A Thai insurance company is set to pay compensation to the families of 54 Burmese migrant workers who suffocated in the back of a truck while attempting to sneak into Thailand. The payment, scheduled for tomorrow, comes almost a full year after the tragedy.

According to Tin Htun Aung, secretary of the Federation of Trade Unions – Burma (FTUB), 46 family members will receive payment from the Liberty Insurance Company in Ranong on February 18th. The family members survive 54 people who suffocated to death in April 2008. The victims, as well as 66 other workers who survived, were attempting to covertly travel to Phuket, Thailand in a cold storage container.

According to Tin Htun Aung, the families will receive 35,000 baht ($992.51 USD) and are potentially eligible for another 65,000 baht down the road. “The Liberty Insurance Company will pay 35,000 baht first to each migrant workers’ family, and after finishing their case they could be paid the rest of the money,” Tin Htun Aung told IMNA.
continue http://www.monnews-imna.com/newsupdate.php?ID=1324

It is f-a-c-t that Amnesty International has been uncomfortably silent on Thailand’s lese majeste hysteria.

The Asian Human Rights Commission, The Economist, several other rights groups and dozens of newspaper editorials are all stating that the
present round of arrests relating to Thailand’s lese majeste law are politically motivated. Yet Amnesty International, despite their local researcher stating to a UK journalist in a telephone conversation that he considers the recent slew of arrests political, remains silent.
In previous messages to Amnesty International in the UK they have been
presented with clear evidence that Amnesty International in Thailand had links to the PAD – an organisation widely considered to be fascistic in
intent and action. The present Democrat Party government, who set in
motion the recent oppression, would not be in power without PAD and military backing. In fact, several prominent PAD members who took part in the recent Bangkok airport occupations are now government ministers. continue http://facthai.wordpress.com/2009/02/17/no-amnesty-for-lese-majeste-giles-ji-ungphakorn/

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said Tuesday US President Barack Obama’s administration is looking for a better way to bring change to military-ruled Myanmar and help the country’s people.

“We are conducting a review of our policy,” Clinton told a Tokyo University student from Myanmar who asked whether there was an alternative to sanctions in order to promote economic and political freedom in the country.

“We are looking at what steps we could take that might influence the current Burmese government and we are also looking for ways that we could more effectively help the Burmese people,” she said.

Clinton, speaking at a town-hall type meeting with students at Tokyo university, used the term Burma, the country’s name before the military junta changed it to Myanmar.

Recalling a speech she gave to the Asia Society in New York last week, Clinton said: “We want to see a time when the citizens of Burma and the Nobel prize winner Aung San Suu Kyi live freely in their own country.” continue http://rawstory.com/news/afp/US_looks_for_better_way_to_sway_Mya_02172009.html

VDO Min Ko Naing’s speech in Yangon NLD headquarters

NLD and 88 students protest the extension of NLD leader Daw Aung San Suu Kyi’s detention by SPDC on 27th May 2007, election anniversary day.

SPDC answered the protests by using USDA thugs and the standoff between two side lasts for some time. Finally, 88 students chose to organise an assembley in NLD headquerters instead of advancing to Shwe Dagon Pagoda.

This speech is given by Min Ko Naing, towards NLD members and general public.

Sourced from DVB, Khitpyaing, Hittaing and Irrawaddy.

From Moe Kyaw Thu, one of the 2 Burmese activists that we protested for recently: Dear All, I would like to update my situation as a Burmese activist who departed from Singapore.

1) I had applied UNHCR refugee on the 24th Nov 2008 once I know that non-renewable of my work pass.

2) I had interviewed by a protection officer on the Dec 5th Jan in Singapore. I left from Singapore 27th Jan 2009 after expired date of my work-permit.

3) I had reported to UNHCR Jakarta office on the 28th Jan 09 and I had received “Asylum Seeker Certificate” on the 30th Jan 2009. [According to official from UNHCR-Jakarta presently, Asylum seeker from Singapore is regionally covered by Malaysia and Thailand] so that my profile has to transferred to Jakarta accordingly.

4) On the 9th of Feb I’ve received phone call from UNHCR for notification of my asylum decision and given appoint date on 16th Feb 2009.

5) 16th Feb 2009 I met up with Protection officer and I had received recognition of “UNHCR REFUGEE CERTIFICATE”.

That is my update for all of you, presently; I’m living here with under UNHCR protection and code of conduct.

I’m strongly committed to freedom and democracy of Burma and Singapore.

I’m greatly appreciates all Burmese and Singaporean pro-democracy activists whose sacrificing their lives for freedom and democracy.

We shall overcome someday!


J Moe
Thanks to http://singabloodypore.rsfblog.org/archive/2009/02/17/burmese-activist-exiled-from-singapore-recieves-un-refugee-s.html

read also http://seelanpalay.blogspot.com/2009/01/singapore-is-my-second-home.html

J Moe take care and never give up…

Thai Killing Thai every day,BUT Mae Jo University students submit a petition to Deputy Chiang Mai Governor Phairoj Saengphuwong (left) calling for stricter controls of the Burmese migrants employed for construction work in Chiang Mai, following the rape and murder of university student Wialairat Kuchaphant.

Police arrested a Burmese migrant worker in connection with the murder.
When police inspected the crime scene, they found that slats in a bathroom louvre window had been removed to allow access to the room. On searching the migrant workers’ accommodation, a blanket with blood stains was found in a room belonging to a young Burmese man, Jaimuek, who had been working on the campus for 1 month, and had not been seen since the time of the murder. Police apprehended the suspect at the Arcade Bus Station later that day and arrested him. During questioning, Jaimuek admitted the rape and murder and named another migrant worker, Nui, who had committed the crime with him. continue..

Migrant workers raided after rape and murder of Mae Jo University student

Following the rape and murder of a Mae Jo University student, after which 2 Burmese migrant workers were arrested and a demonstration was held demanding that all migrant workers be driven out of Thailand, police and local troops arrested more than 200 migrant workers in several Chiang Mai districts.
The raids were carried out at Land and House, the Kanjanood workers’ camp in Doi Saket, in Huey Sai and in Mae Jo itself, where the rape and murder took place. According to a migrant worker, the raids were unlike those carried out previously, in that violence was used by police and troops, with shots being fired at workers who tried to escape.
No reason was given for the raids, although local authorities claim they are cracking down on illegal workers, and reports state that more raids are taking place, with re-arrests at the Doi Saket camp. Migrant workers are also reporting that they have been sacked from their jobs, or that they are now finding it difficult to obtain employment.
Of the workers originally arrested, those who could show labour registration documents were allowed to go free.

We have an ongoing discussion with the Myanmar government but you could not get a single response. This is a process of dialogue and the next step is that High Commissioner Antonio Guterrez will hold talks with the leadership there in a couple of weeks.

No united response on Rohingya

The UN refugee agency’s regional Thai representative Raymond Hall is one of a few high-level officers to have been to northern Rakhine state in Burma and the border area of Bangladesh. Here, he explains the situation and gives his views on what other countries can do to help, in an interview with Achara Ashayagachat.

How are talks progressing between the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees and Burma on addressing the emerging problem of the Rohingya migration?
We have an ongoing discussion with the Myanmar government but you could not get a single response. This is a process of dialogue and the next step is that High Commissioner Antonio Guterrez will hold talks with the leadership there in a couple of weeks.

What steps are there that could kick-start sustainable solutions as more people leave the Burmese-Bangladesh border?

We need to stabilise the situation before it gets worse. In order to stabilise it, we need to open up the possibility of voluntary return to Myanmar.

To get that solution we would need some minimum conditions: assurances from the government that the returning Rohingya people will not be penalised for leaving Myanmar in the first place, and assurances that they can live within the monitoring framework which the UNHCR has in place in the north Rakhine state.

To stabilise the situation of the ongoing departure there are critical issues of food security and restrictions of movement that we need to address. If people can’t move outside their villages then they will have no alternative survival strategy. It will not be possible for them to live there.

What is your response to arguments that the Muslim Rohingya are economic migrants?

It’s a complex situation because you’ve got people living under serious restrictions of human rights. They just have no way of surviving. But it’s not correct to say that the men coming to Thailand or Malaysia are economic migrants just because they haven’t brought along their families. Yes, in Bangladesh the Rohingya move out as a family. But in other cases, sometimes men move out so that they can make money to send it back to their families at home. So there are economic problems related to human rights. They are denied citizenship and given temporary residency. Certainly physical abuses take place in the north Rakhine state. But I don’t think it is a government policy. But once you marginalise the population, there are people at local levels taking advantage of that situation.

Do you expect anything to be discussed at the Asean summit in Cha-am to help address the Rohingya problem?

I don’t know as we have yet to find out how discussions are going to take place and whether they will be formal or informal.

But it is very positive that issues we have been discussing in recent months with countries in the region are now on the agenda of Asean.

There may be an opportunity here to move the issue up the political agenda in order to widen humanitarian space and open up a possibility for them to go back to Myanmar in decent conditions.

We cannot achieve [food security and freer movement of Rohingya] through humanitarian approaches alone, but we need thorough political dialogue with other influential governments such as China, Russia and India in order to open up a political space to bring about solutions.

Will there be problems with the idea of building refugee camps in Thailand for the Rohingya as Thailand has questioned why they will not be built elsewhere?

I can understand the Thai concerns. Thailand already has burdens in relations to refugee and asylum seekers and needs to be given credit for that.

But if we are going to have time and space to talk about the solutions and have dialogue with Myanmar, there should be some kind of a temporary shelter for the small number of Rohingya here. In Indonesia, it is different. The scope there is generous. They are talking about settlement arrangements.

According to sources in ethnic armed groups in the area, forces from the Karen Peace Front (KPF) and the Democratic Karen Buddhist Army (DKBA) will be involved. The zone is part of a tentative agreement between KNU/KNLA Peace Council (KPC) chief Brigadier General Htain Maung and the Burmese army.

More armed Karen cease-fire groups to participate in new Three Pagodas “economic zone”

Mon 16 Feb 2009, Kyae Goe, Thurein and Blai Mon

An additional two ethnic Karen armed cease-fire groups will cooperate in an “economic development zone” to be operated by a third Karen group near Three Pagodas Pass, on the Thai-Burma border.

According to sources in ethnic armed groups in the area, forces from the Karen Peace Front (KPF) and the Democratic Karen Buddhist Army (DKBA) will be involved. The zone is part of a tentative agreement between KNU/KNLA Peace Council (KPC) chief Brigadier General Htain Maung and the Burmese army.
thugs and thieves
“The economic project has the name of the KPC,” a KPF officer in Three Pagodas told IMNA. “But their group is not large enough to control the whole area. So Karens and Karens will collaborate.” A businessman close to the KPF and KPC in Three Pagodas agreed, and said both the KPF and DKBA Battalion No. 907 would be providing security for the project. Other ceasefire sources said that DKBA would also provide help with logistics like transportation and communications.
All three groups are breakaways from the Karen National Union (KNU) and its armed wing, the Karen National Liberation Army (KNLA), which has been fighting successive central governments in Burma since the country achieved independence in 1948. The DKBA is the oldest and best established of the splinter groups, and left the KNU in 1994. The KPF split soon after in 1997. The KPC is a relatively recent addition to the scene, and was formed from ex-soldiers of KNLA 7th Brigade in 2007.

Full approval for the special economic zone has yet to be granted, though the KPC maintains the deal is done. “Lieutenant General Ye Myint from Military Affairs Security gave permission to open the economic zone. The KPC also requested about 100 acres to operate in. The Burmese government gave us the full amount of what we wanted.”

“[The KPC] will implement the economic zone as soon as [they] have informed the Southeast Command (SEC),” the KPC officer added. The SEC, based in Moulmein, Mon State, controls the Three Pagodas area. On February 10th, a delegation from the KPC left for discussions with the SEC in Moulmein

Negotiations in Three Pagodas began on February 7th, when seven KPC members arrived via Mae Sot, Thailand and Myawaddy. In addition to Let Gen Ye Myint, Sa Yha Pha Military Intelligence and Thai authorities were also party to the discussion.

Exact details of the agreement are sketchy, however. According to a source in the New Mon State Party (NMSP) quoted by the Irrawaddy last week, part of the agreement includes a commitment from the KPC to act as border guards for the Burmese army.

Armed ceasefire groups elsewhere in Burma are also being pressured to shift their posture and become border guards in the run-up to the 2010 elections. More than a dozen groups continue to exist since a slew of ceasefires agreed to in the 1990s, but their positions are becoming increasingly tenuous as Burma progresses along its seven-step “road map” to “disciplined democracy.” In Myawaddy, Burma’s next border crossing with Thailand to the north, the DKBA is expected to act as such a border guard force.

Other sources in Three Pagodas Pass provided less certain indications as to whether the 100 acres granted to the KPC would serve as a base for border guards. The KPC source that spoke with IMNA, for instance, declined to comment on military aspects of the agreement. And a source close to the Sa Ya Pha Military Intelligence denied that the agreement presaged anything but an economic zone.

The businessman who spoke with IMNA, however, said that the rumors in Three Pagodas involve both an economic zone and military base for border guards. The territory granted the KPC is, as some have pointed out, situated along the border to the west of Three Pagodas Town and nearly a square mile large; more than ample room for an economic zone.

The KPC has been given relative freedom to operate economically since leaving the KNU, including the right to open a transport company profiting off the lucrative trade linking Three Pagodas Pass and interior Burma via the Thanbyuzayat motorway. In September 2008, however, the group was denied the right to open a checkpoint on the Zemi River, which serves as the primary rainy-season route to Three Pagodas Pass.

A source in the Mon National Liberation Army (MNLA), meanwhile, said that he is worried that new KPC area will lead to tensions between the groups. The new KPC territory is closely situated to an area that has been administered by the MNLA since agreeing to a ceasefire with the Burmese government in 1995. The MNLA is the armed wing of the NMSP, which recently announced that it would neither be providing border guards nor participating in the 2010 elections.

Speakers at Mon National Day (MND) celebrations in Mon State were required to sign sworn statements promising not to read paragraphs censored from material distributed for the event. This week, IMNA obtained a copy of one of the signed affidavits.

Local event organizers as well as speakers were required to sign the affidavit, with their signatures witnessed by police and officials from Township Peace and Development Councils, indicate the names on the document as well as sources that spoke with IMNA. The names on the document and the township from which it originated are being withheld for the safety of IMNA sources.

The censored paragraphs came from a speech and print materials distributed by the MND Central Working Committee (MNDC). The MNDC is responsible for organizing MND celebrations, and distributed speeches and an agenda for the event to 19 townships in Rangoon, Pegu and Tenasserim Divisions and Mon and Karen States.
he first censored portion, from a speech meant to be presented during the celebration, was concerned with the importance of unity among the Mon people. “As a conclusion, for Mon National Rights, we have to create the rights for our Mon nationality by ourselves.

We have to keep on confronting the ways of the mundane world, obstacles and difficulties. I would like to urge that as a saying said, if we try with individual strength, with group strength, with thousands strength, unanimously in unison, we will definitely get what we want,” read the censored lines, recreated on the affidavit under the heading “The speech paragraphs to cancel from the chairman’s address.”

The second censored paragraph dealt with Mon language education, which has been obstructed by Burma’s military government. “After 1962, the Mon language in schools and universities was banned,” read the censored lines. “After that, sitting monk examinations in Mon language was also stopped. In order to get the permission back, we have to struggle again.”

It is unclear how MND celebrations agreed to sign the statements, but IMNA confirmed that at least 3 major township celebrations did not include the censored paragraphs. According to IMNA sources, the central MND celebration on Belukyn Island, near Moulmein, did not censor the speech.

According to a veteran Mon political analyst quoted last week by IMNA, 2009 is the first time MND speeches have been extensively censored. In the past, said the source, words – never paragraphs – were found objectionable.

Celebrations for the 62nd MND took place throughout southern Burma on February 10th. Overseas Mon Communities also held MND celebrations in countries including America, Australia, England, Korea, Malaysia, Thailand and Singapore. http://www.monnews-imna.com/news.php