MYANMAR: Cyclone survivors face water shortages

GWAY CHAUNG, 29 December 2008 (IRIN) – Thousands of survivors of Cyclone Nargis in Myanmar’s Ayeyarwady Delta face possible water shortages, as the dry season begins to bite.

Rural communities are largely dependent on communal water ponds which were badly-affected by the May 2008 cyclone, according to experts. Many ponds did not have time to refill before the start of the dry season which normally runs from November to April. read all

AAPP Press Release 29.12.2008

For Immediate Release

December 29, 2008

The 138th political prisoner has died in Burma’s prisons, the Assistance Association for Political Prisoners (Burma) has learned. Htay Lwin Oo passed away in Mandalay prison yesterday. He was suffering from tuberculosis.
Htay Lwin Oo, a teacher and member of the National League for Democracy from Amarapura Township in Mandalay, was arrested on 21 December 2003 and sentenced to 7 years imprisonment under section 5 (J) of the Emergency Provisions Act. He was due for release in December 2009.



60th Anniversary of the UDHR
Sixty years ago this month, with the intention to create a better world in which human beings shall enjoy freedom of speech and belief and freedom from fear and want, the General Assembly of the United Nations adopted and proclaimed the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) as a yardstick by which men and women can judge for themselves the extent to which their rights and freedom are respected by their respective governments.
However, for many peoples who have been under oppressive rules of their governments, such a better world is still a farfetched dream. The people of Shan State, or Burma as a whole, can easily be counted among those peoples, given the circumstances under which they have been forced to live for the most part of the last 6 decades.
Virtually all the basic human rights set forth in the UDHR have been denied them by the successive military governments which seized power from a democratically elected civilian government nearly 5 decades ago. For them, the world appears to have become increasingly worse over the decades, and seems to be heading towards the same direction with still no end in sight.
Nevertheless, as an organization dealing with issues of human rights in accordance with the principles articulated in the UDHR, SHRF commemorates its 60th Anniversary by pledging to continue to strive with all the people of the world for the realization of the highest aspiration of the common people.
In July 2008, the headman of Murng Sawng village and a villager of Ho Hu village, in Nawng Tao village tract, Kae-See township, were arrested, tortured and beaten to death by a patrol of combined troops from SPDC IB287 and a Shan ceasefire group, known as “Murng Zern Group”.
On the night of 23 July 2008, a patrol of about 13 SPDC troops from IB287 and about the same number of troops from the said ceasefire group, Murng Zern Group, came to Murng Sawng village in Nawng Tao village tract, Kae-See township.
The SPDC troops, led by a commander known as Bo Naing Htoo, arrested the headman of Murng Sawng village, Zaai Awng Nyunt (m), aged 49, and took him away with them, at around 10 p.m.. The troops headed towards Nawng Tao village, about 5 miles away, and about half way they tied the headman’s hands behind his back with a rope and pushed him along.
The troops did not stop long at Nawng Tao village, but continued to Ho Hu village, about 2 miles from Nawng Tao, and arrested a villager named Ma-Ha (m), aged 45, who was staying in the village, and tied his hands behind his back.
Soon after that, at around midnight, the troops took the 2 villagers out of Ho Hu village to a place where there was a big banyan tree locally known as “Mai Hung Suk Ho”, some distance north of Ho Hu village. The SPDC troops then tortured and beat the 2 villagers to death at that place.
Before they left, the troops wrote a letter and put it on one of the dead bodies of the villagers, which were lying as they had been beaten to death. The letter said that the 2 villagers had to face their fate because they were informers of the Shan rebels.
The next day, the relatives who had gone out to look for them found their bodies at the place where they had been left. As they read the letter, the veligers knew that the SPDC troops had not only killed the 2 villagers but also made a threat to terrorize the local people.
The villagers were actually terrorized because no one dared to complain about the incidents. They, however, still dared to bring some Buddhist monks to the place, conducted funeral rites for the dead and buried them near where they had been found. READ ALL

Increase in murders on western Burma border


There has been a significant increase in the number of murders on the western Burma border but no one seems to know the reason behind it, said an elder.
In a month, two Rakhines and one Muslim were murdered by unknown assailants in Maungdaw Township on the western Burma border. The authorities are yet to arrest anyone.

“Last Saturday, an elderly Arakanese man was killed by an unknown group while he was herding cows in a pasture near his village,” the town elder said.

The victim was identified as U Aung Twe (65) from 4 miles village in ward No 6 in Maungdaw Township. He had no enemies.

According to village sources, he was killed by placing a plastic bag on his head after his hands and feet were tied with ropes. He died of suffocation.

Police from Maungdaw took his body in the evening to the hospital in Maungdaw for autopsy. read all

5000 textile workers laid off in Hlaingtharyar

Dec 29, 2008 (DVB)–More than 5000 workers lost their jobs when clothing factories in Hlaingtharyar industrial zone in Rangoon closed down recently, while others are facing salary cuts.

The closures come not long after the Burmese regime said the world economic crisis would not affect Burma.
The factories which are still operating have reduced their workers’ lunch break from 45 to 30 minutes, and are only paying 100 kyat for overtime, a worker in a Korean clothing factory told DVB.
“They are also reducing our wages by 3000 kyat a month. We get only 30,000-40,000 kyat a month,” she said.
The worker said there had also been increasing incidents of physical assaults against staff.
Workers are unable to report the abuses for fear of losing their jobs.
In the past, workers who demanded their rights have been detained and intimidated by local authorities, one employee said.
“[The authorities] said, ‘Don’t demonstrate again or you will be arrested’,” the employee said.
“People are living in fear – what they want to say never comes out.”

Thailand-Police checkpoints across North at New Year to prevent drug smuggling

CHIANG MAI, Dec 21 (TNA) – Police checkpoints have been set up across Thailand’s northern region to prevent drug trafficking from neighbouring countries to the country during the New Year festival.

Pol. Lt-Gen. Sataporn Duangkaew, commander of Provincial Police Region 5 which covers eight northern provinces, said that police personnel at checkpoints across the region would work closely with the military to strictly control drug trafficking and migrant worker smuggling into the kingdom.

The eight provinces are Chiang Rai, Chiang Mai, Mae Hong Son, Lamphun, Lampang, Phayao, Phrae and Nan. Many share borders with Myanmar and Laos.

Gen. Sataporn said that millions pills of illegal drugs were reportedly being held along the borders waiting for being smuggled into the kingdom during the New Year period.

Police will especially monitor cars travelling the cross-border routes.

Meanwhile, the southern province of Surat Thani, famous for its resort island of Samui, has set up a centre to control land, air and water transport around the clock during the New Year period to reduce the number of accidents.

Boonsong Taychamaneesatid, Surat Thani deputy-governor, said that there will be 98 police checkpoints on roads and another 123 in communities in his province alone.

The Surat Thani deputy-governor added that the operation was aimed to prevent and reduce accidents during New Year period. Last year, 11 people died, while 101 were injured in 77 accidents. (TNA)

Political Prisoner Htay Lwin Oo Dies -Burmese labor rights activist Htay Lwin Oo has died in Mandalay prison—the second political prisoner known to have died in Burma this month.

Htay Lwin Oo’s wife, Khin Hla Myint, told The Irrawaddy he had died on Sunday of tuberculosis, which she said had been left untreated by the prison authorities.

Htay Lwin Oo, a 46-year-old schoolteacher, was sentenced to seven years imprisonment in 2003 for his labor rights activities.

He was arrested along with 11 members of the National League for Democracy, who were sentenced to terms of imprisonment of up to 22 years for offences under section 5 (J) of the Emergency Provisions Act.

The Thailand-based Assistance Association for Political Prisoners (Burma) called Htay Lwin Oo’s death murder. “Tuberculosis can be treated, but the government failed to treat him,” said Bo Kyi, joint-secretary of the association, the AAPP. read all

UN’s ‘Stockholm Syndrome’ Won’t Work in Burma

irrawaddynews, The international community responded to the disaster with sympathy and offers of material aid. The US, Britain and France sent warships to the area, loaded with food, medicines and other supplies. UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon toured the cyclone-flattened region and met leaders of the military government, urging them to allow more aid into Burma.

Not surprisingly, the junta opened the door slightly to aid agencies after dragging its heels on the dispatch of emergency relief to the cyclone victims.

At the same time, the regime went ahead with its sham referendum, claiming 92 percent approval for its proposed constitution.

Then, to the surprise of many, the regime launched its “shock and awe” strategy, handing out heavy prison sentences to prominent opposition leaders and humanitarian workers and sending them separately to remote prisons.

Now it is shocking to learn that Gambari has suggested that governments should offer Burma financial incentives to free its political prisoners, estimated to number more than 2,000—including Nobel laureate Aung San Suu Kyi—and to initiate democratic change.

The Nigerian diplomat must be insane to think that the corrupt generals who terrorized the whole nation can be bribed into compromise.

The influential Washington Post has reported: “In the months ahead, the UN leadership will press the Obama administration to relax US policy on Burma and to open the door to a return of international financial institutions, including the World Bank.”

Several years ago, when the World Bank offered the Burmese regime US $1 billion in return for political reform, it was told, in effect: “Don’t give us bananas, we are not monkeys.”

Minutes of a meeting between Gambari and a UN Burma team led by Ambassador Kyaw Tint Swe—obtained by The Irrawaddy—seem to suggest that Gambari, a citizen of one of Africa’s failed states, is giving advice to some officials from a failed state of Southeast Asia. continue