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NEWS UPDATES Asean Affairs       21  June 2011

Aung San Suu Kyi to speak to US Congress

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Myanmar's pro-democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi will deliver her first-ever remarks to a US congressional committee to raise awareness of human rights concerns, a lawmaker said on Monday.

Suu Kyi has sent a recorded video message to be broadcast at a hearing on Wednesday at the House Foreign Affairs subcommittee on East Asia, said the US Campaign for Burma advocacy group and Representative Don Manzullo.

Suu Kyi, a Nobel Peace laureate, has spent most of the past two decades under house arrest but was freed in November. Wednesday's hearing is due to discuss last year's widely criticised election in Myanmar, also known as Burma.

The hearing "will highlight these sham elections and Burma's difficult road ahead," Manzullo, a Republican from Illinois who heads the House subcommittee, said in a statement.

"I am excited to share the videotaped testimony," he said, "so everyone can hear of the junta's continued military offensives against ethnic groups and the dire human rights situation in Burma."

The military-backed regime has announced a political transition amid talks with the United States on improving relations. But Washington and opposition groups say the changes are little more than cosmetic.

The United States has voiced concern and urged Myanmar's government forces to cease hostilities after recent clashes in northern Kachin state, which has sent ethnic minority refugees fleeing across the border to China.

Suu Kyi, who turned 66 on Sunday, enjoys wide support in the US Congress. She was awarded the prestigious Congressional Gold Medal in 2008, but has not visited Washington to receive the award.

The trial is ongoing.


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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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