Monday, October 22nd, 2007


October 23, 2007 – 6:04AM: Burma has agreed to a visit by the United Nations expert on human rights there, who has not been allowed into the country for four years, UN spokeswoman Michele Montas says.
In a letter to Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon on Friday, Foreign Minister Nyan Win suggested that the visit by special rapporteur Paulo Sergio Pinheiro take place before a summit of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations scheduled to open on November 17, Montas told a news briefing.
Pinheiro, a Geneva-based Brazilian law professor who reports to the UN Human Rights Council, visited Burma six times after being asked to check on its human rights performance in 2000.
But he has not been allowed back since November 2003, despite repeated requests.

http://www.smh.com.au/news/World/Human-rights-expert-to-visit-Burma-UN/2007/10/23/1192941016240.html

Having traveled through countries suffering under harsh authoritarian regimes, I wasn’t surprised by much on my first trip to Burma, roughly ten years ago. There were the requisite thuggish military men in reflective shades patrolling the airports, the giant signs warning people to crush all internal and external destructive elements. But the booksellers of Rangoon took me aback. The main roads of Burma’s largest city are lined with bookstalls hawking tattered versions of British novels, ancient copies of National Geographic, and dog-eared reprints of political philosophy texts. Over many subsequent visits to Burma, I began to see the booksellers as emblematic of a deep-seated national hunger for education and dialogue, for contact with the outside world, and for a voice in the debate about the country’s future.
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Are the United Nations and its agencies becoming part of the problem rather than the solution in Myanmar? That is what many Myanmar people are asking themselves as UN Special envoy Ibrahim Gambari appears to be a lame duck, unable to persuade the ruling generals to agree to anything more than appointing a deputy labor minister, Brigadier-General Aung Kyi, to “liaise” with detained pro-democracy leader, Aung San Suu Kyi.
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The Burmese junta has taken a typically hard-line stance in the state-run media following US president George W Bush putting additional sanctions on Burma, specifically targeting the junta’s officials and their cronies.
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Anger among people in Myanmar against the military government has reached a new level and that could be a precursor to more unrest, a U.S.-based academic said on Monday following a six-day visit to the country.
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The Burmese are watching the calendar with apprehension.
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Members of the National League for Democracy in Taungup have claimed they were tortured at an interrogation centre before being given prison sentences, according to sources close to the detainees’ families.
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A proposed dam project on the Irrawaddy River by China and the Burmese military junta threatens to displace ten of thousands of people in the project area, Kachin environmental activist groups said.
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Four ethnic ceasefire groups, including the United State Wa Army, have issued a statement criticizing the Burmese military government’s crackdown on peaceful protesters, but welcoming the United Nations’ role as mediator in helping to find a solution to the conflict in Burma. However, they condemned the international community’s response in imposing sanctions on Burma and said they  strongly disagreed with the proposed boycott of the Olympic Games due to be held in China in August 2008.
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Though residents were being forced to denounce the recent protests led by monks and NLD members by the Township Peace and Development Council (TPDC) in Mon state of Burma, they did not support the move.
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Five women who recently arrived at the Thai border town of Mae Sot have spoken to The Irrawaddy about why they had to flee Burma in fear of their lives.
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Tay Za, the tycoon behind three Singapore-linked firms placed under fresh US sanctions against Myanmar, is a charismatic close associate of the ruling junta, observers say.
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She’s affectionately known as Yai Elle or Yai Aew – or Grandmother Aew – among this city’s rough and tumble, narcotics-peddling youth gangs. For more than a decade, Laddawan Chaininpun, 62, has worked to help rehabilitate Chiang Mai’s gangs and in the process has won many of their trust.
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Myanmar resolution must come from Asia Singapore Problems in Myanmar will not stop the Association of South-East Asian Nations from signing the ASEAN Charter, Singapore Foreign Minister George Yeo said Monday.
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A United Nations envoy visited India on Monday, hoping to rouse the world’s largest democracy from its relative silence over the violent crackdown on pro-democracy protests by the military government in neighboring Myanmar.
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Following the recent announcement by President Bush of heightened sanctions against the Burmese junta and their supporters, United States politicians from across the political spectrum have been quick to voice their support for increased pressure on the generals.
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Moscow expects that progress will be reached in the democratization process in Myanmar, and that stability will be maintained inside the country, sources from the Russian Foreign Ministry said on Monday, commenting on a decision by the Myanmar government to set up a commission to prepare a draft constitution.
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Unanimity of purpose across the region, argues Michael Vatikiotis, is the best way forward towards the future of Myanmar
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In 1988, the people of Burma, now called Myanmar, began a nonviolent struggle for democracy and were met with gunfire. I was working for U.S. Senator Pat Moynihan, about the only prominent American to notice then what was happening in that isolated country. One day, after the Senate passed its first-ever resolution on Burma, a photo arrived in our office showing a column of Burmese marching with a banner reading, “Thank you Senator Moynihan.” The United States was proud but profoundly sad. It knew that its meager words could not keep those brave people from being killed or their movement from being crushed.
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US President George Bush has imposed additional sanctions on Burma, requiring the US Treasury Department to freeze the assets held in the US by 11 more high-ranking members of the military regime.
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