QUOTE OF THE DAY – Leader of the National League for Democracy (NLD), U Win Tin, who was released last year after 19 long years of detention, on Friday told Radio Voice of America Burmese service that the NLD, which has rejected the junta’s constitution, could no longer follow wherever the generals led

It is possible that there can be problems for our party. In politics we cannot be prejudiced and hold on to one thing forever. But we cannot leave our principles and beliefs behind and follow the path that people lead us on. If there are no new situations emerging, the future is gloomy. But because of fear of the future being gloomy, all of us cannot bow down and plead to them [the junta]. I must say that we can no longer follow wherever they lead us. ”

U Win Tin
A leader of the National League for Democracy

By Mizzima news

Fresh offensive on Thai-Burmese border

by Mizzima News
Friday, 09 January 2009 20:37

Chiang Mai (Mizzima) – A fresh offensive has broken out along the Thai-Burmese border between ethnic Karen guerillas of the Karen National Union (KNU) and a joint force of Burmese Army troops and those from the Karen splinter group Democratic Karen Buddhist Army (DKBA), sources along the border said.

The offensive is taking place opposite the Burmese border in the vicinity Ohn Pyan village near the town of Mea Sot in Thailand’s Tak province. Observers said the offensive could be an attempt by the Burmese Army and allied DKBA forces to occupy KNU controlled areas.

“The fighting has been continuing and they [the joint forces] have already occupied some of the KNU controlled areas. And with March 27 approaching, they are determined to take control over the rest of the areas,” a source told Mizzima, referring to Burma’s Armed Forces Day which falls on March 27.

According to military sources, Burma’s army is also planning to cross into Thailand in order to execute a surprise attack against the Karen rebels. http://www.mizzima.com/news/inside-burma/1524-fresh-offensive-on-thai-burmese-border.html

9.October 2008 DKBA soldiers attack Karen village in Thailand http://www.khrg.org/khrg2008/khrg08b10.html

APRIL 13, 2007 Burma: Army and Its Proxies Threaten Refugee Camps http://www.hrw.org/en/news/2007/04/13/burma-army-and-its-proxies-threaten-refugee-camps

god bless all Karen

The IDPs of Eastern Burma rely on cross-border aid and intrepid groups such as the Free Burma Rangers (FBR) and the Back Pack Health Worker Teams Nowhere to Hide

by Irrawaddy.news They are constantly running and hiding from the Burmese army. One 62-year-old Karen man said he believed he had fled in fear more than 100 times in his life. They build makeshift shelters in the jungle wherever they can and plant fields that might never see a harvest. With only the clothes on their backs and a few tools in their hands, they build schoolhouses from bamboo and try to give their children an education. More than anything, the Internally Displaced People (IDPs) of Eastern Burma try desperately to keep a candle of hope burning in their hearts.The IDPs of Eastern Burma rely on cross-border aid and intrepid groups such as the Free Burma Rangers (FBR) and the Back Pack Health Worker Teams to deliver it. The logistics are very difficult and the conditions are hazardous. With the dreaded Burmese army, or tatmadaw, controlling checkpoints on all roads, FBR teams must stick to jungle trails and use mules and porters for transportation.

continue http://www.irrawaddy.org/article.php?art_id=14900

Donations can give to http://www.freeburmarangers.org/


read also RIGHTS-BURMA: Military Accused of Crimes Against Humanity

BANGKOK, Nov 9 (IPS) – An onslaught by Burmese troops in the eastern part of the military-ruled country, running for three years now, is laying the junta open to charge of ‘crimes against humanity’.

This new charge adds to a growing list of human rights violations that the South-east Asian nation’s ruling military regime is being slammed for, including the use of rape as a weapon of war in military campaigns in areas that are home to the country’s ethnic minorities. The country has been under the grip of successive juntas since a 1962 military coup.

Eyewitness accounts from civilians fleeing the territory under attack reveal a grim picture of the ‘tatmadaw’, as the Burmese military is called, targeting unarmed men, women and children in a ‘’widespread and systematic way,’’ say human rights and humanitarian groups.

An increasing number of refugees have been crossing over to northern Thailand from among the Karen ethnic community, the second largest ethnic group in Burma, or Myanmar. Many of them live in the mountainous Karen State, the territory where South-east Asia’s longest –and largely ignored — separatist conflict is being waged between Burmese troops and the armed wing of the Karen National Union (KNU).

‘’Myanmar’s troops are overtly targeting civilians; they are actively avoiding KNU military installations. That is why we are describing the attacks as ‘crimes against humanity’,’’ says Benjamin Zawacki, South-east Asia researcher for Amnesty International (AI), the global rights lobby. ‘’The violations are widespread and systematic.’’

‘’This campaign started in November 2005 and has escalated. They did not even stop during the annual monsoon period (from May to October), which was not the case before,’’ he explained during an IPS interview. ‘’There has been a shift in strategy and intensity. It is no more a dry season offensive.’’
continue http://ipsnews.net/news.asp?idnews=44631

Burmese Abbot’s Birthday Draws Thousands to Thailand Celebrations

Irrawaddy news- Tens of thousands of Burmese pilgrims crossed into Thailand this week to attend celebrations marking the 46th birthday of a monk who was once a close spiritual adviser of Burma’s ousted prime minister and military intelligence chief, Gen Khin Nyunt.

Mongphone Sayadaw Ashin Bhaddanta Nanasamvara is now abbot of Wat Weng Kaew in Chiang Saen, on the banks of the Mekong River in northern Thailand. He moved there from Burma after the fall of Khin Nyunt in 2004. continue http://www.irrawaddy.org/highlight.php?art_id=14899

see Mulimedia slideshow on Irrawaddy.org

Business Roundup (January 9, 2009) Winners & Losers Among Burma’s Foreign Partners

by Irrawaddy news A new study of Burma’s economy reveals several trends in terms of the military regime’s foreign trading partners.

China is becoming increasingly influential, while Japan’s relevance is in decline.

Singapore remains important to the regime’s economic affairs but is “declining in relative terms,” said the study by Australia’s Macquarie University. continue

ASEAN’s role in the Cyclone Nargis response: implications, lessons and opportunities

by Yves-Kim Creac’h and Lilianne Fan

The Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) has in the past been strongly criticised for its position on and relationship with Myanmar, in particular for its policies of ‘non-interference’ and ‘constructive engagement’. In its response to the devastation caused by Cyclone Nargis, ASEAN as an organisation took a bold step by proactively assuming a leadership role, both in convincing the Myanmar government to cooperate with the international community and in managing the response itself. In so doing, it has helped to open up an unprecedented level of humanitarian space. While much work still needs to be done, ASEAN’s approach to the post-Nargis response may well offer a model for other regional organisations. Natural disasters such as Cyclone Nargis are likely to become increasingly frequent, and expertise in responding to and managing them will be needed in the future.
ASEAN’s position on Myanmar
ASEAN was founded on 8 August 1967. Initially comprising five members –Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore and Thailand – by 1999, with the accession of Cambodia, the organisation encompassed all ten of the region’s states, including Myanmar. The organisation was founded on a set of core principles: non-interference in its members’ affairs, consensus, the non-use of force and non-confrontation. These principles have governed ASEAN’s relationship with Myanmar, and have been the source of the harshest criticism of its stance towards the regime there, not only from Western governments but also increasingly from pro-democracy forces within its own member countries.
Throughout most of the 1990s, ASEAN’s engagement with Myanmar consisted of quiet diplomacy and confidence-building measures. Following the country’s accession, however, members increasingly presented their position as a realist response in light of the country’s isolation and xenophobia, rather than as tacit consent with the policies and practices of the regime. ASEAN’s strongest and most united criticism of the junta came in the wake of its brutal crackdown on civilian protesters in September 2007. Following the crackdown, ASEAN members were divided over the degree to which they should uphold the principle of non-interference in relation to Myanmar. The decision to play a major role in the Cyclone Nargis response gave ASEAN an opportunity to forge a common position. continue HPN http://www.odihpn.org/report.asp?id=2965

Negotiating humanitarian access to cyclone-affected areas of Myanmar: a review

by Julie Belanger and Richard Horsey

On the night of 2 May 2008, Cyclone Nargis made landfall in the Ayeyarwady Delta region of Myanmar. The accompanying tidal surge caused widespread devastation and loss of life in the low-lying townships of the lower Delta, and strong winds and heavy rainfall left major damage and flooding in inland areas, including the former capital Yangon. Official statistics suggest that 140,000 people may have died, and UN assessments indicate that 2.4 million people were severely affected and in need of emergency humanitarian assistance. The ‘Post-Nargis Joint Assessment’ carried out in mid-June showed that the impact of Cyclone Nargis on Myanmar was similar in scale to that suffered by Indonesia following the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami.
The national response to Cyclone Nargis started quickly, but fell far short of what was required. The cyclone, the worst natural disaster in Myanmar’s history, overwhelmed the capacity of the national response. Indeed, few countries would have been able to respond on their own to a situation of this scale. A small-scale humanitarian response by international agencies started immediately in Yangon and in the affected parts of the Delta, based on stocks pre-positioned as part of contingency planning processes, and using the operational capacity (including local staff) of agencies with ongoing projects in these areas. But supplies were extremely limited, and local staff based in the Delta had little experience of humanitarian emergencies and were themselves badly affected by the cyclone. continue

HUMANITARIAN EXCHANGE MAGAZIN HPN http://www.odihpn.org/report.asp?id=2964

Two soldiers accused of raping and attempting to murder a woman studying in a seminary school in Kachin State are still at large, according to the woman’s family members and friends.

mizzima – A 21 year old ethnic Kachin woman hailing from Hsa Hmaw Township, Kachin State in northern Burma was raped by two soldiers at knife point. They attempted to strangle her. The soldiers looted her clothes, gold necklace and gold rings after raping her, a relative of the victim said.

“She came by Mandalar Express train and reached at 6 pm. But she arrived at home at 11 p.m. She didn’t disclose the incident that night and just said that she had lost all her belongings and would tell them in detail the next morning. They went to the crime scene next morning to find her lost belongings but found only her lingerie and a hat,” she said.

The victim came to Hsa Hmaw from Pin Htaung. The soldiers were on the same train with her. She jumped out from the train when the train was chugging into Hsa Hmaw station but the two soldiers also hopped out with her and raped her in a dark and deserted place at knife point. Then they left her naked believing she was dead. She regained consciousness at about 11 p.m. and walked home.
continue http://mizzima.com/news/inside-burma/1521-two-soldiers-accused-of-rape-and-murder-attempt.html