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Activism and Diplomacy Yield Progress in Myanmar/Burma

November 27, 2009
Activism and Diplomacy Yield Progress in Myanmar/Burma
by Arn Specter, Phila. (Twitter)

The following six (6) articles on Myanmar/Burma in November
help bring us up-to-date on developments there and in the region.
I believe we are seeing progress being made; fruits of our labor,
so to speak, from our activism in recent years to diplomacy by
the US to reprimands by the United Nations, slowly the military
junta is becoming more responsive to meeting and talking with
two US diplomats, Secretary of State Clinton and President Obama...
Some of the European Union 27 member states also spoke up
against the repressive measures of the junta.

Over the last few months we've seen many new developments in Burma.
Aung San Suu Kyi received a visitor, a US man who apparently swan
across a lake to visit with her. (?) She was arrested and charged with
crimes, and convicted, sentenced to another 18 months of house arrest.
Obviously the whole charade was meant to further keep her from participating
in next years elections. The "events" did, however, engender worldwide
media coverage and strong protests which alerted many more people to
the cause of the need for justice and democratic rights for her and the 2,000
Burmese political prisoners.

The US had been keeping firm on a policy of sanctions against the junta
up until those developments. Then, in conjunction with the Obama
administration's policy of bi-lateral diplomacy the US State Department
began more serious overtures to the junta. Meetings were set up and held.
Two senior diplomats, Sec'y of State Hillary Clinton and even President
Obama met with the military leaders and with Aung San Suu Kyi, under the
scrutiny of the media, broadcast worldwide. These were the highest level
meetings between the countries in 14 years.

The US maintained sanctions while requesting an opening of democratic
gestures by the junta to release the political prisoners and Suu Kyi, the
democratically elected president of the National League for Democracy
party, winning the election of 1990. The junta did agree to talk but has not
released any prisoners. Suu Kyi has spent 14 of the last 20 years under
house arrest, a crime against humanity issue that warrants legal attention
by the International Community, and Courts of Justice.

In the meantime an Asian Summit was held in Singapore and the US
lobbied the 10 nations to help lobby the junta. Too, the United Nations
took a stand and passed a resolution denouncing the junta's failure at
maintaining an acceptable level of human rights in the country. Suu Kyi,
for her part, wrote two letters since September to the head of the military government, Than Shwe, spelling out her desire for a lifting of the inter-
national sanctions, a shift from her previous position. It is not known if
she was coerced into making this unusual gesture.

So, we can see that there has been much activity in and about Myanmar/
Burma this month. It would appear that diplomatic progress is being made
thanks to efforts made by many people outside of that country. More
pressure has been applied within diplomatic efforts and resolutions
for the restoration of human rights for the Burmese people. On the local
scene in Philadelphia, Penna. USA a fine Thanksgiving holiday dinner was
held supporting the Burmese refugees and their families, now staying in
the city.
Arn Specter, Phila. (Twitter)

November 11, 2009

Clinton: No Conditions on Myanmar for Better Ties, by Vuay Joshi, AP, Yahoo News. US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said,"the US is now committed to engaging the generals rather than ostracizing them." Last week, two senior US diplomats went to Myanmar for talks with the junta and also had a private meeting with Suu Kyi. It was the highest level US visit to Myanmar in
14 years. Clinto told reporters that China, India and the 10 nation Association of Southeast Asian Nations also must play a greater role in pushing Myanmar's junta toward democracy.

November 11. 2009

US Urges Asian Nations to Push Myanmar on Elections
by Lachian Carmichael, AFP News. Myanmar's generals are preparing to hold the first elections in two decades next year, but democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi has called for a boycott, calling them a sham designed to legitimise the junta.
Clinton said, "It is also important to recognise that left alone the international problems within Burma are not confined within Burma's border, refugees have flowed into Thailand, Malaysis, Indonesia and Australia."

November 15, 2009

Obama Tells Myanmar Junta to Free Suu Kyi by Vuay Joshi, AP Writer
Obama called on Myanmar to free his fellow Nobel Peace laureate Suu Kyi and other political prisoners, and end oppression of minorities. He addressed Thein Sein, top leader of the ruling military, at a summit with leaders of 10 Southeast Asian nations, ASEAN. US made clear that economic snctions won't be lifted unless Suu Kyi is released.

November 20, 2009

Myanmar's Suu Kyi Proposes Cooperation With Junta, AP, Grant Peck in Thailand, NYTimes. "In a letter (dated Nov.11) to junta chief Senior Gen. Than Shwe released Tuesday, Suu Kyi has requested a meeting to explain how she would cooperate in tasks 'beneficial to the country'... too, in Sept. she wrote to Than Shwe have international sanctions eased, an apparent shift in her position...

November 22, 2009

UN Committee Urges Myanmar to Free Suu Kyi, Nov. 20, 2009
"A key UN committee strongly condemned human rights violations in Myanmar and urged the government to release more than 2,000 political prisoners and open the upcoming elections to all political parties." Calls on the government to reveal the whereabouts of people who have been detained or disappered. Sets actions to be taken if planned elections next year are to have any international credibility.

November 27, 2009

Signs Emerge for Progress in Myanmar: EU Envoy, Piero Fassino, Italian Politician, EU Special Envoy to Myanmar. He cites, "a window of opportunity with regards to the Myanmar dossier seems to be opening up as a result of the recent encouraging events'. Also, the new policy of the US to engage the Junta; November letter from Aung San Suu Kyi to the chief of the junta; and a UN commision issued a resolution this month expressing "grave concern" over widespread rights abuses in Myanmar and detention of political prisoners, including Suu Kyi.

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