I began this blog in May 2009 following the death of Marcia Powell at Perryville State Prison in Goodyear, Arizona. It is not intended to prescribe the path that leads to freedom from the prison industrial complex.

Rather, these are just my observations in arguably the most racist, fascist, militaristic state in the nation at a critical time in history for a number of intersecting liberation movements. From Indigenous resistance to genocidal practices, to the fight over laws like SB1070 and the ban on Ethnic Studies, Arizona is at the center of many battles for human rights, and thus the struggle for prison abolition as well - for none are free until all are. I retired the blog in APRIL 2013.

Visit me now at Arizona Prison Watch or Survivors of Prison Violence-AZ

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Burma: Democracy Convicted, 18 Months for Suu Kyi

At least Hillary demands Suu Kyi's release and makes a point of calling Burma by its "free" name (which even NYT won't do)...

Myanmar Sentence Draws International Criticism

New York Times 08/11/09


PARIS — Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton joined a chorus of predominantly Western voices condemning the sentencing of Myanmar’s pro-democracy leader, Daw Aung San Suu Kyi, on Tuesday, demanding her release and saying that, without a change in its human rights practices, Myanmar’s scheduled elections next year would be illegitimate.

“She should not have been tried, and she should not have been convicted,” Mrs. Clinton told reporters in Goma, Congo, where she is on an African tour. “We continue to call for her release.”

“We also call for the release of more than 2,000 political prisoners, including the American, John Yettaw,” she said, referring to a 53-year-old man who swam across a lake in central Yangon, Myanmar’s main city, last May and spent two nights in Mrs. Aung San Suu Kyi’s villa. The episode led to the case against her on charges of violating the terms of her house arrest.

Mrs. Clinton said: “We are concerned about the harsh punishment. The Burmese junta should immediately end its repression.” She added that Myanmar’s leaders needed to start a dialogue with the political opposition and address human rights obligations, “otherwise the elections they have scheduled for next year will have absolutely no legitimacy.”

Mrs. Clinton spoke after European governments demanded the immediate and unconditional release of Mrs. Aung San Suu Kyi, threatening stricter sanctions against the military regime there to restrict arms supplies and curb its trade with the outside world.

In a statement, the 27-nation European Union said it was ready to impose “targeted measures against those responsible for the verdict” and to stiffen some earlier measures, including an arms export ban, visa restrictions and financial sanctions.

Ban Ki-moon, the United Nations secretary general, called on the junta to “immediately and unconditionally release” Mrs. Aung San Suu Kyi and “to engage with her without delay as an essential partner in the process of national dialogue and reconciliation.”

Mrs. Aung San Suu Kyi won the Nobel Peace prize in 1991. Fourteen other winners responded to the sentencing on Tuesday with a letter calling on the Security Council to investigate the junta for “war crimes and crimes against humanity.” In many parts of the world, her trial has been followed closely and her cause has been embraced by a broad range of politicians and human rights advocates.

“Citizens across the globe are asking world leaders to hold this brutal regime to account,” said Ricken Patel, director of an online campaign network called “Aung San Suu Kyi’s detention today on spurious charges removes any shred of legitimacy.”

Irene Khan, the secretary general of Amnesty International, said in a statement in London that, while the Myanmar authorities “will hope that a sentence that is shorter than the maximum will be seen by the international community as an act of leniency”, it “must not be seen as such.”

Mrs. Aung San Suu Kyi “should never have been arrested in the first place. The only issue here is her immediate and unconditional release,” Ms. Khan said.

It was not immediately clear how Myanmar’s Asian neighbors would react. Asian nations generally react cautiously to events in Myanmar, though they do sometimes offer critical comments. Analysts said that, in this instance, they may be willing to accept Myanmar’s protestations of leniency.

President Nicolas Sarkozy of France, however, called the sentencing “brutal and unjust” and said European sanctions should focus on profitable industries including timber and ruby mining. The French foreign minister, Bernard Kouchner, said in a statement the European Union should impose new sanctions aimed at the Myanmar leadership “and sparing the civilian population, which we should continue to protect and assist.”

In Britain, Prime Minister Gordon Brown said he was “saddened and angry” at her sentencing and said it was designed by the ruling military leaders of Myanmar, formerly known as Burma, to keep her out of elections next year.

In a statement, he said: “It is further proof that the military regime in Burma is determined to act with total disregard for accepted standards of the rule of law in defiance of international opinion.”

Calling on the Security Council to impose a global prohibition on arms sales, he added: “The facade of her prosecution is made more monstrous because its real objective is to sever her bond with the people for whom she is a beacon of hope and resistance.” France also called for an arms embargo.

The Obama administration has been reviewing American policy toward Myanmar since February, when Secretary of State Clinton declared that the existing sanctions against its military-run government had been ineffective.

At a meeting of the Association of South East Asian nations in Thailand last month, Mrs. Clinton spoke in unusually detailed terms in discussing the country’s human rights record and its treatment of Mrs. Aung San Suu Kyi.

“We are deeply concerned by the reports of continuing human rights abuses within Burma,” she said at the time, “and particularly by actions that are attributed to the Burmese military, concerning the mistreatment and abuse of young girls.”

She also dismissed the charges against Mrs. Aung San Suu Kyi as “baseless and totally unacceptable” and said an improvement of ties with Washington depended on the Myanmar junta’s handling of human rights issues.

“Our position is that we are willing to have a more productive partnership with Burma if they take steps that are self-evident,” she said.

Alan Cowell reported from Paris, and Jeffrey Gettleman from Goma, Congo. Seth Mydans contributed reporting from Bangkok, and Steven Erlanger from Paris.

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