Burmese refugees protest in front of UN office in Malaysia

New Delhi (Mizzima) – Nearly three hundred Burmese refugees on Wednesday demonstrated in front of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) office in Malaysia’s capital of Kuala Lumpur, demanding recognition of refugee status and equal treatment among refugees.

The protestors, mainly Rohingyas from Burma’s western Arakan state, said they were being treated differently and were not being granted equal status by the UN agency.

Nyi Nyi, a leader of the protestors, said they held a brief demonstration and submitted their demands in writing to an official from the agency.

“We are demanding recognition as refugees, equal treatment by the office and a cessation to official corruption in granting refugee recognition,” Nyi Nyi said.

Nyi Nyi added that they were met by a protection officer from the UNHCR office, to whom they handed their demands.

The UNHCR, however, denied the allegation, saying they treat all refugees equally.

Yante Ismail, the UNHCR Kuala Lumpur office spokesperson, was quoted by the AFP as saying, "UNHCR’s policies towards all refugee groups are nondiscriminatory. We do our utmost to assist and protect all refugees."

"The UNHCR will continue to engage different refugee communities to address their problems," she stipulated.

According to the UNHCR there are some 45,400 refugees and asylum seekers in Malaysia, of whom approximately 40,000 are from Burma – with the majority of the Burmese refugees reportedly Rohingya Muslims from Burma’s Arakan state. http://www.mizzima.com/

original pics and report from http://merhrom.wordpress.com/2009/01/21/325-rohingyan-refugees-feared-death-when-authorities-allegedly-put-them-back-to-sea-burmese-demo-in-kl-1412009/

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NLD member jailed for two years for disturbing officials

Chiang Mai (Mizzima) – A member of the National League for Democracy, Burma’s main opposition party, was arrested and sentenced to two years in prison on charges of disturbing officials carrying out their duty at the behest of the authorities of the Township Peace and Development Council of Rangoon’s suburban township of South Dagon on Monday.

Thein Soe, an NLD member, was charged under article (189) of the criminal code, an offence for disturbing officials carrying out their duty, by the police in-charge of North Dagon police station. He was sentenced by justice Daw Htay Htay to two years in jail

Thein Soe’s wife Khin Moe Moe told Mizzima that her husband had been actively monitoring the activities of township and police officials and would frequently intervene if he saw that the officials were corrupt and were out to suppress the people.

“He protested against the township authorities recruiting child soldiers and he knew all about the corrupt practices of the police. So, may be that is why they [the official] wanted to get rid of him,” she said.

Thein Soe was informed that he had been charged for disturbing officials while carrying out their duty since October last year.

Thein Soe, an active member of the NLD, had served as one of the security and information officers into recording events during the detained Nobel Peace Laureate Aung San Suu Kyi’s political tour in upper Burma in 2003. http://www.mizzima.com/news/inside-burma/1582-nld-member-jailed-for-two-years-for-disturbing-officials.htmland the world

Karen revolution and the legacy of General Bo Mya

Wednesday, 21 January 2009 17:31

by Daniel Pedersen

Mae Sot (Mizzima) – The general was tired. He walked with a slow, unsteady gait and heaved sighs as he settled into his chair. General Bo Mya had been fighting against Burma’s military in all its forms for more than fifty years when we first met in 2000 and, if anything, he was farther than ever from achieving his goal.

A legend in the Karen struggle for self-determination, he bristled with hatred for Burma’s military and was visibly frustrated talking about his war. Where could he begin? And what good was talk?
He had spent his lifetime at war and during that time talk had generally proven to be but a prelude to some form of treachery or simply a continuation of the status quo. Burma’s generals had many times wanted him to lay down his arms. But how could the veteran Karen revolutionary lay down his arms during a war? He could not – for that would mean surrender.

On January 20, 2009, on what would have been Bo Mya’s 82nd birthday, the sun burned away the morning mist and for an hour or so our surroundings of commercial agricultural flatlands were revealed. By the time the second choir had completed a Karen folk song, smoke and tropical haze had taken the place of the morning damp. A middle-aged woman lifted her head as the songs ended – eyes moist, perhaps from recollection.

Nerdah Mya, General Bo Mya’s eldest son, welcomed everyone.

“There are, of course, two reasons why we are here today. The first is to remember our late father and all the good things he brought to his family and those around him, and the second is to give thanks for the New Year.”

“On this family thanksgiving we must all praise the Lord that we are still alive, we wish you all the best – may you find prosperity, happiness and peace of mind in this coming year,” offered the son of the fallen hero, who passed in late December, 2006.

Having weathered half a century of conflict, General Bo Mya remained adamant until his death that the military defeat of Burma’s generals was possible. It really came down to a matter of beliefs, tactics and hardware.

Of course any assistance in grinding down the generals was greatly appreciated, and he acknowledged that economic sanctions also hurt the generals and, by default, assisted his army. He was also adamant that the illicit trade in drugs, predominantly methamphetamines and heroin, combined with foreign aid, propped up the junta.

“They [countries engaging with the junta] are simply killing people. People are dying and the drugs keep coming. The country is poor but the military is not. The country is poor because the SPDC [Burmese Army] refuses to stop fighting. Serious sanctions by the international community can certainly help – already the Burmese have accumulated debts they cannot pay,” thundered the now deceased General.

Eight years after I first met Bo Mya I found myself sitting opposite his son, Nerdah Mya, in August of last year. He echoed the sentiments of his father, simply iterating, “I am obligated to work for the struggle.”

“You know my Dad told me when he got really sick: ‘All my life I have been calling for my people to fight for their freedom. They have died for it, they have sacrificed for it and you cannot go abroad and escape, you have to stand up and fight.’ Otherwise, my Dad said, he would be betraying the people who have fought and died,” related Nerdah Mya.

“And I told him ‘Yes, I will carry on’,” and Nerdah Mya thumped his fist on the table, not for dramatic effect, but rather as an indication of his resolve.

“I remember my Dad would go out and get one deer and we would share it with all the households, we would share with everybody,” continued Nerdah Mya. “And I respect those strong family ties among the Karen people. It is good to preserve this kind of culture and loving one another.”

Tuesday’s memorial found more than 150 people gathered to reflect on the year past and to give thanks for the coming New Year, the Karen year of 2748.

Every single person in attendance wanted the war to take its place in the dustbin of history. But less than an hour’s drive from where we gathered, between 300 and 400 men – three Democratic Karen Buddhist Army (DKBA) battalions and one Burmese Army battalion, had 100 Karen National Liberation Army (KNLA) soldiers surrounded at Wah Lay Kee, base camp of the Sixth Brigade’s 201st battalion.
Meanwhile, the KNLA 101st battalion, consisting of about 160 soldiers and seven nurses, to the northwest of Mae La refugee camp, is involved in fighting daily. And intense fighting has also broken out in both Shan and Karenni states.

Nerdah Mya bluntly says all this activity is a concerted push to quash insurgents before the 2010 “elections”. The generals want calm, according to several observers, so the military and its public relations people can manage a smooth process that will institutionalize military rule through a ‘democratic’ process.

Of solutions to the world’s longest-running war, recently-elected Karen National Union Vice-Chairman David Takapaw says, in words reminiscent of the late General, that the only way forward is to defeat the “fascist” Burmese military.

“Ever since the military came to power in 1962, the ultimate goal of the military establishment is to set up the fourth Burman empire. Of course in this time and age, only fascists would think of setting up an empire in a multi-ethnic state like Burma,” ruminated the Vice-Chairman. “Non-Burman ethnic people will never accept that.”

“The states don’t have any power – any political power, the power to legislate, the power to adjudicate, the power to manage, executive power, they don’t have any of that – all of the power is centralized in the hands of the majority Burman. The ethnic people don’t have any rights. They don’t have economic rights. They don’t have human rights. They don’t have any political power. That is why many ethnic people at one time…were fighting against the central government, the Burmans.”

Takapaw proceeded with his indictment of the current regime: “But that arrangement hasn’t changed, the regime in power, now known as the SPDC, has drafted a constitution, held a referendum and confirmed…that non-Burman ethnicities will not have any power.”

And did he look to the United States for support in the Karen military campaign to force change in Burma?

“Well, from the United States, maybe. But I think perhaps they do not see much national interest in this case. And the Cold War has ended. In the case of Vietnam of course the Cold War was going on. Geopolitics effects, directly or indirectly, our struggle,” summarized the Vice-Chairman.

This year, the late General’s birthday falls on the eve of Barack Obama being sworn in as the 44th President of the United States. It is also just one day after Aung San Suu Kyi was awarded the Trumpet of Conscience Award, which commemorates the late Martin Luther King, Jr.

US Campaign for Burma’s executive director Aung Din, accepting the award on Suu Kyi’s behalf, said he hoped Obama would uphold existing economic sanctions against Burma and lead a strong diplomatic effort to organize the international community to pressure the military junta.

Chief editor at the Jakarta Post, Endy M. Bayuni, writing in The New York Times suggested Obama’s four years in Jakarta, from 1967 to 1971, when the country was adjusting to the harsh realities of the Sukarno era, will have served him well.

Obama is described as a United States president who has lived under a dictatorship and in a country in which “military control was widespread and . . . students attended indoctrination classes where they would profess their loyalty to the state. Dissent and criticism were not tolerated in public life. There was barely freedom of thought,” wrote Bayuni.

Yet, while such comparisons are chilling, it would be reckless to see any promise in historical coincidences.

New Thai Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva may well chart a different course for his country vis-à-vis Burma, but it will not involve cutting back on the Kingdom’s commitment to three mega-dams planned for Burma’s Salween River, nor reviews of natural gas deals with the junta.

Meanwhile, India’s politicians are still basking in the success of securing a deal in September of last year to construct two vast hydropower projects on the Chindwin River.

Further, without agreement among the permanent five Security Council members, all with the power of veto, the United Nations is crippled when it comes to taking any action. As such, unilateral intervention appears the solitary choice Obama is left with when it comes to a definitive move to liberate Burma.

But back along the Thai-Burma border on Tuesday, as a couple sang a duet in the distance, Nerdah Mya said he hoped Obama might be able to do something, to make a significant contribution to change in Burma, but added, “How much he can do is another question.”

Asked for a message for the West from the frontlines of the world’s longest-running insurgency, Nerdah Mya was blunt, “We must stop the tyranny. We can’t just sit and watch. Otherwise more people will die.”

In agreement with Nerdah Mya’s sentiments is a close friend, Myat Thu, an ethnic Burman and an exile of the 1988 student uprising during which thousands perished and the aftermath of which left thousands more mired in limbo.

He too knew General Bo Mya and was among the founders of the All Burma Students Democratic Front (ABSDF) along the Thai-Burma border.

Bo Mya’s army took the ABSDF in and trained them in the discipline of warfare.

In the words of one exile, Win Cho: “I started in 1989. At that time I was fighting with the KNU (Karen National Union). You know I have nothing but respect for the KNU, they helped us so much, until we met them we had nothing, no healthcare, one set of clothes, we had nothing.

Win Cho was an ABSDF commander, but plays down such a vote of confidence from his peers.

“I was hardly a commander, in those days we were totally dependent on the Karen, we didn’t go out on operations by ourselves. We hadn’t learned how to survive out there by ourselves at that point,” elaborated Win Cho.

Both Myat Thu and Win Cho speak highly of Bo Mya and his no-nonsense, uncompromising attitude towards discipline.

As secretary, Myat Thu is a high ranking officer of the newly-formed 2009 Collective Action Committee, a gathering of representatives from the ethnic nationalities, the National League for Democracy (NLD) and the monkhood, whose aim is to “impede the forthcoming bogus elections of 2010”.

The collective’s motto is drawn from a senior NLD leader, but could just have easily been uttered by Bo Mya himself: “Seek not to escape from this conflict – but rather to confront it and break through it.

CID still interrogates counterfeit banknote makers in Myawaddy

Wed 21 Jan 2009, Hong hakao, IMNA
After arresting of 4 persons who were suspected involving in making Burmese currency counterfeit banknotes on November 23, 2008, the Burmese regime authorities from Criminal Investigation Department has been still interrogating the suspects in Myawaddy, a border town with Thailand.

Accordingly to female clerk from Myawaddy Criminal Court, the four suspects are Saw Min Kha (or Maung Myo 26 years old) from Myaing Kyi Ngu DKBA GHQs in Hlaing-bwe Township; and the other 3 persons – Sai Myo Win (27 years old), Min Thein Oo (36 years old) and Saw Aung Htoo (37 years old) from No. 4 Suburb in Myawaddy Town.

“In this town’s criminal, we can not handle the trial that can put down over 7 years imprisonment. For this case which we have to transfer to District Criminal Count. Since we move the criminal suspects on December 22, I think the District authorities will handle the case” said, the female clerk.

“Police Chief Htay Lwin himself handled this case and interrogates the criminal suspects. He is from Insein Criminal Investigation Department (Rangoon)” said another male clerk from Myawaddy District Criminal Court.

Accordingly to the clerk, the police officers arrested Saw Min Kha and Sai Myo Win in their rented house in No. 4 Suburb and arrested Min Thein Oo in a bike repairs service center on Asia High Way (from Maesot of Thailand to Moulmein of Burma). Then, they also arrested Saw Aung Htoo in his house in No. 4 Suburb.

Accordingly to clerk, these 4 persons produced counterfeit banknotes of Burmese currency in a house in No. 4 Suburb of Myawaddy. The police officers searched in the house and could seize over one thousand pieces of 1000-Kyat banknotes, about 220 sheets of 1000-Baht Thai currency banknotes, 25 sheets of uncut sheets of 1000-Kyat banknotes printing papers, one computer, one printer and a color ink toner. http://www.monnews-imna.com/newsupdate.php?ID=1298

Book of inspirational interviews becomes bestseller

Jan 21, 2009 (DVB)–A recently-published compilation of interviews with inspirational figures in Burma has become a bestseller across the country, despite a general slump in book sales.

Booksellers in Rangoon said the book, entitled Legend of the Steps, is priced at 4,500 kyat and contains interviews with successful and influential people from the business and political communities and the arts.
Among those interviewed are the abbot of Shwe Pyi Hein monastery, artist Min Wei Aung, photographer Zaw Min Yu, violinist Tin Yee, Knowledge Management and Dedication group founder Thaung Tin and the owner of Seiktinekya teashop.
The interviews were conducted by famous Burmese writers including Nay Win Myint, Kyaw Yin Myint, Maung Ko Ko (Amarapura) and Sithu Aung Myint.
A bookshop owner in Rangoon said the book had already sold out in his shop. continue http://english.dvb.no/news.php?id=2124

KIO and NMSP rule out election participation

Jan 21, 2009 (DVB)–The Kachin Independence Organisation and the New Mon State Party have rejected the idea of forming political parties to contest the 2010 election, according to spokespeople for the groups.

The KIO’s deputy foreign affairs coordinator, James Lum Dau, said any KIO members wishing to stand for election would have to leave the organisation first.
“The KIO will not form a political party,” he said.
“If a member of KIO wants to stand in the election, he or she will have to quit the organisation first and then participate as a civilian,” he went on.
“But as far as voting goes, they don’t necessarily have to quit, they can still do that as KIO members.” continue http://english.dvb.no/news.php?id=2125

Monk given 14-year jail term

Monk given 14-year jail term
Jan 21, 2009 (DVB)–A monk who was arrested following public demonstrations in September 2007 has been sentenced to 14 years’ imprisonment by Mayangon township court for stealing a jade Buddha statue.

U Khaema Sara from Bahan township in Rangoon was found guilty of stealing the statue and possession of a fake identity card, according to source close to the case.
“He hadn’t been using fake ID card but he carried it while he was hiding from the authorities after the September 2007 uprising,” the source said.
“After he came back from hiding, he stayed at Shan Kyaung monastery in Mayangon township and there was a broken Buddha statue made of jade he sent to a shop in Shwe Dagon pagoda to get fixed,” he said.
“He was also accused of stealing that statue after authorities arrested him.”
Mayagon township judge Khin Thant Zin sentenced him to seven years for stealing the statue and another seven years for using a fake identity card.
U Khaema Sara was originally also charged with defaming the Sasana, but another source said these charges had been dropped.
“The charge of defaming the Sasana is considered somewhat political,” the source said.
“We think the court dropped these charges so they could just send him to prison as a common criminal, so that he could be sent off to a prison labour camp somewhere.”

Sittwe Security..khitpyaingnews 21.01.

စစ္ေတြၿမိဳ႕ လုံၿခံဳေရးထူထပ္စြာခ်ထား
မင္းႏုိင္သူ/ ၂၁ ဇန္န၀ါရီ ၂၀၀၉

စစ္ေတြၿမိဳ႕တြင္ လုံၿခံဳေရးထူထပ္စြာခ်ထားၿပီး ညေန (၆) နာရီေနာက္ပုိင္း ျပင္ပမွကားမ်ားအား ၿမိဳ႕တြင္းသုိ႔ ၀င္ခြင့္မျပဳဘဲ ေနာက္ေန႔ နံနက္မွသာ ၀င္ခြင့္ျပဳေၾကာင္း ေဒသခံမ်ားက ေျပာသည္။

“လုံၿခံဳေရးေတြခ်ထားတာက ဗုိလ္ခ်ဳပ္ႀကီးေမာင္ေအး မလာခင္ကတည္းကပဲ။ အခုထိလည္း ခ်ထားတုန္းပဲ။ လုံထိန္းေတြ၊ တပ္ေတြအမ်ားႀကီးပဲ” ဟု ေဒသခံတဦးက ေျပာသည္။

စစ္ေတြၿမိဳ႕ကို ၀င္ေရာက္ရာ ေနရာမ်ားတြင္ မွတ္ပုံတင္စစ္ေဆးျခင္း၊ မသကၤာသူမ်ားကုိ စစ္ေမးျခင္းမ်ားျပဳလုပ္ေနၿပီး သံဃာႏွင့္ ေက်ာင္းသားအရြယ္ လူငယ္မ်ားအား ပုိမုိစစ္ေဆးေနေၾကာင္း သိရသည္။

21.01. news http://www.khitpyaingnews.org/index.php