Sunday, November 14, 2010

Hillary Rodham Clinton : Release of Aung San Suu Kyi

Release of Aung San Suu Kyi




Today I join with billions of people around the world to welcome the long-overdue release of Burmese democracy leader and Nobel Peace Prize Laureate Aung San Suu Kyi from house arrest.

Aung San Suu Kyi has endured enormous personal sacrifice in her peaceful struggle to bring democracy and human rights to Burma, including unjustified detention for most of the past twenty years. The Burmese regime has repeatedly rejected her offers to engage in dialogue and work together, trying instead to silence and isolate her. Through it all, Aung San Suu Kyi’s commitment to the Burmese people has not wavered.

The United States calls on Burma’s leaders to ensure that Aung San Suu Kyi’s release is unconditional so that she may travel, associate with her fellow citizens, express her views, and participate in political activities without restriction. They should also immediately and unconditionally release all of Burma’s 2,100 political prisoners.

We urge Burma’s leaders to break from their repressive policies and begin an inclusive dialogue with Aung San Suu Kyi and other democratic and ethnic leaders towards national reconciliation and a more peaceful, prosperous, and democratic future.

Hillary Rodham Clinton
Secretary of State
Washington, DC
November 13, 2010

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13 November 2010

Statement by Dr Agnes Callamard, ARTICLE 19 Executive Director, on the occasion of Aung San Suu Kyi’s “release”

For some 20 years, Aung San Suu Kyi has been denied her rights, held by force behind the walls of her home, and punished for her faith in democracy, human rights and in the right of the people of Burma to live free from fear.

Today Aung San Suu Kyi has been freed. One week after the people of Burma were once again denied the right to chose freely, without fear, their political representatives.

Today she has been freed. A few days after thousands fled into neighbouring Thailand to escape the violence that accompanied these unfair elections. A few days after reports of widespread election rigging have finally emerged from the few independent journalists working underground inside the country.

Today Aung San Suu Kyi has been freed. This is an enormous step. And today we celebrate alongside her family, her colleagues and friends, her supporters in Burma, around the world, in the refugee camps, and with her fellow Nobel Peace Prize winners who have campaigned for her freedom. We all celebrate today with joy, warmth and tears. We share a common exhilaration.

Today she has been freed. But tomorrow, we must once again confront, demand, remind, and campaign. For let there be no doubt about it, this major step must be a first step only. It has to be followed by many more. Standing with Aung San Suu Kyi and her supporters, we will work to ensure that these next steps are taken, so that the Burmese people may also be freed.

FURTHER INFORMATION:

• 65 year old Suu Kyi, who is an ARTICLE 19 Honorary Board Member for her dedication to free speech, is the leader of the National League for Democracy and winner of the 1991 Nobel Peace Prize. Her party secured 80 per cent of parliamentary seats in the 1990 general election, despite her being detained at the time of the vote, but the military never allowed a democratic government to be formed and she has remained in detention most of the time since. Her release comes just days after sham elections organised by the Burmese military government. The national media was not allowed to cover the election freely, foreign journalists were barred from entering, political candidates were highly restricted, and the electorate was never properly informed of the election or the candidates and their opinions. No independent observers were present. The election results are not yet clear, but it appears that the military-aligned USDP has unsurprisingly been declared the winner.
• For more information please contact: Oliver Spencer, oliver@article19.org +44 20 7324 2500

Friday, November 12, 2010

Aung San Suu Kyi : Burma generals sign HER release order


Burma generals 'sign Aung San Suu Kyi release order'

Aung San Suu Kyi has been detained for 15 of the past 21 years

Reports from Burma say military authorities have signed an order authorising the release of pro-democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi.

But hopes she would be freed on Friday were dashed: there has been no official confirmation of a release order.

A leader of her NLD party told 2,000 supporters gathered at its headquarters to go home and return on Saturday.

Ms Suu Kyi has been detained for 15 of the past 21 years, and her house arrest term expires on Saturday.

There has been increased police activity outside her house in Rangoon, Burma's largest city, but no formal statement from military officials.

However, Ms Suu Kyi is not expected to accept a conditional release if it excludes her from political activity.

The 65-year-old was originally due to be released last year, but a case involving an American who swam across Inya Lake to her home, claiming he was on a mission to save her, prompted the latest 18-month detention.

'Significant impact'

The BBC is banned from reporting in Burma but correspondent Alastair Leithead is monitoring developments from the capital of neighbouring Thailand, Bangkok.
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At the scene
A correspondent BBC News, Rangoon

All day rumours have circulated that Aung Sang Suu Kyi could soon be free, and all day the crowds outside the offices of the NLD have grown.

The building is constantly watched by government intelligence agents, yet still they came, defiantly wearing white T-shirts emblazoned with the face of their icon.

News spread that the papers for Aung Sang Suu Kyi's release had been signed, though no one could actually confirm that, the anticipation grew.

The crowd moved off along the road towards the lakeside house that has been the pro-democracy leader's prison for so long.

Then the word came that the release would not after all be today, but perhaps tomorrow, and still no official statement from the military government.

Aung Sang Suu Kyi and her loyal supporters must, it seems, wait a little longer.
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He says a number of sources inside Burma have told the BBC that documents authorising Ms Suu Kyi's release have been signed.

Officials have reportedly visited her home in University Avenue to deliver them.

About 2,000 of her supporters gathered at NLD headquarters in anticipation of her release. Some wore T-shirts saying: "We stand with you."

"Young and old, NLD members and non-members are gathering here with excitement to welcome her. At one point, we got the news that she was released and we all shouted with joy," Yazar, an NLD youth leader, told the BBC's Burmese service.

But by early evening a party leader told people to go home because it seemed unlikely she would be freed on Friday.

A man waiting outside the gate to Ms Suu Kyi's home said little had changed.

"People are waiting in groups here and there, maybe more than 100 in total - many of them are journalists," he told the BBC. "Security is normal as usual. No increase. The gate is closed as before, that's it."
A vehicle passes a checkpoint near the home of Aung San Suu Kyi (12 November 2010) Witnesses said there had been no increased security outside Ms Suu Kyi's home in Rangoon

Ms Suu Kyi's lawyer said: "There is no law to hold her for another day. Her detention period expires on Saturday and she will be released."

"They should release her for the country," Nyan Win added.

Earlier this week, he told the BBC that she would "not accept a limited release".

"[It] must be unconditional. As we all know, she never accepted limited freedom in the past."

Nyan Win said she would meet with the NLD's central committee, members of the media and the public once she was freed.

The British ambassador to Burma, Andrew Heyn, has told the BBC that the UK and EU are pressing hard for Ms Suu Kyi's unconditional release, and that her freedom would have a "significant impact".

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Aung San Suu Kyi

* Born 1945, daughter of Burma's independence hero, General Aung San assassinated in 1947
* 1960: Leaves Burma and is later educated at Oxford University
* 1988: Returns to care for sick mother and is caught up in revolt against then-dictator Ne Win
* 1989: Put under house arrest as Burma junta declares martial law
* 1990: NLD wins election; military disregards result
* 1991: Wins Nobel Peace Prize
* 1995: Released from house arrest, but movements restricted
* 2000: Near continuous period of house arrest begins
* Sept 2007: First public appearance since 2003, greeting protesting Buddhist monks
* November 2010: NLD boycotts first election in 20 years and is disbanded
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Boycott
The increasing speculation that the ruling generals may sanction Aung San Suu Kyi's release follows the country's first elections in 20 years on Sunday.

On Thursday, state media announced that partial results showed that the biggest military-backed party, the Union Solidarity and Development Party (USDP), had secured a majority in both houses of parliament.

The USDP had won 190 of the 219 seats so far declared in the 330-seat lower House of Representatives, and 95 of 107 seats in the 168-seat upper House of Nationalities, the reports said.

Those elected included the leader of the USDP, Prime Minister Thein Sein, who retired from the military as a general in April to stand.

The junta has said the election marks the transition from military rule to a civilian democracy, but the opposition, many Western governments and human rights groups have said the election was neither free nor fair.

The NLD - which won the last election in 1990 but was never allowed to take power - was ordered to dissolve after refusing to take part.

A quarter of seats in the two new chambers of parliament will be reserved for the military. Any constitutional change will require a majority of more than 75% - meaning that the military will retain a casting vote.
Source : BBC
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Aung San Suu Kyi, soon to be released, faces tough political landscape in Burma

By Tim Johnston
Friday, November 12, 2010; 12:09 PM

BANGKOK - For much of the past 20 years, a crumbling villa on the shores of Rangoon's Lake Inya has been both home and prison to Aung San Suu Kyi, the focal figure in Burma's long struggle for democracy.

Her latest term of house arrest, imposed last year for allowing an exhausted and possibly mentally ill American tourist to stay the night after he swam across the lake, expires Saturday. If she is released, as is expected, it will be into a country suffering its latest bout of dashed hopes for democracy.

Suu Kyi, 65, remains by all accounts unbowed. She has spent the past seven years at the home on Rangoon's University Avenue that she inherited from her father, independence hero Aung San, with only housekeepers for company.

"The energy is still there; the commitment is still there. She has all the things that everyone says - she's poised and elegant and a very impressive figure - but she's also well-informed," said Andrew Heyn, the British ambassador to Burma (also known as Myanmar) and one of few foreigners to have met with Suu Kyi recently. "The message I got when I spoke to her, not only by what she said but by her body language, is that this is a woman who wants to stay involved."

In many ways, Burma's political landscape has changed little since the previous elections in 1990, when Suu Kyi's National League for Democracy won a landslide victory, only to have it snatched away by the military.
Her latest term of house arrest, imposed last year for allowing an exhausted and possibly mentally ill American tourist to stay the night after he swam across the lake, expires Saturday. If she is released, as is expected, it will be into a country suffering its latest bout of dashed hopes for democracy.

Suu Kyi, 65, remains by all accounts unbowed. She has spent the past seven years at the home on Rangoon's University Avenue that she inherited from her father, independence hero Aung San, with only housekeepers for company.

"The energy is still there; the commitment is still there. She has all the things that everyone says - she's poised and elegant and a very impressive figure - but she's also well-informed," said Andrew Heyn, the British ambassador to Burma (also known as Myanmar) and one of few foreigners to have met with Suu Kyi recently. "The message I got when I spoke to her, not only by what she said but by her body language, is that this is a woman who wants to stay involved."

In many ways, Burma's political landscape has changed little since the previous elections in 1990, when Suu Kyi's National League for Democracy won a landslide victory, only to have it snatched away by the military.
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Factbox: Facts about Myanmar's Aung San Suu Kyi
(Reuters) - Aung San Suu Kyi, leader of Myanmar's fight against military dictatorship, is scheduled to be released from house arrest on November 13, six days after a military-backed party won the first election in two decades.

Here are some facts about Suu Kyi, who went from being an housewife in England to a Nobel peace prize laureate incarcerated for 15 of the last 21 years because of her fight for democracy in the former Burma.

-- Born in Rangoon (now Yangon) in June 1945, she is daughter of General Aung San, an independence hero assassinated in 1947. Her mother, Khin Kyi, was also a prominent figure.

-- She studied politics in New Delhi and philosophy, politics and economics at Britain's Oxford University. In 1972, she married British academic Michael Aris.

-- Suu Kyi returned to Yangon in April 1988 to take care of her dying mother at a time of countrywide pro-democracy protests against the army regime. Keen to continue her father's legacy, she entered politics and helped set up the National League for Democracy (NLD) party, becoming its secretary-general and calling for an end to military rule.

-- The junta placed the charismatic and popular Suu Kyi under house arrest in July 1989 for "endangering the state." The next year, even without her, the NLD won 392 of 485 parliamentary seats in Myanmar's first election in almost 30 years. The military refused to relinquish power.

-- Suu Kyi, awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1991, has been in prison or under house arrest off and on for 15 years since 1989.

-- Her husband died in Britain in 1999. Suu Kyi declined an offer from the junta to go to Britain for his funeral, fearing she would not be allowed back if she left.

-- She was initially freed in 1995, but was not allowed to travel outside Yangon to meet supporters. A pro-junta gang attacked a convoy carrying Suu Kyi, top party officials and supporters near Depayin town in 2003. The junta said four people were killed. Rights groups said as many as 70 were killed in the ambush. She was detained again soon after.

- She was found guilty on August 11, 2009, of breaking a security law by allowing American intruder John Yettaw to stay at her lakeside home for two nights. Critics said the charges were trumped up to stop her from having any influence over the polls.

-- She has since made several offers to the junta to lobby the international community to lift a wide range of sanctions on the country, most of which have been in place for more than two decades. Junta strongman Than Shwe never responded and the regime described her move as "insincere" and "dishonest."

-- Suu Kyi's said she "would not dream" of taking part in last Sunday's election and her NLD boycotted the vote. As a result, the party was officially dissolved.

- A breakaway NLD faction did contest, but won only a handful of seats.

(Compiled by Bangkok Newsroom; Editing by Robert Birsel and Ron Popeski)



~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
She was a fighter. She fought for the people in her

country. She does not live for wealth, prosperity and fame.

She was imprisoned for reasons that are not clear. Denied

her right to form a government. Her country is not

developed and its people are still living below the poverty

level while they are able to live better. She needs the

support of the international community to change the

current situation towards a better life. Let her free, gave

her the opportunity to bring a better life to the people of

her country.

International Human Rights Activist and Democracy Leader

Nobel Peace Prize, Eleanor Roosevelt Human Rights Award,

Presidential Medal of Freedom Recipient .

Nobel Peace Prize 1991

Daw Aung San Suu Kyi was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in

1991. The decision of the Nobel Committee mentions:[113]

The Norwegian Nobel Committee has decided to award the

Nobel Peace Prize for 1991 to Aung San Suu Kyi of Myanmar

(Burma) for her non-violent struggle for democracy and

human rights.






Monday, November 8, 2010

British journalist convicted for condemning death penalty

British journalist convicted for condemning death penalty


British author Alan Shadrake stands outside Singapore's Supreme Court in this undated picture
British author Alan Shadrake stands outside Singapore's Supreme Court in this undated picture

Source IFEX and pressgazette

The death penalty is still legitimate in Singapore - but apparently talking about it isn't. British journalist Alan Shadrake, who condemned Singapore's use of capital punishment in his new book, has been convicted for contempt, report Reporters Without Borders (RSF) and news reports. He will be sentenced on 9 November when he is likely to get jail time. Sign a petition calling on the government to drop the charges and allow Shadrake to leave the country.

At his trial which opened on 18 October, Shadrake was accused of making comments "against the independence and integrity of the Singapore judiciary" in his book "Once a Jolly Hangman: Singapore Justice in the Dock".

The book questions Singapore's use of capital punishment and alleges that well-connected defendants, particularly in drugs-related cases, often get off relatively lightly while the poor and less well-connected are sentenced to death. So a wealthy Tunisian drug dealer goes free while young drug mules from various countries face death.

It also examines the independence of the judiciary, and highlights criticisms of Singapore's justice system by Amnesty International and the International Bar Association.

Contempt of court in Singapore is punishable by a fine, imprisonment, or both. Shadrake could also now face separate charges of criminal defamation - which could mean a two-year jail sentence.

According to the UK's "Press Gazette", the judge said in his decision that Shadrake had used a "selective background of truths and half-truths, and sometimes outright falsehoods" in the book.

The court had no interest in stifling debate on the death penalty and was constitutionally bound to protect every citizen's right to engage in such debate, the judge said. But the law would step in when "such debate goes beyond the limits of fair criticism," he went on.

Hema Subramanian, a lawyer for the Attorney General, said last week that Shadrake's book contained "baseless, unwarranted attacks... that directly attacked the Singapore judiciary."

Shadrake's counsel, well-known human rights lawyer M Ravi, argued that the book was a "serious-minded and compassionate examination of the death penalty in Singapore."

RSF is urging the Singapore judiciary to accept Shadrake's innocence and allow him to leave the country. "The book contains no defamatory remarks, no personal attacks or verbal assaults aimed at undermining the operation of the justice system.

"Given that it is simply a critical analysis of the institution and its methods as a result of a rigorous and well-documented investigation, this work cannot constitute contempt of court," said RSF.

Singapore did give Shadrake an option: apologise and the charge would be dropped. But Shadrake refuses to be silenced. In an open letter distributed widely online, he wrote, "I am being prosecuted and facing jail for exposing prosecutorial scandals in Singapore - scandals this PAP [leading political party] dictatorship doesn't want decent Singaporean citizens to know about."

In addition to legal concerns, Shadrake, 75, has serious health problems together with the financial strain of his enforced stay in Singapore, says RSF.

RSF has launched an international petition to Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong, calling for charges against Shadrake to be dropped.

Sign it here