Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Generation Wave activists sentenced - Nyein Chan and Aung Ko Min

(DVB)–Generation Wave members Nyein Chan and Aung Ko Min were handed down jail terms by Sanchaung township court on 27 February for distributing leaflets marking the one-year anniversary of the group’s formation.

The two are currently being held at Insein prison and will be transferred to remote prisons.

Nyein Chan was sentenced to eight years under section 6 of Unlawful Associations Act and section 17(1) of Immigration Act. He still faces further charges.

Aung Ko Min was sentenced to five years with the Unlawful Association Act, a relative of theirs said.

They were arrested at home on 10 October 2008, a day after the first anniversary of the formation of GW. Eight more members were arrested on the same day, GW member Moe Thway said.

"We distributed leaflets on 9 October to mark the anniversary and they were arrested in connection with that,” he said.

“Others arrested were Zin Min Aung, Aung Paing, Yeh Khaung Htut from south Okkalapa. Arkar (also known as Kyaw Thu Myo Myint) was arrested three or four days later and sentenced to 10 years.”

They were all transferred to remote jails at Kawthaung, Taungoo, Kyaukpyu and Mong Sat.

Reporting by Nan Kham Kaew

READ MORE---> Generation Wave activists sentenced - Nyein Chan and Aung Ko Min...

The Death of Justice for Rohingyas

By Ahmedur Rahman Farooq
Asian Tribune

On Feb 27,2009, the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) said it will send hundreds of Rohingya boat people back to military-ruled Burma. Meeting at its 14th annual summit, the 10-member bloc agreed to compile and pool information and interviews on the Rohingyas, who washed up on the shores of Thailand, Indonesia and Malaysia having fled oppression in Burma.

At the same time, quoting the Burmese Foreign Minister Nyan Win, the Thai Foreign Minister Kasit Piromya said, Burma is ready to take back the Rohingya migrants if they can prove they are of Bengali descent, which is a recognized ethnic minority there. Truly, there can be no appropriate word in the vocabulary to denounce such farcical statement of the Burmese Foreign Minister. The fact is, the Burmese military regime has snatched away Rohingyas' right to citizenship of Burma simply branding them as the descendants of the Bengalese and thus denied them of their ethnic status.

However, on March 28,2008, the then Prime Minister of Thailand Samak Sundaravej said, the Thai Navy is exploring a deserted island to place all the Rohingyas living in Thailand mostly as undocumented refugees. He made the statement after emerging from a two-hour long meeting of the country's National Security Council.

And in continuation of such policy, the Rohingya boat people have been recently dumped into the deep sea so that they get perished there beyond anybody's notice. But fortunately or unfortunately, they all did not perish. Some of them survived to draw international attention and thus cause a big headache not only for Thailand but for the ASEAN bloc. So, in order to remove their headache, the ASEAN leaders found it the best way to hand over the Rohingyas to the Burmese army so that they can solve their problem of 'Rohingya headache' once and for all by cutting the heads of the Rohingyas.

However, on Jan 27,2009, Thailand said Rohingyas do not face persecution in Burma. They said the Rohingyas caught in Thai waters are illegal immigrants, not refugees, and will never be let into the country.

"There is no reasonable ground to believe that these migrants fled from their country of origin for well-founded fear of being persecuted," the government said in a statement defending its treatment of the Rohingya boat people.

The definition of 'persecution' might be different for the Thai authority. But the Rohingyas have been fleeing Burma because of extreme human rights violations unleashed by the Burmese military regime to annihilate the entire Rohingya populations from Arakan which is a state under the Union of Burma. They have been subjected to severe persecutions including denial of their citizenship, a ban on marriage without government permission, severe restrictions of movement, religious persecution, extortion, land confiscation and restrictions on access to education. Arakan State is a closed zone for the media and so there is no scope for the world media to cover what is going on on the Rohingyas inside Arakan.

However, these unfortunate Rohingya refugee boat people have already suffered a lot. They have come back to life from the mouth of death after passing several weeks in the deep sea without food and water. And hundreds of them have perished in the deep sea after the Thai navy has left around 1,000 Rohingya refugees adrift in the ocean in boats without engine or food or water.

Being crowded in hundreds in rickety wooden boats, they have tried to escape persecutions and grinding poverty and washed ahore in Thailand and Indonesia. And again, while fleeing to Thailand, a group of these boat people were intercepted by the Burmese navy and the navy sailed their boat south toward Thailand. The survivors said soldiers from four boats boarded their vessel with wooden and metal rods and beat them.

A group of 78 refugees who survived being at sea for a month, then being beaten and burned, and later washed ashore in Thailand were having serious burns and wounds after their boat had been attacked and detained by the Burmese navy and then set on fire in the deep sea. There were many injuries on their backs, legs and many other parts of their body.

Later, a Thai court convicted those barefoot, disheveled Rohingyas on the charge of illegally entry to the country. A Ranong provincial court judge fined each defendant 1,000 baht ($30) a sum that none of them could produce. So he sentenced them to five days in prison. There were twelve minors who were too young to be tried in the court.

It is also true that even though the Rohingyas have been continuously mutilated by the Burmese regime from all sides of their life because of their Muslim religion, but their Muslim identity has never been able to draw minimum sympathy of the Muslim countries.

Indonesia is the largest Muslim majority-nation of the world. Thailand and Brunei are two powerful Muslim countries of the world. They are also the members of the ASEAN. In order to sign the capital punishment for the Rohingyas for causing headache to them, they have also happily joined their hand with other ASEAN leaders on their decision to hand over the Rohingyas to the military regime.

Rohingyas are one of the most liberal Muslim communities of the world. Therefore, they love and prefer to introduce themselves with their secular ethnic name 'Rohingya' which does not bear minimum significance of their religion.

But inspite of this, the Rohingyas have been continuously subjected to the worst human rights violations and a systematic genocidal operations because of their Muslim religion and also because of being majority in many townships of Arakan Sate of Burma before (now Rohingyas are majority only in two townships in Western Arakan ).

Through the century-long persecutions, the entire Rohingya community has been reduced to a skeletal human group. Sub-human standard is the standard of their living. Most of them live like packs of rats in a sewer with half naked body which is full of hunger and grief. Most of them appear to be haggard and emaciated. Every day they struggle to arrange two meals a day for themselves and for their malnourished children. They leave their wives and children behind while they set out on perilous sea journey to find refuge and work in some other country.

Of course such wretched condition of the Rohingyas is a matter of great amusement for the Burmese military regime. On Feb 9,2009, the Burmese Counsel Ye Myint Aung in Hong Kong, in a letter to his fellow diplomats, termed the "Rohingyas as ugly as ogres" meaning that the Rohingyas cannot qualify as Burmese citizens because of their appearance.

"You will see in the photos that their complexion is dark brown," said the Burmese Counsel, referring to the Rohingya boat people. He went on to describe the complexion of Burmese as "fair and soft, good looking as well."

Once the Rohingyas believed that it is only Burma which is a hell for them and if they can some how escape to somewhere outside Burma or if their luck can help them reach Thailand or Malaysia or Indonesia through the sea route, then they will find sanctuary and will be able to save the life of their hungry family. But the decision of the ASEAN leaders has clearly demonstrated that those who will brave to go to them will be pushed back to the mouth of death of the military regime.

There are huge nice and promising words in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and also in different international laws or conventions which have been adopted to ensure justice and protection of the persecuted human beings. But for the Rohingyas those words are something like dreams. Their experience has made them clearly understand that those caluses or law or by-laws are not meant for the Rohingyas. They also clearly understand that their cry for justice and human rights will never save their life.

They also understand that they were born to live as parasites of the human society. Today, they are forced to believe that it is only 'Pity'..only 'Pity' which can save their life. And that is why one Rohingya boat tragedy survivor Mamoud Hussain, pleaded to the Thai court: "Have pity on us. They [Burmese army] will kill me and my family if I go back."

- Asian Tribune -

READ MORE---> The Death of Justice for Rohingyas...

Northern commander amasses wealth fleecing drug smugglers

The junta's new Northern Regional Command Commander Maj-Gen Soe Win promises people in Kachin State that he will eradicate drugs in the State. Photo: Kachin News

Maj-Gen Soe Win, the northern regional or Kachin State command commander of the Burmese ruling junta has amassed a huge amount of money by fleecing drug smugglers, said sources close to him.

In Kachin State, every northern regional command (Ma Pa Kha) commander has earned money from jade mines, gold mines, timber, illicit drugs, and giving out a variety of business permits. Now, however, the amount of income from illicit drugs has topped the list for northern commanders starting from former northern regional commander Maj-Gen Ohn Myint to the present commander Maj-Gen Soe Win.

According to local Kachin businessmen, the northern regional commander is the most powerful man in the command. However they cannot make vast amounts of money from other business ventures in Kachin State except from illicit drug trade because other business ventures are directly under the control of Naypyidaw, the capital of the country.

Local reliable sources close to Maj-Gen Soe Win said, he has already received some 600 million kyats in cash which is equivalent US $ 606,061 each from two major drug smuggling gangs in the country as bribe. And the bribes are for permission from the commander Maj-Gen Soe Win to freely distribute different kinds of drugs in Kachin State.

The two drug smuggling syndicates trade in heroin, Yama or also called Methamphetamines and other kinds of drugs except opium from the Burma’s northeast Shan State bordering China to Hpakant jade mining city in Kachin State. This is one of the largest drug markets in the country, said local sources close to drug smugglers.

According to sources close to drug smugglers in Kachin State, heroin and Yama are mainly transported from Muse, the country’s largest border trade zone with China to Hpakant jade mining city along three main tracks such as Muse-Mandalay-Mogaung (Hopin during Summer)-Hpakant, Muse-Pyi Oo Lwin-Mogaung (Hopin during Summer) and Kambaiti-Myitkyina-Hpakant.

A Kachin businessman in Hpakant told KNG, “There are tens of thousands of jade miners from different areas in Burma in Hpakant jade mining areas and they all consume heroin or Yama or opium, daily. The illicit drugs are available everywhere in Hpakant and easy to get hold of. It is impossible to have an abundance of such drugs in Hpakant without the involvement of the local Burmese military from top to bottom.”

Local sources close to drug smugglers said, Kachin State has to import drugs from other areas because now there are “higher number of drug users and less local drugs.” The number of local farmers and businessmen in Kachin State turning to cultivating poppy in Hukawng (Hugawng) Valley, Sadon or also known as Sadung areas and Putao district is also on the rise.

The United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) also said, poppy cultivations has increased in Burma’s Shan and Kachin States.

READ MORE---> Northern commander amasses wealth fleecing drug smugglers...

More hi-tech gimmicks for the Army

Photo: Lianozovo Electromechanical Plant (LEMZ)

Shan Herald Agency for News

An unknown number of the radar sets were transferred to the Army in Rangoon on 23 February and 25 February (2009) , according to the report.

One of them is due to be installed at Loi Mwe, 20 miles south of Kengtung and 82 miles north of Maesai.

The radar provides a maximum range of 350 km (218.75 miles). Besides, it has the advantages of “low cost, high reliability, simplicity and friendliness of operation control” plus “Built-in identification ‘friend or foe’ (IFF) interrogator,” according to its catalogue.

The Russians already have an improved updated model: 1L117M.

SHAN reported in January that the Burma Army has put to use the UTM (Universal Transverse Mercator) maps and has been training in another Russian-made lgla MANPADS (Man portable Air Defense System).

READ MORE---> More hi-tech gimmicks for the Army...

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