Agam's Gecko
Thursday, November 08, 2007
Gambari with Burma PM
UN envoy Ibrahim Gambari meets Burmese Prime Minister General Thein Sein yesterday.
Photo: Myanmar News Agency

he envoy sent by the United Nations Secretary General to facilitate dialogue in Burma, Ibrahim Gambari will leave the country today after a planned meeting with Aung San Suu Kyi in Rangoon, and following his failure to secure an audience with senior dictator Than Shwe.

Gambari was permitted to meet several junta officials, including the new "Minister for Relations" Aung Kyi who has been tasked with managing contacts with the opposition leader, still under house arrest. The generals had signalled their tone in advance of Gambari's arrival by announcing the expulsion of the UN's top diplomat in Burma the previous day. Information Minister Brigadier General Kyaw Hsan told Mr. Gambari that they reject interference from the UN and "big power bullies."
Kyaw Hsan said Gambari's previous visit "did not bear fruit as we had expected" and was followed by further international sanctions.

The minister said sanctions had not helped and insisted the junta would not be swayed by external pressure to bring about democratic reforms.
Gambari had made the bold proposal that a three-way meeting should take place , including himself, Aung San Suu Kyi and Minister Aung Kyi. The Brigadier General Information Minister rejected the idea out of hand. Gambari has managed to talk to the new Prime Minister, as well as some foreign diplomats flown to the generals' reclusive capital Nay Pyi Daw yesterday. Than Shwe insisted on playing hard to get.

Three senior members of Suu Kyi's National League for Democracy flew to Nay Pyi Daw yesterday for a meeting early this morning with the UN envoy. It will be the first time NLD members have ever visited the isolated new capital. Upon his return to Rangoon for his flight out later today, Gambari plans to meet with Suu Kyi -- though it's not clear from reports whether this has the blessing of the generals. Will she be taken to a government guest house as last time, or will Mr. Gambari just show up at her door? It may be time for him to assert himself with an act such as that, after what state media called the "dressing down" administered to him by the Brig-Gen Information Minister.
"If the (Burma) affairs are to be put on the UNSC agenda and the UNSC is going to handle them, the body will also have to handle the situations of the nations similar to or worse than Myanmar's," Kyaw Hsan told Gambari, who has been in the military's new capital of Naypyidaw since Saturday.
The Brig-Gen went on to give hints as to which countries he was referring to, which were apparently Thailand and Pakistan. Thailand is currently in the midst of a free-wheeling election campaign, with voting little more than a month away. Democracy will be fully restored just 15 months after last year's coup, while in Burma the junta hasn't even managed to get a constitution written in more than 15 years.

In a very "P"RC like manner, the dictators are relying on "national sovereignty" to claim their egregious human rights abuses are "internal affairs." What they really mean is, "Let us bludgeon our defenceless citizens and monks behind closed doors, in peace and quiet." Citizens like the Burmese Muslims in Rangoon who gave water to the protesting monks in September, and were promptly arrested, charged with "inciting state unrest."
[F]amily members of one of the detainees told DVB that all nine of them are now being held inside Pabadan police station, and their families have only been allowed to visit them once in the last month.

"They have bruises all over their bodies and said they were beaten up nearly every day during interrogation. They could not even eat properly," said the family member, speaking on condition of anonymity.

"The Pabedan police chief told us they were beaten up, not by police officers from the station, but by the military security department officers who are conducting their daily interrogations."
Many of those arrested during and after the protests have simply disappeared down a black hole, like the monk U Kowida who was arrested almost a month and a half ago.
"The authority arrested him this time as he was a member of the Thinga, or monks', alliance in the recent monk-led demonstrations in Burma," his relative said.

During the arrest, the authorities kicked U Kowida off the third floor of the monastery, causing him severe injuries in a fall to the ground floor...

As U Kowida has been missing since 1 October, his family members and well-wishers are worried about his security amid news that has been spreading that many monks have died in interrogation cells in Rangoon, said the relative.
Yet even with this dire situation, monks in the country have again taken to the streets at least twice in the past week. In fact, not only monks but school children in Akyab, Arakan State staged a peaceful rally on October 31.
The young students' between the ages of 10 and 13 years marched peacefully to the Lawkananda pagoda with red ribbons on their head without [any] writing, holding a red flower bouquet in one hand while another held a pigeon, he added. They were boys and girls from different schools in Akyab.

The students made groups of five and one row had five groups. There were around 100 students.

The students stayed at the pagoda from 2 pm to 3 pm where they released the pigeons and shouted "we need peace, not military rule".

The security forces of Lawkananda tried to divide and break the groups and send the students back home but they did not move from the pagoda compound till 3 pm.
While we wait to see how his final day goes in Rangoon (a UN statement yesterday said he would meet with Suu Kyi, senior members of her party, and other opposition politicians and UN workers), here's something to have fun with. Readers will already be aware of the "Panties for Freedom" campaign started by the Lanna ladies of Chiang Mai. With this little flash presentation offered on Ko Htike's blog, you can toss those panties and hear Than Shwe scream in agony. "Have you no humanity?"


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