Friday, November 21, 2008

KIO TV broadcasts junta-KIO meet

KNG News

In an unusual move the Kachin Independence Organization (KIO) has started broadcasting recent video recordings of the meeting between KIO leaders and Burmese ruling junta on the group-owned Laiza Television in the KIO's headquarters and business center Laiza, since last week, said residents of Laiza. The KIO is the largest ethnic Kachin ceasefire group in northern Burma.

Starting on November 11 (Tuesday), the KIO's Laiza TV quite unusually started broadcasting the video records about the meeting between KIO leaders and military officials of the ruling junta including former Commander of No (1) Bureau of Special Operation Lt-Gen Ye Myint, former Northern Command (Ma Pa Kha) Commander Maj-Gen Ohn Myint and a new Northern Command Commander Maj-Gen Soe Win. The video is titled in Kachin called-- "Prat dep mungdan de" meaning "Towards modern country."

On the KIO side, the group's senior leaders are mainly seen on Laiza TV such as the chairman Lanyaw Zawng Hra, Vice-chairman Lt-Gen N'ban La Awng, Vice-president No. I Lt-Gen Gauri Zau Seng, Vice-president No. II Dr. Manam Tu Ja and General Secretary Dr. Lahkyen La Ja, local subscribers said.

The Laiza TV broadcasts in Kachin language only and it is also distributed only in Laiza through a cable system where about 1,000 households and KIO personnel subscribe with a monthly fee of 25 Yuan (US $3.6), a resident of Laiza told KNG today.

According to residents of Laiza, the people in Laiza are not interested in a new TV programme and speculated about the new programme "Towards modern country" on Laiza TV which normally broadcasts typical video recording of meetings of KIO leaders, repeatedly.

Meanwhile, the KIO is desperately mobilising native Kachins and Red Shans in the state for the 2010 elections in Burma through the Kachin State Interim Committee (Pranwan Komiti in Kachin) which was formed for setting up a big political party and contesting against the junta-backed political party in the elections.

The other option is the KIO will not surrender its weapons and pursue the chances of resolving the political problems between the KIO and the ruling junta through political dialogue with both the winning parties in Kachin state and the country after the 2010 elections.

The TV is broadcasting the programme daily twice from 7 am to 10 am in the morning and 4 pm to 10 pm in the evening (Burma standard time), added local subscribers.

Laiza TV was started in 2005 by distributing antennas but the system has been changed to cable since last year, said residents of Laiza.

The programme and broadcasting policy of Laiza TV are directly controlled by Kachin Independence Council (KIC) under the KIO, said sources close to Laiza TV office in Laiza.

READ MORE---> KIO TV broadcasts junta-KIO meet...

Three insurgents and one villager killed by Burmese Army during clash in Ye Township

Ko Sein Myint and Arka
Mon News
20 Nov 2008

Three insurgents and one villager are reportedly dead after a clash between rebels and Light Infantry Battalion (LIB) No. 299 near Man-aung village in southern Ye Township, Mon State.

According to a source close to LIB No. 299, based in Ko Mine village, soldiers said they recovered the bodies of three dead rebel soldiers and one villager after a fighting at noon on November 17th. Three guns and 8 million kyat are also reported to have been recovered. Man-aung is less than two kilometers to the east of Koe Mine village.

According to the source close to LIB No. 299, a local informer notified army troops of the rebels’ presence. The rebels, moving in a small group of five, were subsequently ambushed as they prepared their lunch near a stream outside Man-aung.

The deaths of the rebels could not be independently verified, but a female villager from Koe Mine village confirmed that one civilian, Nai a Saing, was killed. The civilian casualty was accompanying the rebels after he had been order to leave work on a rubber plantation and carry supplies for the soldiers.

The female villager from Koe Mine also said that villagers in the area are now afraid to go to remote farms and plantations because they fear both rebels and the Burmese army. The fears appear well placed, according to a human rights report released by the Human Rights Foundation of Monland (HURFOM) on November 20th.

HURFOM’s report details four main categories of human rights violations committed by battalions against residents of at least thirty villages in the area. The categories included are: interrogation, assault and summary execution; travel restrictions and surveillance; punitive taxation, quotas and looting; forced labor, including conscription of porters and human minesweepers for military operations.

Though the focus of the HURFOM report is human rights violations committed by the Burmese army, the group also describes the taxation – and even ransoming – of local villagers by another armed Mon insurgents. “Villagers often find themselves caught between the proverbial rock and hard place,” reads the report, “in which they are pressured, even forced, to support insurgent groups and then harshly punished by SPDC battalions for doing so.”

READ MORE---> Three insurgents and one villager killed by Burmese Army during clash in Ye Township...

Junta continues crackdown on activists - U Gambira

By Naw Say Phaw

Nov 20, 2008 (DVB)–High-profile monk leader U Gambira has been sentenced to 27 years’ imprisonment, the latest in a number of activists to be given long-term sentences this month.

U Gambira, leader of the All-Burmese Monks’ Alliance and a key figure in last year’s public demonstration, was sentenced to 12 years in prison on 18 November for inciting public unrest and religious defamation, according to a lawyer who did not wish to be named.

The lawyer said at the time that U Gambira’s sentence was likely to increase as he is still awaiting trial on several other charges.

The prominent monk has now been jailed for an additional 15 years for offences under the Electronics Act at a hearing today at Western Rangoon provincial court in Insein prison.

Another monk from Mandalay, U Kaylatha, was sentenced to a 35-year jail term under the Unlawful Association Act on 18 November.

Two young Chin men and an Arakanese youth have also been given jail terms ranging from eight to 33 years, according to Pu Cin Sian Thang, leader of the Zomi National Congress.

Pu Cin Sian Thang’s son Kyaw Soe (also known as Kam Lam Khut) was sentenced to 33 years in prison on 10 charges and his nephew Anthony (also known as Kat Kham Kwa), Tin Htoo Aung was given an eight-year sentence.

Arakan national Tin Htoo Aung was sentenced to 33 years’ imprisonment.

"I just keep telling myself that at least God knows what [the SPDC] is doing," Pu Cint Sian Thang said.

"I'm expecting the young people will be sent to remote prisons soon and I am very sad about that."

The three were arrested in November last year following the monk-led Saffron Revolution in September.

Meanwhile, two activists from Bogalay, who were recently jailed for nine years along with seven other colleagues, have had their sentences extended.

Activist Thein Zaw was sentenced to five more years in prison while his colleague Thiha Thet Zin was given 10 more years.

READ MORE---> Junta continues crackdown on activists - U Gambira...

Economic crisis as a force for change

by Myat Soe
Mizzima News

20 November 2008

Some economic watchers remark, "When Uncle Sam sneezes, the whole world catches cold." Now, as Uncle Sam has caught a bad cold in the face of a severe economic downturn, investment and trading partners are scrambling to stop a domino effect taking its toll on their own economic interests.

As early as May 2007, a sharp increase in fuel prices forced many factories out of business, and many blue collar American workers in the automobile and other manufacturing industries lost their jobs. By September 2007, in Fort Wayne, Indiana alone, over twenty large manufacturing companies closed their doors and many workers lost their jobs.

Previously, as long as the price of the Euro continued to climb against the American dollar, those outside the United States were often content to think of the crisis in the US as a cyclical phenomenon. But when the US financial crisis began spinning out of control and spreading panic among investors to a level not seen since the Great Depression, the corresponding fallout swept across the globe like a tsunami.

During the ensuing stock market upheavals, Russia and China even resorted to temporary halting trading altogether. Ireland, whose economy had been doing extremely well, began struggling to stabilize its banks. The International Monetary Fund was forced to step in and bailout economies in places such as Hungary and Ukraine to the tune of tens of billions of dollars.

Furthermore, Japan, with over a four trillion dollar economy, admitted last Sunday that it had officially entered into a recession, as did Germany. Subsequently, Japan announced a 105.8 billion dollar stimulus plan to prevent further economic deterioration. The United States government had already approved a 700 billion dollar financial rescue bill and China announced a 586 billion dollar stimulus plan to shore up its own economy. And last Saturday, an emergency G-20 economic summit was convened in Washington, DC, to address the urgent crisis in the world's economy.

Sadly, the impact of the financial crisis will be quite severe on the people of Burma as well. First, there are millions of Burmese workers working abroad, and their livelihood will be greatly diminished by the worldwide economic downturn.

Secondly, the people of Burma are without social or economic safety nets. Consequently, the situation in Burma will become more and more tense with each passing day.

Thirdly, it will become more and more cost prohibitive for Burmese to import commodities, compared to their cheaper exports; this, for people already burdened with high unemployment and inflation and saddled with real estate and investment losses.

But while the world wrestles with the economic tsunami, the Burmese junta has been busy handing down up to sixty-five year prison terms to brave political leaders and monks who last year protested against the severe economic hardship in Burma and increasing commodity prices.

Unfortunately, the generals continue to rule Burma without any apparent interest in working to solve Burma's economic and political crisis; instead, only scheming to ensure victory in the forthcoming 2010 elections. Instead of looking toward rapid economic adjustment and finding a solution to the country's economic malaise, the regime is trying to escalate tension within opposition groups and the civilian population.

By the harsh sentencing of activist leaders, essentially a life term behind bars, the military generals in Burma have mocked the world by openly brutalizing the people they have sworn to protect. Burma cannot wait another sixty-five years to be free from tyrannical rule.

Economic crises can become a force for change, as almost happened in 1988 in Burma. And during such crises, the world must make sure to stand with the people of Burma, and not with their oppressors.

(The writer is a former Central Executive Committee member of the All Burma Federation of Student Unions (1988) and currently serves as the Research Director of Justice for Human Rights in Burma. He graduated from Indiana University, and earned his MBA from Indiana Wesleyan University.)

READ MORE---> Economic crisis as a force for change...

FEC slumps in Burma

by Phanida
21 November 2008

Chiang Mai (Mizzima) – The price of Foreign Exchange Certificates (FEC) slumped sharply by Kyat 40 in Rangoon.

During last month's trading, one unit of FEC could fetch Kyat 1,230 in Burma's black market. Today it fell to Kyat 1,190.

Economist U Khin Maung Nyo said the people prefer to buy international hard currency the USD rather than the FEC which can be used only in the Burmese market. It also has limited demand in the domestic market.

"Currently there is no demand for FEC in the market. There is no significant trading of FEC by the government either. It can be used only in limited cases such as buying fuel. Even though a price of the USD is falling in the global market, the people prefer to retain the international hard currency," he said.

In official exchange rates, one unit of FEC is equivalent to 1 US dollar. But in the black market, the FEC price is usually lower than the US dollar. At the moment the difference in prices of these two currencies is widening significantly.

A foreign exchange trader in Rangoon said that traders in the market suspended the buying of FEC for fear of further fall of its price.

"The price of the USD rose and the FEC fell. The difference of USD and FEC was just between Kyat 5 and 10 last month and now it has risen to Kyat 50. So we suspended buying FEC for the time being, fearing a further fall. Some said it will rise again," he said.

The junta has started a new scheme of selling fuel at the rate of four FEC units per gallon at government-run filling stations since August 22. But the fuel price is falling in the black market in Burma and only few people are buying fuel with FEC, the staff at government petrol shops said.

In the black market in Burma, diesel price fell to Kyat 3,300 per gallon from the earlier 4,000 and petrol price fell from Kyat 3,700 to Kyat 3,100.

READ MORE---> FEC slumps in Burma...

Hip-hop singer Zeyar Thaw given 6 years (2 stories)

by Nam Davies
20 November 2008

New Delhi (Mizzima)– The Rangoon Division, Lanmadaw Township court sentenced hip-hop singer Zeyar Thaw, a member of the band Acid, to six years imprisonment today.

Zeyar Thaw (a.k.a. Kyaw Kyaw), who is popular among Burmese youth, was prosecuted by the military regime under charges of illegally holding foreign currency and establishing an unlawful association.

"The judges pronounced their judgment today after taking testimony from the Military Affairs Security (MAS). He was sentenced to one year imprisonment on the charge of holding foreign currency and another five years for the charge of establishing an unlawful association. We had no chance to defend his case," lawyer Khin Than Htay, aunt of Zeyar Thaw, told Mizzima.

"He toured foreign countries as a singer, so he got some foreign currency. A Thai baht 100 denomination note, some change in Malaysian Ringgits and some Singapore dollars were found in his possession. It was not more than 10,000 kyat (US$ 8) in total," she added.

MAS arrested Zeyar Thaw on the 12th of March this year at a restaurant between Sayar San Road and 66th Street in Rangoon.

She is proud for her nephew, given a prison term as an artist, confessed his aunt.

"I'm proud of him as it is not a criminal conviction. I feel proud to see him performing his artistic duty," she said.

Generation Wave (GW), in an announcement, recognized Zeyar Thaw as a member of the organization.

GW is a youth movement that was formed during the September 2007 Saffron Revolution.

According to Burma's repressive penal code, dissidents can be sentenced for establishing associations and civil society organizations without permission from the government.

GW released an anti-junta album, in cooperation with the clandestine band Freedom Fighter, in which 'Rise up Burma' and 'No No No', an anti-constitutional referendum song, were featured.

In addition to Zeyar Thaw, five of his GW colleagues were also sentenced today in the same court, each receiving five years behind bars for their links to an allegedly unlawfully formed organization.

At least ten members of GW have been detained and more than 100 dissidents sentenced, to up to 65-year terms, within the last few weeks alone.

November 20, 2008

Hip-Hop Performer among Latest Victims of Court Crackdown

One of the most popular performers on Burma’s music scene, hip-hop star Zayar Thaw, was sentenced to six years imprisonment by a Rangoon court on Thursday for his involvement in anti-regime protests.

Zayar Thaw was among at least 20 detainees sentenced on Thursday in Burma’s continuing trials of opposition activists and members of the National League for Democracy. Six are members of the Generation Wave, a group of young activists formed during the September 2007 uprising.

Zayar Thaw, 27, joined three other musicians in founding Burma’s first hip-hop band, ACID, in late 2000. The band rapidly won a big following among young Burmese music-lovers. Zayar Thaw was arrested in March for his involvement in political activities.

Aung Gyi, a lawyer representing Zayar Thaw and five members of Generation Wave, told The Irrawaddy that a court in Rangoon’s Lamandaw Township convicted Zayar Thaw of contravening the criminal code’s section 24/1 relating to dealings in foreign currency and section 6/88, covering membership of an illegal organization.

Aung Gyi said the five members of Generation Wave were each sentenced to five years imprisonment on the section 6/88 charge. He identified them as Arkar Bo, Aung Zay Phyo, Thiha Win Tint, Wai Lwin Myo and Yan Naing Thu.

A special court in Rangoon’s Insein Prison sentenced 14 members of the opposition NLD to two and half year’s imprisonment on Thursday. One of the defendants, Tin Ohn, is in the prison hospital and was sentenced in his absence.

As international condemnation of the Burmese trials mounted, the Thailand-based Burmese Lawyers Council and the Global Justice Center in New York released a statement on Wednesday declaring that the judges are criminally liable for prosecution as co-conspirators in crimes against humanity. The eight judges, including Burma’s Chief Justice, Aung Toe, should be referred to the International Criminal Court, the two organizations said.

Their statement complained that the judges had not allowed the defendants to question prosecution witnesses, many of the accused did not have legal representation and those that did were not permitted to meet their lawyers in private.

The Burmese authorities transferred 15 of the sentenced prisoners, including the well-known activist Min Zaya and 1l other leading members of 88 Generation Students, to remote prisons across the country on Thursday.

Min Zaya was transferred to Lashio Prison in Shan State, Zaw Zaw Min to Toungoo Prison in Pegu Division, Jimmy to Taunggyi Prison in Shan State, Arnt Bwe Kyaw to Katha Prison in Sagaing Division, Than Tin to Sittwe Prison in Arakan State, Panneik Tun to Bahmao Prison in Kachin State, Kyaw Kyaw Htwe to Mergui Prison in Tenasserim Division and That Zaw to Moulmein Prison in Mon State.

Of the convicted women members of the 88 Generation Students group, Mar Mar Oo was transferred to Myingyan Prison in Mandalay Division, Thet Thet Aung to Thayawaddy Prison in Pegu Division, Mie Mie to Bassein Prison in Irrawaddy Division and Sandar Min to Myaung Mya Prison in Irrawaddy Division.

Two members of the Bogalay Township NPD were also transferred to outlying prisons. Thiha Aung was transferred to Lowikaw Prison in Karenni State and Aung Myo Paing to Kawthaung Prison in Tenasserim Division respectively.

One further activist, Min Han, was transferred to Lashio Prison in Shan State.

READ MORE---> Hip-hop singer Zeyar Thaw given 6 years (2 stories)...

Youth request junta for permission to meet Suu Kyi

by Than Htike Oo
20 November 2008

Chiang Mai (Mizzima) – Dozens of youth have appealed to the military government to allow them to meet and pay their respect to opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi, who remains under house arrest.

About 50 youth, most National League for Democracy (NLD) party members, yesterday sent a letter by post to military head of state, Senior General Than Shwe, requesting they be allowed to pay homage to the 63-year old opposition leader in accordance with Burmese tradition.

Copies of the letter were also sent to Home Affairs Minister Major General Maung Oo and the Chairman of the Bahan Township Peace and Development Committee.

NLD Dagon satellite town Organizing Committee member Aye Thwin told Mizzima, "The youth sent this letter in the hope of getting permission from the SPDC [junta] to pay homage in a peaceful and lawful manner [to Suu Kyi] in accordance with Burmese tradition."

"If the authorities do not respond to their letter, the youth will take it as tacit approval by the government and they will go to the residence of Daw Aung San Suu Kyi to pay homage to her. The youth also requested in their letter that Daw Aung San Suu Kyi be allowed to come to party headquarters to receive homage paid by these youths," he said.

Opposition sources said that the plan to meet with the daughter of Burma's independence hero, Bogyoke Aung San, was initiated by some renegade youth who have differences with the party's top leaders.

Thai-based Burma analyst Aung Naing Oo said that though it is the Burmese tradition, the junta is not likely to allow the youth to proceed in paying their respect.

"The junta will see such a movement as a political movement against them and they will not allow it. If the youth defy them and pay homage to their leader, I think the junta will take severe action against them," Aung Naing Oo predicted.

Mizzima has learned that, in their request, the youth said they were happy to see the removal of barriers erected along the road to the residence of Daw Aung San Suu Kyi and the cleaning and collecting of rubbish from her premises by the City Development Committee.

Authorities removed the barbed wire barriers on University Avenue, leading to Daw Aung San Suu Kyi's residence, on October 26th.

READ MORE---> Youth request junta for permission to meet Suu Kyi...

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