1. Ban Warns Junta of Costly Isolation
2. Ban Ki-Moon Leaves Burma Disappointed
3. UN's Ban Ki-moon under fire for praising Burma leaders
Ban Warns Junta of Costly Isolation
By LALIT K JHA Tuesday, July 7, 2009
Washington – Expressing deep disappointment at the failure to make any
headway with the leaders of the military junta, UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon
has warned Burma of “costly isolation” if it sticks with its current policy
and ignores the concerns of the international community.
Briefing reporters on Ban’s trip to Burma last week, his spokeswoman,
Michele Montas, said on Monday that the Secretary General was deeply
disappointed that Senior General Than Shwe had refused his request to see
Aung San Suu Kyi.
UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon answers to journalists' questions during a
press conference at Suvarnabhumi international airport on July 04, 2009 in
Bangkok. (Photo: Getty Images)
“Allowing a visit, he said, would have been an important symbol of the
Government's willingness to embark on the kind of meaningful engagement that
will be essential if the elections in 2010 are to be seen as credible,”
Even as Ban observed that the junta had failed to take a unique opportunity
to show its commitment to a new era of political openness, Montas said the
Secretary General feels that his visit enabled him to convey the concerns of
the international community very frankly and directly to the military
government, and he outlined his proposals for progress while he was there.
“Among those proposals are the release of Daw Aung San Suu Kyi and all
political prisoners without delay, so that they can be allowed to
participate freely in the political process,” Montas said.
Meanwhile the US Campaign for Burma announced that Ban’s Burma policy is
“fundamentally flawed” and demanded immediate action by the Security Council
in a press release on Monday.
“Ban not only failed to obtain the release of the world's only imprisoned
Nobel Peace Prize recipient Aung San Suu Kyi, or even a single political
prisoner (out of the country’s 2,100) in Burma, but he also failed to even
secure a meeting with her,” the statement said.
"For over a decade, the UN Secretary-General has sent envoys to Burma
seeking changes in the country, a policy used by China and Russia as an
excuse to avoid action on Burma at the UN Security Council. Finally, the
world can see how this process is fundamentally flawed—without strong action
by the UN Security Council, even the UN Secretary-General himself has
failed," said Aung Din, executive director of US Campaign for Burma.
During his Burma trip last week, Ban met Senior General Than Shwe. "The
United Nations must not allow its credibility to be destroyed by a two-bit
dictator like Than Shwe," Aung Din said.
"It is time for Ban Ki-moon to ask the UN Security Council to pass a global
arms embargo against Burma's military regime, while at the same time
initiating an inquiry into crimes against humanity and war crimes committed
by Than Shwe's regime,” he said.
Noting that the United Nations has used arms embargoes in numerous cases to
press for change in particular countries, notably against apartheid-era
South Africa in the 1970s and 1980s, the US Campaign for Burma said a recent
report commissioned by five of the world's leading judges and jurists found
widespread evidence suggesting that Burma's military regime has been
carrying out crimes against humanity and war crimes against its own
Two weeks ago, nearly 60 members of the U.S. House of Representatives wrote
to President Obama urging him to take action on crimes against humanity in
Burma at the UN Security Council.
Ban Ki-Moon Leaves Burma Disappointed
By Robert Horn Sunday, Jul. 05, 2009
Before it began, United Nations officials had described U.N.
Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon's visit to Burma as a diplomatically risky
mission that could end in failure. After it ended, following two days in
Burma and two rare and lengthy meetings with General Than Shwe, the
reclusive leader of the country's military government, Ban had come away
with nothing concrete to show for his venture. His requests to meet
imprisoned Nobel Peace Prize winner Aung San Suu Kyi were rejected. His
pleas for the government to release its 2,000-plus political prisoners were
ignored. "I believe the government of Myanmar failed to take a unique
opportunity to show its commitment to a new era of openness," Ban told
reporters at Bangkok's international airport Saturday night.
Burma, which the ruling junta has renamed Myanmar, hasn't seen anything
resembling openness for nearly five decades, having been ruled by military
regimes since 1962. Its generals have isolated the country, ground it into
poverty and brutally suppressed periodic mass uprisings in support of
democracy — the last, in 2007, was led by Buddhist monks who were gunned
down or arrested. The regime says it will hold national elections in 2010,
but many observers say they are designed to cement military rule under a
civilian guise. The democracy movement's leader, Aung San Suu Kyi, has been
kept under house arrest for 13 of the past 18 years. The regime has now put
her on what U.S. President Barack Obama has called a "show trial" for
violating the terms of her house arrest after an American man broke into her
home, claiming he had visions she would be assassinated. She faces a
five-year prison sentence if convicted. Even Burma's normally circumspect
neighbors in the Association of Southeast Asian Nations have criticized the
regime over the trial and Suu Kyi's never-ending imprisonment. (See pictures
of foreign investment in Burma.)
During his first meeting with Than Shwe, Ban asked for permission to see Suu
Kyi. Than Shwe refused. The U.N.'s top diplomat said the success or failure
of his mission should not be judged solely on the benchmark of meeting Aung
San Suu Kyi, though he lamented that it would have been "an important symbol
of the government's willingness to embark on the kind of meaningful
engagement" that would lend credibility to the elections. Ban said his
mission served the purpose of allowing him to convey what the international
community and the United Nations expects from the regime, like progress
toward democracy, directly to the country's leader. He said he did this "as
strongly as possible, as hard as I could press." He believes, he said, that
Than Shwe will "seriously consider" his proposals for making national
elections scheduled for 2010 "credible, inclusive and legitimate."
Democracy activists remain unconvinced. "The regime thumbed its nose at the
entire U.N. system," says Debbie Stothard of ALTSEAN, a Southeast Asia–based
network of activist groups campaigning for democracy and human rights in
Burma. "It's time for the international community and the U.N. to take off
the kid gloves. It's time the international community stopped regarding
crimes against humanity, repression and human-rights violations as normal
for Burma. The regime didn't fail to take this opportunity, it refused to."
Ban's optimism going into last week's meeting probably sprung from his
limited success with Than Shwe during a previous meeting in 2008, convincing
him to allow outside humanitarian assistance into the country after Cyclone
Nargis. But he is far from the first diplomat to fail to persuade Burma's
generals to entertain any serious notion of real political reform. Going
forward, Ban said he would brief the U.N. on the visit, and the organization
would monitor the regime's progress on his proposals, which he did not
outline in detail, save for saying election laws and an election commission
should be established, and that all political prisoners should be released
and all political parties be allowed to participate in the 2010 polls.
Stothard says the regime fears a Security Council inquiry into war crimes
and crimes against humanity. Burma has been engaged in a civil war with
various ethnic groups since 1948, although some have signed cease-fire
agreements with the government. The regime has been accused of torturing its
political prisoners. But China and Russia have opposed any Security Council
action on Burma. China, which views Burma as a resource-rich, strategically
important client state, is seen as the regime's strongest backer in the
international community. "It's time China realized that having instability
on its border with Burma is not in its best interests," Stothard says,
adding that tensions were increasing between the military and ethnic armies
in Burma based near the China border. (Read "The Scramble for a Piece of
Russia's expanding trade with Burma includes an agreement to sell the
poverty-stricken nation a nuclear research reactor, and the regime has also
been bolstering ties with North Korea, receiving arms shipments from its
sister Asian pariah state, and employing North Korean engineers to build
massive underground bunkers at its fortress-like capital of Naypyidaw.
Ban stressed that he would remain focused on the situation, and said he
expected the government "to demonstrate real progress in the near future."
Real progress, however, hasn't been seen in Burma since 1962. And contempt
for the U.N. is nothing new among Burma's generals. A Burmese, U Thant,
served as U.N. Secretary-General for 10 years, from 1961 to 1971. When he
died in 1974 and his body was flown back to Burma, leader General Ne Win,
the mentor of current ruler Than Shwe, refused U Thant a state funeral or
any honors whatsoever.
UN's Ban Ki-moon under fire for praising Burma leaders
* Julian Borger, diplomatic editor
* guardian.co.uk, Friday 3 July 2009 19.24 BST
The UN secretary general, Ban Ki-moon, faced a barrage of criticism tonight
for apparently praising the Burmese junta without winning any concessions
over human rights or a move towards democracy.
Ban was under pressure to produce concrete results from his two-day mission
to Burma, which was criticised as providing an endorsement to the Burmese
leadership just as it is staging a trial of the opposition leader, Aung San
The high-stakes visit to Burma comes at a critical time for Ban, whose
low-key approach to his job has been criticised as ineffectual. He came
under further fire on arrival in Naypyidaw, the regime's headquarters, when
he told the head of the junta, General Than Shwe: "I appreciate your
commitment to moving your country forward."
"That is absolute nonsense," said Brad Adams, a Burma specialist at Human
Rights Watch. "It's just what we implored him not to say, to make these
diplomatic gaffes. Than Shwe has steadily moved his country backwards."
British officials were also furious at the remarks. They had urged Ban not
to visit Burma, and risk handing the junta a propaganda prize with his
visit, without first ensuring he would gain concessions in the form of the
release of political prisoners and steps towards genuine democracy.
"Only agreement to release all political prisoners [and] start a genuine
dialogue with the opposition and ethnic groups will give any credibility to
the elections in 2010," Gordon Brown said in an article in the US online
magazine The Huffington Post. According to No 10, Brown calls Ban at least
twice a week to discuss Burma.
"I hope that Ban Ki-moon can convince the generals to take the first steps,"
Brown said. "A serious offer is on the table: the international community
will work with Burma if the generals are prepared to embark on a genuine
transition to democracy. But if the Burmese regime refuses to engage, the
international community must be prepared to respond robustly."
However, Than Shwe said little at his meeting with Ban, and did not grant
the secretary general's request to meet Suu Kyi in prison. Ban expressed
hope that a meeting could still be permitted.
"I am leaving tomorrow, so logically speaking I am waiting for a reply
before my departure," he said. The secretary general added that he had
called for the release of all political prisoners before the elections, but
got no response. He said Than Shwe had assured him, however, that the vote
had been "fair, free and transparent".
However, Adams said: "The benchmark for success can't be what it was in the
past. A meeting with Than Shwe is not a success. Even a meeting with Suu Kyi
shouldn't be counted as a success, if all it means is she goes from being in
jail back to being under house arrest.
"We have cautioned against this trip because it seems to be a trip for its
own sake without any prospect of success."
Suu Kyi, a Nobel peace laureate, is on trial because an American supporter
entered her compound, breaking the terms of her house arrest. Suu Kyi's
lawyers said the man swam to the compound without her permission and had
been urged to leave. The trial was adjourned yesterday until 10 July.
I admire the people of Iran and their bravery. My heart goes out to them and
I stand with them. The regime in Iran can run, but they can no longer hide.
Shall the peoples' power prevail over the brutal oppressors all over the
world. Freedom comes to Iran!
Besides, I am all too familiar with the events taking place in Iran (as we
speak), and I could no way differentiate the people's struggle there from
our own. Neda is my hero too and reminds me of young students: Win Maw
Oo, Phone Maw (and many more) silenced by bullets that I salute and
admire. The massive and peaceful protests in Iran reminds me of 1988 and
2007 nation-wide protests in Burma silenced by guns. The message "Free Iran"
reminds me of our own, "Free Burma." And I could keep going on..
These are after all
human struggles or the peoples' struggles to live in freedom
triggered and motivated by oppression and manipulation by the power-crazy
rulers. All humans are born free and have the the pure will to live free.
They will rise up if oppressed. Therefore, any struggle to live in freedom
any where on the face of this earth is
human struggles and is my struggle, your struggle and ours struggle.
Therefore, we must support anyway we can to help bring more freedom to the
people of Iran.
Threats, warnings, beatings, shootings, killings and brutal crackdowns
against unarmed protesters, activists and journalists are pure evil and
unacceptable. Please do what you can to stop it. In fact, please support the
people of Iran by joining the protests in the Bay Area or in your area. One
good place to get the announcements is a face book group called "Bay Area
for Iran". They have the protest today (below, but sorry for the last
Free Iran! Free Burma!
The National Editorial: UN should treat Burma as it has North Korea
NY Times Contributor: Free Aung San Suu Kyi
NEWSWEEK: ‘The Lady’
And The Tramp
Choosing the Right Battle
UN should treat Burma as it has North Korea
Security Council's new-found unity shows it can overcome its
After long and
excruciating negotiations over the new sanctions by the United Nations
Security Council to punish North Korea for its nuclear-weapons test,
once again the council has shown its ability to act in response to a
crisis that genuinely threatens global peace and stability. What
Pyongyang has done has so rubbed the raw nerves of key players that they
are acting with common positions and standards. It is rare indeed for
them to agree on common retaliation against North Korea's stubbornness.
This time the harsher sanctions are more targeted, including weapons
exports and financial transactions. Furthermore, the resolution allows
inspections in port and on the high seas of ships suspected of carrying
nuclear technology. It urges North Korea to return to the six-party
talks immediately without conditions and abandon its nuclear ambitions.
This shows the determination of the 15-member council to adhere to its
Unfortunately, the same thing cannot be said of the council's
attitude towards Burma and its continued oppression of its citizens.
Although the council adopted a non-binding resolution last month in
response to the continued detention and farcical trial of Aung San Suu
Kyi, it still lacks the teeth to punish one of the world's worst
regimes. Like North Korea, Burma's military leaders know how to test the
water and push the envelope. They have succeeded before, knowing full
well that the council, with its different players and national
interests, will never agree on a common plan of action. Worse, the
council's attention span is usually brief given the myriad global issues
For the time being, the Burmese junta is obviously correct in its
assessment. Despite some bridging of the gap between members preferring
tougher sanctions and those advocating a softer approach, the council
does not see eye to eye on reprimanding Burma. Of course, the five
permanent members have something to do with this. Previously, both China
and Russia opposed any attempt by the council to punish Burma for nearly
two decades of continued intransigence. They have since ameliorated
their positions but are no nearer uniting with the other members to
deliver a stronger message.
Obviously the junta leaders are now playing hide and seek, testing
the international community's determination and the sustainability of
Asean positions against them, as witness their attempt to
create havoc along the Thai border following Thailand's growing
assertiveness by attacking minority groups so as to scarce the Thai
security forces. This pattern of diplomatic brinksmanship has worked for
the junta all along. If the international community, particularly the
council, remains divided, pariah states can continue to exploit it. The
new sanctions against North Korea are a case in point.
Burma has delayed the trial of Suu Kyi for an additional two weeks.
Of course, the junta is watching closely how the international community
reacts to the ongoing court case and to her plight. International
pressure has increased by the day. Major world leaders have spoken in
support of her and called for her release.
Asean has been firm. Burma's continued attack on Thailand
Asean chair is aimed at undermining its position as such.
It is to be hoped that
Asean positions will be bolstered by increasing support
from the international community.
The North Koreans and the Burmese have suffered tremendously because
of their leaders. Both countries have spent heavily on arms and left
their citizens starving in the expectation of foreign assistance. The
Burmese have risen several times since 1988 demanding democratic change
and been violently put down. This could happen again due to economic
hardship and rising fuel prices. The North Koreans have yet to do this.
It is pivotal that when the council puts its mind to fighting pariah
states such as North Korea and Burma it is intelligent and united,
otherwise it will be manipulated and exploited, especially when there
are cracks in its ranks. It backed Friday's tough sanctions against
North Korea; it is to be hoped that in the near future it will do the
same in the case of Burma.
NY Times: Op-Ed Contributor
Free Aung San Suu Kyi
PARIS — “Freedom from fear.” These words, uttered by Daw Aung San Suu
Kyi in 1990, resound more than ever as a call for help at a time when
the Burmese junta has initiated proceedings against her that are as
absurd as they are unjustified. We are not fooled: This is a poor
pretext to prevent her from participating in the upcoming elections.
“Freedom from fear.” How can one not cry out for freedom for this
great lady, Nobel Peace Prize winner in 1991? I met her in Yangon at the
end of 2002, just a few months before her endless enforced isolation
began. Since her arrest on Thursday, May 14, the thoughts of all those
who admire and support her are with the “Lady of Yangon,” a woman full
of dignity and finesse, energy and calm, intelligence and compassion.
“Freedom from fear.” It was the living incarnation of these few words
who appeared before an audience both mesmerized and awed by this living
legend. Her every word was heard by a silent, respectful public, a
public that did not dare to sit while she spoke. Simple, yet firm words.
Innocent words. Calm and fearless words.
For over 20 years, Ms. Aung San Suu Kyi has been struggling in
silence and with unshakeable courage, supported by the conviction that
“it is not power that corrupts, but fear. Fear of losing power corrupts
those who wield it, and fear of the scourge of power corrupts those who
are subject to it.” For over 20 years, her refusal of fear accompanies
us, mobilizes us, forces us to defend her against a despicable regime.
How can one accept that a woman, whom some call the Gandhi of Burma,
could be considered a criminal so dangerous that she must be kept away
from all contact with the rest of humanity? For six years, this
incredibly determined woman has been under house arrest. She lives in
the sole company of two companions in misfortune. Six years of an
enforced isolation, even crueler than prison. Six years with no outside
contact other than sporadic medical visits, before the arrest of her
doctor; or, even more rarely, a meeting with a diplomat.
Six years of isolation, but in reality 19 years of deprivation of
freedom. Since the 1990 elections, which saw the victory of the
opposition and which should have made her the leader of her country, the
junta has deprived the Burmese people of their rights. Freedom has fled
this country. For 19 years, the “Lady of Yangon” has known only brief
moments of freedom. Her husband died before she could see him again.
This inhumane isolation could have ended on May 27, with the official
end of her house arrest, if new proceedings had not been initiated
against her under false pretenses. Once again, Ms. Aung San Suu Kyi is
being persecuted, even though her health is deteriorating and she risks
being sentenced to five years of imprisonment, which she may not
The Burmese regime cannot continue to turn a deaf ear to the appeals
from all over Europe, America and Asia calling for her release and that
of other political prisoners. It cannot ignore indefinitely the demand
made with a single voice by the Asia-Europe Ministerial Meeting on May
26 in Hanoi, or the call for dialogue in Myanmar launched a few days
earlier, in an unprecedented gesture, by the Association of Southeast
Asian Nations — an organization of which Myanmar is a member.
I reiterate forcefully that the release of Ms. Aung San Suu Kyi is a
matter of urgency, as Chancellor Angela Merkel and President Nicolas
Sarkozy strongly reminded us at their joint press conference on
Thursday. Only dialogue with the opposition will bestow legitimacy on
the upcoming 2010 elections.
Twenty years after the elections that saw the victory of the National
League for Democracy, these elections are vital for the future of this
martyred country. Myanmar can no longer remain isolated from the rest of
the world. On the contrary, it must rejoin the rest of the world, and
the international community is ready to help.
As a start, the military junta should admit that no solution can be
found without including Ms. Aung San Suu Kyi in the electoral process.
Senior General Than Shwe must understand that she is his best asset to
guarantee the unity, the stability and finally the prosperity of the
country, and that she is not a threat to his power. If the generals were
to listen to the Burmese people, they would in turn free themselves from
the fear that their people instill in them.
The Missouri misfit who helped bring down Burma's future.
From the magazine issue dated Jun 22, 2009
For years, John Yettaw had experienced visions that warned him of events
to come. Sometimes the Missouri resident ignored them and came to regret
it. This time, though, he intended to act. In early 2009, the
53-year-old told friends and family that he had seen himself as a man
sent by God to protect the life of a beloved foreign leader. He arranged
for his kids to stay with a friend, borrowed money to buy a plane ticket
and printed new business cards, as if launching a new life. He seemed
calm at first, spending hours at the local Hardee's, where he used the
free Wi-Fi to download music—Gladys Knight, Michael Bublé—and Mormon
sermons from Salt Lake City. But as his flight date approached, he also
showed signs of nervousness. He broke down on the shoulder of his best
friend, and didn't sleep at all on his last night at home.
after 3 a.m. on April 15, he woke his son Brian, 17, and his three
younger children for a family prayer, and piled them into a minivan for
the hourlong drive to the airport. Unlike the backpack tour Yettaw had
taken through Asia late last year, this trip would propel him into the
heart of Burma's repressive regime and an ongoing crackdown on
dissidents that has drawn condemnation from Barack Obama and United
Nations Secretary--General Ban Ki-moon, among others. On the 20th, he
flew to Bangkok, where he spent a week waiting for his Burmese visa and
sending whimsical e-mails home, including a final cheerful message:
"Pray. Study peace. Live calmness. Kindness toward everyone. Love and
The next word the family got regarding Yettaw came in a 5 a.m. phone
call from the consulate at the U.S. Embassy in Rangoon. He had been
arrested just past dawn on May 6, seized as he kicked through the soupy
brown waters of Inya Lake, a man-made reservoir some four miles from his
hotel. He had made an unauthorized and uninvited two-day visit to the
weathered colonial-style home of Aung San Suu Kyi, the Nobel
Prize–winning leader of Burma's pro-democracy movement. Suu Kyi says
that she asked Yettaw to leave, but relented when he complained of
hunger and exhaustion. "The Lady," as locals call her, trounced
opponents in the country's last open election in 1990, but the junta
refused to recognize the results, and has kept her under arrest for 13
of the past 19 years for trying to unseat the regime. She was due to be
released on May 27, ahead of next year's landmark national elections—the
first in two decades. But now Suu Kyi, the Oxford-educated daughter of
Burmese revolutionary Aung San, faces five more years for violating the
terms of her imprisonment and breaking the country's law forbidding
unregistered guests from staying overnight.
Yettaw, too, is on trial for charges including "illegal swimming" and
breaching security laws; judging from the line of questioning in court,
Burmese authorities suspect he intended to help Suu Kyi escape. At the
start of the legal proceedings last month, they presented two black
chadors, two long skirts, three pairs of sunglasses, six colored
pencils, flares, flashlights and a pair of pliers as evidence of a
getaway plot. Yettaw was also carrying empty jugs he used for buoyancy,
and a camera wrapped in plastic with a picture of the improvised
flippers he used for the mile-long swim. Since his arrest, he has been
held in Insein (pronounced "insane") Prison. If convicted, he faces as
many as five years behind bars—perhaps more if he is found guilty of
trying to spring Suu Kyi. Both he and his host (Suu Kyi's lawyer says,
"This is a political case, not a criminal one") have pleaded not guilty.
"He had no criminal intent," Yettaw's lawyer, Khin Maung Oo, told
newsweek, adding that the only charge he should face is "lurking
house-trespass," a lesser crime on the books in Burma. "He has no
relationship with anything political. His only mission was to save her."
A troubled dreamer who lives down two miles of gravel road in
Missouri's backwoods and didn't have a passport until last spring,
Yettaw is an unlikely protagonist on the international political stage.
Why he made his move, and who, if anyone, encouraged it are questions
clouded by conspiracy theories and confounding reports about the man and
his motives. The junta believes that antigovernment activists used
Yettaw to embarrass its leaders, while Suu Kyi's supporters say that the
government used the quixotic American as a pretense for keeping their
best-known critic under house arrest rather than risk igniting the
opposition ahead of the 2010 elections.
Yettaw's friends and family tell a different story, describing a
well-intentioned and highly spiritual person whose struggles with
alcoholism and mental illness may have pushed him into history's path.
"I don't think he's well," says Yvonne Yettaw, the third of his four
wives—echoing the sentiments of other loved ones who believe that he may
suffer from untreated bipolar and posttraumatic stress disorders. The
only problem is neither Yvonne nor anybody else seems to fully
understand the often secretive father of seven. As a result, they offer
contradictory, incomplete and occasionally fantastical ideas about what
Yettaw was up to.
Betty, Yettaw's fourth and current wife, believes he was compelled by
God, but also wanted to interview Suu Kyi for a book he is writing about
how people recover from trauma. ("If they let her go, he'd never get to
see her," Betty says.) Ex-wife Yvonne says the Burma trip was about
business: her ex-husband and Suu Kyi, she heard incorrectly, had
coauthored a book together. And a close friend of Yettaw's—who requested
anonymity owing to the sensitivity of the family's situation—says that
John uncovered Burmese (and Chinese) state secrets that compelled him to
act. "If they knew, they'd kill him," the friend says ominously. Brian
and Carley, his 20-year-old daughter, say their father was going to warn
Suu Kyi that her life was in danger following a tip-off from God—an
account that roughly matches Yettaw's testimony that "terrorists" were
going to assassinate her and blame the government.
The facts of Yettaw's life are also murky, even to his family. After
years of his erratic behavior and unsatisfying explanations, they have
come to accept him the way he is—bighearted but unsteady. This is what
they've been told (although aside from Yettaw's birthplace and his
military records, little can be independently verified): he and a twin
sister were born in a Detroit housing project in 1955—the youngest of
five siblings and the only ones to survive into adulthood (an older
sister died in a swimming accident, a brother committed suicide in a
mental hospital and another sister was born with severe handicaps and
died in an institution). As a 7- or 8-year-old, he has told family, he
was molested by a volunteer "big brother" after his father left home,
before his mother's drinking cost her custody. Sent to live with
relatives in California, Yettaw ran away from home at 16 and lived in
his car until he was old enough to join the Army in 1973. His family
believes that Yettaw did a combat stint somewhere in Asia during the
Vietnam War; he told them that his time there brought on bouts of PTSD.
The military's National Personnel Records Center, however, says that he
spent 10 months in Germany before being discharged in 1974 after little
more than a year of service.
Back in the United States, an unplanned pregnancy led to a quickie
marriage at 20, a divorce two years later and a decade of drinking,
according to Yvonne. Yettaw married again in his mid-20s, only to
divorce seven years later. He met Yvonne, the mother of six of his seven
children, at a church singles event shortly after his conversion to
Mormonism in his early 30s. Yettaw liked the church's belief in
conversions for the dead because he wanted to reunite with his whole
family in the afterlife, she says. Around the same time, he experienced
the first in a series of visions: a dream that his father, whom Yettaw
had not heard from since John was 2, was in Falcon, Mo. Remarkably, he
was in fact living in Falcon, and John soon moved Yvonne and his
children nearby. Things looked up for a while. But over the next few
years, personal tragedies pulled Yettaw's life in strange new
directions, and ultimately toward Burma.
After a house fire and a messy divorce from Yvonne, Yettaw found
himself living in a trailer on his property, where a veritable Noah's
Ark of trash began to accumulate on the lawn: two broken-down cars, two
derelict trucks, two rusted satellite dishes and a pair of portable
basketball hoops that still stand in the tall, tick-infested grass. Debt
began to snowball, as Yettaw pursued increasingly impractical dreams. He
started driving a USA Tours bus in part to ferry soldiers from their
homes to nearby Fort Leonard Wood, began work on a 6,000-square-foot
turreted home and started putting up drifters in a local hotel.
A darker side also emerged. He put his thumb through a man's eye
during a fight in a bar parking lot, say Brian and Yvonne, and,
according to police records, spat in the face of a woman who accused him
of taking her car. (Although no charges were filed, Yettaw admitted to
the spitting, and the woman won a restraining order against him.) In
1997 he graduated cum laude from Drury University with a triple major in
psychology, criminal justice and biology, only to be forced from a
doctoral program at the Springfield, Mo.–based Forest Institute's School
of Professional Psychology in 2007. According to family, he was
"blacklisted" for exploding at a professor during a field trip to an
area mental hospital. (Forest officials declined to comment, citing
privacy regulations.) Determined to get back on track, he was set to
speak with school officials at the institute on the very day a far worse
crisis engulfed the family.
Before dawn on Aug. 2, 2007, 17-year-old Clint Yettaw was speeding on
his Yamaha 650—a bike his father got him for his birthday the previous
summer. Clint hit a deer at such a fatal velocity, according to police,
that he split the animal in two. Yettaw blamed himself for failing to
act on a premonition of Clint's death a few weeks earlier. He buried his
son in the front yard, in a plain grave surrounded by cinder blocks. It
was a pivotal event for Yettaw, who soon decided he needed a break. "He
was like, 'Get me away from here'," says Betty.
In May 2008, he and Brian headed to Asia for a six-month tour, where
Yettaw's fascination with Suu Kyi began. After Brian returned to school
in early September, Yettaw headed to Mae Sot, a relaxed and slightly
untidy Thai town known for drugs, human trafficking and other shady
activities. Located on the Moei River across from the Burmese town of
Myawaddy, Mae Sot is filled with agents of the Burmese military who mix
in with the general population. "There's all kinds of intrigue going
on," says Aung Zaw, editor of The Irrawaddy, an expatriate
Burmese magazine published in Chiang Mai, in northern Thailand.
Yettaw knocked around town for a few weeks, taking a second-floor
room in a cheap hotel. He also picked up a motorcycle and a Thai
companion, according to the hotel owner, who ate with his Missouri guest
almost every day. It was then—late September through early November
2008—that Yettaw began to get political, says the owner. He "talked
about Aung San Suu Kyi and said Myanmar [the name the junta gave Burma]
would never be a true democracy without her. He said he really needed to
do something to better bring the world's attention to The Lady and
Myanmar." Yettaw was making the rounds of a few NGOs in Thailand, trying
unsuccessfully to get them to accept him as a kind of adjunct staff
member, according to a relief worker who, like others interviewed for
this story, requested anonymity out of fear of government retaliation.
Another relief worker described Yettaw as "delusional," "unstable" and
"hyperactive." "He's a nice person, well intentioned; he's not going to
hurt you," the person says, but "he was saying, 'God told me this; God
told me that'." It's hard to know for sure what happened next. It's
possible that Yettaw acted alone, or else took an innocent conversation
to be something more. But some time in October, he told the hotel owner
about another dream, a vision of himself as a champion of the
downtrodden. Then he disappeared, leaving behind an unpaid bill. He
resurfaced in Bangkok on Oct. 27 to collect a Burmese visa, government
records show, and flew to Rangoon on Nov. 7.
Three weeks later, on Nov. 30, according to court testimony, he made
the first of his two attempts to reach Suu Kyi's house by swimming
across the lake, but was turned away by her two on-site companions. At
home in Missouri the next month, he told family that he had been
captured at gunpoint on his way back from her house, but was released
after authorities bought his story about having been fishing. (Burmese
authorities have apparently not raised this point at the trial, and
would not comment further.) Upset that he had been so close to Suu Kyi
without having met her, he began mulling a second trip almost
With Suu Kyi now on trial, spray-painted messages of sympathy have
popped up on walls around Rangoon. Behind closed doors there are
rumblings of support for the woman who remains a symbol of hope to the
47 million people of Burma, and a million Burmese refugees in exile. But
few of her supporters have spoken out publicly about her, perhaps
mindful of the regime's brutal means of quelling protest.
The locals are less reticent about Yettaw. To some, he's a heroic
idealist; to others, he's a dangerous imbecile who has jeopardized Suu
Kyi's freedom and the possibility of democracy. Htay Aung, a former
Burmese political prisoner in exile in Thailand, says Yettaw made "the
complications more complicated. Now we don't know what's going to happen
Verdicts are expected later this month. Yettaw, for his part, "is
prepared for any punishment they impose on him," according to his
lawyer. In prison, with two Burmese cellmates, he is refusing food in an
effort to give himself another vision. He often cries at the thought of
"suffering, war and cruelty" in the world. But at the same time, the
lawyer says, he is "very happy." "He knows very well that Suu Kyi is in
trouble. But that is for the time being. Instead of losing her life, he
saved her—this is what he thinks."
Back home in Missouri, the Yettaw family doesn't know what's going to
happen to him, either. The details coming out in court puzzle his loved
ones, who say Yettaw's previous aquatic adventures had been limited to a
front-yard wading pool. "It's getting pretty bizarre," says Betty of the
bundle of items her husband allegedly took with him across the lake.
"That doesn't sound like Dad," Brian adds. Although Betty says she's
"very worried" because "these guys play hardball," there is little that
anyone in the family can do, other than monitor the case's progress via
media reports and updates from American diplomatic staff in the region.
They are doing their best to get on with life. Later this month the
three youngest children plan to fly to California to spend the summer
with their mother, Yvonne, while Carley and Brian stay in Missouri,
fielding text messages and questions from curious friends: "OMG, I want
details" and "Crazy. What's up with your dad?"
"It's complicated," they answer.
With Lennox Samuels in Thailand and F. De Burgo-Naughton in Burma
Choosing the Right Battle Strategy
||Saturday, June 13, 2009
By picking the right battle strategy, David was able to strike down
Goliath with a slingshot and use his powerful sword to slay the giant. The
rule of thumb is to choose fighting strength against weakness, and not
strength against strength.
The regime's weakness lies on its international flank, especially its
regional neighbors. The junta is also sensitive to the opinions of military
officers and rank and file. These are the targets the Lady must hit
repeatedly and relentlessly.
Aung San Suu Kyi believes that political integrity (i.e. "plain honesty
in politics") is one of the most important virtues. She and many others
regard the political integrity she upholds persistently as her strength.
However, she has to comprehend the strength of her captors, too. The Lady
cannot pick or prolong the battle within the junta's institutions, including
the legal system, which is one of the most corrupted instruments serving the
perpetuation of the regime.
As a serial liar and rule-breaker, the junta knows well how to manipulate
its institutions against Suu Kyi and other opponents. Force and fraud are
This strength must be continuously exposed internationally as well as to
a domestic public, especially to the military rank and file. But it might
not be the battle front the Lady wants to open.
Confronting the strength of the regime straight on, as the opposition has
mostly done in past, will end up in another defeat. The asymmetrical power
relationship is evidential.
Suu Kyi’s trial is another test of the opposition's strategic caliber. In
fact, the trial is widely believed to be a sham. The verdict has already
been reached in Snr-Gen Than Shwe's mind.
Although Suu Kyi’s latest, six-year term of house arrest ended in May,
the regime's supremo is still afraid of freeing her to the embrace of her
supporters and the public at large.
The 63-year-old Nobel laureate faces a maximum prison sentence of five
years. She could be condemned to prison or sent home for a further term of
Whatever the terms of her incarceration, it is clear that the regime’s
aim is to confine her until it has secured victory in the 2010 general
This is a political battle ground. That's why the trial has drawn
international condemnation, including from the Association of Southeast Asia
Nations (Asean). The group warned the regime that "the honor and credibility
of the Government of the Union of Myanmar are at stake".
Even Goh Chok Tong, a staunch ally of the regime and a former prime
minister of Singapore, told Than Shwe during talks in Naypyidaw earlier this
month that the trial has an international dimension.
Thus, the Lady must see the trial as a political battle. Instead of
prolonging the trial, she must let the sham process get done and receive the
prison sentence. That will intensify political battles in the international
arena, including the UN Security Council and regional players.
The regime will no doubt face domestic challenges, too. The opposition
National League for Democracy must also lead the political battle, instead
of waiting for the result of the show trial.
If Suu Kyi allows the trial to drag on, she will give the regime a chance
to project the impression of openness and due legal process. In fact, the
junta has already derived advantage from Suu Kyi's appeal for four defense
witnesses to be heard.
The lower District Court earlier disqualified all but one defense
witness, but the Rangoon Divisional Court later ruled that a second witness
could give testimony. With this concession, the junta might be quite
satisfied in projecting the impression of a fair and independent legal
process, though that will not have any effect on its final script.
More importantly, the protraction of the trial could reduce interest in
the international media, as well as diplomatic pressures. Momentum always
amasses two important sources of capital, which strategically-minded
politicians should not squander—good timing and political good will.
That is why the court’s decision on Friday to postpone the trial until
June 26 in order to hear the testimony of a Suu Kyi’s defense witness is not
a good sign. In fact, Suu Kyi's lawyers requested the further adjournment
since the defense witness has to come to court from southern Shan State, in
the northeastern part of Burma.
Suu Kyi instructed her lawyers to continue the appeals process to allow
more defense witnesses to be heard in the case as she wants "to see it
through to the end as the ruling is legally wrong."
If the High Court upholds the lower courts' decision, the special court
in Insein Prison may set a date sometime in July in which to deliver the
verdict. The regime could still delay the verdict in order to ride out
international pressure. But the cause of any delay should not rest with the
If Suu Kyi and the NLD fail to distinguish between a political battle and
a legal fight, and unless they focus more on the former, they will lose the
momentum. Engaging in a lengthy legal battle will not yield any political
outcome except the exhaustion of strategic capital.
In a clever move, Suu Kyi told diplomats who attended one session of her
trial: "There could be many opportunities for national reconciliation if all
parties so wished," according to a statement by the Ministry of Foreign
Affairs of Singapore, whose ambassador was among those who met her on May
The statement said that she also "expressed the view that it was not too
late for something good to come out of this unfortunate incident," referring
to her trial. "She did not wish to use the intrusion into her home as a way
to get at the Burma authorities," read the statement.
The statement represented a political offensive and displayed her
strength, something the NLD should exploit. The NLD party should, for
instance, have released an official statement supporting Goh's recent
comments and Asean's "grave concern," and citing Suu Kyi's words to
demonstrate the opposition's readiness for national reconciliation.
The goal must be to amass international and domestic public support and
materialize it in the UN Security Council, Asean, China, and on the streets
Suu Kyi can, of course, continue her legal battle, even after she is
sentenced. But the focus must be to reap political advantage. The momentum
should not be diminished.
The political battle must be renewed and the regime’s Achilles' heel must
be located and attacked.
Min Zin is a Burmese journalist in exile and a
teaching fellow at the University of California, Berkeley, School of
No news from Burma is a good news. The people's suffering in Burma has
been so much for so long. It will continue to be that way unless the
international community act decisively. In fact, Daw Aung San Suu Kyi is now
on the verge of being punished even harsher than ever. However, amid this
situation, there are anew efforts to pressure the regime more decisively ---
to get UN Security Council to act:
1. A recent report by Five of the world’s leading international
jurists from the International Human Rights Clinic at Harvard Law School,
calls for the UN Security Council to act on Burma.
2. In his NY Time article last Wednesday, May 27 (The anniversary of
Daw Aung San Suu Kyi's 1990 election victory), Paulo Sergio Pinheiro, United
Nations special rapporteur on human rights in Myanmar from 2000 to 2008 also
urged to end Burma's System of Impunity.
3. A group of US representatives in the Congress are circulating a
letter to president Obama to seek for a Commission of Inquiry on Burma by
Now, these representatives needs our help to get our own representatives to
join in and sign on to the letter. You can help so that a good news would
come out of Burma soon. So, please call your representatives to seize this
important moment of opportunity and help free Burma by joining in. Burma
really needs you all again and please act now!
Here are the helpful instructions on how to call the offices in California:
And the general instruction can be found here:
Please also find below the related letter, news articles and the list of
1. Letter to
President Barack Obama by A group of representatives
2. New report from Harvard Law School
NY Time article by Paulo Sergio Pinheiro
4. List of
representatives and staff members in California
Letter to President Barack Obama by a group of
President Barack Obama
The White House
1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW
Washington, DC 20500
Dear President Obama,
Successive U.S. administrations, with overwhelming bi-partisan support
from Congress, have shown their support for Burmese peoples’ aspiration to
live in a democratic society free from their military dictatorship.
Unfortunately, despite U.S. efforts as well as decades of peaceful attempts
by successive United Nations Special Envoys and Rapporteurs to convince the
Burmese military regime to end its atrocities and seek a peaceful transition
to democracy, peace, democracy and stability elude Burma.
Therefore, we urge you to take the lead in establishing a United Nations
Security Council (UNSC) Commission of Inquiry into the Burmese military
regime’s crimes against humanity and war crimes against its civilian
population. Similar cases in Rwanda, Yugoslavia, and Darfur have all led to
Commissions of Inquiry and each previous case had UN Special Envoys and
Special Rapporteurs assigned to seeking peaceful solutions to their
respective countries international humanitarian crises. Still though, the
UNSC took the necessary step and established a Commission of Inquiry to
investigate and provide justice and accountability for the war crimes,
crimes against humanity and genocide committed with impunity by state
agents. By elevating the cause of Burma to the UNSC, the United States is
putting Burma’s supporters on notice that we will not support the status quo
while millions of people languish.
The United Nations has passed over 30 resolutions acknowledging and
decrying the Burmese military regime’s crimes and blatant system of
impunity. All the while, Burma’s military regime has carried out a
scorched-earth campaign against the country’s ethnic minority civilian
population, destroying over 3,300 villages, using systematic rape as a
weapon of war, pressing the Burmese people into modern-day slave labor,
killing innocent civilians, and forcing at least one million people to flee
their homes as refugees and internally displaced. The regime has also
conscripted tens of thousands of child soldiers, and imprisoned and tortured
those who dare speak out in support of freedom and democracy.
Compounding the brutality of the regime’s war crimes and crimes against
humanity is their flagrant system of impunity, in which perpetrators go
free, but victims fear retribution if they seek accountability and justice.
While the “slow burn” nature of the military regime’s grave crimes has kept
the spotlight away from these atrocities, it makes them no less dire. In
fact, it makes it ever more urgent that we call upon the UNSC to hold the
Burmese military regime to account for their war crimes and crimes against
Furthermore, the regime’s constitution, on which it predicates its
upcoming elections in 2010, contains an amnesty provision that exempts all
members of the military regime from prosecution. The amnesty provision is a
blatant attempt to legitimize the structured and systematic violence in the
country for all junta inflicted crimes. In addition to the amnesty
provision, the constitution also removes any rights for civil redress for
victims of crimes committed by the military and police and blocks access to
justice in civilian courts thus effectively denying justice to the regime’s
The world must not sit by and allow Burma’s regime to commit mass
atrocities with impunity. We urge you to urgently seek support at the UNSC
for a Commission of Inquiry to investigate the Burmese regime’s war crimes,
crimes against humanity and system of impunity. The regime must be held
accountable, on behalf of the millions of people of Burma who have no other
course for redress.
Joe Crowley (D-NY); Don
Manzullo (R-IL); Rush Holt (D-NJ); Peter King (R-NY); Anna Eshoo (D-CA);
Madeline Bordallo (D-Guam); Carolyn Maloney (D-NY); Joseph Pitts (R-PA);
Brad Sherman (D-CA); Michael Michaud (D-ME); Jim Moran (D-VA); Frank Wolf
(R-VA); Mark Kirk (IL)
Brian Bilbray (R-CA); David Price (D-NC)
End Burma’s System of Impunity
SAO PAULO, BRAZIL — The Nobel Peace Prize laureate, Daw Aung San Suu Kyi,
has spent 13 years under house arrest in Myanmar. This week, the Burmese
junta is likely to extend her detention for up to five years under the
trumped-up charge of allowing a visitor into her compound.
During eight years as United Nations Special Rapporteur on Myanmar, I
repeatedly called on the Burmese junta to release Mrs. Aung San Suu Kyi
and Burma’s 2,100 other political prisoners, to no avail. It is
imperative that she be released immediately for the country’s process of
reconciliation to move forward.
But while Suu Kyi has deservedly received a great deal of
international attention over the past two decades, Myanmar’s ethnic
minorities — more than one-third of the population — have suffered
without international outcry. For Myanmar’s process of national
reconciliation to be successful, the plight of the minorities must also
Over the past 15 years, the Burmese Army has destroyed over 3,300
villages in a systematic and widespread campaign to subjugate ethnic
groups. U.N. reports indicate that Burmese soldiers have frequently
recruited child soldiers, used civilians as minesweepers and forced
thousands of villagers into slave labor.
An official policy of impunity has empowered soldiers to rape and
pillage. According to one account, in December 2008 a Burmese soldier
marched into an ethnic Karen village in eastern Myanmar and abducted,
raped and killed a 7-year old girl. Authorities refused to arrest the
soldier; instead, officers threatened the parents with punishment if
they did not accept a cash bribe to keep quiet.
In 2002, I received a report about 625 women who were systematically
raped in Myanmar ’s Shan State over a five-year period. There was not a
single account of successful prosecution.
I repeatedly documented the military’s many abuses in reports to the
U.N. General Assembly and the U.N. Commission on Human Rights. My work
is only one example of U.N. efforts in Myanmar — since 1990, U.N.
representatives have visited the country 37 times in an attempt to
facilitate dialogue and promote human rights.
They have exhausted all domestic and diplomatic remedies without
achieving human rights protection and national reconciliation in
Myanmar. And while the U.N. General Assembly and the U.N. Human Rights
Council have passed over 35 resolutions regarding Myanmar, the U.N.
Security Council has yet to pass a single one. The United Nations will
not be successful until the Security Council acts to directly address
our stagnant efforts.
It is clear that the attacks in Myanmar will continue. It is equally
evident that the country’s domestic legal system will not punish those
perpetrating crimes against ethnic minorities.
It is time for the United Nations to take the next logical step: The
Security Council must establish a commission of inquiry into crimes
against humanity and impunity in Myanmar. The Security Council took
similar steps with regard to Rwanda, Bosnia and Darfur. The situation in
Myanmar is equally as critical.
Creating a commission of inquiry will accomplish three important
First, it will make the junta accountable for its crimes with a
potential indictment by the International Criminal Court. Second, it
will address the widespread culture of impunity in Burma. Third, it has
the potential to deter future crimes against humanity in Myanmar.
For two decades, ethnic minorities in Myanmar have suffered while our
diplomatic efforts failed to bear fruit. The time has come for the
Security Council to act.
Learn how to ask your member of Congress to
sign this letter, click
May XX, 2009
New report from Harvard Law School finds that UN documents on
Burma provide grounds for investigation into international crimes; calls for
more concerted UN action on Burma
- Five of the world’s leading international jurists have commissioned
a report from the International Human Rights Clinic at Harvard Law School,
calling for the UN Security Council to act on more than fifteen years of
condemnation from other UN bodies on human rights abuses in Burma. The
Crimes in Burma
, comes in the wake of renewed international attention on
Burma, with the continued persecution of Nobel Peace Prize recipient Aung
San Suu Kyi. The report concludes with a call for the UN Security Council to
establish a Commission of Inquiry into crimes against humanity and war
crimes in Burma.
Harvard report is based on an analysis of scores of UN documents
– including UN General Assembly and Commission on Human Rights
resolutions, as well as reports from several different Special
Rapporteurs. These indicate that human rights abuses in Burma are
widespread, systematic, and part of state policy – legal terms that
justify further investigation and strongly suggest Burma’s military
regime may be committing crimes against humanity and war crimes
prosecutable under international law. Major abuses cited by the
United Nations include forced displacement of over 3,000 villages in
eastern Burma, and widespread and systematic sexual violence,
torture, and summary execution of innocent civilians.
Yet, despite such documentation from multiple UN organs, the UN
Security Council has not moved to investigate potential crimes
against humanity or war crimes in Burma, as it has in other areas of
the world, including Darfur and Rwanda.
“Over and over again, UN resolutions and Special Rapporteurs have spoken
out about the abuses that have been reported to them in Burma. The UN
Security Council, however, has not moved the process forward as it should
and has in similar situations such as those in the former Yugoslavia and
Darfur,” the jurists write in the report’s preface. “In the cases of
Yugoslavia and Darfur, once aware of the severity of the problem, the UN
Security Council established a Commission of Inquiry to investigate the
gravity of the violations further. With Burma, there has been no such action
from the UN Security Council despite being similarly aware of the widespread
and systematic nature of the violations.”
The five jurists who commissioned the report, from Africa, Asia, Europe,
and North and South Africa, are Judge Richard Goldstone (South Africa),
Judge Patricia Wald (United States), Judge Pedro Nikken (Venezuela), Judge
Ganzorig Gombosuren (Mongolia), and Sir Geoffrey Nice (United Kingdom).
Among other accomplishments, Judge Goldstone served on South Africa’s
Constitutional Court and was the first prosecutor at both the International
Criminal Tribunals for the Former Yugoslavia and for Rwanda. Judge Wald
served as Chief Judge of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of
Columbia and as a judge on the International Criminal Tribunal for the
former Yugoslavia. Judge Nikken served as President of the Inter-American
Court of Human Rights. Judge Gombosuren served as a Supreme Court Justice in
Mongolia, and Sir Nice was the deputy prosecutor of the International
Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia and the principal prosecution
trial attorney in the case against Slobodan Milosevic in the Hague.
Each of the five jurists has dealt directly with severe human rights
abuses in the international system, and all five call for the UN Security
Council to establish a Commission of Inquiry to investigate and report on
crimes against humanity and war crimes in Burma.
Harvard report specifically examines four international human rights
violations documented by UN bodies over the past fifteen years: sexual
violence, forced displacement, torture, and extrajudicial killings. The
report focuses on UN documents since 2002, to allow examination of the most
up-to-date UN material, although UN reports dating back to 1992 have
consistently condemned a wide-range of violations in Burma.
Tyler Giannini, the Clinical Director of the Human Rights Program at
Harvard Law School and one of the report’s authors, said its findings
clearly demonstrate that a Commission of Inquiry on Burma should proceed.
“The UN Security Council has taken action regarding Yugoslavia, Rwanda,
and Sudan when it identified information strongly suggesting the existence
of crimes against humanity and war crimes,” said Giannini. “As our research
shows, UN documents clearly and authoritatively suggest that the human
rights abuses occurring in Burma are not isolated incidents – they are
potential crimes against humanity and war crimes. Failure by the UN Security
Council to take action and investigate these crimes could mean that
violations of international criminal law will go unchecked.”
To view a copy of Crimes in Burma, click here.
For media interviews in the United States, please contact Michael Jones
at 617-495-9214 or
firstname.lastname@example.org, or Julianne Stevenson at 617-682-5519 or
email@example.com. For media interviews in Thailand,
please contact Tyler Giannini at +66 89 020 6646 or
9) LIST OF REPRESENTATIVES AND STAFF
MEMBERS IN CALIFORNIA
Mike Thompson (1st District), contact staffer: Colton Campbell at
Wally Herger (2nd District), contact staffer: Darren Thacker at 202-225-3076
Daniel Lungren (3rd District), contact staffer: Sandra Wiseman 202-225-5716
Tom McClintock (4th District), contact staffer: Kristen Glenn at
Doris Matsui (5th District), contact staffer: Sam Stesanki at 202-225-7163
Lynn Woolsey (6th District), contact staffer: Jennifer Goedke at
George Miller (7th District), contact legislative assistant: Ben Miller at
Nancy Pelosi (8th District), contact staffer: Michael Sheehy at
Barbara Lee (9th District), contact staffer: Gregory Berry at 202-225-2661
Ellen Tauscher (10th District), contact staffer: Simon Limage at
Jerry McNerney (11th District), contact staffer: Shilpa Rajan at202-225-1947
Jackie Speier (12th District), contact staffer: Erin Ryan at 202-225-3531
Fortney Pete Stark (13th District), contact staffer: Michelle Scarborough at
Anna Eshoo (14th District), contact staffer: Jason Mahler at 202-225-8104
Michael Honda (15th District), contact staffer: Ken Takeda at 202-225-2631
Zoe Lofgren (16th District), contact staffer: Ryan Clough at 202-225-3072
Sam Farr (17th District), contact staffer: Marc Hanson at 202-225-2861
Dennis Cardoza (18th District), contact staffer: Matt Pennington at
George Radanovich (19th District), contact staffer: Spencer Pedson at
Jim Costa (20th District), contact staffer: Bret Rumbeck at 202-225-3341
Devin Nunes (21st District), contact staffer: Jairo Lamatina at 202-225-2523
Kevin McCarthy (22nd District), contact staffer: Brian Klotz at 202-225-2915
Lois Capps (23rd District), contact staffer: Amy Fisher at 202-225-3601
Elton Gallegly (24th District), contact staffer: Richard Mereu at
Howard "Buck" McKeon (25th District), contact staffer: Ryan Crumpler at
David Dreie (26th District), contact staffer: Rachel Oeman at 202-225-2305
Brad Sherman (27th District), contact staffer: Don MacDonald at 202-225-5911
Howard Berman (28th District), contact staffer: Daniel Harsha at
Adam Schiff (29th District), contact staffer:Timothy Bergreen at
Henry Waxman (30th District), contact staffer: Zahava Goldman at
Xavier Becerra (31st District), contact staffer: Henry Truong at
Hilda Solis (32nd District), contact staffer: Laura Marsh/Eleonor Velasquez
(Latin America only) 202-225-5464
Diane Watson (33rd District), contact staffer: Greg Adams at 202-225-7084
Lucille Roybal-Allard (34th District), contact staffer: Matt Lee at
Maxine Waters (35th District), contact staffer: Kathlene Sencstock at
Jane Harman (36th District), contact staffer: Jay Hulings at 202-225-8220
Laura Richardson (37th District), contact staffer: Alex Smith at
Grace Napolitano (38th District), contact staffer: Elizabeth Decker at
Linda Sanchez (39th District), contact staffer: Patrick Gibson at
Edward Royce (40th District), contact staffer: Hunter Strupp at 202-225-4111
Jerry Lewis (41st District), contact staffer: Spencer Freebairn at
Gary Miller (42nd District), contact staffer: Jessica Baker at 202-225-3201
Joe Baca (43rd District), contact staffer: Brenda Villanueva at 202-225-6161
Ken Calvert (44th District), contact staffer: Scott Tranter at 202-225-1986
Mary Bono (45th District), contact staffer: Chris Foster at 202-225-5330
Dana Rohrabacher (46th District), contact staffer: Paul Berkowitz at
Loretta Sanchez (47th District), contact staffer: Annie Yea at 202-225-2965
John Campbell (48th District), contact staffer: Brent Hall at 202-225-5611
Darrell Issa (49th District), contact staffer: Laurent Crenshaw (Except
Middle East) at 202-225-3906
Brian Bilbray (50th District), contact staffer: Lorissa Bounds at
Bob Filner (51st District), contact staffer: Shane Maharaj at 202-225-5045
Duncan Hunter (52nd District), contact staffer: Jimmy Thomas at 202-225-5672
Susan Davis (53rd District), contact staffer: Daniel Hazard at 202-225-2040
UN Security Council Urges Burma to Release
All Political Prisoners
By Margaret Besheer
The United Nations
22 May 2009
|UN Security Council (file photo)
The U.N. Security Council has called for the release of all political
prisoners in Burma, including opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi, and
expressed its concern over her recent trial.
In a unanimous statement, the 15-council members expressed their concern
about the "political impact" of the trial of Aung San Suu Kyi charging her
with violating the terms of her house arrest.
The council also repeated its call for the release of all political
prisoners in Burma - which is also known as Myanmar. The council also called
on Burma's military regime to create the necessary conditions for a genuine
dialogue with all concerned parties and ethnic groups to achieve an
inclusive national reconciliation.
|John Sawers, the United Kingdom's Ambassador to the UN (File)
British Ambassador John Sawers said it is "inconceivable" that Aung San Suu
Kyi's trial and imprisonment could in anyway contribute to achieving a
genuine national reconciliation.
"It is inconceivable that the trial and imprisonment of Daw Aung San Suu Kyi
could in anyway contribute to that. She is the most prominent of the
opposition leaders in Myanmar and she heads the party which won the only
credible elections in recent memory in Myanmar, and the regime needs to come
to terms with that. They are failing to do so," he said.
He said the council's unanimous call for the release of all political
prisoners is very pointed, especially when the most prominent of all those
prisoners - Aung San Suu Kyi - is on trial on charges which he said "stand
U.S. envoy Rosemary DiCarlo said the council needed to speak with one voice
on this issue and it did, saying countries which do not normally want to
comment on this issue did. Russia and China are two prominent council
members that are close to Burma's leadership and often avoid criticizing it.
|An anti-Burmese government protester holds up posters of
detained pro-democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi during a protest to
demand her release in front of the U.N. office in Bangkok, Thailand,
22 May 2009
Burmese opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi has pleaded not guilty to charges
that she violated the terms of her house arrest.
The charges stem from an incident earlier this month in which an American
man swam to her lakeside residence and stayed there for two days. Her
lawyers say she asked him to leave, but that he was too exhausted and ill to
Critics say Burma's military leaders want to keep the pro-democracy leader
in detention and away from next year's elections.
The Nobel Prize laureate has been under house arrest for 13 of the past 19
years. With these new charges she could face another five-year detention
1. U.N.'s Ban "gravely
concerned" for Myanmar's Suu Kyi
2. Clinton 'deeply troubled' by Aung San Suu Kyi charges
3. Myanmar Junta Charges Democracy Leader
4. Myanmar democracy activist charged
Obama extends Myanmar sanctions
WASHINGTON (AFP) — President Barack Obama on Friday formally extended US
sanctions against Myanmar, keeping up pressure on the junta at the height of
its new showdown with detained democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi.
"I have determined that it is necessary to continue the national
emergency with respect to Burma and maintain in force the sanctions against
Burma to respond to this threat," Obama said in a message to Congress.
The move, which had been previewed last month by US officials and was
merely a formality, comes despite an official US review of policy on
Myanmar, also known as Burma.
Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has said that she wants to find a
"better way" to sway Myanmar's military leaders.
Foreign ministers of the European Union last month also extended their
sanctions against Myanmar for another year, but said they were ready to ease
them and hold talks if there was democratic progress.
The junta has kept Aung San Suu Kyi under house arrest for nearly 20
years. The Nobel peace laureate led her party to victory in 1990 but the
junta never allowed the election to stand.
Myanmar was under intense international pressure Friday to free Aung San
Suu Kyi after she was imprisoned ahead of a new trial next week for
breaching the terms of her house arrest.
The United States and the United Nations led calls for the immediate
release of the 63-year-old, whose trial is due to start in jail on Monday.
The junta took Aung San Suu Kyi from her home on Thursday to Yangon's
notorious Insein prison, where she was charged over a bizarre incident in
which an American man swam to her lakeside residence.
U.N.'s Ban "gravely concerned" for Myanmar's Suu Kyi
UNITED NATIONS (Reuters) - U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon
expressed "grave concern" on Thursday over reports that Myanmar
opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi was charged with violating her house
arrest and could face new jail time.
"The Secretary-General is gravely concerned about the
news that Daw Aung San Suu Kyi has been moved to the Insein Prison to
face criminal charges," U.N. spokeswoman Marie Okabe told reporters.
She said Ban believes Suu Kyi "is an essential partner
for dialogue in Myanmar's national reconciliation and calls on the
government not to take any further action that could undermine this
Ban is convinced that Suu Kyi and all others in the
country formerly known as Burma "who have a contribution to make to the
future of their country" should be free to do so, Okabe said.
Suu Kyi's opposition National League for Democracy (NLD)
said she faces up to five years in jail after an American intruder
sneaked into her lakeside home.
Opposition activists denounced her trial, set to begin
on Monday, as a ploy by the country's junta to keep Suu Kyi, 63,
sidelined ahead of elections in 2010.
The NLD, which won a landslide election victory in
1990 only to be denied power by the military, "strongly condemned" the
new charges two weeks before her latest six-year detention is due to
expire on May 27.
The Nobel Peace laureate has spent 13 of the past 19
years in detention, most of it held virtually incommunicado at her home,
her telephone line cut, mail intercepted and visitors restricted.
(Reporting by Louis Charbonneau; Editing by Simon
Clinton 'deeply troubled' by Aung San Suu Kyi charges
WASHINGTON (AFP) — US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said Thursday she
was "deeply troubled" by new charges brought by Myanmar's military junta against
pro-democracy icon Aung San Suu Kyi.
Clinton joined a growing chorus of international condemnation after the junta
charged the pro-democracy icon with breaching the terms of her house arrest over
a bizarre incident in which a US man swam to her lakeside house.
"I am deeply troubled by the Burmese government's decision to charge Aung San
Suu Kyi for a baseless crime," she told reporters during a media briefing with
Malaysia's foreign minister Datuk Anifah bin Haji Aman.
"We oppose the regime's efforts to use this incident as a pretext to place
further unjustified restrictions on her," Clinton said, calling for authorities
to release Aung San Suu Kyi "immediately and unconditionally."
She added she wanted to raise the issue with countries like China, which is
believed to have strong influence over the military junta.
She also hinted that she had discussed Aung San Suu Kyi in the context of the
Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), of which member Myanmar and
Malaysia are members.
"The ASEAN charter sets a very clear direction for all countries in the
region to be headed," Clinton said.
ASEAN has long been wary of criticizing Myanmar but the 10-nation club has
found itself embarrassed by the regime, led by the reclusive General Than Shwe.
"We are also very concerned as to what?s happening in Burma, in Myanmar, and
we hope to use the ASEAN Forum to ... discuss (the issue) further," Anifah Aman
"And if it?s necessary, upon my arrival in Malaysia I will immediately
contact the secretary general of ASEAN (Surin Pitsuwan) if it is possible to
have a meeting immediately to address the issues," he added.
Aung San Suu Kyi goes on trial on Monday on the charges, which carry a jail
term of up to five years and would stretch her detention past its supposed
expiry date this month and through controversial elections due in 2010.
The 63-year-old would not be allowed to return home but would be held at a
special house on the grounds of Insein Prison while proceedings were under way,
her lawyer Kyi Win added.
Howard Berman, the chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, echoed
the call for the release of the pro-democracy leader.
John Yettaw, who was held last week for sneaking into Suu Kyi's house and
staying there for two days before he was caught, was also charged with breaking
the security law and immigration conditions, officials said.
Yettaw, 53, apparently used a pair of homemade flippers to swim across a lake
to her crumbling residence in an apparent show of solidarity, but Aung San Suu
Kyi's main lawyer Kyi Win said they had asked him to leave.
"We have to blame him," Kyi Win said. "He is a fool."
Clinton's spokesman Ian Kelly told journalists that the authorities in
Myanmar allowed a US embassy consular officer access to the courtroom for
Yettaw's hearing earlier Thursday.
Copyright © 2009 AFP. All rights reserved.