February 28, 2009: China has apparently sold some of its new assault rifles (the Type 95) to Myanmar. Troops in that country have been seen carrying the Chinese weapon.

China Exports Its Radical New Assault Rifle

February 28, 2009: China has apparently sold some of its new assault rifles (the Type 95) to Myanmar. Troops in that country have been seen carrying the Chinese weapon. The QBZ-95 (Type 95) is bullpup design (the magazine is behind the trigger) that uses China’s proprietary 5.8x42mm cartridge, which is a little wider than the 5.56 NATO, but shorter in overall length. The Type 95 uses a 30-round magazine, similar to the M-16. The Type 95 fires single shots or bursts. China is still in the process of replacing its own Type 81 (improved AK-47) rifles with the new rifle The Type 95 is about ten percent lighter than the older rifle, and has apparently been well received by the troops.
The Type 95 was first seen in Hong Kong when China took over in 1997. The Type 95 comes in a variety of styles (a compact version, an automatic rifle, and a sniper rifle). An export version (the Type 97), using the standard 5.56mm NATO round is called, and is apparently what Myanmar is using.

At the same time China was exporting Type 97 rifles to Myanmar, it provided Bangladesh with financing and technical assistance for building a factory to produce a modified version of the Chinese Type 81 assault rifle. This is a 7.5 pound rifle that looks like the Chinese Type 56 (itself a copy of the Russian AK-47). The main differences are that the Type 81 has less recoil and “jump” (of the rifle when fired), which improves accuracy. The Bangladeshi version of the Type 81 is called the BD-08, and the new factory will be able to produce 10,000 a year. Eventually, Bangladesh will replace all its current Type 56 rifles with BD-08s. Both use the same 7.62/39mm ammo.


Burma, Cambodia leaders denounced over ban on activists

By Kittipong Thavevong
The Nation
Cha-am, Phetchaburi

Representatives from the civil society on Saturday expressed resentment at the exclusion of two colleagues from Burma and Cambodia for an unprecedented meeting with Asean government leaders.

The meeting was organised at the side of the 14th Summit of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations taking place in Cha-am and Prachuap Khiri Khan’s Hua Hin district.

Asean leaders also met with parliamentarians, youths and businesspeople from the grouping’s member states.

The activists denounced the leaders of Burma and Cambodia for barring those two civil-society representatives from the meeting.

However, they praised Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva and Foreign Minister Kasit Piromya for coming out of the meeting venue to talk to the excluded representatives.

Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen and Burma’s Prime Minister General Thein Sein earlier threatened to boycott the meeting if the persons in question were allowed to attend the meeting.

“They are not respecting the Asean Charter, which aims to be people-centred,” said Soe Aung, spokesman for the Forum for Democracy in Burma.

He said what happened has raised doubts about the sincerity of certain Asean leaders in allowing civil society’s participation in the process of creating a people-centred Asean.
continue http://nationmultimedia.com/2009/02/28/regional/regional_30096871.php

Myanmar, Thailand to confer on Rohingya migrants in March

PHETCHBURI, Feb 28 (TNA) – Thailand’s Foreign Affairs Minister Kasit Piromya will visit Myanmar officially in late March to discuss solutions to the Rohingya migrant issue, crime and narcotics smuggling along the common border of the two countries, said Thai foreign affairs ministry spokesman on Saturday.

Thai Foreign Ministry Information Department director-general Tharit Charungvat told a press conference that the two ministers discussed the problems during a bilateral meeting earlier in the day, on the sidelines of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) summit, and that Myanmar Foreign Minister U Nyan Win invited Mr. Kasit for talks in Myanmar next month.

The Myanmar foreign affairs minister asked the Thai minister to identify the issues Thailand would like to resolve so the meeting might result in effective solutions, Mr. Tharit said.

The Thai minister quoted Myanmar’s U Nyan Win as saying that his government had encountered the Bengali migrant problem before and had sought assistance from the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR).

But the case of Rohingya boat people is more difficult because Bangladesh and Myanmar have a long common border which is difficult to control, the U Nyan Win was quoted as saying.

The plight of the Rohingya boat people has come under ASEAN and human rights groups scrutiny when the Thai authorities were accused of pushing back to the sea about one thousand migrants, with little food and fuel. The Thai government and armed forces have denied the accusations.

Regarding the cross-border drug problem, Myanmar Foreign Minister U Nyan Win reportedly told his Thai counterpart that the problem has eased but that amphetamine (speed) pill trafficking is still rampant. The Myanmar minister reportedly said the chemicals used to produce speed cannot be found in Myanmar so it is necessary to discuss the problem with other countries which are encountering the same problem. (TNA) http://enews.mcot.net/view.php?id=8820

Singing a requiem for the Rohingya boat people

Published on February 28, 2009

THIRTY YEARS AGO, I wrote the article that is partly reprinted below. It was published in The Nation on June 27, 1979, against the backdrop of the Vietnamese boat people. Things have not changed much since then. Today’s inhumanity still rears its ugly head while our leaders cling to the excuses of “national interest” or “security concerns” to justify the drowning of the Rohingya boat people, instead of taking a moral stand.
A few generations ago, prisoners of war, refugees or economic migrants, as many of our forebears were, having come from Shantou in South China, were welcomed as a positive economic force for the Kingdom. Going back further in history, in the 16th century, my ancestors were Mon refugees from Burma (namely Phya Kien and Phya Ram). I feel that we, refugees or descendants of refugees, made this country – against all odds, against the inhumanity and the animal-like cruelty of modern day nationalists.

This then, was my requiem for the boat people of the world as it would be for today. continue

Back to Surin. This writer asked him earlier this week how he can justify being so proud of the charter when no real participation or referendum was allowed.

Behind the pomp, try to seek out Asean’s true nature
Pravit Rojanaphruk, The Nation
28 February 2009
Pick to Post

Dr Surin Pitsuwan, the Asean secretary-general, is a very smooth talker indeed. Listening to him too much about Asean leads one to have an almost inevitable rose-tinted view of the grouping of 10 nations and its future. The antidote to Surin’s entertaining anecdotes would be to examine the ground reality of the member societies, Thailand included, and wake up.

All the pomp and ceremony of the 14th Asean Summit aside, people who care about the future of the region have many reasons to be concerned. Some are worried that more trade liberalisation will benefit big businesses while leaving farmers at a severe disadvantage. Others are worried about the lack of transparency in the Terms of Reference (TOR) for the Asean Human Rights body. And some say Burma’s generals are using Asean as an effective shield against being accountable for their crimes.

This writer’s concern is simply about the Asean Charter itself. Words like human rights, democracy, liberty and people-centred Asean were heavily peppered. But try to look at the ground reality, and then it’s hard to keep optimism alive.

Let’s start with the fact that the vast majority of “Asean citizens” neither had any meaningful participation in the charter-drafting process nor did they have the opportunity to endorse or reject it through a referendum. This despite the fact that the charter’s preamble starts with this very sentence: “We, The Peoples of the Member States of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) as represented by the Heads of State or Government of….”. continue

We, legislators from the different member countries of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), gathered in Cha-am, Thailand, on February 28, 2009, hereby announce the formation of an ASEAN Legislative Caucus on Rights and Free Expression

ASEAN parliamentarians form caucus on rights and free expression; call on ASEAN leaders to uphold press freedom

28 February 2009

We, legislators from the different member countries of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), gathered in Cha-am, Thailand, on February 28, 2009, hereby announce the formation of an ASEAN Legislative Caucus on Rights and Free Expression, with the aim of protecting and promoting our core values of democracy, human rights and free expression in the ASEAN Community, and ensuring their substance and realization under the ASEAN Charter and the ASEAN Human Rights Body.

We believe that the dream of a true ASEAN Community and the formation of an ASEAN Human Rights Body must recognize free expression, press freedom, and people’s access to information as essential to human rights.

In the light of these beliefs, we call on ASEAN’s leaders to deliver on a commitment to make the principles embodied in the UN Declaration on Human Rights the minimum standards upon which an independent ASEAN Human Rights Body will be established and activated.

We also urge our national and regional leaders to uphold the rights of the people of ASEAN, in particular their rights to inquire, express, and participate on matters that affect their lives and societies.

We commit ourselves to actively push for the full realization of the spirit of the ASEAN Charter, as well as the establishment of an effective and responsive ASEAN Human Rights Body.

We invite our colleagues in the region to join us in this movement that will help defend, enshrine, promote, and strengthen human rights, press freedom, and free expression in the ASEAN community. http://www.prachatai.com/english/news.php?id=1016

More inclusive ASEAN gets off to rocky start – Summary

The summit kicked off Saturday morning with a series of talks between ASEAN leaders and representatives of civil society, parliamentarians, youth organizations and the business community.
The more inclusive nature of the summit is in keeping with the ASEAN Charter, approved last year, which seeks to make ASEAN a more people-oriented organization and acknowledges the importance of protecting human rights in the region.
But Myanmar’s and Cambodia’s decision that the civil society representatives for their countries, Khin Ohmar from Myanmar and Pen Somony from Cambodia, be excluded from the talks put a dam continue