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Burma - Myanmar



Burmese opposition leader Ms Suu Kyi has been admitted to a hospital the BBC reported Wednesday, Sept. 17, 2003, and underwent surgery. The operation was reported to be a success.

Ms Suu Kyi has been detained by the Burmese military government since the end of May, 2003, after a pro-democracy rally led to violent clashes between her supporters and a government-backed mob.

Thursday, September 18, 2003, marked the 15th anniversary of the military coup that brought the current dictators to power, after it crushed a pro-democracy uprising.

Since her detention in May, the 58-year-old opposition leader has only been able to receive a few visitors, and her condition remains difficult to verify.

Burma's ruling junta says Aung San Suu Kyi is being held for her own protection, and will only be freed when political tensions cool.

Burmese Prime Minister, General Khin Nyunt, raised hopes of a solution, saying the government would negotiate with the NLD on plans for a new constitution to enable free and fair elections.

Such things have been proposed before but the dictators never follow through. The nations of the world must isolate Burma if they are ever to get the government to change and join the free and open world.

Burma isolates opposition

(June 1, 2003)

The Burmese authorities have intensified their crackdown on the opposition

National League for Democracy (NLD) following the detention of the party's leader, Aung San Suu Kyi.

Diplomats say security forces have surrounded the homes of the remaining key leaders of the pro-democracy party, effectively placing them under house arrest.

The NLD says its provincial offices in Moulmein and Mandalay have now been shut. Its headquarters in the capital Rangoon was sealed off on Saturday.

The military authorities announced on Saturday that Aung San Suu Kyi had been taken into "protective custody" after clashes between party supporters and pro-government protesters in the north of the country.

The government has not explained what it means by protective custody, and the international community has expressed concern over Aung San Suu Kyi's fate.

The BBC's Larry Jagan in Bangkok says many diplomats fear the extended crackdown on the opposition may mean that the generals are planning to put the activist back under house arrest.

Aung San Suu Kyi was released from a long spell under house arrest last year -- a move welcomed at the time as a sign that the junta was ready for political reform.

A spokesman for UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan said he was following the situation closely and with concern.

Members of the International Committee of the Red Cross in Burma are reported to be trying to get access to Aung San Suu Kyi.

She recently attacked the military for the slow pace of change and their apparent reluctance to start political talks, and tensions have been rising between the opposition and the government.

Last week, 10 members of the pro-democracy movement were sentenced to stiff jail terms for organising public protests and being involved in clandestine activities.

Our correspondent says Burmese officials have been warning Aung San Suu Kyi supporters not to incite unrest during their travels outside Rangoon.

He says the activist is being blamed for clashes which occurred while she was on a political tour of the north of the country.

The military said four people were killed and 50 injured in the town of Yaway Oo, about 400 miles from Rangoon.

The NLD won elections in 1990 by a landslide, but the military regime which has run the country since 1962 refused to hand over power.

Aung San Suu Kyi has spent much of the last decade under house arrest, but her popularity among the Burmese has not waned.

After a seven-month interlude, the military junta had hinted this month it wanted to meet her again, raising expectations that the dialogue process between the two sides could be resumed.

But her detention, recent violence and last week's convictions of pro-democracy campaigners are thought to have seriously undermined those hopes.


(For more see www.bbc.com/)

In Burma (re-named Myanmar by the military dictators), the 1991 Nobel Peace Prize winner Aung San Suu Kyi, pictured above, remains under constant watch by the Military Junta following five years of house arrest -- for what? For winning the elections back in 1989. Suu Kyi's father, General Aung San, a national leader of independence for Burma was assassinated in 1947. In 1988 Aung San Suu Kyi addressed half million mass rally in front of the famous Shwedagon Pagoda in Rangoon calling for a democratic government. She is promised freedom if she will leave Burma. She refuses and remains to bring civility and dignity back to Burma.

Book Cover

Read her stirring keynote address to the NGO Forum on Women August 31, 1995 in Beijing. She did not attend the conference for fear she would not be permitted to return to Burma. She was able to send a video of her giving the speech. Read her writings in Freedom From Fear (Penguin Books, 1991).

Suu Kyi Once Again Manhandled by Burma Dictators

(August 1, 1998)

The Burma military government has once again shown their "courage" in the face of honest protest. Ms. Suu Kyi, who won the election to lead the nation over the military dictators in 1990, is treated as a criminal again. The military dictators had promised to abide by the election, but they annulled the vote and put Suu Kyi under house arrest.

The 1991 Nobel Peace Prize winner, Suu Kyi, a colleague and two drivers were stopped by police 20 miles west of the capital Rangoon (Yangon) July 24, 1998, as they tried to drive to Bassein to met members of her party. The military refused to let her proceed. She refused to return to Rangoon and stayed in her car for days until the government would agree to a dialogue with her and her party. Naturally the dictator generals would not do that. They are too insecure and afraid of losing an iota of power.

Rather than dialogue, the soldiers held Suu Kyi down (she was ill in the back seat with 104 degree fever) and took the wheel of her car and drove her back to the capital against her will. The latest of many "unacceptable violations of human rights," responded U.S. Secretary of State Madeleine Albright when she hear of it. Ms. Albright's remarks were given mostly as an after thought, carrying little weight or force. The story is of little interest to American media, hence few in the USA know of the travesty of justice. There is far less justice in Burma than China or Cuba, the last three remaining Communist-led countries. But with no television cameras there the world does not get alarmed. No cameras were in Burma when the students demonstrated in 1988 and 1989, so it is not considered news in America. If there are no color pictures of blood and gore TV news has little interest in reporting it. The Dallas Morning News reported this last disgraceful treatment of Suu Kyi way over on page 16.

American Baptists' first foreign mission field was the land of Burma. The land where Adoniram Judson shared the gospel from 1813 to 1850. The faith has grown in spite of missionaries being forced to leave when the military forces took over in the early 1960s.

Towery visited Burma twice. Once in 1976 when he discovered the lovely voices of the Rangoon Baptist Seminary choir. The growth of the church in Burma flourished after the missionaries left. A good thing. It showed a good foundation had been laid. The second time in 1977. Their freedom of worship is limited, but they do a lot with the little they have.

Towery visited with Baptist leaders in Mandalay and paused at the site of Judson's imprisonment in the British-Burma wars. There is now a small church on the site. Judson's story inspired many to become missionaries and the formation of the first Baptist Convention in America.

This convention of Baptists split when the southern churches were not allowed to send slave owners as missionaries. In May 1845 the Southern Baptist Convention (SBC) was formed. Until the 1980s the SBC had a fairly good response around the world. Towery and wife, Jody Long of Farmersville, Texas (home of Audie Murphy) were missionaries with the SBC from 1956 to 1977 and 1982-1992).

Now the SBC is under the control of ultra-fundamentalists. Dr. Jimmy R. Allen being the last moderate president. Under the new ultra-fundamentalists takeover the atmosphere changed drasticly. The SBC International Mission Board leadership recently (May, 2003) fired a bunch of missionaries who would not kowtow to the ruling elite. Such is the present situation of something that began with a great pioneer like Judson, and has sunk to -- ah, but I digress. (Remember in school how much you learned when the professor began to chase rabbits?)

Bo Hla-Tint, since 1995, has served as minister of finance in the National Coalition Government of the Union of Burma, Burma's government in exile. He was arrested and jailed for his part in Burma's pro-democracy demonstrations in 1988. In 1990 he was elected to Burma's Parliament but never allowed to take office by Burma's military dictatorship.

Here are some of Bo Hla-Tint's remarks from an interview with the Dallas Morning News, May 4, 1997:

There are many problems [in Burma]. Drugs are not only destroying the future generations in Burma, but also 60 percent of the heroin coming into the United States is from Burma. Burma's opium production has doubled since 1988 ... We have no hard evidence but it is obvious that they are encouraging opium production and heroin trafficking ... drug kingpins are residing safely in the capital of Rangoon.

HIV is rampant. There is wide-spread social corruption, government mismanagement and no political freedom. The very totalitarian regime sitting in Rangoon [has] no room for the ethnic minorities.

There is contact between exiled Burmese leaders and leaders of the ethnic minorities. Daw Aung San Suu Kyi [the 1991 Nobel Peace Prize laureate and leader of Burma's democracy movement] has been calling for national reconciliation.

Regarding China, it is not actively involved in the international debate regarding Burma, but behind the scenes, they are very powerful. Our concern is that if the situation is left unchecked, Burma may become a sub-state of China in the near future, maybe through neo-colonialism or direct military influence. ... Right now, Mandalay, the second capital of Burma, is absolutely controlled by the Chinese. In Mandalay, Burmese are learning Chinese.

Thousands and thousands of democratic activists are staying in jail without a trial. The human rights situation is extremely serious, in terms of forced labor, forced relocation, forced portering for the military, and gang rape. There is no political freedom, no freedom of assembly. Anytime you can be arrested.

Economic sanctions is the only way of pushing them [dictators] because this is the only language they understand. ... They become increasingly rich while the vast majority of the people are nearly starving. This is a very clear indication that most of the investment money is not being used to help the country.

Stayed tuned, Burma will be free one day. (If they had oil they might get freedom like the invasion of Iraq promised.)

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