Camps for 15,000 Chinese labourers at Irrawaddy River hydropower project

With the help of the Burmese ruling junta, two firms of contractors are constructing labour camps for 15,000 Chinese at the controversial Irrawaddy River hydropower project site at Mali and N’Mai Rivers’ Confluence called Myitsone, or Mali-N’Mai Zup in Kachin, said local people. This is the biggest project in Kachin State in northern Burma.
The Myitsone hydropower project site, one of Burma’s tourist attractions is located only 27 miles north of Myitkyina, the capital of Kachin State. The project is being implemented by the Burma-Asia World Co. Ltd. and Chinese government’s China Power Investment Corporation (CPI) since early 2007.

The two companies’ labour and construction machinery camps are being built at two places near Tang Hpre, a Kachin village on the Mali-N’Mai Rivers’ Confluence while new buildings are being constructed at the place in Irrawaddy River called Lungga Zup in Kachin where Kahpre village is situated, according to residents in the project site.

Local eyewitnesses told KNG today, that the Asia World Co. Ltd. owns five acres of land space in Kahpre village and it has already built new labour camps. The camps are meant for over 15,000 Chinese construction workers and labourers from CPI in China. They will arrive in the camps in October this year, added local sources close to the two firms.

At the moment, over a hundred Chinese inspectors and labourers are working at the project site day and night, a local villager told KNG.

Later, the Chinese construction workers and labourers will stay in the camps until the 10-year Myitsone hydropower plant project is completed in 2017, said sources close to the CPI.
Now, over 50 Kachin villages around Myitsone hydropower project site are increasingly being pressurized to relocate to safer areas for fear of future dam disasters by the Asia World Co. Ltd., said villagers.
A Chinese labour camp was constructed at Myitsone in Irrawaddy River in Kachin State, northern Burma in early 2007. continue

http://www.kachinnews.com/index.php?option=com_content&view=frontpage&Itemid=1

Burmese army forces farmers to “donate” paddy in Lamine Township

Wed 04 Mar 2009, Arka, IMNA
The Burmese army is requiring farmers to provide paddy, say local sources in, Lamine Sub Township, Mon State.

For the last ten days, farmers in Thaung Pyin village have each been required to provide a half sack of paddy to Light Infantry Battalion [IB] No. 587, a farmer told IMNA. Farmers who do not wish to provide paddy are required to pay 3,000 kyat instead. LIB No. 587, based 6 miles away near Arutaung village, northern Ye Township, controls the area.

“Every family who has a paddy field has to pay. The soldiers said if people do not want to provide paddy, they have to pay 3,000 kyat of money,” said another farmer, who added that Thaung Pyin village is home to 400 farmers.

Most farmers are paying money rather than providing paddy, the farmer said. “The paddy price is low, so we want to pay paddy. But if we pay the half sack of paddy, we have to transport it to the battalion [6 miles away in Arutaung]. For that reason, more people pay money.” A half sack of paddy is currently worth 4,000 kyat, and many farmers are also storing paddy in the hopes that prices will rise later during the rainy season.

Paddy quotas have been common in Burma for decades, with farmers required to “donate” portions of their crop or sell to government buyers at artificially low prices. Though the policy was officially abolished in 2003, farmers continue report being required to provide free or discount paddy to the Burmese army.
http://www.monnews-imna.com/news.php

Dealing with Burma Through China?

Foreign Policy In Focus
The people of Burma have high hopes for Barack Obama. Burmese still look to Washington — rather than Beijing, New Delhi, or Moscow — to provide reliable political support for democratic change. But although Burma is back in the headlines — with the Rohingya refugee crisis and Thailand’s refusal to provide these stateless Burmese Muslim boat-people with refugee status — the other foreign policy issues pressing in on the Obama administration may quickly push the Southeast Asian country to the back burner.

The United States continues to play a key role in Burma. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, on her current tour of Asia, singled Burma out for attention, signaling a potential shift in U.S. policy away from the current sanctions regime. But the country with much greater influence on the ground is China. With Clinton sitting down with the Chinese to discuss comprehensive cooperation, can Beijing and Washington hammer out a “bipartisan consensus” on Burma?

East vs. West

The United States has two schools of thought when it comes to dealing with the Burmese junta. One side blindly opposes anything having to do with the Burmese military dictators, viewing the junta as evil and advocating for more sanctions to further isolate the regime. The other side, led by academics, intellectuals, and others, feels that the current stalemate and the isolation of the junta do not serve the interests of the American or Burmese people. They believe in dialogue, but not necessarily “constructive engagement” as practiced by the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN). continue
http://www.fpif.org/fpiftxt/5921

The Burmese military junta’s most loyal support group, the Union Solidarity and Development Association (USDA), is reportedly planning to start publishing a daily newspaper in the run-up to the 2010 Burmese elections, according to media sources in Rangoon.(Thugs and Thieves)

USDA Going to Press?

The Burmese military junta’s most loyal support group, the Union Solidarity and Development Association (USDA), is reportedly planning to start publishing a daily newspaper in the run-up to the 2010 Burmese elections, according to media sources in Rangoon.

Several journalists in Rangoon confirmed to The Irrawaddy on Wednesday that the USDA was contacting journalists and offering them work at a forthcoming newspaper. Reporters have been told that they would be paid a competitive salary—150,000 kyat (US $150) per month—at the new daily, which does not yet have a name.

According to the sources, USDA leaders are looking at office space in a building on Min Dhamma Road, near Myanmar Convention Center, in Rangoon.

Analysts say that a USDA newspaper could play a significant role in disseminating government propaganda, particularly during the election campaign period.

The USDA was prominent during the national referendum for a junta-backed constitution in May 2008. Similarly, the organization is likely to be trusted by the Naypyidaw regime again next year to convince and coerce the electorate to vote for pro-junta parties, said the analysts.

Since late last year, the USDA has reportedly “invited” respected persons in local communities around the country to run for pro-junta parties in the upcoming election.

Information Minister and executive member of the USDA, Brig-Gen Kyaw Hsan, is reputedly the mastermind of plans to crank up the military government’s propaganda machine prior to the election. He vowed at a meeting with journalists that he “will fight back against the media using media.”

Under Kyaw Hsan’s guidance, the Ministry of Information sponsored a journalism training course in early February in Rangoon. The 47 Burmese writers and journalists who attended the course were reportedly taught how journalists should cover the 2010 elections.

A pro-junta political journal, Northern Star, was recently launched by Thiha Aung, an ex-military officer and a former editor of the junta mouthpiece, Myanma Alin, which is the Burmese version of The New Light of Myanmar.

“Now, the government has already introduced the ‘seven-step roadmap to democracy,’” Thiha Aung was quoted as saying in a Rangoon-based journal, The Voice Weekly, in early February. “We will report that there is no alternative way to the ‘roadmap’ and encourage people to support this most appropriate way.”

The USDA is perhaps most notorious for the roles its members assumed in suppressing monk-led mass demonstrations in Burma in September 2007, as well as participating in a brutal ambush on pro-democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi and her convoy in Depayin, Sagaing Division, in May 2003.

http://www.irrawaddy.org/article.php?art_id=15237

buy this book The White Shirts: How the USDA will Become the New Face of Burma’s Dictatorship
Network for Democracy and Development (NDD) has published a compilation of primary information about the State Peace and Development Council’s (SPDC) civil and military hierarchy in English version. This information, current up to May 2007, has been researched and compiled by the Documentation and Research Department of the NDD). The publication that includes 194 pages is sold at the price of 700 Baht for NDD fund raising.

With this document we aim to provide freedom fighters struggling for democracy and national liberation in Burma with a detailed, accurate and up to date reference on the SPDC’s structure and personnel. It includes information on the organization of Burma’s states and divisions at all levels, ministerial structures and cabinet ministers. It also contains information on Burma’s other prominent institutions including the Armed Forces (army, air force and navy), the police force, the Union Solidarity and Development Association, the Union of Myanmar Economic Holdings Ltd., the Myanmar Economic Corporation, the Myanmar War Veterans Association, the Myanmar Women’s Affairs Federation and the Myanmar Maternity and Child Care Association. Additionally, we have also included the civil and military pay scale, a list of Burma’s ambassadors and military attaches abroad, phone and fax numbers of SPDC government offices and ministries, non-government social organizations, and international organizations and UN agencies operating in Burma. Email: dna_freeburma@yahoo.com

KMA Shipping Co. Ltd of Myanmar has appointed Total Transport Systems Pvt Ltd as its agent in India.

According to Mr Swe Lynn MD of KMA Shipping, there was a need to start a service out of Myanmar as its exports were increasing. He explained that “KMA has answered the call of the trade in Myanmar.”
He disclosed that, initially the service would be between Yangon and Chennai. He added that “We will shortly extend our services to most Indian ports and increase the ports of call in the Asia region.”
Mr Swe Lynn thanked the officials of Chennai Container Terminal Pvt. Ltd for all the cooperation extended to, and for welcoming, KMA Shipping’s direct service to Yangon.
The first vessel under the service, KMA 1, is expected to arrive, with full capacity, at CCT this month. continue
http://www.indoburmanews.net/

News from MOGOK-Media Blogသတၱမအႀကိမ္ေျမာက္ ရွမ္းေတာေက်ာင္း

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ရွမ္းေတာ အေျခခံပညာအလယ္တန္းေက်ာင္း၏ သတၱမအႀကိမ္ေျမာက္ အၿငိမ္းစား ဘိုးဘြားဆရာႀကီး-ဆရာမႀကီးမ်ားအား ပူေဇာ္ကန္ေတာ့ပြဲ အခမ္းအနားကို (၁.၃.၂၀၀၉)ေန႔တြင္ ၿမိဳ႕မရပ္ ၿမိဳ႕မခန္းမ၌ က်င္းပခဲ့ပါသည္။ ဦးစြာ ဆရာ-ဆရာမႀကီးမ်ားမွ သံဃာေတာ္မ်ားအား ေန႔ဆြမ္း ဆက္ကပ္လွဴဒါန္းခဲ့ၾကၿပီး ကန္ေတာ့ပြဲအခမ္းအနားကို ေန႔လည္ (၁၁း၃၀)မွ (၁း၃၀)အထိ က်င္းပခဲ့သည္။ အခမ္းအနားသို႔ အကန္ေတာ့ခံ ဆရာ-ဆရာမႀကီး(၂၂)ေယာက္အနက္ (၁၇)ေယာက္သာ တက္ေရာက္ႏိုင္ခဲ့ၿပီး လာေရာက္ ဂါရ၀ျပဳၾကေသာ ေက်ာင္းသားေဟာင္းမ်ားမွာ (၃၀၀)ေက်ာ္ခန္႔ ရွိပါသည္။
http://www.mogokmedia.com/2009/03/blog-post.html

Press Release Tripartite Core Group mandate extended for one year

Press Release
Tripartite Core Group mandate extended for one year
Yangon, Myanmar, 4 March 2009

ASEAN Foreign Ministers have agreed to extend the mandate for the Tripartite Core Group (TCG) until July 2010. ASEAN Leaders welcomed the decision in a statement issued by the ASEAN Chairman at the recently concluded 14th ASEAN Summit in Cha-am Hua Hin, Thailand.

“The extension given to the TCG reflects ASEAN’s confidence that the mechanism is working efficiently in facilitating distribution and utilisation of assistance from the international community to support the Government of the Union of Myanmar’s relief and recovery efforts. It also shows the Government of Myanmar’s trust in the TCG partners to continue helping the cyclone-affected people. We thank the ASEAN Leaders for acknowledging the TCG’s work and their pledge to continue supporting Myanmar in its recovery efforts,” said the TCG Chairman and Chairman of the Civil Service Selection and Training Board of Myanmar, U Kyaw Thu.

The TCG mechanism has gained substantial international attention and has been referred to as an example for joint response to future disasters in the region.

Thailand’s Ambassador to Myanmar, H. E. Bansarn Bunnag, who is also the senior ASEAN member of the TCG, said, “We would use the time given to us to continue facilitating and monitoring relief and recovery efforts on the ground and to ensure that assistance reaches the affected people. Importantly, we are determined to put in place coordination and funding mechanisms for the Post-Nargis Recovery and Preparedness Plan (PONREPP) and work together with the international community to make it work.”

Implementation of the PONREPP has been identified by the TCG as one of its key activities over the next one year. The extension of the mandate will allow the TCG to put in place coordination and funding mechanisms and to monitor the first-year implementation of the PONREPP. The medium-term recovery needs identified in the plan amounts to USD 691 million over the next three years. The need for continued support from the international community was highlighted during the PONREPP launch on 9 February 2009 in Bangkok where several donors urged the extension of the TCG as a basis for providing continued funding.

“The results on the ground which have been achieved during the past ten months since Nargis struck prove that the assistance is reaching the people and that the joint humanitarian response at large has been successful. At the same time, challenges remain and the affected population will need continued support as outlined in the three-year recovery plan. With the extension of the TCG, the UN in Myanmar appeals to the international donor community to continue supporting the affected people,” the UN Resident and Humanitarian Coordinator, Bishow Parajuli said.

The TCG comprising high-level representatives from the Government of Myanmar, ASEAN and the UN was set up on 30 May 2008. From the ‘Post-Nargis Joint Assessment’, prepared by the TCG in July 2008, the TCG in cooperation with the broader humanitarian community has further prepared the Periodic Review I, the Social Impacts Monitoring Study, and PONREPP. These reports provide factual information on the current humanitarian needs and recovery requirements on the ground, and the socio-economic and social impacts of Nargis. Further, they reaffirm that assistance has reached the affected people as well as addressing that more needs to be done. The second round of the Periodic Review and the Social Impacts Monitoring Study will be done by July this year. These community monitoring exercises serve as key reference documents in the planning, coordination and response to the needs on the ground.
http://www.aseansec.org/press-4mar09-1.htm

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“It is with profound respect and admiration for Dr Aung San Suu Kyi’s unflinching bravery that the council has conferred upon her the Freedom of the City of Glasgow,” he said.

City honours democracy campaigner

A pro-democracy campaigner, under house arrest in Burma, has been given the Freedom of Glasgow in her absence.
Dr Aung San Suu Kyi, 63, has spent more than half of the past two decades in some form of detention imposed by the country’s military regime.
The leader of the opposition National League for Democracy was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1991.
Her representative, Dr Thuang Htun, accepted the award at Glasgow City Chambers. continue
http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/uk_news/scotland/glasgow_and_west/7923425.stm

Enough medals,FREE DAW SUU KYI NOW!

Bangkok-based Labour Rights Promotion Network says the migrants are devoid of safe places to sleep through fear they may get arrested by Thai police when they go back to their houses.

Migrants fear for safety following crackdown
Mar 4, 2009 (DVB)–Burmese migrants in Thailand report being concerned for their safety following Thai authorities’ intense crackdowns on migrants over the past two weeks, according to a migrant activist group in Thailand.

Bangkok-based Labour Rights Promotion Network says the migrants are devoid of safe places to sleep through fear they may get arrested by Thai police when they go back to their houses.
LPN also claim the Thai police officers were not following legal procedures in dealing with the detained migrants and were releasing those who agreed to pay bribes.
“There is no proper deportation procedure for the migrants who get arrested,” said research coordinator at LPN, Ko Ko Aung.
Khun Patina, deputy director of LPN, said that most of the migrants were arrested from factories they were working in and freed in exchange for money.
“But then, they were left with no money at all after paying all the bribes,” she added.
Ko Ko Aung also alleged that the recent activity by the Thai authorities was due to remarks made by the Thai Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva that the illegal immigrant issue is a threat to national security.
He added that some female migrants carrying their newborn babies were facing difficulties keeping their children safe from harmful diseases when they went into hiding in mosquito and insect-infested scrublands.
“This is a very dangerous situation for those babies,” he said http://english.dvb.no/news.php?id=2284

Pressure mounts on KNU to move out of Thailand: Sources

by Solomon
Wednesday, 04 March 2009 19:20

New Delhi (Mizzima) – Members of the ethnic Karen rebel group – Karen National Union – have began moving back into Burma, after Thailand warned them not to set up base in their territory, a source close to the rebel group said.

The source, who did not want to be named, said KNU leaders had recently been told by Thai military authorities in the border town of Mea Sot, to move out of the town and to avoid Thailand’s territory for their activities.

“The Thai authorities issued the notice informally about 10 days ago. The Thai military told KNU to move out of their territory and several KNU members have left,” the source said.

However, the source, said a few leaders had remained in Mea Sot town, but were keeping a low profile.

“Currently, the KNU leaders cannot move around as freely as they did in the past, they need to be more careful,” he added.

The KNU, however, denied any official comment.

KNU, the longest running insurgent group of Burma, which has been waging war against the regime, earlier had strong bases inside Karen state of Burma. But, they suffered a heavy blow after their stronghold – Manerplaw – was overrun by a joint group of the Burmese Army and a Karen splinter group – the Democratic Karen Buddhist Army – in 1995.

Since then, several leaders, including deceased KNU General-Secretary, Pado Mahn Shala Phan, had taken shelter in Thailand’s border town of Mea Sot. Although, the Thai authorities were aware of the KNU leader’s presence, they did not take any official stand against the group, which would force the KNU to leave Thailand.

Occasionally, Burma’s military rulers have news reports in the state mouthpiece, New Light of Myanmar newspaper, accusing Thailand of hosting the rebels, whom they term as ‘Destructive Elements’.

The source said, the current wave of pressure seems unlikely to be Thailand’s policy but the country could be acting on mounting pressure received externally. Thailand, has unofficially hosted the KNU and other ethnic rebels in their territories bordering Burma.

“It is unlikely to be Thailand’s official policy to force the KNU to move out of their territory, but it must be pressure coming from outside,” the source added.

The source, however, added that it was not the first time that members of the KNU and its armed wing Karen National Liberation Army, were forced to stay out of Thailand.

“It is not the first time, but things turn back to normal later,” the source added.

Nyo Ohn Myint, in-charge of the Thailand-based Foreign Affairs Committee of the National League for Democracy-Liberated Areas (NLD-LA) said, those who have long observed Thailand’s policy on Burma, said while they were not certain about the pressure on KNU, they did not rule out the possibilities.

“We heard that the KNU is facing pressure to stay out of Thailand, but we still cannot confirm it,” Nyo Ohn Myint said.

But, he added that he was aware of the KNU leaders moving out of the border towns and from Thailand’s territories.

It was also likely that Thailand had been urged to drive away the Karen rebels from their territory, during the Thai Army Chief’s visit to Burma, he said.

“Thailand might be acting on pressure from the Burmese junta, and the two countries might have reached an agreement during Thailand’s military commander’s visit to Burma,” he added.

Thailand’s Army Commander-in-Chief, Anupong Paochinda, in mid-February visited Burma on a two-day official trip and had met the Burmese Army’s top leader, Senior General Than Shwe.

http://www.mizzima.com/news/regional/1802-pressure-mounts-on-knu-to-move-out-of-thailand-sources.html
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