Archive for the ‘Democracy Wow’ Category

The Invisible Black Hand of Censorship

Protesters in Hong Kong carry placards of the Chinese pro-democracy activist Liu Xiaobo during a march to demand his release. Photograph: Ym Yik/EPA

A week before Liu Xiaobo was awarded the 2010 Nobel Peace Prize, a number of Chinese dissidents and reformers signed an open letter to the NPC calling for the honouring of promises for press-freedom which appear on paper, at least, in the Chinese constitution; and which appeared on the Hong Kong-based website of the Chinese Media Project.

One signatory and former defence official, Xin Ziling has appealed to supposedly deeply-held PRC principles of Marxism to elicit a sense of awareness by asking how Karl Marx would have circumvented Chinese censorship laws to publish The Communist Manifesto (my guess is, if refused, he would have gone-off to boff another maid). One point this appears to miss is that, despite Liu Xiaobo’s incarceration for endorsing Charter 08 (which used the 60th anniversary of the inception of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights to call for its incorporation into Chinese legislation), virtually all the other signatories of this escaped imprisonment.


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.


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.


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.

Dwirl Baby Dwirl



One of the most poignant thoughts when looking at the lightscape of the Korean peninsular which shows the northern half in darkness is that, due to its greater natural resources, this area contained the most heavy industry during the Japanese period.

The Financial Times is reporting that a consortium lead by Anglo-Irish oil company, Aminex and Singaporean oil company, Chosum Energy have secured a ten year production sharing agreement with Pyongyang to explore for oil off the north east coast.

Perhaps Aminex is hoping for a better showing after its share prices fell by as much as 26% in April following the failure of its partner, Tullow Oil to find oil in the Ruvuma Basin in southern Tanzania. If so, I assume it now has better assurances from the DPRK with which it entered a similar agreement in 2006.

Almost four years later, it issued an operational update, citing difficulties with “international politics”. And it currently is a stable period?


Did You Vote For a Taghut?


I did. I am so shirk.

1990 Burmese General Election Annulled



Alex Salmond and Ieuan Wyn Jones have continued their Violet Elizabeth Bott routine over failure to be included in three head-to-head televised leadership debates in the run-up to the General Election by writing a letter to the Director General of the BBC.

It is, we are told, a breach of human rights (that of “the people” of Scotland/Wales, not theirs: they are far too humble to make it about themselves).

Meanwhile, the aspic-preserved State Peace and Development Council in Burma have annulled the results of the 1990 General Election which the National League for Democracy is assumed to have won. In advance of new polls anticipated this year, the SPDC has banned senior NLD figures, including its incareated leader, Aung San Suu Kyi from participated; as well as announcing that they will hand-pick members of the Electoral Commission.


Totalitarian Cuisine



Although my day-to-day diet is more akin to that of Robert Mugabe, I must admit, I do like an apple strudel now and again. Yet, I am a bit bemused that Kim Jong-Sung might have thought Austrian cuisine was the “best in the world”, and dispatch his personal chefs to learn its weird and wonderful wiley ways.

(Although, I will not be re-considering my palate, as I did with my watching habits when I discovered Kim Jong-Il was a fan of Daffy Duck.)

This is one of the insights into the high priests of the Juche religion which has been revealed by Kim Jong-Ryul, former personal shopper to the North Korean leaders. Sixteen years after faking his death and settling in Austria, Kim Jong-Ryul (all these Kims is like the Mackays in northern Sutherland) is understandably fearful of attempts on his life; considering North Korea’s tendency to kidnap Japanese and South Korean civilians from beaches, or to conspire with Chinese authorities to repatriate refugees in China.

Yet, at 75, he appears to have reached a confessional stage in his life, and wishes only to relieve his conscience.


The Nutritional Value of Cigarettes



I have no idea if Alejandro Cao de Benos de Les y Pérez, Noah Tucker and Andrew Murray smoke, but if they do, solidarity would dictate a North Korean brand (seen on the right). Although import of such luxury items to North Korea is advized against by the UN, individual countries are able to set their own advice.

In 2001, the Armand Hammer-like British American Tobacco went into partnership with Korea Songyong Trading to form Taesong-Bat, and with little fanfare established factories in North Korea: although BAT sold its share in 2007, it continues to import its State Express 555 brand for domestic consumption.


Spin on this George Galloway


Whereas in Britain, we are discouraged from voting by the rain or apathy: in Iraq, it is from the risk of being blown to pieces.  Yet, this current General Election returned a turn-out of 62%, similar to a good turn-out in Britain.

One of the interviewees above wishes his daughter to become a doctor in a democratic Iraq, and another stated he would have attended even if missiles were being fired instead of ‘mere’ mortars.

So, spin on that, George Galloway.