Friday, March 26, 2010

Catch Iraq War veteran/A sliver of progress in Myanmar [sic - Burma]

From Soldier to Revolutionary - Featuring Iraq war veteran Michael Prysner

When Iraq War veteran Michael Prysner joined the U.S. Army at 17 years old, he needed employment and education, and believed the lie that the U.S. military stood for freedom and democracy.  As part of the horrific “Shock & Awe” invasion of Iraq in 2003, Prysner realized that his true role in the U.S. Army “was to be the oppressor, and to clear the way for U.S. corporations.”

He separated in 2005 and has since dedicated his life to the anti-war movement.  Prysner is a member of the Party for Socialism and Liberation and a co-founder of March Forward!, an organization of veterans and service members who stand against war and racism.

He will speak on Saturday, March 27 at 1 p.m. at Peace & A Cup of Joe - 713 West Pratt Street (between Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd & Penn St.) in Baltimore.  Sponsored by the Party for Socialism and Liberation.
443-378-9253 - -,0,5329260.story


A sliver of progress in Myanmar

Upcoming elections offer the Obama administration a chance to press its strategy of engagement.

5:07 PM PDT, March 22, 2010

The Obama administration's strategy of engaging with rogue regimes may have paid off in a small way in Myanmar. The release from prison of a pro-democracy activist doesn't signal that democracy is coming to that oppressed nation, but it does argue for continued contact to keep pressing for desperately needed change.

Naturalized American citizen Nyi Nyi Aung was arrested on spurious charges, sentenced after an unfair trial and mistreated in prison, according to Human Rights Watch. Myanmar's military junta pardoned and deported him last week in what it said was deference to its "bilateral friendship with the United States" and a request by the State Department.

Myanmar, formerly known as Burma, is planning its first parliamentary and local elections in two decades. Opposition leader and Nobel Peace Prize laureate Aung San Suu Kyi has spent 14 of those years under house arrest, one of about 2,200 political prisoners in the country, according to Amnesty International. Suu Kyi's National League for Democracy party won the 1990 general election with a majority of seats in parliament, but was never allowed to take power. To ensure that it never does, the junta has rewritten the nation's constitution and imposed a new election law. Among the changes: Anyone married to a foreigner is disqualified from running for public office. (Suu Kyi is the widow of Briton Michael Aris.) Political prisoners are also disqualified, military control of a bloc of legislative seats and key ministries is guaranteed, and the regime is officially annulling the 1990 election results. Suu Kyi's party is suing the government in response.

The National League for Democracy is right that none of this bodes well for a free and fair vote, and it is understandably concerned that opposition participation in such an election would only serve to legitimize a junta that does not intend to relinquish power. Yet the junta is taking steps that could inadvertently lead to change. It is trying to broaden the private sector -- if only to benefit its cronies -- and improve economic conditions in a country where most live in dire poverty. The new constitution establishes a presidential system of government with a bicameral legislature and 14 regional governments and assemblies.

While maintaining targeted economic sanctions against Myanmar, the United States should use its new, if limited, influence to push for a credible electoral process with the freedom and participation of Suu Kyi and other prisoners of conscience. Representatives of the Assn. of Southeast Asian Nations should be allowed to monitor the vote. The door has opened a crack. The election is an opportunity to try to pry it open further.

Donations can be sent to the Baltimore Nonviolence Center, 325 E. 25th St., Baltimore, MD 21218.  Ph: 410-366-1637; Email: mobuszewski [at]


"The master class has always declared the wars; the subject class has always fought the battles. The master class has had all to gain and nothing to lose, while the subject class has had nothing to gain and everything to lose--especially their lives." Eugene Victor Debs


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