Thursday, May 7, 2009

Burmese to permit more internet cafés following ranking as worst internet rights abuser

Mon Son, IMNA

The Burmese government announced that it will be granting permission to open internet cafés country wide only 4 days after country is condemned as the having the worst abuses in internet rights. It remains to be seen weather an increase in internet cafes will increase internet freedom.

On Monday, May 4th, According to People Media Voice, an exile Burmese media group, the Burmese government will allow for shops to be opened not just in Yangoon, where the majority of country’s internet café currently exist, but throughout the country including rural regions.This also includes plans to extend the internet network throughout the country. However no specific number has been announced as to how many can open, nor have any opened since the announcement.The announcement came from the Myanmar Tele Post which operates under the Ministry of telecommunications, post and telegraphs.

The Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) report highlighted a number of countries through out the Middle East and Asia where people are targeted by a variety of means of control by the government, from censorship, restricted internet access, to outright imprisonment and threats to restrict the freedom of speech and press.

The reports also described Burma as the worst country for freedom of expression. According to CPJ report “Burma leads the dishonor roll.” Shawn Crispin, the South East Asia Representative of the CPJ said in response to the Burmese government’s announcement, “any official commitment to allowing a greater number of Internet cafes must be taken with a huge grain of salt.”

By making its announcement on Monday, World Press Freedom Day, and CPJ drew a clear line stating the significance of online media repression as a major emerging threat to press freedom worldwide. Crispin explained “By putting Burma atop our list of 10 worst places in the world to be a blogger, we hope exposure of its censorship and repression will ultimately affect change and greater freedom of expression.”

In Burma Internet use has been on the rise, but the number of internet cafés is still incredibly small. In 2003 there were about 20 Internet cafés throughout the country. Now there are 464 Internet cafes country wide, 355 of which are located in the country’s capitol of Yangoon. However this leaves only 109 facilities spread throughout the rest of the country.

According to the Internet research group OpenNet Initiative, a private Internet watchdog group, only about 1 percent of the population in Burma has access to internet cafés which are already heavily censored and regulated by military authorities. However Myanmar Information Technology statistics show only about 300,000 people have access to the internet in the whole country.

READ MORE---> Burmese to permit more internet cafés following ranking as worst internet rights abuser...

Over 80 villagers arrested, 2 killed after clash with rebels

By Hseng Khio Fah - Shan Herald

Two people from Hsihseng township, 57 miles south of Taunggyi, were believed to have been extra judicially killed and another 80 villagers arrested by the Burma Army two days after a clash between Burma Army and a joint ethnic armed force near Wanyen (Banyen) village on 3 May, according to locals.

Villagers and village headmen from Saw Sar and Nawngdapan villages near the clash site were arrested by the Banyen based Light Infantry Battalion (LIB) # 425 for not informing in advance about the arrival of rebel groups in the areas. They are being detained at Saw Sar monastery, said a Pa-O youth.

“They [villagers] were accused of cooperating with the rebel groups because the villagers did not inform them [the Burma Army], he added.

The said two people who were killed were Saw Sar village headman U Kyaw Pae and another local villager.
“They were summoned by the Burmese soldiers to the west of the village but they have not returned since then,” said another local source. “Villagers are still worried how many more will be arrested again.”

Security inside and outside the villages has been strongly tightened by the Burma Army. Villagers were banned not only from moving place to place but also to go and work in their farms.

Anyone who is going outside has to ask permission from LIB # 425. If not, they are not allowed to go anywhere, he said.

The clash took placed because the Burma Army is still committing human rights abuses to the villagers, according to the rebels. A joint PaO National Liberation Army (PNLA) – Karen National Liberation Army (KNLA) force ambushed a Burma Army patrol in Hsihseng township.

The joint force seized 13 assorted weapons: 1 60 mm mortar, 1 light machine gun, 1 RPG 9, 8 MA 1/ 2/ 3/ 4 rifles, 2 pistols, 2 walkie-talkies and 1 back pack transceiver of the Burma Army. All the 12 members of the Burma Army patrol were killed in action.

READ MORE---> Over 80 villagers arrested, 2 killed after clash with rebels...

US Man Arrested for Entering Suu Kyi Home

The Irrawaddy News

RANGOON (AP)— Police tightened security around Burma's detained opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi on Thursday after an American man was reportedly arrested for swimming across a lake and sneaking into her lakeside home.

More than 20 police entered Suu Kyi's compound Thursday morning, according to neighbors who spoke on condition of anonymity for fear of reprisals in the military-ruled country. Despite tight security outside the home, police rarely enter Suu Kyi's compound where she has been kept under house arrest for more than 13 of the past 19 years.

The Myanma Ahlin newspaper reported Thursday that police fished an American man out of Rangoon's Inya Lake early Wednesday while he was returning from a visit to Suu Kyi's home.

The newspaper identified the man as John William Yeattaw but gave no details of his motives. It said the man had confessed to swimming across the lake Sunday evening, sneaking into Suu Kyi's residence and then returning late Tuesday before being spotted and arrested early Wednesday.

"He secretly entered the house and stayed there," the newspaper reported, saying that he swam with an empty 5-liter plastic water jug, presumably to use as a float.

Police confiscated the man's belongings which included an American passport, a black backpack, a pair of pliers, a camera and two US 100 dollar bills, the newspaper reported.

A spokesman from the US Embassy in Rangoon said he was "trying to find out" details of the arrest.

"The embassy has not yet been informed by authorities and we don't know anything about it," said spokesman Richard Mei.

Suu Kyi's home is tightly guarded and she is not allowed visitors, aside from her doctor.

It would be the first time that anyone has snuck into her compound or swam across the lake to get there. Swimming in Inya Lake in the vicinity of Suu Kyi's compound is not allowed.

Earlier this week, Burma's junta rejected an appeal to free Suu Kyi, whose most recent period of detention is due to expire May 27, according to a party spokesman.

The National League for Democracy spokesman Nyan Win said the country's military authorities summoned the assistant to Suu Kyi's lawyer to the administrative capital of Naypyitaw last Friday and handed over a letter rejecting the appeal for her release.

Nyan Win said he is still hopeful Suu Kyi will be freed later this month when her six-year detention expires, although there were no indications that she would be released.

READ MORE---> US Man Arrested for Entering Suu Kyi Home...

American swims to Aung San Suu Kyi’s home

by Mizzima News

Chiang Mai – In a strange incident, that caught the Burmese police on the wrong foot, an American citizen, John William Yeattaw, swam to the residence of the country’s detained opposition leader Daw Aung San Suu Kyi, from the Innya Lake on May 3. The Noble Peace Laureate’s home is beside the Innya Lake on University Avenue.

The American stayed in Suu Kyi’s home for two days and was arrested on May 6 at 5 a.m. the junta’s mouthpiece New Light of Myanmar said on Thursday. Details of what the US citizen was doing in the Noble Laureate’s home, who is under house arrest, is still not clear.

The newspaper said John William swam across the lake alongside Aung San Suu Kyi’s home, clutching a five-litre water jar. He was identified as a person holding a US passport number (PP.No- 4397677222/28.4.200). He was arrested by security personnel when he came out of Aung San Suu Kyi’s residence.

READ MORE---> American swims to Aung San Suu Kyi’s home...

Burmese Army officers marry and abandon Kachin women

(KNG) -There is a culture prevalent in Nong Mong (Naw Mung in Kachin) city in Putao district in Kachin State, northern Burma where high ranking Burmese military officers marry native Kachin woman and later abandon them and their children, a source said.

Nong Mong is a small city of the native Rawang tribe of Kachin nationals. The Burmese Army has extended its military stranglehold in Putao district after the Burmese ruling junta's No. 2 strongman vice senior general Maung Aye visited the area in 2004, said residents of Putao.

According to a resident of Nong Mong, when Burmese military officers are transferred to Nong Mong city, most of them marry local Rawang woman. And when they move to another posting, they leave their wife and children behind.

However, the Rawang women who marry the officers try to follow their husbands when they get transferred to other places. However, not many can afford to follow them because of transportation and travelling costs, he added.

There are many children with Burmese names but they only speak the Rawang language, said a resident in Myitkyina, the capital of Kachin State who recently came from Nong Mong.

Nong Mong is 60 miles from northeast Putao district and the road communication and transportation is terrible with few cars. Vehicles travel only one day in a week to Nong Mong from Putao, he added.

Putao is one of the most remote and isolated districts in northern Burma and the airline is the only regular transportation with other parts of Burma. Native Jinghpaw, Rawang and Lisu people live under the systematic pursuit of Buddhism and Burmanization implemented by local Burmese army bases, according to native Putao.

According to a local, even though the Burmese military junta calls Nong Mong a city, it is not like a city at all and has not seen development. Most of the local people have to work in the farm everyday for a living.

READ MORE---> Burmese Army officers marry and abandon Kachin women...

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