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16-22 January: Resilience and Resistance Despite Junta’s Repression

January 22, 2010

Dear Friends and Supporters,

We have just learned that the health condition of a young female political prisoner is rapidly worsening to the point of being life threatening. Ni Mo Hlaing was sentenced to 5 years in Thayet Prison in 2009 for assisting the Cyclone Nargis survivors, has become seriously ill since October 2009 with gastritis, meningitis, and gout. At the recommendation of the prison doctor, her family has filed a request that she be moved to a prison closer to them, but the authorities have not yet responded.

On another count, Burma-born US citizen, Nyi Nyi Aung, along with two other activists, Min Min Htun and Aung Thu, was placed in solitary confinement for the second time on 12 January. On 17 January, his aunties were denied from visiting him. Today, Nyi Nyi appeared at court hearing, where the judge confirmed that the verdict would be handed down on 27 January. His finance, Wa Wa Kyaw has issued a statement saying, “As a Burmese-American, I applaud our government’s policy to engage with Burma, as it is the only way to have any chance to change the junta’s behavior. But we need to engage in a way that achieves concrete and meaningful progress and is not just talk for the sake of talking.”

On 18 January, Daw Aung San Suu Kyi’s appeal was heard in the Supreme Court. With elusive justice under the junta’s legal system, it could be another week before the verdict is declared.

Despite the junta’s continuing imprisonment of over 2,100 political prisoners, who are tortured, denied medical care and fair trials, and attempts to prolong their control through this year’s elections, the people of Burma remain hopeful and resilient.

The Free Burma Rangers recently wrote of the Good Life Club counselors singing, dancing and teaching children in an IDP village in Karen State. These villagers, forced to flee SPDC army attacks and rebuild their lives over and over, are an example of the desire of the Burmese people to one day lead normal lives, free from the regime’s harsh rule.

Burmese youth continue to find creative ways of resisting. Mon, Shan and Kachin youths have all recently organized activities in their communities to oppose the junta’s elections.

And in a recent interview, NLD Central Executive Committee Member U Win Tin showed that despite nearly 20 years of imprisonment and torture, Burma’s true leaders emerge from jail more resolute in their commitment for a free Burma.

As Daw Suu once said, “Even under the most crushing state machinery courage rises up again and again, for fear is not the natural state of civilized man.”

In Solidarity,

Burma Partnership Secretariat

News Highlights

Daw Suu meets with Junta Relations Minister Aung Kyi

Refugees Protest at Nu Po Camp in Thailand

Inside Burma

Burma’s Supreme Court heard final arguments in Daw Aung San Suu Kyi’s last appeal against her extended house arrest.

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NLD leaders met with a group of American scholars at the party’s headquarters in Rangoon.

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The NLD’s recently-enlarged Central Executive Committee decided to reconstitute the party’s Central Committee.

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Burma-born American Nyi Nyi Aung facing trial has been put in solitary confinement for the second time.

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Media in Burma have been banned from publishing material covering political groups’ preparations for this year’s elections.

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Christian prayer services were held in Northern Kachin State to halt the Myitsone dam project on the Irrawaddy, Burma’s longest river.

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The Kachin Defense Army, a splinter group of the Kachin Independence Organization, was forced to form smaller militias under the SPDC Army.

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Regional

The governor of Tak Province in Thailand warned Mae Sot’s humanitarian workers from Burma that they would be deported if they became involved in Burma’s political affairs.

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Indian Home Secretary Gopal K. Pillai visited Burma for two days of talks with his SPDC counterpart.

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International

Assistant Secretary of State Kurt Campbell suggested that the US would be seeking further discussions with the junta in the near future.

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The Philippines’ Foreign Secretary Alberto Romulo urged the junta to engage in meaningful dialogue with all political groups, “Otherwise, the election would be a mockery of Burma’s Roadmap to Democracy.”

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The International Labour Organization and the junta signed an agreement to extend the UN agency’s mission to monitor labour rights in Burma for another year.

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In a new report, Human Rights Watch criticized Burma’s human rights record as continuing to deteriorate in 2009 ahead of scheduled elections in 2010.

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Opinion

India can move the needle on Burma
By Kelley Currie
Wall Street Journal

Statements, Reports and Press Releases

Burma Campaign UK: Press Release: Kachin farmer murdered by Burmese Army soldiers – authorities take no action

Burma Democratic Concern: Organizations Around the World Statements on Boycott 2010 Election in Burma

Burma Lawyers’ Council: Statement on “No Free and Fair 2010 Election” in Burma

Human Rights Watch: Report: World Report 2010

This post is in: Weekly Highlights