It was never meant to be this way.The script called for the lead actor, a Nobel prize winner, to seize control of a country, bring peace where there was conflict and prosperity where there was poverty. A nation emerging from years of military dictatorship was to become a beacon of hope not only for its cowed population but also for much of a fractured and turbulent south-east Asia.But like many political dramas – especially over the past 12 months – the script has not been followed by Myanmar and its de facto leader, Aung San Suu Kyi.Now, a year since one of the world’s most famous prisoners of conscience came to power in the specially created position of state counsellor, the talk is not of progress.Instead, it is of drastically escalating ethnic conflicts that have simmered and sporadically exploded for decades; a new Rohingya Muslim insurgency that has prompted an army crackdown some say may amount to crimes against humanity; a rash of online defamation cases that have fostered a panic over freedom of speech; and a repressive legal framework that allowed the generals to jail so many still being in place. And all the while, Aung San Suu Kyi is accused of remaining mostly silent, doggedly avoiding the media.
Tag Archives: Burma
It’s a U.N. report U.N. officials themselves call revolting and unbearable. Myanmar’s security forces killed, gang-raped, and tortured hundreds of Rohingya Muslims in a wave of unprecedented violence, according to a new U.N. report released Friday. Victims included children and babies as young as eight months.
In recent months, Myanmar security forces stepped up their efforts to clear the ethnic group from the country’s borders — in a campaign of “area clearance operations” — to historic levels in terms of both scale and brutality.
GUO, the driver, pulls his car to a merciful halt high above a crevasse: time for a cigarette, and after seven hours of shuddering along narrow, twisting roads, time for his passengers to check that their fillings remain in place. Lighting up, he steps out of the car and dons a cloth cap and jacket: sunny, early-summer days are still brisk 3,500 metres above sea level. Mr Guo is an impish little dumpling of a man, bald, brown-toothed and jolly. He is also an anomaly: a Shanghainese in northern Yunnan who opted to stay with his local bride rather than return to his booming hometown.
Yangon is suddenly a city of phablets. Nowhere in Asia, let alone Europe, have I seen so many supersized smartphones in public spaces, and with such egalitarian appeal: Pavement vendors selling early 20th century British guides to English grammar seem as transfixed by them as Yangon’s smart set playing Pokemon Go.
Source: Myanmar’s Experiment
Myanmar’s parliament meets Thursday to put forward presidential candidates, some four months after Aung San Suu Kyi’s National League for Democracy (NLD) swept landmark elections.
Under the country’s complex junta-drafted constitution, three names will be put forward but the NLD’s candidate will almost certainly be the winner.
A report just released by Global Witness illuminates the staggering theft of billions of dollars worth of jade revenue by a nexus of military and business tycoons, and drug lords, that have long dominated Burma’s legal and illegal economies. The vast majority of Burmese jade goes to China, yet around 50 to 80 percent of this is smuggled illicitly over the border. In effect then, only around a third to a half of the entire revenue from jade, or $12.3 billion, ends up in state coffers — the remaining $20 billion or so is sold off illegally. Rather than contributing to public spending, it goes straight into the pockets of dominant figures in this nexus, and helps sustain their position as key power brokers in Burma.
Writing in the New York Times in an article entitled, “Myanmar Generals Set the State for Their Own Exit”, Thomas Fuller expressed his and the media’s failure to recognize the total fraud that is Burmese democracy.
“The official results are still being tabulated,” he wrote, “but all signs, so far, point to that rarest of things: an authoritarian government peacefully giving up power after what outside election monitors have deemed a credible vote.”
The last time Aung San Suu Kyi won a landslide election victory, the army generals who rule Myanmar rejected the result, placed her under house arrest and jailed thousands of her supporters, many of whom were brutally tortured.
That was in 1990. But 25 years later, with “Amay Suu” (Mother Suu) and her National League for Democracy (NLD) once again triumphant, the key question is whether the men in uniform will accept the people’s verdict and allow her to govern.
Paranoia surrounding security isn’t palpable in Yangon. Passing the immigration counter at Yangon international airport, and with it the completely unfounded fear of being deported on arrival, I reach the Telenor counter for a SIM card. I am ready with my photo and ID-proof documents, but all that the teenaged boy at the counter takes is 15,000 kyats, my phone to set up the new connection, and 5 minutes: he is deft at this. No paperwork at all and I have a new number and 3G access to the world once again. Surprised and amused, I think of the cumbersomeness of the same task back home.