Invitation:Roles of Burmese Women in Transition in Burma

Panel discussion featuring Janet Benshoof, Global Justice Center; Naw Htoo Paw, Women’s League of Burma; and Khin Sann Htwe, Women’s League of Burma

March 4, 2009, 4:30pm
Presbyterian United Nation Office
777 UN Plaza, 7th Floor
Corner of 44th St. and 1st Avenue
New York, NY 10017

Women’s League of Burma and the Burma Fund-UN Office cordially invite you to a roundtable discussion.

“The Chinese buyers totally control the gems market, especially the jade trading, where prices have fallen more than 50 percent,” a jade trader in Mandalay told The Irrawaddy on Tuesday.

Chinese Traders Scooping Up Mandalay Gems, Precious Stones

Chinese traders have managed to dominate the precious gems and jade market in Mandalay, paying jade prices as much as 50 percent under the stone’s value, say jade traders in Mandalay.The buying and selling of gems, especially jade, came to a near halt in the past few months, exacerbated by Chinese buyers exporting gems and stones illegally, according to Mandalay gem traders.
Myo Thu, who mostly deals in private jade sales and monitors the jade trade in Mandalay, estimated that jade sales have dropped more than 65 percent.

“The jade market is quiet, even through Chinese buyers come to the market. But they give no more than what traders paid for the stone,” he said. continue

“We have to organize patriotic soldiers in the current Tatmadaw [the Burmese armed forces],” the CPB said.

In a message from its base in China, the Communist Party of Burma has urged pro-democracy activists to persuade moderates within the Burmese armed forces to change sides and support the opposition National League for Democracy.

In an analytical report, the CPB, banned in Burma, hailed the NLD as the central force of Burma’s democracy movement and welcomed the party’s long-term plans.

“We have to organize patriotic soldiers in the current Tatmadaw [the Burmese armed forces],” the CPB said.

The present situation in the world and in Burma in particular could make such an undertaking possible, the report said. Moderate forces within the Tatmadaw had to be organized in times when it wasn’t cracking down on the democracy movement.

Prodemocracy forces had to seize a “pre-emptive chance,” acting on the mandate obtained by the NLD in the 1990 election, the CPB said.

The 1988 uprising had not been successful because there had been many centers of opposition, and that was still the case, the CPB report maintained.

The CPB said it opposes of the idea of a parallel government. “The CPB opposes forming a parallel government either in exile or inside Burma,” it said.

Exiled organizations working for Burmese democracy had no roots in Burma and survived on “donors,” “proposal politics” and “lobby politics,” the report said. Because of this reliance, dissident groups were unwilling to cooperate with the CPB, it complained.

“Surprisingly, we see people inside Burma who are being oppressed by the junta committed to struggle, while exiled Burmese not under oppression choose a ‘surrender policy,’” the CPB said. Its use of the term “surrender policy” is interpreted as a reference to those politicians who support the current constitution and plan to participate in the 2010 election.

The report predicted that the Burma political progress would proceed gradually, and it urged pro-democracy groups to look for long-term plans.

… as danida says.. go with the roadmap or fund cuts….

Troops Closing In on Shan Drug Lord

Thai border troops and police are said to be closing in on Shan fugitive Naw Kham, an alleged drug lord who is wanted in Thailand, Burma, China and Laos for drug trafficking.

According to a local Thai language teacher, Naw Kham is thought to be hiding in Wiang Haeng District in northern Thailand. She said that an intensive search of Shan community residential areas began last week and that many local people were afraid of the soldiers.

The hunt for Naw Kham came after the Burmese army seized weapons, 350 kg of heroin and 217 million baht (US $6 million) in cash, following a clash with Naw Kham’s private militia in the Tachilek area. The attack appeared to be in response to an incident on February 18 when it is alleged Naw Kham’s troops opened fire on a Chinese cargo boat on the Mekong River, killing one crew member and injuring three.

After Burmese, Chinese and Laotian authorities combined to close in on Naw Kham, it is believed that he fled to Thailand because he owned a Thai citizenship card, said the source.

According to Khuensai Jaiyen, the editor of the Shan Herald Agency for News (SHAN), based in Chiang Mai, northern Thailand, China sent police to Tachilek Township in eastern Burma last week to apprehend Naw Kham. He added that the Chinese government also put pressure on the Burmese government to arrest him and called for Laotian border security guards to maintain a lookout for the fugitive.

Naw Kham is one of the highest profile drug lords of the Golden Triangle and reportedly commands a private militia of about 30 to 40 members. continue

Global Fund Mission Considering Restoration Of Grants To Myanmar’s HIV/AIDS, TB, Malaria Programs

Main Category: HIV / AIDS
Also Included In: Tuberculosis; Tropical Diseases
Article Date: 03 Mar 2009 – 3:00 PST

A four-member mission of the Global Fund To Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria last week visited Myanmar to meet with local officials and discuss the possibility of restoring funds to programs that address the three diseases in the country, Xinhuanet reports. The delegation — led by William Paton, director of the Global Fund’s country programs — spent four days in Myanmar at the invitation of the country’s government and held discussions with the Myanmar Country Coordinating Mechanism, led by the country’s health minister. The 29-member MCCM includes 10 members from government ministries, four from United Nations agencies and four from international nongovernmental organizations. The mission is expected to announce its decision about the funding by 2010, Xinhuanet reports (Xinhuanet, 2/27).
The Global Fund in August 2005 announced a suspension of its grants to Myanmar, citing travel and other restrictions implemented by the country’s government that impede the delivery of medical supplies and services (Kaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Report, 10/12/06). To compensate for the loss of funding, Myanmar established the Three Disease Fund, which received support from Australia’s AusAID, the European Commission, the Netherlands, Norway, Sweden’s Sida and the United Kingdom’s Department for International Development. The 3D Fund in April 2006 launched a $100 million project to address HIV/AIDS, TB and malaria in the country, under the guidance of MCCM. In 2007, the World Health Organization signed a memorandum of understanding to extend the 3D Fund and administer the program. According to reports, the 3D Fund provided Myanmar with $4 million across 2007 and 2008, as well as $5.7 million across 2008 and 2009. Reports also indicate that the fund provided nine NGOs in Myanmar with a total of $630,000 to control HIV/AIDS, TB and malaria.
Sun Gang, UNAIDS country coordinator for Myanmar, said the country is undertaking significant efforts to control the three diseases. According to a recent UNAIDS report, Myanmar reported 240,000 HIV cases in 2007, down from 300,000 in 2001. According to Xinhuanet, the country has undertaken efforts to encourage 100% condom use, offer educational talks about HIV/AIDS and provide treatment for sexually transmitted infections. In addition, Myanmar aims to curb HIV transmission resulting from injection drug use, mother-to-child transmission and blood transfusions. Furthermore, several ministries, NGOs, U.N. agencies and community groups in Myanmar have adopted a five-year national strategic plan to implement 13 strategies to prevent and treat HIV/AIDS, Xinhuanet reports. continue

Amnesty Blogs_I am now a refugee. I can’t go back to my country. I can’t go home.

My name is Wai Hnin Pwint Thon and I am a refugee from Burma. I am a student in London at the moment. I came to the United Kingdom two years ago so that I could study.

My father is called Mya Aye and he is a political prisoner in Burma. He is one of the leaders of the 88 generation group, which led protests for democracy and freedom in my country in 1988. My childhood in Burma was difficult because of my father’s political activities. When I was only five months old, my father was arrested and sentenced to 8 years imprisonment for his role of as a student leader in the 1988 uprising.

I was so young when he was arrested that I forgot who my father was. I only remembered what he looked like because my mother showed me his photograph and explained to me that he is my father and he is living somewhere, which is close to our house. I started to call the photo Daddy. Sometimes, I wondered why I could not meet him if he lives in a place close to my home. continue

Myanmar Gov’t to Provide Jobs for 10,000 Returning Unemployed Workers


Myanmar government will provide jobs for 10,000 unemployed workers, who have returned from abroad since last year-end due to global financial crisis, sources with the labor authorities said Monday.

These unemployed workers will be arranged to take up jobs in agricultural and fishery sectors, the sources said.

In December last year, Myanmar Prime Minister General Thein Sein asked the country’s citizens working abroad to come back home for jobs when they are unemployed there out of the crisis.

“As workers are still in demand in teak plantation, timber extraction, fisheries and salt industry, jobs are ready for Myanmar nationals who will come back home when they are out of work abroad,” Thein Sein then said.

“The impact of global financial crisis on Myanmar is insignificant. More jobs will emerge if the entire national people make concerted efforts in all seriousness, and this will undeniably fulfill the food, cloth, shelter needs of the people,” he said, adding that “as the nation has been able to make progress on the basis of own strength, own capital and own education and knowledge even though it has been subject to economic sanctions imposed by Western nations, it will in no way ignore the interest of the national people”.

He assured that the government’s three ministries of foreign affairs, labor and agriculture and irrigation are ready to help those who come back home on account of losing their jobs abroad.

He denied that the global financial crisis could affect the demand and products that can be exported as much as it can produce, saying that the main export markets of the country are neighboring ones in Asia and the main export items are foodstuff — rice, beans and pulses, and meat and fish.

Pointing out that Myanmar has no contact with West bloc banks and monetary organizations, he held that there will be no loss in the monetary sector as the foreign loans are few compared with other countries.

He also denied economic effect on the country as the government is building infrastructure on self-reliant basis with its own technology and money.

There are reportedly two million Myanmar workers working abroad illegally awaiting for returning home for employment.