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Entries in Burma (9)


Burma Opinion: Obama Visits, But the Political Prisoners Remain

President Obama's speech at the University of Yangon on Monday

As Obama sets foot in Burma for the first time, it was confirmed that at least 44 political prisoners have been released. Campaigners cautiously welcomed this gesture while reminding the international community that these people are essentially being released into an open prison. They are not allowed to study, many are denied passports, lawyers are stripped of their licences and prison sentences remain unchanged. This means that they can be re-arrested at any time. They can also be replaced: since January 2012, at least 200 individuals have been detained and arrested for political reasons.

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Burma Opinion: Aung San Suu Kyi --- From Freedom Fight to Realpolitik (Oddsdottir)

Other than pleasing the international community, Suu Kyi has little to gain and everything to lose by speaking out for the ethnic minorities at the moment. However, Given that the "minorities" are actually 60% of the population, is this really a path to peace?

Is Suu Kyi all we had hoped for?

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Burma Feature: Aung San Suu Kyi & NLD Win --- Is This Beginning of "Democracy"? (Golluoglu)

Celebrations at National League for Democracy headquarters in Rangoon

If Burma ever needed a moment to rejoice, this was it. In a nation ruled by an often brutal military junta for nearly half a century, Aung San Suu Kyi's apparent victory in Sunday's parliamentary by-election could not be exaggerated.

Swarms of chanting Burmese flocked to National League for Democracy's (NLD) Rangoon headquarters as the sun set over the crumbling city, calling for the fall of "a sham democracy" and the return of "our fair leader, our beloved leader, Mother Suu".

"We did it! We won!" shouted the thousands of supporters as they filled the streets clapping, dancing and waving red party flags.

While unofficial party results indicate that Suu Kyi may have won 65% of the vote in 82 of her constituencies' 129 polling stations, local observers said that the number may have been as high as 90%, with the NLD reported to have won a minimum of 40 of the 44 seats it contested in the 664 parliamentary seats up for grabs.

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Burma Update: Staff, Patients at AIDS Clinic Evicted after Aung San Suu Kyi Visit (BBC)

Residents and staff at an HIV/Aids centre in Rangoon have been told that they will have to leave, two days after a high-profile visit by Aung San Suu Kyi.

The Burmese pro-democracy leader drew large crowds when she met residents at the clinic on Wednesday.

Late on Thursday, local officials told people at the clinic that their resident permits would not be renewed.

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Burma Interview: Aung San Suu Kyi on Opposition, Talking with the Regime, and Joining Facebook

I think the South Africans worked up to this compromise that –-- for whatever people did –-- they must take responsibility for that based on a principle of accountability. We all have to live together and one has to compromise. We have got to think about the future of the nation rather than about immediate gratification in the form of taking revenge. I have to say that I have suffered so much less in the hands of the regime than many others. So it is easier for me to talk perhaps about forgiveness and reconciliation. And yet that is the direction in which my mind as well as my heart takes me.

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Burma Update: National League for Democracy to Demand Recognition (Ko Htwe)

Lawyers representing the National League for Democracy (NLD) will appear before the Burmese Supreme Court in Naypyidaw on Thursday and argue that the regime's Election Commission was wrong in banning the party.

The lawyers discussed the case with NLD leader Aung San Suu Kyi on Monday. The NLD said she would not accompany the three lawyers to Naypyidaw.

The NLD was officially disbanded after failing to register for the Nov. 7 election. In its case before the Supreme Court, the NLD calls for the cancellation of Article 25 of the Political Parties Registration Law, which requires existing political parties to re-register or face disbandment.

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Burma/Myanmar Latest Video and Reports: The Freeing of Aung San Suu Kyi and Today's Speech

UPDATE 1645 GMT: The BBC has posted an audio interview with Aung San Suu Kyi. The opening exchange:

Q: What were you thinking as you walked out (of your house) yesterday?

A: I was wondering how I could make myself heard above the noise.

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Burma/Myanmar Update: Low Turnout, Criticism for Election 

Reports from Burma indicate that many voters heeded opposition calls to boycott Sunday's election, with two military-back parties certain to win most of the Parliamentary contests.

The vote took place amid tight security, with barbed wire and officers in body armour carrying assault rifles at major polling locations, and a ban on foreign reporters and election monitors. The Guardian of London, despite the ban, was able to tour 20 stations in Rangoon. The newspaper claimed that many were empty throughout the day. An official from the Asian Network for Free Elections said the overall voter turnout was less than 50%, with less than 30% in several regions.

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Burma/Myanmar: Elections Begin Amidst Tight Security and Much Skepticism (Al Jazeera)

Polls have opened under tight security in Myanmar's first election in 20 years, but few expect it to bring any real change in power, with the military and its proxies likely to dominate parliament and senior positions.

In the commercial hub of Yangon on Sunday, armed riot police stood guard at near-empty polling booths or patrolled streets in convoys of military trucks, part of a clampdown that includes bans on foreign media and on outside election monitors.

The carefully choreographed end of direct army rule, marred by complex rules that stifled major pro-democracy forces, enters its final stage in a race largely between two powerful military-backed parties running virtually unopposed.

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