It will cost more than US $ 31 million to rebuild 77 school buildings which were devastated by the deadly Nargis cyclone last year, according to official estimates.

Revamping Nargis hit schools to cost US$ 31 million
by Mizzima News
Friday, 30 January 2009 19:12

Chiang Mai (Mizzima) – It will cost more than US $ 31 million to rebuild 77 school buildings which were devastated by the deadly Nargis cyclone last year, according to official estimates.

Brigadier-General Aung Thein Linn told local reporters on January 21 that 47 schools were reconstructed and the rest will be opened before this year’s academic session, which usually starts in June. He was quoted by The Voice weekly.

On May 3, Cyclone Nargis lashed Rangoon at a speed of 120 miles per hour killing 138,400 killed and rendered millions homeless.

The schools in 33 townships under Yangon City Development Committee and three other townships such as Twentae, Kuanchankone and Seikkyikanaungto, are mostly one story buildings and are now being built with steel as its core structure http://www.mizzima.com/nargis-impact.html

Posters of seven women human traffickers appear in Laiza

by Myo Gyi kachin_trade1
Saturday, 31 January 2009 12:35

Ruili (Mizzima) – Posters with the names and photographs of seven women wanted for human trafficking have appeared in Laiza in northern Burma on the China border.

The 6’x5′ posters on the notice board read ‘Beware! Human traffickers selling women’ in Kachin language. These were pasted in the No. 2 Laiza vegetable market in Kachin State yesterday morning. Laiza is controlled by the ceasefire ethnic group, the ‘Kachin Independence Organization’ (KIO).

“There is a line in Kachin language on the top of the posters but there are no names and age. Their eyes on the photographs are covered with a computer image. We don’t know who put them up, the Laiza police or anyone else. It just says ‘Masha Dut Sha Ai Ni’, (human traffickers),” an eyewitness in Laiza told Mizzima.

Another local Kachin resident said, “The posters say they are human traffickers. The posters are in colour and their eyes are covered with computer graphics and pasted near the Women Affairs Office and the Roundabout. The posters just say they are human traffickers”.

The officer on duty at the Laiza police station declined to give details but just said, “I don’t know what happened and how it happened. These have been done by our higher officials and we know nothing about it”. http://www.mizzima.com/

Gambari arrives in Burma on seventh visit

by Mizzima News
Saturday, 31 January 2009 13:39

Chiang Mai (Mizzima) – The United Nations special envoy to Burma Ibrahim Gambari arrived in the military ruled Southeast Asian country on Saturday for the seventh time to push for political reconciliation.

This is his seventh visit to the country since his appointment in 2006. But it is still not clear whom he will be meeting.

According to an AFP report, the special envoy will remain in Burma’s former capital Rangoon throughout his four-day visit and is likely to meet the junta’s ministers including the information minister.

During his last two visits in August and March 2008, Gambari was not invited to Burma’s new jungle capital, Naypyitaw, where junta supremo Snr. Gen. Than Shwe is staying. Neither could he meet detained opposition leader Daw Aung San Suu Kyi.

Gambari has been facing a volley of criticism from Burmese opposition groups as well as international observers for failing to persuade the Burmese junta to implement a meaningful dialogue to kick-start a process of national reconciliation.

Opposition groups in Rangoon including the Aung San Suu Kyi led National League for Democracy have said they expect little from this visit by the Nigerian diplomat.

During his last visit in August, detained Burmese pro-democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi refused to meet Gambari and blocked his attempts to meet her, leaving many observers to begin doubting the success of Gambari’s mission.

However, a statement issued by the Secretary General’s spokesperson on Friday said, Ban has asked his Special Adviser to visit Burma to continue his consultations with the government and other relevant parties to implement the good offices mandate entrusted to the Secretary-General by the General Assembly.

“He looks forward to meaningful discussions with all concerned on all the points raised during his last visit,” the statement added.

Gambari’s mission includes securing the release of political prisoners including Aung San Suu Kyi, and to ensure the participation of opposition groups in the process of political reforms. http://www.mizzima.com/

7th Time Lucky for Gambari? Harn Lay

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.
http://www.mizzima.com/

Clarification about vile rumours on MPU Congress

by Burmadigest

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

30-1-09

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

NCGUB/MPU

——-

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.
http://burmadigest.info/2009/01/30/clarification-about-vile-rumours-on-mpu-congress/

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.
http://www.burmacampaign.org.uk/pm/weblog.php?id=P414