Abbot organizing road repairs in Paung Township

Mon 19 Jan 2009, Pon Cha and Blai Mon
A 13 kilometer road near Halai village in Paung Township, Mon State, is being repaired be villagers working voluntarily under the guidance of a local abbot, say IMNA sources in the area.

Since early December, villagers have been working to repair damage done to the dirt road during heavy wet season rains, said a resident who has been volunteering his labor. The road links Halai village to the Moulmein to Rangoon highway. continue

MON NEWS- Largest Mon political party will not participate in 2010 elections

Mon 19 Jan 2009, Arka, Rai Maraoh, and Mi Kyae Goe
The New Mon State Party (NMSP) will not participate in Burma’s 2010 elections. The decision comes after the group held a two-week long Party Congress at NMSP Central Headquarters in Ye Township, Mon State. The Congress concluded on January 17th.

The refusal to participate in the election is based upon opposition to Burma’s constitution, NMSP party spokesman Nai Ong Mange told IMNA on Monday. “If the SPDC does not change their constitution, it is difficult for the NMSP to accept. Because the constitution is not suitable for Mon people and their lives,” he said. “We are not fully against the election – if they fix the constitution. If the government changes some parts of the constitution, the NMSP will consider whether to participate. If they do not change the constitution, the party will not join.”

An official supporting vote of over 90% approved Burma’s constitution in May 2008 referendum. The referendum process – and the constitution itself – have been internationally condemned as wildly undemocratic. “The Problem with the constitution is that it doesn’t let people organize or talk freely. If Burma becomes a democracy, its people still will not be able to organize or talk freely,” said Nai Ong Mange. A day earlier, NMSP General Secretary Nai Hongsa also told the BBC that the document’s built in obstacles to amendment made it unacceptable. continue

The Burmese military junta authorities have beefed up security in Rangoon by setting up many checkpoints at busy intersections and crowded places, where commuters are being checked.

The combined force of the police, firefighters, Red Cross, and USDA members are inspecting buses and taxis plying in the city by stopping them at busy intersections in Shwepyithar, Hlaingtharyar, South and North Dagon, Myenigone and Hledan.

“They are searching for arms and ammunition. They are mainly targeting taxis by asking them how many people are on board, how many men and where they are headed. They are also monitoring families. The search teams comprise of police, USDA, Swanahshin, and Ward Peace and Development Council members. They have erected barbed wire barricades and are searching the cars,” a taxi driver told Mizzima.

The combined teams are also inspecting private cars and trucks which are crossing Aung Zeya and Bayintnaung bridges in Hlinetharyar townships.

“They are inspecting household registration cards also. We can see police everywhere, along Prome Road, Myenigone, South and North Dagon townships. The combined force of the army, firefighters, Red Cross and USDA members are searching and inspecting cars and people onboard. They are also questioning taxi drivers as to where are they going, how many passengers the taxis are carrying, including how many men and women,” he said.

The authorities are making announcements elsewhere in Rangoon reminding the people to report the arrival of guests at their homes if any, amidst news being circulated that bombers might sneak into the city, a security official told the Mizzima reporter in Burma.

Though the local authorities from Mayagon, Yankin, South Dagon, Insein, Hlinethayar townships among others reminded the people to register the guests stayting at their homes last December, they have not yet inspected their houses, the local residents said.

Clashes between SSA (South) and Burmese Army

by Than Htike Oo
Monday, 19 January 2009 23:28

Chiang Mai (Mizzima) – Fierce fighting is taking place between the Shan State Army (South) and the Burmese Arny this month in three townships in southern Shan State, an SSA(S) official said.

SSA(S) forces clashed with the junta’s IB 64 and LIB 513 between January 12 and 15 in Panglong, Hopone, Mongkeung townships in Taungyi District, Shan State.

“Our patrols engaged Burmese Army troops while they were on patrol duty”, SSA spokesman Lt. Sai Seng Mein told Mizzima.

“The clash lasted four hours from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. on January 12 in the jungles west of Mengkai Township. The Burmese Army had 50 soldiers and one of them was killed and five were injured in the gun fight,” he added. SSA(S) had to contend with one of their soldiers being injured, he said.

The place where the clash occurred is in Mengkai region about 100 miles from Taungyi.

After this gun battle both sides did not get reinforcements but the situation is calm for the time being.

The strong Mongtai Army led by Khun Sa surrendered to the Burmese regime in 1996 with over 20,000 soldiers.

After that, the breakaway group led by Col. Yordsek established the SSA.

Leading Saffron Revolution monk on hunger strike

by Ko Wine
Monday, 19 January 2009 23:58

Chiang Mai (Mizzima) – Residents in Mandalay who have close contact with Mandalay’s Obo prison say that Ashin Gambira, a leading monk during the Saffron Revolution, is on hunger strike.

He is reportedly staging a hunger strike in Mandalay’s Obo prison while waiting to be transferred to Khamti prison in Sagaing Division, following a transfer order from higher authorities.

“Ashin Gambira, it is sure, has been on hunger strike since the 13th of this month. Now it’s been seven days,” a resident from Mandalay who has close contact with the prison told Mizzima.

However, for security reasons, the resident declined to reveal his source inside the prison.

Additionally, all political prisoners were previously allowed to fortnightly meet with family members. And family members of Ashin Gambira had met with him twice and were able to give him parcels. But on the 14th of this month, family members could neither meet with nor give parcels to the detained monk.

“They came last Wednesday to meet him but could not meet him or give him a parcel. The authorities didn’t give any reason for their denial, just saying to come next Wednesday. That’s all. His mother, worrying about her son, said, ‘Something might happen to my son, all others except my son are allowed to meet their loved ones’,” according to a resident from Mandalay.

However, despite the insistence of local residents who have close contacts with Obo prison, Mizzima has not yet been able to verify the news of the hunger strike with independent sources.

On the 19th of November last year, the Kemmendine Township court heard Ashin Gambira’s case inside Insein prison and gave him a 12 year prison term for three offences, including ‘insulting religion’ and ‘committing a crime against public tranquility’.

Then, two days later, the Kamayut and Ahlone Township courts handed down judgment on a total of 13 additional cases against him, eventually bringing his sentencing to a total of 68 years in detention.

Ashin Gambira (29) joined September 2007’s Saffron Revolution as one of the leading monks while pursuing his ‘Dhamasaria’ religious studies.

After the Saffron Revolution he was on the run from arrest for over a month before finally being apprehended on the 4th of November 2007 in Singai Township, Mandalay Division.

In addition to Ashin Gambira, another political prisoner recently denied a meeting with family members is 88 generation student Ko Pyone Cho.

Ko Pyone Cho’s father, U Win Maung, who has just returned from attempting to visit his son, said, “I arrived back here at about one a.m. last night. I could not meet my son. The authorities didn’t give any clear reason. They just said it was by order of higher authority. When I asked if I could meet him at the end of this month, saying I would wait until that time, they replied that they could not make any guarantee. They said they must act in accordance with the order given by their higher authority. They also said they felt sorry, but could not do anything.”

Ko Pyone Cho’s wife was in the beginning of December allowed to meet with her detained husband. At that time, his health condition was good except for high blood pressure, and prison authorities gave him medicine as prescribed by the prison doctor, said U Win Maung.

“My son said that he got medicine. At that time, the weather was not yet so cold. Now, when I visited there, it’s getting cold. Cold wind is blowing 24 hours a day. We gave warm clothes and blankets to prison authorities for my son when we visited him last time. We could give a parcel to him this time too through the prison authorities, but we could not meet him. The prison authorities apologized, but assured us they will give all the stuff left with them to my son,” explained Ko Pyone Cho’s father.

U Win Maung left Rangoon to meet his son on the 8th of this month.

He spent two days each in Mergui and Tavoy on the way to Kawthaung. It was at this time that he first heard news of political prisoners not being allowed to meet with family members. But he hoped he would still be allowed to meet his son in Kawthaung and proceeded with his travels.

“I felt sorry and am still worrying about him. Though they said he is in good health, I cannot accept this good news without meeting my son myself. The weather is changing. I can only speak of the condition of his health, his progress and his morale when I can see him in person myself. I hope I will not experience this same situation again next time. I demanded they [prison authorities] let us meet with my son at the earliest possible time,” U Win Maung said.

Karen Refugees Fear More Attacks

Karen refugees in Nu Po refugee camp are living in fear because of repeated clashes between the Karen National Liberation Army (KNLA) and units of the Burmese army and Democratic Karen Buddhist Army (DKBA) over the weekend.

Major clashes took place over three days in Kawkareik Township in southern Karen State, where Battalion 103 of the KNLA, the military wing of the Karen National Union (KNU), is based.

About eight DKBA soldiers were killed, one KNU soldier died and two were seriously injured in the clashes, said Capt Kye Win of Battalion 103. Dozens of causalities on both sides were also reported, he said.

Karen refugees in Nu Poe camp are afraid of more outbreaks of fighting and a possible attack on the camp, said camp refugees.

“Some people here have been on standby alert for four days. Women especially are very afraid of more fighting,” said Daniel, a refugee in Nu Po camp.

“They’ve pack their belongingness to be ready to flee the camp if attacked, because there is no security here,” he said.

Capt Kye Win said an estimated 400 DKBA soldiers and Burmese army troops have been reinforced and plan to launch more attacks against KNLA soldiers in Kawkareik Township.

KNLA’s Battalion 103 and 201 are experiencing repeated clashes, he said.

The DKBA has publicly claimed it army will overrun the KNLA’s military bases on the border by 2010, said Karen sources, who say the aim of the DKBA is to control the region in order to establish business relationships with Thai authorities The region is rich in teak, gold, zinc and tin.

In 1995, after the DKBA split from the KNU, it staged daring attacks on Karen refugee camps on the Thai-Burmese border with the help of Burmese troops.

In 1997 and 1998, Huay Kaloke refugee camp, about 10 km from Mae Sot, was attacked and burned down by the breakaway Karen soldiers, now known as the DKBA.″>″>

Army’s opium taxation forays led to clashes

by admin — last modified 2009-01-19 08:38
Ambushes staged by the Shan State Army (SSA) South on Burma Army units on their opium taxing expeditions had resulted in the recent military confrontation between the two, according to a longtime border watcher in Thailand.

19 January 2009

“Roving army patrols in Mongkeung and Laikha townships were said to have been taxing each village K 200,000 ($ 195),” he said, “thereby providing plenty of opportunity to the SSA to carry out their ambushes.”

The Burma Army’s retaliation on 13 January on a temporary SSA base resulted in heavy casualties on the Burma Army’s side, he added.

The SSA South has been understandably quiet about its ongoing military operations in the Laikha-Mongkeung area in Southern Shan State. “We don’t want a repetition of (Lt-Col) Khun Kyaw’s fate,” said Lt-Col Kherh Ngeun, who is responsible for military affairs in the SSA South.

Khun Kyaw aka Than Gyaung, 43, and his small force of 50 fighters surrendered near Namkham on 2 January 2006, after a 4 month hide and seek campaign waged by the Burma Army’s Lashio-based Northeastern Command. The small contingent was totally cut out off from its forward base in Mongkeung by some 200 km as the crow flies.

Two months later on 4 March, Khun Kyaw and 28 others were sentenced to death by Lashio court and sent to Mandalay prison. He was later moved to Tharawaddy, according to his family sources.

“It is very unlikely the SSA South will suffer the same fate,” commented a senior Burma watcher. “They are operating in their home base.”

Reports coming to SHAN say the SSA has been countering the Burma Army’s offensive by hit and run guerrilla tactics.

OIL-GAS PTTEP updates Janaka-2, Myanmar M3 Block

Reference is made to PTTEP International Limited (PTTEPI), a 100% owned subsidiary of PTT Exploration and Production Public Company Limited (PTTEP), an operator, with 80% participation interest and CNOOC Myanmar Limited with another 20% interest (fully effective upon receiving approval from Myanmar government) of exploration block – M3 in the Gulf of Mataban, Myanmar.
TTEP would like to report the drilling result of an exploration well, Janaka-2, located in M3 block. Spudded on September 28, 2008, the well was drilled to a total depth of 3,351 meters subsea and encountered one petroleum baring formation of 4 meters of additional zone of interest gas. Viewing the above results, the flow rate testing (Tubing Stem Test) is not performed. The company concludes that gas discovery in this well is not enough to establish commerciality and will be written off within the accounting period of the fourth quarter 2008, with an approximate total cost of 930 Million Baht.

PTTEP will conduct additional study and evaluate the petroleum potential to plan for additional exploration in the near future.