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20 December – 9 January: Welcoming 2011 with New Hope and Opportunities

January 10, 2011

At the dawn of 2011, Burma Partnership would like to wish you all a happy new year, reflect on the past year and move into the future with the conviction that strengthened collaboration can bring genuine change in Burma.

At the close of 2010, the SPDC held fraudulent and undemocratic elections, which have only served to perpetuate military rule and entrench ethnic inequality. Burma will soon see a military dominated parliament filled primarily with old, familiar faces. The junta-allied Union State and Development Party (USDP) achieved a fraudulent electoral “victory” claiming to have won 77% of the electoral seats; together with the 25% of parliamentary seats reserved for military appointees, the election results ensure that pro-democracy or ethnic voices will be silenced as the same old regime continues under a new name.

The SPDC’s change of clothes will not inspire a sudden change of heart. Military authorities have continued and will continue to protect personal wealth and power rather than guarantee basic freedoms and rights and provide for the basic needs of the people. The escalation of conflict in Eastern Burma in the aftermath of the November elections, the recent sentencing of a reporter to an eight year jail term, and the ongoing flow of civilians fleeing fighting in Karen State across the border into Thailand, exemplify the constant threat under which the people of Burma live.

These clear challenges underscore the urgent need for our collective efforts and the importance of seizing every opportunity to effect genuine positive change.

As of 2011, Indonesia has taken on the chairmanship of ASEAN as well as the ASEAN Intergovernmental Commission on Human Rights (AICHR). Having personally experienced a complex and turbulent yet successful democratic transition, Indonesia should take this opportunity to move ASEAN towards pressuring Burma to protect human rights and move towards genuine democracy and national reconciliation. The Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono has already indicated that Indonesia will involve non-governmental elements in the planning and participation of the ASEAN summit, while the Indonesian Foreign Minister Marty Natalegawa has stated that Indonesia turned attention towards human rights, with hopes for AICHR to become a more effective human rights body.

In the coming year, Daw Aung San Suu Kyi will undoubtedly continue to be a powerful force for social and political progress in Burma. The overwhelming domestic and international support for Daw Aung San Suu Kyi upon her release from unjust house arrest contrasted sharply with widespread criticism of the SPDC’s polls. Since her release, Daw Aung San Suu Kyi has opened space for genuine progress as she, along with the NLD, has been offering practical solutions and addressing real needs. Most recently, Daw Aung San Suu Kyi’s new year’s message reiterated the call for national reconciliation and appealed to the people of Burma to work together for a “truly united spirit.” Together with the NLD and many others, she organized an event that raised money for political prisoners’ families, natural disaster victims, and HIV patients.

Activists and allies, citizens and solidarity networks across the world and inside Burma continue to tackle issues both large and small to create the real change we all want to see. This work, much of which never makes its way into the headlines, is a testament to the strength and resolve of Burma groups inside the country and around the world to bring freedom and genuine democratic change to Burma. We will continue to support these efforts in 2011.

2010 was certainly a challenging year as we experienced the highs of Daw Aung San Suu Kyi’s release and the lows of the elections and renewed armed conflict in eastern Burma. However, as we move into the new year, we are confident that, together, we can work toward democratization and reconciliation in Burma. 2011 is a new year, and a new opportunity for peace and democracy in Burma.

We would like to thank our Burma and solidarity friends for all your dedication, passion, and hard work over the past year. Our work could not have been realized without your support, and we look forward to working with you all in 2011.

News Highlights

State-run radio announces that Burma’s new parliament will hold its first session on January 31

Thai Army forcibly repatriates 166 civilians fleeing from fighting in Karen State on Christmas day

NLD outlines four principles for foreign investment in “Economic Analysis” statement

Inside Burma

Daw Aung San Suu Kyi holds meetings with the Russian ambassador to Burma, leaders of the National Democratic Force (NDF), and six executive members of the Shan Nationalities League for Democracy

Daw Aung San Suu Kyi holds conference with young people from Burma involved in social and humanitarian work

NLD raises over US$23,000 for political prisoners and social projects; launches volunteer network to support political prisoners and their families

The National Democratic Party for Development files vote rigging case against the Union Solidarity and Development Party (USDP) in Buthidaung, Arakan State

State-run New Light of Myanmar warns democratic forces to work with the newly-elected government towards “national reconsolidation”

Elected parliamentarians from the military-aligned Union Solidarity and Development Party (USDP) hold closed-door meetings in Naypyidaw

USDP files election complaints against three winning candidates from the Shan Nationals Democratic Party and the Democratic Party

SPDC deploys more troops to Shan State aiming to cut communications between two brigades of Shan State Army-North

SPDC orders the formation of two new regional military commands in eastern and northwestern Burma

DVB reporter sentenced to eight years in jail for photographing April bombing in Rangoon

SPDC prepares to target 3,000 cell phones for surveillance

Arakan Liberation Army attacks SPDC Army camp in southern Chin State, killing four soldiers

Karenni National Progressive Party attacks SPDC forces near the Salween Dam, killing three soldiers (Burmese)

A group of Burmese youths calling themselves Blink Hackers take control of USDP-backed youths website www.khitlunge.net.mm (Burmese)

11 underground monk and student groups operating inside Burma released a statement demanding the release of political prisoners and calling for national reconciliation (Burmese)

Regional

A Democratic Karen Buddhist Army soldier takes citizen hostage, demands democratic reforms in Burma outside UNHCR office in Mae Sot, Thailand

Reductions in funding force Thailand Burma Border Consortium to cut humanitarian aid to refugees

Than Shwe’s son-in-law named ambassador to China

Singapore and Japan make proposals to study Burma’s earthquake belt and help the country handle disaster mitigation

International

UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon discusses Burma with Chinese Foreign Minister

US sends Swiss-American drilling firm Transocean a second subpoena for violating sanctions

Latest from the Blog

Looking back, looking forwards
By Daw Aung San Suu Kyi

Elections Marred By Regime’s Campaign Restrictions, Harassment and Lack of Voter Education
By Burma Partnership

Actions

TAKE ACTION NOW!! Sign Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International’s petitions to free Burma’s political prisoners

Migrant workers from Burma protest against labor rights violations in Bangkok

Arakanese stage protest at UN in New York City

Opinion

Ten things we can do about Burma
By Amartya Sen
The Nation

Ethnic groups hold key to unlocking Burma’s chains
By Nehginpao Kipgen
Sydney Morning Herald

Sanctions aren’t the problem
By Dr. Zarni
The Irrawaddy

Thailand again sullies its human rights record
By Benjamin Zawacki
Bangkok Post

Statements and Press Releases

ASEAN, UN, asked to support refugees fleeing armed conflict in Burma: This shows the bankruptcy of junta’s 2010 polls, activists say
By Initiatives for International Dialogue

Open Letter: Thailand must respect principle of non-refoulement and protect the rights of refugees
By International Federation for Human Rights, Union for Civil Liberty and Altsean-Burma

Karen People in the UK Celebrate Karen New Year and Youth of the Year 2010 Award
By Karen Community Association UK

Economic Analysis and Vision of the NLD
By National League for Democracy

Placing Human Rights at the Forefront of Indonesia’s Chairmanship of ASEAN in 2011
By Solidarity of Asian People’s Advocacy – Task Force on ASEAN & Human Rights

Reports

Displacement Monitoring: December 17th through January 3rd updates on human rights concerns for villagers in Dooplaya and Pa’an districts and adjacent areas in Thailand
By Karen Human Rights Group

Weekly Political Events Regarding the Post Election (048/2010) (Burmese)
By Network for Democracy and Development

Weekly Political Events Regarding the Post Election (049/2010) (Burmese)
By Network for Democracy and Development

Weekly Political Events Regarding the Post Election (050/2010) (Burmese)
By Network for Democracy and Development

This post is in: Weekly Highlights