Monday, August 3, 2009

‘Historic’ meeting of Burmese opposition in Indonesia

(DVB)–Burmese ethnic groups and pro-democracy parties are set to meet in Jakarta this month to draw up a national reconciliation programe for Burma, billed as “history being made”.

The alliance, the Movement for Democracy and Rights for Ethnic Nationalities (MDREN), will meet in the Indonesian capital on 12 and 13 August to formalize the ‘Proposal for National Reconciliation’.

A statement released today by MDREN said that “delegates from all groups aligned in opposition to the military regime” would be present at the meeting.

“The proposal envisages opening a process of dialogue with the junta, effectively offering a sustainable exit-strategy for the military rulers,” it said.

“Civil sector support, electoral and constitutional reforms, military demobilisation, ethnic relations and social infrastructure are among the central areas addressed in the [proposal].”

The Prime Minister of the National Coalition Government of the Union of Burma (NCGUB), Sein Win, said that the convention was “history being made”.

“The last time all major ethnic and pro-democracy organizations have forged a common position was in 1947 when all forces agreed to seek independence from the British,” he said.

“As such, this is the first time an indigenous coalition has agreed to work together against a home-grown power.”

The MDREN is made up of opposition groups both within Burma and in exile, and includes the Ethnic Nationalities Council, the Women’s League of Burma and the Forum for Democracy in Burma.

International diplomats and non-governmental organizations will also attend the meeting.

Indonesia is hailed as a Southeast Asian success story after successful democratic transition from military rule in 1998, and is often cited as a potential model for Burma’s transition.

Reporting by Francis Wade

READ MORE---> ‘Historic’ meeting of Burmese opposition in Indonesia...

Junta Troops Prepare for Battle against UWSA

The Irrawaddy News

Junta troops and members of a private militia have joined forces in preparation for an attack against the United Wa State Army (UWSA) in Shan State in northern Burma, according to UWSA sources.

The militia, called the Wanpang group, number about 500 soldiers in Tang Yan Township in eastern Shan State. Led by Bo Mon, it is a remnant of group formed by late drug lord Khun Sa.

“The militia has been ordered to obey the command of the government troops,” said Mai Aik Phone, who is close to the UWSA.

Saengjuen, a news editor of the Shan Herald Agency for News based in Chiang Mai, Thailand, said the military government plans to use the militia as a proxy army, in a way similar to its relationship with the Democratic Karen Buddhist Army (DKBA), which wages war against the Karen National Union (KNU).

The UWSA is the most powerful ethnic armed ceasefire group, and it has rejected the government’s offer to serve as a border guard force.

The government troops have been reinforced in UWSA-controlled areas in Shan State in recent months. Most UWSA troops are now on 24-hour alert.

According to Burma’s new constitution, all ceasefire groups must operate under the command of the military government.

Most ceasefire groups have reject the offer to serve under the command of the government army, and say they will maintain their current role as an army to protect their own people.

The Kachin Independence Organization (KIO) has proposed to transform its troops into the Kachin Regional Guard Force, but it has rejected the offer to serve as a border guard force. The junta has not responded to their proposal yet.

In July, the New Mon State Party (NMSP) also rejected the offer to serve as a border guard force.

Hongzar Bang Kyine, a NMSP spokesperson, said that the party will officially announce its rejection of the offer on Mon Revolution Day on Aug. 5.

The party’s leaders have been told by the junta’s regional commander to consider serving as a local militia, if they reject the border guard proposal.

Meanwhile, in recent operations along the Thai-Burmese border, combined forces of the government army and the DKBA attacked military units of the KNU. The DKBA has agreed to serve as a border guard force and has waged fierce battles with their fellow Karen in the past several months, claiming many lives and injured on both sides.

READ MORE---> Junta Troops Prepare for Battle against UWSA...

Activists Skeptical on Asean Human Rights Body

The Irrawaddy News

Burmese human rights activists have expressed skepticism over the role of the Asean Human Rights Body, claiming for now at least that it is a paper tiger.

Foreign ministers of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean) are set to approve the draft Terms of Reference (TOR) for the human rights body in July.

Thai Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva said at the 42nd Asean Ministerial Meeting in Phuket last month that the body failed meet everyone’s expectations, and that it should work to become a credible, realistic and evolutionary body.

Aung Myo Min, the director of Human Rights Education Institute of Burma in Thailand, told The Irrawaddy that the body is only a “paper tiger” and was not an organization that could protect people effectively.

He urged Asean to commit to the protection of human rights, form a commission with authority to investigate and report on rights violations and establish a court empowered to take action against violators.

Asean has proposed to name the human rights body the Asean Inter-Governmental Commission of Human Rights, which is expected to be endorsed by the group’s leaders at a summit in Thailand in October.

Debbie Stothard, the coordinator of the Alternative Asean Network on Burma (Altsean), said, “Actually, the Asean Human Rights Body can not protect its people effectively.”

“They say their Asean Human Rights Charter has an international standard. But, they do not accept international norms about human rights.”

Some observers say that Asean’s initiative to establish a human rights mechanism is itself a positive sign.

Thai Foreign Minister Kasit Piromya said in July that the TOR is a beginning of an evolving process. It is a living document that will provide an evolutionary framework, he said, and a platform to further Asean’s efforts in the promotion and protection of human rights.

The draft terms of reference state the body's purpose is “to promote and protect the human rights and fundamental freedom” of Asean citizens.

As it now exists, the body continues the tradition of non-interference in the internal affairs of member states and, as such, is not expected to present immediate problems to countries such as Burma, Laos, Vietnam or Cambodia, which are generally ranked low on human rights rankings.

Aung Myo Min said all Asean member states and civil society groups must work together to make the body more effective and have real impact.

READ MORE---> Activists Skeptical on Asean Human Rights Body...

Suu Kyi Questions Burma’s Judiciary, Constitution

The Irrawaddy News

Pro-democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi said at her recent trial that the charges against her bring into question Burma’s judiciary and constitution, according a statement by her party, the National League for Democracy (NLD), on Monday.

Suu Kyi reportedly said at the trial on July 24 that unless Burmese courts did something about her current period of detention, the current charge against her—harboring American intruder John W Yettaw—could not be examined "correctly and completely."

“Equally critical is the principle that justice must not only be done, but must be seen to be done, clearly and unequivocally,” she said in the statement before the court.

She said that in Burma, there is misuse of the definition of the word “constitution,” which calls into question “the credibility of the government’s dignity.”

In her statement, Suu Kyi said that Yettaw entered her compound that she acted carefully so as not to endanger the intruder and the security guards who were responsible for preventing people from entering her compound.

On Friday, the Rangoon Northern District Court postponed the verdict on Suu Kyi until August 11. The court said it had postponed the date of the verdict because the judges needed to review the law.

Nobel Peace Prize laureate Suu Kyi, who has been detained for nearly 14 of the past 20 years, could face up to five years’ imprisonment if the court finds her guilty of illegally harboring the American.

READ MORE---> Suu Kyi Questions Burma’s Judiciary, Constitution...

Singapore Foreign Minister Challenged Over Burma Remarks

The Irrawaddy News

Remarks about Burma by Singapore’s Foreign Minister George Yeo have raised eyebrows in Burmese exile circles.

In an interview with Singapore’s Online Citizen, Yeo made several incorrect statements about Burma, leading to questions about the depth of his knowledge of the country.

In the most blatant of the errors, Yeo said Burma had been ruled by the military since independence. In fact, post-independence Burma enjoyed democratic government until 1962, when Gen Ne Win’s coup introduced military rule.

Yeo was also incorrect in telling the Online Citizen that independence hero Aung San had created the law that a Burmese citizen who married a foreigner could not take political office.

The law could be used to bar his daughter Aung San Suu Kyi from ever becoming Burma’s president.

In fact, Aung San did not introduce the law. According to Burma’s first constitution of 1947, the president of Burma has to be at least second generation Burmese.

“No person shall be eligible for election to the office of President unless he is a citizen of the Union who was, or both of whose parents were, born in any of the territories included within the Union,” according to the 1947 constitution.

And to be a qualified member of parliament, the constitution noted that, “Any person who is under any acknowledgment of allegiance or adherence to a foreign power, or is a subject or citizen or entitled to the rights and privileges of a subject or a citizen of a foreign power shall be disqualified for being chosen as and for being member of either Chamber.”

An application by Suu Kyi to be accepted as a candidate in the 1990 election was rejected on the grounds she had married a British scholar, Michael Aris.

“Daw Aung San Suu Kyi was accused three things, one of them being that she was not qualified because she married a foreigner,” said Moe Zaw Oo, a leader of the National League for Democracy (Youth) in the 1990s who closely worked with Suu Kyi before she was put under house arrest in 1989.

In the Online Citizen interview, Yeo also said that the problems of Burma must not be oversimplified. They were very complex because of ethnic diversity, he said.

READ MORE---> Singapore Foreign Minister Challenged Over Burma Remarks...

Nuclear Fallout

The Irrawaddy News

Although Burma signed an energy agreement with its Southeast Asian neighbors last week—and despite a stern warning from US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton—there are clear danger signs that the Burmese military government has embarked on a policy of close nuclear and military cooperation with North Korea.

The issue of military cooperation between the two rogue states has been documented for months by The Irrawaddy, including a cover story in the August issue titled “An Open Secret,” which examines the clandestine deals and negotiations between the two regimes.

It was echoed loudly in an article this weekend that quoted two Burmese defectors as claiming that the junta was preparing underground tunnels and trading uranium extracts—known as “yellowcake”—for North Korean military hardware and/ or technical expertise.

The article, based on research conducted by Professor Desmond Ball and journalist Phil Thornton, was published in the Sydney Morning Herald and the Bangkok Post on Saturday. Reporting on interviews with the defectors, the article claims that there are more than five North Koreans working at the Thabeik Kyin uranium processing plant in Burma, and that locally refined uranium from Burma was being traded to North Korea.

The junta has been browsing the nuclear bazaar since at least 2000, when science and technology minister U Thaung visited Moscow. A resulting agreement to build a low-grade research reactor, under the auspices of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), initially fell through when questions arose about how the Burmese would pay for Russian assistance.

In recent years, several Burmese officials (both civilian and military) have claimed to have direct knowledge, or even first-hand experience, of a secret nuclear weapons program.

According to the defectors in this recent report, Burma’s military government began building a reactor near Maymyo in 2002 with the aim of developing a nuclear device by 2020. The reactor and some related nuclear fuel processing plants were said to be hidden underground. The expertise for this project reportedly came from North Korea, with help from Iran and possibly Pakistan.

The report adds to common fears that Burma is “going nuclear.”

In an article titled “A New Start for Non-Proliferation” published in July, the director general of the International Atomic Energy Agency, Mohamed El-Baradei, said:

“A number of countries with nuclear energy programs have the capability, if they choose, to manufacture nuclear weapons within a matter of months if their security perceptions change, because they have mastered the critical technology—uranium enrichment and plutonium reprocessing. If more countries take this path, it could prove to be the Achilles’ heel of non-proliferation.”

In other words, even civilian nuclear technology cooperation between well-intentioned states, who are signatories to the non-proliferation treaties (which includes Burma), has the potential to be misused, if countries can access the technology.

“We worry about the transfer of nuclear technology and other dangerous weapons,” Hillary Clinton told the Asean representatives in Phuket last month in reference to North Korea and Burma.

Notwithstanding Burma’s alleged role in nuclear trafficking, the junta followed on the heels of Phuket by chairing the Asean Energy Ministers meeting in Mandalay.

According to the statement released after the meeting on July 29: “Ministers adopted the Asean Plan of Action for Energy Cooperation (APAEC) 2010-2015, which will serve as a guideline for the Asean energy cooperation to support the realization of the Asean Economic Community toward 2010 and beyond.”

The statement went on to outline a seven-point energy plan of action for 2010-15, which consists of “seven program areas,” namely: (i) Asean Power Grid; (ii) Trans-Asean Gas Pipeline; (iii) Coal and Clean Coal Technology; (iv) Renewable Energy; (v) Energy Efficiency and Conservation; (vi) Regional Energy Policy and Planning; and (viii) Civilian Nuclear Energy.”

It would appear Asean does not share the rest of the world’s fears that Burma is a danger to the region. Indeed, Burma’s neighbors—in particular Thailand, China and India—seem prepared to condone the junta’s military expansion while they can still plunder the resource-rich country at bargain-basement prices.

Wong Aung, a representative of an environmental organization, the Shwe Gas Movement, said that electricity consumption rates per capita in Burma are less than 5 percent that of Thailand. Nonetheless, the military junta still aims to export more energy resources to its neighbors.

“These include plans for over 20 large hydroelectric dams to power Thailand, China and Asean power grids, and trans-Burma oil and gas pipelines to China set to begin in September this year,” he said. “The revenue from the energy sector is the main source of income for the Burmese generals.”

Despite ample natural resources, ordinary Burmese do not benefit in any way, with some of the lowest health and education spending in the world.

“In a few years time, if you look down on Asia at night, there will be a dark spot where Burma is. The people of Burma sit in the dark while their natural resources are sold off to provide energy for their neighbors, and money for the generals who oppress them,” said Mark Farmaner, executive director of the Burma Campaign UK.

Like his North Korean counterpart Kim Jong-il, Burmese junta head Snr-Gen Than Shwe is probably not losing sleep over whether his citizens are going without basic commodities and electricity while he pursues his self-interests in the military hardware store.

However, the US and the EU may not be prepared to turn a blind eye to the regime’s recent moves.

"If it was just the Russian reactor, under full International Energy supervision, then the likelihood of them being able to do something with it in terms of a bomb would be zero," Professor Ball said. "It's the North Korean element which adds danger to it.”

READ MORE---> Nuclear Fallout...

China Detains 319 More in Uighur Unrest

By VOA News

China says it has detained another 319 people in connection with last month's deadly ethnic violence in the Xinjiang Uighur autonomous region of northwestern China.

The state-run Xinhua news agency reported Sunday that the suspects were detained in the regional capital, Urumqi, and other parts of Xinjiang based on information from the public and a police investigation.

It did not specify the charges facing the 319 people, or the more than 1,000 others detained after the July 5 riots.

Nearly 200 people died in clashes between Xinjiang's ethnic Uighurs, Chinese security forces and majority Han civilians.

Beijing blamed the violence on outside forces stirring up separatist sentiments among the mostly Muslim Uighur minority.

But Uighurs blame the police for provoking the violence, which they say was partly a response to what they feel is China's repressive policies.

The leader of an extremist group called the Turkistan Islamic Party is urging Muslims worldwide to attack Chinese interests in retaliation for what he calls the oppression of the Uighurs.

An audio message posted on the Internet Sunday in the name of Abdul Haq al-Turkistani calls for attacks on Chinese embassies, consulates and people inside and outside of the country.

His group, which refers to Xinjiang as East Turkistan, has been blamed for violence in the past.

02 August 2009

READ MORE---> China Detains 319 More in Uighur Unrest...

Rising china dents thai markets in the region

By Achara Pongvutitham
The Nation

As it has around the world, the "Rising China" phenomenon has been felt strongly in the Asean region, affecting Thailand's market-leader status in a number of the bloc's member states.

The emergence of China has caused jitters in every region of the globe, with both traditional and emerging markets fearing negative impacts. For its part, Thailand is losing competitiveness in terms of both market share and leadership in three emerging Asean markets: Laos, Cambodia and Burma.

As one of the world's major economic powerhouses, the expansion of China has been felt strongly not only in terms of resources but also in the markets for almost all goods. China is currently engaged in its third move since 1980 to link with networks of overseas Chinese through trade and investment expansion, after acceding to the World Trade Organisation in 2001.

Speaking at the Thailand Research Fund's recent roundtable, "Impact of Emerging China Through Asean-China Free Trade Agreement", experts on China shared the view that it is an important goal of China, which has huge foreign reserves of US$2.13 trillion (Bt418.6 trillion) to sweep up assets globally, as well as taking stakes in banks around the world.

In addition, Beijing has learned from its previous problems with food safety, chemical residues in products and poor production quality, the experts said. China has improved its manufacturing controls to produce standard-quality goods to serve not only domestic demand but also the export market.

Roundtable participants pointed out that China's domestic market now demands high-quality products in line with their increased purchasing power, while the international market needs quality goods at a reasonable price due to a drop in purchasing power brought on by the global financial crisis.

Participants agreed that Thailand should think about how to get the most benefit from China through trade partnerships, both at the regional level and at world forums.

Sompop Manarungsan, an expert on China and a lecturer at the Faculty of Economics at Chulalongkorn University, said the Chinese government has a clear policy to support investors in exploring opportunities overseas. This is aimed at exploiting the country's huge foreign reserves as well as balancing its economic growth and export competitiveness in the long run, Sompop said.

As a result, Chinese investors have diversified their investment from US bonds into real sectors everywhere.

"It is very clear that China has turned from an inward trade and investment outlook to that of an outward investor," Sompop said.

This has key implications for Thailand, particularly in its trade and investment relationships with Laos, Cambodia and Burma.

China now has strong influence in those markets, turning what was once seen as a potential "baht zone" into a likely "yuan zone" market, the lecturer said. Markets along those three countries' borders with Thailand have long accepted baht, but are now also accepting Chinese yuan.

China has also launched an Overseas Development Assistance policy, which offers not only financial assistance but also infrastructure development to potential markets, Sompop said.

"This assistance will allow China to become a big player not only in Asia but also in countries in other regions," he said.

An official from the Thai Foreign Trade Department who concentrates on Laos said Thai goods traded at Bo Keaw had dropped from 90 per cent to 40 per cent of the market total due to increasing imports of Chinese products.

"It is an important sign that Chinese goods will replace Thai goods in the future," the official said.

Pisanu Rienmahasarn, vice president of Huachiew Chalermprakiat University, said cheap goods from China are not the main threat to Thailand's competitiveness. Rather, he said, the threat came from improvements in China's manufacturing sector, which now had the ability to produce high-quality goods.

"The government should concentrate on how to establish close relations with China, as we [Thailand and China] have many areas that can be synergised," Pisanu said.

Thailand should focus more on a Cross Border Trade Agreement to boost trade between the two countries, the academic said. In particular, the development of infrastructure in the North of Thailand linking Burma, China, Laos and Vietnam would create huge trade and investment possibilities, Pisanu said.

READ MORE---> Rising china dents thai markets in the region...

Heightened security measures in Arakan

Sittwe (Narinjara): The Burmese military junta authorities went into a huddle in meetings on Friday in several towns in Arakan state to tighten security in major towns, apprehending trouble in the wake of the verdict in the trial of democracy icon Daw Aung San Suu Kyi), said sources close to the authorities.

The authorities held the meetings on Friday, when the verdict was meant to be pronounced. The verdict was, however, postponed to August 11. The regime aims to prevent any untoward incidents if Daw Suu is sentenced to a prison term, the source said.

The meetings were held in several towns of Arakan on the directives of the junta brass in Naypyidaw, the new capital of Burma.

The military authorities are concerned about people’s protests against the regime throughout Burma if Daw Suu is sentenced to a prison term by the court. Naypyidaw instructed Arakan state authorities to beef up security.

Arakan state played an active role in the anti government demonstrations in September in 2007 and 2008. So the authorities are closely monitoring the state, according to the source.

In Sittwe, the capital of Arakan State, the authorities held the meetings on security matters at two places - one in the district office and another in the office of the Military Supervisor Command.

The Western Command Commander General Thaung Aye attended the meeting, which was held in the office of the Military Supervisor Command in Sittwe. Many other army officials attended the meet.

A source close to military authorities in Buthidaung cantonment said that in Buthidaung, 80 miles north of Sittwe, the army authorities held the meeting at the Saka Kha hall of the Military Operation Bureau in English, at 7 am on the day.

Many army officers including Lt. Colonel Aung Naing, Commander of Saka Kha and Commander of Military Planning Bureau, the district chairman and local administrative officers, including the township chairmen of Buthidaung and Maungdaw attended the meeting.

Similar meetings were held in Kyauk Pru, Taungup and Thandwe, Minby and Rambree.

The authorities are likely to beef up security in Arakan state, especially before the 8888 annual uprising day on 8 August 2009 till the end of September.

READ MORE---> Heightened security measures in Arakan...

Prayer ceremony for release of political prisoners in Burma

(Narinjara) -Cox’sbazar: Arakanese living in exile in Bangladesh held a prayer ceremony in the border town of Cox’s Bazaar for the immediate release of political prisoners in Burma, including democracy icon Daw Aung San Suu Kyi.

Ko Naing Naing, one of the organisers of the programme, said the prayer was held for the immediate and unconditional release from custody of all political prisoners including Daw Suu. The prayer ceremony was held in keeping with Buddhist religious rights.

The prayer ceremony was held at a monastery in the town at 2 pm. It concluded at 4 pm.

“During the prayer, monks recited a Moera Sutta, a serial of Buddha’s discourses constituting the Sutta Pitaka for the release of political prisoners. We also prayed for those into the Burmese democracy movement to free the country from the stranglehold of military rule,” Ko Naing said.

After the prayer ceremony, those who attended lighted candles in front of the image of Buddha.

At least 30 people attended the ceremony. Among the participants, were members of the Burmese International Monks Organization (Bangladesh branch), Free Burma Federation and All Arakan Students’ and Youths’ Congress.

READ MORE---> Prayer ceremony for release of political prisoners in Burma...

Army on Four cuts campaign again

Shanland News

Following a series of attacks staged by the anti-Naypyitaw Shan State Army (SSA) ‘South’ that had inflicted heavy casualties on junta patrols roving the countryside, the Burma Army is launching a major retaliation campaign against the populace, according to reports coming to Thailand.

Several villages have been burned down, their occupants forcibly relocated and some beaten and detained by units under the command of Mongnawng – based Military Operations Command #2 since 27 July. So far, units involved in the latest “4 cuts” drive (cutting food, funds, intelligence and recruits to the armed resistance by local populace) include at least the following infantry battalions (IBs) and light infantry battalions (LIBs):

  • IB 9 - Loilem
  • IB 12 - Loilem
  • IB 64 - Laikha
  • IB 248 - Mongnai
  • LIB 515 - Laikha
Villages affected include:
  • Hokhai - Lahu - Mongkeung township
  • Tard Mawk - Shan - Laikha township
  • Holom - Shan - Laikha township
  • Kunhoong - Shan - Laikha township
  • Mongyai - Shan - Laikha township
  • Nawngtao - Lahu - Kehsi township
  • Mongleum - Lahu - Kehsi township
  • Zizaw - Shan - Kehsi township
  • Pakang - Shan - Kehsi township
The Lahu villages were relocated from northern Shan State to the south following a 3-year massive 4 cuts campaign (1996-98) that destroyed 1,500 villages and displaced more than 300,000 people.

“The officer that came to our village was polite and did not look happy,” a woman that fled with her family to Laikha was quoted as saying. “He told us that he had been ordered to burn the village. ‘As a soldier, I cannot disobey. If you have anything you want to take with you, please collect them and leave.’”

For most other villages, they had not time to take much. “The soldiers came in, drove us out of our houses and started burning after spraying them with liquid fuel that smelled like kerosene.”

At least 200 houses were razed to the ground in Tardmawk, Holom and Kunhoong alone.

Long Ti, Tard Mawk tract headman was reportedly beaten while under interrogation and taken to Laikha.

“This is what we call am pay maw, paw kark (You can’t do anything to the pot, so you smash the cooking spoon) behavior,” a survivor said. “Why do they treat us like this if they want our support?”

The SSA South had launched attacks against isolated outposts and patrols beginning 21 May, the 51st anniversary of the Shan resistance. During the last engagement on 15 July, the Burma Army’s LIB 515 suffered 11 killed, 1 captured and 5 assorted weapons loss.

Latest report 1/8/09 21:00

Burma Army “Burning” columns withdrew following a visit to Laikha by a senior officer from the regional command today, according to the SSA South. “Some 400 families have lost their houses,” said Col Yawdserk, SSA leader. “This is a case for the Asean human rights body.”

August 1st, 2009

READ MORE---> Army on Four cuts campaign again...

Father fined for son sleeping in shop

Buthidaung, Arakan State (KPN): A father was fined by Burma’s border security force, Nasaka because his son slept in his shop instead of at home. He was penalized when the authorities were checking the family list on July 20, according to a friend of father.

The victim was identified as Abul Boshor (60), of Ward. No. 6 of Krinthama village of Buthidaung Township.

His son Shabbir Rahman (35) has a shop in Ward No. 4, though he is living in Ward No. 6. On that night, his son was sleeping in the shop when the Nasaka came to his house to check the family list. The Nasaka did not find Shabbbir Rahaman in his house. His father had already told them that his son was not present.

However, the Nasaka wanted to extort money from Abul Boshor and fined him kyat 100,000 and another 100,000 kyat for his son, said a local elder.

Nasaka and other concerned authorities barged into the Rohingya villages for extortion from the community by making false and fabricated allegations, said a schoolteacher on condition of anonymity.

“Though there is no activity of any rebellion group in Arakan, the concerned authorities create harassment for the Rohingya community and extort money by making allegations, which are not relevant,” said a local youth on condition of anonymity.

August 1st, 2009

READ MORE---> Father fined for son sleeping in shop...

Defectors outline Burma’s nuclear ambitions

(DVB)–Burma and North Korea may be collaborating on the development of a nuclear reactor in northern Burma, according to experts who carried out extensive interviews with two Burmese defectors.

One of the two defectors, who are both now based in Thailand, is a former army officer, while the other was an executive at Htoo Trading, a company with close ties to the military junta.

During interviews carried out over the course of two years with Phil Thornton, a Thailand-based journalist, and Desmond Ball of the Australian National University, the two men detailed North Korea’s assistance in helping Burma acquire a nuclear weapon.

The report, published in the Sydney Morning Herald on 1 August, said that the junta was building a nuclear reactor and plutonium extraction plant in northern Burma, much of it hidden in a network of tunnels dug into a mountain at Nuang Laing.

The report will add weight to a body of evidence that has emerged over the past two months that points to North Korea’s assistance in helping Burma develop a nuclear weapon.

In June DVB published a report on Burma’s secret network of tunnels, dug with North Korea’s assistance, with leaked intelligence documents saying the tunnels could accommodate heavy weaponry.

And in June a North Korean ship, the Kang Nam 1, that was being tracked by the US navy on suspicion that it was carrying arms in violation of a UN resolution on North Korea, appeared to be headed towards Burma before turning around.

At the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) regional forum last month, US Secreatry of State Hillary Clinton spoke of concern over Burma’s nuclear ambitions.

Htay Aung, a Burmese military analyst at the Network for Democracy and Development, said that Burma’s acquisition of nuclear technology would add a new dynamic to Asia’s regional security threat.

“If the junta has nuclear arms then there will be problem for everyone, including countries like China and India who have always been saying Burma is not a regional threat,” he said.

“We still can’t tell if countries like North Korea and Iran, those who already are in a hold of nuclear arms, are not going to sell their weapons to Burma.

“There is a chance that they will consider Burma, who is also facing against the US just like them, as a friend and sell nuclear weapons to the junta,” he said.

Reporting by Ahunt Phone Myat

READ MORE---> Defectors outline Burma’s nuclear ambitions...

Junta fails to respond to global financial crisis

by Moe Thu

Mizzima News - Myanmar’s military leadership is yet to become fully aware of the consequences of the current global financial meltdown, and thus has been unable to position the country to respond properly to the crisis, which has hit the poorest of the developing world like Burma.

Unlike regional neighbours such as Thailand and Malaysia, which have been making significant economic progress over a few decades, Burma is falling behind and probably falling apart as well, as it has not moved.

And the military leadership continues to pursue a concept that the over-50-million-poplulated country is immune to the global crisis.

The ruling generals think the country is in an isolation ward, which does not deal much with the outside world – especially the United States, the origin of the financial disease.

With their reasoning, the country’s economy is underdeveloped, referring to such things as no stock market, no multinational companies working, the fact that its banking sector is in a kindergarten stage, and another that the country need not worry about reserve currency as it does not have much. Official statistics show that Burma has reserve currencies valued at US$ 4.7 billion as of 2008.

The military leadership’s reasoning is good. A low level economy like Burma is staying on the ground floor unit of a multi-storied building, so it does not get hurt when falling out of a window. It can be much more painful, when staying on the 10th floor and falling out. It could be better if and when staying in the basement where there is no window to fall out. Indeed, the junta has put the country into the basement -- below the bottom of a community structure.

What has the junta done to keep out of the financial disease? The generals apply “administrative measures” such as closure of border trade, cancel licenses for imports and exports, and rounding up foreign exchange dealers.

To prove its immunity, the military government refers to official statistics. Due to the financial crisis, many of its neighbours suffer negative GDP growth rates, while the ruling elite continue to claim that the country is growing at a high rate. That’s the leadership’s own no-problem assumption.

No problem? There is a lot of it. The isolated, underdeveloped economy could not set up an isolation ward in this increasingly globalised world. That’s because of its underground or informal or non-official economy, being linked to the outside world.

For instance, the country imports Japanese made vehicles across the border.

Meanwhile, the illustrated basement is the last place upon and around which other buildings are tumbling down, when the world is in a crisis like a catastrophic earthquake.

Suppose trying to seal the border. In the mountainous land with forests and rough terrain, it requires resources, including thousands of special forces and hundreds of guard outposts. They must be provided with sufficient funds and equipment to close the border. However, no one guarantees they are honest in performing their duties.

Also look at the sea border, to patrol the coast costs ten times more than the value of goods kept out or in.

For official statistics, it deals with the formal or official economy. It is possible to have a high growth in this economy, while the global disease brings disaster to the country’s already-impoverished population. That’s because the majority of Burmese people live in a non-official economy, which is – in design or not – linked to the outside world, a primary reason why Burma gets devastated by the global crisis.

A significant result is that large human costs that the country’s young people and poor families have to bear in neighbouring countries and border areas – such as human trafficking and unprotected migrations. Whenever a crunch comes, the burden falls fatally on the poor and the masses at the lowest rung of society in a country like Burma. How can it be quantified? No monetary value could be placed on them and it can never be reflected in the official statistics.

So the idea that Burma need not worry about external economic shocks is alarmingly wrong. Other reasons to worry include undiversified economic structure, poor infrastructure, insufficient foreign reserves and limited administrative capacity that do not have effective shock-absorbers, resilient measures and safety nets to counter or cope with any kind of economic disturbance.

In fact, the vulnerability of Burma to get hurt by economic disturbances, especially those outside the border is the primary reason why the international community has recommended that it be given special treatment in aid, trade, debt relief and technology flows.

Given the fact that financial crises keep coming again and again in history in different parts of the world, the best thing a poor country like Burma can do is to join its neighbours and the international community in order to set up a better international financial system and its institutions.

It is not true Burma is not affected by the global crisis. Actually, it is helpless and does not have the capacity and means to protect itself, and it would be more devastating for Burma, which is, in turn, expected to take keen interest in the global financial crisis – its causes, consequences and remedies by undertaking economic reforms to become a modern, developed nation.

READ MORE---> Junta fails to respond to global financial crisis...

Ban reiterates appeal to release Aung San Suu Kyi

by Mungpi

New Delhi (Mizzima) – In yet another impassioned appeal, the United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon reiterated to the military rulers of Burma to address the concerns of the international community by ensuring the immediate release of detained Nobel Peace Laureate Aung San Suu Kyi.

At a meeting with the Burmese Ambassador to the UN Than Swe on Thursday, Ban repeated the international community’s expectation that the Burmese regime “will give careful consideration to the implications of any verdict in the trial of Daw Aung San Suu Kyi and exercise its responsibility to ensure her immediate release,” his spokesperson told reporters on Friday.

Farhan Haq, the Secretary-General’s spokesperson said “The Secretary-General also reiterated the international community’s high expectations that the Government of Myanmar [Burma] will act in Myanmar’s [Burma’s] interest by taking timely and positive steps in following-up the specific proposals, which he made, during his recent visit to Myanmar[Burma], starting with the release of all political prisoners.

The meeting between the Burmese Ambassador and the UN chief took place a day before the special court in Insein prison was scheduled to pronounce the verdict on the trial of pro-democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi. She has been charged with violating her terms of detention and could face up to five years in prison, if the court holds her guilty.

However, following the meeting, the Burmese Ambassador Than Swe informed the UN that his government had postponed the pronouncement of the verdict to August 11, Haq said.

On Friday, the court in Insein prison in Rangoon postponed delivering the verdict on Aung San Suu Kyi and other defendants charged along with her over the incident in early May when an uninvited American man swam across a lake and intruded into the Burmese democracy icon’s lakeside home.

Observers, who have alleged that the trial is trumped up for a fresh sentence of the opposition leader to another prison term, believe that the court postponed the verdict on Friday as it wants to divert attention and ease pressure building up over the trial.

The UN chief in early July paid a second visit to Burma to persuade the military rulers to release Aung San Suu Kyi and other political prisoners languishing in jails across the country. However, he left Burma deeply disappointed as the military supremo Snr. Gen Than Shwe refused him a meeting with the detained opposition leader.

Saturday 1st August, 2009

READ MORE---> Ban reiterates appeal to release Aung San Suu Kyi...

Suu Kyi’s Trial Gives Rare Glimpse into Burma’s Judicial System

The Irrawaddy News

BANGKOK — A political trial in Burma that could prolong its pro-democracy icon’s isolation by five more years has opened a rare window for the international community to judge the quality of justice in the military-ruled country.

Many foreign envoys based in Rangoon, the former capital, have eagerly grabbed this chance. They have shown up in numbers when given access to the largely secret trial of Nobel Peace laureate Aung San Suu Kyi, being held in a decrepit courtroom inside the notorious Insein Prison in northern Rangoon.

Last Friday marked the latest in this diplomatic show of force, when foreign envoys packed the rear of the court to mirror the unprecedented international attention this bizarre trial has drawn since it began in early May.

"There were about 20 to 25 diplomats in the court. They were Europe, the US, China, South Korea and other Asian countries," a European diplomat who attended the trial on July 31 said in a telephone interview from Rangoon. "They were mostly of the ambassadorial rank."

It was a number as large as that present on the third day of the trial in late May. At the time, some 30 diplomats were given the nod by the junta, otherwise known to be secretive and paranoid, to get a rare glimpse of Suu Kyi’s battle with Burma’s justice system.

And this time, too, the 64-year-old Suu Kyi used the occasion to openly engage with the diplomatic corps, a practice that has been denied to her during the 14 years she has been kept under house arrest in her lakeside home in Rangoon.

"She appeared relaxed, confident and dignified when she thanked the diplomats for coming and showing interest in the trial," the diplomat revealed. "There was also a surreal moment when she was laughing and joking with her legal team as they waited for the judges to enter."

When they did, the two judges presiding over this case had a brief announcement: the verdict, due that day, will not be given. Judgment day was postponed until August 11, since the judges "needed more time to explore the details of the case."

Suu Kyi appeared relaxed in court that day, wearing a pale pink blouse and a dark purple traditional Burmese longyi. "Sorry for the inconvenience," she reportedly told some diplomats after the judges delayed their verdict. "You may want to come back on August 11."

Yet, Suu Kyi’s lawyers do not expect this delay in the verdict to change the outcome in the trial, where the widely popular opposition leader has been charged for violating the terms of her house arrest when a U.S. citizen showed up as an uninvited guest in her house and spent two nights in early May.

"She was not optimistic from the beginning. She is ready to face the worst," Nyan Win, one of Suu Kyi’s lawyers, told IPS from Rangoon.

Such pessimism stems from the manner in which the trial was conducted. "This trial was not a free and fair one; not a public hearing," Nyan Win noted. "That was our main worry, this lack of openness, which is practiced in our country for all political cases."

Closed trials have been common under the current military regime, indicative of its oppressive rule. The victims have been pro-democracy activists, who make up the majority of the over 2,100 political prisoners presently languishing in Burmese jails. And verdicts have been severely harsh, with some sentenced to over 100 years in prison.

These trials follow a familiar pattern aimed at trampling any hint of "fairness" and "justice" in the courtroom. "In all politically motivated cases, military intelligence people usually sit in the trial and monitor the court process, actions of judges, lawyers and other judicial staff openly," says Aung Htoo, general secretary of the Burma Lawyers’ Council, a network of Burmese lawyers operating from the Thai-Burmese border.

"By holding trials in the compound of the prisons, the authorities (implicitly) threaten all relevant persons in a proceeding," Aung Htoo wrote in an e-mail interview. "They (military intelligence) even intercept private meetings held between the defence lawyers and the accused."

"Many times, they (military intelligence) send judgments, already written prematurely, to the judges only to read," he revealed. "The judiciary has been used as an instrument to crush down the political opponents and human rights activists."

This court culture is now under scrutiny after the junta slapped Suu Kyi with a legal case—the first political trial she has been subjected to since being placed under house arrest for the first time in July 1989.

"There has never been a [more] high-profile case than this one. It has drawn so much international attention and international pressure," says Soe Aung, the spokesman for the Forum for Democracy in Burma, a network of Burmese political activists living in exile. "It is not usual for diplomats to attend such cases."

"The Burmese regime is feeling the heat both inside and outside the country due to all the attention on this trial," Soe Aung added. "Prolonging the trial process by postponing the verdict till mid-August is one of the signs that they (the regime) are worried about growing international pressure."

As the world wait for the judgment, the speculation among the diplomatic community about Suu Kyi’s fate, indicates that she may be declared guilty by court.

"Western diplomats say she will get a three year sentence out of the maximum five years," an informed source in Rangoon told IPS. "They say she will be first kept in Insein Prison and then moved back to her house."

Asian diplomats, particularly from Southeast Asia, have another view, the diplomatic source added.

"They say her sentence will be commuted to house arrest without much delay because the (Burmese government) wants to look good ahead of the UN General Assembly coming up in late September."

READ MORE---> Suu Kyi’s Trial Gives Rare Glimpse into Burma’s Judicial System...

Recent Posts from Burma Wants Freedom and Democracy

Recent posts from WHO is WHO in Burma


The Nuke Light of Myanmar Fan Box
The Nuke Light of Myanmar on Facebook
Promote your Page too