Signatures Wanted to Free Political Prisoners

Two Thailand-based rights groups, the Assistance Association for Political Prisoners—Burma (AAPP) and the Forum for Democracy in Burma, are on Friday launching a global campaign to mark Burmese Human Rights Day.

Called the “Free Burma’s Political Prisoners Now” campaign, the organizers’ committee said it aims to collect signatures for a petition calling for the release of political prisoners in Burma, and hopes to collect 888,888 signatures by May 24, the date when Aung San Suu Kyi is due to be released from house arrest.

“Our main reason for the campaign is to raise awareness among the international community about the plight of political prisoners in the country and to put more pressure on the Burmese military government,” said Tate Naing, the secretary of AAPP.

“The release of all political prisoners is the essential first step toward democracy and national reconciliation in Burma,” he added. continue

Myanmar’s military as a Ponzi scheme

By Norman Robespierre

YANGON – Rank inflation and an ever-expanding flag officer corps are unable to provide sufficient promotion opportunities within Myanmar’s military, known as the Tatmadaw. The civil government structure is at risk of further militarization as the country slowly moves towards the State Peace and Development Council (SPDC) military regime’s unique interpretation of democracy.

On September 17, 1988, the day before the Myanmar military staged a coup and formed the State Law and Order Restoration Council (SLORC), there were only two officers above the rank of major general in the entire Tatmadaw. They were General Saw Maung, the defense forces chief of staff, and then-Lieutenant General Than Shwe, the army’s vice chief of staff.

In current nomenclature, these positions would be referred to as CINC (defense forces) and CINC (army). Today, the Tatmadaw has no less than 24 senior flag officers serving in lieutenant-general or above billets on active service (See Table). The 1,200% increase in senior flag ranks far outpaces the approximate 250% increase of the entire Tatmadaw over that same period. This expansion of the upper tier has been central to Senior General Than Shwe’s ability to stay firmly in control. continue

UN’s Ban Meets With Obama, No Pesky UN Press, Myanmar Convergence Described

inner city press

The White House source mentioned a sample point of convergence. Ban paid tribute to Burma’s General Than Shwe, he said. And now U.S. gas and oil companies have lobbied the Administration to change course on Myanmar, to move away from sanctions and toward economic integration. They want to make money, despite the dictatorship. They pitch it to Obama as an alternative for now to oil for the Middle East and Venezuela. The ground cover is to call it a helping hand despite Than Shwe’s still iron gripping fist, a change we can make you believe in.

At 6:25 p.m., as shown above, the entourage pulled out, heading to Constitution Avenue, to a dinner with the UN Foundation. In the van, apparently after no question, was Ban’s Spokesperson and media “liaison” team. An hour and a half later, Ban’s press officer, which had not asked to get a single UN correspondent into the White House or pool, issued a bland summary that could have been written before the meeting. Climate change, why not, and Sudan, Iraq and Haiti, from which Ban had just returned.

UN reform, transparency and procurement, were not listed on agenda. Pakistan and Afghanistan were mentioned, along with North Korea. No mention of Myanmar or the Democratic Republic of Congo, much less of Sri Lanka, where the U.S. has discussed military moves with Colombo. continue

Dharamsala, March 11 – Chinese authorities reportedly detained 3 monks of Kirti monastery in Ngaba, a source with contacts there told Voice of Tibet radio service.

3 arrested in Ngaba
Phayul[Wednesday, March 11, 2009 13:54]
Dharamsala, March 11 – Chinese authorities reportedly detained 3 monks of Kirti monastery in Ngaba, a source with contacts there told Voice of Tibet radio service.

Jamyang Phuntsok, 35, was taken away from his monastery room in the wee hours of March 3. A monk named Mewa Gyatso and another monk of Kirti monastery were arrested on March 5.

The source said he heard from contacts in Ngaba that the arrests might be linked to Tabey, the monk who set himself ablaze on February 27.

He said that the Chinese authorities were looking for four monks who had threatened to follow Tabey’s footsteps through posters circulated in the region. The three monks who were arrested are friends of Tabey.

Sources say around 60000 troops have been deployed in Ngaba region. The residents have been ordered not to wander out after 8PM and all public facilities have been asked to shut down by that time. STAY ON ALERT WITH TIBET ON


China has sealed off Tibet with troops and demanded that the international community recognises the legitimacy of Beijing’s historical claims over the Himalayan plateau, escalating a row over its policies there.

China has sealed off Tibet with troops and demanded that the international community recognises the legitimacy of Beijing’s historical claims over the Himalayan plateau, escalating a row over its policies there.
It is impossible for any western country to not interact with China. However, it is [also] impossible for the West to cooperate with China unless it develops an objective and unbiased stance on Tibet,” said an editorial in the Communist party’s flagship publication, the ‘People’s Daily,’ this week.

The ultimatum comes as Chinese foreign minister Yang Jiechi urged foreign governments “not to allow [Tibet’s exiled leader] the Dalai Lama to visit their countries” and “not to allow their territories to be used by him to separate Tibet from China”.

Refusing the Dalai Lama a visit should be written into “the basic norms of international relations” of any country “interested in preserving its ties with China,” Beijing’s top diplomat said during a press conference on the weekend.

Yet China is far from winning the historical debate over who has the right to decide the fate of Tibetans, according to Barry Sautman, political scientist at the Hong Kong University of Science and Technology.

“They [the Chinese] have won the debate inside the country with the possible exception of some Tibetans,” he says. “But their focus on beefing up security in Tibet in the face of strong international criticism shows they are feeling under siege. Their position on Tibet is continuously criticised in the West and automatically dismissed.”

The 50th anniversary of the failed Tibetan uprising against Chinese rule, this week, saw Tibetan areas locked in a massive security ring, and sporadic manifest of anger quickly suppressed as Beijing put up the strongest show of force since Chinese communist troops first arrived on the Tibetan plateau in 1950.

“We must build up a Great Wall in our fight against separatism and safeguard the unity of the motherland,” China’s President Hu Jintao said Monday. He was speaking to Tibetan delegates of the National People’s Congress, China’s legislative body, which is currently holding its annual session in Beijing. continue

Burmese jade business eyes an upswing

by Solomon
Wednesday, 11 March 2009 17:26

New Delhi (Mizzima) – After nearly a year of negative growth in the trade of jade, Burmese gem merchants are optimistic of a slight increase in business as foreign traders are again returning to the country.

Jade merchants in Mandalay, Burma’s second largest city, told Mizzima they have again found some jade buyers, mostly from China, within the past week and are hopeful of an upswing in business.

“We have again seen buyers, after a year of poor business,” explained one merchant who wished to remain anonymous.

The source affirmed that most of the traders are from China, but insisted despite the influx of businessmen the Burmese jade industry will still continue to struggle toward a state of normalcy for some times.

“We cannot get the price we expected, as they are buying at a lower price this time,” said the source.

She said they can now sell with about half of the price less than the marketing price of the past. Jade stones are currently sold with Burmese Kyat 300,000 (equivalent to US$ 306) while they were worth Kyat 500,000 (US$ 510) in the past when the jade business was well doing.

In Kachin state, the regional center of Burmese jade production, most people including members of the Kachin Independence Army (KIA) rebel group depend on the production and selling of natural resources such as jade, gold and timber for their livelihood. Because of this, the recent prolonged downswing in the trade of jade has hit local communities hard, an economic situation only worsened by the high degree of state control over the business.

Phakant, the place of main jade production in Kachin State, the business has been badly affected since last November as there was no buyer for green stones. As a result, local people and the merchants struggled for their livelihood.

A local businessperson in Phakant said, “Here we could not sell stones [jade] for a long time, it was very difficult to find buyers, though now the situation has improved a little bit.”

Yet, the local source continued to speculate on the bleak prognosis for local industry: “The situation will be worse for us in the future, we will have fewer and fewer options by which to gain from this business for our lives.” continue

Burma’s Rohingyas in flight and the solutions to their plight

Much ink has been spilt over the plight of Rohingyas who have sought shelter in the Southeast Asian region in recent months, even though the situation is hardly new
Opinions range from the nationalistic to internationalistic – varying from defensive claims of national security immersed in an attitude of denial, to international law-based advocacy of their rights inviting a more open response.

This group is currently of great interest to the international community, because they are primarily a Muslim minority originating in theArakan (or Rakhine) state of Burma with a particularly challenging history.

Their outflow has, for a long time, been the result of a situation of great ambivalence in that country of origin where they are, in reality, treated as outcasts.

Even though historically they have been there for many generations, their ethnicity was not adequately recognised at the time of Burma’s independence.

Even today, while the authorities there seem to be willing to recognise over one hundred ethnic groups in the country, they do not recognise Rohingyas as a legitimate group in that list.

The past three decades have witnessed various disturbing facts which should help to inform the need for a balanced policy, nationally, regionally and internationally, concerning the group.

They are not allowed to move freely in Burma. They are not allowed to marry without permission. They are impeded from accessing schools and other services. They are extremely poor and are marginalised politically and economically. They suffer from the uncertainties of being a stateless people.

In effect, the Rohingyas are persecuted by a regime which instrumentalises Buddhism for political ends and plays on the fear of Islam.

These factors thus provide for a scenario of explicit and implicit persecution of the group which, for lack of national protection, requires international protection.

While they may at times fit into the category of economic migrants in their exodus, the likelihood is that concurrently, they are also refugees (“persons with a well-founded fear of persecution,” according to the international definition of “refugee”) – given the oppressive background that shapes their existence.

The outflows date back many years. In the late 1970s, tens of thousands of Rohingyas were pressured to leave Burma, but they were later able to repatriate to the country with UN help.

In the early 1990s, another massive outflow took place – of several hundred thousands. Most were able to seek temporary refuge in neighbouring Bangladesh. Again with UN help, many were able to return voluntarily to Burma.

However, a residual number remained in camps in Bangladesh and even today, there are some 20,000-30,000 officially in the camps there.

It is estimated that there are also some 200,000-300,000 outside the camps who do not enjoy the formal protection offered by the camps. continue

shan news mongloi_Myanmar National Democratic Alliance Army (MNDAA)

ဗမာျပည္ကြန္ျမဴနစ္ပါတီ (ဗကပ) မွ ေတာ္လွန္ခြဲထြက္ျခင္း ႏွင့္ ျမန္မာတိုင္းရင္းသားဒီမိုကရက္တစ္ မဟာမိတ္ တပ္မေတာ္ Myanmar National Democratic Alliance Army (MNDAA) တည္ေထာင္ျခင္း အႏွစ္ ၂၀ ျပည့္ တရား၀င္ အခမ္းအနားအားကို ကိုးကန္႔ၿမိဳ႕ေတာ္ေလာ၀္ကိုင္း၌မနက္ျဖန္က်င္းပမည္ဟု တ႐ုပ္နယ္စပ္ သတင္း ရပ္ကြက္ကဆိုသည္။

မတ္ခ်္လ ၁၁-၁၃ အထိ ၃ ရက္ၾကာက်င္းပမည့္အဆိုပါအခမ္းအနားသို continue