Please read this posting online:
NLD Says 'No' to Election: Daw Aung San Suu Kyi, NLD and
Burma need us more then EVER!!!!
San and her party has decided to not register for the military regime's 2010 elections.
In order to register for the 2010 elections, the regime has written the laws that would require to do the following:
- Accept the nullification of the 1990 elections results in which won a landslide victory.
- Accept and pledge to protect the regime's 2008 SHAM constitution that put the military in the driver seats formally.
- Expel all political prisoners from the party including its leader San -- there are 2000+ political prisoners in Burma.
Within 60 days of March 8, the party will cease to exist legally according to the regime's (so called) election laws.
The regime has destroyed much of the Burma's institutions, and NLD, being the only major political institution (beside the military) and
major threat to its power, has always been under great scrutiny. Daw Aung San Suu Kyi's says the party will be at the mercy
of the regime's if register -- very true as it has already been that way even with the land slide victory in the past election!!! it will
be much worse.
With this decision, Daw Aung San Suu Kyi and NLD
- have refused to let the regime formally override the
true will of the people and redefine their role in Burma's
struggle for Democracy.
- have decided to continue to stand up for the people despite threats, attacks and paramount oppression.
They are now in new and unfamiliar territory (soon to be illegal institution) and need our support more then ever.
We must not allow ILLEGAL regime make a legal institution (of the people) illegal in Burma.
NY TIMES VIDEO:
Burmese Find Release in Music
and Art Under Repressive Junta:
NLD Says 'No' to Election
Ivan Lewis: Burma needs a general election, not an election
BBC: Burma military
rulers give hints of change
NY Times: Despite
Authoritarian Rule, Myanmar Art Grows
Trafficking Increases on Sino-Burma Border
Gruesome Animal Trade
NLD Says 'No' to Election
Monday, March 29, 2010
Burma's main opposition party, the National League for
Democracy (NLD), decided against registering for the general
election this year, after party leaders met in Rangoon to
discuss the issue.
On Monday, nearly 160 party representatives from across the country gathered at the party's Rangoon headquarters and 114 representatives voted in a ballot on whether to register the party or not.
|Members of the detained pro-democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi's National League for Democracy gather at Rangoon's headquarters before its central committee meeting on March 29. (Photo: AP)|
Party sources said that 92-year-old party chairman Aung Shwe, who recently voiced support for the party registering and taking part in the election, did not join in the meeting and instead sent a letter stating that he would abide by the majority decision.
“With unity, we all follow our party leader Aung San Suu Kyi's line against party registration,” said a NLD representative, Ohn Kyaing.
The meeting came six days after the NLD's detained leader Suu Kyi said she was against her party registering under the current “unjust” election law, which prohibits parties from having members who are currently in detention, so a decision to register would force Suu Kyi out of the party.
Although security is heightened with four riot police trucks deployed near the party headquarters, there has been no report of harassment of the NLD leaders by the authorities.
Before the discussion, several party township representatives and party youth leaders declared that they would stand by Suu Kyi's line against registration.
If the NLD fails to register within 60 days of March 8 when the junta's election law was announced, it will cease to exist as a legal entity, according to that law.
Meanwhile, junta chief Snr-Gen Than Shwe described the election as “the beginning of the process of fostering democracy” in his speech at Armed Forces Day on Saturday.
The NLD won a landslide victory in Burma's last election in 1990, but the results were never honored by the regime. Party leader Suu Kyi is currently serving an 18-month term of house arrest. With her sentence due to expire in November, Suu Kyi cannot be a member of any political party if she is not released before the May 7 deadline for party registration.
The Independent: Ivan Lewis: Burma needs a general election,
not an election of Generals
Monday, 29 March 2010The message could not have been clearer. On Armed Forces day, as soldiers marched through Naypyidaw, Burma's Senior General Than Shwe set out his vision for "disciplined democracy". A moment that could have been cause for celebration is instead a cause for concern and regret.
There will soon be an election in Burma. But recently announced election laws mean there is no prospect of it being free, fair or inclusive. Aung San Suu Kyi's party are forced to either expel her, or accept that they will be disbanded. Prospective voters have already been warned to vote the "right way". Instead of a general election, there will be an election of Generals. This was why we secured an urgent Security Council meeting this week. We remain determined to keep Burma high on the international agenda. The sheer scale of the monstrous human rights abuses demand nothing less.
There is a choice for Myanmar's military leaders. Currently synonymous with brutal dictatorship and awful abuses of power, they could instead find a place in history for bringing about a transition to lasting stability and security and restoring Burma's international standing. There would also be strong benefits for Burma's neighbours. A genuinely inclusive political settlement would allow refugees to return home and end border instability. The Rohingya, Karen and other persecuted groups have fled in large numbers across Burma's borders. This worrying trend, as well as the growing flow of drugs and human trafficking, could be tackled and eventually reversed.
For these reasons, I am convinced of three things. First, that no one should be selling arms to a country where the military's primary purpose is to oppress and persecute its own people. Second, that we must make clear to Burma's leaders that without the release of all political prisoners, including Aung San Suu Kyi, and full participation of opposition and ethnic groups, elections planned for later this year will not be credible, nor help to solve Burma's many problems.
Finally, that we should resist the temptation to accept the status quo out of frustration at the lack of progress. If Burma's people can retain their optimism for the future, we have no right to turn away or give up hope.
Ivan Lewis is Minister of State at the Foreign
Burma military rulers give hints of change
By Alastair Leithead
BBC News, Nay Pyi Taw
The vast, concrete parade ground shook as thousands of Burmese troops stamped their feet and stood to attention for their senior general, Than Shwe, who addressed the military on Armed Forces Day.
They marched unit by unit, saluted by their commander-in-chief, their patriotic songs echoing across the huge parade ground, overlooked by three giant statues of ancient Burmese warrior-kings.
Symbols of historical strength, they say a great deal about the man at the head of this 400,000 strong army - a man who sees it as the guardian of the nation, where power is unquestioned and opposition is not tolerated.
Gen Shwe addressed his ranks and the country - the whole thing was broadcast live on TV - in a short but firm speech.
Level playing field?
The only section highlighted in bold in the English translation presented to the few foreign journalists was "the nation will be strong only when the armed forces are strong".
There was a message for "external powers... who usually interfere and take advantage of their own interests" to stay away - a swipe perhaps at the UN's condemnation of the election laws.
The army shows few signs of leaving power
A warning to opposition groups against "improper or inappropriate campaigning" sat uncomfortably alongside a pledge the forthcoming elections will be "free and fair."
The opposition here and many foreign countries believe the election will be anything but free or fair, given the election laws which ban thousands of political prisoners from office.
Aung San Suu Kyi's National League of Democracy (NLD) party has not yet decided if it will take part, but she has made it clear she is against the party's participation.
There are 2,100 political prisoners, an election commission appointed by the generals and some ambiguities to the law which tilt the balance squarely in the military's favour.
The invitation of foreign journalists to come to the country and the parade, in a place normally closed to reporters, could be read in a variety of ways.
Either the military want to open up to gain the legitimacy they would like for the election, and more journalist visas and invitations will follow, or it was a good opportunity to show their strength and resolve to the outside world, and the door will soon slam shut.
Although we were free to move around the new Burmese capital city of Nay Pyi Taw, people were afraid to talk, and such is the climate of fear when it come to politics, it was difficult to find anyone who would even help translate.
To be seen helping a BBC reporter, even one invited in by the government, could result in a knock at the door late at night, one man told me.
Nay Pyi Taw itself is a strange place.
Amid the vast flower- and tree-lined avenues and eight-lane highways are lavish government ministry buildings, scattered among the hills and shallow valleys of what once was scrubland 250 miles (402km) north of Rangoon.
Gaudy fountains adorn beautifully tended roundabout flower beds and a slightly smaller replica of the famous golden Shwedagon pagoda in the former capital gleams in the hazy sunshine.
Construction works continues apace in Nay Pyi Taw
Doric pillars adorn luxurious houses for important military officers, a glitzy shopping mall sells flat-screen TVs and fridge freezers to a soundtrack of Beatles cover music.
Building work goes on at a seemingly frenetic pace, but yet there are few cars on the roads; empty and abandoned bus stops stand without passengers, let alone buses; and there is an eerie lack of soul to this whole fabricated city.
The country's capital was moved here according to the astrological calendar, perhaps to make it harder for an invading power or to shrug off the colonial past.
But certainly it was on the whim of the country's few rulers, who care more about the excessive infrastructure and show of wealth than the health and education of their people.
The elections may not be free and fair in a Western sense, but some aid workers and diplomats here argue at least it is some change, some movement after years of stagnation.
Gen Shwe's "gentle transition to democracy and market-orientated economics" may sound hollow, but there is little here to be optimistic about, and where there is even limited chance for change, there is hope.
Despite Authoritarian Rule,
Myanmar Art Grows
By THE NEW YORK TIMES
Myanmar is a country where owning a fax machine without a permit is illegal, where even spontaneous gatherings of more than five people are technically banned and where critics of the government are regularly locked away for decades in tiny prison cells.
Yet despite this repression, or perhaps partly because of it, young people here are pushing the limits of what the military government, let alone their parents, considers acceptable art and entertainment.
Art exhibitions, some featuring risky hidden political messages, open nearly every week in Yangon, Myanmar’s main city. Yangon has a festival of underground music, including punk bands, twice a year. Fans of the most popular musical genres, hip-hop and electronic dance music, wear low-slung baggy pants to regularly held concerts here.
U Thxa Soe, a popular artist who mixes traditional “spirit dances” with something resembling techno music, said he believed that the government tolerated wild concerts in recent years partly because it suited its strategy of control. “You need to squeeze and release, squeeze and release,” he said.
“We live in fear,” he said. “We live under a dictatorship. People need fresh air. They release their anger, their energy.”
The success of artists like Mr. Thxa Soe undermines Myanmar’s often monochromatic image as a place of zero freedoms. This country, formerly known as Burma, is by many measures a brutally authoritarian place — human rights groups count 2,100 political prisoners.
But even if the generals willed it, people here say, the government would probably not be able to pull off North Korean-style totalitarianism. Society here is too unruly, disorganized and corrupt; people are too creative, the climate too hot for 24-hour repression.
The police are famously brutal, but they, too, suffer from tropical torpor: a common scene is a group of police officers napping in the back of a truck.
Over the past two years, entertainment options have rapidly expanded for residents of the country’s largest cities.
The government has nurtured the creation of a soccer league after years without any organized matches. Soccer games are famously raucous, with fans spewing invective toward the opposing side, ignoring government exhortations to be “polite.”
The number of FM radio stations in Yangon, formerly Rangoon, has gone from just one a few years ago to a handful that play both Burmese and Western-style music. Last year, a private company started up the country’s first television channel dedicated to music videos.
“The government is trying to distract people from politics,” said a Western-educated Burmese businessman who declined to be identified because he thought it might jeopardize his business. “There’s not enough bread, but there’s a lot of circus.”
The contrast between the military government’s heavy-handed authoritarianism and the surprisingly uninhibited entertainment scene can be jarring.
Early this month the leader of the ruling junta, Senior Gen. Than Shwe, observed Peasants Day, a national holiday honoring farmers, with a message addressed to the “Esteemed Peasantry.”
“I wish you, the peasantry, physical and mental well-being and greater success in agricultural farming,” the message said.
By contrast, as night fell at a lakeside fairground in Yangon, security guards had trouble holding back the thousands of fans, who clambered over one another like peasants in revolt. Police officers at times raised their nightsticks menacingly but were largely ignored by the crowd, who had come to see a bill of popular artists playing music that ranged from heavy metal to pop.
One longtime analyst
of Myanmar said the
politics with a small p
— gatherings of
members of smaller
political groups. But it
cracks down on Politics,
with a capital P, which
the analyst defined as
anyone who questioned
the legitimacy of the
military rulers, like
groups that support
Daw Aung San Suu Kyi,
the opposition leader
and Nobel laureate.
Human Trafficking Increases on Sino-Burma Border
By ALEX ELLGEE Friday, March 26, 2010
|A Burmese woman who worked in a Chinese brothel on the Sino-Burma border in 2009. (Photo: Than Aung/The Irrawaddy)|
RUILI, China —Thi Thi Win reminisces about a time when she wore traditional Burmese clothes and walked around her village at sunset. For the best part of her childhood, she considered herself to be lucky—she had two loving parents and food was plentiful.
Until one day when her family was pushed out of their farm by the Burmese army to make way for a highway. One of eight siblings, she knew she had to find work to help her family.
While she was selling some of her families clothes in the local bus station, a man approached her saying he could find her a “factory job” in China. With high hopes, she packed her bags and left for Burma’s booming neighbor.
“He told me I would no longer have to sell my family’s belongings and could buy presents for them within a month,” said Thi Thi Win, who asked that The Irrawaddy not use her real name.
She said her trip to the border was full of excitement. As she looked out the bus window, paddy fields flew past ,and she dreamed of her new life in China. At the bus station, she was greeted by a Chinese man who took her to a teashop where she was given noodles, which she quickly ate.
“The next thing I remember I was in a small room with Burmese girls—they had drugged me,” she said.
“The next couple of hours I spent chatting with the other girls, and they all had the same story. Then they led us out into a room, in front of lot of Chinese men —one man pointed at me.”
That was the moment that the man “bought” her, and without delay or discussion, she was taken to his farm in rural China to be his wife. At first, she refused, and his family was furious. They beat her until she couldn’t take the suffering anymore, and finally gave in.
Like thousands of girls who are trafficked from Burma to China each year, what followed her forced marriage was a life of hardship. The family forbade her to leave the house, and her days were spent housekeeping and cooking, as a way to “repay” the fee they had paid for her.
One day, after a year with the family—what she says felt like a lifetime—the police came to the home and took her into custody. Treated as an illegal immigrant, she was thrown in prison for three months, without an interview or assessment.
Treatment of trafficking victims is a major concern for NGOs that work in the region. They say that China is not doing enough to identify foreign women who have been forced into marriage. Lacking interpreters and proper screening processes, many trafficking victims end up in jail.
Despite the lack of attention to foreign victims, more work has been done to curb domestic trafficking in China.
With most of the trafficking is related to urban migration, the government has spent large sums educating farmers about the dangers of trafficking. China has a total of 1,351 Relief Administrative Centers located at provincial, county and city levels which work with trafficking victims.
Various counter-trafficking training courses have been held for media, trainers, police and key government officials in collaboration with UN agencies and international NGOs. Legal aid for victims has increased with more centers being opened across the country, and China is attempting to improve its prosecution procedure.
Last year, the public security ministry launched a special crackdown. Police across the country rescued 3,455 children and 7,365 women from April to the end of December last year. A total of 1,684 human-trafficking groups were identified and 2,895 trafficking cases were solved with 19 out of 20 suspects arrested.
In March, China's police chief, Meng Jianzhu, called for greater effort in halting trafficking of women and children, saying the crime "grossly violates human rights." Meng vowed zero tolerance for trafficking cases, asking local governments to address economic and social problems that are at the root of rampant human trafficking.
this has done little to
stop the flow of Burmese
women being sold for
between 10,000 and
40,000 yuan (US $1,500
to $6,000) into forced
working along the
believe that more and
more women are
trafficked across the
border each week.
Burma's Gruesome Animal
By SIMON ROUGHNEEN Saturday, March 27, 2010
BANGKOK—Noted wildlife photographer and cameraman Karl Ammann has made numerous trips to the Golden Triangle region to document the illegal and destructive trade in wild animals. His trips have included the Shan Special Region 4 in Burma where a lucrative cross-border business has emerged in recent years, with tigers, bears, leopards and other animals hunted, caged and killed for food and medicinal products, mainly for consumption in China's Yunnan Province.
|A stall in Central Market in Mong La, on the border between Burma and China, sells various dead wildlife, such as this bear (foreground), and skewers of unidentified meat in this undated photo. (Photo: Karl Ammann / National Geographic)|
Ammann's documentary featured some gruesome exhibits, such as a group of around 80 black bears kept in small cages, having their bile “milked” via catheters. This so-called "liquid gold," is popular in traditional Chinese remedies, an apparent cure for eye and liver problems. Ammann highlighted the vast array of animal body parts used in traditional Chinese medicine––such as bear paws and gall bladders, big-cat teeth and tiger penis––which can be found at markets around the town.
Ammann believes that much of the economic motivation for the illicit animal trade comes from the reduced drug trade in Shan State in recent years. China closed its border post near Mong La in 2005, apparently after family members connected to the Communist Party leadership lost heavily while gambling at the casino there.
|A large male tiger skin is offered for sale in a private backroom in Mvng La, a casino town near the border between Myanmar (Burma) and China, in this photograph taken in summer 2005. (Photo: Karl Ammann / National Geographic)|
Ammann says the scale of the illicit trade he witnessed in Mong La outweighs anything he has seen, including the well-documented “bushmeat” trade in central and eastern Africa, adding that animal numbers have declined significantly due to hunting.
However, just as Ammann found a desolate Mong La in 2007, and a near traffic-free border post, he fears that the nearby hills and forest are now barren of much of the large wildlife that once roamed the region.
The border post has reportedly reopened from the Chinese side, enabling a return influx of Chinese gamblers and tourists, and a return to the older, bustling Mong La, once known as “Las Vegas in the Jungle.”
The border post
amid Burmese junta
pressure on ethnic
including the National
Democratic Alliance Army
(NDAA) and United Wa
State Army (UWSA), to
stand down and become
part of the junta's
border security forces.
The re-opening appears
to have taken place not
long after the Burmese
army offensive against
the ethnic Chinese
Kokang, which sent
37,000 refugees into
China and caused
The NDAA, UWSA and other cease-fire groups are thought to be stepping up drug production and selling off stocks to finance a possible war with the government forces, should Naypyidaw seek to enforce the border guard plan.
The Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) gathering has just concluded in Doha, Qatar, and has been condemned as a failure by conservationists after member states vetoed protection measures proposed to reduce the hunting of various sharks, blue-fin tuna and bears.
“LDCs [lesser-developed countries] no longer want to be dictated to by the West. They say, 'You have consumed so much over the past century, but now you want to stop us doing the same,'” said Ammann.
Burma and China are both signatories to CITES, and the trade puts both countries in breach of their obligations under CITES. Burmese government officials protest that they cannot do anything about the illegal animal trade, as the ethnic area in question has local autonomy.
Ammann said he sought to interview Chinese officials in Geneva about the issue, but said he was “given the runaround,” with no opportunity to ask questions.
Asked about what can be done to reduce or stamp out the illicit trade in wild animals, Ammann says that while education and cultural awareness can help in the long term, “what is needed now is enforcement, as time is running out for some of the animals, as we have seen from Mong La.”
Elsewhere, years of war in eastern Congo have seen gorilla numbers reduced drastically, according to activists, with rebels hunting the animals for food and for re-sale into the bushmeat trade. Chinese demand for ivory has seen elephant numbers drop as China expands its diplomatic and commercial presence across Africa. Elephant poaching is on the rise across Africa, 21 years after the ivory trade was outlawed. Last year, China approved 37 new retail ivory stores. However, China says it is committed to the ban on the ivory trade, and officials say that ivory seizures by Chinese customs officials have almost doubled in recent years.
Experts say the illicit trade piggybacks on lawlessness, state failure and political conflict. According to the CITES Web site: “The illegal wildlife trade that takes place around the world is often highly organized and sophisticated and can involve criminal gangs, armed with automatic weapons, who don’t hesitate to murder the wardens, game scouts or forest guards whose daily job it is to protect our planet’s natural resources.”
In the past, all too often, the response to such criminals has not been equally organized or sophisticated,” said Willem Wijnstekers, the secretary-general of CITES.
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