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Asean Affairs    11  October  2011

Myanmar to release prisoners

By  David Swartzemtruber

AseanAffairs     11  October 2011

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An unnamed official said on Monday that political prisoners in Myanmar would be freed “within days.” This is the latest development from the Myanmar government since the election of a new government at the end of 2010.

The other two developments were the recent suspension of work the Chinese-backed Myitsone dam and the earlier freedom granted to opposition leader Daw Aung San Suu Kyi after seven years of detention in her home.

There are an estimated 2,000 political prisoners including pro-democracy activists, journalists and lawyers. The official said that he was uncertain how many of the prisoners would be released.

A second official said the prisoners would be released before President Thein Sein leaves Wednesday on an official visit to India.

Expatriate critics of the military junta have continued to denounce the recent moves by the new government as “window dressing,” perhaps rightly so. However, the new government is acting very much like a government trying to address issues that the Myanmar people actually welcome. The dam issue and the release of political prisoners may help relations with western nations, especially the vocal critic, the US.

The military junta is still in control, however, as the new government is moving Myanmar into uncharted waters.

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This year in Thailand-what next?

AseanAffairs   04 January 2011
By David Swartzentruber      

It is commonplace in journalism to write two types of articles at the transition point between the year that has passed and the New Year. As this writer qualifies as an “old hand” in observing Thailand with a track record dating back 14 years, it is time take a shot at what may unfold in Thailand in 2011.

The first issue that can’t be answered is the health of Thailand’s beloved King Bhumibol, who is now 83 years old. He is the world's longest reigning monarch, but elaborate birthday celebrations in December failed to mask concern over his health. More


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