Monday, April 20, 2009

Police refuse to arrest attackers of opposition members

(DVB)–Police have told opposition party members who were attacked by a mob led by a government official that their assailants will not be arrested because government authorities have not permitted them to do so.

Two members of the National League for Democracy’s youth wing were attacked on 18 April whilst on their way to a religious new year ceremony in Rangoon’s Twente township.

The youth coordinator of Twente NLD, Ye Htut Khaung, said that the two members, a male and a female, were set upon by about 30 local people led by a ward official named Pauk Pauk.

“The mob trapped them in front of a nearby monastery and started throwing punches at them,” said Ye Htut Khaung.

Other NLD youth members who arrived at the scene shortly after were told by the ward official that the attack was done out of a hatred of the NLD.

Yet when the incident was reported to police, the victims were told that police had no authority to conduct an arrest.

“Deputy police chief Thein Zaw Oo at the station told them they could not arrest the attackers as they didn’t get permission from [Twente Peace and Development Council] chairman, Aung Zan Thar, to do so,” said Ye Htut Khaung.

This attack followed a separate incident on 12 April in Twente in which another NLD youth member was attacked by a group of seven men led by a local Union Solidarity and Development Association member.

The USDA is a government-affiliated social organisation.

No action was taken by the police after Win Kyaing reported the incident, but he was himself charged yesterday for obscenity and assault.

In another separate incident, NLD central executive committee member and 1990-elected people’s parliament representative, Thein Nyunt, was hospitalised last week after being attacked by a man at his house in Thingangyun, Rangoon, said his son.

“The police gave full attention to our report and they sent a detective to the hospital,” said Khine Min, who added that the motive behind the assault was unclear.

Reporting by Yee May Aung and Khin Hnin Htet

READ MORE---> Police refuse to arrest attackers of opposition members...

Wa commander’s trucks destroyed, men injured in fire in Panghsang

By Hseng Khio Fah

(Shan Herald) - A fire broke out in the United Wa State Army (UWSA)’s Southern Region commander Wei Hsuehkang’s petrol station and teak warehouse in Panghsang on 18 April, injuring 2 men and destroyed 4 trucks, according a reliable source from Panghsang.

The fire was burning about 21 hours long from 09:18 on 18 April up to 06:00 of another day until the said two buildings were razed to the ground as it could not be extinguished.

“It could not be estimated how much the burning has cost, but all over 1,000 tons of teaks were burnt down,” the source said.

The fire had started by sparks from the welding by two men of the commander, the source added. They were reportedly working near the petrol station and the flame quickly spread to the petrol tanks.

“The two men are currently being hospitalized,” said the source.

Earlier, there were suspicions that this blaze could have been a sabotage action by unknown opponents.

“Fortunately, it happened outside of the town, not downtown,” said the source.

It happened a day after the Wa people celebrated their 20th Anniversary of the revolt against the Communist Party of Burma (CPB) on 17 April.

Many of its ceasefire alliances along the China-Burma border including Myanmar National Democratic Alliance Army (MNDAA), the National Democratic Alliance Army (NDAA), the Kachin Independent Organization (KIO) and the Shan State Army (SSA) “North” and many others had attended the ceremony including representative of the junta military.

However, it was attended by only low-ranking Burmese officers unlike the 10th anniversary in 1999, when high-ranking officials led by Gen Khin Nyunt himself attended the ceremony.

A Wa officer commented that they [the Wa] felt sorry about the junta’s low profile participation.

“Maybe they [the Burmese junta] don’t feel friendly to us anymore. However, we don’t want to have enemies. We only want to be friends with all.”

There are about 80 military and civilian personnel in downtown Panghsang for 20 years since 1989.

The Wa and Gen Khin Nyunt reportedly had an agreement on allowing junta presence in the Wa capital.

“According to the agreement, the Wa has the right to fix the number of junta personnel and the kind of weapons they can carry inside their domain,” Professor Worasak Mahatanobol from Chulalongkorn University told a conference in Chiangmai on 30 November 2002.

The relations between the two have strained especially after a number of heavy weapons were found in an overturned Burma Army truck on its way to Panghsang on 18 January.

READ MORE---> Wa commander’s trucks destroyed, men injured in fire in Panghsang...

The soul of the country - Thailand

Bangkok Post - I would like to make a few observations about Thailand. They are all pertinent to the recent political situation, but they look at different issues that have arisen from the crisis.

1. What is the democratic justification used to rationalise permitting a convicted felon, who has fled from detention in his home country and has a large following and bank account, to freely call in to foment revolution?

I cannot think of examples from countries like the US, France, the UK or Germany where this has happened.

2. How can people realistically compare the behaviour of the red shirts with that of the yellow shirts?

The latter certainly are not to be exonerated in what they did.

But the red shirts took their protest to levels that the yellow shirts never even verged on. The yellow shirts were non-violent (with a few exceptions, but these were mostly defensive actions).

The red shirts behaved as animals, with an overt aim to destroy and injure. No government officials were dragged from their cars and beaten by the PAD, whereas as the UDD made clear in their actions and rhetoric this was one of their tactics.

The PAD did not engage in the wanton destruction of property of ordinary citizens, whereas the UDD did so with reckless abandon, seemingly enjoying it. And the PAD did not murder fellow citizens in cold blood, as did the UDD in Bangkok. Any comparison between the two groups ended when the UDD actively tried to create a revolution in the streets.

They are animals.

3. Why do Thais seem to be so concerned about how they look in the eyes of the world, rather than with the inherent righteousness of what is happening?

I have lived in the US, Latin America and Europe, and never have I heard so consistently some variation of the phrase, ''what will the world think?'' which is so often used by Thais when discussing problems in the country (political strife, corruption, etc). Why can't Thais learn to evaluate and justify actions (or criticisms) based on what is right, ie, inherently moral, ethical, honest, decent, etc.

Instead, they are much more concerned with what the outside world thinks.

Is there no set of universal ''rights'' in Buddhism? We all know that there is, but since they are rarely presented in this context, one assumes that they are not persuasive arguments to use when trying to influence behaviour.

4. When will Thais realise that what is happening in politics right now is a battle for the soul of the country? So many groups are up in arms about what this is doing to (for instance) tourism, investment or business in general.

It is understandable why people in the tourism industry, who may be forced out of business or a job, lament the effects that the situation is having on them. But they are missing the point.

The people in these movements may care a lot about Thailand, but they don't give one damn about the effects that their actions are having on the country's economy. In their minds, they are fighting for a much higher cause than simply maintaining the tourist numbers. It is the soul of the country that they are trying to effect.


READ MORE---> The soul of the country - Thailand...

Thai PM seeks a just solution

Across-the-board nod to constitutional changes


Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva has given political parties two weeks to propose amendments to the constitution which will help defuse tensions.

Mr Abhisit yesterday said the effort to get people talking could address the political conflicts which drove people on to the streets and into committing violence.

"To those who are still protesting and demanding democracy, I assure you that the government is ready to respond by inviting parties to brainstorm," Mr Abhisit said on his weekly television chat.

"Let us use a peaceful method, a legal procedure, a dialogue to reach the goal. It may also tackle the root cause of the protests and political strife." The prime minister expects the parties to submit details of constitutional provisions they found unjust or undemocratic.

The proposals would be put to the public for debate.

Mr Abhisit said he was open to changing a provision of the constitution on political wrongdoing.

The controversial Article 237 deals with the dissolution of political parties.

The provision calls for the dissolution of a party if its leader or executive members are found guilty of electoral fraud. All executives of the party are banned from politics for five years should the provision be invoked.

Mr Abhisit said there should be a distinction between political wrongdoing and criminal charges such as rioting, corruption and abuse of power.

He also defended his own government's imposition of emergency rule and the legal action taken against protest leaders in the wake of the violence over Songkran.

He said security authorities had not applied double standards when dealing with the People's Alliance for Democracy and the United Front for Democracy against Dictatorship protests.

"Arrest warrants are sought against people who declare they will continue fighting. Some of them even say their operations will be clandestine. It is an obvious threat to national security.

"If last year's protesters [the PAD] declared that they would act as a threat to national security, they too would have been subject to arrest warrants." Mr Abhisit has instructed police to speed up investigations into all pending cases to ensure justice.

He said the measures were being taken to restore peace and allow the government to tackle "real problems" which include the economic downturn and unemployment.

Dissolving the House now was unlikely to solve any problem as long as there remains social divisions.

"Elections could be marred with violence. It will worsen the image of democratic society in Thailand," he said.

Mr Abhisit's call for charter amendments, especially to the contentious provisions, was welcomed by his coalition partners and the Puea Thai party.

Sanan Kachornprasart, of Chart Thai Pattana, said Mr Abhisit's approach left the door open for negotiation, which was welcome.

"The charter amendments will leave room to breathe. When peace returns to the streets, a House dissolution and fresh elections can lift the country out of the crisis," he said.

Chumpol Silpa-archa, leader of Chart Thai Pattana, suggested that the Election Commission and the Supreme Court get involved in considering an amnesty for party executives who were not involved in electoral fraud.

Puea Thai MP for Yasothon Pirapan Palusuk said the party agreed with the charter amendments, and thought the process should not take more than two months.

He believed two charter amendments and two fresh elections should be enough to mend social divisions.

"After the amendments, Mr Abhisit should call new elections. A new parliament then amends the charter, dissolves the House and calls for fresh elections. Through this we can end the problem of 'colour politics'," he said.

Thossaporn Serirak, a banned executive from the Thai Rak Thai party, welcomed the proposed changes to the charter but said the cases against deposed former prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra should be reviewed.

He said the Ratchadaphisek land trial in which Thaksin was found guilty and sentenced to two years in prison was a result of the 2006 coup.

He said investigators of the dissolved Assets Scrutiny Committee were appointed by the coup-makers and some were biased.

READ MORE---> Thai PM seeks a just solution...

NMSP member murdered by unknown gunman near Moulmein - Nai Min Naung

(IMNA) - A member of the New Mon State Party (NMSP) was shot and killed by an unknown gunman near Moulmein yesterday. Police are currently holding 18 million kyat and his motorbike, recovered from the scene.

At 3:45 pm on April 18th, Nai Min Naung was shot on the road between Pha-out and Yogo villages, in Mudon Township, 6 miles from Moulmein. He was returning to his home in Kamarwet village after retrieving money from Moulmein, Mon State’s capital city. The money was to be used to purchase rice for relief efforts in NMSP controlled areas.

“The gun man shot Nai Min Naung one time in his back and he died at the scene,” an NMSP member in Moulmein told IMNA. “His liver and heart were hit by the bullet.”

Police took Nai Min Maung’s body to the Moulmein hospital, and are holding his motorbike and the large sum of money. Local sources say

“The police guess the gun is made in Thailand. It is as kind of hand gun,” added the NMSP member.

IMNA could not confirm who killed Nai Min Naung, or why. Interestingly, the gunman did not take the large sum of money from Nai Min Naung’s body, although it is unclear whether the assailant stopped to search his body.

Rumors are also circulating that Nai Min Naung’s murder is related to recent conflict in the area between the NMSP and a Mon splinter group. At least one truck has been destroyed in the conflict, but IMNA has yet to confirm further details about the conflict or who leads the Mon splinter group.

Nai Min Naung was 40 and borned in Kamarwat village. He joined the NMSP in 1992 and worked with the NMSP as a township committee member in Tavoy district, Tenasserim Division and as secretary of Three Pagodas Pass Township, in Karen State.

Nai Min Naung was born in Kamawet Mudon Twinship and he was about 40 years old. He arrived at NMSP in 1992 and he worked with NMSP as township committe member in Tavoy district and secretary of Three Pagoda Pass township.

Following the NMSP’s recent party congress, he took a position working with a Mon relief organization, helping to provide aid to Mon people living in NMSP controlled territory. The NMSP controls a small amount of territory near Burma’s eastern border as terms of a 1995 ceasefire with Burma’s military government.

Nai Min Naung will be missed by friends and family. “Nai Min Naung was a hard working person,” said Nai Ouk Kar from a Mon organization in Mae Sot, Thailand. “He also encouraged youth in Mon society.”

“I am sad today because of the killing,” said another Mon NGO worker, this time in Sangkhlaburi, Thailand. “Nai Min Naung was my good friend. And he was very smart – he was good for Mon people. We need more people like him, but now he is dead.”

READ MORE---> NMSP member murdered by unknown gunman near Moulmein - Nai Min Naung...

Thai PM open to amnesty idea

By The Nation

Abhisit, however, rules out pardon for those involved in criminal acts

The government will push for political reform as part of the healing process following the recent political mayhem, although any amnesty would only extend to political offences and not criminal violations for provoking uprisings, Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva said yesterday.

"I remain open-minded about amnesty for political wrongdoing based on what many say are unfair laws, but will definitely draw the line on criminal violations, such as inciting riots," he said. :)

All political parties have been asked to submit their reports within two weeks outlining issues to be covered in the charter rewrite, he said.

Politicians of all stripes should work together to improve the political system instead of casting suspicion on one another, he said.

Before the turmoil, the government tried but made no headway in launching the reform process because opposition lawmakers were doubtful about the political neutrality in selecting the charter writers, he said.

All stakeholders were promised a say in the reform process, he said.

The coalition partners have also been applying pressure on the Abhisit government to embark on amnesty legislation and political reform in order to solidify political stability and prepare for a fresh general election later this year.

This came out of a meeting between Abhisit and key coalition partners at the home of Niphon Phromphan, the secretary to the prime minister.

Spurred into action by the political turmoil, the coalition partners would like the government to work on a pardon for politicians banned by the Constitution Court after their parties were found to have been involved in election fraud.

The meeting agreed that all parties should try to keep the government moving so that the fiscal budget could be passed before any new election is called later this year, probably in September.

Direk Thungphang, a senator from Nonthaburi, said the Senate would convene today to discuss how to end the political impasse and ways to reform the Constitution, which is the root cause of the current crisis.

"We have sent a message to the prime minister that he should not be stubborn in his resolve to tackle political instability. He should aim at rewriting the Constitution,'' he said.

Asean secretary-general Surin Pitsuwan also called on the Abhisit government to accelerate the reconciliation process so that Thailand could successfully host the Asean Summit.

Never before has the Asean Summit with dialogue partners been postponed for political reasons, he said.

The Thai government must invite the ambassadors of the 15 member countries of Asean and its dialogue partners to consult on the new date for the summit, which had to be postponed from the week before due to the red-shirt protests.

Meanwhile, Sondhi Limthong-kul, the target of an assassination attempt last Friday, has been recovering satisfactorily and has been moved out of the ICU unit at Chulalongkorn Hospital.

READ MORE---> Thai PM open to amnesty idea...

What Burma Needs From the White House

By Desmond Tutu
Washington Post

When President Obama was elected, I was filled with hope that America would regain the moral standing to aid those who are impoverished and oppressed around the world. I have since rejoiced to see him reversing the most obnoxious policies of the Bush administration -- by ending torture, announcing the closure of the detention camp at Guantanamo Bay and engaging the world on climate change, to name just a few. But there is another issue on which America's moral leadership is desperately needed, and here, it must be acknowledged, President Bush was on the side of the angels: the struggle for human rights and justice in Burma.

Last year, when a cyclone struck Burma, we watched in horror as the country's military government refused offers of help to save thousands of people clinging to survival. Not everyone noticed what the government was focused on in those terrible days -- a referendum to ratify a new constitution, designed to entrench its rule forever. As villagers in affected areas fought to stay alive and the rest of the country anguished over their fate, the government mobilized its forces not for rescue but to herd people to the polls. Of course, this was not a real referendum; it was illegal for any Burmese to urge a "no" vote, and the results were rigged in any case. But it was a real manifestation of the heartlessness of those who rule Burma.

Now the Obama administration is reviewing America's policy toward Burma. A thoughtful review is needed; as Secretary of State Hillary Clinton recently said, neither economic pressure nor diplomacy has yet achieved the change we seek in Burma. It stands to reason that every aspect of U.S. engagement with this country needs to be made more effective, more targeted and more broadly supported by key countries around the world. But as we wait for the results of this thought process, as America's allies wait, as the United Nations waits, as the Burmese people wait, we should remember that the Burmese government is not waiting. Each day, it moves a step closer to its goal of eliminating opposition and consolidating power, with another stage-managed "election" looming in 2010. The administration does not have the luxury of considering its options and then starting to lead; it must somehow think and lead at the same time, before it loses the initiative, and mis-impressions about where it stands spread.

As the administration reviews its policy, I hope it will remember that the voices of those with the most at stake cannot easily be heard. My sister Nobel laureate Aung San Suu Kyi, the heroic and beloved leader of the Burmese democracy movement, remains under house arrest and cannot speak to the world. In recent months, hundreds of prominent activists, Buddhist monks and nuns, journalists, labor activists, and bloggers who want the world to maintain pressure on their government have been sentenced to years, even decades, in isolated jungle prisons, where not even their families can visit. Meanwhile, those who support or have resigned themselves to their government's approach are free to speak out. This repression cannot be rewarded; the voices of those it has silenced must be heard as if the walls of their jails did not exist.

I hope that the Obama administration will energize global diplomacy on Burma. It should be willing to talk to Burma's leaders, to work intensively with Burma's neighbors and to make clear that there is a dignified way forward for all those in Burma who are willing to compromise. It should support carefully monitored humanitarian assistance directed to help Burma's people, so aid reaches them and does not reinforce corruption or result in other unintended consequences.

So yes -- America should engage Burma, but it should not engage in wishful thinking. Nothing in our experience suggests that offers of aid will cause Burma's generals to change course; unlike some authoritarian regimes, this one seems to care not a bit for the economic well being of its country. It would probably interpret an easing of sanctions as an acknowledgment that it has won the struggle with its people and proved its right to rule. Indeed, all our experience suggests that diplomatic engagement is likely to succeed only when sanctions have truly hit their mark. In South Africa, it was only when sanctions became targeted and were implemented in a sophisticated way that a negotiated solution -- one that seemed impossible for many long years -- finally took shape.

Injustice and oppression will not have the last word in Burma (or Zimbabwe, or Sudan), any more than they did in South Africa, Poland, Chile or anywhere else the human spirit is alive. The brave Burmese people who have struggled for their freedom believe this is a moral universe, where right and wrong still matter. They need to know that the world's most powerful democracy still believes it, too.

The writer is archbishop emeritus of Cape Town, South Africa. He won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1984.

READ MORE---> What Burma Needs From the White House...

Ahmadinejad urges 'justice' for jailed US reporter

Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has called for fair treatment of US reporter Roxana Saberi, who was sentenced to eight years in jail as a US spy, the state news agency IRNA reported.

In a rare intervention in judicial proceedings, Ahmadinejad said the Tehran prosecutor should examine the case against both Saberi and Hossein Derakhshan, an Iranian-Canadian blogger who has been behind bars since November, IRNA said.

"At the president's insistence, you must do what is needed to secure justice ... in examining these people's charges," said a letter from Ahmadinejad's chief of staff Abdolreza Sheikholeslami to Tehran prosecutor Saeed Mortazavi.

"Take care that the defendants have all the legal freedoms and rights to defend themselves against the charges," the letter said.

Saberi, 31, a former US beauty queen, was convicted of spying for the United States during a closed-door trial and sentenced to eight years in jail, in a verdict unveiled on Saturday.

US President Barack Obama, who has called for dialogue with Iran since he took office in January, was "deeply disappointed" at the sentence, according to his spokesman.

The State Department branded the espionage charges as "baseless," while Saberi's father has said his daughter was "tricked" into confessing by being told she would be released.

Saberi's lawyer has said he would appeal the verdict, which is the harshest sentence ever to a dual national on security charges in Iran.

She has been held since late January, when she was initially reported to have been arrested for buying alcohol, an illegal act in the Islamic republic.

Derakhshan, a prominent blogger, has been detained since his arrival in Iran in November 2008 and is being investigated on charges of insulting Shiite imams.


READ MORE---> Ahmadinejad urges 'justice' for jailed US reporter...

Jailed journalist is not a spy: Obama

From correspondents in Washington, USA

US President Barack Obama has denied that an Iranian-American journalist is a spy and has demanded her release after she was sentenced to eight years in prison in Iran for espionage.

Reporter Roxana Saberi, 31, was convicted by an Iranian revolutionary court of spying for the United States during a closed-door trial, in a verdict unveiled on Saturday.

"She is an American citizen and I have complete confidence that she was not engaging in any sort of espionage,'' Mr Obama said.

"She was an Iranian-American who was interested in the country which her family came from, and it is appropriate for her to be treated as such and to be released.''

Ms Saberi, who has US and Iranian nationality, has been detained in the notorious Evin prison in Tehran since January.

The court ruling comes despite calls by US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton for Ms Saberi's release and President Barack Obama's diplomatic overtures to Iran.

It is the harshest sentence meted out by an Iranian court to a dual-national on security charges.

Several US-Iranians, including academics, have been detained in recent years on security charges but released after several months behind bars.

US-born Ms Saberi, who is also of Japanese descent, has reported for US-based National Public Radio (NPR), the BBC and Fox News, and had lived in Iran for six years.

In March, foreign ministry spokesman Hassan Ghashghavi said Ms Saberi's press card was revoked in 2006 and since then she had been working in Iran "illegally''.

Last month, Ms Saberi's parents appealed to Iranian supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei for her release, saying she was in a "dangerous'' mental state.

US State Department spokesman Robert Wood branded the Iranian trial "less than transparent'' and repeated his assessment that the charges against her were "baseless''.

Mr Wood added the United States was still trying to confirm details of the case via the Swiss embassy in Tehran, which handles US interests in Iran in the absence of diplomatic relations.

Ms Saberi was initially reported to have been detained for buying alcohol, an illegal act in the Islamic republic.

A website has been set up by her friends and university alumni, and the Committee to Protect Journalists also launched a petition calling for her release.

The website said Ms Saberi was chosen Miss North Dakota in 1997 and was among the top 10 finalists for Miss America the following year.

MS Clinton said she had delivered a letter to the Iranian delegation at an international conference on Afghanistan in The Hague on March 31, seeking Ms Saberi's release and making appeals on behalf of two other US citizens.

Robert Levinson, a former FBI agent, vanished on the Gulf island of Kish two years ago, and student Esha Momeni has been prevented from leaving Iran despite being released from jail last year.

Esha Momeni - a graduate student at California State University - was detained in Tehran on October 15 and released on bail in November, but has since been prevented from leaving the country.

Ghashghavi has denied receiving any letter from US officials asking about the three American citizens.

After three decades of severed diplomatic ties, the Obama administration has called for dialogue with Tehran over its controversial nuclear drive, which Western powers fear could be a cover for efforts to build an atomic bomb.

Agence France-Press-News.Com

READ MORE---> Jailed journalist is not a spy: Obama...

Thai Army linked to summit violence

By Lindsay Murdoch in Bangkok

ELEMENTS of Thailand's powerful military, loyal to the disgraced former leader Thaksin Shinawatra, wanted to humiliate the Prime Minister, Abhisit Vejjajiva, by allowing protesters to overrun - and force the cancellation of - the recent ASEAN summit, analysts say.

The 5000-strong security force, deployed at the beach resort of Pattaya, failed to stop several hundred protesters storming the venue of the Association of South-East Asian Nations meeting. The protesters had publicly declared days before that they would try to disrupt the summit.

Despite the threat, neither the chief of police, Patcharawat Wongsuwan, nor the head of the army, Anupong Paochinda, was in Pattaya to supervise the summit security operation.

Thai media have reported that Mr Abhisit sidelined General Anupong after the summit's cancellation as red-clad pro-Thaksin protesters moved from Pattaya to Bangkok, where they rampaged through the streets.

Thanong Khanthong, editor of the English-language newspaper The Nation, described the Pattaya security failure as a "dark plot" against Mr Abhisit, who has led a fragile coalition government for four months.

These accusations against elements of the army, which styles itself as defender of the nation, come as questions are asked about the role played by security forces in the attempted assassination on Friday of the political leader Sondhi Limthongkul. Five gunmen used high-powered military-issue AK-47 and M-16 automatic weapons to spray Sondhi's vehicle with more than 100 bullets. He survived.

Sondhi's People's Alliance for Democracy has accused the military of being behind the assassination attempt. "The shooting with assault rifles bore the hallmarks of work by men in uniform during emergency rule," said a party spokesman, Suriyasai Katasila.

Somkiat Pongpaiboon, the party's co-leader, called for the removal of security chiefs.

While Mr Abhisit has blamed the army and police for failing to protect 12 regional leaders at the ASEAN summit he has resisted calls to move immediately against the commanders responsible. He told journalists at the weekend that the Government faces many tough challenges and now is not the time to make personnel changes.

"I feel the policemen and soldiers did not do their jobs to the best of their ability," he said in his first public comment on the storming of the Royal Cliff Beach Hotel on April 11.

Asia's most powerful leaders were forced to flee the hotel, some escaping via the rooftop by helicopter. Kevin Rudd was en route as the violence erupted and his plane turned around mid-air and returned to Australia.

Thanong, a well connected analyst, said that in the wake of the ASEAN incident, Mr Abhisit hastily assembled a special command centre under his direction. "Veterans and some retired generals came to his rescue," he said. "Anupong's troops and the police could not be trusted and were edged out of the scene."

Mr Abhisit has been praised for his handling of the Bangkok violence, in which two people died and more than 120 were injured.

Thanong said that Mr Abhisit used security forces brought to Bangkok from the provinces to confront the protesters, most of whom were being paid a daily wage to provoke unrest.

Regarding the shooting of Sondhi, the national deputy police chief, Jongrak Jutanond, cautioned against blaming the military. "Some people might have such an impression, but police work on evidence," Lieutenant-General Jongrak said.

A government spokesman, Panitan Wattanayagorn, also said the weapons did not necessarily indicate state involvement. "These weapons can be purchased anywhere," he said.

A state of emergency remains in place in Bangkok.


READ MORE---> Thai Army linked to summit violence...

Forced sentry duty a cause for poverty

By Aung Kham

(Shan Herald)-Local people in Southern Shan State’s Mong Nai Township are being forced to stand sentry every night, or pay Kyat 2500($2.5) - 4,000($4) to hire a substitute, despite being in financial difficulties, according to reliable sources.

“When I was a boy, I used to follow my father when he was on sentry duty. If he was busy, I had to go in his stead sometimes. I was about 13 years old at that time. Now I’m 30 years old, but I still have to serve as a sentry and have to think in advance when my turn will come again. It has become routine and a part of my life,” he said.

Sentry duty for civilians started since General Ne Win era (1975-1988) until today, according to another source.

“During the Socialist era, sentry duties were imposed by the military. Today, I’m not sure whether they were ordered by the military, but village headmen keep ordering villagers to continue standing sentry. There are 5 people for each sentry box and we have 5 sentry boxes in our quarter”, said a villager.

Normally, the fee for hiring a substitute is 2,500 Kyat per day but during full moon day or other important days the wage is higher, up to 4,000 Kyat. The people’s incomes are also hurt by sentry duties. On the other hand, the military is forcing villagers to plant summer paddy which not agrees with the local soil which is and there is higher price for seeds”, according to a local villager.

Mong Nai has 5 quarters which are Paw Mong, Nawng Geaw, Na Hawng, Oo Yin, Loi Way and Nawng Kham. There are about 70-80 house per quarter and each is divided to 4-5 groups. Each group has at least one sentry box. Whenever the military hear that the Shan State Army (SSA) is active in the area, villagers have to stand sentry all day and night, he added.

READ MORE---> Forced sentry duty a cause for poverty...

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