Monday, June 8, 2009

Warning to members is a threat to party: Win Tin

by Salai Pi Pi

New Delhi (Mizzima) - The National League for Democracy (NLD) is faced with a new threat with the ruling junta having warned and restricted it from issuing statements, an executive member of the party said on Monday.

Win Tin, a veteran journalist and Central Executive Committee (CEC) member of the NLD, said the junta’s warning to party leaders and youths came in the wake of a statement issued last week by the Youth Working Group. It is a new threat to the party and also signals an increasing crackdown on party activities.

The NLD Youth Working Group on June 2 issued a statement condemning the ongoing trial of party leader Aung San Suu Kyi saying that the junta is applying an ineffective law of the 1974 constitution to sue her and to continue to detain her.

The youth group also said that the trial was not free and fair as the defendant was only allowed one witness while the prosecution presented 14.

In a vindictive response to the statement, the junta authorities on Friday summoned the NLD CEC members along with leaders of the Youth Working Group and warned them. They made them sign a pledge not to repeat such accusations.

The junta, in its mouthpiece newspaper, the New Light of Myanmar, on Saturday said the statement by the NLD youth was “misleading and was disturbing the court’s proceedings,” in Aung San Suu Kyi’s trial.

“It is a threat to us as our members, including youths, have been warned about issuing statements, which we as a legal political party used to issue and have the right to,” Win Tin said.

“It is also a restriction of freedom of expression,” Win Tin added.

On June 4, the authorities called members of the NLD youth wing Hla Thein, Myo Nyunt, Hla Oo and Aye Tun and on June 5 called CEC members Than Htun, Nyunt Wei, Hla Phe and Soe Myint and warned them against issuing statements.

“When we were summoned, they read out a paper the content of which was similar to the context in the newspaper. They said, we had broken the law,” a youth member told Mizzima.

“After they finished reading, they told us to sign the paper as a confession that we had committed a crime,” he added.

READ MORE---> Warning to members is a threat to party: Win Tin...

Clashes Force More Karens to Thailand

The Irrawaddy News

Ongoing attacks by a joint force of Burmese army and breakaway Democratic Karen Buddhist Army (DKBA) troops against the rebel Karen National Liberation Army (KNLA) Brigade 7 in southern Karen State have resulted in more than 3,500 Karen villagers from Pa-an District fleeing to Thailand since June 1 without sufficient food, shelter, clothing or medical care.

Emergency assistance for the new wave of Karen refugees is urgently needed, said Karen relief groups.

Children are among the 3,500 refugees who have recently been forced to flee Karen State. (Source: US Campaign for Burma)

Several observers have said that the recent wave of attacks against the Karen rebels could be part of a strategy to divert attention from the ongoing trial of pro-democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi in Rangoon. Others have speculated that the skirmishes are a belligerent response to the Thai government because of its public criticism of Burma’s handling of Suu Kyi’s trial.

Battalions of the DKBA and the Burmese army, also known as the Tatmadaw, have been reinforcing their troop numbers since early June and it is now estimated that about 9,000 armed soldiers—including an unknown number of porters—have amassed in strategic areas of Karen State in preparation for further military operations against KNLA Brigade 7, according to Karen sources.

Kavi Chongkittavorn, a columnist with the Bangkok-based English newspaper The Nation, reported on Monday that the ongoing attacks against the KNLA near the Thai-Burmese border were “timed to create chaos among Thai decision-makers,” perhaps indicating that Thai policy makers would be kept busy with the influx of Karen refugees on Thai soil.

In its current position as chairman of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, Thailand had rebuked the Burmese junta for its trumped-up charges against Burmese opposition leader Suu Kyi. Burmese state-run newspapers angrily responded by accusing the Thais of interfering in Burma’s internal affairs.

Thai soldiers mobilize at Tha Song Yang District in Tak Province after clashes between the Burmese army and Karen rebels caused some 3,000 Karen villagers to seek refuge in Thailand. (Source: Bangkok Post)

The Nation columnist added that the military onslaughts also seem to have been designed to “drive a wedge in Thai-Chinese cooperation on Burma.”

Food, shelter, clothing and medical treatment are urgently needed as the Karen refugees could carry few belongings and are camped in the rain on the banks of the Moei River, with no proper shelter and little food. Some refugees are now hiding in jungle and will be at higher risk of diseases such as malaria as the rainy season commences.

Joint secretary 1 of the KNLA’s political wing, the Karen National Union (KNU), Maj Hla Ngwe, said that the offensive may be a part of a Burmese regime reaction to annoy Thailand.

He said the offensive is a signal that the Burmese regime does not seriously want to negotiate with the KNU and sign a ceasefire agreement.

David Thakapaw, the joint-secretary of the KNU, said the offensive was a smokescreen to divert world attention from the trial of Suu Kyi.

He concurred that the offensive was an indication that the Burmese regime does not want to talk about a ceasefire with the KNU.

However, Thakapaw said that the KNU was ready to fight against the Burmese army if the regime does not want to talk about a ceasefire agreement with the KNU and establish national reconciliation.

In April, Thai Foreign Minister Kasit Piromya passed on a message to KNU leaders reportedly sent by Burmese Prime Minister Gen Thein Sein that Burmese authorities wanted to negotiate with the KNU.

After meeting with the Thai foreign minister, KNU leaders reported to Kasit that they had agreed to meet with the junta’s representatives.

However, there has been no further contact from the Burmese authorities since then, according to KNU sources.

Htay Aung, a Burmese researcher with the exiled Network for Democracy and Development, said the offensive would appear to be part of the Burmese regime’s military activities to pressure the KNU to disarm.

“The Burmese regime does not want the KNU to be stable, because they think that the KNU is the leading player among the Burmese opposition groups in exile. So, they are always trying to destroy the KNU in any way they can,” he said.

According to Karen human rights and relief groups, clashes between the armed factions occurred throughout the weekend of June 6-7, but started during the first week of May.

Poe Shen, the field director for the Karen Human Rights Group, confirmed that an estimated 3,500 Karen refugees had fled their homes and are now staying in Tha Song Yang district in Thailand’s Tak Province.

Saw Steve, of the Karen relief group Committee for Internally Displaced Karen People, said the DKBA was aggressively arresting villagers in its controlled areas and forcing them to serve as porters during the fighting.

The most recent attacks were being launched by Burmese battalions under Light Infantry Division 22 and DKBA battalions 999, 555 and 333, said the Karen sources.

Hla Ngwe said that further attacks and further displacement of Karen villagers were expected.

READ MORE---> Clashes Force More Karens to Thailand...

Abuse of labour rights in Arakan

Sittwe (Narinjara): Twenty five workers from a salt production site ran away for fear of arrest by police after the owner of the business lodged a complaint accusing them of stealing salt, said the father of a worker in Sittwe.

“My son, who was working in the salt production site, informed me that he fled from the workplace after a police team came to arrest them after the owner accused them of stealing,” he said.

U Than Win, owns the salt factory called Shwe Pyi Phyo salt factory. It is located in Bogri Photha Wra ward in Sittwe, the capital of Arakan state.

The salt production site is located in Nga Pre That village in Pauk Taw Township, 30 miles from Arakan state capital Sittwe.

According to local sources, U Than Win had an agreement with 25 workers from Sittwe to produce salt from salt farms he owned in Nga Pre That village. It was also agreed to share the profit on a half and half basis between the owner and workers.

The workers produced many tons of raw salt from the farms during the summer period and received profits equally in accordance with the agreement.

In May, before the onset of the rainy season, the workers produced 300 bags of salt from the farms. They informed the owner of the amount produced and asked him to put it up for sale.

However, a police team led by Maung Tun Tha from Kyauk Taung police station located near the salt farm came to arrest them but all the workers managed to escape because the police team was short of manpower.

“I heard that the salt farm owner did not want to share the profits of the last production with the workers. So he lodged a complaint with a senior police official from Sittwe accusing the workers of misappropriation of salt. He urged the police officer to arrest them after bribing the officer,” the worker’s father said.

On the instructions of the police officer, police inspector Maung Tun Tha went to the salt farms along with four police constables to arrest the workers. The police team seized all salt in the farms and equipments after the workers fled. Later the police inspector handed over 300 salt bags and materials to U Than Win.

In Burma, there are no workers’, labour organizations or unions to fight for labour rights. Because of this many workers are suffering in many workplaces in Arakan state as well as in the rest of Burma.

READ MORE---> Abuse of labour rights in Arakan...

Color-coded employment cards for migrant workers issued

By Hseng Khio Fah

Thai labor ministry has recently prescribed color-coded employment cards under the forthcoming registration for workers from Burma, Laos and Cambodia to differentiate the sort of their works, according to the daily Thai newspaper Khomchadleuk reported last week.

Colors described were:

• Blue card will stand for fisheries
• Green card – agriculture
• Yellow card - construction
• Orange card - seafood factories
• Gray card - domestic work
• Pink card – general

Workers holding pink cards are available to get access to 19 types of work, the report said.

Even though migrant workers holding new registration cards will be allowed to work legally, they will be only appointed after Thai citizens fail to apply. But they will have the right to get access to the basic rights as Thai citizens.

On 2 June, Alien Employment Administration meeting (Kaw Raw Phaw) made up a new policy that job owners must give priority to Thai citizens allowing them 7 days to apply if there is a job vacancy.

The meeting also reached a decision to offer a new round of labor registration to new migrant workers and existing workers who previously lacked legal status.

“People who entered the country after the decision was made will not be allowed to apply for the registration. They will also be arrested and sent back,” labor minister Paitoon Kaewthong was quoted in the report.

During the registration period, border checkpoints would be strongly tightened to stop outsiders from coming to “seize the opportunity.”

He also said all work permit cards will be expired on 28 February 2010. After that employers must ask their workers to apply for passport document.

In Chiangmai province, the registration for the new workers will start from 1 July, a member of a right group said.

Bosses who are willing to appoint new workers can ask for quota at the Employment Department office, she said.

Now, workers holding current permits have been called upon to apply for another year of extension since early June. They were also required to apply for the nationality verification process at same time, according to a worker who was also required to submit the form.

People who pass the process of the nationality verification by their country will be allowed to work for another 2 years.

According to the report, about 500,000 migrant workers have registered with the labor ministry up to now. There are at least 2 million legal and illegal migrant workers in Thailand.

READ MORE---> Color-coded employment cards for migrant workers issued...

Kokang, Wa want to keep things as they are

(SHAN) -In their recent meetings with visiting junta negotiator Lt-Gen Ye Myint, both Kokang and Wa had expressed their wish to maintain the status quo before Naypyidaw introduced the transformation proposal, according to sources from the Sino-Burma border.

Peng Jiasheng

“Things had been going smoothly the way it should be,” Peng Jiasheng, Chairman of the Kokang’s Myanmar National Democratic Alliance Army (MNDAA) was quoted as telling Ye Myint on 4 June.

“Why should you want to change? It’s just like stirring up a beehive.”

Lt-Gen Ye Myint

His next meeting was with the Wa leaders in Panghsang yesterday which lasted three hours, from 1400-1700, in Burmese and Chinese, according to a source lose to the leadership. “All the division commanders upwards were present there,” he said. “And the gist of what we said was the same as what Peng told him earlier.”

The Burma Army’s chief broker, who is also Chief of the Military Affairs Security (MAS) had nevertheless brought what the Wa regarded as the only good news “He wasn’t harping on the June deadline anymore,” said the source. “ ‘Take your time to reconsider our proposal,’ was his request at the end of the meeting.”

Ye Myint is now in Mongyang, south of Panghsang, on his way to meet the Wa’s southern ally, the National Democratic Alliance Army-Eastern Shan State (NDAA-ESS) led by Sai Leun, at Mongla tomorrow.

Meanwhile, the situation along the Thai-Burma border is tense by all accounts. “We are being ordered by the area command (of the Burma Army) to dig bomb shelters and stock up rice and dry food,” a village elder at Nakawngmu, 29 miles north of the Chiangmai border, said. “Coming and going across the Salween at Tasang Bridge (between Mongpan in the West and Mongton in the east) has also become difficult since yesterday. More questions and more inspections.”

The Wa command on the Thai-Burma border, in addition to the demand to transform itself into a border security force and return to Panghsang, has been ordered to pull out from three strategic outposts. The Wa have so far refused to comply saying, “Our leaders are still in Panghsang.”

READ MORE---> Kokang, Wa want to keep things as they are...

Shan army set to cast a wide net

(SHAN) - The Restoration Council of Shan State (RCSS), the political arm of the Shan State Army (SSA) South, must do its utmost to form alliances with all the diverse groups both within Shan State and the rest of Burma, according to Chairman Yawd Serk.

“It’s time to win the SPDC’s former allies over,” he declared on 3 June, toward the end of a two-day bi-annual meeting in Loi Taileng, opposite Maehongson’s Pang Mapha district. “That doesn’t mean they have to become part of the RCSS/SSA. We can agree on an appropriate name.”

He was speaking in relation to the deteriorating relations between Naypyidaw and the ceasefire groups, following the former’s demand, at first, for the latter to lay down arms and, after their refusal, to transform themselves into border security forces under the Burma Army’s command. Most of the ceasefire groups, except for a few, have been against the call, saying their demands for greater autonomy have not been met.

“I know we all want to set up a single movement,” he continued. “But the prevalent call from all is for alliances. So let us become allies with others and go through a trust-building process like forming joint commands and joint military exercises. As trust grows, we can, by common consent, form a single movement later.”

The SSA, together with 3 other groups, namely,

Lahu Democratic Union (LDU),
PaO National Liberation Organization (PNLO) and
Tai Coordination Committee (TCC),

has already formed the Shan State Congress (SSC).

The 6 State Military Alliance with:
Arakan Liberation Party (ALP),
Chin National Front (CNF),
Kachin National Organization (KNO),
Karen National Union (KNU) and
Karenni National Progressive Party (KNPP)

was formed earlier. “The military alliance has been dormant for some time,” he conceded. “But with the 2010 elections coming up, there is a strong need to bring it back.”

The SSA, together with most of the opposition movements, regards the elections being planned by Naypyidaw as illegitimate.

The meeting also resolved to form alliances with “any group either political or military that recognizes the SPDC military clique as enemy.” The resolution followed a statement made by the 12th Strategic Consultation Meeting (SCM) on 6 April to form a broad-based alliance against the 2008 Constitution and the 2010 planned election that, it said, would only “entrench the military rule.”

The SCM was formed by the

National Council of the Union of Burma (NCUB),
National Coalition Government of the Union of Burma (NCGUB),
Ethnic Nationalities Council (ENC),
Women’s League of Burma (WLB),
Forum for Democracy in Burma (FDB),
Student and Youth Congress of Burma (SYCB) and
Nationalities Youth Forum (NYF).

The SSA currently appears to be the strongest anti-Naypyidaw armed movement. The population of Loi Taileng, its main base alone, is over 13,000, of which less than 3,000 of them are Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs), according to the report submitted at the meeting.

There are four other SSA bases along the Thai-Burma border:

READ MORE---> Shan army set to cast a wide net...

The World is Ready for President Aung San Suu Kyi

The Irrawaddy News

In a functioning democracy facing a general election, Aung San Suu Kyi would be president-in-waiting of a country yearning for her leadership. A fair and free election would give her the leadership mandate she and her party won in 1990, only to have it annulled by a regime determined to hold on to power.

After its defeat in 1990, the regime can now be expected to use every ruse to make sure it retains executive power after the 2010 election. The rigged constitution forced on the country in May 2008 bars Suu Kyi from holding high political office, while her National League for Democracy is already experiencing pre-election intimidation.

It’s painful indeed to see a country that would benefit immeasurably from Suu Kyi’s leadership being shoved by a frightened military regime deeper into the abyss. That scenario, however, should not be allowed to silence the legitimate demand for Suu Kyi to be recognized as the rightful president of Burma. The board of The Irrawaddy wholeheartedly endorses that demand.

She warrants that title not only through public acclaim but also because of her outstanding leadership qualities and strength of character, which more than 13 years of house arrest and now the additional ordeal of a stage-managed trial have done nothing to blunt.

Despite the injustices and humiliation heaped upon her by a malicious regime and its thuggish supporters, Suu Kyi has never shown any antagonism towards her jailers, calling instead for national reconciliation and peaceful political dialogue. She has coolly displayed style and substance, winning support across the political spectrum in Burma.

Much of that support has been silenced behind prison walls where more than 2,000 political prisoners are serving draconian sentences. The country could benefit greatly from a Suu Kyi leadership drawing on the talents of people like the Shan leader Hkun Htun Oo, former Defense Minister General Tin Oo who is now under house arrest, veteran journalist-activist Win Tin, 88 Student Generation leaders Min Ko Naing, Ko Ko Gyi, Jimmy, Nilar Thein and Su Su Nway.

Former army officers could also be called on to help lead the country in a new direction, while Burmese expatriates would willingly return to join in the effort.

Realistically, Suu Kyi couldn’t be expected to have the silver bullet to solve all Burma’s grave problems, but nobody else has the qualities necessary to build a broad coalition, win the trust of ethnic nationalities and open up Burma to the rest of the world. She would recreate an untarnished international image of Burma and restore the confidence of important countries, including China and India.

She would also clean up the image of Burma’s armed forces and their leaders and, by virtue of her own lack of rancor, save them from the Burmese people’s wrath.

A president Suu Kyi would be comfortable on the world stage with leaders like US President Barack Obama and British Prime Minister Gordon Brown—both of whom have spoken out strongly on her behalf. She would speak on equal terms with Chinese President Hu Jintao and Thai Prime Minister Abihist Vejjajiva and restore her country’s moral authority in the region. Burma would at last have a national leader who is assured of a warm welcome in all the world’s capitals.

The pariah regime now ruling Burma doesn’t like to hear these truths, of course, but its leading generals should have the sense to realize by now that enough is enough, that only Suu Kyi can restore to the country the dignity they seem to value so much.

The world at large and Burma’s oppressed citizens are more than ready to welcome and extend hands of friendship and co-operation to a President Aung San Suu Kyi.

READ MORE---> The World is Ready for President Aung San Suu Kyi...

Another Ceasefire Group Rejects Border Guards Proposal

The Irrawaddy News

Another Burmese ceasefire group has rejected a government order to reassign its troops as border guards.

The Kokang group, the Myanmar National Democratic Alliance Army (MNDAA), based on the Sino-Burmese border, reportedly told the Naypyidaw regime it couldn’t accept the proposal in its present form and would wait until after the 2010 election and the formation of a new government before making a final decision.

The junta is pressuring ceasefire groups, especially those based on the Sino-Burmese border, such as Kokang, Kachin and Wa, to assign their troops for service as border guards under the joint-command of the Burmese Army. The Wa’s United Wa State Army (UWSA) rejected the proposal in May.

According to sources at the Sino-Burmese border, the MNDAA, led by famed warlord Jiasheng (Burmese: Phon Kyar Shin) and based in the border town of Laogai, told the junta that it isn’t yet ready to decide on the proposal.

Kokang leaders met Burmese Military Affairs Security Chief Lt-Gen Ye Myint on June 4 in Laogai. Sources said they told Ye Myint a decision would be taken after next year’s election and the formation of a new government.

According to the source, Ye Myint went on to meet UWSA leaders in Pangsan, on June 6.

Ye Myint is now at former casino hub Monglar, in the Golden Triangle area, and expected to meet leaders from the Monglar ceasefire group, the National Democratic Alliance Army, led by Sai Leun (aka Lin Mingxian).

The UWSA has an estimated 20,000 soldiers, the NDAA 1,200 and the MNDAA 600.

Sources speculated that the Wa and Kokang groups probably rejected the government proposal because they did not want to be subservient to Burmese command.

According to the Burmese regime’s guidelines, each border guard battalion would consist of 326 troops, including 30 from the Burmese army, of whom three would be Burmese officers with administrative positions.

The Wa and Kokang stand is not expected to lead to any confrontation with the regime, according to sources, because of the heavy pressure it faces from the international community over the trial of Aung San Suu Kyi.

Seventeen insurgent groups have signed ceasefire agreements with the ruling generals since 1989, according to official Burmese reports.

READ MORE---> Another Ceasefire Group Rejects Border Guards Proposal...

Experts Criticize Junta’s Temple Renovation Work

The Irrawaddy News

Burma’s state-run media has broken its long silence on the collapse of the historic Danok Pagoda, calling the structure’s failure a result of renovation work.

An estimated 20 people died in the accident.

Renovation was being carried out swiftly to complete the work before the onset of the rainy season, and the main structure was overloaded, said the story.

The 2,300-year-old Buddhist temple, located in Danok Model Village in Dalla Township in Rangoon Division, was approximately 120 feet in circumference and 50-feet high. It is revered for being a site where two Buddha relics are housed.

Following the accident, the regime had blocked public access to the pagoda site and suppressed news of the May 30 accident until Thursday, when the The New Light of Myanmar gave an official version of why the ancient structure collapsed.

After the collapse, the temple’s committee feared many of its precious ornaments were destroyed or lost in the accident. A resident of Danok model village said, “Authorities looked for the diamond orb, relics and other precious ornaments kept inside the stupa.” There was no report of what had been recovered.

Three weeks before the collapse of the pagoda, Kyaing Kyaing, the wife of Burmese junta chief Snr-Gen Than Shwe, along with family members and senior military officials’ families, attended a ceremony at which a hti, a sacred golden umbrella, was placed on top of the pagoda.

Over the years, many Burma historians and scholars have expressed alarm about the loss of historical structures, often citing the military regime’s handling of the Pagan temple complex in central Burma.

"Nowadays, a group of people called ‘pagoda trustees’ are immensely efficient in raising funds and giving a ‘new look’ to ancient monuments of religion without the least regard for restoration," said Dr Than Tun, a late professor of history and a member of the Burma Historical Society. "In fact they have over-repaired everything."

In a 1995 research paper titled "Defacing Old Pagan," he wrote: "In addition to all the natural and obvious dangers to antiquity, there are a whole lot of seemingly religious-minded people who think it a great merit to replace dilapidated images with new ones, bright with gold and gems, or to repaint an old shrine with variegated colors."

A scholar in Burma’s Archaeological Department said, “The government does not know the meaning of restoration and preservation. Now their work has destroyed history. Some ancient cultures and arts are defaced and vanished because of their mismanagement.”

G H Luce, one of the foremost European scholars on Burma, wrote in a 1969 three-volume book, “Old Burma-Early Pagan": "Most of the famous pagodas of Burma have been repaired so often that one can say little for certain about the original shape of their upper parts."

In 1997, a news story reported on the junta’s systematic looting of pagoda treasures at several temples in Upper Burma.

In one infamous incident, authorities broke open the famous Mahamuni Buddha image in Mandalay to search for a legendary ruby.

Some scholars have accused the junta of defacing or destroying Burmese culture and heritage.

In 2005, a leading archeological expert said the military regime was waging an “archaeological blitzkrieg” against the legendary Buddhist treasures of Pagan.

The UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) has not recognized Pagan as a World Heritage Site and efforts to work with the regime have been stymied over the years because of the junta’s rejection of UNESCO efforts to conduct work at an international level of restoration.

In 2005, the government was widely criticized for building a Nanmyint (royal tower), or “viewing tower,” about 60 meters high nearby ancient Pagan temples.

Christian Manhart, who works with UNESCO, said the viewing tower is “a Disney-style fantasy version of one of the world’s great religious and historical sites.”

Pagan expert Pierre Pichard called the tower “a cultural crime.”

A scholar of Burma’s Archaeological Department said, “Burmese authorities should understand the meanings of restoration and preservation. If they reconstruct completely, they will in effect destroy all the ancient culture and arts. The best way is simple preservation which does not damage the original structure. For good examples, you can look at Angkor Wat in Cambodia and Borobudur in Indonesia—both are UNESCO World Heritage sites.”

READ MORE---> Experts Criticize Junta’s Temple Renovation Work...

Girl Gang Raped and Man Has Hands Cut Off by Burma Army soldiers in Shan State

(Taifreedom)- A 15-year-old girl was raped by 12 Burma Army soldiers in Shan State according to information from the PaO National Liberation Organization. The soldiers from Light Infantry Battalion 426, including battalion commander Nyunt Oo, raped the girl on May 14 in an orange grove where she had been working. She is now in Taunggyi hospital.

Soldiers from the same LIB cut the hands off U Khun Lon, 35, from Kawn Tai village, Tan Yaan village area, Hsi Hseng district, southern Shan state, on May 18. The 13 soldiers forced the villagers together, tortured them and accused them of communicating with the resistance groups. Another man called Win Bo was hit several times with the butt of a rifle and seriously injured. The soldiers also burned down a house and took Win Bo and a further 18 villagers to Chee Ta Lee temple and tied them up. An attack on Burma Army soldiers on May 3 in the same area left 12 of these soldiers dead.

U Khun Main, 43, headman of Pan Nyo village in Sai Khow village area, also Hsi Hseng district, was cut around his head with a machete and beaten with rifle butts on May 23 by soldiers under Captain Sun Aung from the same LIB. He was seriously injured and is confined to his bed according to the PNLO.

On May 20, the LIB 421 led by Major Yae Htut came to Daw Na Kalu village on the Shan/Karenni border and stole from the villagers. They took five and a half kyat Tha of gold (worth approx US$2,619) and 11 silver coins worth about US$70 and 1.57 million kyat in cash (worth approx US$ 1,246). The soldiers also stole animals and told the villagers in East Paung Chaung they could not leave the village between 6pm and 6am.

According to information from the PNLO, since May 24, LIBs 425 and 426 are not allowing the PaO National Organization to go east of the road connecting Ho Pong and Hsi Hseng and are arresting anyone in camouflage clothes.

Some 500,000 PaO live in Shan State. The PNO signed a ceasefire with the SPDC in 1991, but soldiers of the PNLO continue to fight for independence. FBR Report

READ MORE---> Girl Gang Raped and Man Has Hands Cut Off by Burma Army soldiers in Shan State...

BDR pushes back Rohingyas everyday to Burma

Teknaf, Bangladesh (KPN): Everyday, the Bangladesh border security force (BDR) is pushing back Burmese nationals to Burma through different transit points of the border area, according to BDR sources.

More than 83 Rohingya, a Burmese ethnic minority, were pushed back to Burma from different transit points of the border this week, sources said.

BDR arrested 40 Rohingya from Cox’s Bazaar bound buses in different check-posts today, said Mintu, a bus driver from Cox’s Bazaar.

According to Major Md. Tanim Hossen, Operations Officer, 17 BDR Battalion, Cox's Bazar said that a total of 83 Rohingya, including man, women and children entered Bangladesh from different border points of Teknaf, Ukhiya and Nikkongchari upazila of Cox's Bazar district and Bandarban hill district during the last two days.

Later, the BDR pushed back three Rohingyas from Balokhali, three from Dum Dum Meah, 13 from Teknaf, seven from Sabrang and 14 from Shapuridip crossing point, he added.

Another 43 were pushed back to Burma from Balokhali land point yesterday.

The Burmese military junta is erecting fences on the Burma- Bangladesh border, where Rohingyas are forced to work in embankment construction, carrying stones and other material for fencing. They also face arbitrary arrests, torture for extortion. Besides, the army, Nasaka (Burma’s border security force) and police create problems between Rohingya villagers and the authorities to force the Rohingya community to flee them from their homes, the sources added.
(JEG's: they are not recognised by the junta but the Rohingya are good as junta's slaves)

According to sources, many Rohingyas are preparing to cross the Burma- Bangladesh border because of mounting persecution against the Rohingya community in Northern Arakan.

“Most of the Rohingya people, who are a Muslim minority, have been suffering and are oppressed under the Burmese military regime, socially, politically and economically. They are leaving their homeland to escape the Burmese junta’s repressive actions towards the Rohingya people,” a politician from Maungdaw said, when asked why these people were leaving their native place.

READ MORE---> BDR pushes back Rohingyas everyday to Burma...

ILO condemns Burmese law allowing forced labour

(DVB)–A United Nations group has called for a revision of a clause in the Burmese constitution that apparently justifies the use of forced labour, and has said that cases of forced labour in Burma continue unabated.

In the past two years the International Labour Organisation (ILO) has received 152 complaints of forced labour in Burma.

At a meeting in Geneva over the weekend, the ILO voiced concern over a clause in the new Burmese constitution, ratified last May, that prohibits forced labour “except hard labor as a punishment for crime duly convicted”.

Burma’s representative at the Geneva meeting said that the government "cannot accept criticism on our constitution process,” when ILO asked to bring the article into conformity with labour rules.

According to the chairman of the Federation of Trade Unions (Burma), Maung Maung, those present at the meeting voiced their frustration at the slow pace of Burma’s political transformation and continued instances of forced labour.

A report released by the ILO last week warned that the number of complaints doesn’t reflect the extent of forced labour practices in Burma.

Victims can face difficulties in filing complaints: the ILO is situated in Rangoon with only limited resources, and forced labour victims don’t always have reliable communication systems or travelling possibilities.

Filing a complaint itself can also be dangerous: in 15 out of the 152 complaints received, the ILO has received information alleging harassment or reprisals by government authorities.

“The major difficulty we are facing is that there is no convenience in reporting the abuses,” said Maung Maung.

“We suggest the ILO open more offices in Mandalay and also in Arakan and Karen states.”

Of the 152 complaints of forced labour received by the ILO, a third involved the recruitment of child soldiers.

The government response has generally been that the child ‘volunteered’ for army, whilst the ILO stand is that accepting volunteers under the age of 18 is against the law.

Reporting by Yee May Aung and Rosalie Smith

READ MORE---> ILO condemns Burmese law allowing forced labour...

Junta clampdown on exiled radio listeners

(DVB)–The Burmese junta has clamped down on the rising numbers of unlicensed radio owners in a move that media experts see as restriction on the freedom of media and access to pro-democracy broadcasts.

The ruling junta yesterday issued a warning in the New Light of Myanmar newspaper that those listening to radio without holding a license could be prosecuted under the Wireless Act.

The warning carried no information on why people would be prosecuted nor why numbers of listeners are increasing, but a Burmese journalist on the China-Burma border said the increase was linked to the political crisis.

People tend to buy radios when there is a stir in politics,” he said.

“[The 2007 protests] was like it is now. As soon as it was like that, people bought radios. During 2003 Depayin (massacre), people bought [radios]."

He added that sales of shortwave radios manufactured by China, which are used by exiled Burmese media groups to broadcast, were also on the rise.

Coverage of the trial of opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi by domestic Burmese media is heavily controlled.

Heavily censored private newspapers and journals are restricted from publishing any information that isn't covered in the state-run publications.

Media watchdog Reporters Without Borders last month criticised the trial reporting as one-sided.

“Even with limited access, the Burmese public is not being properly informed as the military’s prior censorship prevents any independent coverage.”

The chairman of the exiled Burma Media Association (BMA) said the move is an attempt to restrict the freedom of media and a means to arrest listeners of exiled media.

"The military government's…legal actions on radio listeners who do not pay license fees… is an effort to hamper the people of Burma who have been depending more and more on foreign radios lately,” said Maung Maung Myint.

“Let's say, if they want to take action on listeners of foreign radios, they want to create a scenario in which they could arrest them not for listening to the radio but for not licensing their radios."

Reporting by Htet Aung Kyaw

READ MORE---> Junta clampdown on exiled radio listeners...

Thousands of Burmese flee offensive to Thai border

(DVB)–Following a series of offensives over the weekend by government troops against the Karen National Union, over 3000 Karen villagers, many of whom are women and children, have now fled into Thailand.

Government troops backed by the Democratic Karen Buddhist Army (DKBA) have been launching joint offensives against the KNU’s armed wing, the Karen National Liberation Army (KNLA), since early last week.

Fresh clashes have been breaking out near villages in Hlaingbwe and Paingkyone townships, in Karen state’s Pa-an district.

On Friday, the Karen Human Rights Group reported that DKBA soldiers had been forcefully recruiting villagers to walk in front of troop patrols, acting as minesweepers.

“I met over 1,000 [refugees] at a monastery inside Thailand,” said Nang Phaw Kay of the Karen Information Committee (KIC).

“Most of them are mothers, children, and pregnant women. Only a few of them are men.”

Thai villages are taking care of the health of the refugees and food is being provided by the Thai Burma Border Consortium (TBBC), said Nang Phaw Kay, who added that there is shortage of shelter and lodging for the refugees.

Government troops and the DKBA have been sporadically firing heavy weapons at Ler Per Har refugee camp, with around 30 rounds fired yesterday.

The Free Burma Rangers medical organization, who have brought food and medical supplies to the refugees in Thailand, report that around 3,295 have fled the camp alone.

Reporting by DVB

READ MORE---> Thousands of Burmese flee offensive to Thai border...

Mae Sot Workers Hungry for Suu Kyi News

The Irrawaddy News

MAE SOT — Factory workers along the Thai-Burma border are simmering with anger over the ongoing trial of Burma's democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi.

News of the trial has quickly spread through the factories and ignited quiet outrage amongst the workers. For many of the migrant workers, the Burmese government is to blame for the financial misery which has led them here to the factory floor. Their only hope for being able to return home is the release of Suu Kyi who could now face a further five years imprisonment.

"I am so angry, now we are working like slaves in another country," said a knitter in his early 20s in a textile factory. "If she is released, then she will be able to sort out all our country's problems, and I can go home to my family."

The workers are shocked by the news coming out of Burma but hardly surprised.

"I knew she was due for release soon so I expected the SPDC would do something," said another worker from Pegu. "I am angry but because I am a migrant worker I feel so helpless."

With so many counting on her, the present trial is a great concern for all the migrant workers who anticipate the day they can live and work in Burma.

Relieved from their eleven-hour shifts twice a day, most of the workers catch up on the news during their breaks.

In one knitting factory, workers watch the Democratic Voice of Burma TV in the canteen during lunch. Many of the factories have TVs, but they are often muted or playing Burma's state channel—MRTV.

In the factories that don't have TVs, the workers go to the tea shops in the factory compounds and get updates from the radio.

Most workers don't listen to exiled media radio stations such as the BBC or RFA. Workers are attracted to the "good pop music" on Padauk Myay, a government-owned radio station in Rangoon. Airing at 5:30 am till 8 am, it is convenient for workers to listen to as they prepare for work.

Mae Sot-based organizations suspect it was designed to interfere with exiled media agencies' programs. Radio listeners in Rangoon have reported Padauk Mayay radio interrupting BBC news programs and temporarily taking over the frequency.

Like all media in Burma the radio stations adhere to the junta's policy. Although it has reported the Suu Kyi trial, a lot of the details are left out so workers must rely on colleagues who listen to international news for the whole story.

"Not every worker has access to international news," said one worker. "Some of the workers who know the whole picture have been informing their colleagues who listen to the government radio stations."

For the latest information many of the workers rely on the handful of organizations that were set up to improve the working and living conditions for migrant workers.

The Yaung Chi Oo Workers Association publishes a monthly magazine that is popular amongst the migrant community, and it has become a source that informs the workers about issues relating to Burma.

Similarly, the Overseas Irrawaddy Association looks after all migrant workers who come from the Irrawaddy delta region. Many of the factory workers frequent the office to get regular updates about the trial. The chairman, Saya Pu, once a student activist, also worked in factories before setting up the organization.

"I set up the organization not for my living but to tell the workers about human rights and democracy," said Saya Pu. "I push them all to read the news as much as they can."

READ MORE---> Mae Sot Workers Hungry for Suu Kyi News...

Jurists Want Security Council to Open Burma War Crimes Probe

The Irrawaddy News

BANGKOK — Thanks to support from China and Russia, Burma’s military regime has escaped harsh criticism at the UN Security Council. But this diplomatic deal could come under pressure following the release of a report commissioned by leading international jurists, accusing the regime of committing "war crimes."

"We call on the UN Security Council urgently to establish a Commission of Inquiry to investigate and report on crimes against humanity and war crimes in Burma," wrote the five jurists from Britain, Mongolia, South Africa, the United States and Venezuela in the introduction to the report, "Crimes in Burma."

"The world cannot wait while the military regime continues its atrocities against the people of Burma," added the jurists, who include South Africa’s Richard Goldstone, Britain’s Sir Geoffrey Nice and Venezuela’s Pedro Nikken. "The report’s findings are both disturbing and compelling."

The report, which was released in late May, accuses the regime in Burma of perpetrating "epidemic levels" of forced labor, the recruitment of tens of thousands of child soldiers, widespread sexual violence, extrajudicial killings and torture, and displacement of more than a million people.

The scale of violence—as the Burmese military continues its decades-long campaign to crush ethnic rebel movements in the eastern corner of this Southeast Asian nation—has also left a trail of destruction that has parallels with the brutal civil war in Sudan.

"One statistic may stand out above all others, however: the destruction, displacement or damage of over 3,000 ethnic nationality villages over the past 12 years—many burned to the ground," the report revealed. "This is comparable to the number of villages estimated to have been destroyed or damaged in Darfur."

Prodding the Security Council to consider the violations in Burma as it has done with Darfur is only one part of the argument being pushed in this initiative to trigger a probe. The other is the source of the details revealed about the on-going violations in Burma. The information was culled from reports submitted over the years by UN special envoys assigned as part of a monitoring mechanism to inform the world body about the situation in Burma.

"UN mechanisms have noted there are widespread abuses in Burma," says Tyler Giannini, a co-author of the report that was prepared by the International Human Rights Clinic at the law school of the US-based Harvard University. "There is a prima facie case for the UN Security Council to set up a commission to investigate crimes against humanity in Burma."

UN General Assembly resolutions on Burma reflect this. "Discrimination and violations suffered by persons belonging to ethnic nationalities of Myanmar [include] extrajudicial killing, rape and other forms of sexual violence persistently carried out by members of the armed forces," stated one resolution before the General Assembly in 2007.

But, for the Security Council to issue a binding resolution to establish a special commission of inquiry is a daunting task. "It is a very tough job," says Thaung Htun, UN affairs representative for the National Coalition Government of the Union of Burma (NCGUB), the democratically-elected government forced into exile.

"The Security Council is very much divided on Burma, with France, the US and UK in one camp and Russia and China in another," Htun told IPS. "Russia and China continue to say that the situation in Burma is not a threat to international peace and security."

That argument by the Burmese junta’s strongest backers in the Security Council embodies the hurdles that have been placed ahead of any resolution calling the regime to account for its litany of abuses. The first breakthrough was in 2006, when the Burmese situation was placed for discussion on the Council’s agenda.

That was followed in late 2007 by a statement released by the president of the Council following a harsh crackdown of peaceful, pro-democracy protesters led by thousands of Buddhist monks in September 2007.

In late May this year, the Council issued a unanimous press statement calling for the release of the over 2,100 political prisoners in Burma - including that of democratically-elected prime minister and pro-democracy icon Aung San Suu Kyi. The statement also expressed concern over the recent trial Suu Kyi has been subject to.

This slight opening in the Council to comment on Burma came after the other available UN mechanisms proved ineffective. The military regime has barely demonstrated a shift in policy since 1992, when resolutions critical of the regime began to be placed annually at the General Assembly. The junta responded with a similar cold shoulder when hauled up for violations at the UN human rights body in Geneva.

But there was no mention of war crimes being committed by the regime in those UN reports and resolutions spanning the last 16 years. Consequently, the Harvard University report commissioned by the five international jurists marks a watershed.

"There has been some talk within the Burmese democracy movement about this issue of war crimes but it did not result in a report like the Harvard one," says Khin Ohmar, foreign affairs secretary at the Forum for Democracy in Burma, a network of Burmese political exiles. "This is the first time such a case has been made formally."

"But we should not let this move overshadow the need for dialogue and reconciliation in Burma," she said in an interview. "I see it as two separate issues. This is all about justice. Seeking justice cannot be undermined by the political process."

Another factor has also helped in placing the Burmese regime in this new line of fire - the establishment of the International Criminal Court (ICC) in 2002 in The Hague.

Currently the ICC—which has the authority under the international treaty that created it to investigate crimes against humanity and war crimes—is probing violations in Northern Uganda, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, the Central African Republic and Darfur.

"The emergence of a new international justice order is a factor to push for a probe into crimes against humanity in Burma," says David Scott Mathieson, the Burma consultant for Human Rights Watch, the New York-based rights watchdog. "And the international community now knows more of what is now happening in Burma."

READ MORE---> Jurists Want Security Council to Open Burma War Crimes Probe...

Slide Show - Burmese Factor in Thai-Sino Relations

READ MORE---> Slide Show - Burmese Factor in Thai-Sino Relations...

The Burmese factor in Thai-Sino relations


By Kavi Chongkittavorn

The Nation - WHILE THE TRIAL of Aung San Suu Kyi was delayed, Burma has been acting with alacrity in the past few days with a two-pronged offensive - to disrupt the Thai-Burma border, and to drive a wedge in Thai-Chinese cooperation on Burma.

The attacks on the Karen National Union along the Thai-Burma border beginning last week fit in with the pattern established in the past two decades. These onslaughts will cause concern among the Thai security forces about the influx of refugees and disrupt border trade. Indeed, they were timed to create maximum chaos among Thai decision-makers. This armed offensive, part of the comprehensive Burmese national defence strategy against Thailand, has been used time and again with satisfying success due to the predictable responses of the Thai armed forces and bureaucracy.

Whenever assertive Thai diplomacy towards Burma is in the making - this time around the Abhisit government's attitude was the case in point - the porous Thai-Burmese border immediately turns into a conflict zone. Then, Rangoon's additional pressure would be placed on trade and energy sectors.

The border attacks on minority groups would follow after wide-publicity of comments made by Thai officials or politicians on the negative impact if Thai-Burmese relations were disrupted. After May 19, Rangoon did exactly that.

The Burmese junta-controlled media have been criticising Thailand both as the Asean chair and as its Western neighbour for violating the non-interference principle. None of them have ever questioned their government's commitment and compliance to the Asean Charter or being part of the grouping's collective responsibility.

Comments by Noppadol Pattama and General Sonthi Boonyaratglin last week on the Abhisit government's policy towards Burma were used to highlight the dissident views within Thai society. Indeed, they made the comments as a favour to Burma. Sonthi's views were typical and the most damaging. He had the audacity to say that if Thailand has a conflict with Burma, it will face defeat. What boggles the mind is that Sonthi, the former coup leader, is now aspiring to become prime minister.

In February, Foreign Minister Kasit Piromya urged energy-related agencies, especially the Petroleum Authority of Thailand (PTT), to review its energy policy and take a more holistic approach on Burma. The Thai energy need has increased due to continued industrialisation in the past decades, which has further deepened the country's dependence on Burma's energy and natural resources. Somehow, the reckless top echelon of the Thai energy sector is very recalcitrant due to the web of vested-interest groups to think outside the box. Rather, they prefer to be the subject of Burma's constant blackmail. Sad but true, the Stockholm syndrome is not only proliferating but firmly gripping the movers and shakers in the energy sector.

As Asean chair, Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva has proved to be an effective leader even when he was besieged by domestic turmoil at various regional and international outings on behalf of Asean. But on Thai-Burmese relations, he must be a thousand-fold firmer in pressing concerned agencies to cooperate with the armed forces and diplomats to come up with a long-term defence strategy on Burma. So far, Thailand does not have any centralised blueprint, most of them are piecemeal and ad hoc approaches.

The political situation in Burma will feature high on the agenda of Foreign Minister Kasit Piromya's visit to Beijing on Wednesday and a subsequent visit by Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva from June 24-26. The two nations have been consulting each other on their pariah neighbour to ascertain whether their respective positions would not undermine each other.

Thailand and China are facing a similar dilemma dealing with Burma emanating from their dependency on natural gas and resources imports and long shared common borders. China and Burma have a 2,192km border while the Thai-Burma border stretches over 2,004 km.They have been exposed to a myriad of problems, including illegal migrant workers, drugs and human trafficking. In addition, various armed minority groups are also active along the border.

In the past Burma's internal situation was a taboo in Thai-China relations. Occasionally, they took up the issue and agreed to disagree. During 2001-2006, however, Thailand's position on Burma was akin to China's - do not rock the boat. Both nations defended Burma regionally and internationally urging the international community to allow Burma to settle its own problems. They no longer walk on the Burmese side.

Given the severity of international condemnation of Suu Kyi's trial and the ongoing oppression inside Burma, both countries realise they have to work closely together to engage Burma in a more coordinated way. Otherwise, they could be targets of manipulation by Rangoon. After the Asean Charter is in force, there is more room for Beijing to express solidarity with the grouping on a broad range of issues including the situation in Burma.

The recent joint statements from the UN Security Council as well as Asean-Asem (Asia-Europe Meeting) were an affidavit of Beijing's pragmatism. Continued strong support of the Asean chair's statement on Burma has augured well with the current sentiment within the top Chinese leadership who have for years been looking for a unified Asean position on Burma that they can back and use as a rallying point. As a matter of policy, China will support the Asean collective position on Burma.

From Beijing's viewpoint, instability in neighbouring countries directly impact on its own security situation.

Currently, four out of 14 countries sharing borders with China are in perpetual crisis and chaos or luan in Chinese.

China is concerned about the possible spill-over effects of fighting against the al-Qaeda and Taleban in Pakistan and Afghanistan. With the rising tension in the Korean Peninsula in recent weeks, China is sitting near a time bomb, if it fails to convince North Korea to stand down on its nuclear missile threats.

With Beijing's growing clout in world politics so its international responsibility becomes bigger. China cannot be seen as an indifferent player. Worse of all would be the perception that China is undermining the Asean charter and the Asean chair, which happens to be Thailand, a close friend. Deep down, China would like to see stable Thai-Burma as well as Burma-Asean ties. However, under the current circumstance, China would need to play the balancing act between its own national interest and rising expectations in Asean and international community.

Abhisit on behalf of Asean must strongly appeal to China for support and impress on Burma to accommodate the grouping's concern. A stronger Asean is good for China. A stable Burma is good for both China and Asean. Then, the grouping can concentrate on its internal integration and community building. China can give its full energy and resources to its ever increasing international engagement.

Furthermore China's much-needed support would create a reservoir of goodwill within Asean - the score card Beijing might find useful in the future. After Thailand, Vietnam will assume the next Asean chair. As is well-known, Vietnam has long-standing conflicting claims with China over the resource-rich group of islands known as the Spratly and Paracels in South China Sea.

Truth be told, the reason Burma was admitted to Asean on a fast-track in 1997 was mainly due to the Asean senior officials' decision in January 1995 to check China's advance southward to the mainland Southeast Asia. Embracing Burma quickly was one measure to halt Beijing's influence by enabling the regime to be part of the regional community.

For the first time, China has to face-off with the new regional situation - coping with two pivotal neighbours - one is strategically located giving Beijing access to two oceans and numerous logistic advantages and the other is a traditional friend and concurrently the Asean chair. Soon, China will show its true colour.

READ MORE---> The Burmese factor in Thai-Sino relations...

Isolating Burma Isn’t Helpful

By Nehginpao Kipgen

(Asian Tribune) -The reclusive Burma, a Southeast Asian nation, has once again made headlines in international newspapers and television networks with the arrest of John William Yettaw, an American man on May 6, and the subsequent events.

The charges leveled against Aung San Suu Kyi and her arraignment at the notorious Insein prison has drawn the attention of the world. The detention of Suu Kyi, general secretary of the National League for Democracy, was set to expire on May 27.

Although the whole purpose of the secretive visit has not yet been fully disclosed, it is very likely that the man might have wanted to write about the ordeals Suu Kyi went through during the years of her house arrest. It could also be that the man wanted to know the lady’s views on the future of Burma, especially before the scheduled 2010 election.

The charges and a possible extension of Suu Kyi’s detention have outraged many world leaders from the east to the west. A member from the traditionally silent Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) has spoken up against the military junta, this time.

"We urge the government of Myanmar to resolve the matter speedily and to release Aung San Suu Kyi immediately and unconditionally," said Philippine foreign affairs secretary Alberto Romulo on May 17.

While this comment from fellow ASEAN members may have led some to believe that a new tone has come, but this will have very little or no impact on how the Burmese military decides the fate of Aung San Suu Kyi. Under the military dictatorship, the decision of the military leaders becomes the law of the land.

Criticisms have also come in from the western world – leaders from the United Kingdom, European Union, the United Nations, and the United States of America.

"I have determined that it is necessary to continue the national emergency with respect to Burma and maintain in force the sanctions against Burma to respond to this threat," president Obama said in a message to the U.S. Congress on May 15.

While it is not a preposterous development for the United States to extend its traditional policy of sanctions, it is time the administration realizes the limitations of sanctions alone. As long as the U.S. is bent only on sanctions, it will continue to see the deterioration of Burma in the hands of the recalcitrant military rulers.

The policy of isolation minimizes the leverage the United States has on the military leaders. This does not, however, justifies that sanctions do not hurt the military regime. It definitely hurts Burma as a whole, but it simply is not enough to bring a democratic change.

If Washington were to launch a military strike against Naypyitaw, the U.S. isolationist policy will be sufficiently effective. However, this is not the case. The U.S. must engage the military leaders in one way or another. A direct dialogue between heads of states may not be an immediate option; nonetheless the U.S. should somehow engage Burma, possibly through an envoy.

Though China and India have immense business deals with the Burmese military junta, the Burmese people still largely believe that the United States can deliver a solution to the decades-old socio-political problems.

The latest move against Aung San Suu Kyi is not surprising at all. The military understands very well the sympathy and overwhelming support the lady has garnered across the country and around the world. The military still considers Suu Kyi as one of the greatest threats to its government.

The military is unlikely to release the 1991 Nobel laureate before the 2010 election; even if there is any consideration, it will be with condition, such as limiting her movement inside the country.

Taking Burma’s case to the U.N. Security Council will again be unyielding. Even if a presidential statement could be agreed upon, it will largely be a symbolic one, as happened in the past.

To have influence on Burma, the United States and European Union, in consultation with Asian nations, should formulate a strategy to engage the military generals. Without a new strategy, the U.S. will continue to have a limited leverage on Burma.

Though it has not contributed to a democratic change, the Asian community has already engaged Burma. It will be easier for the United States and European Union to convince the Asian community to formulate a common engagement strategy on Burma, than asking them to pursue isolationist policy.

The release of political prisoners, including Aung San Suu Kyi, is one concern the east and the west share in common. This can serve as a basis of forming a common strategy.

Nehginpao Kipgen is general secretary of the U.S.-based Kuki International Forum ( and a researcher on the rise of political conflicts in modern Burma (1947-2004).

- Asian Tribune -

READ MORE---> Isolating Burma Isn’t Helpful...

Sydney University offers protest degrees

when the junta sent their police to be trained in Australia
to fight "anti-government" terrorism ...
they said it was for terrorism but it is used for social supremacy
splendid imagination and idea we think... :)
the tools are handed to us… let’s grab it.. !

By Joe Hildebrand

ANTI-military activists have been offered training on how to disrupt Australia's top-level wargames with the US military in an official course run by Sydney University.

The University's Centre for Peace and Conflict Studies offered students a six-week "Peace and Activism Training Course" culminating in a trip to Queensland next month to disrupt Exercise Talisman Sabre.

The $500 course fee even included travel expenses for the six-day trip to Rockhampton to take part in the "Peace Convergence" for the first week of the three-week exercise.

An online discussion group by organisers investigated by The Daily Telegraph reveals the group plans to blockade Rockhampton airport on Sunday, July 12 and other direct action.

It also anticipates possible arrests.

In previous years protesters have tried to blockade the Shoalwater Bay military training base and several have been arrested.

The course's instructors included Dr Hannah Middleton, who is also a protest organiser.

However, after being contacted by The Daily Telegraph, Dr Middleton said late yesterday that the course had been cancelled.

She also said students in the course would not have been asked to take part in actions that could get them arrested.

"They are studying non-violent responses to conflict," she said.

The group is also preparing an "activist's handbook" for those taking part. However, it has not yet been distributed.

The 2007 handbook has been pulled from the organisers' website.

An existing manual circulated among members promotes the use of techniques such as tunnelling, occupying buildings and throwing pies.

The Daily Telegraph

READ MORE---> Sydney University offers protest degrees...

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