Friday, February 20, 2009

Schools in Tachilek collect student money for UNICEF aid

By Hseng Khio Fah
Shan Herald Agency for News

Schools in Tachilek Township, eastern Shan State, collected money from students to get schooling materials conferred by the United Nations International Children’s Education Fund (UNICEF), according to local sources.

Materials were reportedly handed to the Educational Department of Tachilek early this year by the UNICEF.

The UNICEF had donated stationery supplies to 9 townships in Burma, including Mudon Township, Mon State, and Tachilek, where most children don’t speak Burmese language.

The materials were distributed to the students on 14 February, said a source.

Every student from each school would be given 10 exercise books, 5 pencils, 2 erasers and a ruler.
But the teachers asked 5 Baht ($0.14) from each student before handing the materials to them.

There are 56 schools from primary to high schools in Tachilek. The number of the students is estimated about 15,000.

Students from some schools were asked to pay more from 10 to 20 Baht each, said a source.

“We don’t want to fuss about 5 or 10 baht given to the teachers because we don’t want our children to be embarrassed in their class. They’ve been doing to us like this for a long time now anyway,” said a mother of a student from Makahokham.

Each student from No.1 High School has also been required to pay 10 Baht for drinking water per month, said a mother who has a child going at that school.

The school has more than 2,000 students and each class has more than 30 students.

The said school is known to be for wealthier families, but last year, some teachers from that school were reported of demanding money from students to enter examinations.

Final examinations from primary school to middle school will begin in the last week of February.

READ MORE---> Schools in Tachilek collect student money for UNICEF aid...

Two internet users detained in Myitkyina for the first time

(KNG) - For the first time in Myitkyina, the capital of Kachin state, the police detained two local internet users on February 17, for surfing websites banned by the ruling military junta, said local sources.

The two internet users are local Kachin youths from Yuzana quarter. They were arrested from their homes by policemen soon after they came back from the internet café --- the "Empire" in Ayeya quarter, opposite No. (1) Police Station, said local sources.

They were arrested for browsing overseas-based Burmese websites ranged against the ruling junta in keeping with the junta's internet rules and regulations. They have been put in a prison cell in the No. (1) Police Station, said sources close to the duo.

At the moment, the personal details and activities of the two Kachin internet users are not known but the Empire internet café is owned by a Burmese national (Burman) and was opened last year, said sources close to the two.

Another local internet user who was in the same internet café at that time, told KNG, that they seemed to be under surveillance by the police, who were monitoring whether they were visiting websites against the ruling junta. Soon after the two Kachin internet users went back home from the café, policemen quizzed the owner of the Empire internet café and asked "Who had used the internet at that point of time and where they were from?"

He added that the policemen went and arrested the two youths from Yuzana quarter after finding out from the owner of the internet café where they lived.

In Burma, sending emails and browsing any website critical of the ruling junta is banned and a notice to this effect is pasted in every internet café, said local internet users. The junta has blocked all independent websites related to Burma based outside the country including the Kachin News Group ( which covers news from Kachin state and Burma in English and Kachin versions.

There are less than 10 internet cafes in Myitkyina downtown unlike Mandalay and Rangoon where internet users are always under surveillance by the secret police in plainclothes, said regular internet users.

On November 10, 2008, a court in Rangoon sentenced a Burmese internet blogger Nay Myo Kyaw (28), who wrote blogs under the name Nay Phone Latt, to 20 years and six months in jail. He was also arrested for being involved in the monk-led protests in September 2007.

READ MORE---> Two internet users detained in Myitkyina for the first time...

Quintana says rights situation in Burma 'challenging'

In love , war and politics every bit counts to the players but to patienc...?
(DVB)–United Nations special rapporteur Tomas Ojea Quintana has said the human rights situation in Burma remains challenging, but noted some positive signs at the end of his second visit to the country.

Speaking at a press conference in Rangoon before he left Burma yesterday, Quintana said he could not say the situation had tangibly improved.

"The human rights situation in Myanmar is still challenging. It is difficult for me to affirm that the human rights situation has improved,” he said.

“However, I have to say, regarding my recommendations to the government, I found positive signs.”

The special rapporteur said some steps had been taken on the four human rights recommendations he set out during his last visit in August 2008.

Quintana’s proposals at that time were the progressive release of political prisoners, a review of domestic laws that do not comply with international human rights standards, reform of the military and the establishment of an independent judiciary.

Quintana said he had discussed the issue of political prisoners with the minister of home affairs, who said he would consider the special rapporteur’s recommendation.

On the issue of domestic legislation, Quintana said the Burmese government had started the process of reviewing the relevant laws.

Some steps had also been taken towards addressing the impartiality of the judiciary, Quintana said.

The special rapporteur said he had met the chief justice and discussed cooperating with independent judges and lawyers of the UN in order to start a process of reforming the judiciary.

Quintana spent six days in Burma from 14 to 19 February to assess human rights developments made since his last visit.

During his trip, he visited Pa-an and Insein prisons where he spoke to five political prisoners, and met representatives of armed ceasefire groups as well as speaking to a number of government officials.

Reporting by DVB

READ MORE---> Quintana says rights situation in Burma 'challenging'...

Palaung organisations speak out against election

(DVB)–Palaung political organisations have called on the international community not to endorse the military regime’s 2008 constitution and to oppose the planned 2010 election.

In a statement released yesterday, the Palaung State Liberation Front, the Palaung Women’s Organisation and the Ta’ang Student and Youth Organisation said the 2010 election would only prolong the junta’s rule.

The statement urged the UN and the Association of South East Asian Nations to pressure the Burmese regime into holding meaningful dialogue with the opposition, reviewing the 2008 constitution and releasing all political prisoners.

“We firmly believe that ASEAN should make a collective approach on urging SPDC to improving its human rights records and push them to conduct the meaningful of political dialogue with democratic groups and ethnic groups in the upcoming ASEAN summit in late February,” the statement said.

“This is an essential time for the UN secretary-general Ban Ki-moon to use his personal influence to press the military regime’s plans to democratic atmosphere which can be a peaceful solution for Burma by persuading ASEAN and its neighboring countries.”

The statement also called for the cessation of all attacks against opposition forces, ethnic and religious groups.

Mai Aik, general secretary of the Palaung State Liberation Front, said the Palaung organisations were echoing the call of the National League for Democracy for a new constitution.

"The 2010 election will make official the 2008 constitution which was written with the aim of prolonging the life of this military regime,” Mai Aik said.

“We are making the same call as the NLD made recently; to review the constitution and to write a new one with conditions where everyone can participate," he said.

"We would also like to urge the United Nations secretary general Mr Ban Ki-moon to push countries in Asia, including ASEAN members and Burma's neighbours, to pressure Burma for change at the upcoming ASEAN summit."

Reporting by Aye Nai

READ MORE---> Palaung organisations speak out against election...

Activist Su Su Nway’s sentence reduced

(DVB)–The prison sentence of labour rights activist Su Su Nway, who was jailed for 12 and a half years in November 2008, has been reduced by four years by Rangoon division court, according to her lawyer.

Su Su Nway, 36, who rose to prominence after reporting forced labour practices to the International Labour Organisation, was arrested in November 2007 and was sentenced to 12 and a half years in prison last November.

Her lawyers Kyi Win and Khin Htay Kywe lodged a number of appeals on her behalf, arguing that she had been jailed unfairly as she had done nothing illegal.

Last week, the sentences of famous comedian Zarganar and journal editor Zaw Thet Htway were also reduced.

Legal expert and National League for Democracy spokesperson Nyan Win said he welcomed the decision to shorten the jail terms but said the sentences had been unjust in the first place.

"They have not reduced the sentences. They have just said the sentences should be served concurrently so it looks like the sentences have been reduced,” Nyan Win said.

“As the sentences were extreme, it is good that they have shortened them but they have still not released the people,” he said.

“They are doing it for political gain, not for legal reasons. If they had followed the law, there would have been no reason for them to give such heavy sentences."

Reporting by Nan Kham Kaew

READ MORE---> Activist Su Su Nway’s sentence reduced...

70 suspects interrogated over theft

(DVB)–Around 70 people have been arrested and interrogated in the Mon state capital Moulmein after a pickpocket stole money and a mobile phone from the wife of the regional military commander, a local resident said.

The thief stole 700,000 kyat and a mobile phone from the wife of the Southeastern Command commander while she was shopping at Myoma market at around 10am on 11 February, a Moulmein resident said.

"She came to shop at the market and it's certain that she was pocketed there,” the resident said.

“That's all we know. The news spread around the town like wildfire."

As the culprit has not been caught, the authorities are continuing to interrogate various suspects at Rangoon’s main railway station, while others have also been beaten and arrested at Moulmein train station.

Those arrested have been kept in three separate police stations in Rangoon and beaten and interrogated, witnesses in Rangoon said.

When DVB contacted the local police station for comment, an officer on duty referred the reporter to the state police, who said they had not received any report on the matter.

Reporting by Nan Kham Kaew

READ MORE---> 70 suspects interrogated over theft...

Popular Burmese Blogger’s Jail Term Reduced - Nay Pone Latt

The Irrawaddy News

The jailed Burmese blogger Nay Pone Latt has had his prison sentence cut from 20 years and six months to 12 years on appeal, his lawyer said on Friday.

Nay Pone Latt, who was well known for his Internet blogs, was originally sentenced to a total of 20 years and six months on three separate charges. An appeals court cut one 15 year sentence to seven years and a second sentence of three and a half years to three years. A third sentence of two years was left untouched.

One of his alleged offences was to store a cartoon depicting junta leader Snr-Gen Than Shwe in his email.

Nay Phone Latt’s lawyer, Khin Htay Kywe, told The Irrawaddy on Friday that she had learnt today that a two-month appeal had resulted in the reduction of two of the prison terms, which had been imposed by a special court in Rangoon’s Insein Prison.

After sentencing, Nay Phone Latt was transferred late last year to distant Pa-an Prison in Karen State.

Nay Phone Latt was the latest of several political prisoners whose sentences have been recently reduced. The popular comedian Zarganar had his 59 year sentence reduced to 24 years.

Observers in Rangoon said it was thought the reduction of some of the severest prison sentences was connected with the six-day visit to Burma by UN Human Rights Rapporteur Tomas Ojea, which ended on Thursday.

“The human rights situation in Myanmar [Burma] is still challenging,” he told a press conference at Rangoon Airport before leaving. “It’s difficult to affirm that the human rights situation has improved.”

During his visit, Quintana had talks with Burma’s Minister of Home Affairs, Maj-Gen Maung Oo, and Chief Justice Aung Toe.

Burma has an estimated 2,100 political prisoners, many of them sentenced to long terms of imprisonment for their part in the September 2007 uprising.

READ MORE---> Popular Burmese Blogger’s Jail Term Reduced - Nay Pone Latt...

NLD Criticizes Gambari-Japan Joint-statement

The Irrawaddy News

Ahead of the United Nations Security Council’s closed session on Burma on Friday, the main opposition National League for Democracy (NLD) said it disagreed with a joint-statement by UN Special Envoy to Burma Ibrahim Gambari and Japan’s foreign minister on Thursday.

Nyan Win, an NLD spokesperson, told The Irrawaddy, “The party issued two statements yesterday because we want to response to The United Nations Special Envoy to Burma Ibrahim Gambari’s co-statement with Japan’s foreign minister in Tokyo on February 12.”

“As well, as we want to make a clarification on our stand on unconditional dialogue as well as NLD willingness for UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon’s trip to the country,” he said.

The joint-statement issued by Gambari and Japanese Foreign Minister Hirofumi Nakasone said they agreed to encourage the Burmese junta to hold general elections in 2010 in a form that could be accepted by the international community.

The NLD said it was concerned that the joint statement was not consistent with NLD demands as well as resolutions by the UN General Assembly which honor the 1990 election results.

In the joint-statement , Hirofumi Nakasone said, “Even though there are few positive moves by the Myanmar [Burma] government, it's a huge step for them to have announced that they would hold a general election in 2010, compared with two past decades of silence about its democratization process.”

“If they [the junta] take favorable action, the international community should react in a manner that encourages more positive actions,” he said.

Japan is one of the main donor countries to Burma. Japan cut its assistance to Burma after the crackdown on demonstrators in September 2007. During the crackdown, Japanese videographer Kenji Nagai was killed by Burmese security forces. Japan has never applied economic sanctions against the Burmese junta, as have the United States and European countries.

In early 2006, Japan, along with China and Russian, rejected a proposal to take the Burma issue to the UN Security Council. Analysts say that Japan has sometimes worked to tone down criticism of Burma in the UN, because it wants to counter Beijing’s influence in the regime.

In its statement, the NLD also outlined three policy principles that it said were presented to Gambari when he met with the NLD leader Aung San Suu Kyi and other NLD officials during his most recent visit to Burma.

The first was the release of all political prisoners unconditionally. Human rights groups claim there are more than 2,100 political prisoners in Burma’s prisons.

The second was face-to-face dialogue between Suu Kyi and the junta’s leader, Snr-Gen Than Shwe, to resolve political problems in the country. The third was a review of the 2008 junta-backed-constitution.

The NLD has said it will not take part in the election unless their demands are met.

When Gambari asked what was the first NLD priority, the officials said it was the release of all political prisoners, according to the statement.

NLD sources have said that on Gambari’s visit to Burma in August 2008, the party met with him twice. In the first meeting, Gambari pushed the NLD to join the 2010 election. Party officials criticized his request, saying it went beyond his role as a mediator.

The United Nationalities Alliance, which represents ethnic parties in Burma, declared its support of the NLD on Friday, calling for the release of political prisoners, a political dialogue and opposition to the 2010 general election.

It urged the UN and the international community “to refrain from supporting the regime’s unilateral roadmap [to democracy] and planed election.”

Following Gambari’s recent four-day trip to Burma, the Karen National Union (KNU) issued a statement on Thursday.

“We are concerned that once again a United Nations envoy has visited Burma without also meeting with genuine representatives of Burma’s ethnic nationalities, such as the Karen National Union,” the statement said.

The KNU said ethnic people should not be sidelined in any future discussion on a national reconciliation process in Burma.

READ MORE---> NLD Criticizes Gambari-Japan Joint-statement...

Divide and Conquer, Than Shwe Style

By Buffalohair Gazette

With dissention throughout Burma over Than Shwe’s latest attempt to legitimize his criminal reign with his proposed 2010 election. It is all too obvious his new publication, The New Lie of Myanmar, is in need of fodder to spread vial propaganda. Already there is news of old rivalries and religious differences springing up around Burma. Clearly this is a tactic to keep a suffering nations divided with old fears and past intercessions. With everyone arguing over forgotten differences his campaign of hate can continue while people are at odds with one another. The Roman’s called it “Divide and Conquer”.

The New Lie of Myanmar already tried to smear the KNU to UN Human Rights emissary Tom Quintana with total falsehoods and blatant lies. This propaganda machine tried to place blame for the rape and murder of the Karen’s on the KNU when in fact it was committed by Than Shwe’s death squads who rape and kill with impunity. With eye witness accounts, volumes of photos and video identifying Burmese Troops as the true perpetrators, it is still odd to me why Quintana needed to go to Burma and investigate. Shades of Gambari I fear.

But nothing highlights this act of divide and conquer than an event that took place on February 10. A military unit of 70 well armed soldiers dressed in camouflaged uniforms, AK-47’s M-22’s and other Chinese ordinance, typical of the Burmese Army, robber a convoy of trucks on the bustling Mandalay-Muse border trade route according to an article in the *Kachin News. This event might have passed as a rouge group if it were not for the fact the Burmese Army has done this kind of operation time and time again. The only thing missing were the unite patches but they clearly were the same players who robbed this trade route before.

Obviously this was an attempt to cause animosity between the different ethnic groups by casting suspicions between them. There is no question The New Lie of Myanmar will identify Shan or Kachin troops or even the KNU in the blatant armed robbery. Maybe they will blame the Free Burma Rangers or me. No matter who this trash liner of a publication tries to identify, it is clear Than Shwe’s psychological warfare tactics will try to divide ethnic groups. With this in mind one must weigh the facts fore the truth will be known eventually.

With many people living in the big cities, this propaganda machine could possibly taint public opinion to show cause for continuing Than Shwe’s war on truth and democracy. The outcome would be the continued wholesale arrests and murders of all opposition to his 2010 election. There is a saying that if you tell a lie long enough people will accept it for truth. By poisoning public opinion and causing dissention between ethnic groups Than Shwe will effectively divide a country with his acts of terrorism and placing blame on others. He would also show the world that he is fighting criminals to keep the peace in Burma and justifying his holocaust. Maybe this is just a show for Quintana and the rest of the UN or an excuse the UN needed to qualify the 2010 elections. We must stand vigil since there will be more events such as the one on the Mandalay-Muse trade route. If it smells like a rat, it most probably is. And we all know Than Shwe will stoop to any level to fool the public and the world.

READ MORE---> Divide and Conquer, Than Shwe Style...

Indonesia's Foreign Minister criticises Burma's lack of progress

Indonesia's Foreign Minister Hassan Wirajuda has criticised Burma's lack of progress towards democracy, as well as its human rights record.

But he says the international community must stay engaged with Indonesia's fellow ASEAN member, arguing that pressure and sanctions have proved ineffective in achieving change.

Dr Wirajuda has told Radio Australia's Connect Asia program that the regional problem created by the outflow of Rohingya refugees only emphasises the need for an international approach.

"There is a sign of moving here and as a process of course you cannot expect that we can change tomorrow," he said.

"But we are all working and in fact I would say that the neighbouring countries of Burma not only ASEAN have also worked together."

The Indonesian Foreign Minister Hassan Wirajuda is in Sydney for two days of discussions with the Australian government.

Calls for Australia to lift Indonesian travel warnings

The Indonesian Foreign Minister, Hassan Wirajuda says he will keep raising the issue of Australian travel warnings, despite failing in his latest appeal for them to be lifted.

Australia says travel advisories are assessed regularly on the basis of expert advice.

But Dr Wirajuda says the there haven't been been any recent terrorist bombings, and potential threats are often exaggerated.

He's told Radio Australia's Connect Asia program, Australia should follow the example of countries such as the United States and lift its travel advice.

"It's more a matter of Australians to decide of course, but it has to be commensurated through the developments on the ground," he said.

"First there has been no incidents of terrorism bombings in Indonesia in the past three years and countries like the United States and Canada have lifted their travel warnings since last year.

"The fact there has been quite a flowing of tourists from Australia it is also a fact, the Australian people themselves decide whether to travel to Indonesia by their own judgement, so it is in this context that we see that it is timely for the Australian government to lift the travel advice.

"Indonesia is one of the most successful countries in combating terrorism so the potential threat was often overblown, our police have been very effective in their task to combat terrorism."

Radio Australia News

READ MORE---> Indonesia's Foreign Minister criticises Burma's lack of progress...

Rohingya, Tha Shwe and Burmese racism

For years we have known who and what Than Shwe is. I read so many tags about him and his junta that I lost count already.

The Rohingya have brought into the spotlight human rights in Burma once more in a more tangible way as “a regional hindrance” that needs attention. Although a very sad situation, I am thankful to the Rohingya for bring human rights into the regional focus demanding prompt attention. I wish and hope they return home to lead a peaceful life. BTW, the Rohingya are not a hindrance, the situation they have been forced by the junta to create in order to survive is.

But this Rohingya boatpeople situation has caused a bit of havoc among the community, the Rohingya lovers versus the ones against coloured skinned. True compassionless colours bloomed for the meme only, only the satin skinned Burmese deserve outside help. The dark chocolates aaaah too bitter to swallow, “ignore them or move onto someone else that needs help like the ivory skinned relations left behind”. My comment sounds racist unfortunately, I am here for ALL, no matter the color, the size, or deformities inflicted by the cruel select few junta and their litter.

The amazing part comes when I learned through a comment that Than Shwe has written to Mr Obama not once but twice asking the “skin coloured” new US President to remove the sanctions. Than Shwe won’t even shake hands with Mr Gambari, because Mr Gambari is just another “black” public servant doing his job. But the Than Shwe envoy at the United Nations had to swallow hard, smile, shake hands and accept a cheque from the Zimbabwe’s envoy as a donation towards the Nargis program.

I was told over and over again that the junta is greedy and now I think is not only the junta, the pure, satin, handsome skinned Burmese prostitute themselves not for love to humanity or their country but love for money and/or greed. (By the way for the ones lacking the language prostitute as in lowering self standards with the means to obtain something wanted)

President Obama knows who and what he is. He is a man with colour skin; he also knows he has a human value and a big brain. Mr Obama a very special person values people for who they are, whether they are Rohingya, Black Americans, Porto Ricans, Muslims or Christians etc, he feels and he is letting us know we are ALL EQUAL and we all have rights to enjoy our lives on earth.

Mr Obama wants to apply UNITY to his country and extend it to the world, we are part of that world and we also need to accept reality. We are many and we all come in different colours and shapes. There is plenty of room for ALL of us to share our corners.

For a racist who thinks life brought him into this life to live among the ‘selected few’, who feels the earth is only to be habituated by him and his kind. This person needs to think again, as one day this racist could be laying in a hospital bed waiting to extend his life a bit longer only if a blood/organ donor that matches his blood/organ type arrives on time to keep him alive.

Nobody has obligations with anybody, we are all capable to take responsibilities for our lives, some choose to help other’s choice is to be selfish. The blood donor makes a choice to donate his blood to save the racist, and the blood donor is black and ogre looking,

Oh what a dilemma… The racist comes at this point of his life and has to make a decision, “do I take the blood transfusion that will extend my life? Do I want to carry the ogre’s blood in me? Will I turn ogre look alike with the transfusion? Or do I wait for the next selfish white skinned to make up his mind to donate and save me?”

Rangoon, the Delta were savagely affected and neglected last year, accidents happen, do you think you are free from misfortune? The roller-coaster goes up and must come down we all need each other at certain point in our lives.

We just have to learn to live with each other and practice tolerance, that is if we want to practice true democracy where everybody is treated equally.

Source: Burma Wants Freedom & Democracy

Also READ: Divide and Conquer, Than Shwe Style

READ MORE---> Rohingya, Tha Shwe and Burmese racism...

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