Saturday, October 13, 2007

What happened re. Burma on October 12 - 13

It's 15:30 in Bangkok (15:00 in Rangoon) on Saturday October 13

- Myanmar's military regime rejected a U.N. statement calling for negotiations with the opposition. (AP)


- Hidden Crisis update: Britain's Guardian has just published a report from Burma, describing the "unspoken terror" of the Burmese in Rangoon.

- "The Butcher of Depayin" is dead: The fourth-ranking member of the regime, Prime Minister Soe Win, 59, died Friday in a military hospital after a long illness. He was nicknamed "the Butcher of Depayin" for his role in the 2003 attack on Suu Kyi and her followers in that northern town. (AP)

- Higher education system dismal: An on-the-ground report from Myanmar in today’s issue of Science paints a bleak portrait of the higher-education system in the country formerly known as Burma (CHE). Comment: No wonder bright Burmese kids have such anachronistic career aspirations (see my report from Burma here).

- Pro-government rallies: Tens of thousands of people were taken early Saturday to a pro-government rally in Yangon in a show of strength by Myanmar's junta, as a UN envoy returned to Southeast Asia to pile pressure on the regime. (AFP) The crowd shouted slogans denouncing VOA and the BBC (Bangkok Post). Comment: a newspaper photo of female participats in the pro-junta rally presents a sea of glum faces -- a far cry from the shining faces of those demonstrating monks.

- Thailand's junta likes Burma's junta: Thailand's army-appointed government will take no action against Myanmar's junta for its bloody crackdown on democracy protests as it lacks the moral authority, Prime Minister Surayud Chulanont said on Saturday.

"But if we do anything that will cause bad feelings with our neighbour, that will be problematic for the new elected government," he said. "My government, therefore, is very careful on this issue."

Despite Surayud's admission, Thailand remains one of the few countries with any sort of lever on the junta, mainly because it buys around $2 billion (1 billion pounds) of natural gas every year from its neighbour -- nearly half of all Myanmar's export earnings. (UPI)
Comment: That was lame. Thai Deputy PM Sonthi made a strong statement defending the butchers of Burma after the shooting had already started. How much influence does Thailand have over Burma? Bangkok Pundit investigates.

- Most arms deals with Myanmar legal: and some are even reported to the United Nations. But countries more sensitive to international opinion apparently try to mask their activities. Analysts say these include India, as well as Israel and Singapore. (AP)

- Burma's arms deals with North Korea: The most mystery shrouds the junta's deals with North Korea, widely believed to have supplied weapons such as Scud-type missiles that other nations are unwilling or unable to provide. (AP)

- Burma crisis refugees in Thailand: Burmese monks fleeing into Thailand have been warned that Thai officials may deport them for traveling without papers. (UPI)

- Gary Player designed golf courses for junta: Renowned golfer Gary Player has reiterated his company was only involved in the design of a golf course in Burma and had no links with the controversial Myanmar regime.

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