THAILAND: AHRC strongly condemns police raid on news outlet

March 6, 2009

A Statement by the Asian Human Rights Commission

THAILAND: AHRC strongly condemns police raid on news outlet

According to an announcement issued today on the website of Prachatai, one of the few independent and outspoken media outlets operating in Thailand,

“On March 6, at 3 pm, seven police officers visited Prachatai office in Bangkok, showing a search warrant and an arrest warrant for Chiranuch Premchaiporn, Prachatai Director. She is charged with the offense according to Article 15 of the Computer Crime Act. She has refused to answer any questions, and is waiting for her lawyer.”

The Asian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) has confirmed this information. According to the relevant section of the 2007 Computer Crime Act read with section 14, any service provider consenting to any act that involves, among other things, the importing of “false data” likely to “cause damage” to the public or the country’s security, or likely to cause “public panic” is liable to a jail term of up to five years and a fine of up to a hundred thousand Thai baht.

The AHRC condemns this police raid and the issuing of the arrest warrant for the Prachatai director in the strongest possible terms. There can be little room for doubt that this raid is part of the systematic ultraconservative agenda since the 2006 army coup to intimidate and silence critics, human rights defenders and social activists in Thailand. In fact, the odious law under which the raid and arrest warrant have been issued is one of the main planks in the platform designed to be built over the heads of dissenters in Thailand that was given effect by an assembly of military appointees in 2007.

The AHRC expresses its strong support for the staff of Prachatai, for the work that it is committed to doing as an independent media agency working under very difficult conditions and at a time of dramatic social and political change in Thailand; a time when outspokenness and sincerity are the rarest and most valuable commodities.

The AHRC calls upon all regional and international media organisations, human rights groups, and the UN Human Rights Council, which is opening its tenth session in Geneva, and UN Special Rapporteur on freedom of expression to join in expressing outrage at this latest attack on freedom of speech and thought in Thailand, and call for the immediate cessation of arrests and threats, against Prachatai and all other media and human rights organizations there.

Asian Human Rights Commission – Press Releases_BURMA: Two lawyers released after serving time for contempt


BURMA: Two lawyers released after serving time for contempt

(Hong Kong, March 6, 2009) Two rights lawyers in Burma who were last year imprisoned for contempt of court were both released this morning after serving their full sentences.

Supreme Court advocates U Aung Thein and U Khin Maung Shein were reunited with their families at Bassein and Myaungmya prisons respectively after serving their four-month terms.

Aung Thein was in good spirits on his release, saying that it had been a learning experience for him.

“We sincerely hope that the two lawyers will now be able to get back to their practices and their family lives without any further needless harassment,” Basil Fernando, director of the Asian Human Rights Commission, said on hearing the news.

The Hong Kong-based group set up a webpage to highlight the plight of lawyers in Burma through the case of Aung Thein and Khin Maung Shein, at

The two were jailed simply for performing the wishes of their clients by withdrawing their powers of attorney on the reason that the clients “no longer had faith in the judicial process”. They were not given an opportunity to defend themselves against the accusation.

Another two lawyers were around the same time sentenced to six months each for interfering in the work of the court by calling for government ministers to appear as witnesses. One of them is still serving his sentence while the other fled to Thailand.

Burma’s colonial-era contempt of court law has only three sections and no details on how contempt is to be assessed and heard fairly. The AHRC has campaigned for proper standards of contempt in countries of Asia.

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Posted on 2009-03-06

Naypyidaw’s Version of Shwedagon Pagoda Nears Completion

A distant view of Uppatasanti pagoda.

The official regime daily The New Light of Myanmar carried a picture of the new pagoda in its Thursday issue and reported that festivities at the site had been attended by thousands of people. The replica will be known as the Uppatasanti, or “Peace Pagoda.”
The inauguration of the Naypyidaw pagoda will be marked by ceremonies hoisting its Htidaw (sacred umbrella) and Seinbudaw (diamond bud).

Rumors are circulating that junta leader Snr-Gen Than Shwe will move the Shwedagon Pagoda’s Buddha relics and the diamonds donated by his family for the top of the structure from Rangoon to the Naypyidaw replica. continue

Sleepless in Mae Sot….NEWS ANALYSIS

News this week that senior military leaders of the Karen National Union (KNU) are being pressured by Thai authorities to return to their own territory has sent alarm bells ringing among many Burmese exiles in Thailand.

The hardened stance by the Thais came after a meeting earlier this year between Thai and Burmese border officers in Myawaddy, a Burmese army-controlled border town in Karen State. The pressure to repatriate is not being exerted only on the KNU, but also on the All Burma Students’ Democratic Front armed group.

As yet, we do not know if the pressure on Burmese dissidents and rebel groups along the Thai-Burmese border will increase in the coming weeks or whether the Thais were simply paying lip service to the Burmese authorities.

With so many internationally funded NGOs, political groups and humanitarian agencies based along the border, especially in Mae Sot, many are asking whether the tightening of Thai policy will include all Burmese in the area. Time will tell.

However, what we can tell is that the writing is well and truly on the wall. From a comfortable and relatively prosperous status as a “buffer” for the Thais in the 1970s and 80s, the KNU has gradually lost influence. The Karen may not have anything to offer the Thais any more.

Since the breakaway of the Democratic Karen Buddhist Army (DKBA) and the fall of its headquarters, Manerplaw, in 1995, the KNU have continually faced mutinies, military defeats, an erosion of influence and a loss of revenue from its previous border trade.

The KNU’s influence was undermined again last year when one of its leaders, Padoh Mahn Sha, was gunned down in his home in Mae Sot. The culprits and assassins were never brought to justice.

Then, in the middle of February, the KNU was accused of shelling a Burmese border town, Myawaddy. The New Light of Myanmar, a Burmese junta mouthpiece, claimed that four shells were fired, two landing about 10 km southwest of the town, one near a lodge and another in the compound of a Buddhist monastery. No casualties were reported.

Although the KNU denied the accusation, the attack occurred on the same day that the UN’s special rapporteur on human rights in Burma, Tomas Ojea Quintana, arrived in the country for a six-day visit, and a day before he was scheduled to travel to Pa-an, the capital of Karen State—clearly a moral card for the junta to play on the UN envoy.

After six decades of guerilla warfare, the KNU has faced last stands before; its leaders have always refused to cut deals with the junta. However, the recent signs are worrying.

In January, Col Ner Dah Mya, the son of the late Gen Bo Mya of the KNU, was released on bail by the Thai army, according to the BBC, fueling speculation of another waning star within the Karen rebels’ ranks.

Nonetheless, the Burmese generals may still be their own worst enemy when it comes to developing friendships. The new Democrat government in Thailand is known to prefer keeping its distance from the regime in Burma.

Although Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva stole the show at the recent Asean Summit in Hua Hin when his government hosted representatives from civil society groups, the meeting was overshadowed by the negative elements brought to the summit by the Burmese junta.

With its petulant threats to boycott the meeting with the civil society group, the Burmese delegation embarrassed their hosts. Many within Asean cannot see how the economic bloc can gain credibility with the Burmese albatross around its neck.

However, whatever the political differences, the fact is that the Thai and Burmese military leaders continue to enjoy a relatively good relationship.

Recently, junta leader Snr-Gen Than Shwe met with Thailand’s army chief, Gen Anupong Paojinda, to discuss the Rohingya boatpeople issue. For Than Shwe—a man who frequently snubs UN envoys—to agree to talks signified a warming in relations. Surely, many said, Burma wants something from Thailand.

And when Thai Supreme Commander Gen Songkitti Jaggabat visited Burma last month to discuss the Rohingya issue, he was given the red carpet treatment and a private audience with Vice Snr-Gen Maung Aye.

Of course it is difficult for the generals in Naypyidaw to forget that Thailand is a major trading partner and has purchased natural gas resources from the regime and cut a deal to buy hydroelectric energy via the 7,110-megawatt Tasang dam on the Salween River.

So, despite all the Burmese regime’s faults, the Thais clearly have more common interests with the junta nowadays than with the KNU.

Perhaps to pragmatic Thais who have long abandoned the buffer zone policy, today the KNU is worth little after losing its territory and its major trade routes.

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and when Thugs came along ,push you in the car and rush with you over the border, you lost…
That,s happening

Myanmar will hold an annual gem show here on Sunday to encourage national gem traders to sell more quality gems, jade, pearl and jewelry, according to the Central Committee for Holding Myanmar Gems Emporium Friday.

Myanmar to hold gems show this weekend

The 13-day 46th annual Myanmar gems emporium, which lasts from March 8 to 20, will take place at the Myanmar Convention Center on the basis of competitive bidding, the sources said.

In the last 45th annual gems emporium held in March 2008, 7,000lots of jade, 300 lots of gems and 270 lots of pearl as well as a 30-kilogram jade block were put on sale.

The event was attended by around 3,000 foreign merchants mostly from China, China’s Hong Kong, Thailand, Singapore, India, Italy, Britain, Japan, Australia, the United States and Canada. continue

The Mizo community in India’s North Eastern state of Mizoram should look at the recent Human Rights Watch report on Chin people’s suffering in military-ruled Burma from a human rights perspective, the HRW said on Friday.

Report not aimed at Chin, Mizo confusion: HRW

Meenakshi Ganguly, South Asia researcher of the US-based Human Rights Watch said the report focuses on the persecutions suffered by the Chin people in Burma and the subsequent difficulties faced in fleeing their homeland and does not aim at creating a misunderstanding between the two communities – Chins and Mizos.

In an interview with Mizzima, Ganguly said Mizo as a community has been known to have provided support to the Chin people, who fled their homeland, but the Indian government – both the Mizoram state and central – fails to protect the rights of the Chin people.

“What we are saying is Chin people are suffering a lot in Burma, that’s why they come to Mizoram,” said Ganguly adding that the report was detailing how India, as a government, fails to look into the plight of Chin people and does not refer to any group community.

“We do not want any misunderstanding between the Chin and the Mizo as communities,” she added.

Ganguly’s comment came after the Young Mizo Association, an influential social organisation in Mizoram, on Tuesday held a meeting with at least 23 Chin organizations and accused Chin leaders of misinforming the HRW and asked them to refute the report. continue

With regard to the les majeste law, which provides criminal liability for criticising and attacking the monarchy of Thailand, Abhisit explained that this specific law has been in existence for a long time and he was “not sure” that this was the reason for media freedom decline.

PM “committed” to media freedom
Speaking before editors from Asian countries, media entities and guests at the 10th anniversary celebration of Asia News Network (ANN) at the Peninsula Hotel, Bangkok, this morning (March 6), Abhisit said proposed liberal media laws are underway.

ANN is an alliance of 20 newspapers in 17 countries and the biggest media alliance worldwide in terms of readership.

Among the laws being prepared are the amendment of the official information law, which will make information more accessible to the public; the enactment of the law on the protection of media professionals and a policy on regulating the electronic media. continue