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Archive for December 24th, 2008

World focus on Burma (24 December 2008)

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88 Generation Students’ member tortured by prison authority
Democratic Voice of Burma, Norway –
… Htay Kywe has been tortured physically and mentally by authorities, according to sources close to Buthidaung prison in northwest Burma. …

Oxfam review of the year: what was HOT and what was NOT in 2008?
Reuters AlertNet, UK –
NOT Burma cyclone renders thousands homeless. Aid agencies face difficulties with access. Oxfam works through partners to help the victims. …

Korea rejects complaint against Daewoo and KOGAS
Mizzima.com, India –
“They [MEK] rejected the complaint about the gas exploration and developing project of two Korean corporations in Burma saying it is in keeping with the …

S. Korean Lawyers Seek to Help North Korean Defectors in Burma
Voice of America –
The South Korean Bar Association of Human Rights lawyers says it will file a petition to a Burma court, in hopes of securing the release of 19 North Korean …

Maternal health-care inadequate in eastern Burma: Report
Mizzima.com, India –
by Mungpi New Delhi – Women in eastern Burma only have limited access to maternal-health care during pregnancy and most women expecting, …

Corrupt officials earning 100 million baht a month from illegal …
Independent Mon News Agency, WA –
The HURFOM report is also careful to highlight the human rights impacts of the border trade and corruption. In an ironic twist, taxation of the border trade …

Year in review: May
InTheNews.co.uk, UK –

Just two days into the month of May further tragedy struck the people of Burma in the form of Cyclone Nargis. Burma, which has suffered under an oppressive …

More International Pressure in 2009: Burmese Diplomat
The Irrawaddy News Magazine, Thailand –
… met with three Burmese diplomats—Kyaw Tint Swe, Than Swe and Tin Maung Naing—to explain the meeting of the “Friend of the Secretary-General on Myanmar. …

Offering Hope for the Year Ahead
The Irrawaddy News Magazine, Thailand –
It is a sad statement on UN efforts to end Burma’s political deadlock that this year, for the first time ever, democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi also saw no …

NMSP Celebrates 50th Anniversary
The Irrawaddy News Magazine, Thailand –
He immediately joined forces with the Karen National Union (KNU) and took up arms to fight to fight the Burmese government for the autonomy of Mon State in …

Political Prisoner Commits Suicide
The Irrawaddy News Magazine, Thailand –
By SAW YAN NAING A Burmese political prisoner, Maung San, committed suicide in Pegu Prison in central Burma on Dec. 19, according to sources in Pegu …

Junta Militants Arrested in Thailand: BBC
The Irrawaddy News Magazine, Thailand –
… the Burmese junta has targeted prominent opposition leaders in exile in the past, as well as leaders of armed ethnic groups, pro-democracy organizations …

US to Fund Afghan Militias
Democracy Now, NY –
A new study by Brazil’s Catholic Land Commission has found that hundreds of Brazilian human rights and environmental activists still face the threat of …

New form to hire migrant workers issued
Shan Herald Agency for News, Thailand –
… to travel to Myanmar National Verification Center at Tachilek, Myawaddy and Kawthawng at the Thai-Burma border, according to SHAN report on 17 November. …

Maternal health problems in Myanmar widespread and unreported
Thaindian.com, Thailand –
Health indicators are poor and human rights violations are widespread in eastern Burma. In conflict-affected regions of Burma, research indicates that …

CRPP call for unity in Burma
Democratic Voice of Burma, Norway –
After initial successes, CRPP’s activities were curtailed by further arrests, including of Nobel laureate Aung San Suu Kyi and Aye Thar Aung, but after she …

A Week to Reflect and Get Involved!
The Women’s International Perspective, CA –
Natural disasters ravaged innocent victims from Burma to the Caribbean. The world participated in and protested one of the most anticipated Olympics in …

Voice of the Martyrs Alert
Crosswalk.com, VA –
About 70 ethnic Karen from Myanmar began coming to the financially-struggling church earlier this year, and have since helped the church by volunteering to …

What’s your year-end list?
Creative Loafing Atlanta, GA –
Burma’s military junta — When Category 4 Cyclone Nargis devastated Burma in May, the goons who run Burma were not only unprepared but refused to admit …

Inaugural Sao Thusandi Award Given in Chiang Mai
Shan Herald Agency for News, Thailand –
The first awardee, Sai Phu Murng, was one of the founders of the Migrant Justice Program of the Human Rights Development Foundation (HRDF), …

Defectors Awaited Children in South Korea
自由亞洲電臺, Washington DC –
Four children in a group of would-be North Korean defectors arrested in Burma had mothers waiting for them in South Korea. A Thai Navy boat patrols the …

Memorandum for the Secretary of State
Whitehouse.gov (press release), DC –
… conferred upon the President by section 14(b) of the Tom Lantos Block Burmese Junta’s Anti-Democratic Efforts (JADE) Act of 2008 (Public Law 110-286).

MSF’s Top Ten – How Disconnection Affects Public Health
WorldChanging –
This helps explain why Burma, still recovering from Cyclone Nargis, makes MSF’s list. It’s not a surprise that MSF hasn’t been able to send international …

Editorial: Texan of the Year finalist No. 4, Laura Bush
Dallas Morning News, TX –
Along one side lay Burma, whose government the first lady had scolded for its abuses, including the house arrest of democratic activist Aung San Suu Kyi. …

Maternal health problems in Myanmar widespread
Eureka! Science News, Canada –
The maternal health care issues facing women in eastern Burma (also known as Myanmar) are widespread and underreported, according to surveys by researchers …

Where Have All the Neocons Gone?
American Conservative Magazine, VA –
Power declared in Time in 2007 that as abuses mount in Burma and Darfur “a coalition of the concerned must insist that what is manifestly true of the …

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Written by Lwin Aung Soe

December 24, 2008 at 5:38 am

Coup attempt in Guinea after dictator’s death

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WELT ONLINE

Coup declared in Guinea after dictator’s death

The Associated Press –
CONAKRY, Guinea (AP) – A military group seized control of the airwaves in mineral-rich Guinea and declared a coup Tuesday after the death of the West African country’s dictator, one of the continent’s last strongmen.
Video: Confusion over Guinea coup after president dies – 23 Dec 08

AlJazeeraEnglish

Guinea coup leaders name council BBC News
BloombergInternational Herald Tribuneguardian.co.ukAllAfrica.com
all 1,644 news articles »

In this Sept. 24, 1999 file photo, President of Guinea Lansana Conte addresses the 54th Session of the General Assembly at the United Nations Friday. Conte, who has ruled the African nation with an iron hand since seizing power in a coup nearly a quarter century ago, died following a lengthy illness, the National Assembly president said Tuesday, Dec. 23, 2008. (AP Photo/Bebeto Matthews)

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International Herald Tribune

Coup attempt in Guinea after strongman dies

By Alan Cowell
Wednesday, December 24, 2008

LONDON: The 24-year reign of Guinea’s president, one of Africa’s longest-ruling strongmen, ended in confusion and chaos on Tuesday as a group of soldiers seized on his death to proclaim a coup that was immediately challenged by government officials.

Troops in armored personnel carriers took to the streets of Conakry, the capital of Guinea, an impoverished West African state, but there were no immediate reports of bloodshed, according to news agencies. Rather, the “putsch,” as one lawmaker called it, began to unfold in time-honored fashion with a group of officers taking control of the airwaves to announce that the Constitution and the government had been suspended.

Soon afterward, the government denied the claim. Prime Minister Ahmed Tidiane Souaré said in a state broadcast that he was speaking from his office and that his government “continues to function as it should,” The Associated Press reported.

The prime minister was responding to statements by a uniformed army officer on state television and radio that a group calling itself the National Council for Democracy and Development was “taking charge of the destiny of the Guinean people,” news agencies reported.

“The Constitution is dissolved,” the officer was quoted as saying. “The government is dissolved. The institutions of the republic are dissolved.”

President Lansana Conté, 74, whose death on Monday after a long, unspecified illness was announced in the early hours of Tuesday, belonged to a generation of African leaders — the so-called Big Men — who seized power through the gun and ruled ruthlessly.

The claimed coup attempt mirrored Conté’s own rise to power in a military takeover in 1984, after the death of his predecessor, Ahmed Sékou Touré. Touré ruled with an iron fist when the country became independent from France in 1958.

Underpinned by the army, each man ran the country as a personal domain, crushing dissent while Guinea’s 10 million people slipped ever deeper into grinding poverty. Despite potential riches from agriculture and minerals — in particular, the world’s largest deposits of bauxite, used to make aluminum — Guinea ranks among the world’s poorest countries.

Conté faced at least two attempts by military elements to eject him from office. He formed a political party to win elections in 1993, 1998 and 2003, but the ballots were widely depicted by independent monitors as fraudulent.

Conté’s ill health was an open secret among his people for many months, but he did not groom a successor, leaving a power vacuum that some officers and soldiers apparently sought to fill.

There was some doubt about the military’s appetite for a takeover.

“It’s a minority of soldiers and officers,” the president of the National Assembly, Aboubacar Somparé, told a French television station, France 24. “Guinea is now lawless and going through a restless transition,” he said, calling the claimed mutiny a “putsch.”

“We have heard that officers are negotiating among themselves,” he added. “We are waiting for the results.”

Guinea’s chaos underscored concern about the future of multiparty rule in Africa only a few years after the continent seemed to be enjoying a steady blossoming of democracy. In the last two years, the setbacks have included rigged ballots in Nigeria and violence after disputed elections in Kenya and Zimbabwe.

The African Union, the continent’s biggest representative group, expressed concern about the military’s action in Guinea.

Agence France-Presse said the takeover was announced by a military captain called Moussa Dadis Camara, who said a “consultative council” of civilian and military personnel would run the country to combat “deep despair,” revive the economy and fight corruption.

The military broadcast, starting around 7:30 a.m. local time, followed a night of confusion. According to news reports, Conté’s death was announced at 2 a.m. at a news conference of civilian and military leaders. Somparé, the president of the National Assembly, urged the Supreme Court to follow the Constitution and name him president.

Conté’s stewardship of Guinea drew widespread accusations of abuse from human rights monitors. In August, Human Rights Watch said in an assessment that Guinea had “been rocked by civil unrest that has typically been met with brutal and excessive use of force by government security forces.”

“In January and February 2007, security forces violently repressed a nationwide strike called to protest corruption, bad governance and deteriorating economic conditions, resulting in the deaths of more than 130 protesters,” the assessment said. Human Rights Watch also cited evidence of police torture of detainees to extract confessions, among other abuses.

The reported coup attempt on Tuesday followed signs of a profound malaise in the country, verging on mass unrest.

Last month, frustrated youths took to the crumbling streets of Conakry for three days, throwing stones and setting tires on fire in escalating protests over high gas prices. Witnesses said that at least one person was killed when government troops shot at demonstrators.

The threat of a coup emerged long before Tuesday. In May, soldiers took the army’s second in command as a hostage to protest poor pay and living conditions.

http://www.iht.com/articles/2008/12/24/africa/24guinea.php

Written by Lwin Aung Soe

December 24, 2008 at 2:42 am

Posted in World top news