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A twist in Aung San Suu Kyi's fate

How a Missouri Mormon may have thwarted democracy in Myanmar.

But the international community, said Thin Thin Aung of the Women’s League of Burma, has “not really started acting. They just keep saying, ‘We’re concerned.’ We’d like to see immediate action.”

The harshest condemnation has come from nations with thin ties to Myanmar, namely Western powers.

Exiled pro-democracy leaders are now focusing on swaying the trading partners that keep Burma afloat, particularly the Association of Southeast Nations, or ASEAN, a 10-nation alliance that includes  Myanmar.

ASEAN, in a statement, has politely asked the junta to release Suu Kyi. The alliance’s “principle of non-interference” among member nations doesn’t allow for much more.

Myanmar, which supplies natural gas and other resources to its neighbors, has repeatedly embarrassed ASEAN on the world stage. But its member nations tend to stop short of punishing their trading partner.

“ASEAN told the military its credibility is at stake,” said Aung Zaw, an exiled magazine editor now based in Chiang Mai, Thailand. “What credibility are they talking about?”

Myanmar’s friendships with China and Russia have helped block action from the U.N. Security Council, which has also heard pleas from exiled Suu Kyi’s supporters. More than 20 fellow Nobel laureates have also pressured the U.N. to step in.

Suu Kyi, 63, is weak and sometimes needs intravenous drips, say members of the National League of Democracy. They claim the dungeon-like conditions — in which tuberculosis and AIDS spread freely — could even prove fatal.

On Wednesday, the junta showed a small gesture of appeasement: Suu Kyi’s trial was briefly opened to a handful of diplomats and journalists.

She thanked them for coming, according to Reuters, and said, “I hope to meet you in better days.”

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Ethnic Kachins defy Myanmar's junta

The wandering Rohingya

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