2008 Human Rights Report: Burma

2008 Human Rights Report: Burma
2008 Country Reports on Human Rights Practices
February 25, 2009

Burma, with an estimated population of 54 million, is ruled by a highly authoritarian military regime dominated by the majority ethnic Burman group. The State Peace and Development Council (SPDC), led by Senior General Than Shwe, was the country’s de facto government. Military officers wielded the ultimate authority at each level of government. In 1990 prodemocracy parties won more than 80 percent of the seats in a general parliamentary election, but the regime continued to ignore the results. The military government controlled the security forces without civilian oversight.

The regime continued to abridge the right of citizens to change their government and committed other severe human rights abuses. Government security forces allowed custodial deaths to occur and committed other extrajudicial killings, disappearances, rape, and torture. The government detained civic activists indefinitely and without charges. In addition regime-sponsored mass-member organizations engaged in harassment, abuse, and detention of human rights and prodemocracy activists. The government abused prisoners and detainees, held persons in harsh and life-threatening conditions, routinely used incommunicado detention, and imprisoned citizens arbitrarily for political motives. The army continued its attacks on ethnic minority villagers. Aung San Suu Kyi, general secretary of the National League for Democracy (NLD), and NLD Vice-Chairman Tin Oo remained under house arrest. The government routinely infringed on citizens’ privacy and restricted freedom of speech, press, assembly, association, religion, and movement. The government did not allow domestic human rights nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) to function independently, and international NGOs encountered a difficult environment. Violence and societal discrimination against women continued, as did recruitment of child soldiers, discrimination against ethnic minorities, and trafficking in persons, particularly of women and girls. Workers’ rights remained restricted. Forced labor, including that of children, also persisted. The government took no significant actions to prosecute or punish those responsible for human rights abuses.

Ethnic armed groups allegedly committed human rights abuses, including forced labor. Some cease-fire groups reportedly committed abuses. Armed insurgent groups and cease-fire groups also recruited child soldiers.

Section 1 Respect for the Integrity of the Person, Including Freedom From:

a. Arbitrary or Unlawful Deprivation of Life

There were numerous reports that the government or its agents committed arbitrary or unlawful killings. The government did not punish officials responsible for the deaths. In particular there were reports of extrajudicial killings and custodial deaths.

On February 21, police in Akyab, Rakhine State, severely beat Zawmir Uddin, a Rohingya who subsequently died in police custody.

On May 3, soldiers and riot police reportedly shot at a large group of inmates in Insein Prison after the prisoners started a fire to warm themselves. There were reports that at least 36 inmates were killed and approximately 70 injured. The regime claimed that only two prisoners were killed accidentally in the fire. Following the incident, prison authorities reportedly conducted an investigation that resulted in the death of four inmates during interrogation.

On May 20, soldiers killed a retired New Mon State Party medical worker during interrogation in Khawzar police station, Mon State.

In mid-June a man accused of stealing Buddha statues in Magwe Division died during interrogation at Magwe police station.

The government took no action to investigate or punish those responsible for extrajudicial killings of at least 30 persons during the regime’s violent suppression of peaceful prodemocracy demonstrations in September 2007, including Buddhist monk U Thilavantha and Japanese photojournalist Kenji Nagai. Additionally, the government did not investigate or punish those responsible for custodial deaths in 2007, including the following cases: Maung Chan Kun, Lin Lin Naing, Ko Naing Oo, NLD member Win Shwe, and Ko Ko Win.

There were no developments in the 2006 killings of the following persons: former political prisoner Thet Naing Oo, Wai Phyo Naung, Ma Nyo Kyi, and Saw Stin Pho.

The government persisted in its refusal to investigate or take responsibility for the 2003 attack by government-affiliated forces on an NLD convoy led by party leader Aung San Suu Kyi near the village of Depeyin, in which as many as 70 persons were killed.

b. Disappearance

Private citizens and political activists continued to “disappear” for periods ranging from several hours to several weeks or more, and many persons never reappeared. Such disappearances generally were attributed to authorities detaining individuals for questioning without informing family members and to the army’s practice of seizing private citizens for portering or related duties, often without notifying family members. Requests for information directed to the military forces were routinely ignored. In some cases individuals who were detained for questioning were released soon afterward and returned to their families.

The government took no action to investigate reports that security forces took large numbers of residents and monks from their homes and monasteries during numerous nighttime raids following the peaceful prodemocracy protests in September 2007.

The whereabouts of persons seized by military units to serve as porters, as well as of prisoners transferred for labor or portering duties, often remained unknown. Family members generally learned of their relatives’ fates only if fellow prisoners survived and later reported information to the families.

There was no information regarding the whereabouts of 31 persons who disappeared during a 2003 attack by government-affiliated forces on an NLD convoy led by party leader Aung San Suu Kyi near the village of Depeyin.

c. Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman, or Degrading Treatment or Punishment

There are laws that prohibit torture; however, members of the security forces and other progovernment forces reportedly tortured, beat, and otherwise abused prisoners, detainees, and other citizens. They routinely subjected detainees to harsh interrogation techniques designed to intimidate and disorient. As in previous years, authorities took little or no action to investigate the incidents or punish the perpetrators.

In 2005 the Thailand-based Assistance Association for Political Prisoners released a report on the “brutal and systematic” torture that the government inflicted on political prisoners. Based on the testimony of 35 former political prisoners, the report gave details of the physical, psychological, and sexual abuse the government employed on dissidents, and it identified by name many of the perpetrators. The report detailed the kinds of torture the government used, including severe beatings, often resulting in loss of consciousness and sometimes death; repeated electric shocks to all parts of the body, including genitals; rubbing iron rods on shins until the flesh comes off; burning with cigarettes and lighters; prolonged restriction of movement for up to several months using rope and shackles around the neck and ankles; repeatedly striking the same area of a person’s body for several hours; forcing prisoners to walk or crawl on an aggregate of sharp stones, metal, and glass; using dogs to rape male prisoners; and threatening female prisoners with rape. Authorities used prolonged solitary confinement to punish prisoners.

There were credible reports that prostitutes taken into police custody were sometimes raped or robbed by the police. Occasionally, authorities would arrest and prosecute women who reported being raped by police or soldiers. Security officials frequently placed a hood on those accused or suspected of political crimes upon arrest.

The armed forces routinely used coercive and abusive recruitment methods to procure porters. Persons forced into portering or other labor faced extremely difficult conditions, beatings, rape, lack of food and clean water, and mistreatment that at times resulted in death.

Prison and Detention Center Conditions

Prison and labor camp conditions generally were harsh and life threatening. The Department of Prisons operated approximately 40 prisons and 70 labor camps. Food, clothing, and medical supplies reportedly were scarce in prisons. There were reports that authorities in some prisons forced prisoners to pay for food. Bedding often was inadequate, sometimes consisting of a single mat on the floor. Prisoners were forced to rely on their families, who were allowed one or two visits per month, for basic necessities. The government solicited private donations of food, clothing, and medical supplies as well as books and television sets for prisoner use but reportedly diverted all donated goods to government officials. Prisoners were held without being charged for weeks or months, and until a prisoner was officially charged with a crime, families could not visit or send critical supplementary food. HIV/AIDS infection rates in prisons reportedly were high due to communal use of syringes for injections and sexual abuse by other prisoners.

The government denied prisoners adequate medical care, although medical services in prisons partially reflected the poor health care services available to the general population.

There were numerous instances in which the government failed to provide prisoners with adequate medical care. On March 6, detained NLD member Ko Win Tin died in Bago prison. He had been suffering from untreated dysentery and tuberculosis.

On April 19, Azizullah, a 30-year-old man from Rathidaung Township, Rakhine State, died in Akyab prison. He reportedly did not receive proper medical treatment.

On July 18, political prisoner Khin Maung Tint died of tuberculosis in Mandalay prison.

Officials allowed a prison doctor to visit detained Min Ko Naing, an 88 Generation Students member, who was suffering from high blood pressure and a degenerative spinal disease. However, they denied requests to have a specialist examine and treat him.

The health of 88 Generation Students member Myo Yan Naung Thein continued to deteriorate significantly in prison. The press reported that authorities repeatedly denied his requests for adequate medical care, including an operation to treat his paralysis. According to Amnesty International, his condition was the result of beatings received in custody.

In his August visit, UN Special Rapporteur for Human Rights in Burma Tomas Ojea-Quintana urged authorities to allow a dentist to treat prisoner Thurein Aung, who had been denied dental treatment for more than a year. Shortly after Ojea-Quintana’s visit, prison officials allowed a dentist to treat the prisoner.

Prominent political prisoners who suffered from deteriorating health included NLD member of parliament-elect (MP-elect) Naing Naing. The health of writer Than Win Hlaing, held in Thayarwady Prison in Bago Division, continued to deteriorate due to harsh prison conditions. Rohingya MP-elect Kyaw Min and family also continued to experience health problems. MPs-elect Than Nyein and May Win Myint, as well as journalist Win Tin, also suffered health problems before their release in September.

There was no information on the condition of imprisoned Shan National League for Democracy (SNLD) Chairman Khun Htun Oo or SNLD member U Sai Hla Aung, who were suffering from numerous health problems but had not been permitted to receive medical attention.

Despite the government’s insistence that it did not hold any political prisoners, reports by prisoners indicated that authorities frequently placed politically active prisoners in communal cells, where they were subjected to beatings and severe mistreatment by common criminals.

The government continued to deny the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) unfettered access to prisoners. The ICRC was unable to talk in private with prisoners, make repeated visits as desired, or provide necessary healthcare and hygienic supplies. As a result the ICRC could not follow the cases of more than 4,000 detainees, including security detainees, minors, foreigners, and prisoners who were especially vulnerable, such as the sick and elderly.

d. Arbitrary Arrest or Detention

The law does not prohibit arbitrary arrest or detention, and the government routinely used them. The law allows authorities to extend sentences after prisoners have completed their original sentence, and the government regularly used this provision.

Role of the Police and Security Apparatus

The Myanmar Police Force is under direct military command but falls administratively under the Ministry of Home Affairs. Police primarily deal with common crimes and do not handle political crimes. Corruption and impunity were serious problems, due to a government-imposed system whereby police were required to collect funds for their operations. Police typically required victims to pay substantial sums for crime investigations and routinely extorted money from the civilian population. There are no effective legal mechanisms available to investigate security force abuses. The government took no significant measures to reform the security forces.

Military Security Affairs (MSA) officers and Special Branch (SB) police officers are responsible for detaining persons suspected of “political crimes” perceived to threaten the government. Once a person is detained, MSA or SB officers interrogate the individual for a period ranging from hours to months and can charge the person with a crime at any time during the interrogation.

The Union Solidarity and Development Association (USDA) and the government-backed “private” militia Swan Arr Shin increasingly assumed the responsibilities of law enforcement authorities, engaging in the arrest, detention, and interrogation of human rights and prodemocracy activists.

Arrest and Detention

By law warrants for searches and arrests are required; however, the MSA and police have special authority to conduct searches and make arrests at will. The law permits a court to detain persons without charge for up to two weeks, with the possibility of a second two-week extension. However, authorities frequently extended detentions beyond this period without producing the detainees before a judge. The government often held persons under the Emergency Act of 1950, which allows for indefinite detention. In practice many persons were held for years without being informed of the charges against them.

Bail was commonly offered in criminal cases, but it was rarely allowed for political prisoners. The government regularly refused detainees the right to consult a lawyer, denied them and their families the right to select independent legal representation, or forced them to use government-appointed lawyers. The government continued to use incommunicado detention and often failed to inform detainees’ relatives of detentions until much later.

During the year the regime detained numerous prodemocracy and human rights activists and several top opposition leaders and MPs-elect. Other activists wanted by the regime remained in hiding or self-imposed exile at year’s end.

On January 9, police arrested NLD member and labor activist Htet Wei while he attended a friend’s trial in Rangoon. According to witnesses, police took Htet Wei into custody when they allegedly saw the defendant, detained protester U Ohn Than, pass him a piece of paper. At year’s end authorities had not released any information concerning the status of Htet Wei.

In April and May, the regime detained more than 130 persons suspected of campaigning against the government’s draft constitution in the period preceding the May constitutional referendum. Many of these individuals were released shortly after their arrest. Several others remained in detention at year’s end.

On April 1, Thingangyun township officials arrested NLD youth activist Ko Aung Htun at his home, according to witnesses. At year’s end authorities had not released any information concerning the status of Ko Aung Htun.

On June 13, police arrested prodemocracy activist Myat Thu, alleged to be a leading figure in the 88 Generation Students prodemocracy group. At year’s end authorities had not released any information concerning the status of Myat Thu.

On June 15, authorities arrested Myanmar Tribune editor Aung Kyaw San and several other unidentified persons after they returned from the cyclone-affected Irrawaddy Delta, where they had been burying cyclone victims. The government did not publicly acknowledge Aung Kyaw San’s arrest, although some observers believed that officials suspected him of providing information about the cyclone’s aftermath to foreign news services. At year’s end Aung Kyaw San remained in detention, and authorities had not released any information regarding his legal status.

On June 25, police in Rangoon arrested a protester in front of city hall. According to the press, the woman shouted slogans calling for the release of Aung San Suu Kyi and other political prisoners before the authorities took her away. Officials did not acknowledge her arrest or release her identity.

On July 2, authorities detained NLD official Khun Maung, reportedly in connection with a small explosion at a USDA office earlier that day. The government did not release any information about his condition or reasons for his arrest.


On September 23, authorities announced the release of 9,002 prisoners as part of an amnesty. While the majority of those released were incarcerated for minor common crimes, at least six political prisoners were released, including journalist Win Tin, NLD Central Executive Committee (CEC) member Khin Maung Swe, NLD member Aye Thein, and MPs-elect May Win Myint, Than Nyein, and Aung Soe Myint. Win Tin spent 19 years in prison before his release.

Win Htein, Aung San Suu Kyi’s former assistant, was released on September 23 as part of the amnesty but rearrested the next morning.

e. Denial of Fair Public Trial

The judiciary is not independent of the government. The SPDC appoints justices to the Supreme Court, which in turn appoints lower court judges with SPDC approval. These courts adjudicate cases under decrees promulgated by the SPDC that effectively have the force of law. The court system includes courts at the township, district, state, and national levels. While separate military courts for civilians do not exist, the military regime frequently directs verdicts in politically sensitive trials of civilian

continue http://www.state.gov/g/drl/rls/hrrpt/2008/eap/119035.htm

International Religious Freedom Report 2008
Released by the Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor


Once again, UN and US pleas for the release of all political prisoners in Burma will be met with deafening silence, as is always the case where the Burmese junta is concerned._Burmese election will be a sham and change nothing

It should be evident to the UN, the US and the EU that the junta is determined to carry on its charade of a 2010 election. Everyone knows that this fiasco is aimed at cementing the regime’s rule through some “democratic” trappings and is in no way going to lead to real democratisation and reconciliation.

Just as a reminder, the constitution is drawn by the military and the election rules will be the same. In the end, the junta will be allotted 25 per cent of the seats without election and the rest will be for its self-created USDA-like parties or affiliates. It is all going to be stage-managed. A few individual parties will be allowed to contest, for the sake of window-dressing, and nothing radical will come out of it.

The junta could create a turning point for the better, just in a single day, simply by releasing all political prisoners, calling for a nationwide ceasefire and implementing a process of reconciliation and all-inclusiveness in the political arena.

However, this scenario is just wishful thinking. The world body and influential stakeholders can only make a difference by imposing a new, fair game plan, rather than going along with the junta’s self-serving roadmap.


UN: World drug control efforts face huge problems

SHANGHAI — The world risks losing decades of progress in drug control if it fails to counter the emergence of a criminal market of “staggering proportions,” a U.N. official said Thursday.

“I confess I feel somewhat frustrated,” Antonio Maria Costa, executive director of the U.N. Office on Drugs and Crime, said following a meeting to commemorate a century of international work on curbing trafficking in opium and other drugs.

Countries should “take control of organized crime far more seriously. Otherwise the accomplishments generated over the past few decades could be undermined,” Costa said of the threat from criminal syndicates spreading their reach across almost every continent.

International efforts to curb trading in opium and other narcotics began in 1909 in Shanghai, then China’s main hub for the opium trade, with the meeting of the 13-country International Opium Commission.

The delegates meeting Thursday issued a “Shanghai declaration” lauding progress in controlling the trade in opium and its derivatives in the decades that followed that first meeting but urging stronger efforts to combat modern drug scourges. continue

Junta prepares for first ‘quarterly meeting’ of 2009

New Delhi (Mizzima) – The Burmese junta is gearing up to hold its first military quarterly meeting for 2009 in the second week of March, where it is likely to discuss major issues including plans for the 2010 general elections, sources in the army said.

The source said, following the meeting, the generals are likely to announce the election law for the 2010 general elections.

The quarterly meeting is a gathering of military officers including commanders of various military commands, brigade commanders, and up to the rank of director-generals from various ministries. It is usually held in Naypyitaw and attended by officers across the country.

But Aung Kyaw Zaw, a military analyst based on the Sino-Burma border, said while a high percentage of generals are for announcing the election law following their discussion in the meeting, a section of the military, particularly the older groups feel the announcement of the election law should be further delayed.

“People like Aung Thaung and Kyaw Hsan think that they should declare the election law now as they are sure that they have enough preparation,” he said, referring to the junta’s Minister of Industry-1, and Minister for Information.

But senior military leaders including Than Shwe and Maung Aye, who witnessed the military’s failure in the 1990 elections, feel that the announcement should be delayed in order to give opposition limited time for preparation.

“This might be one area they will discuss in the quarterly meeting,” he added.

The military usually holds three quarterly meetings in a year – in January, May and September. But in 2008, the military only held two, canceling a meeting in May. It also altered the timings of the meeting with the last quarterly meeting held in November.

“To me, it seems, that the quarterly meeting has lost its essence and is only used by a few top military leaders to explain their plans to their lower ranks,” Aung Kyaw Zaw said.

According to him, the top five – Snr. Gen Than Shwe, Vice Snr. Gen Maung Aye, Thura Shwe Mann, Prime Minister Thein Sein and Secretary (1) Tin Aung Myint Oo – meet in advance and take major decisions before the meeting and explaining to their junior officers the plan ahead.

“A few suggestions and discussions are made during the meeting, but major decisions are taken by the five before the meeting,” Aung Kyaw Zaw said.

Most reshuffles in the military takes place during the quarterly meetings and most military observers said the last quarterly meeting, usually in September, is always crucial in announcing major reshuffles in the military.

Forced relocation continues to diminish the lives of local villagers in Tavoy District, southern Burma according to a refugee family newly arrived on the Thai-Burma border.

Displaced Villagers Flee to Border

Since January of this year, sporadic fighting between the Burmese Army (BA) and Karen National Union (KNU) has left the rural villagers of Nyaung Done, Metta Sub-township effectively prisoners in their own village.

Permission was granted to leave by Lt. Col Ye Yint Naing of Infantry Battalion No. 103, however it was for just three days and was under extenuating circumstances – villagers had to complete their paddy harvest. Further, leave was only granted after a pig worth approximately100,000 Kyat was offered to him.

These controlled movement restrictions and relocations are not new to the region; this time last year the Burmese Army forced Kami villagers to move into Nyang Done village and about 60 of 400 households were uprooted.

“Even though they (the Burmese Army) offer each household a plot of land to build a new house, we had to leave our old land and livelihood and try to make a new life. They don’t allow us to return to our farms that some of us have spent so long cultivating and we face constant hurdles just to survive day-to-day. That is why we have to flee from our country to Thailand,” said the head of the refugee family.

The area they have fled from is located along the proposed route of the Asia Highway Kanchanaburi-Tavoy Road Project. The joint project by the Kyaw Lynn Naing Company and Kanchanaburi Tavoy Development (KTD) began in 1997, but has stalled due to the fighting between the BA and the KNU.

Brigade 55 and Marine Command of the BA and Brigade No. 4 of KNU were engaged in active fighting in the areas where 10 villages were relocated and 17 others were destroyed, effecting the rural population of approximately 7,000 people.

A further setback to people in the region is it’s marking as a ‘black area’ or killing zone; several villagers have been arrested, tortured or killed by the BA during military operations. http://www.kaowao.org/Feb-25-2009news.php


Living on a one-way ticket: self-reliance in the Mon resettlement sites report pdf

I. Introduction logo

The primary armed group fighting in the name of Mon people agreed to a cease-fire in 1995. Though this ended armed hostilities between the group and Burma’s State Peace and Development (SPDC) government, human rights abuses committed against residents of Burma’s southern peninsula continue. This abuse, combined with a weak economic situation directly related to army abuses, has resulted in the movement of thousands of people whose homes are unsafe and/or economically untenable. Many of these people have, as one academic has said, “found their backs to Thailand” and have ended up in resettlement sites along the Thai-Burma border.

To the south of the Three Pagodas Pass border crossing into Thailand is a section of territory controlled by the NMSP. This territory is home to 3 primary resettlement sites that stretch from southernmost Karen State into Mon State and Tenasserim Division. Residents of these three resettlement sites – which total at least 10,000 people – have been pushed in recent years to become “self-reliant,” a push that is both a goal and born out of necessity as international aid support declines. The returned refugees, however, report that there are a series of obstacles to becoming truly self-reliant. Understanding these obstacles is the purpose of this report.

II. Background

A. Factors motivating displacement
Through the 1990s, the primary factor driving people from their homes and villages was armed conflict between the New Mon State Party (NMSP) and SPDC and related human rights abuses. When the NMSP and SPDC agreed to a ceasefire in 1995, however, the abuses did not necessarily cease. There are a variety of reasons for this; continued conflict between smaller armed Mon splinter groups like the Monland Restoration Party (MRP) and a group lead by Nai Chan Dein, as well as the Karen National Union (KNU); a continuation of the Pya Ley Pya “Four Cuts” policy in which the SPDC weakens insurgents by targeting their civilian supporters; gas pipelines running east into Thailand and north towards factories in Karen State; SPDC policy which encourages its armed forces to extract resources from local communities; lack of oversight and accountability for large numbers of soldiers who consequently conduct themselves with virtual impunity, and who often come from other parts of Burma and are without connections to the local community.
Whatever the underlying reasons, four main categories of human rights violations are regularly committed by army battalions on the southern peninsula, including:
a. Interrogation, assault and summary execution. Villagers are commonly interrogated on the whereabouts and activities of insurgents. Frequent violence is ostensibly a part of the information gathering process, but it is also deliberately used to intimidate villagers into compliance. Civilians are also executed summarily, sometimes for being suspected rebel supporters or sometimes simply for working or traveling in a “black area,” dubbed to be under rebel control and, consequently, a free fire zone. In other cases, villagers are punished after clashes with rebels. On February 19th, for instance, the Independent Mon News Agency reported that soldiers from Infantry Battalion No. 31 executed two youth near Pauk-pin-kwin village, Yebyu Township, Tenasserim Division after a soldier was wounded by a landmine laid by Mon rebels.
b. Travel restrictions, forced relocation and surveillance. SPDC battalions working to pacify particular areas sometimes relocate households and even entire villages. Any people seen in the cleared areas are subsequently assumed to be rebels or supporters and shot on sight. Residents of areas experiencing insurgent activity are also frequently placed on 6pm to 6am or 24 hour curfews. Designed to consolidate control of an area, the restrictions serve to severely undermine agricultural activities because farms sometimes lie far away from villages, must be guarded at night or must be tended at dawn before the heat of the day.
c. Punitive taxation, quotas, land seizure and looting. Mon State and Karen States and Tenasserim Division are home to high concentrations of SPDC army battalions. Battalions are encouraged to be “self reliant” by Burma’s central government, which functionally gives them free reign to extract resources from local residents. Agricultural products and livestock are frequently commandeered or simply stolen at night. Taxes and fees for basic services and permission are also common. Seizure of plantations and homes for army barracks or fund-raising is common as well. Insurgent groups also tax local residents. The Nai Chan Dein group has been particularly active since the close of the 2008 rainy season; in the last three months alone, at least 5 villages in an area of northern Tenasserim Division have each been ordered to pay his group 5 to 7 million kyat.
d. Forced labor, including conscription of porters and human minesweepers for military operations. Residents are frequently called upon to work as unpaid laborers on projects like road repairs or building and maintaining army barracks. During SPDC offensives or patrols villagers are also conscripted as porters and made to carry munitions and other supplies. Residents are also sometimes required to stand nightly or 24-hour sentry duty along the gas pipelines or outside villages.

click on report http://www.rehmonnya.org/data/Report%20MF-Feb09.pdf

HURFOM:In the third week of February a battalion of the Burmese army shot their weapons in two villages, took some of the villagers’ property and forced thirty three people in another village to work for them as porters.

Army battalion threatens villagers by shooting
February 26, 2009
HURFOM :In the third week of February a battalion of the Burmese army shot their weapons in two villages, took some of the villagers’ property and forced thirty three people in another village to work for them as porters.
On the 20th February Light Infantry Battalion No 562 entered Saw Wa Tee and Yaw Toe Pa villages and began shooting. Fortunately there were no injuries but the soldiers took one solar panel, two radios and 29,000 Kyat from the villages in Htan-Ta Bin Township, Taung Gue district, Pegu Division. The populations of both villages had to flee and hide in the forest and did not to go back their homes.
According to one of the villagers who lives in Saw Wa Tee, “we were so afraid and do not want to go back again.”
Saw Wa Tee and Yaw Toe Pa villages are refugee camps which are based in the Karen National Union (KNU) controlled area.
Battalion No. 562, which is based in Taung Gue and led by Tactical commander Nyi Nyi Hla, also entered Ein Pu village in Htan-Ta Bin Township on the same day, 20th February and took thirty three villagers, forcing them to work as porters and carry the soldiers’ food and ammunition.
One of the villagers in Ein Pu said, “those thirty three people had to carry things for the soldiers which weighed around 30 kilograms. They had to walk nearly three miles and then had to walk up a mountain. We do not yet know what will happen to them.”

Authorities in Eine Mae, Irrawaddy division, have pressured local villagers not to provide accommodation for National League for Democracy members, accusing the group of a plotting bomb attacks in the region.

Eine Mae villagers pressured not to host NLD members
Feb 26, 2009 (DVB)–Authorities in Eine Mae, Irrawaddy division, have pressured local villagers not to provide accommodation for National League for Democracy members, accusing the group of a plotting bomb attacks in the region.

Aung Din, the NLD chair in Mayanpin village, was chastised after he let youth wing member Htin Kyaw Linn from Eine Mae stay at his house when he visited the village.
Local authorities questioned Aung Din and warned him he would be punished if fail to inform them of such activities in the future, said Eine Mae NLD chair Maung Maung Gyi.
“The township’s deputy police chief Min Thu Khine told Aung Din not to let Htin Kyaw Linn stay at his house again, saying they can’t risk having bombings in the township,” said Maung Maung Gyi.
“He warned Aung Din that he would be punished if he failed to let them know when NLD members visit the village again,” he said.
“The government authorities are trying to create divisions between us and the people by calling us bomb plotters – they are basically defaming us.”
Some other party members said Eine Mae’s local police chief Sein Win had recently told officials from villages in the region during a community meeting to inform the police station of any visits made to their villages by NLD members.

Censor board to switch to digital submissions

Feb 26, 2009 (DVB)–Burmese government’s press censor board is planning to change from the current paper system to digital, according to the Ministry of Information’s Press Scrutiny and Registration Division director, Major Tint Swe.

A weekly news journal published in last week quoted a speech by Tint Swe at a journalist training programme on February 20 in which he said a computerised system would be introduced for viewing press materials submitted to the censor board for approval before they are published.
Win Nyein, editor in chief of the well-respected Ray of Light journal said the new system was unlikely to bring about much change.
“There won’t be much of a difference, apart from that we will have to use memory sticks or discs to submit articles for the censor board’s approval instead of printing them out on paper as we do now,” said Win Nyein.
“The major only said it at the training program workshop, there has been no official announcement about it yet.”
Another weekly news journal editor in Rangoon speculated that most publishers and printing offices would welcome the new digital system as it would save them from spending money on printing every time the censor board wants them to make changes.
The Press Scrutiny and Registration Division was unavailable for comment. http://english.dvb.no/news.php?id=2261