the bloody suppression of pro-democracy protests in member Myanmar (formerly Burma).

"The present situation in Myanmar is not sustainable. ASEAN had no choice but to speak up and take a clear stand, because the developments in Myanmar have an impact on the region as a whole," Lee told The Straits Times.

For the full report, please click here.

ASEAN Urged to Address Myanmar Rights Situation


Filipino activists urged Southeast Asia's leaders on Friday to address the human rights situation in Myanmar at their upcoming summit.

About three dozen members of the Free Burma Coalition rallied at the Singapore Embassy in Manila, chanting "Free Burma Now."

They displayed large pictures of Myanmar's detained pro-democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi and placards urging the Association of Southeast Asian Nations to monitor and stop human rights violations in Myanmar, also called Burma.

For the full report, please click here.

Myanmar Issue Looms as Clark (NZ PM) Heads to Summit

Source: NZ Herald

Myanmar, climate change and trade are likely to dominate discussions at this week's East Asia Summit, New Zealand Prime Minister Helen Clark says.

Miss Clark said she would be lobbying other summit members - which also include China, India, South Korea, Japan and Australia - to ratchet up diplomatic pressure to ensure Myanmar continued to engage with the United Nations, which had recently extracted some small concessions.

"From the New Zealand point of view we are seeing the real need now for the UN's engagement to be backed by the neighbours. The neighbours are Asean, China and India," she told NZPA.

"We think that's where leadership really needs to be shown."

For the full report, please click here.

Nobody in Asia Supports Sanctions Against Myanmar: Singapore PM

Source: Channel News Asia

Nobody in Asia supports sanctions against Myanmar, Singapore's Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong said in an interview with CNBC Asia ahead of the ASEAN summit.

He also revealed that Myanmar's Prime Minister Thein Sein agreed to have UN envoy Ibrahim Gambari brief the East Asian Summit leaders about his discussions with Myanmar's leaders.

Mr Lee, who opposed sanctions against Myanmar, said, "Even if you do cause pain in Myanmar through sanctions, you're only causing that to the population, to (the) poor and helpless who are already suffering and miserable. You're not going to succeed in causing pain to the leadership or causing the leadership to seriously sit down and talk about reconciliation and work out arrangements which is going to work for Myanmar because regime change sounds good as a slogan but I don't think it's that good as a policy. It's been tried in Iraq and nobody wants to have an Iraq in Southeast Asia."

For the full report, please click here.

ASEAN Urged to Keep Burma on Agenda

Source: ABC News

The UN's rapporteur on human rights for Burma, Paulo Sergio Pinheiro, has called on the Association of South-East Asian Nations (ASEAN) to maintain its pressure on Burma's military leaders.

Mr Pinheiro has called on next week's ASEAN summit to work for change in Burma, a member of the south-east Asian grouping.

"It is very important that ASEAN continue to highlight the concern about the country about the political situation," he said.

"The key for the solution for a better future in the country, for the political transition process to move ahead, is precisely the concern and the co-ordinated action of the ASEAN members."

For the full report, please click here.

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