Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Burma claims it will release Aung San Suu Kyi

Burma claims it will release Aung San Suu Kyi

Photo: Aung San Suu Kyi is being held under house arrest in the commercial hub Yangon after her detention was extended by another 18 months in August. (AFP) Source: The Daily Telegraph, Nov. 03, 2009:
US diplomats arrive in Burma for talks with junta
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From The Daily Telegraph
Burma claims it will release Aung San Suu Kyi
Published: 7:00AM GMT 10 Nov 2009
"There is a plan to release her soon ... so she can organise her party," Min Lwin, a director-general in the foreign ministry. He gave no details and it was unclear whether Mrs Suu Kyi would be allowed to campaign or stand for election.

Despite the conciliatory remarks, the country's constitution includes provisions that bar her from holding office and ensure the primacy of the government in the military.

The Nobel peace prize winner has spent 14 of the last 20 years under house arrest. In August a court sentenced her to an additional 18 months after an American, John Yettaw, swam across a lake to her villa in Rangoon and stayed overnight.

Burma's junta in the past has raised expectations of Mrs Suu Kyi's imminent release only to dash the hopes of her supporters at home and abroad.

Pro-democracy campaigners cautioned against reading too much into the latest hints on Mrs Suu Kyi's release. "They've been saying these sorts of things for a long time but they have never delivered on them," Anna Roberts, the director of the Burma Campaign UK told the Guardian. "The regime's main concern is get economic sanctions lifted and get approval for the sham elections next year."

Tantalising hints of a possible release for the political prisoner came as Min Lwin was in Manila for a meeting of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean) and the US.
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Diplomat says jailed opposition leader will be allowed to organise her party for elections next year
Excerpt from The Guardian
Burma claims it will release Aung San Suu Kyi
Tuesday, 10 November 2009
In a break with George Bush's policy of isolating the Burmese regime, Barack Obama has decided on a policy of engagment with the junta. Last week the US assistant secretary of state for east Asia, Kurt Campbell, and his deputy, Scott Marciel, became the most senior American officials to visit Burma since 1995, when Madeleine Albright went as Bill Clinton's ambassador to the UN.

Campbell and Marciel held exploratory talks with senior figures in the junta, including the prime minister, Thein Sein, but not Than Shwe, the general who has ruled the country for the last 17 years. They also met Aung San Suu Kyi.

Obama will meet Asean leaders this weekend during the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation forum in Singapore, possibly bringing him into rare contact with Thein Sein. The last US president to meet a Burmese leader was Lyndon Johnson, who held talks with prime minister Ne Win in 1966.
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From The Irrwaddy
China Builds Fence on Part of Burma’s Kachin Border
By WAI MOE, Tuesday, December 23, 2008:
Chinese authorities are building a fence along the Burmese border near Laiza in Kachin State, reportedly to deter drug traffickers.

Awng Wa, of the Kachin Development Networking Group, based on the Sino-Burmese border, told The Irrawaddy on Tuesday that work began on the fence last month. He said it is expected to be at least 10 km long.

“I heard that the Chinese authorities want to complete the construction before the coming Chinese New Year Festival [in late January],” he said.

Awng Wa said that although the Chinese authorities claimed the fence was being built to prevent landslides, the real purpose appeared to be to stem rising drug trafficking across the border.

Authorities in China’s Yunnan Province report that in the three years ending April 2008 they seized 12.9 tons of heroin, 9.3 tons of crystal methamphetamines and 4.5 tons of opium originating in Burma. The heroin amounted to 75 percent of nationwide seizures, the methamphetamines accounted for 55 percent and the opium 87 percent.

The fence is the second to be built by China along its border with Burma. The first, 4 km long, was built near Ruili. A third is planned in the Pangwah pass area, according to sources.

Aung Kyaw Zaw, a Burmese analyst on the Sino-Burma border, said the fences were not expected to disrupt drug trafficking. “The Chinese need to consider the root of the problem,” he said.

China and Burma have a relatively open border of more than 2,000 km, favoring smuggling and drug trafficking, according to Poon Kim Shee, an expert on Sino-Burmese relations.

Cross-border trade was banned by the government of Burmese dictator New Win from 1962 until 1988. The two countries signed an agreement legalizing trade in August 1988.

Since 1988, bilateral trade increased steadily, soaring 60 percent in the fiscal year ending last March 31, reaching a total value of US $2.4 billion.

China is now Burma’s second largest trading partner, after Thailand, and bilateral trade accounts for 24 percent of Burma’s trade.

Burmese exports to China comprise mostly raw materials such as agricultural produce, fish, timber, gems and minerals, while Burma imports Chinese machinery, electronics, processed food and consumer goods.
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Further reading

Online Burma/Myanmar Library

From foes to friends: The changing face of Burma-North Korean relations
Did Foreign Pressure Make Ship Turn Back? 
By LALIT K JHA (WASHINGTON) — Pressure from Burma’s key neighbors including India, China and members countries from the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean) could have persuaded the military junta not to be associated with North Korean nuclear activities at this point of time. The controversial North Korean ship heading for Burma may have been turned around as a result.
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