13 November 2010

Burma releases Aung San Suu Kyi

The Burmese military authorities have released the pro-democracy leader, Aung San Suu Kyi, from house arrest.

Appearing in front of thousands of jubilant supporters outside her home in Rangoon, Ms Suu Kyi said they had to work in unison to achieve their goals.

The crowd had rushed to the compound when nearby barricades were removed by police.

The 65-year-old Nobel Peace Prize winner has been detained for 15 of the past 21 years.

Her release comes six days after the political party supported by the military government won the country's first election in 20 years. The ballot was widely condemned as a sham.--Full story at BBC News

11 November 2010

Junta to crush ethnic rebels

BANGKOK - Opposition hero Aung San Suu Kyi has long been seen as a threat to Myanmar's ruling generals, but after a widely condemned election they may now face a greater challenge from frustrated ethnic rebels.

While preparations are under way for the likely release of the junta's main rival, democracy icon Ms Suu Kyi, analysts believe the regime is gearing up to end a decades-old insurgency and stamp out ethnic foes with a large-scale assault.

Fighting erupted on Monday near the eastern border between Karen insurgents and state troops, sparking an exodus of 20,000 people into Thailand a day after a poll that was carefully choreographed by the regime.

Experts believe ethnic armies pose little threat to the junta outside the areas in which they operate, with government forces comprising up to 400,000 personnel, but the latest clash seemed timed by rebels for symbolic effect. 'They're sending a political message over the election: it's not just about democracy, it's about the ethnic issue,' said Tom Kramer of the Transnational Institute, a Netherlands-based thinktank.--Full story at The Straits Times

08 November 2010

Thousands flee Burma border clash, as votes are counted

Thousands have fled across the Burmese border to escape clashes between troops and ethnic Karen rebels, a day after the first election in 20 years.

Thai officials said more than 10,000 people had fled the fierce fighting in and around the town of Myawaddy.

Tensions surrounding the poll spilled into violence on Monday in the town of Myawaddy, on the Thai border, in a clash between a Karen rebel faction and government troops.

Ethnic groups in Burma have been demanding - without success - greater regional autonomy from the majority Burman-led central government since independence from Britain in 1948. Many have suffered persecution at the hands of the government.

A splinter group of the Democratic Karen Buddhist Army, known as Brigade 5, briefly occupied a police station and polling booth on Sunday in a show of opposition to the government's plan to incorporate ethnic armies into a centrally-controlled border force.

In response, Burmese government troops gathered and clashes broke out early on Monday.--Full story at BBC News

04 November 2010

Myanmar's Internet 'attacked'

YANGON - A massive cyber attack has crippled Internet services in Myanmar ahead of Sunday's election, IT experts and web service providers say, raising fears of a communications blackout for the vote.

Internet users in the military-ruled country have reported slow connections and sporadic outages for more than a week, and some suspect the junta may be intentionally disrupting services to block news flowing out.

Web service providers have blamed the troubles on outside attacks.

'Our technicians have been trying to prevent cyber attacks from other countries,' a technician from Yatanarpon Teleport Co told AFP on condition of anonymity. 'We still do not know whether access will be good on the election day,' he added.

Experts say Myanmar's Internet system has been overwhelmed by a flood of incoming messages known as a Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) attack. US-based IT security firm Arbor Networks says the main state-owned Internet provider Myanmar Post and Telecommunications 'suffered a large, sustained DDoS attack disrupting most network traffic in and out of the country.' The onslaught was 'several hundred times' more than enough to overwhelm the country's terrestrial and satellite links, it estimated.--Full story at The Straits Times