THE PEOPLE OF 2004
covering burma and southeast asia
Sunday, June 16, 2019
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THE PEOPLE OF 2004


By The Irrawaddy DECEMBER, 2004 - VOLUME 12 NO.11


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(Page 17 of 25)

The KNU’s chairman is Saw Ba Thin Sein.

 

Zarni (founder of the Free Burma Coalition)


The founder of the Free Burma Coalition, or FBC, made big news and inflamed passions in May 2004 by traveling to Rangoon to meet mid-ranking officials from the Office of the Chief of Military Intelligence.

 

ZarniThe talented and often aggressively outspoken activist maintained that he went to Rangoon in a bid to break the impasse between the government and the opposition. But many were outraged by his one-day visit, with some critics branding him an opportunist and a traitor.

 

While overseas Burmese vented their views (sometimes harsh and irrational) in email messages, Burmese shortwave radio stations invited critics and commentators to have their say on air.

 

In the early 1990s, he launched a successful campaign on American university campuses against Pepsi Cola, which eventually prompted the firm to pull out of Burma.

 

In several interviews with Burmese language radio services, Zarni repeatedly claimed that the US State Department backed his mission. A State Department official denied this was so, but said Zarni had met with US officials in Washington before his Rangoon visit and informed them of his intentions. “US policy toward Burma remains unchanged,” the official said.

 

Though he is not a prominent name in Burma, Zarni, in his early 40s, is well known among Burmese exiles, who thought his trip to Rangoon signaled the end of his political career and his position as a campaign activist. In 2003 a number of prominent members of the FBC left the group and founded a new movement, US Campaign for Burma.

 

U Lwin (secretary and spokesman of the National League for Democracy)

 

U LwinThe secretary and official spokesman of the opposition National League for Democracy, or NLD, is not the media’s most popular politician.



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