February 2005


February 27: At least nine ethnic Shan politicians arrested in early February are to be charged Tuesday, according to a senior ethnic leader. They are expected to face charges of treason-with a maximum life sentence-and defamation of the state.
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February 26: Yangon: Delegates to Myanmar’s latest round of constitutional talks have been given a weekend break, with some allowed to return to Yangon to visit their families, a source close to the secretive convention said Saturday.
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The New Light of Myanmar, the Burmese regime’s mouthpiece, is moving north from Rangoon to Pyinmana, a nondescript town in Mandalay Division, according to a reporter from the newspaper, quoting her boss. (more…)

February 27: The sacking in October of Burma’s prime minister and military intelligence chief Gen Khin Nyunt has not only shaken Burma’s ruling military clique, but it has also jeopardized plans to give Rangoon a major facelift before November 2006, when the junta is scheduled to host an Association of Southeast Asian Nations, or Asean, leaders summit. By then, Burma will be Asean’s rotating chairman.
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February 26: Yangon: Myanmar and international scientists have begun a census of whales, dolphins and porpoises in the Bay of Bengal as part of a four-nation survey, the semi-official Myanmar Times reported Saturday.
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February 27: Speculation is rife that Burma’s various opposition groups will coalesce into yet another parallel government. (more…)

February 26: Washington: The United States expressed concern Friday that an upcoming inaugural leaders’ meeting of East Asian countries could become an “exclusive” and “inward looking” grouping.
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Kuala Lumpur: Hundreds of Southeast Asian migrants gathered outside the UN office in Malaysia Monday hoping to win temporary refugee status while thousands of others went into hiding ahead of a crackdown on illegal immigrants, officials said.
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Thai authorities have reissued work permits to some 130 Burmese migrant workers who survived the tsunami which hit southwestern Thailand. The workers comprise only a fraction of an unofficially estimated 31,000 registered Burmese workers-mainly fishermen-said to have been in southern Phang Nga Province before the December 26 tsunami.
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Chittagong: Implementation of the Tri-nations gas pipeline project agreed among Burma, Bangladesh and India would be a risk for Bangladesh, said speakers at a roundtable held in Dhaka yesterday, said a report.
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Washington: The United States on Monday voiced disappointment at China’s human rights progress in 2004, and warned that the situation worsened in Myanmar, in a sweeping global report that hit hard at several Asian nations.
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February 27: Washington: As Myanmar’s military junta held secretive talks at home to frame a constitution as part of its so-called roadmap for democracy, dissidents backed by the United States met in Washington during the weekend pushing for the regime’s ouster.
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Ethnic ceasefire groups said Friday they were still waiting for a regime response to their joint proposal for changes to the National Convention’s agenda.
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Myanmar’s military rulers Friday praised the “active role” of their hand-picked delegates to constitutional talks, but gave few details of the internationally condemned convention that resumed last week.
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Bangladesh and Burma agreed to set up a joint commission to strengthen trade and economic between two countries.
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Exiled Burmese pro-democracy leaders say the country’s efforts to draft a national constitution are falling far short of the military government’s stated goal of fostering genuine democracy. In Washington Wednesday, the Voice of America hosted a panel discussion of Burma’s, also called Myanmar’s, constitutional process, which is moving forward without the participation of major opposition groups.
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Campaigners crank up pressure on oil companies over ties with regime linked with human rights abuses and imprisonment of opposition politicians
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So-called democracy under authoritarian regimes has had many colorful names. Chile had “protected democracy.” In Suharto’s Indonesia, it was “guided democracy.” In Libya, it was called “managed democracy.” In Burma, under Ne Win it was labeled “democratic socialism” under one-party rule.
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Prime Minister Soe Win may follow predecessor Khin Nyunt into the wilderness
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Maria Ruiz knew pro-democracy campaigners were urging tourists to stay away from Myanmar, but the lure of a country that promises a glimpse into a time gone by in Asia proved too great.
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