DENPASAR, Indonesia — When the U.S. ambassador to the Philippines, Kristie Kenney, visited the camp of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) on Feb. 19, she made modern history. In fact, the last time the highest American official stationed in the country talked directly with the Moros was in the early 20th century, during the American colonial period in the Philippines. Moro is the term used to define the native Muslims and tribal people who reside in Mindanao and the Sulu Archipelago. The MILF is the Philippines’ largest Islamic rebel group and the one spearheading the decades long fight for […]

NOBEL LAUREATES CALL FOR ACTION ON BURMA — Eight other Nobel laureates joined with South African Archbishop Desmond Tutu earlier this month to call for an international arms embargo, supported by the United Nations Security Council, against Burma’s military junta. Despite international anger and pressure to reform in the wake of the regime’s October 2007 violent crackdown on demonstrations led by Burma’s monks, the ruling junta has largely continued with business as usual – denying basic human rights to Burmese citizens. Several countries, including China, Russia and India, continue to sell military equipment and arms to the regime. “Despite decades […]

BANGKOK, Thailand — Three days after Burma’s repressive military regime announced a timetable for its self-styled roadmap to democracy Feb. 9, the generals were back to their old, undemocratic ways. They ordered that the deputy leader of the much-restricted opposition National League for Democracy be held under house arrest for another year. Tin Oo has been detained for almost five years, but aged 81 he hardly seems like a threat to the all-powerful army that runs the desperately poor, underfed country of 54 million, which was Asia’s biggest rice exporter during British colonial days. Tin Oo’s continued detention seems to […]

WASHINGTON — Indonesia’s strongman Suharto was many things to many people. As the debate rages over Suharto’s mixed legacy, he was ultimately an enigma to his protégé, vice president and successor Bacharuddin Jusuf Habibie. When Suharto was forced to resign on May 21, 1998, after 32 years at the helm, he did not say a word to Habibie. They had once been close. Habibie had nicknamed his mentor “SGS” — “super genius Suharto” — to gain his favor. Suharto, a devotee of mysticism, was drawn to Habibie’s preacher-seer father whom he met quite by chance as a young military officer […]