Tag Archives: Burma

New Protests in Iran Show Hope for Reform Still Alive

On what was meant to be a day of anti-American sentiment, anti-government protesters instead took to the streets in Tehran, Iran. Today is the 30th anniversary of the Iranian takeover of the American Embassy in Iran and the beginning of the Islamic revolution that put the Shah of Iran in power in 1979.  Demonstrations for the anniversary are sponsored by the state, but opponents of the current government used the occasion to demonstration their support for reform. Police used teargas and violence to subdue protesters, New York Times.

Protests have been ongoing in Iran since the disputed June 12 presidential election. President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad officially won reelection but supporters of reform candidates Mir-Hussein Moussavi and former president Muhammad Khatami alleged that the election was a fraud. Censorship and heavy surveillance by police prevent reformist Iranians from staging large-scale or long-running protests but protesters have been able to show their support and their growing numbers by coordinating reform demonstrations during state-sponsored demonstrations, such as at the Quds Day rallies in September. Iranians are also coordinating on Twitter and by text message. Timeline: Iran after the election, Al Jazeera.

President Obama appealed directly to the Iranian people in a statement released today. He called on Iranians to put aside the 30 years of mistrust that followed the seizure of the American Embassy and to start a new chapter of cooperation and mutual respect, Whitehouse.gov.

See our Live Blog for more information. See also the Green Wave of Freedom website for reports on reform efforts from inside Iran, Mowjcamp and the website for former presidential candidate Mehdi Karoubi, Tagheer. Use Google Translate to change the text to your language.

5 British soldiers were shot inside a police training facility in Helmand Province, Afghanistan. The shooter was described as a “rouge policeman.” It is unknown if the Taliban was involved in the attack. Strategy in Afghanistan has focused on training Afghan police and soldiers in hopes that those forces will one day be capable of stabilizing the country without the aid of NATO forces, BBC News. Taliban link to the shooting probed, BBC News.  Q & A on British troops in Afghanistan, BBC News.

Voters in Maine overturned a law passed by the legislature and signed by the governor that had allowed same-sex couples to marry.  Maine becomes that 31st state that has rejected same-sex marriage by popular vote, ABC News.  Republican candidates won the race for governor in both Virginia and New Jersey, ABC News. In New York City, incumbent Republican Mayor Michael Bloomberg won reelection. The race was closer than had been expected with the Democratic candidate getting 46% of the vote to Bloomberg’s 51%. Mayor Bloomberg, who has a personal fortune of $20 billion, spent $90 million of his own money on his reelection campaign, New York Times.

At least 91 people are dead and thousands have been displaced by Tropical Storm Mirinae in Vietnam, Associated Press.  Vietnam is still recovering from Typhoon Ketsana, Citizen’s Daily Brief.

American diplomats were allowed to meet with Burmese pro-democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi despite her house arrest. Suu Kyi has been under house arrest for much of the past 20 years. Suu Kyi was democratically elected President of Burma but a military junta did not allow her to take office. The junta controls the country, which it has renamed Myanmar. The U.S. has initiated a new policy of engaging with the country’s leaders, CNN International.

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UN Plane Crash in Haiti Kills 11

11 people were killed today as their plane crashed into a mountain in Haiti. The dead were all peacekeepers and a part of an United Nations peacekeeping mission, BNO News.

President Obama said he was “humbled and deeply surprised” by the Nobel committee’s decision to award him the 2009 Peace Prize. Obama says he believes the prize will be a great motivator to help aid the international peace process, BBC News.

Burmese dissident Daw Aung San Suu Kyi was allowed by the Burmese government to meet with foreign diplomats today. The meeting suggests a possible détente between the junta and Western governments, New York Times.

Nathan Daniel Larson, 29, of Boulder, Colorado has been sentenced to 16 months in a federal prison for making threats against the U.S. President, but it is not clear if those threats were made against Presidents Bush or Obama. Larson sent an e-mail in December to the Secret Service announcing, “I am writing to inform you that in the near future, I will kill the President of the United States of America,” BNO News.

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Iranians Protest Ahmadinejad, Support Palestine on Quds Day

Residents of Tehran and other parts of Iran took to the streets earlier to today to mark Quds Day, a traditional day of rallies held in support of Palestine on the last Friday of Ramadan. People used the occasion to voice their political views, including support for opposition of current President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and disapproval of the actions of Israel and other western countries. Riot police cracked down on anti-Ahmadinejad protesters while at Tehran University Ahmadinejad went further than he ever had before in denying the Holocaust, AFP.

Burmese pro-democracy activist Aung San Suu Kyi has filed an appeal of this summer’s court decision to extend her house arrest after an American man, claiming illness, spent the night in her house last spring. Under the strict military regime in Myanmar, no one is allowed to stay over night at anyone’s house. A verdict on the appeal is expected next month. The country’s rulers aim to keep Suu Kyi out of public eye until after the upcoming 2010 elections, Associated Press.

30 people have been killed in a suicide bombing at a crowded marketplace in the village of Kohat in northwestern Pakistan. Most of those killed were men from the country’s Muslim Shia minority. A Taliban group has claimed responsibility, Al Jazeera.

Two American couples in Egypt who were arrested for trying to adopt children illegally have been sentenced to two years in prison. The country’s adoption laws are based on Islamic law which is strict about adoption practices, BBC News.

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Looking Forward: Elections in Myanmar

Myanmar, a country in southeast Asia formerly called Burma before it was renamed by the military junta that currently control it, plans to hold elections in 2010. The last elections were held in 1990 when pro-democracy activist Aung San Suu Kyi won most of the vote but was not allowed by the military to take power. Suu Kyi has been held under house arrest for much of the time since then. Myanmar is a severely repressed state where citizens are not even allowed to stay the night in other people’s houses. This is the technicality that led to Aung San Suu Kyi’s house arrest being extended when an American man who believed he was sent by God swam across a lake to Suu Kyi’s house and then, claiming illness, stayed overnight. Sanctions have been imposed against Myanmar, meaning that it is illegal for Western businesses to sell goods to the country, The New American.

The upcoming  elections are an attempt to legitimize the government in hopes of one day having the sanctions lifted and being accepted in the global community.  However, at least one fourth of the seats will go to members of the military and democratic activists like Aung San Suu Kyi will not be able to participate. Reuters Q & A on the elections. Comprehensive analysis of the impact of elections by the International Crisis Group.

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Fourth Arrest in Florida Murders

A fourth suspect has been arrested in connection with the murders of a Florida couple last week, and police say as many as eight people may be involved with the killings. Wayne Coldiron, 41, Leonard Patrick Gonzalez Jr., 35, and Leonard Patrick Gonzalez Sr., 56, were arrested over the weekend, and Gary Lamont Sumner was arrested today. The couple murdered, the Billings, had 17 children, 12 of which were adopted, CNN.

Agreeing to U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon’s request, Burma is set to release some political prisoners in order to allow them to take part in next year’s elections. There are an estimated 2,100 political prisoners in the country, and it is not known how many will be freed, BBC News.

For the first time in history, the U.S. budget deficit has reached a trillion dollars, BBC News.

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Iran’s Supreme Leader Urges Protests to Stop, Supports Ahmadinejad

Iran’s Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, addressed the nation today, calling for protesters to accept the results of last week’s election. He declared the election fair and accused foreign governments of interfering by supporting the protesters, BBC News.

The US has increased its defense capabilities in Hawaii after receiving word that North Korea could attempt to launch a missile at the Pacific island, AFP.

Supporters around the world are marking the birthday of Aung San Suu Kyi, a pro-democracy activist in Burma who turns 64 today. Suu Kyi is currently on trial and is expected to be kept out of the public eye until after the upcoming elections in Burma. A website,  64forsuu.org, has been set up for well wishes from supporters, Voice of America.

A Texas billionaire accused of fraud has surrendered to the FBI and will appear in court today. Allen Stanford urged his client to invest $8 billion in bogus high-yield certificates of deposit at his Caribbean-based Stanford Investment Bank, Reuters.

A Minnesota woman was found guilty of illegally downloading 24 songs and was ordered to pay $1.9 million, or $80,000 per song, to the Recording Industry of America who brought the suit, CNN.

Google released its Farsi translation service ahead of schedule in response to the worldwide interest in events currently happening in Iran, Times Online. Try the service at translate.google.com.

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Iran Tests Missile Capable of Reaching Moscow

Reports say Iran has tested a surface to surface air missile. The Sajil missile has a range of 2,000 kilometers and could reach Moscow, Athens, and southern Italy. Iran’s first test of this kind of missile was in November 2008, CNN International.

Observers were allowed into the trial of pro-democracy activist Aung San Suu Kyi. It is still expected that the trial will find her in violation of her house arrest, but intense international pressure led the government to allow reporters and diplomats to view the trial. The observers reported that Suu Kyi seemed to be in good spirits and was filled with energy, BBC News. Previous reporting on the bizarre events leading to the charge, Citizen’s Daily Brief.

India’s Congress Party has enough backing to form a government on May 22. Manmohan Singh will continue as  Prime Minister, Sify.

A new report outlines abuse in Catholic schools in Ireland from the 1930s until the schools were shut down in the 1990s, AP.

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Burmese Pro-Democracy Activist Charged with Violating House Arrest

In a bizarre story, Burmese pro-democracy activist Aung San Suu Kyi has been charged by the military junta running the government of violating the terms of her house arrest. Suu Kyi has been under house arrest for the past six years and is not allowed to have guests other than family visit overnight. Under the terms of her arrest, Suu Kyi’s detention was due to expire at the end of May. It is feared that this charge is simply a way of keeping her out of the public eye until next year’s elections occur. The elections are expected to be a rubber stamp of the current government. The charge stems from an incident in which John William Yeattaw, an American man from Missouri, wearing flippers he handmade, swam one mile across a lake to get to Suu Kyi’s house. According to Suu Kyi’s lawyers, once at the house he claimed he was diabetic and was too ill to leave. In 1990, in the first election Burma had held in 30 years, Suu Kyi’s National League for Democracy party won a solid majority of votes, but that result was ignored. Burma’s government officially renamed the country Myanmar, Guardian. CNN has a picture of Yeattaw said to have been taken in Suu Kyi’s home and a picture of his handmade flippers.

40,000 attended an outdoor papal mass in Nazareth. After the mass, Pope Benedict XVI met with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Al Jazeera.

North Korea has set a trial date of June 4 for two American journalists charged with illegally crossing the border from China to North Korea, New York Times.

The UN Security Council has issued a statement condemning the Sri Lankan government’s use of heavy artillery on civilians trapped in a warzone, Bloomberg. The Sri Lankan government says that thousands of civilians trapped in the warzone, where the government claims they were being used as human shield by Tamil Tiger rebels, have escaped by crossing a lagoon, Reuters.

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