Saturday, July 31, 2010

Naypyidaw, Burma’s New Capital

miragesstudio7
July 31, 2010

According to Danny Lyon, designing cities was the job of emperors and kings during the medieval age, today; it takes a dictator to build a city. Burma’s new capital city Naypyidaw, or also known as Abode of Kings in Burmese , is being built about 460km north of the old capital, Yangon. The official explanation for the move is that Yangon had become too congested and crowded, with little room for future expansion of government offices.

Naypyidaw is being built on a vast tropical scrubland, only a few shining new buildings rise out of tropical scrub like a mirage, unlike the former capital Rangoon, Naypyidaw have broad highways and French like boulevards.


Image source : Sequential One

Sounds all too familiar – capital too crowded and congested, a whole new admin city, broad highways, boulevards, this reminds me of Malaysia’s ex prime minister Mahathir Mohamad and his newly build admin city – Putrajaya. The end result? Both cities are soulless.

James Howard Kunstler on his talk on The tragedy of suburbia clearly outline the main element in making a great city – density. Dictators and politicians are not architects and they should stay away from making any decisions regarding city planning, including Mahathir Mohamad.

Danny Lyon was wrong about killing all the architects, sometimes we do need them, and can you imagine living in the cities like Naypyidaw? Unlike Putrajaya, Naypyidaw is the world’s only national capital without mobile phone service or international flight connections.

Sequential One (Blog) has an in depth review of the new capital and lots of photos.

Things are not so bad for the dictator and his cronies in Burma, they are enjoying life to the max while the people of Burma are starving, with both petrol and diesel doubled in price, while the cost of compressed gas – used to power buses – increased five-fold, the military shows no sign of giving up their powers. The daughter of the dictator’s opulent state wedding draws gasps in poor Myanmar and the corrupt life of the military.

The lavish wedding video of Thandar Shwe, youngest daughter of Burmese dictator Than Shwe was leaked by an insider and found its way to YouTubeThandar Shwe’s Wedding.





Singapore senior mentor or better known as the founder of modern Singapore said she wore so many diamonds as if she was a Christmas tree!


Image Source : Reaters

Last month, monks in Burma took the street, demanding for democracy. The government sent troops from the new capital to brutally suppress the protests. At least 3,000 people are believed to have died. Hundreds, some say thousands of monks are murdered, tortured, and killed when the protest turned ugly. I’m not going to post these images of dead monks in pool of blood, google for them.

The hikes hit Burma’s people hard, forcing up the price of public transport and triggering a knock-on effect for staples such as rice and cooking oil, initially I thought the army would revolt, I was expecting an internal dispute between the army and their leader since it is their families or relatives that are effected in the sudden price increase of goods. I was wrong.

Al Gore in his Inconvenient Truth documentary has this quote that pretty much describe everything – it is difficult to get a man to understand something when his salary depends upon his not understanding it.

Naypyidaw was build not because Yangon was over crowded, the real concern that the soldiers were becoming contaminated by the masses in Yangon and being made soft by the increased standard of living in Yangon.

Living condition is better in Naypyidaw, bigger apartments for civil servants, water and electricity are free, the city has 10 tv channels compare to 6 in Yangon, and the best part is the people of Naypyidaw enjoys a 24-hour supply of electricity, a rarity in Burma.

Rumors has it that the surrounding hills of new capital city are honeycombed with bunkers, Secure in its remote new capital with better living condition, the military still shows no signs of loosening its grip on Burma.

Winston Churchil was right about architecture, “We shape our buildings, and thereafter they shape us.” The dictator of Burma may not be an expert in architecture, but he understands the power of architecture.
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Burma Monitor, for daily news and information

i belog (Richard Fox, if I am not mistaken)
July 31, 2010

By ibelog2



Burma Monitor is an extraordinary resource for up-to-date news on politics, culture and current events in this important mainland Southeast Asian nation. John MacDougall updates the site daily, with multiple posts that can also be followed on Twitter (#JohnAMacDougall). As with his work on Indonesia and the Islamic world, Burma Monitor not only offers a wealth of information, but it’s also a great jumping-off point for further exploration. If you aren’t already reading John’s main blog, Starting Points, it too is a daily treasure trove… I only wish I could read as quickly as John writes, compiles and posts!
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စစ္အစိုးရျပစ္မႈစံုစမ္းေရး အေမရိကန္လႊတ္ေတာ္ အမတ္မ်ားေတာင္းဆို | သတင္း | Burmese

VOA Burmese Service
July 30, 2010


ဓာတ္ပံု ASSOCIATED PRESS
၀ါရွင္တန္ၿမိဳ႔ အေမရိကန္ကြန္ကရက္လႊတ္ေတာ္
ျမန္မာစစ္အစိုးရရဲ႕ စစ္ရာဇ၀တ္မႈေတြနဲ႔ လူသားမ်ိဳးႏြယ္ေတြအေပၚ က်ဴးလြန္တဲ့ ရာဇ၀တ္ျပစ္မႈေတြကို စံုစမ္းေဖာ္ထုတ္ဖို႔ ကုလသမဂၢ စံုစမ္းစစ္ေဆးေရး ေကာ္မရွင္တရပ္ ဖြဲ႔စည္းဖို႔ကိစၥကို သမၼတ အုိဘားမား အစိုးရက ေထာက္ခံဖို႔ အေမရိကန္ အထက္ လႊတ္ေတာ္အမတ္ ၃၂ ေယာက္က ႏုိင္ငံျခားေရး၀န္ႀကီး ဟီလရီကလင္တန္ဆီကို စာေရးသား ေပးပို႔ ေတာင္းဆိုလိုက္ၾကပါတယ္။
ျမန္မာစစ္အစိုးရကို စီးပြားေရးအရ ဒဏ္ခတ္ပိတ္ဆို႔ အေရးယူတဲ့ဥပေဒတရပ္ကို အေမရိကန္ သမၼတ အိုဘားမားက လက္မွတ္ေရးထိုး သက္တမ္းတိုးလိုက္ၿပီးလို႔ ၂ ရက္အၾကာမွာပဲ အခုလုိ အထက္လႊတ္ေတာ္အမတ္ ၃၂ ေယာက္ ႏုိင္ငံျခားေရး၀န္ႀကီး ဟီလရီကလင္တန္ထံကို စာေရးသားခဲ့ၾကတာပါ။
အခုေပးပို႔ခဲ့တဲ့စာထဲမွာ - ျမန္မာႏိုင္ငံကို ဒဏ္ခတ္ပိတ္ဆို႔ ဖိအားေပးမႈေတြ လုပ္ေနတဲ့တခ်ိန္တည္းမွာပဲ စံုစမ္းစစ္ေဆးေရး ေကာ္မရွင္ ဖြဲ႔စည္းဖြဲ႔မယ့္ကိစၥကို ေထာက္ခံတာဟာ ျမန္မာႏုိင္ငံမွာ ဒီမုိကေရစီေဆာင္က်ဥ္းေရး၊ လူ႔အခြင့္အေရး နဲ႔ တရားဥပေဒ စိုးမိုးေရးအတြက္ အေမရိကန္က အခိုင္အမာ စိတ္ပိုင္းျဖတ္ထားတယ္ ဆိုတာကို ျမန္မာစစ္အစိုးရကို ထင္ထင္ရွားရွား ျပသရာ ေရာက္လိမ့္မယ္လို႔ ဆိုပါတယ္။
ကယ္လီဖိုးနီးယားျပည္နယ္ ဒီမုိကရက္ အထက္လႊတ္ေတာ္အမတ္ ဒိုင္ယန္း ဖိုင္းစတိုင္း နဲ႔ နယူးဟမ္းမရွားျပည္နယ္ ရီပါပလစ္ကန္ အထက္လႊတ္ေတာ္အမတ္ ဂ်က္ ဂရက္ (Judd Gregg) တို႔က ကမကထလုပ္ ဦးေဆာင္ၿပီး ႏိုင္ငံျခားေရး၀န္ႀကီး ကလင္တန္ထံကို စာေရးသားခဲ့ၾကတာျဖစ္ပါတယ္။
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UNHCR builds houses, peace of mind for Cyclone Nargis victims

UNHCR - Myanmar

News Stories
, 28 July 2010

UNHCR/A.Naing

To better understand the needs of people who were displaced by Cyclone Nargis two years ago, UNHCR staff visited them in their relocation sites, such as this one in Sat San Village in Bogale Township.

KANASO NGU VILLAGE, Myanmar, July 28 (UNHCR) – In the horrible trail of destruction left by Cyclone Nargis two years ago, Daw Pyu was left scavenging for any scrap material she could cobble together to put some sort of a roof over her head.

"We really needed help after our terrible experience," says the 50-year-old widow. "I did not have anything except a UNHCR blanket to keep me warm when it rained."

Fast forward to today and, thanks to UNHCR, Daw Pyu, her son and daughter are living comfortably in a roomy house typical of the local construction -- a thatched roof and bamboo-mat walls on a wooden frame. It stands on stilts above the floodplain of the Irrawaddy Delta in Bogale Township, where more than 10,000 people lost their lives to Nargis, one of the 10 deadliest cyclones on record, and certainly the worst natural disaster ever to hit Myanmar.

Recalling the horrors of being left homeless by Cyclone Nargis, which hit on 02 May, 2008, Daw Pyu looks around her living area and kitchen and now says: "I could not have believed that I would ever own such a nice house in my life."

Right after Nargis, she says, it was impossible to find drinking water, plagues of mosquitoes bred around the shattered houses, and there was no way to cook a hot meal. Once they built a makeshift shelter, it wasn't even weatherproof as the monsoon rains continued.

"We could not even sleep with peace of mind," she says, "as we were worried that the rain and wind would destroy our fragile shelter."

The UN refugee agency moved into the delta quickly with emergency relief -- plastic sheeting, blankets, mosquito nets, cooking pots, jerry cans -- followed later by homes for the most vulnerable, like Daw Pyu. UNHCR also helped the local authorities issue national registration cards. These allow villagers to obtain public services and travel without securing permission of the village head.

UNHCR emergency assistance went to more than 400,000 people (some 85,000 families). In addition, the UN refugee agency gave 8,800 families construction materials and other help to build homes under programs that have contributed about US$8 million since the cyclone.

Daw Pyu's house was not an outright gift, but was a way to help her family get back on their feet. As they helped build it, they were paid daily wages and learned carpentry skills that will help them earn a living in the future in an area where many depend on fishing and farming.

"Their participation in the project gave them a sense of ownership," says Kyaw Thu Lwin, UNHCR field assistant in Bogale.

And acquiring the house on their three acres of land has given Daw Pyu's family immeasurable contentment.

"We do not need to worry about shelter anymore when there is wind and rain," she says. "With peace of mind, we can now farm our land more, bringing more income."

And dream about branching out into different crops. With the new national registration card issued to them by government authorities with UNHCR's help, one of Daw Pyu's children muses: "We could apply for a farming loan from the bank."
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Former brigadier of NNC nabbed as arm smuggler

The women market in Imphal - Manipur - IndiaImage via Wikipedia
E-Pao! Headlines
July 31, 2010

Source: Hueiyen News Service Imphal, July 30 2010: An investigation into the arrest of a former Self Style Brigadier of Federal Government of Nagaland (Naga National Council), Manipur police revealed that a gang of arm smugglers supplying arms to the banned outfit is operating in Imphal area as transit point.

A police source Friday said that the former brigadier of NNC, Mangkung Sarang Paisho (77) son of late MS Kongham of Sorbung village under Phungyar police station of Ukhrul district was arrested by a team of Imphal West police commandos three days back on last Tuesday night.

Mangkung is also a deserter of the Assam Regiment.

He was arrested during a raid at room no.201 of the Stadium View Hotel, Nagaram of Imphal at about 5 pm of the day acting on tip-off of staying members of a gang of arm smugglers in the hotel, a police officer said.

Police investigation into the case revealed that the former brigadier of FGN along with his gang members is smuggling arms from Myanmar for onward supply to the banned organisations including NSCN(IM).

He had been stayed at Myanmar for 17 years in Manyuan village of Myanmar by marrying with a Burmese woman.

He is still doing the smuggling works with his son MS Sunlight alias Koba alias Aungtantin (30) who is a self style major of NSCN(IM), police said.

He was preparing to leave for an unknown location to procure arms and ammunition for banned organisations in the state along with one Hopeson and another Jacob, police said.
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43 illegal immigrants detained at construction site

The Star

GEORGE TOWN: Forty-three illegal immigrants, including two pregnant women and a four-year-old Myanmar boy, were detained in a raid at a construction site in Batu Ferringhi.

They were picked up at 10am yesterday in an operation, codenamed Ops Serantau, by 50 police, Rela and Immigration Department personnel.

State Traffic and Public Order chief Supt Wan Aziz Wan Hussain said 32 of the foreigners were men — 15 Myanmar nationals, nine Bangladeshis and eight Indonesians — while 10 were women of whom one was a runaway maid.

Big swoop: Police, Rela and immigration officers rounding up the iilegal immigrants at the construction site in Batu Ferringhi Friday.

Supt Wan Aziz said three of the foreigners had overstayed, one had forged documents while the rest did not have any identification documents or work permits.

Meanwhile, enforcement authorities have begun efforts to rid Batu Ferringhi of unlicensed traders, illegal operators of water sports, and pirated DVD and counterfeit goods stalls.

More than 100 officers from the police force and relevant agencies combed the tourist belt in an operation codenamed Ops Sepadu from 3pm yesterday but found the area almost free of illegal activities.

“The beach boys, touts and illegal operators knew we were coming, so most of the shops remained closed.

“This is good. We will continue to monitor the beach. Our joint operations will not be a one-off thing,” said George Town OCPD Asst Comm Gan Kong Meng.
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Myanmar Loosens Yoke on Rice Farmers

Burma's paddy fieldImage via Wikipedia
WSJ.com
July 31, 2010



YANGON, Myanmar—Moves by Myanmar's military regime to loosen its grip on the impoverished nation's once-mighty rice industry in advance of an election this year have raised cautious hopes for the nation's economy.

After years of tight control and a 2008 cyclone that devastated Myanmar's key rice-growing region, the regime last year granted private rice-export licenses for the first time in several years and allowed the formation of a private rice-industry association permitted to give loans to farmers and millers, local humanitarian groups say.

The government could reverse the changes at any time, as it did with similar changes in 2003.

Slideshow at http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052748704799604575356582557418728.html?mod=googlenews_wsj#articleTabs%3Dslideshow
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We will rebuild our village starting with the church

Kayin state in MyanmarImage via Wikipedia
Free Burma Rangers

Karen State, Burma
27 July, 2010



KEY DEVELOPMENTS

  • "We will rebuild our village starting with the church"
    Karen elder, in village burned by the Burma Army this week. July 27 2010


Dear friends,

This week two of the villages we have been in close relation to for 14 years were burned to the ground by the Burma Army. The school and church in the larger village were among the biggest in the Karen State and were beautiful wooden structures set on a bamboo fringed hill. Below the hill and beyond the village stretched some of the most productive rice fields is the area. The villages have withstood many attacks and the church and school were not only well constructed, they were works of art. They were built by the community as places of worship and learning and where the community gathered to celebrate and share the joys of life.

Now the villages, church and school have been destroyed and the stench of the rotting carcasses of livestock killed by the attackers fill the air.

"We do not want to go back to rebuild, how can we?", were the words of one villager. "We had our whole lives here in the village, the school, and church and now it is all gone. Gone too are our livestock, chickens, pigs, goats, cows and water buffalo. We do not know what to do. "

I was told all of this by satellite phone and it was painful to hear and what was even worse was that we were not close enough to give immediate help. We could only pray and start sending relief supplies for teams in that area to help.

Yesterday there was a meeting between the villagers and the local leaders - the Karen resistance. Before the meeting a leader called me and told me the villagers were very sad and did not have any energy or desire to rebuild the villages. Many wanted to leave and never come back. We prayed together on the phone and asked for God's help. The next morning those of us at a headquarters meeting prayed for the villagers.

Later on we received another satellite phone call. The local leader told me, "It was amazing, this morning we all gathered together at the foot of the village and prayed together. Then the villagers all agreed to stay and rebuild the village. And they decided the first thing they want to rebuild is the church. We start today."

I thanked God and was filled with love and hope for our Karen families.

Thank you all too, for your prayers and for your help. We are sending in help through the FBR team there and Partners is also helping us in meeting the needs there.

I wanted to close with the letter we sent in to the people who are now rebuilding.

Love, Dave, family and teams

27 July 2010

Dear friends and family at Tha Dah Der and Tha Kaw To Baw,

We are praying for you and know God is with you. I am so sorry for what the Burma Army has done. It is evil. "Vengeance in mine says the Lord, I will repay ". These are God's words.

We will do all we can, we have already sent out the news all over the world and I will be there to see you after we finish the other missions.

Now we are sending in whatever we can, tarps, blankets, and medicine.

We also are sending money for the new church, school and for some food. We are sending out the story and hope that many people who love you will send more help.

The work of God is to build up, the work of the devil is to tear down. Don't worry, God will help you rebuild and those who tear down will themselves be torn down. We are inspired and filled with joy and hope that you have already started to rebuild the church and your village. We love you and thank God for your faith, perseverance, generosity and love. We will help you rebuild.

Ta U Wa, Tha Thoo Poe, Baw Tho Po, Tha-u Wa -A Mo, all the teams and I love and pray for you and look forward to seeing you soon. Until then, don't give up, we and others will help you and most of all God is with you. God was willing to send Jesus into the world to save us and people took this gift and killed Jesus. But Jesus rose again and is our salvation. God loves us that much. So God is not afraid to suffer, we do not need to be afraid either. He will lead you and bless you and remind you that, "What man means for evil God will bring for good. Genesis 50:19-21

We love you and are behind you,

God bless you,

Tha U Wa A Pa, family and teams

(below is the initial report of the attack)


FBR REPORT: Burma Army burns villages and chases over 900 people into the jungle, attacks continue in Northern Karen State 24 July 2010

Karen State, Burma

24 July, 2010

KEY DEVELOPMENTS

The Burma Army is now attacking villages in Papun (Muthraw) District, Northern Karen State, burning two villages and chasing 916 people into he jungle. Two Burma Army battalions, LIB 370 and LIB 361 continue the attacks.

On July 23, 2010 at 11:00 am, the two Burma Army Battalions approached The Da Der village. The villagers fled. Before entering they shelled 41 mortar rounds into the village. At 2:00pm one Battalion remained on top of the hill above the village while the other entered the village and started looting and burning homes in the upper section. As of today- 24 July, at 1200 noon. (Thai time) the troops are still occupying the village. From Tha Da Der, over 600 people have had their property destroyed and are displaced. They have joined with 300 more villagers from the neighboring areas who have fled for protection but whose villages have not yet been attacked. Families from the villages of Htee Mu Der, Hta Koh Ta Ba, Khee Ti Hta, Thoo Kho Kee, are with the families from The Da Der staying in the Tha Oh Der adding an influx of almost over 900 (now almost 1000) persons to that village area. Burma Army troops from a different camp (Maw Kyo) have also been assisting in the attack of the village by shelling into the area from another direction. The present location of the strategic commander is Kyu Lu camp. The houses of Tha Da Der villager as well as this in the village of Ti Baw Lah, have been burnt to the ground. Most of the families in these crisis areas fled their homes in advance of the Burma Army attack and no casualties have been reported. The rains are now here and those in hiding need, security, shelter, food and medicine.

One FBR team is currently with the displaced people helping to coordinate assistance. The Burma Army continues to attack.

Thank you for your prayers and care,

God bless you,

A relief team leader

Free Burma Rangers
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Free Burma Rangers

Belated Eloquence (blog)
July 31, 2010

Waking up every morning to have coffee overlooking miles of palm forest, sun glinting off a thirsty lake, horses rolling around a soccer field and a gentle haze of Thai steam rising off the mud is one of the most peaceful ways to begin a day. And then the hurricane that is the Eubank family hits.
The Eubanks were kind enough to host us on their massive ranch outside of Chiang Mai, and this is what you get with your morning coffee if you stay with this generous family: detailed conversation regarding whether or not the term "genocide" is correct for the Burmese political situation, slide shows of children who have been shot, and stories of land mines and dying babies and incredible courage. But it's all in a day's work for Dave, who runs what is quite possibly the most intense operation I have ever seen in real life.

The Free Burma Rangers is a covert (ie. illegal) guerrilla relief and humanitarian force aiding refugees fleeing the Burmese Army. It's hardcore relief work that runs like the army, if the army operated with the ends of wholeness and healing. It has succeeded in creating a network of radios that inform villagers of pending attacks so they can escape, but also so world news sources can stay up to date on situations that the Burmese government would otherwise never give them access to. It's dangerous work, and the strength it requires for them to work daily with 5 year old gunshot victims and 8 year old rape victims and murdered infants is honestly beyond me.

When the family isn't on the ground in Burma, they use their home in Thailand as Grand Central Station (to paint a picture, we shared a visit with a British couple and their two tiny boys who run a development program in Afghanistan; an MIT grad student who does communications work for FBR, an FBR soldier on injured reserve, and next week a California Congressman is on his way with a delegation. Quiet? Never). And although it would be more simple and peaceful to watch The View with your morning caffeine, there is something so encouraging and strengthening about spending time with people who have deep faith and who are passionate-- for excellence, for love, for justice and for others-- that a few days hearing some of the darkest stories in the universe somehow wound up feeling like a bigger story of hope being woven throughout hopelessness.

Here's the FBR website, which can explain this incredible project better than I:

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VPDC chairmen reluctant to collect student distinction taxes

Burma/Myanmar/Mon News (Welcome to Independent Mon News Agency)

July 28th, 2010



The high school in Hneepadaw village, Mudon Township

Hong Dein, IMNA : Village Peace and Development Council (VPDC) chairmen around Mon State complain that they are uncomfortable taxing village residents for funds that are awarded to Mon State high school graduates who have gained distinction on their 10-standard exams in 2010.

VPDC chairmen in Mudon Township reported to IMNA field reporters that the Burmese military regime has ordered Township authorities to each collect 4 million kyat to fund awards given to honored students. Mon State contains 10 townships and two sub-townships; VPDC chairman have been ordered to collect award taxes from villager residents and submit the funds to township authorities by today, July 28th.

A VPDC chairman from Mudon township explained, “Each township has to pay 4 million kyat to Mon State authorities for awards for the high school students”. He claimed that villages in Mudon Township were expected to submit between 80,000 and 100,000 kyat per village to township authorities.

VPDC chairmen around Mudon Township informed an IMNA field reporter that they were forced to collect the distinction taxes from citizens in their villages –between 2,000 and 3,000 kyat per household –despite the fact that they were reluctant to do so.

The Mudon Township VPDC chairman quoted above explained that he and his fellow chairmen felt embarrassed about collecting the distinction taxes from village residents because villagers are already required to submit funds for a wide variety of purposes. These include funds used to support security patrols for the Kanbauk – Myaingkalay gas pipeline that runs through Mon State, forced labour costs, and village militia taxes.

“We have a feeling of discomfort about collecting money frequently from villagers”, this chairman explained.

According to a high school teacher from Thanbyzaryat Township, a visit from Southeast Command (SEC) Commander Thet Naing Win is expected near the end of July, the same time of year when he visited Mon State high schools in 2009. Thet Naing Win will distribute prizes to students who gained distinction in four or more of their subject exams. This teacher reported that in the year 2010, four students passed with six distinctions (otherwise known as full distinction), thirty-seven students passed with five distinctions, and 141 students passed with four distinctions. Schools in which over 50 percent of exam takers passed all of their exam will be, as in previous years, also be awarded a prize of 1 million kyat.

Short URL: http://monnews.org/?p=823
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Mon party’s campaign dogged by government surveillance

Burma/Myanmar/Mon News (Welcome to Independent Mon News Agency)

July 28th, 2010



AMRDP chairman Nai Ngwe Thein addresses an audience in Moulmein during the party’s election campaign

Kong Janoi, IMNA : Representatives from the All Mon Regions Democracy Party (AMRDP) are finding that Burmese government surveillance measures are stifling their campaign activities.

According to IMNA field reporters, AMRDP leading organizers Nai Nwe Soe and Nai Baya Aung Moe are being closely monitored by a regional Military Intelligence Unit this week during their campaign in Myiek Township, Tenasserim Division. Witnesses from around Mon State report that that all AMRDP representatives have been followed by the Military Intelligence office in every Township they visit during their campaign, which began in late June.

The party has reportedly been troubled by the Burmese Election Commission’s requirement that all campaign activities be reported to the Commission in advance.

“Last week, when they [AMRDP campaigners] were organizing people in Mudon town, they faced a problem with authorities because they [the AMRDP] informed the [Election] Commission that they would give a speech with two people. In the campaign meeting, when the audience asked a question of their party, one of their members, whose name had not been given to the authorities, talked to the public, so the authorities gave a warning to their party,” a Mudon town witness reported.

“I would like to ask them why pro-junta party like Union Solidarity and Development and Ethnic Unity Party is free to do anything without any restriction from the government,” he added.

Despite pressure from Burma’s military regime, Nai Ngwe Thein, the leader of the AMRDP, believes that the party will ultimately be successful in gaining votes in Mon State.

“We will definitely win the [parliamentary] seat in Mon State if there are free and fair elections, because as far as we know, many people don’t like the pro-junta party. People will only vote to pro-junta party if they feel a threat [from the Burmese government]. We have to explain our people not to afraid to vote to our party,” he explained to IMNA’s field reporters in an interview this month.

According to IMNA field reporters observe situation in Mon State, many people are increasingly enthusiastic about casting their votes in favor of the AMRDP.

Nai Tun, a resident of Mudon Township, said, “Although we see this election is not fair, when the Mon party will come up for elections in our region, we will vote for them because our votes will go only for the Mon Party which we believe will care for our people.”

A political observer from Rangoon named Nai Htaw Mon explained to IMNA that even one member of the AMRDP in Burma’s parliament will likely increase the Mon people’s cultural rights.

“If we look at the Mon culture and literature aspect, it will be freer to learn and teach after the election [if even one AMRDP member is elected]. Politically speaking, if the Mon Party will properly get elected at last, with ten members, what they can do is be a voice in parliament with that amount of people.”

The AMRDP was formed in April 2010; the group is currently the only Mon political group campaigning in Mon State and Mon-controlled areas in the 2010 Burmese elections.

Short URL: http://monnews.org/?p=810
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HIV increasing among Burmese migrant workers, survey claims

Burma/Myanmar/Mon News (Welcome to Independent Mon News Agency)

July 30th, 2010



The VITA FOOD factory in Kanchanaburi Province

Min Taw Lawe, IMNA : According to the Pattanarak Foundation, a Thai non-governmental organization, a recently conducted HIV survey in Thailand’s Kanchanaburi province has revealed that 3% of the 300 Burmese migrant workers tested were HIV-positive.

Testing for the survey took place from July 20th to July 26th, amongst 300 Burmese workers in the VITA FOOD Factory in Tahmaka District, Kanchanburi province. Medical professionals that conducted the exam informed IMNA that the survey’s results indicate that HIV is on the rise in Thailand’s Burmese migrant worker population.

“People are lacking in knowledge of HIV prevention education…None of them use condoms when they have sex. That’s why it is easy to spread HIV virus among the migrant workers,” a medic explained.

Sources speculated to IMNA that many Burmese migrant workers are afraid to get tested for HIV, due to cultural prejudices against sex/HIV education. Naw Htoo from Thailand’s Phamit2 program, claimed that survey takers had to rely on the VITA FOOD factory manager to force unwilling workers to participate in the survey; Burmese migrant workers frequently have tenuous legal status and must heed the dictates of their employers.

“We had to negotiate with the factory authorities to test people in the factory, otherwise no one would come and get tested. Only when the authorities said that they would fire the ones who would not come, did people come to get tested,” Naw Htoo explained.

The VITA FOOD factory work force is comprised of 15,000 people, but only 8,100 are Burmese workers with legal Thai work permits. Of these legal workers, 300 Burmese migrant workers were selected for testing. According to medic Saw Abow, five women and four men were confirmed to be HIV-positive; an additional 10 people’s test results were unconfirmed, are still considered at risk for HIV.

He added that the Pattanarak Foundation plans to report the survey’s results to the Thai Health Organization in Kanchanaburi in order to obtain antiretroviral drugs for the HIV-positive patients in the VITA FOODS factory.

According to the Phamit2 project manager, the Pattanarak Foundation plans to initially focus on HIV testing among migrant worker populations, and then move on to testing for syphilis.

Saw Abow reported to IMNA that after conducting testing in three provinces – Ubonrathani, Kanchanaburi, and Kalasin – Pattanarak medics confirmed 11,000 syphilis cases, signaling a serious need for sex/STI- related education in all three regions.

The Pattanarak Foundation, which is run under the Phamit2 program, is supported by Global Fund in its fight against HIV/AIDS and syphilis within disadvantaged populations in Thailand. The foundation is also involved in community development, culture heritage preservation, and environmental conservation.

Short URL: http://monnews.org/?p=827
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AMRDP expects success in elections

Burma/Myanmar/Mon News (Welcome to Independent Mon News Agency)

July 31st, 2010



AMRDP chairman Nai Ngwe Thein

IMNA reporter Mi Rai Maroah interviewed Nai Ngwe Thein, the chairman of the All Mon Regions Democracy Party (AMRDP) to order to discuss the party’s political situation, and the group’s ongoing campaign trip, as the party continues moving toward its goal of represent the whole of Burma’s Mon people in the upcoming 2010 election.

Q: : Please explain the current campaign of the AMRDP.
A : : recently, we finished a campaign in Ye Township, Thanphyuzayart Township, Lamine sub-Township, and Mudon Township in Mons State, and also Karen State, a week ago. Now we are campaigning in Moulmein. We are satisfied because it was a successful trip and because most people gave us encouragement.

Q: :Has the party had difficulties during the campaign trips?
A: : We have had a little bit of difficulty, but that is because the Mon people are inordinately cautious [about voting for a non-government political party]. Their caution could also affect the economic recession due to their being afraid of doing this, afraid of working at that, afraid of going there… But nobody needs to be afraid to vote for us, we can be as open and successful as we want. Most people welcome us. We also campaign legally.

Q: : Does the party’s campaign have problems because of the Election Commissions limits for campaigning?
A: : They [the Election Commission] has also limited our way of campaigning, but they [the Election Commission] didn’t dare to make [the rules] very strict. We also campaign with difference styles, three or four ways, such as one way among public people, another way among a department. But we campaign so not to have problems and not to break the rules of the election commission. For example, we don’t speak very loud outside when we go to villages. We, the Mon people also understand the rules. That’s why it’s easy to campaign and the election rules don’t stop us. But on the other hand, they [authorities] have threatened us. It is not government [in Naypyidaw], however it is their lower servants. We haven’t been afraid of their threats. Don’t be afraid. We don’t need to be afraid. We can vote for our favorite parties. We can do as we like. We will continue our campaign.

Q: : How did you have a successful campaign among the Mon people so far?
A: : People have supported us as much as we want. We also get much satisfaction. They [the Mon people] often didn’t know who they wanted to vote for, due to not so many [available] political parties, because they are uneducated, or because they lack knowledge [about Burma's political situation]. Some don’t still know that the Mon have one political party. We don’t need to talk much, because people also welcome us because we also work to bring the truth to them. But it a one problem that [lower authorities] threaten us during this time. We also organize [for the elections]by sending people to educate the Mon people about the election before the election actually happens. We also campaign legally by reporting [our activities] to the Election Commission, and especially we persuade people to know about it [the election process] well.
.

Q: : You recently elected a Central Executive Committee (CEC), who was elected and how are their duties divided?
A: : Firstly, we elected a first leader, second leader and another 13 CEC members and elected a Central Committee (CC), so all committee members total are 21. Among them, the chairman, vice- chairman-1, vice-chairman-2, secretary, secretary-1, and secretary-2, were given specific responsibilities. The others we didn’t give exact duties to. This has already being reported to the Naypyidaw, the new capital of Burma . The chairman is Nai Ngwe Thein, chairman-1 is Nai Hla Aung, chairman-2 is Nai Saik, the secretary is Dr Min Nwe Soe, secretary- 1 is Nai San Tin, and secretary-2 is Nai Khin Aung.

Q: : How is situation of the AMRDP needing to get over one thousand members to qualify for the elections?
A: : We have over a thousand; from only one township we got over one thousand! Now, 1,400 of our AMRDP members were reported to Naypyidaw.

Q: : Does the AMRDP currently have a comfortable financial situation, or financial difficulties?
A: : Truthfully, some of our difficulties are financial. But we don’t need to worry because there is a fixed price of 500 kyat for each member [from the public]. Every member pays 500 kyat to the AMRDP. Some well-wishers paid up until 100,000 kyat and some paid 10,000 – 20,000 kyat, so we are at the same time not wealthy but not and not poor. But we have had a few difficulties when our traveling fund is not sufficient, and we must use our funds carefully. For registering [the party] we paid 300,000 kyat, and 600,000 kyat was spent on propaganda for the party. And it also costs money opening offices. We also calculate who in the party it will be most convenient for to ask money within their native area of a township. If anyone ask us if we “have money”, the answer is no. But we are not poor, we just give everything to our party and our work. All money must go to our work. Some people have donated 200,000 -300,000 kyat, but some not much. Other people want to give us money, but cannot yet. Because we haven’t begun the voting process yet. For a candidate to be registered [to be voted for by the public] we need to pay 500,000 kyat for each to the Election Commission. We haven’t consider this yet. The party’s financial condition is somewhere between wealthy and not sufficient. Whatever the situation is, we will try hard.

Q: : How does the AMRDP expect to fare in the 2010 elections?
A: : Actually, we have calculated that we will win in Mon areas if we compete in those areas during the election because the audience there has interest in our Mon party, and loves our Mon nationality. However, as for competition we don’t need to worry if we all compete fairly. For example, we have to compete with other parties in Thaton, Belin, and Kyaikhto townships because those areas have less Mon people. But we don’t worry about other competitors in other areas if they work with fairness. Public people are always welcome. As our for our campaign trip, we will win whatever we win. Mon people are interested in our party and in the current situation. And we are the only Mon party. For example, the New Mon State Party in Mon areas also didn’t have problems with our party. We stand by our position.

Short URL: http://monnews.org/?p=897
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USDP claims to have “same goals” as Mon political party

Limestone landscape, Mon State, Burma.Image via Wikipedia
Burma/Myanmar/Mon News (Welcome to Independent Mon News Agency)

July 30th, 2010

Jaloon Htaw : Union Solidarity and Development Party (USDP) organizer General Ohm Myint has informed audiences that the party shares the same democratic goals as the All Mon Regions Democracy Party (AMRDP), the only all-Mon political party campaigning in the 2010 elections.

According to witnesses, the statement was made during the first week of July, when General Ohm Myint traveled from Naypyidow to Mudon town to spearhead the party’s ongoing political campaign in the Mudon Township; the General used the allegation of being “the same” as the AMRDP to defend the USDP’s ongoing campaign to register 50 new members from each village in Mon State.

“We are the same like the Mon Party [in goals for democracy]. So you can vote for our party. We will take only 50 people from each village. After that [the rest] can vote for the Mon party,” a member of the USDP in Mudon town quoted Ohm Myint as saying.

The USDP is the official Burmese government-backed political party running in the 2010 elections. According to the Burmese section of the British Broadcasting Corporation on July 6th, the party replaced the former Union Solidarity and Development Association (USDA), a civilian-based social organizing program that was disbanded in early July.

This USDP member informed IMNA that General Ohm Myint traveled from Naypyidow to Mon State in early July, after the USDP’s campaign in Mudon Township proved to be largely unsuccessful.

“When we organized [for the elections], no one was interested. Now that General Ohm Myint has come to organize [the people], we have gotten successful,” he added.

According to this source, the General’s success has been demonstrated by the implementation of a new USDP recruiting program in every village in Mudon Township; in each Mudon village, 5 individuals have been appointed as USDP village leaders, and charged with the task of each recruiting 10 individuals for the party. This is intended to supplement the party’s original recruiting method in Mon State, which involved ordering village headmen themselves to recruit 50 USDP members from their fellow villagers. Village headmen reported in IMNA’s July 8th article that they were struggling to gain interest from community members.

The General’s new recruitment system and ongoing “pro-democracy” campaign is, according to UDSP insiders, expected to be extended throughout Mon State and Mon-controlled areas, competing with other political groups that are already working in the region, including the AMRDP and the Union Development Party (UDP), which plans to campaign in Tenasserim Division.

Phyo Min Thein, chairman of the UDP, complained to IMNA this week that the conversion of the former USDA into the USDP has already left the latter with an unfair boost of finances and government support, making the group’s basis and goals wholly undemocratic:

“We [in Burma] have about 40 political parties. No one gets rights like the USDP. I think, the USDP should not use a power over democracy parties and other political parties. After changing from the USDA to the USDP, now they [the USDP] are using the USDA’s finances. They are not obeying the rules. We are saving up what they are doing [that is] unjust, and will report it to the Election Commission”.

Short URL: http://monnews.org/?p=852
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Singapore hypocrisy: hang the drug couriers while investing with the drug barons

Temasek Review
July 31, 2010

The net effect of the Singapore government’s barbaric hanging of drug courier Van Nguyen will be to increase profits for the government’s trading partner, Burmese drug lord Lo Hsing Han.

While the high-profile execution will no doubt reduce the supply of heroin somewhat, the inelastic demand by addicts will just increase the margin to the wholesaler, Lo.

Singaporean Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong and his authoritarian government display extreme hypocrisy in executing dozens of drug couriers while at the same time going into business ventures with drug trafficker Lo.

The former US Assistant of State for the Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs, declared in 1997, “Since 1988 over half of the $US1 billion investments from Singapore have been tied to the family of narco-trafficker Lo Hsing Han”.

The Singapore government, in cooperation with Morgan Guaranty Trust Company, is directly connected to key business ventures of drug kingpin Lo through an investment group called the Myanmar Fund. The fund, which provides investors “with long term capital appreciation from direct or indirect investments in Myanmar (Burma),” is registered as a tax-free fund in Jersey, Channel Islands, according to documents provided to the Irish Stock Exchange.

Singapore’s largest government-controlled financial institution – the Government of Singapore Investment Corporation (GIC) – is listed in the documents along with Morgan Guaranty Trust Bank (a J.P. Morgan subsidiary separate from the Trust Company) as a core shareholder in the Myanmar Fund. A September 1996 GIC business profile from the Registry of Companies and Businesses in Singapore shows that high-level Singaporean politicians were officers and directors of the GIC, including senior minister Lee Kuan Yew; his son, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong; and finance minister Dr Richard Hu. As a core shareholder, the GIC helps determine how the fund’s money is invested in Burma.

Singapore’s economic linkage with Burma is one of the most vital factors for the survival of Burma’s military regime,” says Professor Mya Maung, a Burmese economist based in Boston. This link, he continues, is also central to “the expansion of the heroin trade.” Singapore has achieved the distinction of being the Burmese junta’s number one business partner -both largest trading partner and largest foreign investor. More than half these investments, totalling upwards of US$1.3 billion, are in partnership with Burma’s infamous heroin kingpin Lo Hsing Han, who now controls a substantial portion of the world’s opium trade. The close political, economic, and military relationship between the two countries facilitates the weaving of millions of narco-dollars into the legitimate world economy.

The Burmese military dictatorship- known by the acronym SLORC for State Law and Order Restoration Council until it changed its name to the State Peace and Development Council (SPDC) in 1997-depends on the resources of Burma’s drug barons for its financial survival. Since it seized power in 1988, opium production has doubled, equalling all legal exports and making the country the world’s biggest heroin supplier. With 50 percent of the economy unaccounted for, drug traffickers, businessmen and government officials are able to integrate spectacular profits throughout Burma’s permanent economy.

Both the Burmese generals and drug lords have been able to take advantage of Singapore’s liberal banking laws and money laundering opportunities. In 1991, for example, the SLORC laundered US$400 million through a Singapore bank which it used as a down payment for Chinese arms. With no laws to prevent money laundering, Singapore is widely reported to be a financial haven for Burma’s elite, including its two most notorious traffickers, Lo Hsing Han and Khun Sa (also known by his Chinese name Chang Qifu).

Lo Hsing Han is chairman of Burma’s biggest conglomerate, Asia World, founded in 1992. His son, Steven Law, is managing director and also runs three companies in Singapore which are “overseas branches” of Asia World. Although Singapore is proud of its mandatory death penalty for small-time narcotics smugglers and heroin addicts, both father and son travel freely in and out of the friendly (to them) island-nation.

In 1996, when Law married his Singaporean business partner in a lavish, well-publicized Rangoon wedding, guests from Singapore were flown in on two chartered planes. According to a high-level US government official familiar with the situation, Law’s wife Cecilia Ng operates an underground banking system, and “is a contact for people in Burma to get their drug money into Singapore, because she has a connection to the government.” According to the official, Ng spends half her time in Rangoon, half in Singapore; when in Rangoon, she is headquartered at Asia Lite, a subsidiary of Asia World.

The husband-wife team are also the sole officers and shareholders of Asia World subsidiary, Kokang Singapore Pte Ltd. Founded in Singapore in 1993 with $4.6 million, the company “engages in general trading activities in goods/products of all kinds/descriptions.

The Burmese junta’s control of its impoverished population through crude methods such as torture, forced labour, and mass killings leaves it open to international condemnation. In contrast, Singapore takes a more sophisticated approach to repression, both at home and abroad. While the island-nations citizens have material benefits and the appearance of rule of law, they live in fear of an Orwellian government that closely monitors every aspect of their lives. The ruling party often sues those who dare to oppose it on trumped up defamation charges, forcing many into bankruptcy or exile.

by Elizabeth Krantz

Editor’s Note: This article was original penned by the author during the case of drug courier Van Nguyen but in view of recent happenings surrounding related subject, we are reproducing it again for the benefit of readers.
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Urgent Appeal: BURMA: A young man is unlawfully detained and accused over a bombing

Water FestivalImage by Zero-X via Flickr
Network of Action for Migrants (NAMM)
July 30, 2010

ASIAN HUMAN RIGHTS COMMISSION - URGENT APPEALS PROGRAMME

Urgent Appeal Case: AHRC-UAC-112-2010



30 July 2010
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BURMA: A young man is unlawfully detained and accused over a bombing

ISSUES: Administration of justice; torture; arbitrary arrest and detention; fabrication of charges; right to fair trial
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U.N. HUMAN RIGHTS COUNCIL
ALRC SPECIAL REPORT ON BURMA

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Dear friends,


The Asian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) previously issued a statement on the case of Phyo Wai Aung, whom the authorities in Burma have blamed for an attack on a festival in April. In this appeal we bring you the details of his case and the charges that have now been brought against him. His trial is ongoing.

CASE NARRATIVE:

As the AHRC wrote in its statement (Conviction by press conference--the case of Phyo Wai Aung), on May 6 the police chief of Burma announced that his force had arrested one of four persons involved in the April 15 water festival blasts in Rangoon that officially killed 10 and injured 168. The police chief said that the accused person, 30-year-old Phyo Wai Aung, had confessed to being among those responsible, and that he was connected to exiled groups based in Thailand.

The police arrested Phyo Wai Aung on the same day as the attack, and have accused him of being one of five persons involved in the plot – the others having escaped. Charges were then taken against him over the explosions, as well as for allegedly having had contact with outlawed groups abroad.

The police held Phyo Wai Aung for over a month without laying any charges, during which time they allegedly tortured him to obtain a confession. They searched his house but did not find any evidence to connect him to the crime. Eyewitnesses have said that they did not see him at the scene when the incident occurred.

Shortly after the police arrested Phyo Wai Aung, his family hired a lawyer to represent him; however, the police refused to allow the lawyer to meet with his client. Finally, the lawyer was able to meet with him only when the case began in a special court inside the central prison on 14 July 2010. However the family of Phyo Wai Aung has been prevented from attend the hearings, we are told, on instruction from the Special Branch police.

Further details of the case are in the sample letter below, as usual.

BACKGROUND INFORMATION:

In recent years, government-held press conferences have been a platform for an escalating number of persons accused in concocted cases over bomb plots, including U Myint Aye, the founder of local group Human Rights Defenders and Promoters (UAC: Three innocent men are tortured into confessing to a bomb plot). Myint Aye and his two co-defendants also alleged that they had been tortured during interrogation.

Such was the experience of Zaw Lwin, a.k.a. Nyi Nyi Aung, in September 2009, who was arrested as he disembarked from a flight from Bangkok (UAU: Activist due to be sentenced over alleged bombing plot ). An American citizen, Kyaw Zaw Lwin was released and deported after high-level interventions, but has since described his torture in custody.

Most recently, the AHRC issued an appeal on the case of Than Myint Aung, who was initially accused over a minor explosion in March 2009, but against whom the police subsequently shifted charges to other offences (UAC: A man is severely tortured for a month at Rangoon police headquarters and sentenced to 15 years in prison ).

ADDITIONAL INFORMATION:

All urgent appeals on Burma can be accessed by going to the appeals homepage and typing "Burma" or "Myanmar" into the search box: http://www.ahrchk.net/ua/. For further discussion see articles and special reports on the article 2 website:http://www.article2.org/search.php again search for Burma/Myanmar; and, see the 2009 AHRC annual report on Burma.

The Asian Legal Resource Centre recently released a special report on rule of law and human rights issues in Burma in the lead up to the Universal Periodic Review process for the country at the United Nations in Geneva. The report and annexe are available on the ALRC website at: http://www.alrc.net/doc/mainfile.php/upr/ (scroll to bottom of page).

The AHRC Burmese-language blog is updated constantly for Burmese-language readers, and covers the contents of urgent appeal cases, related news, and special analysis pieces.

SUGGESTED ACTION:

Please write to the persons listed below to call for the release of Phyo Wai Aung. Please note that for the purpose of the letter, the country should be referred to by its official title of Myanmar, rather than Burma, and Rangoon, Yangon.

Please be informed that the AHRC is writing a separate letter to the UN Special Rapporteurs on Myanmar, on the independence of judges and lawyers, and on torture; the UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention; and the regional human rights office for Southeast Asia, calling for interventions into this case.
To support this appeal please click here:

SAMPLE LETTER:

Dear ___________,

MYANMAR: Illegal detention, baseless charges and alleged torture of man accused over bombing

Details of accused: Ko Phyo Wai Aung, a.k.a. Mohammad Sharvan, 31, construction contractor, resident of Ward 2, Pazundaung Township, Yangon, Myanmar

Date of arrest: 15 May 2010

Officials involved:
1. Police Major Aung Swe, Serial No. La/58844, Special Branch
2. Police Captain Win Maung, Serial No. La/128431, Operations Department, Special Branch
3. Inspector Aung Naing Oo, Serial No. La/139281
4. Inspector Saw Aung, Serial No. La/128627, Special Branch, Thanlyin
5. Inspector Kyaw Sein Win, Serial No. La/127321, Underground Unit, Internal Affairs Department, Special Branch
6. Inspector Htun Soe Thein, Serial No. La/139240, detective, Prosecution Department, Special Branch
7. Inspector Thaung Ngwe, Serial No. La/65715, Mingalar-taungnyunt Township Police
8. Township Judge U Win Swe, Hlaing Township Court, Yangon
9. Maung Maung Aye, Myawaddy District Immigration and National Registration Department

Charges and trial: Unlawful Associations Act, 1908, section 17(1); Immigration (Emergency Provisions) Act, 1947, section 13(1); Penal Code, sections 302, 307, 326 read with 114 (abetting murder, attempted murder and hurt); Explosive Substances Act, 1908, section 3, Yangon Western District Court, Criminal Case Nos. 102-104/10

I am writing to express my concern over the arrest, imprisonment, trial and alleged torture of a man in Myanmar over the April 15 blasts at the water festival in Yangon that officially killed 10 and injured 168.

According to the information that I have received, the police arrested Ko Phyo Wai Aung on the same day as the attack, and have accused him of being one of five persons involved in the plot (the others are described as having absconded) and have laid charges against him over the explosions as well as for allegedly having had contact with outlawed groups abroad.

While I acknowledge and respect the responsibility that the police and other authorities in Myanmar have for bringing the persons culpable for the explosions to justice, I am gravely concerned that Phyo Wai Aung's fundamental human rights have already been grossly violated and I do not believe that he can obtain a fair trial. My concerns include the following:

1. On 6 May 2010 before any charges were brought against Phyo Wai Aung, the chief of the Myanmar Police Force, Brigadier General Khin Yi, gave a press conference which was reported in the official New Light of Myanmar newspaper the next day under the headline "MPF apprehends one of the offenders" in which he set out the accused man's alleged role in the bomb plot as a matter of fact and described him as a terrorist. In light of the contents of this press conference, it is obvious that Phyo Wai Aung has already been found guilty before he has been tried in any court.

2. Shortly after the police arrested Phyo Wai Aung, his family hired a lawyer to represent him; however, the Special Branch refused to allow the lawyer to meet with his client. Finally, the lawyer was able to meet with him only when the case began in court on 14 July 2010.

3. The case is being heard inside the Insein Central Prison, in violation of the Judiciary Law 2000, which provides for open trial; reportedly, not even the family of Phyo Wai Aung has been able to attend the hearings, on instruction from the Special Branch police, even though only the presiding judge has the authority to decide who can or cannot sit in the court.

4. The police held Phyo Wai Aung for over a month without laying charges, during which time according to the accused they tortured him and obtained a confession by force; however, the court has not entertained his allegations, even though they are consistent with those of other persons detained over alleged involvement in bombings. None of the material evidence accepted from the police by the court was obtained from the accused man's house or from among his personal property; however, eyewitnesses who deny seeing him at the site and time of the blast as the police allege, have not been called to appear.

In view of the above I do not believe that Phyo Wai Aung can obtain a fair trial and I urge that the concerned Yangon Western District Law Office drop the cases against him. I also call for a special inquiry into his allegations of torture; and into the reasons that his lawyer was denied access to him for over three months, and that his family has been prohibited from attending the trial.

Furthermore, I urge that in similar cases of this sort in the future, the chief of the Myanmar Police Force refrain from the holding of press conferences in which people who have not been tried for any crime are already declared guilty of some offence, because such press conferences effectively serve as notices of conviction of accused persons even before they have been heard in court.

Lastly, I take this opportunity to remind the Government of Myanmar of the need to allow the International Committee of the Red Cross access to places of detention as a matter of the utmost urgency. I can see no reason as to why the government has failed to agree to the ICRC mission in accordance with the terms of its international mandate and has for the last few years refused it access. The persistent refusal to allow the ICRC access to detainees like Phyo Wai Aung is one of the reasons that Myanmar's international reputation remains among the worst in the world, and it will continue to be that way until the Government of Myanmar changes its position on this matter.

Yours sincerely,

----------------

PLEASE SEND YOUR LETTERS TO:


1. Maj-Gen. (Retd.) Maung Oo
Minister for Home Affairs
Ministry of Home Affairs
Office No. 10
Naypyitaw
MYANMAR
Tel: +95 67 412 079/ 549 393/ 549 663
Fax: +95 67 412 439

2. Lt-Gen. (Retd.) Thein Sein
Prime Minister
c/o Ministry of Defence
Naypyitaw
MYANMAR
Tel: + 95 1 372 681
Fax: + 95 1 652 624

3. U Aung Toe
Chief Justice
Office of the Supreme Court
Office No. 24
Naypyitaw
MYANMAR
Tel: + 95 67 404 080/ 071/ 078/ 067 or + 95 1 372 145
Fax: + 95 67 404 059

4. U Aye Maung
Attorney General
Office of the Attorney General
Office No. 25
Naypyitaw
MYANMAR
Tel: +95 67 404 088/ 090/ 092/ 094/ 097
Fax: +95 67 404 146/ 106

5. Brig-Gen. Khin Yi
Director General
Myanmar Police Force
Ministry of Home Affairs
Office No. 10
Naypyitaw
MYANMAR
Tel: +95 67 412 079/ 549 393/ 549 663
Fax: +951 549 663 / 549 208

6. U Myat Ko
Secretary of Myanmar Human Rights Group
Director-General, General Administration Department
Ministry of Home Affairs
Office No. 10, Naypyitaw, MYANMAR
Tel: +95 67 412 079/ 549 393/ 549 663
Fax: +95 67 412 439
umyatko@myanmar.com.mm

7. U Kyaw Tint Swe
Representative of Myanmar to the ASEAN
Intergovernmental Commission on Human Rights
10 EAST 77th STREET,
NEW YORK, N.Y.1005, U.S.A

Tel No: (212) 744-1475, 744-1279
FACSIMILE: (1) (212) 744-1290
myanmarmission@verizon.net

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Sheffield asylum seeker fears death if deported

There is widespread international support for ...Image via Wikipedia
The Star

Published Date: 31 July 2010
By Richard Marsden
News Reporter

A BURMESE woman living in Sheffield who faces deportation to her homeland fears she could be killed for participating in pro-democracy protests against the country's military regime.

Aye Thandar Wai - known as Poppy - of Washington Road, Sharrow, came to Britain to study tourism at college in London last year.

The 25-year-old claims her face was spotted by officials from the South Asian country when she became involved in demo outside the Burmese Embassy, in support of opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi, who is under house arrest.

Poppy claims they tracked down her family back home, arrested her father and friends and quizzed them about her whereabouts.
Poppy says she was warned it wasn't safe for her to return to Burma, and applied for asylum last September.

But her bid was rejected and her student visa, which was not due to expire until 2011, was revoked.

Poppy appealed and was moved to Sheffield by immigration officials as part of their policy of dispersing asylum seekers around the country.

The appeal and two subsequent challenges were all rejected and Poppy has now been told she will be deported.

Poppy said: "If I am sent home, I would definitely be sent to prison and could be killed. I want to stay."

Adult education tutor Philip Mulliner, who teaches English at the Learn For Life centre, London Road, is backing Poppy.

He said: "I first got to know Poppy when she called in offering to help in the classes because she has an MA in English, which she obtained in Burma.

"She is worried sick, literally, about the prospect of going home but officials who have dealt with her asylum case do not believe her story."

Philip has appealed for help from politicians including former Lord Mayor Coun Roger Davison, a supporter of the Burmese community living in Sheffield.

Coun Davison said: "It's the least we can do to extend her stay."
Poppy's situation was also raised by Philip at a full meeting of Sheffield Council this week.

He told councillors: "Conditions in Burmese prisons are unspeakable, with torture, beatings, even murder."

Sheffield Council's Lib Dem Leader Coun Paul Scriven said: "I have been made aware of this case through Roger Davison.

"It's a brutal regime in Burma. We have a duty to protect people whose human rights are being undermined.

"I will meet Poppy and see what the council can do to help."

Jeremy Oppenheim, UK Border Agency Regional Director for the North East, Yorkshire and the Humber, said: "We only remove individuals that both we and the courts find are not in need of protection."
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Nasaka Official Shot and Killed on Western Burma Border

Myanmar BorderImage by JetPunk.com via Flickr
Narinjara.com
July 31, 2010

Maungdaw: An official from Burma's border security force Nasaka was shot dead by an unknown assailant in a village in the border township Maungdaw on 27 July, according to an official report.

The deceased was identified as Sergeant Soe Naing from an outpost located nearby Ma Kyi Chaung's police station in southern Maungdaw Township.

According to village sources, an unknown assailant shot him around 6:30 pm while he was drinking locally-made alcohol along with another Nasaka officer, Win Myint, in a residential compound in Ma Kyi Chaung Village.

Sergeant Soe Naing died at the scene, while Win Myint managed to escape.

Burmese border authorities arrested some villagers after the incident, and are now interrogating them about the shooting.

The reason behind the killing is currently unknown, but some officials and locals believe the assassination is most likely the result of internal conflicts within the Nasaka force.

This is the first time a Nasaka man has been shot and killed by an unknown assailant in such a manner on the Burmese border.
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