North Korea

North Korea
The always bombastic and unpredictable North Koreans go hysterical again. This time the country is prepared to "go to war" with South Korea because that country is playing loudspeakers directed at North Korean territory. A headline from a UK paper reads, "More than 50 North Korea submarines 'leave their bases' as war talks with South continue "

Monday, May 30, 2011

Burmese Nobel Peace Prize winner plans tour of country

Aung San Suu Kyi

A celebrated "conscience" of Burma, Aung San Suu Kyi is planning a "political tour" of Burma (officially called Myummar) to begin in June. Now 65, this daughter of a Burmese ambassador to India, and married to an Englishman, returned to Burma to care for her ailing mother. By chance, it was 1988, the year of mass protests when thousands of pro-democracy demonstrators were shot dead on the streets of Burma's capital city, Rangoon.

History is replete with attempted uprisings - including this 1988 Rangoon demonstration against the military rulers.

A month after the massacre Mrs Suu Kyi addressed a crowd of half a million people on the steps of Rangoon's Shwedagon Pagoda. With a group of allies – mostly former generals – she founded the National League for Democracy and won a landslide election victory in 1990.

Suu Kyi able to draw thousands to her political vision.

Mrs Suu Kyi should have become prime minister but the army, which has ruled Burma since 1962, ignored the result. Alarmed by her popularity (they had already placed her in custody in 1989), she has spent 14 of the last 20 years in jail or under house arrest.

Aung San Suu Kyi was released just the past November from 7 years of house arrest. In 2003, Her convoy was attacked by a junta-backed militia in an ambush apparently organized by a regime still frightened by her popularity. She was arrested along with many party activists and moved back to her Rangoon home placed under house arrest for a third time. The junta said four people were killed in that attack but her National League for Democracy party put the toll at nearly 100.

Suu Kyi in house arrest. When first put under house arrest in 1989, she was offered freedom if she left the country, but she refused. One of her most famous speeches is the "Freedom From Fear" speech, which begins: "It is not power that corrupts but fear. Fear of losing power corrupts those who wield it and fear of the scourge of power corrupts those who are subject to it." She also believes fear spurs many world leaders to lose sight of their purpose. "Government leaders are amazing", she once said. "So often it seems they are the last to know what the people want."

The tour will be a test of both Suu Kyi's popularity following an election that has left her sidelined from politics, and of her freedom to travel around the country unhindered by the authorities. Suu Kyi's party was disbanded for opting to boycott the November vote because the rules seemed designed to bar her from participating, and the party now has no voice in the new parliament.

Burma, or Myanmar, is a Southeast Asian country, 89% Buddhist

Burma, neighbor to Bangladesh, India, China, Laos, and Thailand

Burma, or officially known as the Republic of the Union of Myanmar,is a country in Southeast Asia, bordered by India to the West and Thailand to the east. It is slightly smaller than Texas and has a population of over 53 million. It was a British colony as part of British India until 1948 when it achieved independence. Under military rule from 1962 on, the military orchestrated elections in 1988, but as noted above, retracted the process and has ruled harshly since. The United Nations and several other organizations have reported consistent and systematic human rights violations in the country, including child labor, human trafficking and a lack of freedom of speech.

Buddhist monks in one of many confrontations over the past decades with the harsh military rulers.

Burma's line of military rulers have been accused of enriching themselves (and protecting banks also involved) on proceeds of drug trafficking

The most recent version of its ruling elite - the State Peace and Development Council - was dissolved in 2011 following another general election in 2010 and subsequent inauguration of Burma's first civilian government.

So this is now a test, will one of its most famous citizens - with world recognition - be able to move the country via this political tour to re-establish a party and participate in its governance? It is worth watching, and hoping for,over the summer.

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