Monday, May 25, 2009

Burma 'necessitates' foreign intervention

(DVB)–The political and humanitarian crisis in Burma has reached a point whereby it is affecting neighbouring countries and therefore justifies foreign interference, said the head of a pan-Asian coalition group on Burma.

The Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) bloc, of which Burma is a contentious member, has come under fire recently for its policy of non-interference after refusing to go beyond vocal criticism of the trial of Burma’s Aung San Suu Kyi.

Thailand, who holds the revolving chair of ASEAN, expressed “grave concern” last week but said it would not use strong measures or economic sanctions to pressure the regime into releasing Suu Kyi.

But Debbie Stothard, coordinator of Alternative ASEAN Network on Burma (ALTSEAN-Burma), says that the non-interference policy should not apply to Burma.

“We see that the situation in Burma is not just a domestic affair,” she said, adding that millions of refugees have left Burma for neighbouring countries.

“So this is a situation you must interfere in; if you don’t interfere all the other countries will also be affected.”

The comments were backed by Thai MP, Kraisak Choonhavan, who also heads the ASEAN Inter-Parliamentary Myanmar Caucus.

“I think it necessitates international or forced intervention,” he said.

“It would be very difficult to arrive at that, but now there is a movement of those who want to protect the people of Burma by bringing the International Criminal Court (ICC) into play.

“If they [ICC] are in their right mind and they go through the facts, there is no denying that [junta leader] Than Shwe and his cronies should be persecuted at the ICC.

“But politics gets in the way – Russia and China always opposes that, and that is the biggest obstacle to overcome.”

Reporting by Soe Naing and Francis Wade

READ MORE---> Burma 'necessitates' foreign intervention...

Unified international approach needed for Burma

by Htet Win
Mizzima News

United Nations intervention on the Burma front, supported by regional countries, is desperately needed to implement an inclusive process directed at cracking the existing political impasse, as the ruling junta and opposition groups have yet to be able to chart a path forward themselves.

Mainly because of their own wrongdoings, the ruling generals are frightened of their own people as well as of Aung San Suu Kyi, increasingly feeling insecure about their future and believing in no one.

The junta has already created a state within the state, selfishly misusing the country's natural resources. It is an approach that has found favor with China which, like a vulture, has feasted off a country victimized by its ruling generals for more that four decades. Beijing has said it will not interfere with the country's affairs, observing that events in Burma should be decided by its own people. But how irresponsible and unreasonable is such a stance?

The main barrier to the country's progress is the military government, whose life is primarily supported by the Chinese government, another notorious authoritarian regime. China's long-term interest in Burma is access to the Indian Ocean, through which it is expecting such strategic benefits as a military presence and enhanced trade.

The government-to-government interests of Beijing and Naypyitaw are well matched on the basis of self-interest, resulting in a deadlock in Burma's political progress and a lack of domestic economic opportunities. Exploiting Burma's natural resources such as gas, timber and minerals, Beijing has provided options for the military rulers of its impoverished neighbor.

Burma has become a vassal state of China, realpolitik dooming Burma to existence within the Chinese sphere of influence. The generals understand this and play the China card very well.

The natural wealth of Burma is a curse on the civilians. If Burma were an economic basket case bereft of all natural resources, no country would bother to come in and the military would not be able to fund itself to buy off the loyalty of rank and file soldiers.

The monolithic structure of the Army, which is maintained by Machiavellian-styled generals, rewards the loyal and mercilessly punishes dissenters. For the soldiers, the Army is their benefactor, without which they are like fish out of water. For them it is a case of hanging together or being hanged separately.

Time and again soldiers have fired on opposition elements, including monks, while China, India, ASEAN and all neighboring countries keep on standing by them, hiding behind the political fig leaf of not interfering in the internal affairs of Burma.

Meanwhile, in the capacity of alternate ASEAN chairmanship, Thailand’s recent statement is welcomed as a “policy of engagement with the ruling military." The statement expressed "grave concern" over Daw Aung San Suu Kyi’s trial, also noting that the trial is testing the honor and credibility of the military regime.

But the junta lashed out at the statement, retorting that Thailand was meddling in its internal affairs. It is apparent that the military dictatorship is like a dying man who is unresponsive to any voice or touch, starkly rejecting even international overtures of constructive engagement. It also fears the international community.

Wresting power from military dictators, no matter how corrupt and hated, is a messy thing, and rarely if ever can be successfully pulled off without some form of support from governments abroad.

According to a Burma critic, “It is even more difficult when the rulers are willing and able to use brutal force. Unfortunately, Burma falls squarely into this situation.”

At the end of the day everything lies in the willingness of the ruling clique to enter into talks with the civilians, regardless of their political or ethnic composition.

As long as the soldiers think they alone know what is best for the country and are mired in their fear of retribution, nothing will move forward.

The military is expected to accept civilians as fellow countrymen and not as enemies bent on stringing them up from the nearest lampposts. The biggest obstacle block is the ingrained mentality of the soldiers who see the whole political process in Burma in black and white terms.

Although vocal in exile, the actual strength of the opposition lies inside Burma. However, they need a rallying point and cause for hope.

The best hope lies in trying to get zealous "Young Turk", reform-minded military officers to come around and start to think there is a way, a peaceful and more inclusive way, out of the present structural crisis.

Aung San Suu Kyi is perhaps the only person who can instill this group with the idea that we can all work together for a better tomorrow.

The message should be: “Talk to us. We are not here to destroy you [the generals]. We want you to be involved and be part of building a new nation out of these ashes.”

A recent statement by the U.N. Security Council is also noteworthy, “The future of Burma lies in the hands of its entire people.” However, the people need the practical support of their neighbors as well.

The time is now for Burma's neighbors to fully support the U.N.’s positive intervention – such as Secretary General Ban Ki-moon’s planned visit – in the Burma issue.

READ MORE---> Unified international approach needed for Burma...

Suu Kyi’s trial will not end simply: Win Tin

by Mungpi

New Delhi (Mizzima) - Pro-democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi on Tuesday will be produced before the special court in Insein jail and will be asked to give her testimony, in a trial, where she has been charged for breaching her detention law, her lawyer said.

Nyan Win, one of the defence counsels, said the court on Monday concluded the hearing of prosecution witnesses, as the prosecution withdrew nine witnesses, and has fixed Tuesday for the accused, Aung San Suu Kyi, to give her testimony.

“Tomorrow, Daw Aung San Suu Kyi will give her testimony to the court and we will also submit a list of witnesses as defence counsels. We have primarily selected Win Tin, Tin Oo, Kyi Win and Daw Khin Moe Moe as witnesses for the accused,” said Nyan Win, adding that the list could expand or even be reduced depending on the situation.

Burma’s democracy icon, Aung San Suu Kyi, has been accused of breaching her detention law by accepting an uninvited American man, who allegedly swam across the Inya Lake and entered her house.

She was charged under section 22 of the penal code of Burma’s 1974 constitution, but her lawyer said, the authorities are using conflicting laws, as his understanding was that the 1974 constitution has been nullified by the junta’s 2008 constitution.

In order to clarify his doubts, when lawyer Nyan Win asked the prosecutor whether Burma is using a dual constitution, the judge overruled the questions saying it was irrelevant.

“Yes, I did ask the question as I am confused whether we have two constitutions but the judge overruled the question,” Nyan Win told Mizzima.

Speedy trial

Nyan Win said, the case seems to be moving at a fast pace and that he fears the regime wants to end it as quickly as possible and sentence Aung San Suu Kyi.

Since the first court hearing on May 18, the trial has been conducted on a day-to-day basis. And by the sixth-day of the trial, the court concluded the hearing of prosecution witnesses.

Nyan Win earlier told Mizzima that the trial is likely to take about two to three months, but on Monday he said his predictions were likely to be wrong.

Win Tin, veteran journalist and central committee member of the NLD, said the junta wants to conclude everything as quickly as possible and sentence Aung San Suu Kyi to another five years.

“It is quite obvious that the junta is doing things as fast as possible because they want to finish the trial and sentence her to another five years, if not more,” Win Tin told Mizzima.

The junta’s ploy is to put the Nobel Peace Laureate away from the public scene before the ensuing 2010 elections.

Ineffective International outcry

The trial against Daw Aung San Suu Kyi has attracted outbursts by several governments across the world and even made the United Nations Security Council issue a press statement. But Win Tin, a veteran journalists and central committee member of the NLD said nothing much will change because of this.

He said the Burmese junta does have a fair understanding that there will be outbursts which are rhetorical in nature by the international community.

“But this is well-planned. And the government will not make a move unless they know where the end would be,” he said.

He said it is impossible for the junta not to notice Mr. John William Yettaw swimming across the Innya Lake and entering Aung San Suu Kyi’s house. And since this is his second time, it is only obvious that the junta had planned the ploy.

Following the charges against Burma’s democracy icon and her trial, the international community including the UN and the Security Council issued statements of condemnation and urged the junta to immediately release her.

UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, last week, indicated that he wished to pay a visit to Burma as soon as possible to talk to the military junta on the trial against opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi but he has not mentioned how soon he can make the visit.

While welcoming the interests of the international community on Burma, Win Tin said, Ban Ki-moon’s visit itself will not have much effect as the junta is determined.

Critics, meanwhile, said the international community has been making rhetorical condemnation of the junta’s actions, but nothing much really has changed as the outbursts are rarely turned into action.

On Monday, European and Asian foreign ministers kicked-off a two-day meeting in Hanoi, Vietnam. Reports, quoting diplomats, suggest that the Burmese issue is likely to be widely discussed among the ministers at the sidelines of the meeting.

But on Monday, Burma rejected a statement issued by Thailand as the chair of the 10-nations grouping of Association of Southeast Asian Nations on the trial against Aung San Suu Kyi saying it is against the tradition of the grouping.

Public Anger

However, Win Tin said, the trial against Aung San Suu Kyi has ingited public anger and it would not be wise for the government to underestimate the level of peoples’ anger.

“As I sit in front of the Insein Bazaar everyday of the trial, I have seen the peoples’ anger, particularly among the youth. They have asked me what they should do? Or would they be sitting all day without taking any action?” he asked.

While he said he cannot definitely tell what might happen, but if the junta sentenced Aung San Suu Kyi, it would really bring out the anger in the people.

“This time, I am sure, it will not be just another story of the junta’s injustice, because the level of anger among the people is high. And the junta cannot expect the people to simply disperse, after they sentence Daw Aung San Suu Kyi. It will not be as simple as just drawing the curtain,” he added.

READ MORE---> Suu Kyi’s trial will not end simply: Win Tin...

Junta’s violations severe in Northern Burma: CSW

by Solomon

New Delhi (Mizzima) – The Christian Solidarity Worldwide, an advocacy group, said human rights violations continue to be grave in areas where ethnic minorities live and have come out with fresh accounts of violations during their field trip to Northern Burma.

CSW, in a report released after their three-week field trip to Kachin state in northern Burma, said they heard horrifying testimonies from victims of human rights violations committed by the ruling junta’s army.

“The situation in Kachin State is bad, we found first hand evidence of rape, religious discrimination, land confiscation and human trafficking,” Benedict Rogers, CSW’s South Asia Advocacy officer, told Mizzima.

He said, during their trip, they were able to meet victims of rape, religious discrimination and people whose land were confiscated by the army.

During the trip, from the end of April to the first week of May, 2009, the CSW team was also able to meet the Kachin Independent Organization, an armed rebel group fighting for self-determination but which has a ceasefire pact with the junta.

Rogers, who was the team leader visiting Burma, said they have seen ethnic Kachin people living under constant fear, especially women, as they fall easy prey to Burmese soldiers and no one dares to intervene as they are scared of the Burmese soldiers.

“Despite the ceasefire, human rights violations continue and people suffer,” said Rogers, referring to the more than one decade old ceasefire agreement between the KIO and the Burmese junta.

The KIO in 1994 entered into a ceasefire agreement with the ruling junta on grounds that continued war had devastated the people. But their expectations were belied because the pact turned out to be worse than the people expected as the junta’s army slowly expanded in the areas, which were earlier controlled by the rebel group.

The KIO was officially banned from making fresh recruitments.

During their visit, Rogers said, he met a 21-year old Bible school student, who narrated her experience of being raped by two Burmese soldiers, and how she is left helpless.

The girl apparently did not get any compensation and the perpetrator went unpunished.

“Every woman should be careful. My experience is an example for other girls … I want justice to be done,” the CSW quoted the girl as saying in its press release on May 22.

The girl did file a case at three different military courts and requested for investigations but there hasn’t been any action or compensation except 100,000 Kyats she received for medical care, a rice bag and cooking oil, she said.

“Many rape cases in Kachin State go unreported because victims are afraid and to ashamed to report it. There are many more cases we don’t know about,” said Rogers.

“No women are safe in Kachin State,” he added.

Rogers said, even the KIO, cannot provide protection to their people except within their controlled areas, said Rogers.

In July last year, Burmese soldiers reportedly raped and murdered a 15 year old girl, Nhkum Hkawn, from the Din Nam Sai villiage in Kachin State but the army closed the case after paying the girl’s parents of 500,000 Kyats (US$ 500) as compensation and took no action against the accused soldiers.

Awng Wa, Chairman of the Kachin Development Networking Group (KDNG), which is working inside Burma said, human rights abuses such as rape, torture, forced labour and land confiscation are common and are not strange in Kachin State.

“You can hear of rape cases everywhere, if there is a military camp set up. But no one dares to complain because they are afraid that it could create a backlash with more repression,” said Awng Wa.

“Instead of getting support or action, the authorities usually punish the complainants. So many cases have gone under reported,” he added.

He said, before the ceasefire between the military government and the Kachin Independent Organization and its armed wing the Kachin Independent Army(KIO/A), which represent the Kachin people, there were human rights violations of the highest order within the ethnic people and after ceasefire abuses continue.

“Land confiscation and forced labour are common too,” said Awng Wa. He said, forced labour, however, changes during war into use of porters but during peace, people have been forced to cultivate physic nut trees.

The report also talks about the plight of Chin refugees. Rogers, who had also visited Malaysia and met Chin refugees, said life of Chin refugees is not favourable as they live and work in deplorable conditions.

“The situation in Northern and Western Burma of Kachin and Chin State, have gone unknown and are ignored by many in the world,” said Rogers.

“It is time that their voices were heard, and that the international community responded to the political, social, humanitarian and environmental disaster in northern and western Burma,” said Rogers in the press statement.

“The international community needs to know that the ceasefire areas are not really in peace. People in ceasefire areas are really suffering seriously,” Rogers told Mizzima.

READ MORE---> Junta’s violations severe in Northern Burma: CSW...

Non-residents in Kawthaung forced to leave

by May Kyaw

Chiang Mai (Mizzima) - Visitors to Kawthaung are being checked thoroughly and sent back home.

The National Identity cards of those arriving at the airport, harbours and bus terminals are being checked and non-local people are being detained for a while before being sent back to their homes as of May 22.

“Now they are detained in the old hospital of Kawthaung and are not allowed to go outside. They are being divided into groups and assigned to quarter heads and sent back one group at a time,” a resident told Mizzima.

“If those who are being stopped can say where they are headed exactly, they let them go. They detain those who didn’t know any local people to go to,” he added.

Although nobody knows the reason why strangers are not being accepted because no public announcement was made but local people said it could be because of a boat accident near the Thahtay Island carrying people going to Thailand to work.

However, people from all over the country are still coming to Kawthoung as of now.

READ MORE---> Non-residents in Kawthaung forced to leave...

Villagers flee from DKBA troops out to recruit

by Ko Wild

Chiang Mai (Mizzima) – Villagers of Kawkereik district, Karen State are fleeing from troops of the ‘Democratic Karen Buddhist Army’ (DKBA) who come to their villages to forcibly recruit soldiers for its army.

DKBA’s 999th Brigade mainly recruits villagers under the age of 30 in Kyonebai, Chaungphyaar, Kawkabaung, Ohntabin villages in Kyonedoe Township in this district through the village chairmen. They are forcibly recruiting even villagers in the 40 to 50 age group if their preferred age group is not available. The villagers in these villages have to flee from the clutches of DKBA to avoid going to the frontline.

“They recruited 25 people from Kyonebai and 10 men from Chaungphyar, Ohntabin and Kawkathaung. No one dares to go with them. All have had to flee from their homes. But they have to give soldiers to them anyhow. The youth might think of going with the DKBA if they are not meant to do combat duty. But now they have to go to the frontline in Karenni and Kachin State for combat duty,” a local villager told Mizzima on condition of anonymity.

The DKBA issued orders which said those who do not wish to serve in their army must pay hundreds of thousands of Kyats for hiring a person instead of them. All these substitutes must have passed at least the 8th grade. The parents of these youths are in trouble and miserable.

“Many people are in trouble as they cannot find both soldiers and cash. Some mothers and grandmothers are crying their heart out. Some youths went to monasteries to be ordained as monks to avoid conscription. But they cannot escape from the DKBA’s clutches. So now the children are fleeing between Kyonedoe, Pa-an and Myawadi towns,” he added.

Another local resident told Mizzima that the conscription of soldiers by DKBA is now rampant in all the villages in Kawkereik district and the deadline for sending soldiers to them is just three days away. Now they have to give soldiers besides giving cash in the past.

“The DKBA is demanding fees frequently from the villagers in the range of Kyat 40,000 to 50,000. So the villagers are scared of them. We have not yet found any solution to this serious problem. Many armed groups are here, the Peace Council, DKBA and KNU. All come in turns. And then they recruit soldiers forcibly from us. We fear all of them,” he said.

Similar forcible recruitment has been reported in Paikyone Township in Pa-an District and it is learnt that there are about 200 new forcibly recruited soldiers from Kwanbi and Maethane villages in Hlaing Bwe Township, he said.

DKBA is the breakaway faction of the KNU which split from the mother unit in 1994 and signed a ceasefire agreement with the SPDC (junta).

READ MORE---> Villagers flee from DKBA troops out to recruit...

Opposition refutes junta’s allegation of planting bomb

by Phanida

Chiang Mai (Mizzima) – Border based pro-democracy opposition forces have rubbished the junta’s allegation that it had planted a bomb found in Pyinmana railway station near the new capital city, Naypyitaw.

“Today they accused our student’s army of being a terrorist organization. They accused us of planning bomb blasts in urban areas to instill fear among the people. Our student’s army strongly objects to these allegations reported in the junta’s daily newspaper,” the ‘All Burma Students’ Democratic Front’ (ABSDF) Chairman Than Ke said.

The SPDC’s (junta) allegation is wrong and they are not using violent means on the people, Forum for Democracy in Burma (FDB) General Secretary Dr. Naing Aung said.

“Since the inception of our organization, our objective is to help and support the people’s movement by peaceful and non-violent means. We are into non-violent people’s movement and are pushing the people in non-violent way only. There is no violence in our movement,” Dr. Naing Aung said.

Today’s issue of junta’s daily newspaper reported that a time bomb was found on Naypyitaw-Pyinmana No. 32 Train, in tye Upper Class Coach No. 5 yesterday morning and that it was allegedly planted by terrorists.

Than Ke also denied that they have a ‘Committee for Promoting People Activities’ (CPPA) as alleged by the Burmese military regime. The junta has declared the ABSDF a terrorist organization.

The newspaper also reported that two people were sent to Burma by these terrorist organizations to trigger a series of bomb blasts in Rangoon at busy and crowded areas and near the Insein market besides laying booby traps meant to explode when security personnel come to remove their anti-government posters.

The junta must take all responsibility for the explosions and threats.

“They need to release Daw Aung San Suu Kyi as soon as possible to overcome the political, economic and social crises that Burma faces. They must engage in dialogue at the earliest date. Only in this way will our country be free from all crises and hardships,” Than Ke said.

“We want to expose that the junta has not only arrested Daw Suu unfairly but is also unjustly going against the entire democratic movement. We plan to show we are firmly behind Daw Aung San Suu Kyi and are united as one in this struggle,” Dr. Naing Aung said.

He further said that the junta’s current actions of trying to disarm the ceasefire groups, framing a case against Daw Suu, declaring ‘Burma Lawyers’ Council’ as an unlawful organization are meant to mislead the people and to tarnish the image of these organizations and individuals.

READ MORE---> Opposition refutes junta’s allegation of planting bomb...

The Generals are Angry

The Irrawaddy News

Even during her trial, Aung San Suu Kyi has the ability to make her captors—the powerful ruling generals—angrier and more rancorous than ever.

The generals are now angry not only with Burma’s pro-democracy leader but also with neighboring Thailand which, as current alternate chair of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean), issued a fairly critical statement against Suu Kyi’s trial and imprisonment.

During a meeting with three diplomats from Singapore, Thailand and Russia last week in the Insein Prison compound, Suu Kyi told the Thai diplomat that she looked forward to working with Asean one day.

How did Burma’s ruling generals interpret her remark?

To work with the regional grouping, Suu Kyi would have to be a leader or high-ranking official of the Burmese government. To the generals—who are hypersensitive about power-sharing—her words were clearly defiant, a challenge to their authority.

They probably thought, “How dare you? You’re a criminal who violated our law. And you are standing trial!”

Allowing thirty Rangoon-based diplomats to attend Suu Kyi’s trial for one day last week backfired. The junta wanted to give an appearance of openness, of conducting a legally correct judicial proceeding.

But Suu Kyi grabbed the opportunity to use her political podium. The 63-year-old Nobel Peace laureate told the diplomats, “There could be many opportunities for national reconciliation if all parties so wished…,” according to a statement by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Singapore, whose ambassador met with Suu Kyi in the compound of Insein Prison.

She also expressed the view that “it was not too late for something good to come out of this unfortunate incident,” referring to her trial following the arrest of an American John William Yettaw, who swam across Inya Lake and stayed overnight in her compound, thus violating—in the junta’s eyes—the terms of her house arrest.

On Sunday, an angry Burmese government strongly rejected Thailand’s statement, claiming “The statement of Thailand issued as the alternate chairman of Asean deviates from the principles of the Asean Charter and is tantamount to interfering in the internal affairs of Myanmar [Burma].”

It said that to issue statements, Asean must prepare a draft at the level of a senior officials meeting and then submit it to the foreign ministers level to seek further approval.

Statements are to be issued only after a consensus, it said, and “Thailand did not allow it to be discussed. It informed the foreign ministers only after the issue of the statement.”

Obviously, the generals are angry with any person, or any country, that challenges their maniacal hold on power.

It’s most likely they underestimated the outrage and pressure from the international community that’s erupted since Suu Kyi was arrested and charged on May 14.

Her trial has led to the US renewing its sanctions policy and strengthened the likelihood that the US policy will be tougher following its current policy review.

Also, on Friday, the UN Security Council issued a council statement expressing its concern about Suu Kyi’s arrest and trial and the current deadlocked political situation.

Suu Kyi will be sentenced to from three to five years, either under house arrest or in prison. The best alternative is, of course, house arrest, avoiding the onerous and dangerous conditions at the infamous Insein Prison.

Either way, the generals will have succeeded in keeping Suu Kyi out of the public eye and off the political stage during the buildup to the 2010 general election.

Angry at Suu Kyi. Angry at Thailand. Angry at the meddlesome international community—the generals are angry.

Now the question is: Who’s afraid of the angry generals, and how will the international community deal with them?

READ MORE---> The Generals are Angry...

Suu Kyi Lawyer Questions Gov’t Witnesses

The Irrawaddy News

On the second day of the trial of Burmese democracy icon Aung San Suu Kyi on Monday, her lawyer cross-examined four government witnesses, said Kyi Win, a member of her legal team.

The special government court in Insein Prison on Friday accepted charges against Suu Kyi that she violated the terms of her house arrest by allowing an American man, John William Yettaw, 53, to stay overnight at her compound after he swam across Inya Lake.

Burmese activists shout slogans during a rally demanding the immediate release of Burma's pro-democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi, in front of the Burmese Embassy in Seoul, South Korea. (Photo:AP)
The government called a number of witnesses on Friday, mainly police officers, who testified about Yettaw’s arrest and statements to police.

“Daw Aung San Suu Kyi, Khin Kin Win, Win Ma Man and Yettaw will testify at the trial on Tuesday,” said Kyi Win.

Khin Kin Win and Win Ma Man are caretakers who live with Suu Kyi in the compound, where she has been under house arrest for 13 of the past 19 years.

Kyi Win said that Suu Kyi’s legal team requested that the court allow a one hour break during the court proceeding. The judges did not rule on the request on Monday.

“We need at least one hour to converse about the charge,” said Kyi Win. “We need some time to talk to Suu Kyi, her caretakers and Yettaw before they testify. If they don’t allow that, the trial will not be fair.”

John William Yettaw swam to Suu Kyi’s compound on May 3, where, claiming illness, he was allowed to stay for two nights, according to Suu Kyi. Suu Kyi has entered an innocent plea in the trial.

She said she had nothing to do with Yettaw’s breaching security around her compound, and she told him to leave the premises, according to her lawyers.

Meanwhile, Win Tin, an executive member of National League for Democracy party, told the The Irrawaddy on Monday that the military government has yet to make clear the location where Yettaw started to swim toward Suu Kyi lakeside resident. Some reports have placed the location 2 kilometers from the compound.

According to a foreign affairs ministry letter to Rangoon diplomats, Aung San Suu Kyi is not being held in Insein Prison, as some news media have said, but she and her two caretakers are being detained at the officers' quarters of the Myanmar Correctional Department.

In the letter, the military government said the trial would be transparent and fair. The public, diplomats and journalists are now excluded from attending the trial. Diplomats and journalist were allowed to witness the trial for one day last week.

The intent of Yettaw is still not known, the ministry letter claimed, and the possibility of a political motive cannot be excluded, it said. Yettaw has said he was working on a book and hoped to interview Suu Kyi as part of his project.

READ MORE---> Suu Kyi Lawyer Questions Gov’t Witnesses...

Ethnic Leaders Condemn Suu Kyi Trial

The Irrawaddy News

Ethnic leaders inside and outside Burma on Monday condemned the Burmese regime’s trial of pro-democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi, now entering its sixth day.

A prominent Rangoon-based Arakanese politician, Aye Thar Aung, who is secretary of the Arakan League for Democracy, said, “The current regime doesn’t care about national reconciliation and totally ignores the future of the country.”

The regime is pushing ahead with its “seven-step roadmap,” he said, determined to silence all political opposition, citing the case of the imprisoned political detainees of the 88 Generation Students, including leaders Min Ko Naing and Ko Ko Gyi.

Aye Thar Aung said he believed the fate of Suu Kyi was pre-determined, and she would be detained again and unable to influence the general election politics of 2010.

The pro-democracy leader faces up to five years in prison term if found guilty on charges that she violated the terms of her house arrest.

A prominent Mon politician, Nai Ngwe Thein, who is vice-president (1) of the Mon National Democratic Front in Mon State in southern Burma, said, “We can almost say that there is actually no rule of law in Burma.”

He called for unity among ethnic political parties and armed ethnic groups and urged the Burmese people to launch an uprising against the junta.

The general-secretary of the Karen National Union, Zipporah Sein, said, “It is not correct for them to charge Suu Kyi, because did nothing wrong. She is not guilty. Her house arrest over the past 13 years was a big crime that the regime committed.”

Zipporah called for the international community, including the United Nations, to put more pressure on the Burmese regime and to seek a “tripartite dialogue.”

Meanwhile, Lt-Gen Gauri Zau Seng, the vice-president of the Kachin Independence Organization, said he lacked information about the charges and trial, but he was saddened to see Suu Kyi be put on trial by the authorities.

Suu Kyi has spent 13 of the past 19 years under house arrest. Her latest arrest followed an attack in May 2003 on her convoy of vehicles by junta-backed thugs in Depayin Township in Sagaing Division in central Burma.

READ MORE---> Ethnic Leaders Condemn Suu Kyi Trial...

Could Than Shwe be one of the ‘Plotters’?

The Irrawaddy News

Having brought Aung San Suu Kyi to trial, the Burmese regime is now on the defensive.

Last week, in a phone conversation with his Japanese counterpart Hirofumi Nakasone, Foreign Minister Nyan Win claimed the incident of the uninvited American visitor to Suu Kyi’s house was “trumped up to intensify international pressure on Myanmar [Burma], by internal and external anti-government elements” at a time when the US, Japan and some European countries were reviewing their policies toward the military-ruled country.

If that is really the case, the regime is directly playing into the hands of these “plotters” and “internal” and “external elements.” They should be happy indeed.

Since the arrest of Suu Kyi, the US has extended its sanctions against Burma and strongly condemned the regime’s action. Condemnation of her arrest and trial before a kangaroo court has come from throughout the world, with diplomats saying the international outcry is a positive development and must be sustained.

The irony is that by arresting Suu Kyi and putting her on trial, Snr Gen Than Shwe has boosted her image and highlighted the opposition movement.

Than Shwe was surely not surprised to see the world’s swift reaction and condemnation—the regime’s senior leaders in Naypyidaw are very much aware of the pressure. But moderate forces have been stonewalled. It seems that Than Shwe is determined to keep Suu Kyi in Insein Prison.

But Than Shwe’s scheme to extend Suu Kyi’s detention only undermined his effort to repair Burma’s relationship with the West. Than Shwe has again shot himself in the foot—with critics of the regime saying the momentum of international pressure should be sustained until the regime meets the world’s demands.

But is it too late for Than Shwe? Probably not.

To counter and deflect international pressure, Than Shwe can still implement some quick surprise tactics.

Instead of sending Suu Kyi to Insein Prison, Than Shwe could beef up security at Suu Kyi’s compound and show the world that her safety is guaranteed.

He could then have her uninvited visitor, John William Yettaw charged before an open court. If he hopes to repair in some measure the regime’s relationship with the West, he could suspend any jail sentence and deport Yettaw.

However, this is too complicated or sophisticated for a leader of Than Shwe’s confused logic to contemplate. He wanted to extend Suu Kyi’s detention before the current term expires on May 27, and was looking for a pretext. This is it.

In effect, the tall story of Yettaw’s swim and the trial of Suu Kyi have badly backfired for Than Shwe and the regime.

Ironically, Than Shwe was the one who helped “plotters” to intensify international pressure on the regime and gave a justification for an extension of sanctions. He also faces the thorny problem of winning legitimacy for the 2010 election and the resulting government.

More pressure is expected as Suu Kyi’s trial continues. The damage has been done. Instead of fixing the problem, Than Shwe has enlarged the wound and rubbed in more salt.

Nyan Win’s remarks to his Japanese counterpart are intriguing. Who was behind the intensification of international pressure and the justification of continued sanctions from the West? Did Nyan Win implicate Than Shwe as one of the plotters?

READ MORE---> Could Than Shwe be one of the ‘Plotters’?...

Burma Rejects Asean Statement on Suu Kyi’s Trial


Burma has "strongly rejected" a statement by the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean) condemning the trial of pro-democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi.

According to Burma’s state-run media, the Burmese military government said the Asean statement issued last week—which the EU on Monday praised as "remarkable"—was factually wrong and "deviated from the practice of Asean."

The statement was issued on behalf of Asean by the organization’s chairman, Thailand’s foreign minister. "This statement issued by the alternate Asean chairman—which is not in conformity with Asean practice, incorrect in facts, interfering in the internal affairs of Myanmar [Burma]—is strongly rejected by Myanmar," the Burmese government said.

"It is sadly noted that the alternate Asean chairman failed to preserve the dignity of Asean, the dignity of Myanmar and the dignity of Thailand," said the regime statement, which was also carried by state-run newspapers, television and radio.

Under pressure from the US and the EU, Thailand, the current chairman of the 10-member Asean, issued a statement saying that with the eyes of the international community on Burma at present, the "honor and the credibility" of the Burmese regime were "at stake."

The statement added that Asean reaffirmed the regional grouping's readiness to contribute constructively to the national reconciliation process and the peaceful transition of democracy in Burma, while calling for the immediate release of Suu Kyi.

"Asean has been trying small steps to move forward on Burma," Debbie Stothard, coordinator for the regional advocacy group Altsean-Burma. "Asean needs to be bolder to overcome the bullying tactics of the Burmese military government.

"Burmese military leaders have been the main reason millions of asylum-seekers and migrants have fled Burma and created conditions that support transnational crime," she said. "They have created the most serious humanitarian crisis in the region and are waging the world's longest war. Burma's defensive reaction to the Asean statement should be a good sign that Asean is now on the right track."

Meanwhile, EU representatives at a meeting in Hanoi called on the Burmese regime to free Suu Kyi. They made the call at the start of a two-day meeting in the Vietnamese capital of representatives of 45 nations from Asia and Europe.

The Asia-Europe Meeting (Asem) in Hanoi had been called to discuss ways of tackling the global economic slowdown and boosting economic cooperation.

But it is expected to be overshadowed both by the Suu Kyi trial and Monday's surprise nuclear weapon test by North Korea.

The Asem meeting is being attended by foreign ministers or their deputies from the European Union, the 10-nation Asean, China, South Korea, Japan, Mongolia, Pakistan and India.

Speaking in Paris ahead of the Asem meeting, Rama Yade, the French human rights minister, told TV5 Monde in an interview that it is now up to Asian governments to turn up the pressure on Burma.

"It is obvious that the key is in Asia," Yade said. The French minister described Suu Kyi’s arrest as a "pretext to throw her in prison and stage a mock trial."

Yade warned: "If we were to lose her, it would be on our conscience,"

However, an EU-China meeting in Brussels last week failed to agree on new measures to pressure the Burmese regime to restore democracy.

While Thailand—despite issuing its strong statement—had said Asean would not change its position of engagement with Burma, China has flatly refused to get involved. China's Prime Minister Wen Jiabao called on the EU "to ensure that our bilateral relationship will not be adversely affected by individual incidents."

READ MORE---> Burma Rejects Asean Statement on Suu Kyi’s Trial...

Asia, EU Talks Focus on N Korea Nuclear Test, Burma

The Irrawaddy News

HANOI — North Korea's announcement of a second nuclear test and Burma's trial of pro-democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi seized the attention of foreign ministers from Asia and Europe meeting Monday in Hanoi.

The government ministers and other high-ranking officials said the nuclear test, as well as North Korea's test of a ground-to-air missile, posed a threat to regional and global security.

Burma's Foreign Minister Nyan Win is followed by journalists as he leaves an EU "Troika" meeting held on the fringe of the Asia-Europe Meeting (Asem) Foreign Ministers' meeting in Hanoi on May 25. (Photo: Reuters)

"The Japanese government cannot condone another nuclear test by North Korea," said Kazuo Kodama, a spokesman for Japan's foreign ministry. "The test is a flagrant violation of existing United Nations Security Council resolutions, and the government of Japan strongly protests."

Kodama spoke shortly before the start of the Asia-Europe Meeting (Aseam), which has drawn representatives of 45 nations—including at least 30 foreign ministers from the European Union, the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, China, Japan, and South Korea.

The ministers were slated to seek solutions to the economic slowdown and ways to enhance economic cooperation. Also on the agenda were climate change and communicable diseases such as swine flu.

But events were likely to overtake the agenda.

North Korea announced Monday that it successfully carried out a second underground nuclear test, following one in 2006, a move that will deepen international concern over the reclusive regime's weapons programs.

It came less than two months after Pyongyang launched a rocket widely believed to be a test of its long-range missile technology.

Ministers in Hanoi are also expected to broach the controversy over Burma's treatment of Suu Kyi, whose trial in Rangoon resumed Monday.

The ruling military junta has accused her of violating the conditions of her house arrest by allowing an American intruder to stay at her home without official permission. She faces up to five years in prison.

Critics have accused the junta of seeking to use the incident as a pretext to keep Suu Kyi in detention through elections scheduled for next year, the culmination of the junta's "roadmap to democracy," which has been criticized as a fig leaf for continued military rule.

In Brussels last week, EU foreign ministers discussed increasing sanctions against Burma's junta to pressure it to restore democracy in the Southeast Asian country, but failed to agree on new measures. Instead they signaled they would urge countries with close ties to Burma such as China, India and Thailand to exert influence over it to change its ways.

European and Asian governments have rarely seen eye-to-eye on how to deal with Burma's junta, which refused to accept a 1990 election victory by Suu Kyi's party.

"We are deeply disturbed by the arrest and trial of Aung San Suu Kyi," said Bill Rammel, Britain's minister of state for foreign and commonwealth affairs. "I think it indicates that the Burmese regime is looking for any pretext to further her detention."

Rammel made his comments to reporters Monday morning, shortly before the Asem was scheduled to formally open.

"We are calling very firmly for Aung San Suu Kyi's release, and indeed the release of all political prisoners."

Burmese Foreign Minister Nyan Win is due to attend the Hanoi meeting and is scheduled to hold talks with EU External Relations Commissioner Benita Ferrero-Waldner.

Asean members generally refrain from criticizing each other's domestic policies, but last week Asean issued a statement expressing concern about Suu Kyi's trial.

Suu Kyi's current term of house arrest was to have ended May 27. The Nobel Peace Prize laureate has been in detention without trial for more than 13 of the past 19 years.

READ MORE---> Asia, EU Talks Focus on N Korea Nuclear Test, Burma...

Time to grasp reconciliation talk

by Mizzima News

Whether the trial against Aung San Suu Kyi is the product of a plan hatched by the military regime or not, the likely loser of this possible turning point will be no other than Senior General Than Shwe, head of the State Peace and Development Council. However, there is another potential outcome. This, Than Shwe should recognize, is an ideal opportunity to jumpstart the national reconciliation process in Burma and practice forgiveness, paving the way for national prosperity and development.

The witnessed solidarity and support of the international community for Aung San Suu proves just how popular is the charismatic leader. While this may not be a joyful sign for the generals, the Burmese are very lucky to have such a leader and icon for democracy – like father like daughter.

No one can deny that Burma is a naturally resource rich country with the prospects to reverse its recent bad turns. Civil wars, isolationism and totalitarian rule have pushed Burma to the lowest reaches of world development lists.

According to existing Burmese law, apparently accepted by the military regime, Aung San Suu Kyi's house arrest will expire on May 27. But, in reality, there is not much hope for her freedom with the many documented failures of the military regime's judicial system. More than 1,200 political prisoners are still languishing in jails throughout the country, most sentenced only for expressing their desire for talks between the generals and opposition forces.

Nevertheless, the stars may not be in alignment for Burma's Senior General, as proven by the international outcry following the first day of the closed-door trial in notorious Insein prison. The Lady, 63-years old, is charged with breaching the terms of her house arrest after an American, John Yettaw, was fished out of Inya Lake allegedly on his way back from the Nobel Laureate's house.

The mysterious case has angered many Burmese, as the actions of the 53-year old American man have provided a ready-made excuse for the junta, which has ruled the country since 1988 – ignoring the results of the 1990 election, to keep the opposition leader detained for a further length of time.

Within minutes of the state-run media's public announcement of the arrest of Yettaw, a majority of Burmese classified the case as a conspiracy to prolong the detention of the daughter of the country's independence hero, General Aung San, and to keep her firmly out of the way of the proposed 2010 general election.

The timing of Yettaw's arrest and the lack of any action on the part of authorities even after Aung San Suu Kyi's personal doctor informed security forces of the presence of an intruder in the house, are just some of the facts which have fueled suspicions against Than Shwe in the wake of the deadly crackdown on peaceful monk-led demonstrations in 2007.

However, Burmese Foreign Minister Nyan Win has denied such accusations, instead suggesting the insinuations might be a plan by Western nations in connection with domestic and exile opposition groups. Very few people, though, accept this scenario. Of course Yettaw did spend time in Mae Sot, known as a shelter for some opposition elements, but no opposition groups want to see the extension of Aung San Suu Kyi's house arrest as she represents the only hope for democracy and unity across the country and among its many factions.

In fact, the present trial may further unity among pro-democracy opposition groups and ethnic nationalities – one for all and all for one.

The regime's hopes to gain legitimacy from the 2010 election are rapidly depleting. Even the junta's allies, China and members of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, (ASEAN), are voicing their concerns and belief in the need for national reconciliation. Meanwhile, the European Union is considering employing further sanctions and the Obama administration has already extended American sanctions for an additional year.

Utter devastation is all that lies ahead if we all keep on the same track since 1962. The current course will not benefit either ruler or the oppressed. Divisions within Burmese society are huge, while the general population's hatred of the military – the only institution in the country of 55 million people – is significant. Poverty is pervasive. Only compromise can save the country. The bygone souls of civil war conflicts, victims of human rights abuses and Cyclone Nargis are waiting for us to grasp this opportunity to rebuild a peaceful and prosperous nation.

READ MORE---> Time to grasp reconciliation talk...

Authority imposes restrictions on monks travelling in Arakan

Sittwe (Narinjara): Monks in Arakan State are currently facing severe restrictions from the authority, whenever they travel to Rangoon or Burma proper from Arakan State, a monk said.

“We are now facing restrictions of the local authority wherever we go. The authority asks several questions about our travel such as “why are you going there?”, “where is your resident monastery? “ “Do you have a monk ID card?” etc,” the monk said.

In the past, the authority had imposed many restrictions on the monks in Arakan State during and after the Saffron Revolution. However, the authority lifted the restrictions for monks in the beginning of 2008.

“The authority imposed restrictions against us recently and I think it is related to Daw Aung San Suu Kyi’s arrest and subsequent trail. They know that monks around the country, disagreed with the recent action meted out by the military government to democracy icon Daw Suu Kyi,” said the monk.

Most intelligence and police officials, who are monitoring the bus stations, jetties and check posts throughout Arakan State, have been questioning the monks without fail.

Another monk from Sittwe, who recently visited Rangoon by bus said, “The police firstly asked for my monk ID card and secondly they asked me about the travelling testimony issued by the Township Thinga (monk) Council, when I reached Shwe Pyi Thit bus station in Sittwe to leave for Rangoon.”

The monk added, “I showed my ID card, but I could not show the travelling testimony of the Township Monk Council. So, the police official requested me to contact senior monks from the Township Monk Council over the phone. After a senior monk’s verbal permission, I got the chance to travel to Rangoon.”

Many monks are currently facing this kind of restriction, after Daw Aung San Suu Kyi was sent to Insein prison for trail.

A clerk from Sittwe Bus station said that it was not usual for the authority to question monks. When the authority starts suspecting monks, it is then that they ask them several questions and also ask them to furnish their travelling testimony.

Meanwhile, the rainy season will begin soon and the monks also have to go to their monsoon retreat (sojourn during the Buddhist Lent). Demonstrations staged by monks, against the military government, have taken place in Arakan State in the past. So, the authority has beefed up security for the monks in Arakan State.

READ MORE---> Authority imposes restrictions on monks travelling in Arakan...

Burmese Officials Take Bangladesh Mobile Phones as Bribes

Maungdaw (Narinjara): Bangladesh-network mobile phones have become a valuable commodity in soliciting bribes by Burmese officials on the western border, said a local resident.

He said, "At least 100,000 kyats have to be paid to Burmese officials whenever a mobile phone is seized on the western Burmese border."

If the mobile phone holders are unable to pay the requested bribe, authorities typically punish them with long prison terms.

"Many mobile phone holders have faced long terms in prison, from two to three years, as they could not pay the bribe to officials when their phones were seized by the authorities," the resident added.

Recently two Muslim youths - Muhmad Rofit, son of Au Lar Myar, and Muhamad Toyu, son of Habet Ahmout from Mae Di Village in Kun Thee Bin Village Tract in Taungbro - were facing potential prison terms but the youths' families have arranged to pay a bribe to local army officials.

According to a family source, and intelligence officer, Kyaw Myo Lat from Taungbro Wave Left in Nasaka Area No. 3, seized two mobile phone sets from the youths on 20 May, 2009. After seizing the mobile phones, Kyaw Myo Lat asked for 100,000 kyat from each youth.

The resident said, "If the youths can not pay the money, they will be sent to the police station and punished with long prison terms."

Burma does not allow the use of Bangladesh-network mobile phone in Burmese territory, but many people in Maungdaw and Buthidaung Townships are using the phones in secret. It is estimated that over 10,000 Bangladesh mobile phones are being used illegally by locals in the western Burmese border area.

"Bangladesh-network phone sets and sim cards are very cheap, so Burmese people can easily use them on the Burmese side. In our country, mobile phones are very expensive and ordinary people are unable to use Burma-network mobile phones because the price is so high," the resident said.

Burmese mobile phones such as CDMA phones cost at least 1.6 million kyat in Maungdaw, while the same phones are only 50,000 kyat in Bangladesh.

Even though Burmese authorities seize Bangladesh-network mobile phones from locals, a number of Burmese military officials on the western border, including Nasaka Chief Colonel Aung Gyi and the Maungdaw district chairman, have been using Bangladesh mobile phones for their own communications. #

READ MORE---> Burmese Officials Take Bangladesh Mobile Phones as Bribes...

Junta broker to return to Panghsang

S.H.A.N. - Lt-Gen Ye Myint, the ruling military council’s chief negotiator, has offered to return to the Wa capital in another effort to convince the Wa leadership to become a part of Burma’s armed forces, according to a reliable source.

The source, who wished to remain anonymous, said the Wa rejection to Ye Myint’s 27 April proposal to transform all ceasefire groups, including the United Wa State Army (UWSA), to transform themselves into the Burma Army’s border security forces, was conveyed to him on 20 May by the Wa representative in Rangoon. (According to Mizzima News, the decision to reject the proposal took place at a meeting in Panghsang on 19 May).

Lt-Gen Ye Myint and Bao Youxiang (Photo: UWSA's 20th anniversary publication)

Ye Myint was reported to have been conciliatory. “I’m sure there is a need for further clarifications on the merits of our proposition,” he was reported as saying. “And I would like to return to Panghsang for another meeting.”

Bao Youxiang, the supreme Wa leader, the source said, had okayed to the idea. The date for Ye Myint’s next visit, however, has yet to be fixed.

He has so far met the Wa leaders at least 3 times, according to the source.

The ruling generals, in April, had proposed that the ceasefire armies be reorganized as 326 strong units, commanded by ceasefire officers but run by officers from the Burma Army.

“It will totally change the chain of command,” commented Hkun Okker, Joint Secretary #3 of the opposition National Council of the Union of Burma (NCUB) yesterday. “The KIA (Kachin Independence Army) will be severed from the KIO (Kachin Independence Organization), its political wing, and the UWSA from the UWSP (United Wa State Party). This is a more dangerous situation than surrender. When you surrender, at least you can go home and till your farm. With the new arrangement, you will be enslaved forever.”

Wa’s closest allies: Kokang, Mongla and the Shan State Army (SSA) North, say they are also standing pat.

As for armed groups that were created out of ethnic armies that had surrendered, they were reportedly summoned by Naypyitaw on 17 May to be informed that they would become police forces. Each armed group are required to report to the township police chief concerned.

Due to tension along the border, the governor of Chiangmai convened an ad hoc meeting village headmen, 21-22 May, to discuss how to handle possible spillovers into land.

READ MORE---> Junta broker to return to Panghsang...

Junta wants Thai company to build strategic road

S.H.A.N. -The Burma Army has insisted again that Saraburi, a subsidiary of Ital-Thai, construct a 150 km road through the rebel-active territory despite the existence of a shorter 100 km route inside Burma in exchange for a coal concession, according to sources that attended a public hearing in Chiangrai’s Mae Fa Luang district on Thursday, 21 May.

The company official told the meeting of some 200 villagers in Ban Hintaek, formerly the stronghold of the late Mong Tai Army (MTA) leader Khun Sa, that the firm had pointed out that with improvement on the existing road inside Burma, the coal trucks would be able to reach the heavy duty highway in Maesai, opposite Burma’s Tachilek.

In contrast, the proposed road through the area operated by the anti-Naypyitaw Shan State Army (SSA) “South” will be 60 km inside Burma but at least 90 km inside Thailand until it connects with the national highway at Pasang.

The Manager Online, 23 January, quoted Somchai Rungsakhorn, Mae Fa Luang district chief, as saying that the area on the Thai side was part of the National Park.

The firm official, whose first name was Samphan, also stated that the SSA’s Kengtung Force, commanded by Lt-Col Gawnzeun, whose main base Loi Gawwan, located east of the proposed road, has yet to be approached on the matter. “That’s the trouble,” commented a villager. “Who’s going to be responsible for our safety if the rebels are unhappy about the road project?”

The Burma Army has since 1997 made several forlorn attempts to seize the base. The attack in 2001 by junta troops from positions well inside Thai soil had ignited a brief confrontation between the two countries.

Maejok on the Burmese side of the border is also long known as a transit point for drugs. An SSA column on 8 February 2002, had seized and destroyed some 500,000 speed pills there, an incident covered by Thai TV Channel 7 that won a prize.

The deposit in Mongkok, Monghsat township, boasts at least 150 million tons of raw coal, one third of it Grade A. With 200 ten wheelers working each day to transport them, it would take 40 years to deplete the coal fields there, according to Saraburi official.

SHAN made its first report on the project on 27 January.

According to a border security officer, the construction may not be coming too soon. “Even with the consent of the local populace, it will take months for the project to go off, because many government departments are involved, including forestry and the National Security Council (NSC),” he said.

READ MORE---> Junta wants Thai company to build strategic road...

Rebels kill 15 Burma army


The webpage of the anti-Naypyitaw Shan State Army (SSA) “South”, says ambush by its fighters last night in southern Shan State had destroyed 3 trucks and killed 15.

The attack took place between Namhu and Kholam, Namzang township, 72 miles east of the state capital Taunggyi.

Among the Burma Army casualties were 2 Military Affairs Security (MAS) officers and Col Moengzeun, who had defected from the SSA to the Burma Army in 2006.

The report could not be independently confirmed.

This is the second time since 21 May when rebel patrols raided an isolated outpost between Panglong and Laikha, killing 6 and seizing 8 assorted weapons.

Anti-naypyitaw website:

READ MORE---> Rebels kill 15 Burma army...

Burmese Government Delegate Opposed Against Mon Speaker on the Use of Word ‘Burma’

By Rot Rot, New York

(Mon News) -In the evening session of May 22 (approximately 6 o’clock in the morning of Burma time), while the Conference of UN Permanent Forum for Indigenous Issues on the discussion on human rights, a Burmese delegate opposed the word usage of Mon speaker, Nai Kasauh Mon, General Secretary of Mon Unity League (MUL).

In the session, when the Chairperson allowed MUL respective to speak on the human rights situation of Burma, soon he spoke out, ‘I am the representative of an indigenous people from Burma’, the Burmese delegate aggressively shout on the microphone and spoke against for the usage of ‘Burma’ and opposed the Mon speaker on human rights issues.

The MUL speaker stuck for a while and all participants looked with attention toward Burmese delegate for his strong comment that the country already changed name to “Myanmar’, and the international community and anyone in conference session must use only Myanmar. Then, the Chairperson appealed the Mon speaker to use ‘Myanmar’.

While the Mon speaker continuously spoke on the rights of indigenous people in Burma, and pointed out the current constitution has not guaranteed the rights of indigenous and ethnic people, sometimes, he mistakenly used the word ‘Burma’ and he was reminded by the chairperson from the stage.

Then the Mon speaker also appealed the Office of Commission on Human Rights, when the Special Rapporteur on Human Rights in Burma traveled to Burma, he should not only visiting prisons in cities, but also UN envoy needs to visit to the areas of indigenous peoples and assess the situation of human rights of indigenous people.

After Mon speaker’s presentation, many participants clapped with applauses for the encourage of the speech. Then, the Chairperson requested the Burmese delegate to response to the points in the presentation of Mon speaker.

He suddenly responded on the Nai Kasauh Mon’s accusation on the constitution. He said almost 95% of ethnic and indigenous people supported the constitution. He also added that many indigenous armed groups understood the government’s intention to build peace and almost of them agreed to participate in 2010 elections.

UN Permanent Forum for Indigenous Issue (UNPFII) is a yearly venue which mainly focuses on the rights of indigenous people around the world. In this 8th Session of UNPFII, over 500 representatives from different indigenous people from Eastern Europe to north America, and from Latin America to southeast Asia attend the Conference. UNPFII organizers also invited UN Agencies, government delegates, donor agencies, International NGOs to listen the voices of indigenous peoples.

Indigenous people raised various issues – land ownership, climate change and negative impacts, insufficient health care and education service, racial discrimination in works and in many institutions, and danger of nuclear tests, mining and environment destruction, violence against women, military occupation, etc. The indigenous people appealed the State authorities to respect the rights of indigenous people accordingly to Universal Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous People.

UNPFII opened its Conference and various site session on 18th May and the venue will take place for 2 weeks and will end on 29th May. This is also the first time for Mon speaker getting opportunity also the Mon people mission could attend in the past years.

READ MORE---> Burmese Government Delegate Opposed Against Mon Speaker on the Use of Word ‘Burma’...

China and Russia veto ‘denies’ Burma progress

(DVB)–China and Russia’s power of veto in the United Nations Security Council has impeded pressure on progress towards democracy in Burma, said an exiled government official reacting to a UN statement on Burma last week.

On Thursday the UN Security Council (UNSG) released a press statement “expressing concern about the political impact of recent developments relating to Daw Aung San Suu Kyi”.

The statement was read out by the current UNSG president, Vitaly Churkin of Russia.

Russia currently holds the revolving chair of the UNSG.

Critics of the Burmese government, who hold close ties with Russia, have said that the statement is rhetorically too soft in its demand for Suu Kyi’s release.

“We all have seen Russia, throughout time, clinging onto a belief that human rights violations and other issues about Burma are not the Security Council’s concern,” said Dr Thaung Htun, National Coalition Government of the Union of Burma’s (NCGUB) representative to the UN.

The NCGUB is coalition of Burmese political parties, including Suu Kyi’s National League for Democracy, based in the United States.

“Our…agenda regarding Burma is not reaching point it is supposed to due to denial by China and Russia; the two nations that hold veto power whenever it comes to that,” he said.

China, a key trading partner with Burma and widely regarded as the ruling junta’s closest ally, has so far refused to intervene in the Suu Kyi trial.

“[Burma’s] issue should be decided by the people of [Burma],” said Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Ma Zhaoxu last week.

Thaung Htun added that he was still waiting for the UNSG to come up with a “solid decision” regarding Suu Kyi’s trial.

Reporting by Htet Aung Kyaw

READ MORE---> China and Russia veto ‘denies’ Burma progress...

Suu Kyi Trial Deepens Burma's Isolation

The Irrawaddy News

RANGOON (AP)— The trial of democracy icon Aung San Suu Kyi resumed Monday as Burma lashed out against Thailand—one of its few supporters in an international community likely to halt recent moves to improve relations with the country's military rulers.

Suu Kyi, due to testify this week, is widely expected to be found guilty for allegedly harboring an American who swam across a lake to her residence. She faces up to five years in prison.

A list of four or five defense witnesses will be submitted to the court and statements from remaining prosecution witnesses are to be heard at Monday's session inside Rangoon's security-ringed Insein prison, said Nyan Win, a spokesman for Suu Kyi's political party.

Already bombarded by criticism from Western nations, the junta Sunday night turned on neighboring Thailand, a partner in the 10-nation Association of Southeast Nation, or Asean, accusing its neighbor of violating the bloc's principle by interfering in Burma's internal affairs.

Thailand, the grouping's current chairman, last week expressed "grave concern" over the trial, saying "the honor and the credibility of the (Myanmar government) are at stake."

A statement from Burma issued Monday responded: "It is sadly noted that (Thailand) failed to preserve the dignity of Asean, the dignity of Myanmar and the dignity of Thailand." (JEG's: according to "myanmar regime" it is ok to throw manure to its member and accept it as normal without embarrassment...")

Suu Kyi, who has been in detention without trial for more than 13 of the past 19 years, is being tried on charges of violating the terms of her house arrest after the uninvited American, John W. Yettaw, swam to her home earlier this month and stayed for two days. Suu Kyi pleaded not guilty Friday.

But Burma's courts operate under the influence of the ruling military, and almost always deal harshly with political dissidents.

The charges against her are widely seen as a pretext for the government to keep her detained during polls it has scheduled for next year as the culmination of its "roadmap to democracy," which has been criticized as a fig leaf for continued military rule.

The trial comes weeks after the European Union announced it was stepping up humanitarian aid to the impoverished country, also known as Burma, and the United States said it was reviewing its policy—including speculation that it might soften sanctions the regime says have crippled its economy.

But now the European Union is talking of introducing tougher sanctions in response to the trial and the administration of President Barack Obama has announced it will continue its economic penalties. Obama extended a state of emergency against the country after Suu Kyi's arrest. Sanctions would have expired had the emergency order not been extended.

Sean Turnell, a Burma expert at Australia's Macquarie University, said the timing of the trial shows the junta "never misses an opportunity to miss an opportunity."

"I think there was, prior to these latest events, a strong likelihood that the US and Europe positions on Burma may have softened, and that some sanctions may even have been on the table" for review, Turnell said in an e-mail interview. "The regime has now shot themselves in the foot so to speak — and anything like this would seem to be decidedly off the table now."

David Steinberg, a Burma specialist at Georgetown University in Washington, said there had been talk of "small steps toward easing relations" within the Obama administration. But he said a guilty verdict makes increased engagement with the ruling generals unlikely for now.

"I think they wanted to make some overtures, but this will make it far more difficult," Steinberg said of the Obama administration. "The junta needed to respond significantly as well at each step, and this would set it back."

Donors may also be less willing to fund a three-year, $700 million rebuilding plan for the Irrawaddy delta, which was devastated by a cyclone last year that killed more than 138,000 people.

Foreign governments and charities already were slow to fund initial relief efforts over concerns about the junta's human rights record.

"Any effort to limit the humanitarian funding needed to help Burma's poorest people as a response to Suu Kyi's trial would be shameful and would lead directly to the deaths of thousands of innocent people," warned Thant Myint-U, a Burmese historian and former UN official. "Neither economic embargoes, aid cut offs, long distance condemnation or attempts at occasional diplomacy have worked."

No one expects a guilty verdict to spark an uprising in Burma against the junta after its bloody suppression of pro-democracy demonstrations in 2007, which killed at least 31 people. Hundreds more activists were sentenced to lengthy prison sentences.

"Everyone is angry but people are concerned with earning their daily bread," said Win Tin, an 80-year-old leader of Suu Kyi's National League for Democracy party who was released from prison last year after serving a 19-year sentence. "They are afraid and there is no leadership."

Authorities have allowed about 100 Suu Kyi supporters, including Win Tin, to gather each day outside the prison, but most citizens in the commercial capital Rangoon are reluctant to take it much further.

"We have seen what happened in 2007 when even monks are beaten and shot at by soldiers," said Wunna, a 32-year-old computer repairman who took part in the protests. "I don't want to be killed nor imprisoned for simply expressing my feelings."

READ MORE---> Suu Kyi Trial Deepens Burma's Isolation...

Mizzima UPDATES Day 6 - 25 May 2009

Aung San Suu Kyi to testify in court on Tuesday
Monday, 25 May 2009 20:36

Nyan Win, one of the defence counsels of Aung San Suu Kyi, said the pro-democracy leader will give her testimony on Tuesday, as the court had concluded the hearing of prosecution witnesses on Monday.

“Daw Aung San Suu Kyi will be giving her testimony on Monday, and we plan to submit a list of witnesses to the court,” Nyan Win said.

Among the list of defence witnesses will be veteran journalist Win Tin, the National League for Democracy’s vice-chairman Tin Oo, who is also currently under detention, Kyi Win, and Daw Khin Moe Moe, Nyan Win added.

On Monday, defence counsels crossed examined five prosecution witnesses but since the prosecution withdrew another nine witnesses, there is no more prosecution witness left to be examined, he added.


Court adjourns, next hearing fixed for May 26
Monday, 25 May 2009 18:31

The sixth day of the trial has adjourned after defense counsels cross examined five prosecution witnesses.

The trial, which began at ten in the morning on Monday, adjourned at about 4 p.m. (local time).

The court, having accepted the charges against Aung San Suu Kyi on Friday, announced it concluded examining prosecution witnesses on Monday and that it would begin to hear from defense witnesses on Tuesday.

Sources said Aung San Suu Kyi’s lawyers have submitted four witnesses and on Tuesday the first witness, veteran journalist Win Tin, will appear before the court. The identities of the other three defense witnesses remain undisclosed.


Authorities to allow journalists inside court
Monday, 25 May 2009 16:49

Burmese authorities will allow local journalists to witness the trial of pro-democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi at a special court in Insein Prison.

It will be the second time authorities allow a limited number of domestic journalists, reporting for both the local and international media, into the courtroom. The closed-door proceedings had been criticized by the Burmese opposition as well as the international community.

But with no official invitations sent to local journals and news agencies, journalists said they cannot be sure of being allowed in, instead “hoping and waiting”.

Sources said altogether 20 journalists will be allowed in on Tuesday to witness the trial, though it is still unclear how the journalists will be selected.

On Wednesday, May 20, authorities allowed 10 journalists – five reporters for local journals and five working for foreign media groups – to witness the court proceedings. The ten in question were selected through a lucky draw.


Authorities monitoring undercover reporters
Monday, 25 May 2009 14:41

In order to keep a check on informers and undercover correspondents, who are providing information to media groups in exile, authorities at the telecommunication department are checking the incoming and outgoing calls of mobile phones, particularly the Global System for Mobile communication (GSM) phones, an insider told Mizzima.

The authorities are reportedly strictly monitoringon mobile phones used within two miles of the Insein prison, where the trial of pro-democracy leader is on. The source also said the monitoring will continue until the court is adjourned for the day.


Situation outside Insein prison
Monday, 25 May 2009 13:12

A large number of supporters of pro-democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi, currently facing trial inside the notorious Insein prison court, has flocked near the Insein prison in a show of solidarity on Monday, according to a member of the National League for Democracy (NLD).

Pu Cin Sian Thang, chairman of the Zomi National Congress (ZNC) and NLD central committee member Win Tin also reportedly came to the Insein prison in a show of solidarity but later left as they have party meetings.

Similarly, Naw Ohn Hla and women from Rangoon and Mandalay have also arrived near the Insein prison to “show solidarity” with Daw Aung San Suu Kyi, and are waiting near the prison, where the road has been blocked.

Lawyers of Aung San Suu Kyi were seen entering the Insein prison at about 10 a.m (local time), as the court is about to convene the sixth-day of hearing against Aung San Suu Kyi, where her defence councils are to cross examine witnesses.

Though the prosecution has submitted 23 witnesses, it does not include the names of security officials, who are guarding the residence of Aung San Suu Kyi.


Burma rejects Asean statement
Monday, 25 May 2009 13:10

Burma on Monday rejected Asean’s statement on the trial of pro-democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi, saying the statement violates the traditional practise of the grouping.

The regime's response, carried in the official newspaper, the New Light of Myanmar, on Monday said, charging and conducting a trial against Aung San Suu Kyi is an internal affair of Burma and the statement of Thailand issued as the alternative chairman of Asean is against the principles of the grouping’s charter and is tantamount to interfering in the internal affairs of Burma.

The statement said, “Such an act may cause an undesirable tradition in ASEAN.”

“Whatsoever it may be, this statement issued by the Alternate ASEAN Chairman, which is not in conformity with ASEAN practice, incorrect in facts, interfering in the internal affairs of Myanmar [Burma] is strongly rejected by Myanmar[Burma],”the statement added.

Mizzima Updates Day 6

READ MORE---> Mizzima UPDATES Day 6 - 25 May 2009...

North Korea detonates nuclear bomb

Nuclear test: This black and white satellite image shows the site.
Explosion: A satellite image showing the site of a previous North Korean weapons test (AFP)

By North Asia correspondent Mark Willacy and wires

(ABC Australia) -North Korea's state media has confirmed the communist state has conducted a nuclear weapons test.

It is believed the blast was much stronger than Pyongyang's first test in 2006.

South Korea says weather agency officials detected what they called an artificial earthquake in the communist North this morning.

The government in Seoul immediately accused North Korea of conducting a nuclear weapons test.

Two hours later the secretive communist regime confirmed via its state media that it had detonated a nuclear device, saying the underground test was successful and was part of the country's nuclear deterrent policy.

In response, South Korean President Lee Myung-Bak called an emergency national security council meeting, while Japan's government said it had set up a crisis task force.

The Stalinist North last staged a nuclear test in October 2006 but it is believed this blast was much bigger.

Location unknown

The brief report by Pyongyang's official Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) gave no details of the location of the test.

However, South Korean officials said a tremor was detected around the north-eastern town of Kilju, near where the first test was conducted in October 2006.

"The Democratic People's Republic of Korea successfully conducted one more underground nuclear test on May 25 as part of the measures to bolster up its nuclear deterrent for self-defence in every way as requested by its scientists and technicians," the KCNA report said.

A spokesman for Japan's foreign ministry said it would respond to North Korea's nuclear test "in a responsible fashion" at the United Nations.

Meanwhile, a US State Department spokesman said the Obama administration was not able to confirm "at this time" that a nuclear test had been carried out.

Second test threat

The North had threatened a second test in protest at the UN Security Council's decision to censure its April 5 long-range rocket launch.

It announced it was quitting six-nation nuclear disarmament talks and would restart its plutonium-making program.

The communist state said the test had greatly inspired the army and people.

"The successful nuclear test is greatly inspiring the army and people of the DPRK all out in the 150-day campaign, intensifying the drive for effecting a new revolutionary surge to open the gate to a thriving nation," the KCNA report said.

"The test will contribute to defending the sovereignty of the country and the nation and socialism and ensuring peace and security on the Korean Peninsula and the region around it with the might of [the military first policy] Songun."


The US Geological Survey said it detected what it called a 4.7-magnitude earthquake in North Korea.

The tremor struck at 9:54am (local time), 375 kilometres north-east of Pyongyang at a depth of just 10 kilometres, it said.

"Both South Korean and US intelligence authorities are analysing and closely monitoring the situation," a presidential spokesman in Seoul said.

The test was staged while South Korea was in mourning for former President Roh Moo-Hyun, who died Saturday after being questioned in a corruption probe.

North Korea carried out what it called a rocket launch on April 5, but the United States, South Korea and Japan said it staged a disguised ballistic missile test.

After the UN Security Council condemned the launch and tightened sanctions, the North vowed to conduct a second nuclear test as well as ballistic missile tests unless the UN apologised.

The United States has been involved in negotiations with the two Koreas, China, Japan and Russia aimed at scrapping North Korea's nuclear programme in exchange for energy aid under a landmark six-party agreement signed in 2007.

The negotiations deadlocked over a dispute with North Korea over how to verify disarmament, before taking a sharp turn for the worse with the long-range rocket launch.

READ MORE---> North Korea detonates nuclear bomb...

North Korea conducts 'successful' nuclear test

Deterrent ... the Government of Kim Jong-il has carried out a nuclear test in North Korea / Reuters

( -NORTH Korea staged a "successful" underground nuclear test today, the communist state's official media said.

The North "successfully conducted another underground nuclear test on May 25 as part of its measures aimed at strengthening its self-defence nuclear deterrent in every way," the Korean Central News Agency said.

The test will "contribute to safeguarding our sovereignty and socialism and guaranteeing peace and safety on the Korean peninsula and the surrounding region," it said.

The four-paragraph story gave no details of the location.

"The current nuclear test was safely conducted on a new higher level in terms of its explosive power and technology of its control and the results of the test helped satisfactorily settle the scientific and technological problems arising in further increasing the power of nuclear weapons and steadily developing nuclear technology," it said.

"The successful nuclear test is greatly inspiring the army and people of the DPRK all out in the 150-day campaign, intensifying the drive for effecting a new revolutionary surge to open the gate to a thriving nation."

South Korean officials said a tremor was detected around the northeastern town of Kilju, near where the first test was conducted in October 2006.

YTN Television quoted the South Korean weather agency as saying it detected a tremor indicating a test at 12.54 GMT (10.58am AEST).

South Korean President Lee Myung-bak had called an emergency meeting of cabinet ministers over the test, Yonhap said.

North Korea had recently said it would again test a nuclear device - its first was in October 2006 - in reaction to tightened international sanctions after it fired a long-range rocket in April.

News of the test hit South Korean financial markets, sending the main KOSPI share index down 4per cent in late morning trade, while the won dropped more than 1 per cent against the dollar.

Japan's Government has set up a taskforce in the office of Prime Minister Taro Aso after the test.

READ MORE---> North Korea conducts 'successful' nuclear test...

Burma lashes out at Thailand over Suu Kyi

(Bangkok Post) -Burma lashed out at Thailand on Sunday for interfering in its internal affairs after the government called for the release of Aung San Suu Kyi.

Burma said the statement last wBack to exile? Suu Kyi under house arrest.eek by the Foreign Miinstry "deviated from the practice of Asean," under which countries supposedly must not criticise other members.

"It is tantamount to interfering in Myanmar's internal affairs," said the Burmese statement, printed by the mouthpiece media. Independent reporting is banned in Burma.

The government appealed to the Burmese junta to release Mrs Suu Kyi, because the show trial at Insein prison in Rangoon threatens that country's "honour and credibility''.

It urged "humane treatment" for Mrs Suu Kyi and reminded the junta that it had ignored the group's previous calls for her release from detention. It said, however, that Thailand held fast to its policy of engagement with the military government.

Foreign Minister Nyan Win said last week Suu Kyi's trial "will proceed fairly according to the law." Diplomats who were given a brief glimpse of the trial inside Insein prison said it appeared scripted.

The trial resumes on Monday. "I have no guilt as I didn't commit any crime," she told the court.

Mrs Suu Kyi formally pleaded innocent on Friday, and was locked in her cell over the weekend.

Suu Kyi's lawyers will submit a list of defence witnesses on Monday, and they expected the trial to run for two more weeks.
She is charged with harbouring an American intruder, John Yettaw, who swam to her house on the banks of Inya Lake last month and stayed overnight. If Mrs Suu Kyi is found guilty, the junta will conveniently keep her locked up. Her term of house arrest is running out.

She has spent more than 13 of the past 19 years in detention, most of those years at her home under police guard, with her phone line cut and visitors restricted. (Agencies)

READ MORE---> Burma lashes out at Thailand over Suu Kyi...

Indian rights champion condemns gov’t over silence

by Salai Pi Pi
Editing by Mungpi

New Delhi (Mizzima) – An Indian human rights advocacy group on Wednesday condemned Burma’s military rulers for conducting a trial against Burmese pro-democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi.

Lenin Raghuvanshi, director of the People’s Vigilance Committee on Human Rights, a grassroots human rights advocacy group based in India’s Uttar Pradesh, said the charge against Aung San Suu Kyi over the visit of an uninvited guest is discriminating and inhumane.

He also condemned India, Burma’s giant neighbor, for remaining silent over the Insein Prison trial against the recipient of India’s prestigious Jawaharlal Nehru Award for International Understanding.

Raghuvanshi said that instead of seeking to build a good relationship with the military junta at all costs, the Indian government should pressure the regime to release Aung San Suu Kyi.

“India should support Aung San Suu Kyi,” said Raghuvanshi, a human rights champion who himself received the 2007 Gwangju Prize for Human Rights from South Korea.

But, he added that India may be preoccupied with its own internal affairs, including the forming of a new coalition government after the month-long parliamentary elections.

“India itself has internal problems such as Kashmir and problems in the Northeast. So they [probably] don’t want to comment,” he said.

Raghuvanshi said that as one of the regional economic powers in Asia, India’s interest in Burma is based on economics, one factor making the Indian government reluctant in condemning the Burmese junta and urging the release of Aung San Suu Kyi.

“They only want to exploit the resources from the country and the military junta is benefiting from them,” he explained.

“For governments in an international relationship Burma might not be a big issue, but in financial relationships they [India] get a lot of benefit from the junta,” he added.

In recent years India and Burma have increased bilateral trade and agreed on development projects, including Sittwe port and the Kaladan multi-modal project.

According to the Indian Ministry of External Affairs, bilateral trade between India and Burma for fiscal year 2007-08 stood at USD 901.3 million – with Burmese exports to India accounting for USD 727.85 million.

Though the international community has voiced its outrage over the trial of Aung San Suu Kyi, India, the world’s largest democracy, has remained silent.

Burma’s military regime charged the Nobel Peace Laureate for breaching her terms of detention by harboring a U.S. citizen, John William Yettaw, who allegedly swam to her lakeside home on May 3 and stayed there for two nights.

The charge has sparked international criticism. The United Nations, United States, Canada, Australia, Israel, European Union and Asian countries such as Japan, Pakistan and ASEAN members have all issued press statements expressing their concern over Aung San Suu Kyi’s trial and calling for her unconditional and immediate release.

But India, which supported the U.N.’s critical position in the wake of 2007’s Saffron Revolution, has made no noise over the ongoing trial against the Burmese democracy icon.

Dr. Tint Swe, Information Minister of the Burmese government in exile – National Coalition Government of the Union of Burma (NCGUB) – said India, which is focused on economic interests, could be using the recently concluded national elections as a good excuse for keeping quiet.

“We also don’t expect too much criticism from India on Burma, since India has a foreign policy that doesn’t care which government rules Burma. It will try to establish good relations with any government for its own national interest,” he added.

On Monday, the Indian Ministry of External Affairs told Mizzima in a telephone interview that the foreign ministry has issued no statement or press release so far on Aung San Suu Kyi’s case. And there was no elaboration on whether there would be any such comment at any time in the future.

READ MORE---> Indian rights champion condemns gov’t over silence...

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