by admin — last modified 2009-02-27 10:40

Confiscation of villagers’ lands by the Burmese junta’s troops in Shan State has been going on unabated, at least up to the end of 2008.
Although confiscation of large areas of lands for setting up new military battalions all over Shan State, which has intensified over the last several years, has somewhat reduced lately, the junta’s troops have continued to seized lands from the people for other purposes.
Lands have been confiscated often for agricultural purposes, e.g., for growing seasonal subsistence as well as cash crops for military battalions, or for setting up state-run plantations such as rubber and physic nut, etc..
Lands have also been occasionally taken for building state infrastructure. All without any sort of compensation for those who previously owned or had worked the lands for generations.
Forced labour and extortion were often involved in incidents of land seizure because the junta’s troops usually forced people to work for them on confiscated land and extorted money from those who failed to provide their free labour.
Forcible rice procurement policy continues to be one of the heavy burdens imposed on farmers by the military authorities up to the present. Farmers are still routinely required to sell rice quotas to the military at unfairly low prices, and sometimes even forced to freely give their rice to the military.
Incidents of such abuses and others are reported in separate sections in this issue.


Confiscation of villagers’ lands by the Burmese military in Shan State, which has intensified since 1990s when the junta dramatically started to implement its policy of military expansion, is still going on unabated.
Although lands are now mostly confiscated for agricultural purposes, e.g., for growing crops for military consumption as well as making money to support military battalions, they are also occasionally confiscated for building public infrastructure.
In cases of land confiscation, there are almost always involved cases of unpaid forced labour and extortion, as the junta’s troops still routinely require people to cultivate subsistence as well as cash crops for them.
The following are some such incidents that took place in mid and late 2008:

The Young Mizo Association (YMA) will conduct a foreigner census in Mizoram state, especially for Burmese citizens, who are staying as refugees in Mizoram, a northeastern state of India.

February 26, 2009: The Young Mizo Association (YMA) will conduct a foreigner census in Mizoram state, especially for Burmese citizens, who are staying as refugees in Mizoram, a northeastern state of India.

According to a report, the reason for conducting the foreigner census was to respond to the report of Human Rights Watch (HRW), which highlighted the life of Chin people in Mizoram, under the theme “We are like forgotten people” and it also goes against the conduct and the name of the YMA. Therefore, the Central Executive Committee of YMA has decided to conduct a foreigner census in March 2009, the Vanglaini Daily newspaper said.

However, there is no further information about the procedure after the foreigner census is completed. In an interview to Khonumthung News, J.H. Zoremthanga, President of Central YMA, said he could not answer in detail about the census. “We will have a meeting with all Chin organizations, regarding this matter on March 3…” he added.

The newspaper highlighted that a proposal to build a refugee camp for Burmese refugees, with the help of the Mizoram government, had been mooted at the meeting of the Central YMA, on February 23, 2009.

In fact, YMA is mainly focusing and discussing the HRW reports (93 pages) of ‘Life for Chins in Mizoram, Anti-Foreigner Campaigns in Mizoram, Education, Discrimination, and Housing’.

The HRW has reported that there are seventy thousand (70,000) to a lakh, Chin people in Mizoram state..

Chin and Mizo people have the same history, tradition and culture, but the language dialect is a little different. During the British rule, Mizoram was called Lushai Hill, while Chin state was named Chin Hill. – Khonumthung News

Burma releases 113 prisoners from Buthidaung jail

Written by Webmaster
Tuesday, 24 February 2009 22:55
Buthidaung, Arakan State: Burma has released 113 prisoners including Rakhine and Rohingya from Buthidaung jail in Arakan State on February 22 night. Among the freed were 22 Rakhine and the rest were Rohingya prisoners, said a relative one of the released prisoners on condition of anonymity.
Burma announced the release of over 6,000 prisoners including 11 political prisoners, five monks, six NLD members and other prisoners, from prisons across the country on February 22, according to State television and radio.

The Burmese ruling junta has persistently denied the presence of political prisoners in the country’s jail. People believe that about 2,162 political prisoners and some religious persons are still in detention in various jails. They were arrested in 2003, but military junta persistently denies it. They (junta) claimed that they all are criminals, sources said.

The junta released the prisoners to participate in the general election to be held in 2010, for ushering in democracy in keeping with the regime’s seven-point road-map.

The announcement came a day after UN human rights envoy Tomas Ojea Quintana wrapped up a six-day visit to Burma on February 19. This was his second trip to Burma since he assumed office in May 2008. He first visited Burma in August 2008.

Quintana was scheduled to visit Arakan and Kachin States where local opposition complain of repeated harassment by the authorities. People of Arakan hoped to meet the UN envoy and they would have apprised him of the difficulties they have been facing in Arakan. But the wish was not fulfilled as the UN envoy was not allowed to come to Arakan State. Local authorities had selected local villagers to meet the UN envoy, to provide pro-government statements, said a businessman who declined to be named.

A schoolteacher said that the Burmese ruling military had earlier also released prisoners after or before a UN envoys visited Burma to save face.

Burma Democratic Concern (BDC), FBF and The best manure organizations movement inside Burma

25 Feb 2009

Amidst the tight security and risk of imprisonment,Burma Democratic Concern, Free Burma Federation and the best manure group had distributed the pamphlets inside Burma,which encourage the Burmese people to participate in demanding to release the people’s leader Aung San Suu Kyi and all the other political prisoners immediately and unconditionally.

Distributed pamphlets which include printed statement of Burma Democratic Concern and postcards which portrait the faces of political prisoners stick on public places successfully encouraged a lot of people inside Burma to involve more to demand for release of all political prisoners.

The Statement details which we had distributed inside are as follow:


Aung San Suu Kyi must be FREE immediately to boost start DIALOGUE

National League for Democracy (NLD), Aung San Suu Kyi’s party, calls for the citizens to join in support for securing the release of Aung San Suu Kyi and all political prisoners.

Burma Democratic Concern (BDC) strongly supports NLD’s statement dated on 29 January 2009 and calls for people around the world to show your support for Burma freedom movement and to free Aung San Suu Kyi and all political prisoners.

Aung San Suu Kyi and elections winning parties always calling for to take place meaningful time bound dialogue between democratic forces led by Aung San Suu Kyi and military regime led by Senior General Than Shwe in order to overcome current crisis of Burma. This is a must and in order to build national reconciliation, junta must release all the political prisoners and find the solution through dialogue. Current military regime’s unilateral actions of imprisoning political dissidents and suppressing democratic principles are fanning the Burma crisis leading toward total chaos.

Military regime must-

• release all the political prisoners including Aung San Suu Kyi immediately and unconditionally

We believe that dialogue cannot come about so long as military regime is not regarding Aung San Suu Kyi as the partner to discuss to find the solution through dialogue. Locking her under house arrest and imprisoning political dissidents will make already fragile current situation of Burma crisis from bad into worse. Burmese military regime must release Aung San Suu Kyi and all political prisoners immediately and unconditionally if they truly wanted to see national reconciliation in Burma.

“Everyone got a role in democratisation process of Burma”, as said Aung San Suu Kyi and we would like to call for world leaders, religious leaders and people around the world to show your support to free Aung San Suu Kyi and all political prisoners of Burma.

A migrants’ support agency has reported allegations of official mistreatment of migrant workers in Thailand ranging from payments to police in return for their release from custody, constant “humiliating” police harassment, to the rape of women detainees by Thai Army Rangers.

The 234-page-report was prepared by the Mekong Migration Network and released at a press conference at the Foreign Correspondents’ Club in Bangkok last week.

It focused on the issue of arrest, detention, deportation, return and reintegration of migrants in the Greater Mekong Subregion (GMS).

The report described how arrests of migrant workers in Thailand can happen at any time, day or night. Migrant workers constantly run the risk of arrest while at home, in their workplace, during their leisure time or while visiting places of worship.

Even at temples, migrants were not free from arrest. During October 2006, in Chiang Mai several hundred were detained by police while attending temples to celebrate the end of Lent, the report said.

Local Thais expressed their displeasure through a local website, saying immigration official should respect the sanctity of temples and not make arrests during religious ceremonies.

One Cambodian migrant fisherman in Rayong province told researchers most arrests of fishermen began around midnight, as officials believed they would not create so much commotion if undertaken at night.

However, the majority of migrants reported being offered the opportunity to pay for their release following an arrest, usually before they were taken to the police station.

The amount they were asked to pay varied between Bt200 and Bt5,000, with an average of around Bt1,000.

In some cases women had their hair cut by police. Migrants reported cases of immigration officers in Tak province’s Mae Sot district cutting women’s hair and shaving men’s heads, saying the migrants would then be recognised if they tried to return to Thailand after being deported.

For Burmese women whose long hair is part of their cultural make-up, having it cut in such an undignified manner is extremely humiliating.

Full body searches of migrant women during arrest in isolated areas by male officials is clearly inappropriate and open to abuse, the report said.

It said women migrants in isolated border areas remained particularly vulnerable to abuse. In Mae Sot young women had complained the body searches were physically intrusive and abusive. In 1999, a group of women from Burma were abused similarly in a small hut in the same province.

On 12 July 1999, a group of 50 illegal migrant workers from Burma were being deported near Ban Lan village, west of Chiang Mai’s Phang district. The migrants were put under the care of the Thai Army Rangers at Ban Lan.

The officer in charge separated 11 women from the group, and then ordered his men to take the rest of the migrants to the Nong Tao border point nearby. The report charges he took the women one by one into his room and physically molested each one, raping two of them.

Migrants registered with the authorities and holding a valid migrant workers’ card are required to carry this card with them at all times. The migrant workers’ card confers limited legal rights. While Thai citizens are fined for not carrying their national ID card, migrants lose their legal status in Thailand if they are caught without their card, leading directly to their arrest, detention and deportation.

The migrant workers’ card is only valid as an immigration document when the arresting authority can verify the migrant works for the employer named on the card, and in the type of work and geographic area designated on the card.

In order to combat human rights violations experienced by migrants, the Mekong Migration Network’s chairperson, Jackie Pollock urged the Thai government and others in the Greater Mekong Subregion to eliminate situations which can lead to abusive and exploitative working conditions and leave migrants vulnerable to arrest, detention and deportation.

She asked authorities to reform the procedures to ensure migrant workers treatment is humane, transparent and subject to legal oversight.

This report was a third edition in the series Migration in the Greater Mekong Subregion : Resource Book (1st edition published in 2002; 2nd edition in 2005) and is in response to rapidly changing issues relating to migration in the subregion, including changes to legislation and policy relating to migration.

In Thailand, the number of unregistered migrants from Burma, Cambodia and Laos is not known, but the estimate suggests that at any one time there are between 800,000 and 1.2 million unregistered migrants present in Thailand.

Burma’s economy gasps under junta’s stranglehold

by Mungpi
Sunday, 01 March 2009 22:10

New Delhi (Mizzima) – The Burmese military junta’s allegation of sanctions being the key to the country’s economic deterioration is merely an excuse and is totally baseless, an Australian economist said.

Sean Turnell, an Associate Professor at the Department of Economics in Australia’s Macquarie University said sanctions do not hinder Burma’s military rulers from exploring ways to improve the economy of the country.

Turnell said, imposing or lifting sanctions does not make much difference economically to the already impoverished Southeast Asian nation, because the economy of Burma has long been sliding downhill before sanctions were imposed. It continues to slide under the military rulers, who are not competent in managing the economy.

Burma’s military rulers have time and again blamed the country’s economic deterioration squarely on sanctions imposed on the country by the west. Burma’s Prime Minister Thein Sein told the visiting UN special envoy Ibrahim Gambari that political stability in the country would require the lifting of sanctions.

Thein Sein told Gambari, during his latest visit to the country in early February, that economic sanctions affected human rights and caused unemployment, tainted the economy, social affairs, education, health and the living standard of the people.

But Thein Sein’s argument seems to be baseless, according to Turnell, who in an email interview to Mizzima, said, “The critical economic issue in Burma, is government policy and economic management, not sanctions. If sanctions were lifted but no improvements were made to these, Burma would not be much better off.”

According to Turnell, despite the economic sanctions imposed by the US and EU, the generals, if they were smart, could still implement several economic reforms beginning with reducing military expenditure, which according to the International Institute for Strategic Studies, account for over 40 percent of the national budget.

Turnell also said the generals could float the currency to end the dual exchange rate, liberalise credit markets by eliminating interest controls, and providing legal certainty to micro financing, which will help in uplifting people from poverty.

Burma being an agro-based economy could recapitalise the Agricultural Development Bank, and remove any remaining procurement and other restrictive policies on agriculture, he added.

He further said allowing the Central Bank to have an independent policy would strengthen financial institutes. The junta should also stop arbitrary property seizures, which is common in rural areas of the country.

But he said, currently the junta is more or less dependent on the sale of its natural resources including natural gas, oil, timber, and precious stones and are not exploring other ways of economic reformation.

Grave poverty

The international community including the United Nations and even many Burma watchers agree that Burmese people, after decades of economic stagnation and impact of natural disasters such as Cyclone Nargis, are faced with severe poverty causing humanitarian crisis in the country.

The situation has led several Burma watchers to think that sanctions on the country are not in the best interest of the people.

While the Burmese military junta’s charge that sanctions are the root cause of economic stagnation in the country is baseless, it also proves the general’s admitting that the country is facing severe economic crisis.

So, the question is, even when the generals know that the country’s economy is deteriorating further, why are they reluctant or what are the general’s concerns in implementing economic reforms?

Reluctance for reform

According to a Burmese economist, Prof. Khin Muang Kyi, who now resides in Singapore, Burma’s military generals fear that by opening up the economy they might lose control.

Every economy is related to politics of the country, and in implementing economic reforms, at times, requires giving up control over certain sectors of the economy, which the military generals are loath to do, Khin Maung Kyi said.

Khin Maung Kyi, a retired lecturer of the National University of Singapore, said the general’s would rather sacrifice the peoples’ desire of economic development than lose their stranglehold on political power.

“They [the generals] want to control everything, and would not give a chance to experts because they fear losing even one sector of the economy, as they feel that this opening might threaten their power,” he said.

“Economic reforms in Burma, therefore, will not be possible unless there is a political solution first,” Khin Maung Kyi said. “The people will continue suffering.”

According to Turnell, who has long had an eye on Burma’s economy, the Burmese generals while they are incapable of managing the economy have not accepted suggestions by experts in the past and “there is absolutely nothing to suggest they will in the future.

Leaders of the 10-member Association of Southeast Asian Nations on Sunday, wound-up the 14th Summit agreeing to tackle the “illegal migrants in Indian Ocean” issue in March.

Abhisit Vejjajiva, Thailand’s Prime Minister and the chairman of the group, during a press conference on Sunday said the bloc welcomed the “Burmese government’s willingness to engage in active cooperation with the UN Secretary General’s Special Envoy as well as the UN Special Rapporteur on Human Right to address the international community’s concern about the situation in Burma.”

He also welcomed the release of political detainees and expected the inclusion of all political parties in the process leading to general elections in 2010 which will contribute significantly to the national reconciliation process.

But Malaysian Prime Minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi during a separate press conference said in reply to a reporter’s question that Burma has indicated its willingness to directly interact with the UN process rather than with ASEAN on the country’s democratization.

Abhisit, during the press conference said the summit had agreed to use the term “Illegal migrants in Indian Ocean” to indicate Rohingya, Bengalis and other groups of migrants in the Indian Ocean. continue


The Association of Southeast Asian Nations has ended its summit in Thailand with a short statement encouraging Burma to release political prisoners and allow democracy.

ASEAN Urges Burma to Release Political Prisoners
Host Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva officially ended the two-day ASEAN summit.

At a press briefing, he told journalists the Southeast Asian leaders agreed to work harder on regional cooperation and speeding up economic integration.

He said the alliance also gave a message for their least popular member, Burma, officially known as Myanmar.

“The ASEAN leaders encouraged Myanmar to continue cooperation with the United Nations and to make sure that the roadmap continues according to plan, and that the process would be as inclusive as possible, which includes, of course, the continuation of the release of prisoners or political detainees and also the participation of political parties in the upcoming election,” said Abhisit Vejjajiva. continue

“We are not really up to the mark (in preparation) for this monsoon. We need plenty of cyclone shelters, at least 3,000 to 4,000,” U Than Myint, former president of the Myanmar Engineering Society told Bernama here.

Myanmar needs more cyclone shelters before moonsoon
NEW DELHI, Feb 27 (Bernama) — Barely two months away from the May monsoon season, at least 4,000 cyclone shelters are needed for people living in the lowlands in Myanmar, which suffered its worst cyclone last year.

“We are not really up to the mark (in preparation) for this monsoon. We need plenty of cyclone shelters, at least 3,000 to 4,000,” U Than Myint, former president of the Myanmar Engineering Society told Bernama here.

“For this project, the government and donors are doing something but in some areas, cyclone shelters cannot be completed soon and the monsoon is coming this May,” he added.

Myanmar suffered one of the worst catastrophes in its history last May when the deadly cyclone Nargis struck the Southeast Asian nation, killing over 80,000 people, while another 50,000 are still reported missing.

Millions of dollars in foreign aid and scores of relief workers were rushed, to the military-controlled underdeveloped agrarian state, to save millions stuck in cyclone-hit areas, which were stripped off food and shelter.

“People have already recovered from the disaster. Now is the reconstruction and development stage. For development we need to build some bridges and roads.

“We need some assistance, the government is working with the UN (United Nations) and Asean. We have asked for funds but they are not coming.

“Our local government, entrepreneurs and our own construction people are helping out. We hope to manage with this,” said Myint, who is in Delhi to attend the Disaster Risk Reduction conference.

Under mounting pressure, Myanmar agreed with its Asean partners and the UN to form a tripartite core group to coordinate relief works for the cyclone victims in June last year. (BERNAMA)


Reports From the Conference“We need the guarantee that our voices will be truly represented in all the decision making processes of ASEAN so as not to undermine the spirit and principles enshrined in the ASEAN Charter”, urged Ms. Suntree Sae-Geuing (Thailand). She called upon the ASEAN member states to put into place mechanisms to ensure inclusive and representative participation of civil society in all structures and processes within ASEAN.

The other issues raised were on the lack of protection mandate in the proposed ASEAN Human Rights Body; mechanisms to address the concerns and violations experienced by migrant workers; and on mechanisms and updates on the establishment of the Commission on the Protection and Promotion of the Rights of Women and Children (ACWC).

Ms. Yuyun Wahyuningrum’s quote of Daw Aung San Suu Kyi’s, “Use your liberty to promote ours”, drew the attention of all ASEAN leaders to Burma, the “democracy” in crisis. The ASEAN Chair had assured the civil society that ASEAN takes note of the issues and concerns of Burma and the ASEAN leaders will have an open dialogue on Burma at this Summit. It was also stressed by the Chair that the ASEAN leaders shared a common agenda in ensuring prosperity, stability and human security in all ASEAN member states.

The ASEAN Chair also extrapolated that women’s human rights and gender related issues required a separate forum in ASEAN to open up channels to ensure their issues and concerns are addressed.
Pictures are there