NAYPYITAW, Oct 18 (Reuters) – The New Light of Myanmar has
an image problem. That’s putting it mildly.
Created in 1993 as the mouthpiece of a military junta, the
newspaper once described democracy icon Aung San Suu Kyi as
“obsessed by lust and superstition,” while praising the
achievements of generals who kept Myanmar in poverty and fear.
Its nickname was “The New Lies of Myanmar.”
The worst-kept secret in Naypyitaw, the eerily under-populated capital of Myanmar, is who lives in a new bungalow in its dusty northern suburbs.
The house looks unwelcoming, and perhaps it’s meant to. It is painted a penitential shade of beige and ringed by a high fence topped with razor wire. “To protect against enemies,” said a guard through a mouthful of betel juice, before shutting the heavy wooden gate that separates Naypyitaw’s famous new resident, Aung San Suu Kyi, from a curious world.
NAYPYITAW (Reuters) – Nobel Peace Prize winner Aung San Suu Kyi is making a career change, from icon of liberty opposing Myanmar’s junta to party boss in a fragile new quasi-democracy. The transition hasn’t been easy.
At a talk in London in June, a student from the Kachin ethnic minority asked why Suu Kyi (a majority Burman) seemed reluctant to condemn a bloody government military offensive against Kachin rebels. The conflict has displaced some 75,000 people.
YANGON (Reuters) – A month before Aung San Suu Kyi was born, on June 19, 1945, her family moved into a two-story mansion near Kandawgyi Lake here in Myanmar’s largest city. Built on a small hill, it resembles the house from Hitchcock’s “Psycho”, but with a real-life history of horror.
An older brother drowned in the garden pond, while a younger sister died in infancy. Then, in July 1947, six months before his country gained independence from the British, her father, General Aung San, was assassinated. He was 32. Suu Kyi was two.
YANGON (Reuters) – The first two bullets struck her legs. The third one ploughed through her chest, shredding a lung and drenching her uniform with blood.
The death of schoolgirl Win Maw Oo, 16, shot by soldiers during Myanmar’s military crackdown on pro-democracy protests in 1988, so torments her family that they have yet to perform the Buddhist rites to release her soul into the afterlife.
YANGON (Reuters) – When hundreds of political prisoners were released from Myanmar’s jails in January, supporters greeted them in jubilant scenes. But for Myo Min, a 36-year-old electrical repairman and dissident, the reunion with his wife and children after three years in jail was muted.
That’s because in 2008, after five days of near-continuous torture – with police beating him so savagely their truncheons broke – Myo Min says he provided testimony that put an innocent man behind bars for life. That fellow dissident is still in prison.
TAKEBI, Myanmar (Reuters) This village in northwest Myanmar has the besieged air of a refugee camp. It is clogged with people living in wooden shacks laid out on a grid of trash-strewn lanes. Its children are pot-bellied with malnutrition.
But Takebi’s residents are not refugees. They are Rohingya, a stateless Muslim people of South Asian descent now at the heart of Myanmar’s worst sectarian violence in years. The United Nations has called them “virtually friendless” in Myanmar, the majority-Buddhist country that most Rohingya call home. Today, as Myanmar opens up, they appear to have more enemies than ever.
SITTWE, Myanmar (Reuters) – In northwest Myanmar, where the Kaladan River flows out into the Bay of Bengal, the two giant arms of a half-built wharf enfold the estuarine mud with steel and concrete.
Their embrace is fraternal – Myanmar’s giant neighbour India is funding the new port in Sittwe, the capital of Rakhine State – but also strategic.
YANGON, May 25 (Reuters) – Five days of street protests over
chronic power shortages present Myanmar’s reformist government
with a headache and an opportunity.
Police forcibly dispersed protesters in the central Myanmar
town of Pyi on Thursday, a heavy-handed response reminiscent of
the previous military junta that could fuel grievances among an
impoverished and long-neglected people.
(Reuters) – A political stalemate preventing the long-awaited parliamentary debut of Myanmar’s pro-democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi coincides with an apparent attempt by the powerful military to bolster its influence in the legislature.
Suu Kyi and her National League for Democracy (NLD) colleagues swept 43 of 45 seats contested in April 1 by-elections but now she and other NLD MPs elect are refusing to swear a parliamentary oath to “safeguard” a 2008 constitution, which they say is undemocratic.