» 10/11/2006, 00.00
Constitution deliberations resume as student protests grow
The National Convention met yesterday but the largest opposition party still refuses to join it. Demonstrations against the junta are gathering momentum across the country. Hundreds of people in Yangon and Mandaly are wearing white in protest against political detention and a petition by a student movement has gathered 120,000 signatures so far.
Yangon (AsiaNews/Agencies) The National Convention yesterday resumed work to draw up the Constitution. A new constitutional charter is the first of seven points drawn up by the military government of one-time Burma to pave the way for transition to democracy. But the European Union, the United States of America, the United Nations and human groups dismiss the Burmese "road map" as a mere propaganda ploy. The constitution talks themselves are considered a deception, given that they have been dragged out for more than 10 years and are boycotted by the main opposition party, Aung San Suu Kyi's National League for Democracy (NLD). Suu Kyi herself has been under house arrest since March 2003, for the third time.
Meanwhile, thousands of people are joining a campaign for political prisoners who are ex leaders of a student movement that was brutally suppressed by the military in 1988.
More than 1,000 delegates of Burmese political parties and ethnic groups are attending the National Convention, which first convened in 1993. But opposition groups have described it as "valueless". Nyan Win, NLD spokesperson, said the convention "lacks democratic principles". The NLD won a landslide victory in elections in 1990, but the ruling junta refused to honour the results. NLD delegates walked out in protest from the convention talks in 1995 and in 2004, it persuaded the Shan Nationalities League for Democracy, Burma's largest ethnic political party, to do the same.
In the meantime, sources in Yangon and Mandaly report the courageous participation of hundreds of people in a newly launched campaign "White Expression". Started yesterday by a group of ex political prisoners called the 88 Generation Students group, the campaign consists of wearing white as a sign of protest against the detention of pro-democracy activists. The campaign started a few days ago after the arrest of five group leaders. First Min Ko Naing, Ko Ko gyi and Htay Kywe were arrested, followed by Min Zeya and Pyone Cho, who were arrested on 30 September after Washington threatened to submit a UN Security Council resolution to stop human rights abuses committed by Yangon.
Before White Expression", the student group launched a petition to free its members from prison. Until last Saturday, around 120,000 signatures had been collected.
More than 1,110 political prisoners in Myanmar
Suu Kyi's detention extended by a year
Burmese govt frees more political prisoners as Aung San Suu Kyi prepares to run for office
The step, which will take effect in the next few days, follows an amnesty in October that saw the release of 200 people jailed for “crimes of opinion”. Opposition leader could run in an upcoming by-election. Forty seats must be filled. Soon, her party will decide whether to register.
Win Tin’s story, 7,000 days in a Burmese prison
Journalist and co-founder of the National League for Democracy, Win Tin spent 19 years in prison, 12 under isolation. He recently celebrated his 80th birthday. In a book, he says Myanmar is prison. In 1989, he was sentenced to 21 years in prison for anti-government propaganda.
Talks on constitution to resume in December
The international community views the undertaking as mere deception
CHINA – VATICAN
Global Times: the pope should accept the independence of the Chinese Church
After 24 hours of silence, China’s media today published excerpts, comments and editorials about Pope Francis’ interview with Asia Times. Although the pope did not address religious issues or Church problems, many saw the interview as an attempt to improve diplomatic relations between China and the Vatican, and advised Francis to accept Mao Zedong’s "three principles of independence" (theology, administration, jurisdiction), which would leave the power to appoint bishops in the hands of the Party. The People's Daily’s Global Times publishes an editorial on the issue.
INDIA – PHILIPPINES
Archbishop of Guwahati: In Asia religion is not dying, the faithful take strength from the Eucharist
Mgr Menamparampil is among the speakers at the International Eucharistic Congress in Cebu, Philippines. He was also a conflict mediator between various ethnic groups. He told AsiaNews about the value of the Congress for the Catholic Church in Asia and how people can bear witness the Gospel today, even amid tensions and violence of those who "hate us." "with the same pain in our hearts that we descend to our depths during a Eucharistic adoration."
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