DIPLOMACY – Thailand backs ‘Burma reform’

Published: 13/01/2009 at 12:00 AM
Newspaper section: News
Thailand supports a change in the way Burma is governed but it advocates a different means of achieving this than that promoted by Western nations, Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva said yesterday. In his first public comments on Burma since taking office last month, Mr Abhisit said Thailand’s proximity to Burma meant any push for reform had to be handled differently than simply imposing sanctions.

The prime minister was speaking after Foreign Minister Kasit Piromya held a meeting with Burmese Deputy Foreign Minister Kyaw Thu to discuss bilateral relations.

”The goals of Western countries and the countries of this region for Burma are not different _ we all want to see some changes,” Mr Abhisit said.

”But our methods may differ because of two main reasons: cultural differences and the distance of the countries.

Those who are far away may use certain measures while those who are neighbours have to use other measures.”

Mr Abhisit did not comment on what steps Thailand might take to push for change in Burma, which has been under military rule since 1962 and which has long held the chief opposition figure, Aung San Suu Kyi, under house arrest.

The United States and Europe have imposed economic sanctions on the regime, but the impact has been weakened by nations such as Thailand and China spending billions of dollars to secure a share of Burma’s rich energy resources.

Asian countries advocate a more diplomatic approach, championing a process of ”constructive engagement” with the ruling junta.

Mr Kasit said yesterday the Foreign Ministry would coordinate donations to help Burma renovate old temples damaged by Cyclone Nargis.

”The Burmese government wants the international community to help renovate its temples damaged by the cyclone.

Thailand is ready to act as the coordinating centre for donations to help it,” Mr Kasit said after talks with the Burmese deputy minister.

You can speak with your own languages or in English, French, Italian, Spanish, Portuguese, Russian, Chinese, Japanese, Arabic, German, Dutch or Burmese. But if you use other languages, please provide us with English translated script so as to publish in our web. Media Campaign where everyone can participate

Burma crisis is international crisis as everyone is bond in humanity.

BURMA DEMOCRATIC CONCERN (BDC) values everyone’s participation and welcome anyone who love justice, freedom and human rights. We are doing the media campaign as part of our strategy for 2009.

We are compiling videos clips (3-5 minutes each) from Burma’s supporters from around the world who are talking about words of support for Burmese people. You can speak with your own languages or in English, French, Italian, Spanish, Portuguese, Russian, Chinese, Japanese, Arabic, German, Dutch or Burmese. But if you use other languages, please provide us with English translated script so as to publish in our web.

You can talk about words of support for Aung San Suu Kyi and Burmese people that we are with them, demanding United Nations Security Council to adopt binding resolution on Burma so as to take practical actions on Burma, demanding respective governments to pressure Burmese military junta to respect people’s will, to honour 1990 elections results in which people voted for Aung San Suu Kyi as their leader but regime still ignore to honour it, demanding to release all political prisoners, and demanding respective governments not to endorse junta’s 2010 elections game plan.

Your messages will be vitamins for Burmese people and it can also raise awareness about Burma crisis which has been happening for nearly half century. It is like forgotten crisis and Burmese people are suffering very tremendously. It will also send the message to United Nations that they must take practical action to solve Burma crisis and the governments around the world.

Together we can restore the democracy in Burma and build the better world.

You can send the video files which can be efficient with you tube to

Thank you very much in advance.



Karen National Liberation Army (KNLA) soldiers along the Thanbyuzayat (Thanpyuzayart) to Three Pagodas Pass motor road have seized at least 100 sacks of rice from civilian drivers forced to transport the cargo for the Burmese army. Drivers are being made to pay for the loss, say sources close to the drivers.

On December 26th and January 4th, temporary KNLA checkpoints near Ta-nyin and Myaing Thayar villages, Kyainnseikyi and Three Pagodas Pass Township, respectively, stopped civilian drivers en route to Three Pagodas. According to a source in the KNLA, KNLA soldiers from company No. 2 and 3 of Brigade 16 queried the drivers about their loads’ ownership, and took only rice belonging to the Burmese army.

The same KNLA source alleged that 140 sacks of rice, each weighing 50 kilograms, were seized. This number could not be independently confirmed by IMNA, but a close friend of one of the drivers who had his load seized on January 4th said 60 sacks were taken from a total of 21 vehicles.

According to the friend, Infantry Battalion (IB) No. 31 randomly chose drivers in Thanbyuzayat and forced them to carry rice along with their regular commercial loads. During the winter and hot seasons, scores of cars and trucks make the trip between Thanbyuzayat and Three Pagodas Pass, on the Thai-Burma border. The road, which opened to traffic in December, becomes impassable in the rainy season.

After the raids on December 26th, authorities in Thanbyuzayat held a meeting with the drivers and informed them that they would each be required to pay 50,000 kyat as a repayment for the lost rice. According to a trader in Three Pagodas who knows a number of the affected drivers, the order was issued by authorities within the Southeast Command, which controls the area. The payments, however, had to be made to IB No. 31.

“After the KNLA took the rice, Burmese soldiers called a meeting with the drivers and ordered them to repay money for the rice – 50,000 kyat each,” said the trader. The payments are uniform and do not vary depending on the number of rice sacks transported by the drivers, the source added. Cars were typically carrying 3 to 4 sacks, while trucks carried 5 to 10.

According to the IMNA sources, the drivers have already made the required payments. “If the drivers don’t repay the money, they [the army] will stop them from driving on the road. So the drivers will face trouble,” said the friend of one of the drivers. Some drivers unlucky enough to be pressed into service twice have, consequently, had to pay twice, added the trader.

When asked to comment on the impact the rice seizures have had on drivers, captain Htet Nay said, “They took the rice because the Burmese soldiers are our enemy. The materials from the traders we did not take. We did not threaten them, we only asked them if they were carrying rice belonging to the soldiers.” The KNLA, the armed wing of the Karen National Union, is embroiled in one of the longest running civil wars in the world, and has been fighting a succession of central governments in Burma since 1948.

The trader in Three Pagodas Pass, meanwhile, wondered at IB No. 31’s decision to send the rice without an armed escort. In the past, he said, security guards have accompanied the semi-regular, approximately tri-monthly supply shipments. The decision to leave the rice unguarded might have been calculated to entice seizure by the KNLA, he surmised, creating a pretense under which money could be collected from drivers. Or, he added, maybe the soldiers are afraid of the KNLA.

MYANMAR: Capacity challenges remain IRIN NEWS

YANGON, 12 January 2009 (IRIN) – More than eight months after Cyclone Nargis hit southern Myanmar, coordination in addressing the needs of cyclone survivors continues to improve, but huge challenges remain, particularly in capacity and resources.

“It’s definitely improved over time,” Thierry Delbreuve, head of the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), told IRIN in Yangon, the former Burmese capital.

continue http://www.IRINnews.org/report.aspx?ReportID=82312

Burma needs reform, unified and balanced structure – Commentary

by Htet Win
Monday, 12 January 2009 15:29

Rangoon (Mizzima) Burma is in urgent need of mainstream political figures who are capable of shaping unified public opinion, which will allow the country to take up a really democratic direction in the future even after the proposed general election in 2010.

One such most prominent figure is no other than Daw Aung San Suu Kyi, inside Burma even though she is currently under house arrest and is not provided any legal or formal platform for the time being in domestic politic developments.

However in a country under military rule, the agent factor comes in again: Imagine the Lady on Rangoon’s streets tomorrow, we will definitely see a changed scenario. No other elite can achieve that feat.

“No other elite can draw over tens of thousands of people coming out voluntarily, which means a lot,” said an observer who is familiar with diplomatic circles in Rangoon.

That is the single agent that can shape public opinion and challenge the vicious structure. It is really amazing. We do not think yet that a future civilian-military government has solutions or ways to handle this agent. continue http://www.mizzima.com/edop/commentary/1530-burma-needs-reform-unified-and-balanced-structure.html