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An urchin in  Rangoon, the old capital. Change is not coming

Phuket Summit Likely to Lash Burma's Actions

Friday, May 15, 2009
Phuketwan Opinion/Analysis

A TOP-LEVEL meeting about regional security involving 27 nations gathering on Phuket from Monday is likely to see Burma face concerted outrage at the latest arrest of the country's rightful democratic leader, Aung San Suu Kyi.

It will be the first gathering at which the nations of the world will be able to express their serious displeasure, albeit in diplomatic terms, at the latest indication of the junta's true character and intent.

Most nations have long ceased believing anything that Burmese authorities tell them about supposed moves towards elections and democracy.

Some, like India, China and Thailand, are less outspoken because they have strong trade connections and do not want to damage practical relations with a neighbor.

Others see through the smokescreen of the Burma generals, who pretend to grow more liberal while at the same time shoring up their absolute power.

Burma's Asian neighbours are now coming under fire from rights groups for largely staying silent about the fresh charges levelled by the military junta against Aung San Suu Kyi.

Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch have urged Asean to use its influence with its most troublesome member.

The rights groups say that China, Japan and India should also use their weight.

Aung San Suu Kyi, elected as Burma's leader in 1992 but held in house arrest almost constantly in the intervening years, has been detained because an American swam across a lake to visit her.

She is to be put on trial, with the possiblity of five more years' detention, on Monday. Her chances of ever being free to contest proposed elections are slim at best under the generals.

The three-day meeting on Phuket from Monday involves relatively senior-level representatives from all the key players in the region and beyond, including the US, the EU, China, Russia and Australia.

If Burma goes ahead and sends a representative, the high level of displeasure is likely to be made plain in no uncertain terms at the various forum gatherings, or in private meetings to one side.

North Korea, perhaps, will not say too much in the way of criticism. But plenty of other countries are likely to make their collective displeasure known.

The meeting is being held at the Movenpick Resort, close to the beach at Karon. Because it is about regional security, no media will be attending.

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Sunday October 17, 2021
Horizon Karon Beach Resort & Spa

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