Archive for the ‘pro-democracy’ Category

Prison Terms Cripple Myanmar Democracy Movement

November 16, 2008

In a devastating week for Myanmar’s democracy movement, dozens of its members have been sentenced to length prison terms, as the military-ruled government locks away writers and Buddhist monks — as well as musicians, a poet and at least one journalist.

By MICK ELMORE, Associated Press Writer

By the weekend, more than 80 had received sentences of up to 65 years — a move that seemed designed to keep them jailed long past the upcoming elections, activists and analysts said Sunday.

“They are clearing the decks of anyone who is likely to challenge their authority ahead of the election” in 2010, Larry Jagan, a Bangkok-based newspaper columnist and Myanmar analyst, said of the generals who rule the country.

Myanmar's pro-democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi. Twenty-three ... 
Myanmar’s pro-democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi. Twenty-three pro-democracy activists arrested during anti-junta demonstrations in Myanmar last year were each sentenced to 65 years in jail.(AFP/MYANMAR NEWS AGENCY/AFP)

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Thailand’s new PM defends Myanmar

March 16, 2008

BANGKOK, Thailand – Thailand‘s new prime minister said Sunday Westerners were overly critical of Myanmar and that he had a newfound respect for the nation’s military leaders after learning they meditate like good Buddhists.

In this photo released by the Thai Spokesman Office, Thailand's ...
In this photo released by the Thai Spokesman Office, Thailand’s Prime Minister Samak Sundaravej, left, and his Myanmar counterpart Gen. Thein Sein toast during a reception in Naypyitaw, Myanmar Friday, March 14, 2008. Samak was in Myanmar for a one-day visit in a bid to shore up economic ties between the two countries as Thailand is one of the biggest foreign investors and trading partners of military-ruled Myanmar.
(AP Photo/Thai Spokesman Office, HO) 

“Westerners have a saying, ‘Look at both sides of the coin,’ but Westerners only look at one side,” Prime Minister Samak Sundaravej said in his weekly television talk show, two days after an official visit to Myanmar.

“Myanmar is a Buddhist country. Myanmar’s leaders meditate. They say the country lives in peace,” Samak said, noting that he has studied Myanmar for decades but just learned that members of the junta meditate. Both countries are predominantly Buddhist.

Myanmar’s junta has come under global criticism for its deadly crackdown on pro-democracy protesters last year and its detention of pro-democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi, but Samak said he preferred to talk about bilateral trade not democracy during talks with junta chief, Senior Gen. Than Shwe.

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Hundreds at funeral of Vietnam pro-democracy activist

February 16, 2008

By Frank Zeller
HANOI (AFP) – Hundreds of Vietnamese relatives and supporters on Saturday attended the funeral of veteran pro-democracy activist Hoang Minh Chinh, a politically charged event held under heavy police scrutiny.

Several dissidents in the one-party state were able to attend the ceremony for the Communist Party veteran-turned-activist who spent much of his life in jail or under house arrest for advocating a multi-party system.

“Today is a big event for democratic activists because Professor Chinh is one of our most renowned activists,” said another prominent critic of the government, Pham Hong Son, who has also spent years in prison.

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A Hanoi street. Hundreds of Vietnamese relatives and supporters ...
A Hanoi street. Hundreds of Vietnamese relatives and supporters on Saturday attended the funeral of veteran pro-democracy activist Hoang Minh Chinh, a politically charged event held under heavy police scrutiny.
(AFP/File/Hoang Dinh Nam)

Cal senators call for release of U.S. citizen detained in Vietnam

January 26, 2008

WASHINGTON — California Senators Dianne Feinstein and Barbara Boxer are calling on the prime minister of Vietnam to release a U.S. citizen from Sacramento who has been imprisoned since November.

Nguyen Quoc Quan and five colleagues were arrested in Ho Chi Minh City when authorities found them preparing to circulate pamphlets on behalf of a California-based pro-democracy group that Vietnam considers a terrorist organization.

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Communist China Fears Trouble Is Brewing at Home

September 24, 2007

By Nicholas Wapshott
The New York Sun
September 20, 2007

Fearful of a repeat of the Tiananmen Square pro-democracy protests of 1989, which were brutally put down by the military and drew worldwide condemnation, the communist gvernment of China has issued an order freezing the prices of state-controlled commodities until the end of the year in a bid to slow galloping inflation.

The Chinese Communist Party is afraid that growing unrest among workers may lead to protests to coincide with next month’s Communist Party Congress, a meeting held every five years to reallocate senior party positions, a government decree this week suggests.

The Beijing administration is anxious that the rapid hike in food prices, which have risen 18.2% in the last 12 months, will lead to widespread street protests by the country’s poor agricultural workers, who make up 60% of the population. The price of meat has risen 49% over the past year, prompted largely by a shortage of pork after outbreaks of “blue ear” disease.

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Communist Vietnam blaming foreign forces for democracy protests

September 8, 2007

By Bill Gertz

U.S. officials say the communist government in Vietnam has broken its silence on public protests over land claims by asserting that foreign hostile forces are behind the unrest.

Rallies have been held from June through August in Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City. Party and military newspapers have identified senior monks of the outlawed Unified Buddhist Church of Vietnam and two leading pro-democracy dissidents for their alleged roles in seeking to exploit the protests.

The monks were identified as UBCV leaders Thich Quang Do and Thich Khong Tanh, and the pro-democracy activists are Nguyen Khac Toan and Hoang Minh Chinh.The Vietnamese army newspaper called them “dirty puppets” over overseas forces. And the Communist Party daily compared them to two traitors in Vietnamese history, Le Chieu Thong and Tran Ich Tac. Thong, the last king of an 18th century dynasty, is known for inviting the Chinese to invade in an effort to retain his position. Tac, a 13th century prince, is known for surrendering to a Mongolian army in order to become king.

The Party commentary said the two monks and two dissidents will “be exposed and spat on” by the Vietnamese people like the earlier traitors.

The demonstrations have received no press attention in the West.

Vietnam: U.S. Congresswoman Expresses Concern

As illegal land grabs increase, so does unrest in China

Vietnam: Farmers Protest Government Land Seizures

Freed dissident calls for ‘taxpayers’ revolution’ in China

August 21, 2007

by P. Parameswaran

WASHINGTON (AFP) – A high-profile Chinese dissident freed from prison called on Tuesday for a “taxpayers revolution” in China to bring about greater openness and accountability in the world’s most populous nation.

Jianli, a veteran of the bloody Tiananmen Square student uprising in Beijing in 1989, urged Chinese communist leaders to give in to “mounting pressures from bottom to top for democracy in China” so that they could minimize the “social cost” for such change.

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