Tag Archives: Myanmar

Tom Arms’ World Review

United States (1)

Rudy Guiliani is broke. Georgia election workers Ruby Freeman and Wandrea “Shaye” Moss wish Trump’s top legal adviser wasn’t. A US court has ruled that Guiliani has ruined their lives when he publicly and falsely accused them of tampering with Georgia election ballots.

This Friday a jury of eight was considering whether or not to grant their request for $43 million in damages. An award, which will almost certainly be academic.

Three divorces, a lavish lifestyle and backing Donald Trump’s election lie has destroyed the 79-year-old’s fortune.

The former Mayor of New York was a presidential  candidate in 2007. As such he had to reveal his assets. He said he was worth $18 million. Court accountants believe the figure was probably closer to $70 million. In 2017 he was earning $10 million a year in speaker’s fees alone, and had been doing so for more than 10 years.

He enjoyed the money. According to court documents, Rudy Guiliani in 2017 owned six homes, belonged to 11 country clubs and spent $12,000 a month on cigars.

The fall started with divorce from his wife Judith.  She took a big chunk of his assets and alimony payments of $43,000 per month. But Giuliani’s biggest mistake was joining Donald Trump’s personal legal team in 2018.

By 2020 he was his top lawyer and closely connected with Trump’s election lie. This led to a $10 million defamation suit by an ex-employee and additional law suits from election computer manufacturers Smartamatic and Dominion Voting.

In 2022 the Internal Revenue Service took out a lien on his Florida condo because he had failed to pay $500,000 in taxes. In August of this year his own lawyers sued him $1.4 million in unpaid legal bills. His current net assets are $1 million. His known current liabilities (and there are more to come) are $1.9 million. He is bust. Backing Trump has a price.

United States (2)

Republicans may be shooting themselves in the foot over their planned impeachment of President Joe Biden.

There seems to be little doubt that the president’s son Hunter is guilty of a number of bad things. But despite months of deep digging by Republican congressmen, no one has been able to uncover a shred of hard evidence linking the president to his son’s business dealings.

Nevertheless, the Republican-dominated House of Representatives appears determined to start impeachment proceedings against President Biden.

Impeachment is a serious business. It takes a lot of time and effort. While an impeachment is in progress Congress is focused on little else. That means debates over government spending, immigration, Ukraine, Israel and climate change are all put on the legislative backburner.

These are all important issues for the American electorate. They will not thank Republican congressman for ignoring their interests to pursue a political vendetta without evidence to back it up.


It has been a bad week for Ukrainian President Volodomyr Zelensky. In Washington he hit a brick wall in an attempt to release $61 billion in aid.

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Myanmar Executions, what now? 

After the initial burst of news, there have been few updates in the UK press on the situation in Myanmar following the military coup in February 2021.  This was till recently on 25th July 2022, when the military rulers announced that 4 democracy activists were executed.  According to the Assistance Association for Political Prisoners (AAPP), these 4 executions “were the first carried out among some 117 death sentences handed down by military-run courts since the coup”.

Chinese Libdems posted two articles on Myanmar previously Standing with Myanmar – Military rule and the struggle for democracy in Myanmar (March 2021) and Myanmar’s Simmering War and UK’s moral duty (June 2021).  Given recent developments, it is perhaps timely to give an update on the situation.  

Based on our research, we have gleaned the following:
– Myanmar is in early stages of civil war.  The pro-democracy groups have set up a National Unity Government (NUG) and has established a People’s Defence Force (PDF).  Other armed groups are the Ethnic Armed Organisations (EAO) and the Sit-Tat (Myanmar Armed Forces belonging to the Junta).

– Myanmar is fragmented along conflict lines.  Some areas are under NUG control, and others by the various EAOs and the SIT-Tat.  Some areas would be in conflict as between government and rebel groups.  There is also a breakdown of national institutions (i.e., the military government) with some villages establishing their own administrative bodies.

In July 2022, China’s foreign minister during his first visit since the coup, “called for Myanmar’s junta to hold talks with its opponents.  The Junta would of course want to retain power as far as possible and is currently set on destroying the NUG despite calling themselves a transition government.  The NUG on the other hand is far from united with some seeking the replacement of the 2008 Constitution without any power sharing arrangements.  The execution of the 4 political activists can only stiffen the resolve of the NUG to defeat the Junta.

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Myanmar’s simmering civil war – and the UK’s moral duty

Following the coup d’etat in Myanmar on Feb 1st this year, the ‘Tatmadaw’ military have killed more than 860 civilians and imprisoned more than 6000 people. Random bombings of civilians, burning villages and killing protestors, have made a full scale civil war likely. The de facto leader of Myanmar is now the brutal General Min Aung Hlaing, the Chairman of the State Administration Council.

The coup ended 5 years of ‘democratic’ governance. This period followed 53 years of military rule, which began in coup in 1962. Myanmar (Burma) was part of British India before 1948.

The colonial past is one reason why the UK has a duty to help.  More specifically, the flawed legacy of the British contributed to 7 decades of conflict.  After the 1962 coup, the oil and gas sector was nationalised, and oil & gas majors such as Anglo-Dutch Shell and British Gas, with the support of the British Government,  have been intimately involved.

The UK can thus have major positive role to play.

Reducing violence, and preparing for the consequences from full civil war, necessitate understanding, however.

Two thirds of the population in Myanmar are Burmese (Bamah). From independence, and as part of the British legacy,  the government has had a system of ethnic control centred on the peripheral provinces. This led to armed resistance, ‘justifying’ military rule. There have been nine major conflicts; four still persist  – involving Rakhine/Rohingya, Shan, Kachin, Kayin, and Mon. Citizens have an ethnic designation written on their ID cards. The exception is the mainly Muslim Rohingya, who do not receive ID cards, on the grounds they are ‘foreigners’.

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Twilight over Burma

“History repeats itself first as tragedy then as farce,” according to Marx.

The 1962 coup in Burma was followed by five decades of harsh military rule. There is little farcical about the 1 February coup when in the weeks passing many unarmed protesters have been killed including many children. The situation in Myanmar gives rise to grave concern. Fitch Solutions is projecting a “conservative” 20% contraction for the 2020-21 fiscal year in Myanmar. It said this month the rising death toll combined with increased social instability means “all areas of GDP by expenditure are set to collapse.”

The garment sector is at a halt with many factories in Yangon being burnt down by a wave of anti-Chinese feeling. People are angry at the complicit support of China over the military take over. The military has been switching off the internet in order to prevent people from finding out what is going on and to organise protests. Also, to prevent news from reaching the outside world. Many journalists have been arrested, some still remain in detention, and news organisations have had their licenses withdrawn. Closing down the internet for periods of the day comes at an economic cost. The fragile banking system is already teetering with depositors limited to how much they can draw from their accounts. Exporters cannot reach their customers.

The Tatmadaw, the Burmese military, still has access to its funds from gems, jade, and oil and gas. Its business interests operating in a mafia like way which isolates it from the economic collapse. The ordinary Burmese have no such isolation with many now considering fleeing to India and Thailand. An influx of refugees shows the problems to Thailand of having an unstable Myanmar on its borders. The resistance has now shifted from the main cities to the Shan states in NW Myanmar. Police stations have been attacked. Another area of traditional resistance is on the Indian border with an equal influx of refugees. A massive humanitarian disaster is on the cards.

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Standing with Myanmar – Military rule and the struggle for democracy in Myanmar

History appears to be repeating itself in Myanmar with the military unwilling to relinquish control. Will thousands be killed again, as massive numbers of people nationwide protest in the streets and are engaged in civil disobedience?

Following independence from British colonial rule in 1948, disagreements amongst political elites, the civil wars with ethnic-based groups and anxieties over communist influence led to General Ne Win forming a caretaker government in 1958. An election was held in 1960, but when minority groups pushed for a loose federal structure, which were seen by the military as separatist movements, General Ne Win took over in a coup d’état.

Since then, for the next 30 years, Myanmar was ruled by the military. In 1974, a new Constitution was established and a one-party system was adopted, whereby military officers resigned and governed through the Burma Socialist Programme Party. Protests were held against military rule throughout the 1960s and 1970s, which were crushed, culminating in a major unrest and widespread pro-democracy demonstrations in 1988. Thousands were killed. Martial law was declared in 1989 and Burma was renamed Myanmar.

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Observations of an expat: A sad Burmese tale

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This week’s coup in Myanmar (aka Burma) is a warning of the dangers of Faustian pacts between politicians and the military.

To be fair, the political manoeuvrability of human rights icon Aung San Suu Kyi was severely limited. Her country had been under a brutal military regime for nearly half a century when she started talks with the generals.  And she was negotiating while under house arrest.

But the government which eventually resulted in multi-party general elections in 2015 and again last November was neither political fish nor fowl and thus inherently unstable. The Tatmadaw (the military’s name for itself) called the result a “discipline-flourishing democracy.”

The new constitution allowed multi-party elections, but 25 percent of the seats were reserved for the military’s political vehicle the Union Solidarity and Development Party (USDP); which had a blocking vote because major legislation required a three-quarters majority.

In addition, the cabinet portfolios of defence, border security and home affairs were held by serving military officers.  The military also appointed two of the vice presidents. Ms Suu Kyi was specifically barred from the presidency by constitutional clause which said no one married to a non-Burmese citizen or who had non-Burmese children could hold the top job. Aung San Suu Kyi was married to a British subject and had British children.

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