Watch out for Bangladesh and Thailand: Military commander

by Mungpi
Friday, 30 January 2009 21:07

New Delhi (Mizzima) – Burma’s military generals in a secret meeting warned commanders and officers to beware of Bangladesh in the wake of a maritime dispute between the two countries in November.

Maj-Gen Soe Win, commander of the Northern Military Command, during a meeting held recently said that Burma considers Bangladesh a hostile neighbour, and warned commanders and officers to keep an eye on Bangladesh’s military movements.

The minutes of the meeting held in Naypyitaw, a copy of which is in Mizzima’s possession, said while Burma was exploring for gas in its territorial waters and in its economic zone, Bangladesh had strongly opposed the activity that led Burma to withdraw.

“In other words,” Soe Win said, “Bangladesh is provoking us.” Soe Win also accused the United States, which has imposed financial sanctions on the generals, of backing and inciting Bangladesh to oppose the exploration.

Besides, Soe Win, voicing the general’s paranoia, said the army has received information of movements of US Navy fleets using Thai and Bangladesh waters as a base.

“Therefore, all must understand that there is a likelihood of foreign invasion and we must carefully observe military movements,” Soe Win added.

During the meeting, attended by several field officers and commanders, Soe Win reminded them of the need to maintain vigilance along the border areas as a preparation for any possible intrusion from foreign countries.

Though there seems to be no other verification for Soe Win’s fears, the Generals, however, are reportedly intensifying military presence in Arakan state, which borders Bangladesh.

According to a Bangladesh-Burma border based Burmese journalist, the junta is stepping up its military presence, particularly the artillery battalion in the border township of Maungdaw in Burma’s western Arakan state.

“The junta is shifting several of its battalions to a new military base in Maungdaw. Particularly the artillery battalion,” the journalist, who requested not to be named, told Mizzima.

The journalist, citing local sources in the area said the Burmese Army is being stationed in a long stretch of valley behind the cover of mountains to conceal their presence.

“It looks to me that the army is preparing for an impending war or some kind of conflict. But we don’t know against whom,” he added.

Similarly, an Editor of the Dhaka based Burmese News Agency Narinjara told Mizzima that in recent months, at least 13 battalions of the Burmese Army have moved up to northern Arakan state in Maungdaw Township.

“We also can confirmed that the army is building an airbase in Maungdaw Township,” Narinjara’s editor Khaing Mrat Kyaw said.

He added that Burma’s military leaders including Vice Snr. Gen. Maung Aye, the junta’s second strongman, and Prime Minister Thein Sein have paid visits to Arakan state in recent weeks to check on the progress.

“Obviously it is some kind of preparation. And I think the junta wants to make a come back in the Bay of Bengal to continue the gas exploration,” Khaing Mrat Kyaw said.

“They seem to be really sore with Bangladesh over the last dispute,” Khaing Mrat Kyaw remarked.

In early November, Bangladesh and Burma had a face off, when Bangladesh objected to the exploration work of a South Korean company Daewoo, which was accompanied by Burmese naval vessels in the Bay of Bengal.

Bangladesh said the block in which the Burmese vessel and Daewoo were test drilling comes under its maritime boundary and immediately sent two Navy vessels to the spot.

Burmese generals, though saying that the area belongs to the Burmese economic zone, later moved out of the area.

During the stand off Bangladesh deployed two naval vessels in the Bay of Bengal and reinforced its border security, but Burma was unable to bring in timely reinforcements, Khaing Mrat Kyaw said.

“I think that’s why they are now building their bases and even constructing roads and railways, so that they can move their army anytime quickly,” Khaing Mrat Kyaw observed.

Clarification about vile rumours on MPU Congress

by Burmadigest

Jan 30th, 2009
Clarification: The news of MPU Dublin Congress


There was a false rumour that a brawl broke out in the MPU Congress held in Dublin. I would like to clarify that it is not true.

I am the first person called for first aid care. I am also the closest colleague of the persons reported in the news.

No one knew the true nature of cut at first. However it became very clear that it was merely an accident. There is no complaint registered by any parliamentarian to the MPU Steering Committee.

Dr. Tint Swe



MPU = the exile parliament of Burma’s elected people’s representatives from the last free and fair election in 1990.

NCGUB = the legitimate exile government of Burma, the National Coalition of Government of Union of Burma.

UK Government – Burma’s 2010 Election Will Entrench Military Rule

30 Jan 2009
British Foreign Office Minister Bill Rammell MP has strongly criticised the Burmese military regime’s elections planned for 2010, saying that they are “designed to entrench military rule behind a facade of civilian government.”

The Burma Campaign UK welcomed the statement from the Minister, and called on other governments to follow the British lead in recognising that the 2010 elections do not represent progress towards democracy.

“The 2010 elections could be the freest and fairest in the world, but it would make little difference as the constitution they bring in keeps the dictatorship in power”, said Mark Farmaner, Director of Burma Campaign UK. “The British government is right to condemn them. The United Nations should focus on the release of political prisoners as a first step towards genuine negotiations and a transition to democracy. We hope UN Envoy Ibrahim Gambari will make this his top priority, and not be duped by the regime’s 2010 election con.”

UN Envoy Ibrahim Gambari is due to visit Burma later this week.

Bill Rammell’s written statement came in response to a Parliamentary Question by Jim Cunningham MP on 12th January 2009, and was published in Hansard. The Minister also stated that; “We will continue to give our full support to the UN Secretary General and his efforts to break the current deadlock.”

The United Nations had been trying to broker tri-partite dialogue between Aung San Suu Kyi’s National League for Democracy, ethnic groups, and the regime. The regime has defied the UN Security Council and General Assembly, and instead pushed ahead with its so-called road-map to democracy. Among the many undemocratic measures in the new constitution, the military have an effective veto over decisions made by the new Parliament and government.

Full statement from the Minister:
Mr. Jim Cunningham: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what recent assessment the Government have made of the political situation in Myanmar.
Bill Rammell: The military regime in Burma is determined to maintain its hold on power regardless of the cost and suffering of its people. The junta’s ‘Roadmap to disciplined democracy’, including a new constitution and elections planned for 2010, is designed to entrench military rule behind a facade of civilian government. The process excludes the opposition and meaningful participation by the ethnic groups. Fundamental rights are consistently ignored. Since early November, over 200 pro-democracy activists have been given sentences of up to 65 years in prison. These severe sentences are clearly designed to silence all dissent ahead of the 2010 elections. There are now over 2,200 political prisoners in detention, including opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi, and other pro-democracy leaders. Ethnic minority groups have been methodically marginalised. Against this backdrop, we will continue to do all we can to generate international pressure for a peaceful transition to democracy and respect for human rights in Burma. In particular, we will continue to give our full support to the UN Secretary General and his efforts to break the current deadlock.

For more information contact Mark Farmaner on +66 856495839, or call the Burma Campaign UK office on +44 2073244710.

China gearing up for gold pickings in northern Burma (feature)

Written by Nawdin Lahpai
Thursday, 29 January 2009 17:53
Loads of gold are ready to be taken away by a Chinese mineral company from Burma’s northeast Kachin state after the firm found a gold load in the area during a successful preliminary test in late 2008, said local sources.

An abundance of gold was found in the areas around Khaunglanhpu (Hkawnglang Hpu) near Kachin state’s second largest N’Mai River following a recent joint exploration by Hla Pyit Win company owned by Ahdang and a Chinese mineral company from China’s Hunan province, said sources in Khaunglanhpu.

Businessman Ahdang also called Tanggu Dang is the leader of the pro-Burmese junta militia group called the Rebellion Resistance Force (RRF or Ta-Ka-Sa-Pha) based in Shing Hkong near Khaunglanhpu. The group has been permitted to dig for gold and other minerals in the area by the junta, according to residents of Khaunglanhpu.

The area was famous for gold exploration during British rule in Burma from 1824 to 1948, according to businessmen in Myitkyina, the capital of Kachin state.

On January 22, Ahdang and his delegates met a group of Chinese businessmen from a gold company from Hunan province in Yingjiang city in China’s Yunnan province. The meeting mainly discussed the Chinese company’s desire to start gold mining in the areas soon, said sources close to both.

According to sources close to Ahdang, the final discussion between them will be held in Myitkyina, soon and they will start gold mining from early this year.

Ahdang threatens lives of locals’ dependant on gold

Ahdang’s militia group and the junta threaten the survival of local people who traditionally depend on gold mining work because they have taken control of all gold mining fields from the local people, said locals.

All these years, people in Khaunglanhpu have survived by exchanging gold with food on the China border because of the extreme wet weather in their areas do not permit growing crops except some corns, according to locals.

In this situation, local people who mine gold on a 30-mile stretch along Shang Hti River in southeast Khaunglanhpu have been completely prohibited from mining gold since early this month by Ahdang and U Ye Khong, chairman of the junta’s Khaunglanhpu administration office or city peace and development council. It has said “nobody can mine gold without permits,” said locals.

Local sources said Ahdang has already received 20 million kyats (US $17,857) from the Chinese company as preliminary cash for selling gold mining fields in the river area.

At the same time, Ahdang’s Hla Pyit Win Company also confiscated several acres of land from local people around Khaunglanhpu for gold mining purposes, added locals.

There are over 30,000 people in Khaunglanhpu and they are extremely worried about their survival because their rice pots — ‘gold mining fields’ will be handed over to the Chinese gold mining company. continue

Three Burmese Youth Arrested with Army Uniforms


Maungdaw: Three young Burmese from Burma proper were arrested by border security force Nasaka in Maungdaw on Wednesday, but the reason behind the arrest is unknown, said a person close to Nasaka.
The youths were identified as Min Ko Ko, aged 21 years old, son of U Tin Thein from Hlaing Tha Ya Twonship of Rangoon, 26-year-old Ko Naing Lin Htay, son of U Tham Hlaing from Magwe, and 22-year-old Ko Raza Lwin, son of U Than Lwin from Pegu.

According to the source, Nasaka forces first arrested Min Ko Ko in the afternoon from a residence of Maung Ni Ward in Maungdaw where he was staying.

During that same night, Nasaka arrested Naing Hlaing Htay and Raza Lwin from Kyaw Guesthouse in Maungdaw and seized an army uniform along with some army badges and stars.

Nasaka authorities are detaining the youth at Nasaka headquarters for interrogation but know one knows why the youth had the army uniforms.

Merchants of Madness by Bertil Lintner and Michael Black

Reviewed by David Scott Mathieson

International drug experts and Myanmar’s military regime have for years trumpeted the terminal decline of opium cultivation in the notorious Golden Triangle area. Self-congratulatory predictions of opium’s last gasp in Southeast Asia, however, were recently met with a harsh reality: production actually increased by 46% in 2007, according to the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC).

Alarming as this sounds, including the explosion of amphetamine-type stimulants (ATS), better known as speed, there can be no confidence that drug control in Myanmar will any time soon turnsuccessful. Dramatic ATS production from northern Myanmar (some estimates claim hundreds of millions of pills a year) have since the mid-1990s enriched narco-entrepreneurs and their ethnic insurgent allies and exposed the ineffectiveness of Myanmar’s United Nations-backed drug control program.
Bertil Lintner, one of the world’s most-respected analysts of Myanmar’s Byzantine drug trade, with co-author Michael Black, a security writer with Jane’s Intelligence Review, have written a short, sharp book on the dynamics of Myanmar’s ATS trade. Merchants of Madness has the fast pace and almost unbelievable dramatics of a thriller. That is, except that it’s all true. continue

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A Closer Look at Burma’s Ethnic Minorities

A 16-year-old Karen boy swims in the Salween River at the Myanmar-Thai border in May 2006
A 16-year-old Karen boy swims in the Salween River at the Myanmar-Thai border in May 2006

by Time

Living under the thumb of a brutal junta, the average Burmese hardly leads an easy life. But the plight of the country’s ethnic minorities, many of whom once waged long and bloody insurgencies against the military regime, is even worse. As a new human-rights report released on Jan. 28, as well as the recent stories of destitute refugees who fled Burma attest to, members of Burma’s ethnic groups face persistent discrimination by the military regime. They are the targets of unpaid forced labor campaigns, scorched-earth policies that destroy farmland and relocation programs that require entire villages to move at a moment’s notice.
Called Myanmar by its military leaders, Burma derives its name from the Buddhist Burman (or Bamar) people. The country’s largest ethnic group, the Burman historically lived in Burma’s central and upper plains. But this patchwork country of 55 million is made up of more than 100 unique ethnicities. The isolation enforced by Burma’s numerous mountains and hills helped nurture these culturally discrete groups, making it one of the most diverse countries in Southeast Asia, despite its relatively small geographic size. Here are five ethnicities, some of who have unsuccessfully waged long insurgencies against the central government and others who have made news recently because of the abuses they have suffered at the hands of the Burman-dominated regime.


Perhaps the most exploited minority in Burma, the Rohingya are a Muslim group that has been refused citizenship by the Burmese government by the Burmese government since 1982 when the junta implemented a citizenship law. As a consequence, the stateless Rohingya, who number around 800,000 in western Burma and physically resemble Bengalis, are prime targets for forced-labor drives by the junta. Since the military took power in 1962, hundreds of thousands have fled to Bangladesh, Malaysia and Thailand, where their illegal-immigrant status makes them vulnerable to labor abuses.

In January, navy troops and fishermen in India and Indonesia discovered dozens of Rohingya boat people drifting in their countries’ territorial waters. Some survivors alleged that their efforts to seek sanctuary in Thailand were thwarted by the Thai Navy, which forcibly herded them onto leaking boats without enough food or water and set them to sea. The survivors also claimed they were beaten by Thai forces — and that several of their fellow passengers were shot to death by the Thais. Although plenty of Rohingya have found illegal and low-paid work on Thai fishing fleets, the Thai government outwardly maintains a strict stance toward these would-be immigrants: On January 28th, Thailand convicted more than 60 Rohingya of illegal entry and announced they would be deported.


Clustered in the northeastern hills of Burma, the Buddhist Shan were accorded a measure of self-rule by British colonialists. When Burma became independent in 1948, they agreed to join the fledgling nation in return for autonomy. But the promise, say Shan opposition groups, was never kept — and several militias were soon formed to fight against the Burmese army. Although a ceasefire was signed in the mid-90s by most Shan groups, the minority’s resistance is still active in pockets. Over the past decade, forced relocations by the Burmese military of tens of thousands of Shan, who are thought in total to number at least 5 million, have garnered condemnation by international human-rights organizations.


Overwhelmingly Christian, the Chin live in the impoverished mountains near the India-Burma border. An armed wing of the Chin National Front, which was founded in 1988, is one of the few remaining forces waging an insurgency against the ruling junta, but it has been accused by human-rights groups of mistreating its own people. Like the Rohingya, the Chin claim the junta persecutes them in part because of their religious beliefs. Most Chin are American Baptists, having been converted by missionaries in the 19th century. Although tens of thousands of Chin are believed to have sought refuge in India since the junta came to power, the New York-based NGO Human Rights Watch claimed in a report released on Jan 28 that New Delhi has forcibly repatriated many Chin, essentially handing them back to their persecutors.


The second-largest ethnic group after the Burmans, the Karen have also waged a long rebellion against the Burmese junta seeking either self-determination or even independence, depending on which insurgence group. Both Christian and Buddhist, the Karen have been plagued by internal strife between rival factions over the past couple of decades. A general ceasefire framework with the central government is in place but occasional flashpoints of fighting still occur. Karen villagers, who tend to live in the Irrawaddy Delta and in the border region between Burma and Thailand, have been victims of forced relocation and labor programs run by the Burmese military.


Mostly Christians, the Kachin live in northern Burma and were famous during colonial times for their battle skills. Although they, too, waged a decades-long armed struggle against the Burman-dominated regime, the Kachin signed a ceasefire with the government in 1994. Despite a boom in forestry and casinos in Kachin State, quality of life for many Kachin remains poor, with forced-labor campaigns common, along with human-trafficking to nearby China.,8599,1874981,00.html?xid=rss-world