Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Kachin student in coma after brutal assault by soldiers -Hpuwan La San

Written by KNG

After the brutal assault by Burmese Army soldiers, a teenaged Kachin student is in a coma for three days in hospital. He was beaten up severely at the railway station of Mayan Village in Burma's northern Kachin State on May 31 by a section of soldiers, said local sources close to the boy.

An eighth grade student
Hpuwan La San (14) was innocent but wrongly assaulted by a group of angry soldiers from the village-based Burmese Army Artillery Battalion No. 372 led by Lt-Col. Ye Yint Twe . The assault followed a dispute between the soldiers and local Kachin young men, according to the students' relatives.

Public Hospital in Myitkyina where Hpuwan La San is moved yesterday from Namti hospital.
His relatives added that teenaged Hpuwan La San was assaulted without being asked any questions by the Burmese soldiers while he was waiting for a train to go back to his home in Myitkyina, the capital of Kachin State. He fell unconscious on the scene of assault, said relatives.

He was first hospitalized in Namti, a small city near Mayan Village and later moved to the government Public Hospital in Myitkyina, said Namti hospital sources. He is now in a coma and vomiting blood. He has multiple fractures on his entire body following the assault, said relatives who visited him in hospital.

Besides, over four more innocent high school students from the village were also assaulted in their homes by Burmese soldiers but their injuries are not serious, said villagers.

La San was not involved in the clash between the soldiers and young men in the village. The fight took place after the young men prevented a teenage Kachin girl called Wa Sha Ki from being raped with a knife held to her throat by four Burmese soldiers in the afternoon of May 31.

The four Burmese soldiers were beaten up by a group of Kachin youths soon after they attempted to rape Wa Sha Ki. In a harsh retaliation local Burmese soldiers, led by the Artillery battalion commander Lt-Col. Ye Yint Twe went on the rampage on Kachin young men. Over 30 troops were ordered to "Kill all Kachin young men in the village."

The army operation took place between 7 p.m. and 10 p.m. Burma Standard Time. The troops assaulted Kachin young men in every place in the village, said villagers.

Yesterday, a high ranking army officer from the Northern Command HQ based in Myitkyina visited the scene and met village administrators and village leaders.

He ordered that Hpuwan La San’s responsibility must be taken by both the village and the village-based Artillery Battalion. He made a simple apology for the words of the battalion commander Ye Yint Twe---- ‘Kill all Kachin young men in the village.’ He said "Don't listen to those words. It is what wicked people say," said villagers.

During the short visit, the army officer promised that soldiers will not assault Kachin young men in the village any more. But more than 30 young men are still hiding in the forests, said villagers.

According to villagers, severe problems in the village started cropping up after the Burmese Army's Artillery Battalion set up base in the village in 2004. The soldiers slaughter cattle owned by villagers without paying, confiscate land and rape women.

It is at such tumultuous times that Kachin people in Burma and abroad have voiced their opinion and suggested that the Kachin Independence Army (KIA), the biggest Kachin ceasefire group in the country break the ceasefire agreement and resume war with the Burmese military regime.

READ MORE---> Kachin student in coma after brutal assault by soldiers -Hpuwan La San...

Divisional Court accepts appeal of Suu Kyi’s case

New Delhi (Mizzima) – The Rangoon Divisional Court on Wednesday accepted an appeal by Daw Aung San Suu Kyi’s lawyers to review the rejection of defense witnesses by the sitting court in Insein Prison.

One of Burmese opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi’s lawyers, Nyan Win, had gone to the Divisional Court to appeal the rejection of defense witnesses by the Northern District Court in Insein Prison.

“The Divisional Court has demanded the case from the Insein court for review. Lawyers from both sides will appear before the Divisional Court on June 5th at 3 p.m. (local time) for review of the case,” Nyan Win told Mizzima.

The Divisional Court gave the order on Wednesday for review of the case against Aung San Suu Kyi after her legal team submitted an appeal over the rejection of defense witnesses by the Northern District Court.

On May 27th, the special court in Insein prison rejected three of the four defense witnesses – Tin Oo, Win Tin and Khin Mo Mo – but did not provide any reasons for their decision. Nyan Win, a member of Aung San Suu Kyi’s legal team, after obtaining a copy of the order found that it made no mention of the terms for the rejection of the witnesses.

Nyan Win then approached the office of the Divisional Court Judge and appealed for a review as to why the defense witnesses were rejected.

Earlier, the Insein court had fixed June 5th for the hearing of final arguments by lawyers from both sides. But Nyan Win said, “Since the Divisional Court has accepted to review the case, final arguments will have to be postponed.”

“It is against the law to reject defense witnesses. Our argument is that the defense witnesses should also get a chance to testify at the court,” Nyan Win said.

He, however, did not wish to comment further on the prospects of the court proceedings and any possible verdict.

Earlier, Kyi Win, another member of Aung San Suu Kyi’s legal team, said, “Legally, she is innocent." But observers and critics believe the junta is determined to pass a verdict that will sentence her to yet another period of detention.

The Nobel Peace Laureate is facing a trial under charges of breaching her detention law after an American man sneaked into her lakeside home in early May. According to Burmese law, she could be sentenced up to five years if found guilty.

Reporting by Salai Zamte, writing by Mungpi

READ MORE---> Divisional Court accepts appeal of Suu Kyi’s case...

Suu Kyi trial 'a chance' for UN inquiry on Burma

(DVB-AFP)–The international community should use global outrage about the trial of Aung San Suu Kyi to push for a UN inquiry over possible crimes against humanity in Burma, legal and rights experts said.

The case against the democracy icon, who faces up to five years' jail on charges of breaching her house arrest, has provided a "window of opportunity" to investigate Burma's junta, said Tyler Giannini of Harvard Law School.

Giannini co-authored a report in May calling for the UN Security Council to follow the precedent of Rwanda and the former Yugoslavia, where inquiries led to special tribunals and prosecutions.

"The trial of Daw Aung San Suu Kyi is putting additional scrutiny on Burma right now and really highlighting the lack of judicial independence," Giannini said at the Foreign Correspondents Club of Thailand late Tuesday.

He said that with political unity there was a "very good chance... that (UN) member states will consider it seriously and it has a chance to get on the agenda in the fairly near future because of this current scrutiny."

Burma's military regime charged Aung San Suu Kyi last month over an incident in which an American man swam to her lakeside home. She has already spent 13 of the last 19 years in detention.

The case has sparked international outrage, with US President Barack Obama calling the proceedings a "show trial".

The Harvard report quoted UN documents as saying Burma's military regime has uprooted or destroyed more than 3,000 villages in the past 12 years, executed innocent people and practiced widespread sexual violence and torture.

David Mathieson, a Burma researcher for Human Rights Watch, supported the call for a UN inquiry in the country.

"What this report is trying to say is that this is about justice, and justice should be served regardless of the outcome of Aung San Suu Kyi's trial, but it does provide an opportunity," he said at the event in Bangkok yesterday.

Khin Ohmar, of the Forum for Democracy in Burma, said the world had already squandered a chance to act after being allowed some access to Burma following cyclone Nargis in May 2008.

"The international community should not miss this type of opportunity again," she said.

READ MORE---> Suu Kyi trial 'a chance' for UN inquiry on Burma...

Burmese army returns child soldiers

8 children back just a token from the generous army,
what about the other thousands,
will they be returned to their families within the next weeks?
What a nice show...Jeg

(DVB)–The Burmese army has reportedly handed eight child soldiers back to their families in a ceremony in Rangoon attended by international monitoring bodies such as UNICEF and Save the Children.

The ceremony, reported in the state-run New Light of Myanmar newspaper, was conducted by the army-run Work Committee for Prevention against Recruitment of Minors, whose stated aim is to find and demobilise child soldiers in the military.

“We think this is a positive step by the army, and it was the first time we were invited to such an event,” said a spokesperson from UNICEF in Burma, who have been monitoring use of child soldiers in the country.

In 2002, Human Rights Watch named Burma’s ruling State Peace and Development Council (SPDC) as the world’s leading recruiter of child soldiers.

The problem however is not confined to the government, with several of the armed opposition groups, including the Karen National Union, believed to also recruit child soldiers.

Use of child soldiers contravenes even Burmese domestic law, and has been cited by former senior legal adviser to the International Criminal Court (ICC), Morten Bergsmo, as a reason for bringing Burma’s ruling general, Than Shwe, to trial at the ICC.

Similarly, a report released last month by the Harvard Law School said that the situation for Burma’s child soldiers warranted significant attention from the UN Security Council.

“I think it [the ceremony] is about pretending that they’re actually doing something rather than really taking all the reforms that need to be taken,” said David Mathieson, Burma analyst at Human Rights Watch.

“If they’re releasing eight children, then great for those eight children, but that’s not all of them and a lot more needs to be done before the problem goes away,” he said, adding that the SPDC were looking for “congratulation” on the issue.

“But when it comes to the rights of the child you should never get congratulations for something like that because it never should have happened in the first place,” he said.

Reporting by Francis Wade

READ MORE---> Burmese army returns child soldiers...

Constructive Non-interference?

The Irrawaddy

Since the Burmese regime arrested Aung San Suu Kyi and placed her under arrest in Insein Prison last month, Burma’s neighbors have been relatively vocal and have expressed their “concern.”

“The changes in Myanmar [Burma] are very much needed,” said Thailand’s outspoken Foreign Minister Kasit Piromya. “It not only is a necessity for the security of Myanmar, but also for all the neighboring countries including Bangladesh and Thailand.”

Burma’s leaders were clearly offended to be put down with such remarks. Their response was swift and blunt.

Burma’s Deputy Foreign Minister Maung Myint said that Suu Kyi’s trial was “a matter of internal legal process,” before hitting back directly at the Thais.

“Actually, it is Thailand that needs to forge national reconciliation,” he mused. “Thailand saw year-long demonstrations in which different groups in red, yellow and blue made an attempt to oust the government and jeopardize the Asean Summit.”


It was reminder to its old adversary that the Burmese junta did not make a fuss over Thailand’s “internal affairs”—not the police crackdown on demonstrators in Bangkok, not the bombings and attempted assassinations, nor even the undignified exit by Asean leaders (including Burmese Prime Minister Thein Sein) by helicopter from the Asean Summit in Pattaya.

No, Burma did not complain nor even express “concern” over the instability caused by anti-government factions in Thailand.

And the junta expected that gesture to be reciprocated.

Having being forced to forego the Asean chairmanship in the past for its abysmal human rights record, Burma was in no position to lecture the Thai government about “Asean’s image” and the importance of not “losing face.”

But, like a polite neighbor who refrains from saying a word when the family next door keeps him awake all night with their arguing, the Burmese junta was astounded when the Thai government came knocking on the generals’ door, wagging a finger in their face and complaining about the noise from their domestic disagreement.

The Abhisit government’s criticism of the Suu Kyi affair was compounded by the fact it was speaking as chairman of Asean.

Back in Naypyidaw, the Burmese generals were fuming. They reciprocated with insults and petty threats in the state-run press.

Quoting a story from Bangkok’s Thai Rath newspaper on May 28, the Burmese regime’s mouthpiece, The New Light of Myanmar, reported that Gen Sonthi Boonyaratglin, the leader of Thailand’s 2006 military coup, had warned: “If Thailand gets into a conflict with Burma, Thailand will be facing defeat.”

Sonthi was quoted as going on to remind his compatriots that Burma has onshore and offshore natural resources and the potential to produce nuclear power.

However, despite the veiled compliment that Sonthi offered the junta, the underlying feeling in Naypyidaw must now be that although previous Thai government’s had been dependable as mouthpieces and apologists for the regime, with the Democrats in power in Bangkok, the Burmese leaders can no longer rely on the Thai government to provide a buffer for them to hide behind.

Indeed, Bangkok’s relations with Burma since the junta seized power more than 20 years ago have often cast the Kingdom in an unflattering light.

In 1988, the blood on the streets of Rangoon had hardly had a chance to dry before the Thai government was arranging high-level visits to cement a relationship with the new regime based on economic cooperation.

When Thaksin Shinawatra became the Thai prime minister in 2001 the relationship between Bangkok and the Burmese generals remained cozy. Thaksin and his ministers often defended the regime at international forums, diverting the Burma issue from the centre stage.

Though Thaksin was ousted in 2006 coup, his successors had until recently continued to play a major role in protecting the Burmese regime.

Read former Thai Prime Minister Samak Sundaravej after returning from a goodwill trip to Burma in March 2008 shortly after the regime had ruthlessly put down the monk-led Saffron Revolution.

“Burma is a Buddhist country. Burma’s leaders meditate,” he cryptically told reporters upon his return to Bangkok. “They say the country lives in peace.”

Samak’s Foreign Minister Noppadon Pattama also offered a helping hand by stating that he disagreed with the Western policy of sanctions against the Burmese government.

He went an extra step by appearing to covet collaboration with Burma’s political process: “If Myanmar wants assistance [with its referendum] from Thailand, we are ready to offer help as a friendly country,” he said.

He then offered to explain the “seven-step road map” to a skeptical international community, but was careful to add that he was not taking on the role of the Burmese junta’s spokesman.

Of course not—he was simply toeing the line.

Those were the good old days, and Snr-Gen Than Shwe and his thugs in Naypyidaw enjoyed them enormously.

But with Thailand under the fresh leadership of Abhisit Vejjajiva, the generals know well that a rocky relationship with Bangkok is looming.

In days gone by, the junta would simply divide the Thai army’s generals from its government with lucrative incentives.

From the time of late Prime Minister Chatchai Choonhavan to the current Thai government, Bangkok has continually pursued a policy of “constructive engagement” with Burma.

As its largest trading partner, Thailand has grown fat but dependent on Burma’s natural resources and cheap labor.

Only during the two-term reign of former Prime Minister Chuan Leekpai was Thailand’s Burma policy guided by principles other than economic self-interest.

In 1993, the Chuan government allowed a powerful group of Nobel Peace Prize winners, including Tibet’s spiritual leader, the Dalai Lama, to visit Thailand to lobby for the release of fellow laureate Aung San Suu Kyi and to highlight the desire for democracy in Burma.

The regime in Rangoon was furious and the relationship became strained.

During his second term from 1997 to 2001, Chuan took an even tougher stance toward the generals in Burma. He declined to pay an official visit to Burma and he put Thailand’s defense in the hands of then-Army Chief Gen Surayud Chulanont and then-Third Army Commander Lt-Gen Watanachai Chaimuenwong—two hawks who looked askance at their neighbors to the west.

As a result, troops from both sides amassed on the border, leading to skirmishes and repeated border closures.

Relations between the two countries were at their lowest ebb.

Now Burma is telling the Thai government to mind its own business and not to interfere in its neighbor’s internal affairs.

This is the basis of the Burmese regime’s “peaceful co-existence” and “independent and non-aligned” foreign policy that it claims to exercise.

The Burmese military government has always hoped that in joining the Asean, the bloc would act as a shield through its own versed policy of non-interference.

The generals think they can continue to cling to power, lock up dissidents and abuse ethnic nationalities while its eastern neighbor turns a blind eye.

They decided to lock up Suu Kyi and throw away the key. And when the Thai foreign minister barked at them, they bit back.

So there’s no happy ending to this tale: both neighbors are calling each other names and telling the other to put his house back in order.

They have reached a diplomatic impasse—and that is the result of a “non-interference” policy.

READ MORE---> Constructive Non-interference?...

Youth Trial 7 Months After Incident - Tun Aye Kyaw

Dhaka (Narinjara): 24-year-old Tun Aye Kyaw from the central Arakan town of Min Bya is scheduled to appear before the Min Bya Township court on 4 June for an incident that took place in the town seven months ago.

A relative of the youth confirmed the court date for Narinjara, saying, "He will be put on trial before the court on 4 June. Army official Major Naing Win Aye filed charges at the police station that he disturbed the army official's duty."

In November 2008, an incident occurred in Min Bya in which local youths and army officials clashed after the officials attacked the youth. Several Arakanese youth, including Tun Aye Kyaw, were severely injured. Tun Aye Kyaw was moved to the Sittwe hospital from Min Bya due to the seriousness of his injuries.

According to a local source, the conflict broke out after some inebriated army officials assaulted a bicycling youth in the town on 11 November, 2008. Local elders intervened and stopped the fighting.

However, a group of ten army officials and 20 soldiers, led by Major Naing Win Aye, Deputy Commander of Light Infantry Battalion 379 based on the outskirts of Min Bya, entered the town again at night in army vehicles to attack the local youths.

One witness said the army vehicles sped through the streets of the town with their lights turned off, attacking and beating whoever they happened to find. Many local youths who were out at night were injured in the attack.

The army officials also tried to bring about ten youths to army headquarters in their vehicles for interrogations. At the time, many residents from the town came out into the streets and surrounded the army vehicles to rescue the youths from the officials. The youths were kicked out into the streets in front of the police station.

Among the youths attacked, seven were hospitalized immediately with serious injuries. The hospitalized youth are: Tun Aye Kyaw, son of U Tha Tun Ha; Maung Hla San, son of U Aung Tha Kyaw; Pho Hla Pyi, son of U Nga Mae Daung; Nyi Nyi Aung, son of U Kyaw Wa; U Tun Lin, son of U Tun Aye Maung; Nyi Nyi So, son of U Wa Lon Chay and Aung Thein Win. Tun Aye Kyaw was transferred to the Sittwe hospital after a day.

The parents of Tun Aye Kyaw are government civil servants and his mother, Daw Aye Khin Nyo, is Chief Auditor of the Township.

Tun Aye Kyaw's mother Daw Aye Khin Nyo was displeased with the attack on her son and tried to bring charges at the police station against the eight army officials who led the attack.

The eight army officials she tried to charge are Major Naing Win Aye, Captain Zaya Tun from LIB 379, Lieutenant Aung Pyo Thu from LIB 370, Lieutenant Kyaw Naing Soe from LIB 379, Lieutenant Si Thu Aung from LIB 379, Lieutenant Aung Moe Htut from LIB 379, Lieutenant Kan Min Zaw from LIB 379, and Lieutenant Soe Pai Oo from LIB 541.

Police officers in Min Bya refused to accept the charges because army officials pressured the police chief, who transferred into his work in the police department after serving in the army and is close associate of Major Naing Win Aye.

The day after the incident a team of senior army officials from Western Command based in Ann came to Min Bya to deal with the problem. They invited Tun Aye Kyaw's parents to army headquarters and pressured them not to act against officials on the case.

Tun Aye Kyaw's parents finally withdrew their file for charges against the army officials because they feared losing their government jobs.

When Tun Aye Kyaw arrived back home from his hospital stay in Sittwe, Major Naing Win Aye filed charges against the youth at the police station, claiming he had interfered with his service of duty.

The relative of Tun Aye Kyaw said, "It is Burma and the Burmese army is above the law in our country. The township court summoned Tun Aye Kyaw on 4 June to hear the charges. We do not know what will happen on that day. We can tell you details after Tun Aye Kyaw's case is heard in court on 4 June."

READ MORE---> Youth Trial 7 Months After Incident - Tun Aye Kyaw...

Arakanese women leave state to find work

Rathidaung (Narinjara): Economic hardship in Arakan State is forcing many women to leave for the eastern side of Burma to work as day labourers in a company which is seeking employees from Arakan.

“The economic situation in Arakan state has been worsening by the year since 1988. This year is the worst, so women are also leaving the state like men looking for jobs in other parts of Burma,” a teacher in Rathidaung said.

Yuzana, Oil-Palm Company, has offered people from Arakan state work in the oil-palm gardens located in Tanintharye division, near the Thailand border. So many unemployed women in Arakan state have left Tanintharye division to join the company as day labourers.

A woman from Rathidaung said,” Many young women from the northern part of Rathidaung Township, one of the most neglected areas by the Burmese junta, left their villages for Tanintharye division to work in the oil-palm gardens.”

The company is also providing travel fees as well as advance money for food to the women coming from Arakan state to work in the oil palm gardens.

“We have received 30,000 Kyat as salary from the company after joining and the company also provides food and traveling expenses. So we are placed comfortably. Many women from across Arakan state left their homes for Tanintharye to work in the oil-palm gardens,” she said.

The Burmese junta has neglected Arakan state, never bothering to build factories and industrial units since the country’s independence in 1948.

The teacher said,” our state is very rich in natural resources but it is very poor because there is no job opportunity for the people. The government has not built any factory in our state leaving us with no opportunity for work. There are only two job opportunities in Arakan state for young people -- one is joining the Burmese Army and another is becoming rickshaw pullers.”

Many Arakanese youths, both educated and uneducated, left the state for neighbouring countries including Thailand and Malaysia and Burma proper in search of jobs.

This year women also followed the men. They left Arakan state for other parts of Burma, especially Tanintharye Division to work in the many oil palm gardens as day labourers.

“Women leaving the state have to do with this year’s economic slowdown. Many farmers in Arakan state are facing severe economic crisis after paddy and rice prices plummeted, the,” he teacher added.

This time last year, 100 baskets of paddy was 200,000 Kyats in Arakan state but this year the same amount of paddy is only 90,000 Kyats.

However, there is no government plan in place in Burma to help the farmers overcome the economic crisis.

READ MORE---> Arakanese women leave state to find work...

Thailand and Bangladesh to aid Rohingya repatriation

(DVB)–Thailand and Bangladesh are to take action to stem the flow of Rohingya refugees into Burma’s neighbouring countries and will help with repatriation back to Burma, said the Thai foreign minister yesterday.

The Muslim Rohingya are a minority in Burma and have the fled the country in increasing numbers in recent years.

Their plight hit the headlines in January this year when around 1000 Rohingya refugees landed ashore in Thailand, only to towed back out to sea by Thai authorities. Around 550 were thought to have died.

Thai foreign minister Kasit Piromya said that he and his Bangladeshi counterpart had agreed tripartite dialogue with Burma to find a solution to the problem.

The Burmese government have initially been reluctant to grant repatriation to Rohingya who had fled the country’s western Arakan state, claiming they would have to prove they came from Burma in the first place.

This would be almost impossible, however, given that Rohingya in Burma are denied legal status.

“There would need to be assurances from the government of [Burma] that the returning Rohingya people would not be penalized for leaving [Burma] in the first place,” said Kitty McKinsey, spokesperson for the UN Humanitarian Commission for Refugees in Asia.

Thousands of Rohingya are believed to leave Burma each year for Malaysia and Thailand, while around 250,000 have sought refuge on the Bangladeshi side of the Burmese border.

“It’s not at all clear that these people would voluntarily go back to Myanmar,” McKinsey said.

“What would help the Rohingya would be if they were admitted to a screening process in Thailand to have their claims heard and to determine whether they are legitimate refugees,” McKinsey explained.

Last month Human Rights Watch reported of the plight of the Rohingyas stating that Thailand’s ‘deterrence policy’ in treating the Rohingyas has violated international legal obligations towards asylum seekers.

The report stated Thailand has claimed that Rohingya are merely economic refugees and are a threat to national security.

Reporting by Rosalie Smith

READ MORE---> Thailand and Bangladesh to aid Rohingya repatriation...

Junta plots to justify trial of Aung San Suu Kyi: FDB

New Delhi (Mizzima) - A coalition group of the Burmese Opposition on Tuesday accused the ruling Burmese military junta of plotting to justify charging and putting on trial Opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi.

The Forum for Democracy in Burma, a coalition group comprising several individual activists and groups, said the junta has been using the intrusion of an American man to the home of the pro-democracy leader as a pretext to charge her and put her on trial. The regime is continuing to plot to justify its actions.

Dr. Naing Aung, General Secretary of the FDB said, the junta is apprehensive that its actions might back fire and therefore, is coming up with excuses to justify its move.

In a statement on Tuesday, the FDB said the junta is raising a bogey and creating alarm among the people by saying that it had recovered a time-bomb planted on a train in Naypyidaw by the FDB and the All Burma Students Democratic Fronts (ABSDF).

The FDB said such accusations without proof are only aimed at creating alarm and injecting a sense of fear among the people regarding opposition groups including the FDB and the ABSDF.

“The news was spread only to create a sense of fear among the people and underline that if the people start grouping and begin any kind of movement, there could be explosions in the crowd,” Dr. Naing Aung said in the statement.

The FDB also said the junta’s mouthpiece newspapers have published only a part of the testimony in court of John William Yettaw, the American who sneaked into Aung San Suu Kyi’s house.

On May 27, Yettaw and two of Aung San Suu Kyi’s party mates who live with her testified in court. And on May 28, the New Light of Myanmar, though it ran the full question and answer session of the two women, summed up the testimony of Yettaw leaving out vital portions.

Yettaw on May 27 had testified that he had visited pro-democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi’s residence twice – once in November 2008 and the second time on May 3. He said, during each of his visits, he had met security personnel, who did not trouble him despite being aware of his visits to house number 54 on University Avenue in Rangoon.

The junta’s paper, however, conveniently avoided publishing these statements but only ran his testimony of his visits to Aung San Suu Kyi’s house. The FDB said this was aimed at misinforming the public and justify the junta’s actions.

Meanwhile, a pro-junta blogger on the website,, claimed that Yettaw had a nexus with Opposition groups, including the FDB in exile and ran photographs of Yettaw being present at a FDB meeting in Mea Sot in Thailand.

Dr. Naing Aung, however, denied the allegations saying the pictures were lifted from the April issue of the Forum’s journal, and morphed.

The FDB said, the photographs were of Mr. Phil Thornton, an Australian journalist, discussing journalism at the office of the Assistant Association for Political Prisoners in Burma (AAPP-B) in Mea Sot.

The junta’s Deputy Defence Minister told a regional security meeting in Singapore on Sunday, that the trial against Aung San Suu Kyi is in keeping with domestic laws and since it is an internal affair other countries should not meddle.

Reporting by Salai Pi Pi, writing by Mungpi

READ MORE---> Junta plots to justify trial of Aung San Suu Kyi: FDB...

Arakanese Migrant Worker Killed on Thai-Malaysia Border

By Maung Aye, Kuala Lumpur (Narinjara): An Arakanese migrant worker in Malaysia was killed a few days ago on the Thai-Malaysia border as he was traveling back to his home country, said a fellow worker on Tuesday.

The victim was identified as Oo Shwe Thein, the 30-year-old son of U San Hla Phaw and Daw Shwe Yin Nu from Kyaw San Village in Arakan State's Ponna Kyunt Townhsip.

"I heard that he died in some incident, but I am not sure how he died. Most people think that he was killed by some miscreants," said his fellow worker.

Oo Shwe Thein arrived in Malaysia in September 2008 and had been working in a furniture factory for nine months.

According to another worker, the victim is said to have left to see his broker who brought him to Malaysia to reclaim his Burmese national ID card so he could return home. His death was discovered after ten days when his wife phoned to inquire about his delay.

The worker added that the broker's name was Tin Tun from Tan Kho Village in Ponna Kyunt Township and he is currently working in Thailand.

The body of the victim is now at the SP Hospital on the border and will be cremated on Wednesday. The deceased left behind his wife, Ma San Mya, and a one-year-old daughter.

More than 100,000 Arakanese are currently living as migrant workers in Malaysia and Thailand due to the economic crisis and shortage of jobs in their homeland, caused in large part by the army's monopolization of local businesses.

READ MORE---> Arakanese Migrant Worker Killed on Thai-Malaysia Border...

Monk calls for unity among religious leaders - Abbot U Nyanissara

(DVB)–A prominent Burmese monk who organised relief efforts following cyclone Nargis last year has called for religious leaders in Burma to join hands in solving the country’s problems.

Speaking from Norway, midway through a European trip which included the Buddhist Union’s Buddha’s Day celebration in France last month, Abbot U Nyanissara called for unity amongst monks.

“We, all religious leaders, should walk together on a path that we see from the same point of view,” he said.

“If you look at all the rivers with different names in Burma and also look at the rivers in Europe, you can see they all come from the same origin.”

Buddhist religious discipline instructs monks to keep out of politics.

This has been broken in the past, however, most notably in September 2007 when monks took to the streets in Burma to protest the hike in fuel prices, triggering what has become known as the Saffron Revolution due to the colour of monks robes.

Refraining from direct political rhetoric, U Nyanissara called for calm in the face of upheaval.

“We all should take the example of water and work together with everyone to keep the minds of human beings clear and to cool down their angers,” he said, adding that he gave the same message during his speech at the Buddha’s Day celebration in Paris.

His visit to Norway, he said, was due to his wish to visit the country of Alfred Nobel, founder of the Nobel prizes.

Reporting by Moe Aye

READ MORE---> Monk calls for unity among religious leaders - Abbot U Nyanissara...

Pawns in two show trials

(Bangkok Post) -In opposite corners of Asia this week, harsh and undemocratic regimes will be conducting show trials. The Burmese generals are close to wrapping up their case that charges Aung San Suu Kyi with responsibility for the failure of her jailers to guard her. North Korea is putting two US citizens in the dock on June 4, charged with committing "hostile acts", meaning they were photographing North Korean smugglers and refugees at the Chinese frontier. The two women apparently actually crossed the border, giving the North Koreans a reason to arrest and hold them in jail for the last three months.

The Burmese regime has again increased the physical and psychological pressure on Mrs Suu Kyi. She is held almost incommunicado in the notorious Insein prison on the outskirts of Rangoon. Her lawyers have not been allowed the normal access to the prisoner. As they prepared their closing arguments yesterday, they were denied access once again.

The prisoner is a frail, 63-year-old woman who won the Nobel Prize for Peace. Yet she has frightened members of a military junta so much that they seldom let her even see her defenders, except in a tightly guarded courtroom where the regime is likely to end the show trial on Friday.

The Burmese deputy defence minister showed the sort of contempt for rule of law one has come to expect from the junta. On an official trip to Singapore, Maj Gen Aye Myint told the media there was "no doubt" Mrs Suu Kyi was guilty as charged - of a cover-up, by failing to report a foreigner had got into her compound. This statement during an ongoing trial by a top junta official, demonstrated that the actual courtroom and judges are just a show in Burma.

It leaves the world to wonder why Maj Gen Aye Myint is not on trial for dereliction of duty. His soldiers were ordered to guard Mrs Suu Kyi from all intruders and failed.

Of course, there has been no media coverage allowed of Mrs Suu Kyi's court ordeal. The same will be true in Pyongyang tomorrow, when an equally pre-ordained trial is to get under way with, ironically, journalists in the dock - US citizens of Korean heritage, Laura Ling and Euna Lee.

The two women work for Current TV, a cable television station run by former US vice president Al Gore. They were arrested on March 17 by North Korean border guards while reporting on Korean women and children who had fled the Pyongyang regime to China.

The trial and verdict will be whatever the regime wants, but just what that might be is not yet clear. For about the same time as it has held the journalists, North Korea has taken a dangerous and belligerent course. It has fired long-range and medium-range missiles and tested the nuclear weapon designed to fit atop the rockets.

It is widely presumed that North Korea will use the journalists as pawns to put maximum pressure on US President Barack Obama. That, at least, is the latest advice from Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. She also told the American public they should "get busy on the internet and let the North Koreans know that we find that absolutely unacceptable".

In both Burma and North Korea, the regimes will use their women prisoners as propaganda tools. They will hold harsh sentences over the heads of their prisoners.

Both countries deserve the harshest censure for such treatment of their helpless captives. Certainly, if either country wants international respect, they must stop such despicable show trials.

READ MORE---> Pawns in two show trials...

'Culprits' in Last Year's Energy Spike Reappear

The Irrawaddy News

COLUMBUS, Ohio — Oil prices pushed to new highs for the year Monday on a weak dollar and new data suggesting manufacturing in China has strengthened. Both of those factors helped send energy prices to record highs last summer.

Benchmark crude for July delivery rose $2.27 to settle at $68.58 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange, the highest close since early November. Natural gas futures soared 10 percent.

The data out of China shows how much economic news from across the globe can effect pocketbooks in the US.

Brokerage CLSA Asia-Pacific Markets said its purchasing managers index rose to 51.2 from April's 50.1 on a 100-point scale, indicating that the world's third-largest economy might be recovering from a slump. Numbers above 50 show an expansion. The state-sanctioned China Federation of Logistics and Purchasing reported that its index had eased, but that manufacturing was still expanding somewhat.

When crude prices were heading toward $150 per barrel last year, many energy analysts believed the booming economies of China and India would support energy prices globally even as Western nations slipped into recession.

That did not turn out to be the case and there is little tangible evidence to suggest that the rapid rise in energy prices can be sustained for long this summer.

That would be good news for some consumers as far as energy prices go. Utility bills and gasoline prices are far below last year's levels, though the plunge has come at the cost of millions of jobs.

Yet the pace at which energy prices rose in May has also raised questions about what is causing the surge. That is especially true of spiking natural gas prices Monday.

Natural gas has been one commodity in the energy complex that has lagged this year compared with crude and gasoline, and may finally have attracted a large number of investors who saw a bargain.

Speculative bets on crude were on the rise already. The net increase in bets that benchmark crude prices will increase rose by more than 14 percent last week, according to a report from the Commodity Futures Trading Commission.

A lot of that money is being driven by inflation fears as the dollar falls against other major currencies.

Still, there are continuing hints of an economy that may be on the mend.

The Tempe, Arizona-based Institute for Supply Management reported the first month of growth in the new-orders index since November 2007, though the sector continues to contract overall.

Natural gas prices have slumped to five-year lows with some of the biggest users, like manufacturers, hammered by the recession.

The lack of broader, fundamental support hasn't stopped momentum from building in energy markets.

"I don't believe in it ... but I'm not dumb enough to stand in front of it," oil trader and analyst Stephen Schork said of the rally.

In other Nymex trading, gasoline for June delivery rose 2 cents to $1.915 a gallon and heating oil rose 9.89 cents to settle at $1.7765 a gallon. Natural gas for June delivery jumped 41.4 cents to settle at $4.249 per 1,000 cubic feet.

In London, Brent prices rose $2.45 to settle at $67.97 a barrel on the ICE Futures exchange.

READ MORE---> 'Culprits' in Last Year's Energy Spike Reappear...

Ivanhoe's Burma stakes to be sold to Chinese firm

by Moe Thu

Rangoon (Mizzima) - A Chinese firm has technically reached an agreement with the Canadian firm Ivanhoe Mines to buy the shares of its subsidiary, active in Burma, according to a Burmese mining expert.

“Half of the stakes in the Myanmar Ivanhoe Copper Company Limited (MICCL), a joint venture with the military-run Mining Enterprise (1), is to be sold to the Chinese firm, which is yet to be identified,” the expert said.

The half stake of the joint venture's copper mine in Monwya in the Sagaing Division in Burma, is an investment project facing international criticism, he said.

The project, one of the huge copper mines in South-east Asia, produces some 40,000 tonnes of copper cathode a year.

Meanwhile, the Canadian company – listed on the stock exchanges of Toronto, New York and NASDAQ under the symbol IVN – plans to boost its production up to 200,000 tonnes a year, if the military government approves it and the required electricity supply is met.

The Monywa operation was halted last year for undisclosed reasons. However, responding to the military government's bloody suppression of the 2007-September uprising led by Buddhist monks, Ivanhoe Mines released a statement the following month, noting that a constitutional change appeared to be jeopardised by the military-ruled state's reactions.

The operation has three deposits, in two of which the JV is active, namely Sabetaung and Kyeesintaung.

There are over 1,000 employees in the Monywa Copper project including a few expatriates.

In the October 2007 statement as well, Ivanhoe Mines said the ownership of its Myanmar assets was transferred to an independent third party trust.

Ivanhoe is also exploring for copper, uranium and gold in China, Mongolia and Australia.

READ MORE---> Ivanhoe's Burma stakes to be sold to Chinese firm...

After The Lady Is Jailed

The Irrawaddy News

Closing arguments and a verdict in the trial of Burmese democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi have been delayed again. But that won’t change the outcome.

Ignoring global outrage and international diplomatic pressure, the court in Insein Prison will find the Nobel Peace Prize laureate guilty of “harboring” an American tourist who allegedly swam across Inya Lake to her residence.

She will be sentenced for up to five years behind the walls of one of the world’s most notorious jails.

Assuming that imprisonment in Insein would be unbearable for anyone, we are forced to contemplate how long a frail 63-year-old woman can survive in this hell-hole.

Brought up in relative comfort, she will be in the hands of ill-mannered and thuggish prison authorities. Her living conditions could be comfortable though degrading; but they could also be inhumane. Her diet and level of physical comfort will be drastically depreciated.

By treating her as any other political prisoner, the sadistic generals of Naypyidaw no doubt hope to break her spirit as well as her health.

Already suffering from low blood pressure, dehydration and digestion problems prior to her arrest, many believe the democracy icon will suffer more bouts of ill-health in jail.

Last week, a statement by her party, the National League for Democracy (NLD), said it was "gravely concerned" about the Nobel Peace Prize laureate's health, saying she cannot sleep well because she was suffering from leg cramps.

"As a woman, I have concerns about her," Khin Ohmar, a leading exiled activist, said during a recent interview with The Irrawaddy. "She is going to be 64 …I can imagine the extent to which she can receive healthcare when she has the health problems that a woman usually has. I can imagine the hatred she receives under the junta’s atrocious behavior."

No doubt. A weakened Suu Kyi means a collapsing NLD and this is exactly what Snr-Gen Than Shwe and his gang desire.

Political observers have suggested that in prosecuting Suu Kyi on a trivial security clause, the Burmese junta has found an excuse to keep her detained through the 2010 elections and this has finished off any faint hopes of breaking the political stalemate.

In a policy statement dubbed the “Shwegondaing Declaration” released in early May, the NLD indicated that it would take part in elections next year if the junta responds positively to a set of three basic requirements: the unconditional release of all political prisoners; amendment of any provisions in the 2008 constitution “not in accord with democratic principles”; and an all-inclusive, free and fair poll under international supervision.

Now it seems clear that the party that won a landslide victory in the 1990 polls is being given no alternative but to boycott the junta's rigged elections.

"If the military government unfairly finds Daw Aung San Suu Kyi guilty, all means and possibilities for people and political parties to participate in the 2010 election will be undermined," Win Tin, a veteran journalist and prominent opposition leader of the NLD, told The Irrawaddy.

However, the boycott option is not straightforward—it represents a serious threat to the political parties, especially the NLD.

According to the 1990 election law, a political party which can not provide candidates for at least three constituencies must disband. After disbanding, the military would not hesitate to crack down on the members, regardless of the reaction of the international community—the UN Security Council or anyone else.

If the party is abolished by the military government, it is believed that most of party's elder leaders would resign in order to avoid imprisonment while many younger members would flee into exile or face arrest.

Due to a fear that security forces will raid the party's headquarters in Rangoon sometime soon, sources close to the NLD have said the party's central executive members want to quickly utilize the party's fund on anti-poverty programs, especially humanitarian projects in the delta region devastated by deadly Cyclone Nargis last year.

These days, pro-democracy supporters in Burma feel helpless and hopeless, knowing that so many would fear taking to the streets in defiant protest against the injustice perpetuated against a woman most love and respect.

In a country where torture and violence are institutionalized by ruling authorities, many people are still living in fear and are haunted by the memories of the government's bloody crackdown against the Buddhist monk-led uprising in 2007.

A Rangoon-based businessman recalled his experience of how Burmese are afraid of the military government. He said that Rangoon used to be very noisy with car horns, but when Rangoon's municipal authorities announced that whoever honked their horn would be “punished severely,” he said. “Immediately Rangoon fell into silence.”

READ MORE---> After The Lady Is Jailed...

Court Postpones Suu Kyi Verdict, Admits Defense Witnesses


The Rangoon court trying opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi agreed today to delay the verdict it was planning to give on Friday and to hear the evidence of three defense witnesses instead.

Nyan Win, a member of Suu Kyi’s legal team, told The Irrawaddy that the decision to allow the witnesses to testify was “another significant stage towards winning the case.”

Nyan Win said the decision meant that “the final verdict that was scheduled to be held on Friday will be given later.”

A defense plea to admit the three witnesses was earlier denied by a special provincial level court in Insein Prison. The divisional level court now trying the case had reversed that decision, Nyan Win said.

No date had been given for the reading of the verdict, the lawyer said.

Suu Kyi is charged before the Insein Prison court with violating the terms of her house arrest by giving shelter to an American intruder, John William Yettaw. If found guilty, she faces a sentence of up to five years imprisonment.

READ MORE---> Court Postpones Suu Kyi Verdict, Admits Defense Witnesses...

Site of Collapsed Pagoda Sealed Off

The Irrawaddy News

Burmese authorities have banned the general public from entering the area of the collapsed Danok pagoda, local residents report.

People of Danok model village in Rangoon’s Dalla Township, where the pagoda is located, have also been warned not to talk about the accident. Local residents have been threatened with imprisonment if found talking to independent journalists.

In this photo taken on May 7, Danok pagoda is being renovated by Buddhist devotees and workers. (Photo: AP)

Burmese authorities have also banned reports in the media about the collapse of the ancient pagoda.

The 2,300 year-old pagoda, located in Danok model village in Rangoon’s Dalla township, collapsed last Saturday, killing at least 20 people and injuring about 150.

The wife of junta leader Than Shwe, members of their family and relatives of senior military officials had attended a ceremony at the pagoda on May 7, at which a sacred golden umbrella was hoisted to the top of the structure.

The association of Than Shwe’s wife, Kyiang Kyiang, and members of their family with the pagoda gave rise to a flood of speculation about the mystical significance of the accident.

The pagoda was being repaired at the time, however. The work was being carried out by the Shwe Than Lwin Company, owned by Burmese tycoon Kyaw Win.

No news about the collapsed pagoda has appeared in the official media, and one Rangoon journalist said a report written for her journal had been suppressed by the censorship board.

Local people, including family members of the victims, had been warned by the authorities not to talk to the press or even among themselves about the accident, said one resident. They were told they could face imprisonment of up to three years if they ignored the warning.

A man walks past the collapsed pagoda on May 31. (Photo: AP)

Fortune tellers were quick to find significance in the collapse of the pagoda, and elderly residents talked about the mystic powers the ancient structure was said to possess. Some said the pagoda shook when it disapproved of any visiting pilgrim. One local monk said the accident was a bad omen.

According to local lore, the pagoda was built by a Mon king. Its original name was said to be Dar Hnote, which means in Burmese “Take the knife back”—a reference to the site’s original use as a royal place of execution.

READ MORE---> Site of Collapsed Pagoda Sealed Off...

FDB denies having contact with Yettaw

by May Kyaw

(Interview with Dr. Naing Aung)

Chiang Mai (Mizzima) – Dr. Naing Aung, General Secretary of the Thailand based ‘Forum for Democracy in Burma’ has rejected the information that FDB is having contacts with John William Yettaw, an American man who swam across Innya Lake and intruded into Aung San Suu Kyi’s house.

He responded to the news and allegations posted on, as he called it, a rumour mongering pro-junta ‘Thakinwe’ website ( depicting a photograph of a meeting between Yettaw and FDB.

Dr. Naing Aung said that the man in the photograph was not Yettaw but an Australian journalist Phil Thornton, which was posted on the FDB website. This is an attempt by the junta to mislead the people and a distortion of facts, he said.

In order to have a clear understanding on the rumoured connections, Mizzima’s reporter May Kyaw talked to Dr. Naing Aung.

Q: The Thakinwe website claims that Mr. Yettaw came to the FDB office. Is it true?

A: The ‘Thakinwe’ website is a pro-junta website which usually posts news of the junta and supports the regime. I cannot say whether it is true or not. I’d only like to say that by seeing such news it is becoming clearer that the junta is concocting and distorting facts to mislead and confuse the people.

Q: ‘Thakinwe’ posted the news with a photograph as evidence. They said that the man in the photograph was Mr. John Yettaw.

A: He is not Yettaw. He is an Australian journalist Phil Thornton who frequently gives training to us. And also this photograph was not taken at the FDB office, but at the office of the ‘Association for Assistance to Political Prisoners-Burma (AAPPB) while he was imparting ‘media strategy’ training to us.

Now they are trying to exaggerate and are framing a case against the accused having contacts with pro-democracy organizations on the border and that he is a CIA agent. All this, when they are standing trial.

Moreover they accused him of coming to Burma and doing this job at the behest of the border based organizations and having contacts with these organizations to mislead the people. I think everything has been revealed in what his defence lawyer Khin Maung Oo said in the media.

Recently, the SPDC (junta) accused us of planting bombs. And then again they accused us of having contacts with Yettaw. I’d like to say this is the junta’s attempt to mislead and confuse the people and the international community.

Q: Dr. Naing Aung, do you mean the man in the photograph is not Mr. Yettaw, and that he is another man? Or do you mean this photograph is doctored?

A: No, he is not Mr. Yettaw. But the photograph is a real one posted on our FDB website, This photo was included in our electronic media, Forum Journal Vol. 1, Issue No. 1, published on April 2009. This has also been included in our press release. He is not Mr. Yettaw.

Q: How did ‘Thakinwe’ get this photograph?

A: We publish our electronic media on our website as a monthly online magazine. We posted this news with this photograph in this publication and so it is likely that the photograph was taken from our website and then fabricated and concocted the story.

READ MORE---> FDB denies having contact with Yettaw...

Activists skeptical of release of child soldiers

by Salai Pi Pi

New Delhi (Mizzima) – State-run newspapers on Wednesday reported that eight minors who had joined the military of their own volition were returned to their parents, a rare case in military-ruled Burma, which is often criticized for forcibly recruiting children into the armed forces.

The junta’s mouthpiece New Light of Myanmar on Wednesday stated, “The Work Committee for Prevention Against Recruitment of Minors today handed over eight minors who joined the Tatmadaw [military] of their own accord to their parents.”

The incidence, however, was received with skepticism by rights activists, believing the move a “showpiece” and accusing the junta of secretly continuing to recruit children into the military.

Aye Myint, a lawyer from Pegu town advocating and fighting against the recruitment of child soldiers said the paper’s claims were contradictory to the prevailing situation, as he has received several parental complaints of children being recruited into the military.

He said just months ago family members of a child, who had reportedly gone missing in December, approached him explaining they had received a letter from their son saying he is now in a military camp in central Burma.

While unable to confirm the facts of the missing child, he said he is working on the case and will bring it to the attention of the liaison office of the International Labor Organisation in Rangoon, through which he has been able to rescue a number of boys from military camps in the past.

“The number of children being returned back to their parents would only be a small percentage of the total children in the military,” he emphasized.

Meanwhile, Aung Myo Min, Director of the exile-based Human Rights Education Institute of Burma (HREIB), welcomed the junta’s action of returning the eight kids to their parents but voiced concern for those who remain in the camps.

“Earlier the junta blatantly denied having children in their barracks, but this is a significant confession. It is definitely a progressive development,” affirmed Aung Myo Min.

He said HREIB has documented the presence and recruitment of child soldiers into the Burmese Army and expresses his hope that the junta will release additional children from their barracks.

But Aung Myo Minn said he is skeptical of the junta’s claim of the children joining the army upon their own will, because the Army is notorious for abducting children from the streets, railway and bus stations and other public places.

“We still need to raise the question on whether the children had joined the Army of their own will, as there are many incidents in which the regime has forcibly recruited children,” he said.

Additionally, Aung Myo Min expressed concern for the children’s mental and moral health due to their experiences in the military.

Additional reporting by Niangboi

READ MORE---> Activists skeptical of release of child soldiers...

Fund crunch threatens rice production in Burma: WFP

by Solomon

New Delhi (Mizzima) - Farmers in the cyclone affected areas in Burma are in acute need of cash and credit assistance to buy inputs for the ensuing monsoon planting season, the United Nations World Food Programme said.

Chris Kaye, country director of the WFP in Rangoon, told Mizzima on Wednesday, “The current priority of the assistance community generally is to help ensure small farmers have the required cash and credit to purchase inputs for the current planting season.”

While WFP is able to continue work without many problems in distributing food assistance, “food and water remains critical for cyclone survivors, in many areas of Burma’s Irrawaddy delta” he said.

But he said the current priority is to help farmers, whose farms were inundated and destroyed by the cyclone, plant crops in the current planting season.

The Irrawaddy delta, also known as Burma’s rice bowl, was laid waste by the deadly Cyclone Nargis, leaving at least 130,000 dead or missing and devastating the lives of more than 2.4 million people.

Sean Turnell, Professor of Economics in Macquarie University in Australia said in an earlier interview to Mizzima that the rural economy in Burma is on the verge of collapse due to lack of funds and micro-credit system.

Earlier, he said, most farmers rely on money lenders for loan or credit, but with the impact of the cyclone, farmers can no longer rely on money lenders as they face equal devastation.

He said farmers are facing extreme difficulties as they were unable to get enough cash from the sale of their paddy products in the last season, because of the decreasing prices caused by the global economic recession.

He urged the Burmese regime to inject money in the rural economy to help the farmers.

Meanwhile, farmers in the Irrawaddy delta complained of lack of available funds even for borrowing and are desperately in need of assistance to be able to plant in the current season.

“We are facing difficulties in starting our work because of financial problems. It is very difficult to get loans,” said a farmer who could only cultivate half an acre in the last monsoon.

“I did not get any monetary support or material for farming except tarpaulins,” he said.

He said like him, most farmers are still unable to cultivate all their farmland as they have no money to buy inputs for cultivation. And some have already stopped farming.

UN’s Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) earlier told Mizzima that shortage of fund is becoming a big challenge in continuing with the recovery work.

Shin Imao, FAO’s representative in Burma told Mizzima, rice production has drastically plummeted and the recovery of livelihoods and food security is still a big challenge.

“Production is down, so we need to have more quick responses to assist farmers to recover production,” said Imao.

Rice production in the delta dropped drastically after Cyclone Nargis struck, “with the produce 45 per cent less than previous years,” Imao said.

READ MORE---> Fund crunch threatens rice production in Burma: WFP...

Villagers forced to relocate to Arakan State

by Nyein Chan

Dhaka (Mizzima) – About 300 people from proper Burma have been resettled to Arakan State under the government’s border region developmental projects.

The group of people, who belongs to Rangoon, Mandalay, Pyinmana, Prome and Bassein, have reportedly migrated to “model villages” built in Maungdaw and Buthitaung Townships by the authorities under its Development and Resettlement Project of Border Regions. The group of people are the third batch to be resettled to the region.

“They came here with their whole families including men, women and children,” an official of the border security force, also known as Na-sa-ka, in Kyikanpyin told Mizzima.

Earlier in January and March, about 300 people (150 households) and 500 people (150 households) have arrived these villages.

These Na-ta-la villages are located in Buthidaung and Maungtaw Townships since 2001 and contains about a 100 houses in each villages. Under this plan, a total of 100 such villages will be built in this border region. About 2,500 households are believed to have arrived in these model villages.

The authorities gave these new settlers a 80’x60’ plot of land each, a house, farmland, cow and food for six months, a local resident of Aungmingala village said. But a rumour has spread that the authorities collected money from these new settlers for this project.

Buthitaung and Maungdaw Townships is predominantly occupied by Rohingya, a Muslim minority, whom the government of Burma does not recognised them as citizens.

READ MORE---> Villagers forced to relocate to Arakan State...

ASEAN urged to pressure junta for democracy in Burma

by Usa Pichai

Chiang Mai (Mizzima) - ASEAN should use its charter and the ASEAN community should work out a mechanism to mount pressure on the Burmese military junta to usher in democracy in the country, a seminar in Bangkok concluded.

Several organizations including the Foreign Affairs Committee of The Senate of Thailand and the Thai Action Committee for Democracy in Burma (TACDB) organized a conference “Roles of Thailand and ASEAN in Democracy Development in Burma; a case of Aung San Suu Kyi ” on Tuesday, in the Thai Parliament in Bangkok.

Surapong Chainam, Counselor of Minister of Foreign Affairs said that the outcome of the trial which was postponed to June 5 is predictible because there is no rule of law in Burma.

“This case is a significant test for the unity of ASEAN countries, particularly the ASEAN Charter which has several articles related to human rights issues, rules of law and good governance. It depends on ASEAN whether it would let the charter be only a paper or gain its holiness,” Surapong said according to a report in a Thai News Agency.

Meanwhile, Laddawan Tantiwittayapitak from TACDB said that ASEAN must use the charter beneficially to create justice for the people. “However, it’s hard work, so the ASEAN and Thai Parliament should collaborate to work on development of democracy in Burma such as to observe Aung San Suu Kyi’s trial, impeach Burma from ASEAN membership or discuss with China which plays an important role vis a vis the Burmese government.”

He also added that Thailand’s statement on the trial was not interference with Burma’s internal affair and the member countries in ASEAN did not go against this action.

On Wednesday, 22 women members of the Thai Parliament petitioned Burma's junta to drop the current charges against democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi and free her immediately.

"As a recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize, and as a longstanding democracy advocate, Daw (Mrs) Aung San Suu Kyi has been an inspiration not only to women MPs in Thailand but also for all adherents and participants of democratic ideals worldwide," the 22 Thai women said in a statement which is the first such statement by a group of women MPs in Thai Parliament on a diplomatic matter.

"We believe her action, if committed, was an act out of mercy and out of her concern for a fellow human being. The incident warrants no trial of detention," the Thai MPs' letter to Burma's military rulers said.

"We, the undersigned women members of Thai Parliament, strongly urge for the unconditional release of Daw Aung San Suu Kyi and other political detainees," it said.

There are 62 women MPs out of a total of 474 MPs in Thailand's Lower House.

Last week, 30 Thai senators also signed a petition urging for justice for Aung San Suu Kyi, which was submitted to the Prime Minister of Burma through the Burmese Embassy in Thailand to express their concern over the trial with their standpoint based on good relations between Thailand and Burma.

READ MORE---> ASEAN urged to pressure junta for democracy in Burma...

USDA Latter Day Saints a pro democracy conversion

Yettaw is a Latter Day Saint member in his native town. Coincidentally the Church of The Latter Day Saints is following a missionary program in cooperation with USDA.

Address: The Latter Day Saints Church at Yattaw in Yangon:
No: 146 (A),Pyi Road, 8 1/2 miles, Mayangon Township,Yangon,Myanmar.
(In front of Aung Myay Bon San, Shan monastery, near A1 Film Compound)

Source: Arzarni
Source: Nik

READ MORE---> USDA Latter Day Saints a pro democracy conversion...

What the U.N. Can't Ignore in Burma

By Pedro Nikken and Geoffrey Nice
Washington Post

The trial of the world's only imprisoned Nobel Peace Prize recipient, Aung San Suu Kyi, has once again catapulted events in Burma onto the front pages of newspapers around the globe. The leader of Burma's struggle for human rights and democracy has been charged with violating the terms of her house arrest after an American citizen swam across a lake and broke into her home last month. Heads of state from Asia and the West, celebrities, and U.N. leaders such as human rights chief Navi Pillay have responded strongly, demanding not only an end to the trial in Burma's kangaroo courts but the immediate release of Aung San Suu Kyi, who has been under house arrest for 13 of the past 19 years.

With the verdict expected this week, many eyes remain glued to Burma. We hope this global attention will result in long-overdue action.

For while the imprisonment of Aung San Suu Kyi, without trial, has long been denounced, a less-publicized travesty has been underway in Burma for much of the past 15 years. Organizations such as Human Rights Watch, Human Rights First and Amnesty International have reported on the crimes against humanity and war crimes committed under the rule of Burma's military regime, including the recruitment of tens of thousands of child soldiers and attacks on ethnic minority civilians. The former U.N. special rapporteur on human rights in Burma, Paulo Sérgio Pinheiro, reported last year that he had received information indicating that the military regime had destroyed, forcibly displaced or forced the abandonment of more than 3,000 villages in eastern Burma, where ethnic minorities predominate. At least 1 million people fled their homes as a result of the attacks, he said, escaping as refugees and internally displaced persons. This is comparable to the number of villages that have been harmed in the Darfur region of Sudan.

Inexplicably, the U.N. Security Council has not systematically investigated these abuses, which probably rise to the level of crimes against humanity and war crimes. So a group of jurists from the United States, Europe, Asia, Latin America and Africa -- of which we were part -- commissioned a report by the International Human Rights Clinic at Harvard Law School to determine whether the United Nations is sufficiently aware of the seriousness of the charges and willing to pursue justice. The Harvard team -- relying only on U.N. documents and not information from human rights groups -- examined four international human rights violations documented by U.N. bodies over the past 15 years: sexual violence, forced displacement, torture and extrajudicial killings.

It found that, indeed, the United Nations is well aware that such abuses are taking place in Burma. Numerous U.N. special rapporteurs, the U.N. General Assembly, the U.N. Commission on Human Rights (now Human Rights Council), and the Committee on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women have repeatedly documented and cited human rights abuses that rise to the level of crimes, using language such as "widespread" and "systematic," which are key elements to proving the existence of war crimes and crimes against humanity.

The Harvard report noted that the United Nations has acknowledged that rights abuses in Burma have taken place with impunity. Moreover, U.N. reports observe that most often the Burmese military commits these grave human rights abuses. Key U.N. experts have acknowledged that there is no independent judiciary in Burma, with Tomás Ojea Quintana, U.N. special rapporteur on human rights, stating as recently as November that "There is no independent and impartial judiciary system" in Burma.

Tragedies such as last year's cyclone and this spring's sham trial inevitably draw the world's eyes to Burma. We should maintain our gaze. Given that the United Nations is aware of the scale and severity of rights abuses in Burma, it is incumbent on the Security Council to authorize a commission of inquiry into crimes against humanity and war crimes in Burma. In previous, similar cases -- such as the situation in the former Yugoslavia, Rwanda and Darfur -- the council voted to create such a commission to investigate charges and recommend actions. So many U.N. bodies have documented severe human rights abuses that such a move on Burma is not only justified but long overdue.

Geoffrey Nice was the principal prosecution trial attorney in the case against Slobodan Milosevic in the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia in The Hague. Pedro Nikken was president of the Inter-American Court of Human Rights and is an executive committee member of the International Commission of Jurists.

READ MORE---> What the U.N. Can't Ignore in Burma...

Kachin student in coma after brutal assault by soldiers - Hpuwan La San

Written by KNG

After the brutal assault by Burmese Army soldiers, a teenaged Kachin student is in a coma for three days in hospital. He was beaten up severely at the railway station of Mayan Village in Burma's northern Kachin State on May 31 by a section of soldiers, said local sources close to the boy.

Burmese regime's Northern Commander Brig-Gen Soe Win

An eighth grade student Hpuwan La San (14) was innocent but wrongly assaulted by a group of angry soldiers from the village-based Burmese Army Artillery Battalion No. 372 led by Lt-Col. Ye Yint Twe . The assault followed a dispute between the soldiers and local Kachin young men, according to the students' relatives.

His relatives added that teenaged Hpuwan La San was assaulted without being asked any questions by the Burmese soldiers while he was waiting for a train to go back to his home in Myitkyina, the capital of Kachin State. He fell unconscious on the scene of assault, said relatives.

He was first hospitalized in Namti, a small city near Mayan Village and later moved to the military hospital of the junta's Northern Command HQ in Myitkyina, said Namti hospital sources. He is now in a coma and vomiting blood. He has multiple fractures on his entire body following the assault, said relatives who visited him in hospital.

Besides, over four more innocent high school students from the village were also assaulted in their homes by Burmese soldiers but their injuries are not serious, said villagers.

La San was not involved in the clash between the soldiers and young men in the village. The fight took place after the young men prevented a teenage Kachin girl called Wa Sha Ki from being raped with a knife held to her throat by four Burmese soldiers in the afternoon of May 31.

The four Burmese soldiers were beaten up by a group of Kachin youths soon after they attempted to rape Wa Sha Ki. In a harsh retaliation local Burmese soldiers, led by the Artillery battalion commander Lt-Col. Ye Yint Twe went on the rampage on Kachin young men. Over 30 troops were ordered to "Kill all Kachin young men in the village."

The army operation took place between 7 p.m. and 10 p.m. Burma Standard Time. The troops assaulted Kachin young men in every place in the village, said villagers.

Yesterday, a high ranking army officer from the Northern Command HQ based in Myitkyina visited the scene and met village administrators and village leaders.

He ordered that Hpuwan La San’s responsibility must be taken by both the village and the village-based Artillery Battalion. He made a simple apology for the words of the battalion commander Ye Yint Twe---- ‘Kill all Kachin young men in the village.’ He said "Don't listen to those words. It is what wicked people say," said villagers.

During the short visit, the army officer promised that soldiers will not assault Kachin young men in the village any more. But more than 30 young men are still hiding in the forests, said villagers.

According to villagers, severe problems in the village started cropping up after the Burmese Army's Artillery Battalion set up base in the village in 2004. The soldiers slaughter cattle owned by villagers without paying, confiscate land and rape women.

It is at such tumultuous times that Kachin people in Burma and abroad have voiced their opinion and suggested that the Kachin Independence Army (KIA), the biggest Kachin ceasefire group in the country break the ceasefire agreement and resume war with the Burmese military regime.

READ MORE---> Kachin student in coma after brutal assault by soldiers - Hpuwan La San...

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