Sunday, July 26, 2009

Charcoal kilns destroyed by Burmese government, citing fear of environmental destruction

IMNA - Burmese government forces are destroying charcoal kilns in Tenasserim Divison, citing concerns over ongoing and future damage to the coastal environment. Area Kilns use Mangrove wood, which is important to the region’s environmental stability.

The commander of the Burmese military Costal Region Command (CRC), Brig-Gen Khin Zaw Oo, has ordered the destruction of nearly 300 charcoal kilns in Kawthaung township, Tenasserim division which has caused problems for residents who using charcoal for their cooking. The loss of charcoal production facilities has dramatically decreased the availability of charcoal in the area, and driven up prices of remaining stockpiles.

Charcoal kilns in Kawthaung, Myeik , Pulaw, BaLauk and Bokpyin township have been destroyed. Owners of charcoal kilns that were destroyed have not received any compensation from the CRC.

Mangrove trees grow naturally in salty water along coastal regions. The trees and roots form dense shrubs and walls, which when submerged provide food, shelter and a breeding ground for fish. They also form a natural breakwater for tidal shifts.

Mangrove trees have been particularly popular to use in charcoal production. Sources close to charcoal kiln owners describe the product as being denser when made from Mangrove wood. One resident explained, “Charcoal made from mangrove trees is good for cooking and the it burns a longer time.”

Despite the environmental concerns, some charcoal kiln owners have been able to fend of the destruction of their facilities by paying a tax to the CRC. In a undersupplied market the remaining owners make a higher profit, and residents who were dependent on the charcoal for cooking, can continue to cook.

The order to destroy charcoal kilns in Tenasserim came from Nay Pyi Daw about one month ago. The reason given for the targeted destruction of costal charcoal kilns by the CRC is concern that Tenasserim division’s environment has been negatively impacted by the loss of Mangrove trees, specifically with a decreased in the number of fish and higher likelihood of erosion, mudslides, and flooding. Thus they cite loss of the trees as increasing the potential for damage from cyclones, like Nagris, according to a resident who is close to a charcoal factory owner.

According to the Burmese Flowers News journal, about 50% of the Mangrove forests in Tenasserim division and Arakan state have been destroyed. After cyclone Nargis, 60% of mangrove forest in Irrawaddy division was destroyed. According to an article published in May by Irrawaddy news, the mangrove forests provided protection against Nagris when the cyclone struck, but were heavily damaged.

READ MORE---> Charcoal kilns destroyed by Burmese government, citing fear of environmental destruction...

Myanmar criticizes Clinton following ASEAN meeting

YANGON, Myanmar (San Francisco Chronicle-AP) -- A Myanmar state-run newspaper on Sunday accused U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton of interfering in the affairs of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations after she urged its members to press for more democratic reforms in the country.

Clinton, who attended the ASEAN Regional Forum last week in Thailand, also called on Myanmar to unconditionally release pro-democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi, who is on trial for allegedly violating the terms of her house arrest and faces a possible five-year prison term.

"It amounts to interfering in the affairs of the ASEAN," according to a commentary in the state-run Myanma Ahlin daily. "If ASEAN complies with the instruction of U.S. Secretary of State, ASEAN will become the follower of United States."

Myanmar is one of ASEAN's 10 member countries.

The commentary also suggested that American calls for Suu Kyi's release were part of a long-term plan to place someone in power in Myanmar whom it can control.

Clinton saved some of her toughest criticism during the forum for Myanmar and North Korea, which is not an ASEAN member. She expressed concerns that North Korea, already a threat to its neighbors and the U.S. with its history of illicit sales of missiles and nuclear technology, is now developing ties to Myanmar's military dictatorship.

Clinton also offered Myanmar the prospect of better relations with the United States, but said that depended in part on the fate of Suu Kyi.

Myanmar state media rejected the criticism, accusing those calling for Suu Kyi's release of "interference" and "showing reckless disregard for the law."

Suu Kyi, 64, is charged with violating the terms of her house arrest by harboring an uninvited American man who swam to her lakeside home and stayed for two days in May.

Western diplomats in Yangon generally believe that Suu Kyi will be found guilty, with the verdict expected sometime next month.

The trial has drawn condemnation from the international community and from Suu Kyi's local supporters, who worry the ruling junta has found an excuse to keep her behind bars through elections planned for next year.

Myanmar, also known as Burma, has been under military rule since 1962.

Suu Kyi's opposition party won national elections in 1990, but Myanmar's generals refused to relinquish power. Suu Kyi has been under house arrest for 14 of the past 20 years.

READ MORE---> Myanmar criticizes Clinton following ASEAN meeting...

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