January 12th, 2012
01:11 AM ET

U.S. officials to meet with Myanmar opposition leader

U.S. diplomats will meet with Myanmar opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi ton Thursday in another sign of thawing relations between Washington and the Southeast Asian nation.

The American delegation will be headed by Derek Mitchell, the U.S. special envoy to Myanmar.

The delegation, which also includes U.S. Ambassador-at-large for Human Trafficking Luis CdeBaca, arrived in the country Monday and have meet with top government officials.

Myanmar has been ruled by a military junta since 1962, and the generals have started to loosen their grip on the country after coming under criticism for their human rights record in recent years. Thein Sein, a former military official and prime minister, became president last year as a result of an election criticized by democracy activists as a sham.

Myanmar authorities released Suu Kyi in 2010 after years of house arrest and then freed dozens of political prisoners in October 2011. Last week, she met with William Hague, the first British foreign secretary to visit Myanmar in more than 50 years.

Burma was a part of British India from 1886 until gaining its independence in 1948. Since 1989, the ruling military has said the nation should be called Myanmar, but some Western nations still refer to it as Burma.

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December 28th, 2011
10:48 PM ET

Myanmar state TV: Blast in area of Yangon kills 20

An explosion early Thursday rocked a neighborhood in the city of Yangon killing 20 people and injuring more than 95, Myanmar's state-run television MR TV reported.

The blast occurred in Mingalar Taung Nyunt, a mainly residential area about a 15 minute-drive from central Yangon, the country's former capital. It struck a compound of warehouses that the government rents out to private businesses.

"I can't tell what is the exact cause of the incident but it is unlikely from man-made bombs," said a police official, who declined to be identified because he was not authorized to speak to the media.

The authorities are investigating the explosion, he said.

Win Tun, who lives near the warehouses, said she heard a "very big, loud noise of explosion," which prompted startled residents to try to flee.

"Some people ran in the wrong way. I didn't know where to run to," she said, adding that the initial blast was followed by a string of other explosions.

The dead include four firefighters, MR TV reported.

The strength of the explosion shattered the windows of nearby houses.

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December 1st, 2011
08:18 AM ET

Clinton hands Suu Kyi letter from Obama

U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton handed a letter from President Barack Obama to Aung San Suu Kyi, the Nobel Prize-winning face of Myanmar's democracy movement, on Thursday, as the two women met for the first time.

Obama thanks Suu Kyi "for the inspiration you provide all of us around the world who share the values of democracy, human rights, and justice.

"We stand by you now and always," he vows in the letter, which was released by the State Department.

Clinton is having dinner with Suu Kyi at the U.S. Chief of Mission residence in Yangon, a highlight of Clinton's historic visit to Myanmar.


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December 1st, 2011
02:58 AM ET

Clinton to wrap up historic Myanmar visit with Suu Kyi meeting

U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton wraps up her historic visit to Myanmar with a meeting Thursday with the face of the country's democratic movement, Aung San Suu Kyi.

The dinner at the U.S. Chief of Mission residence in Yangon will be the first time Clinton will meet the 1991 Nobel Peace Prize winner. They have spoken on the phone before, a senior State Department official said.

It will be a fitting end to a whirlwind trip - the first in 50 years for an American secretary of state - made possible by the reclusive nation's unexpected steps at democratic reform.

Ruled by a junta since 1962, Myanmar is now under a new president, Thein Sein, who was elected in March.

The new government freed dozens of political prisoners in October.

And on Wednesday, Suu Kyi - herself released from a years-long house arrest in November last year - said she intends to run for parliament.

The developments prompted cautious optimism for the United States, which still refers to the country as Burma - the name it used before the junta took power.

The trip, the White House said, is an indication the time could be right to forge a new relationship between the nations.

"I am here today because President (Barack) Obama and myself are encouraged by the steps that you and your government have taken to provide for your people," Clinton told Sein during a meeting Thursday at the presidential palace in the capital of Naypyidaw.

Sein, in turn, said the trip will enhance cooperation between the two countries.

"Your excellency's visit will be an historic one," he said.

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Filed under: Myanmar • Politics • U.S. • World
November 18th, 2011
10:35 AM ET

Hillary Clinton plans trip to visit Myanmar

U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton plans to visit Myanmar next month on a trip that could signal a major change in relations between the two countries.

Clinton will be the first American secretary of state in 50 years to visit Myanmar, a country that the West has long criticized for its hostility toward democracy and its record on human rights.

President Barack Obama said Friday that Clinton would visit the outheast Asian nation next month. He said he did so after talking with pro-democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi, who was released one year ago after spending 15 of the previous 21 years under house arrest for her opposition to authoritarian rule in Myanmar.

Clinton's trip is an indication that Myanmar, also known as Burma, has made some progress toward democracy and that the time could be right to forge a new relationship between the nations, the White House said.

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October 12th, 2011
11:24 AM ET

Change in Myanmar? Prisoner amnesty begins

Myanmar released dozens of political prisoners Wednesday, among them a well-known comedian and an ethnic Shan general, the latest in a series of moves that could help the isolated nation normalize relations with the West.

The mass amnesty, which authorities say will eventually free 6,300 prisoners, has helped fuel hope for change in one of the most repressive states in the world.

But is the amnesty an authentic step toward liberalization - or another gesture by the new government to appease critics?

Speaking in Thailand this week, U.S. Assistant Secretary of State Kurt Campbell said undeniably, "dramatic developments" were under way in Myanmar that could prompt Washington to improve ties. The United States imposes an embargo on arms and investment in Myanmar, once known as Burma before a military junta took over.

But human rights activists warned against showering Myanmar's leadership with too many kudos too fast.

Only about 150 of Myanmar's more than 2,000 political detainees were released in the amnesty, said Thein Oo, a senior member of the National League for Democracy, the party led by Nobel Peace Prize laureate Aung San Suu Kyi. Many prominent dissidents remain behind bars.

"If we talk about the change going on in Burma, what I can say is I still don't believe that Burma is really on the right track," said Zarganar, the comedian who was released Wednesday. "I'm saying that based on my experience. What I mean is that only a few political prisoners are included in today's release."

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October 12th, 2011
01:44 AM ET

Myanmar begins prisoner release

Myanmar has begun the release of what it said will eventually be more than 6,300 prisoners under a mass amnesty.

Among the inmates freed by noon Wednesday, 70 were political detainees, a rights group said.

The Thailand-based Assistance Association for Political Prisoners said it obtained its information from staff members and political activists inside Myanmar.

Maj-Gen Hso Ten who was sentenced to 105 years in prison on sedition charges in 2005, was among those released, the group said.

Also released were some members of Aung San Suu Kyi's National League for Democracy party, the party said

Party spokesman Nyan Win said the NLD was expecting more releases later Wednesday.

About 200 NLD members are in prison, he said.

Myanmar's mass amnesty is one in a series of recent moves that could help the isolated nation normalize relations with Western nations including the United States.

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Suu Kyi attends anniversary of Myanmar uprising that made her an icon
Aung San Suu Kyi, center, attends a religious ceremony Monday on the 23rd anniversary of the student uprising in Yangon.
August 8th, 2011
01:05 PM ET

Suu Kyi attends anniversary of Myanmar uprising that made her an icon

Nobel peace laureate Aung San Suu Kyi is tireless in her efforts to bring democracy to her homeland, and on Monday she continued to poke the tiger that is Myanmar's ruling military junta.

The pro-democracy icon led hundreds in a demonstration at a Yangon monastery to commemorate the anniversary of the 1988 uprising that first put Suu Kyi at the forefront of the opposition's call for democratic change, according to The Irrawaddy news magazine.

Several news outlets reported that authorities kept a close eye on the demonstrations but did not harass protesters despite the government's repeated warning to Suu Kyi that she should refrain from political activities. Voice of America reported that Suu Kyi will make a trip to Bago, about 50 miles northeast of Yangon, this weekend to attend the opening of two libraries and to meet with political network groups.

Cho Cho Kyaw Nyein, a leader of the opposition Democratic Party, told The Irrawaddy magazine, “Without democracy in our country, we will work on together under the leadership of Aung San Suu Kyi.”


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Filed under: Civil Rights • Economy • Human rights • Justice • Military • Myanmar • United Nations • World
July 5th, 2011
08:41 PM ET

Myanmar diplomat seeks asylum in U.S.

The second-highest-ranking diplomat at the embassy of Myanmar in Washington has defected and wants to seek asylum in the United States.

In a letter to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton obtained by CNN, Deputy Chief of Mission Kyaw Win said he had "no choice" but to leave his post in protest over human rights abuses and fraudulent elections.

Win's move is a setback for the regime in Myanmar, which held its first elections in 20 years in November.

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6.8-quake strikes Myanmar
March 24th, 2011
10:20 AM ET

6.8-quake strikes Myanmar

A powerful earthquake hit Myanmar Thursday near its borders with China, Thailand and Laos, the U.S. Geological Survey said.

The quake hit in eastern Myanmar, about 55 miles (89 kilometers) north of Chiang Rai, Thailand, the survey reported.

It had a magnitude of 6.8, the survey said, revising the estimate down from an initial reading of 7.0.

It was a relatively shallow quake, which can be very destructive.

The Geological Survey initially said the quake had a depth of 142 miles (230 kilometers), but it later revised its estimate to say the quake was 6 miles (10 kilometers) deep, putting it fairly close to the surface.


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Filed under: Earthquake • Myanmar • Natural Disasters • World
November 15th, 2010
09:41 AM ET

On the Radar: Suu Kyi, Fort Hood, Rangel, lame ducks

Aung San Suu Kyi has spent much of the last two decades under house arrest.

Still open for dialogue - Freed activist Aung San Suu Kyi said she would continue working on matters of democracy and human rights in Myanmar and doesn’t worry about being detained again.

The 1991 Nobel Peace Prize recipient has spent 15 of the past 21 years under house arrest for her dogged opposition to authoritarian rule in Myanmar. She insists all parties  - both inside and outside of the country - must continue working together.

Suu Kyi said she’d like to begin engaging Gen. Than Shwe, Myanmar's top military leader and head of state, in dialogue.


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November 14th, 2010
11:52 AM ET

Aung San Suu Kyi: 'You've got to do it with me'

Freed democracy activist Aung San Suu Kyi told her supporters Sunday that she needs their help in her efforts to bring change to Myanmar. "I'm not going to be able to do it alone," Suu Kyi said.

"You've got to do it with me. One person alone can't do anything as important as bringing change and democracy to a country."

She said she was treated well during her years of house arrest by Myanmar's ruling generals, but said the country needs to return to the rule of law.

"I am for national reconciliation, I am for dialogue ... whatever authority I have, I would like to use toward that end. And I hope the people will support me," she said, speaking to reporters at the headquarters of her National League for Democracy party. FULL STORY

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November 13th, 2010
06:00 AM ET

Myanmar activist Aung San Suu Kyi released

Myanmar activist Aung San Suu Kyi was released from house arrest Saturday, police outside her home said. CNN could not independently verify the report.

Crowds of supporters waited near her home in Yangon. Hundreds of others waited near her National League for Democracy.

Suu Kyi has spent 15 of the past 21 years under house arrest because of her fight for democracy in the nation formerly known as Burma.

Security has been stepped up in Myanmar, but it was unclear whether that was because of the country's first elections in two decades last Sunday.


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November 9th, 2010
08:14 AM ET

On the Radar: Bush memoir, oil spill, Myanmar, Olbermann

President George W. Bush's 481-page memoir comes out Tuesday.

Bush memoir release

After staying largely mum on the political scene since leaving office almost two years ago, President George W. Bush will reveal his thoughts on the most historic - and controversial - parts of his presidency with the release of his memoir Tuesday.

In the 481-page book, Decision Points, Bush shares his thoughts on the 9/11 attacks, Hurricane Katrina and what he calls the "worst moment" of his presidency.

The 43rd president also takes responsibility for giving the go-ahead for waterboarding terror suspects, which has touched off a new round of criticism of Bush and calls for his prosecution. He says that he decided not to use two more extreme interrogation methods, but he does not disclose what those were.


November 8th, 2010
10:27 AM ET

Thousands flee Myanmar into Thailand

Thai troops run for cover as fire from the Myanmar side of the Thai-Myanmar border spilled into Thailand on Monday.

About 10,000 people from Myanmar fled across the border into Thailand on Monday to escape fighting between Myanmar government forces and a splinter group of rebels of the Democratic Karen Buddhist Army, military and border officials told CNN.

The rebels and Myanmar forces clashed over control of the town of Myawaddy, which sits across the Moei River from Mae Sot, Thailand. The Thailand-Burma Friendship bridge connects the two towns.

Lt. Col. Vannathit Wongwai, commander of Thailand's 3rd Region Army, said Myanmar military officials told him they had retaken control of Myawaddy at 5 p.m. local time after bringing in 500 reinforcements to battle the Karen splinter group. FULL POST

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May 7th, 2010
06:49 AM ET

Suu Kyi backers say they'll form party

Supporters of detained Myanmar leader Aung San Suu Kyi said Friday they will form a new political party after she was not allowed to participate in an upcoming election.


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