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More Weird News from Burma

July 27, 2006

After Burma’s Foreign Minister Nyan Win confirmed Tuesday that Burma has made no progress toward democratization, the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) at a meeting in Kuala Lumpur issued its sharpest rebuke of Burma’s military junta yet:

“We [the ministers] reiterated our calls for the early release of those placed under detention and for effective dialogue with all parties concerned.” [This is in reference to the house arrest of democratic leader Aung Suu Kyi, who has been held off and on for ten years under house arrest, along with dozens, perhaps hundreds of other political prisoners.]

Thailand’s Foreign Minister Kantathi Suphamongkhon told Reuters: “If there had been tangible progress [from Burma] going on, then there might not be a need to have…a [UN Security Council] meeting.”

Meanwhile, the U.S. Senate extended sanctions on Burma for another three years. As Voice of America reported, “Senator John McCain … says the situation in Burma continues to worsen … The military junta controls the population through … violence and terror, murdering political opponents, using child soldiers and forced labor, and employing rape as a weapon of war.” The bill bans imports from Burma to the U.S.

But will the sanctions merely punish ordinary Burmese? Some think the sanctions are a total flop.

And the Democratic Voice of Burma announced Wednesday that inflation is so high, many Burmese can only afford to sustain themselves on rice water. After raising the salary of Burmese civil servants [read: should we give ourselves a raise? ok, let's go for it. After all, we deserve it, don't we?] inflation skyrocketed, according to the DVB. Some Burmese were forced to sell their hair, while undertakers were reported to have shaved the heads of the dead to try and make extra earnings.

Desperate for a bit of good news, the junta announced it held in custody one of the twins who six years ago, at the age of twelve, mounted a successful uprising against the junta. The pair became world famous as a pair of pre-pubescent cheeroot-smoking Che Guevaras.

Johnny Htoo, along with his brother Luther, inspired Burmese resistance with a successful defense of his village in 2000. This week, he turned himself in to the military authorities near the Thai border, the UK Telelgraph reported today. Apparently the young man (presumed to be 18 today) prefers his guitar to his Ak-47.

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