Archive for the ‘Burma’ Category



Mother and son had not seen each other since the 20th Century.



Toyota Divests from Burma Vehicle Manufacturer


Someone must have put vim in the Norwegian water-supply, as another humanitarian prize has gone to a critic of an autocratic and paranoiac regieme. Although Viktor Biak Lian’s activities have not brought him the same restrictions as Liu Xiaobo, this ethnic Chin activist has maintained an opposition to the Burmese junta inside and outwith the country: the newly instigated Norwegian Mission to the East now has awarded him the St. Shephan Prize for “outstanding contribution to human rights, reconciliation and religious freedoms in Burma”.

Elsewhere, Toyota Motors has announced that its affiliate, Toyota Tsusho has divested from a manufacturing venture held with the Burmese ruling Generals.

Myanmar Suzuki Motors produces high-end cars and motorcycles at sites in Burma in which, it now has been reported, Toyota sold its share back in June due to pressure from various advocacy groups. The parent company, Suzuki has no plans to halt its activities in Burma.


Nobel Peace Prize 2010


Liu Xiaobo 2010 Nobel Peace Prize Laureate - Copyright Liu Xia.

What do China and Burma have in common? They both have a Nobel Peace Prize laureate in prolonged detention.

The 1991 recipient, Aung Sang Suu Kyi is a fortnight shy of 15 year in detention in her native Burma (although the Burmese junta has hinted at a final release, albeit without voting rights or the continued existence of her political party, after the upcoming farce of a General Election).

Perhaps the Norwegian Nobel Committee is developing a sense of humility and persepective after awarding the 2009 prize to an American President based on nominations submitted less than a month after he assumed office; and the 2007 prize to someone else who had failed to become the American President based on a Powerpoint presentation over, amongst others, a woman who personally had saved thousands of children from Nazi forces and had several of her limbs broken in retaliation.

This year, the prize has been awarded to gaoled Chinese dissident, Liu Xiaobo.  A participant in the popular movement arising from the 1989 Tianamen Square Protests, Liu was convicted but released in 1991 when he recanted in letter form.  He spent more than half of the rest of the decade in detention for other forms of dissent.


Suing Dictators


Cross-posted at Harry’s Place.

As DaveM discusses hobnobbing by the Smurfs for Jihad in Viva Palestina with those responsible for multiple mass-killings of Palestinian Arabs, the LA Times carries a report touching on another massacre in the region.

Nitsana Darshan-Leitner’s latest legal success on behalf of the victims of terrorism is for the families of the victims of the 1972 Lod Airport attack – mostly Puerto Rican Christian pilgrims – when Japanese Marxist gunmen opened fire. With reported fears of a Bombay-style ‘commando’ take-over of European city-centres by Islamists, my gut feeling is that any such attack would be more akin to this.

A court in the US has now ruled that North Korean agents were responsible for providing training and logistics for the gunmen. Darshan-Leitner had filed the suit the day before George W. Bush removed North Korea from a list foreign State supporters of terrorism, resulting in the now $378 millions judgment.


Now a Burma-Laos Friendship Bridge


Cross-posted at Harry’s Place.

Burmese Soldier Displays Opium Poppies to Foreign Journalists. Copyright AFP PHOTO/Emmanuel Dunand

As it recovers from a DoS attack which targeted it and other Burmese-exile groups, The Irrawaddy also reports that the Laotian Government has promised Burma’s ruling Generals its full support in the upcoming General Election.

On the face of things, not least with banking assistance from Singapore as well as China and India vying to be the Burmese Generals’ bestest friend, this appears akin to the Parish Council of Upper Little Snoring weighing-in. Yet, the two dictatorships of Burma and Laos retain common security and financial interests.

In 2007, US law enforcement agencies frustrated Operation Tarnished Eagle which had intended to purchase weapons and other resources for rebel Hmong forces in an alleged plot against the Loatian Government. Leading this was H’mong soldier, Vong Pao who had led Hmong in Laos to ignominy and exile with his alliance with the CIA some 40 years beforehand.

Although, the H’mong ethnic group has historically been centred in Laos and south east China, there has been a noticeable presence in eastern Shan State which includes the Mekong River which forms the 150 mile border between Burma and Laos.

A bigger concern for the Burmese Generals, however, will be more pecuniary: namely the local drug trade. Much of Burma’s narco-dollars come from her part of the Golden Triangle, where she and Laos and Thailand all border. As part of her many ethnic conflicts, the Shan State drug-lord, Khun Sa opposed the Burmese military for years with finances from the drugs trade, before falling out with other Shan leaders in the late 1990s and signing a peace deal with the Burmese military (he died in 2007).

Now it is Naw Kham, also from the Shan State and leader of the Democratic Karen Buddhist Army, whom the Burmese military is seeking as a rogue drug-lord.

The motivations of the Burmese Generals should, however, be seen in the context of Marlo Stansfield pursuing Avon Barksdale. Burmese News International observes that the newly formerly Burma Guard Force has replaced the regular Burma Army along the Burma-Laos border region.

With a strong command-presence from the La Hu ethnic group, which is strongly involved with the local drugs trade, the BGF is assumed to be a means for plausible deniability when it comes to transferring narco-dollars.

National League for Democracy Dissolved in Burma


If the suppression of the 2007 pro-democracy protests in Burma was a tragic repetition of the annulment of the 1990 electoral success by the National League for Democracy (NLD), then the run-up to the November 2010 General Election has entered the farce stage. And what a black farce it is.

Following the announcement this summer of the astrologically-approved date for 7 November, transparently restrictive legislation enacted by the ruling State Peace and Democracy Council demanded full registration of previously banned political parties within a three month window: as, all the while, military bigwigs saunter through the revolving doors into civilian political candidacy.


Burma: A Country Where Everything is Broken



I think I will give this a miss in the same way that I gave Radovan Karadic’s poetry a miss: Burma’s military ruler, Senior General Than Shwe has been revealed as a budding lyricist.

This was revealed in a recent interview by Mya Than San, a former propagandist for the Junta. Than Shwe provided not only the lyrics to his 1990s composition, “Our Motherland” but also the seminal “We Don’t Care About Economic Sanctions”, performed by the president of the Myanmar Music Association, Accordion U Ohn Kyaw.

Than Shwe and other bigwigs had been reported to be stepping down from their military positions in order to assume civilian positions following the upcoming elections should they be elected in upcoming elections. Even disallowing for contradictory reports, were Than Shwe to saunter through the revolving doors, he would continue to meet with a frosty reception from Washington DC.

With this considered, Than Shwe would be better advized to make-do with the assets he and his family are reported to be stripping from Burma rather than tout his skills as a lyrcist. Like dictators before him he has had a captive audience, and may fall by the wayside in an open market.

This and other thoughts have been preying on his mind, which likely is why he and an auspicious number of aides attended the Bodh Gaya, a major Buddhist shrine in southern India.

Even by the standards of the supertitious ruling clique in Burma, their Commander in Chief is particularly prone to numerology and animist thinking; as discussed by the Burma Digest which suggested that an understanding of his weak spots is called for.

Although, maybe his public relations department could point have interceded when he designated two private aeroplanes as White Elephants.

Another Still-Birth of an Election in Burma?



A member of the National League for Democracy uses a laptop with an image of Aung San Suu Kyi at NLD’s head office in Rangoon. (Photo: Reuters)

The cards are stacked against the pro-democracy movement in Burma ahead of the General Election on 7 November as reported by The Irrawaddy.

The date of the 1990 General Election had been announced six months in advance, following a preceding six months to comprehend electoral law and another full year to register and recruit political parties. Twenty years on, there are less than three months to compete with the entrenched proxy parties for the State Peace and Development Council (SPDC) which has ruled Burma with neither peace nor development since effecting the cot-death of Aung San Suu Kyi’s victory in 1990.

The principal of these is the Union Solidarity and Development Party (USDP) which was formed more than four months ago, and received considerable Short money in July following the dissolution of the Union Solidarity and Development Association; the enforcers of the SPDC.

The Irrawaddy had charted the brewing of Cyclone Than Shwe, as senior SPDC officials were blown-away by their leader, Senior General Than Shwe. Although, as now confirmed, much of this was in anticipation of their walking through the revolving doors into USDP positions, Shwe is almost 80 years old and in ill-health.

His sudden demise would leave uncertainty, especially as he already has created discord with thoughts of a monarchic succession through his favored grandson, Nay Shwe Thway Aung.

Notable Opposition figures, however, face restrictions based on tortuous justification; not least Aung Sang Suu Kyi who was banned from participation due to retrospective legislation following a barely credible conviction.

The disgust at such ballot-fixing has reached such a crescendo that The Irrawaddy reports many see no option but passive resistance in boycotting the 7 November poll.

Burma: Open for Business



Friends of Kim eagerly have adopted Facebook, Twitter and YouTube (although it is not recommended that Koreans under the yoke of American occupation befriend them), but as of yet none of Than’s friends have follow suit.

Maybe the astrologists for the aspic-addled State Peace and Development Council have decreed that the chicken entrails do not recommend social networking.

After all, Shwe has relied on their advice when selecting the date of the upcoming General Election, now scheduled for 7 November. Combining his own lucky number, 11, with the auspicious seven (he will have been born on one of the seven days of the week), iterative addition directs to nine: 7+11=18 […] 8+1=9. Nine had been the lucky number of his predecessor, U Ne Win who un-valued the national currency to base-9 for this reason.

This follows the annulment of the 1990 General Election, and exclusion of the previous winner, Aung San Suu Kyi.