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C sent me this NY Times article on the day, Burmese government moves the capital to a secret mountain compound

Today I finally had time to gather more details about the latest bizarre behavior from the Burmese goverment and international reactions.

Web India
states "Myanmar's new administrative capital at Pyinmana will be named Nay Pyi Daw (place of a king)...Sources told Mizzima News that Nay Pyi Daw is less than fit for a king with telephone lines the only modern amenity available."

It's drawing attention to Burma (renamed by the military junta to Myanmar), which is a good thing since most of the time the world doesn't even realise it exists.

According to the SJ Merc,
Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said Wednesday the military junta in Myanmar is "one of the worst regimes in the world" for its record on human rights and free speech...President Bush also criticized Myanmar on Wednesday.

Wow, Bush actually mentions Myanmar by name. I didn't realise he even knew Myanmar was a country. Not that any actions followed these words.

U.N. envoy Paulo Sergio Pinheiro told reporters last month that "megaphone diplomacy" wasn't working with the increasingly isolated regime in Myanmar, and said human rights victims whom the West could help are being held hostage to politics.

I am frustrated, I am not happy with the approaches that the main countries concerned with Myanmar are having," Pinheiro said. "If this course will continue, I don't see any reason for optimism."

Pinheiro has not been allowed to visit Myanmar, also known as Burma, since November 2003. Appointed in 2001, his term expires in April."


The Boston Globe had a great editoral arguing
If the president wishes to show he is as concerned with fostering democracy in Asia as he has been in Lebanon, Iraq or Egypt, he will lobby the 21 members of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation Leaders' Meeting to have the UN Security Council take up the issue of Myanmar, formerly known as Burma, and the depradations of that country's military dictatorship.

Unfortunately I think the chance of that happening are a snowball's chance in hell. Bush is fighting an unpopular and costly war in Iraq which is draining most of the US foreign policy resources. Myanmar is a mere bit player. China backs Myanmar. He doesn't want to annoy China.

I found this quote from the Malaysia Star somewhat amusing:
Myanmar should inform Asean if it has shifted its capital from Yangon to Pyinmana, said Foreign Affairs Minister Datuk Seri Syed Hamid Albar.

“When an Asean member country shifts its administrative centre and the others don’t know about it, it can be quite embarrassing,” he told Malaysian journalists here yesterday."


With less government presence around them, perhaps people in the capital will be more free to get on with their lives. But it also strikes me as somewhat disturbing. What will happen to Aung San Suu Kyi who is periodically placed under house arrest by the Burmese government? I couldn't find anything about that on the web, so I hope she's okay. My prayers go out to her and the other Burmese political prisoners.

As I hope you know, Aung San Suu Kyi won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1991. If you don't know anything about Aung San Suu Kyi, I encourage you to go your bookshop or library and read one of her books.

Letters from Burma, is a series of 52 essays (in English) she wrote for a Japanese newspaper. They talk about her travels in Burma, her family life, her beliefs and Burmese life. Whether you love or hate politics, I think you'll find it moving.

Freedom From Fear is also a collection of essays . The first essay is an essay written by Aung San Suu Kyi about her father who was also a revolutionary, the second part of the book contains political essays written by Aung San Suu Kyi and the third part of the book contains essays by other people. If you don't know Burmese history, then this is a good place to start, because her essays might confusing without this context.