September 2015 report on Burma & North Korea

 

Street Collection:

  • A couple of people have dropped out of this, so if you have any friends or relatives who could spare two hours of their time on Saturday 10th October, please get in touch with me on 01225 316246 or wendyhug8@gmail.com.

Letterwriting:

  • As we did not have a meeting in August, I wrote, signed and sent out 17 letters on your behalf.

Burma:

  • Aung San Suu Kyi, the leader of Burma’s National League for Democracy, has registered for the 8th November elections to challenge the ruling party which is backed by the military. Her party will contest almost all the 498 parliamentary seats. She submitted her papers amid flag-waving supporters at Thanlyin, a poor township south of Rangoon. Presumably this means as a MP, as we know she cannot be the President until the Constitution is changed.
  • Amazing news, DPA International reported that the President in early August sent a letter to 15 armed groups urging them to sign a truce as a first step ahead of political dialogue (which excludes 6 still actively fighting the military in Shan State) and so far 4 ethnic groups: Karen National Union (KNU), Democratic Karen Buddhist Army, Karen National Liberation Army – Peace Council and Restoration Council of Shan State/Shan Sate Army Group and the All Burmese Students Democratic Front expressed willingness to sign.
  • It has been reported that 13 prisoners have been released, 11 of them prisoners of conscience with five journalists and some Rohingya among them. At least 150 (Human Rights Watch say 170) prisoners of conscience still remain in prison and with about 400 being held before being charged.
  • The UN say that 103 people are dead and 1million displaced after flooding, the worst natural disaster in Burma since Cyclone Nargis killed 140,000 in 2008.
  • It was reported in The Independent in August that there has been a setback to the forthcoming election in November as the reform-minded and ally of Aung San Suu Kyi, former general Thura Shwe Mann tipped to be the next president has been ousted from the ruling party and confined to his home.
  • Human Rights Watch (HRW) reported in August that the 88 Karen Generation Student Organisation while trying to help small farmers to peacefully resist land confiscations in Karen State (27 farmers arrested in June, 9 in August) are being targeting. Phil Robertson, deputy Asia director of HRW says “These activists are forced to run a gauntlet of government intimidation, arrests and now, trumped up charges – just to try and help villagers to stay on their land”.
  • Those following the case of Andy Hall through Walk Free.Org who is the British activist fighting for the rights of Burmese workers in the pineapple factory owned by Thai Natural Fruit, he has been indicted and if convicted he will face 7 years in prison and $11million fine....let’s hope it doesn’t come to this.

North Korea:

  • North Korea has ruled out an Iran-style deal with regard to nuclear weapons. As we mark VJ day in August, NK announced that it is changing its time by 30 mins to reverse the change when it was under Japanese occupancy.
  • According to NK News.Org, Iran and NK are not just similarly ready to sponsor international terrorism but have also actively co-operated with each other (and with Syria, a third state sponsor) in this field. Also according to them, on 29th July a S Korean intelligence official announced that Yemeni rebels had purchased 20 scud missiles from NK which were subsequently fired into Saudi Arabia.
  • No doubt you have heard in the media about the tension mounting between the two Koreas as the S has been broadcasting propaganda through loudspeakers on the border. This was because earlier in the month 2 SK soldiers lost their legs in mine explosions during a routine border patrol which they suggested had been freshly laid. However, the S has now stopped the broadcasts and the N has apologised for the provocation.

Wendy Hughes

Burma & N. Korea Co-Ordinator, September 2015

 

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