(LinkAsia News - November 4, 2011) YUL KWON, LinkAsia host: After decades of house arrest, Myanmar's pro-democracy icon, Aung San Suu Kyi, says she senses a change in attitude in the country's year- old government. Lately, it's been more willing to engage with the opposition movement that she leads. Japanese broadcaster NHK World has this exclusive interview with the Nobel Peace Prize Winner.
NHK World NEWSLINE Transcript
10/28/11 - 9PM Broadcast
AUNG SAN SUU KYI: I think the president is very desirous of positive change.
REPORTER: Myanmar held its first general election in 20 years last year. However, Aung San Suu Kyi was effectively barred from participating in the ballot. More than 80% of the rule-makers elected turn out to be supporters of the former military government.
The military maintains a strong influence over the country. However, in August, President Thein Sein held his first meeting with Aung San Suu Kyi in an upfront effort to improve ties with the pro-democracy movement.
SUU KYI: The force to its changes... I think we've got to make it strong. This is our responsibility; this is our duty to try to make it as strong as possible. We prefer to emphasize what is positive, and to help the process along. We also are cautious about saying that change has taken place.
REPORTER: Then, earlier this month, the government granted amnesty to more than 6,300 prisoners, including political detainees, who were accused of criticizing the former military regime.
The United States has suggested that it might review its economic sanctions on Myanmar, if the government allows more political participation by opposition parties and moves closer towards democracy. Even Aung San Suu Kyi says she would be willing to take part in the party's political framework, if the government asks her, but only with one condition.
SUU KYI: Such matters are very much things that have to be decided with the rest of the party. It's not something that I decide for myself. I think you have to be committed to the process of dialogue, and even sometimes when it is perhaps not everything that you might wish for, you still have to continue and try to make it more meaningful and more substantial.
REPORTER: Aung San Suu Kyi says she sees the change in the government's attitude as the golden opportunity to advance democracy in the country. Jun Kobayashi, NHK World, Yang Gong.
American hikers Josh Fattal and Shane Bauer were released yesterday after over two years in Iranian prison on allegations of trespassing and spying for the US. Fattal and Bauer were arrested, along with travelling companion Sarah Shroud, while hiking in Iraqi Kurdistan in July 2011. On August 20, 2011, Fattal and Bauer were sentenced to eight years in prison. The American hikers were released yesterday on $500,000 bail and taken to Oman where they were reunited with their families.
Some analysts believe that Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad strategically announced the release of Fattal and Bauer just weeks before his visit to New York for the annual UN General Assembly in order to receive a warmer welcome by the US and project a noble and gracious image among fellow world leaders at the UN. Others believe it was a tactical move in the ongoing political feud between Ahmadinejad and Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Ahamenei. Only a day after his announcement, the Iranian judiciary denied the president's statement and said the hikers' release was 'not imminent.'
Democracy Now's Amy Goodman interviews Shon Meckfessel, who was also travelling with the trio in 2009, but who stayed at the hotel the morning of their hike because of a cold.
(Democracy Now! 0752 PT, May 13, 2011) As news is developing from Yemen this morning, Democracy Now! interviews Iona Craig, a Times of London correspondent, based in the Yemeni capital, Sana'a. Tens of thousands of Yemenis have taken to the streets today for what organizers have called the "Friday of Decisiveness."
The marches are taking place days after Yemeni forces opened fire on demonstrators. The death toll from weeks of protests has surpassed 160. The violence comes as Qatar has pulled out of international talks on a deal that would see Saleh voluntarily resign.
(Euronews: 0549 PT, May 9, 2011) The Egyptian Army is demonstrating its promised "iron fist" in Cairo, after two days of deadly clashes between Coptic Christians and Muslims. At least 12 people were killed and more than 200 injured.
Clashes flared between Christians and Muslims in the capital on Saturday and Sunday. Stones were thrown and there were reports of gunfire and bullet wounds; 190 people were arrested. The army's aim now is to reassure the people.
(Al Jazeera English: 1610 PT, May 8, 2011) Christians marching against the military in the Egyptian capital and calling for more rights have come under attack. While some blamed hardline Muslims, others said the attack is symptomatic of rampant lawlessness in the country following the revolution that overthrew long-time leader, Hosni Mubarak. Al Jazeera's Rawya Rageh reports from Cairo.
(Democracy Now! 0752 PT, May 9, 2011) Democracy Now! correspondent Sharif Abdel Kouddous reports from Cairo, where 12 people died and more than 180 were wounded during clashes between Muslims and Christians in Cairo over the weekend.
"This was a major attack," says Kouddous. "What many people, many Coptic people in particular, do not understand is why the military, who was present at the scene while the violence was happening stood by while the worst of it took place and did not intervene."
(Democracy Now!: May 4, 2011) The Gulf nation of Bahrain has announced that 47 medical workers who treated pro-democracy protesters during the nation's popular uprising will be tried before a military court on charges of acting against the state. Democracy Now! speaks with Richard Sollom of Physicians for Human Rights. He recently traveled to Bahrain to document the situation there, and is the co-author of a new report, "Do No Harm: A Call for Bahrain to End Systematic Attacks on Doctors and Patients."
(Al Jazeera English: 0100 PT, May 5, 2011) Communities in the western Nafusa Mountain range of Libya are under siege by Muammar Gadaffi's forces. The town of Nalut was reportedly bombarded with grad rockets on Thursday. A team of medical professionals from all over the world had the chance to leave before the siege, but they chose to stay. Learn more in this report.
(Al Jazeera English: 0434 PT, May 3, 2011) Peter King, Chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee, claims waterboarding produced intelligence that helped the US find Osama bin Laden. However, CIA Director Leon Panetta says such techniques may not have been necessary.
(Democracy Now! 0723 PT, May 4, 2011) Matthew Alexander, a former senior military interrogator in Iraq, claims torture slowed down efforts to find Osama bin Laden.
(Al Jazeera English: 0446 PT, May 3, 2011) Al Jazeera speaks to Peter Bouckaert of Human Rights Watch about the use of waterboarding and other "enhanced" intelligence-gathering techniques.
(Euronews: 0744 PT, May 3, 2011) Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper will head a majority government for the first time after his Conservative Party won Monday's parliamentary elections. The Conservatives picked up nearly 40 percent of the vote, taking 167 seats in Canada's parliament.
Harper, who had previously headed two minority governments in his five years as PM, says he can secure Canada's economic recovery and wipe out its budget deficit. The 52-year-old says this can be achieved by slashing public spending and cutting taxes.
(Democracy Now! 0758 PT, May 3, 2011) Democracy Now! interviews Stephen Lewis, long-time member of the National Democratic Party, about the results of the Canadian elections. The Conservative party, led by Prime Minister Stephen Harper, was elected to a majority in the Canadian parliament, ending five years of minority government.
(Mosaic Video Alert: April 28, 2011) In Bahrain, Saudi-backed Bahraini forces continue their clampdown on protests, as security forces attacked protestors in Sitra. A Bahraini military court has sentenced several detained protestors to death. The sentencing is expected to spark more angry protests after Friday prayers. Meanwhile, protestors in Saudi Arabia continue to demand political reform, the release of prisoners, and respect for human rights. Over 140 political activists have reportedly been arrested since protests began in mid-January.