The World March for Peace and Non-Violence starts 2.October 2009 (prepare ur running shoes)

The World March will begin in New Zealand on October 2, 2009, the anniversary of Gandhi’s birth, declared the “International Day of Nonviolence” by the United Nations. It will conclude in the Andes Mountains (Punta de Vacas, Aconcagua, Argentina) on January 2, 2010. The March will last 90 days, three long months of travel. It will pass through all climates and seasons, from the hot summer of the tropics and the deserts, to the winter of Siberia. The American and Asian stages will be the longest, both almost a month. A permanent base of a hundred people of different nationalities will complete the journey.

A group of Thai students at Oxford University plans to petition Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva today, calling for a reform of the lese-majeste law and the Computer Crime Act while the PM visits the school to speak at his old college.

The group, which told The Nation they have been “discouraged” by the Thai Embassy in London from protesting, for fear of creating a “bad image”, will ask Abhisit to return power to the people as soon as possible.

They said the head of the Thai diplomatic mission in London “unfortunately is also an Oxonian, is more sympathetic to Democrat/PAD [People’s Alliance for Democracy] causes”.

Concerning the sustainable development of democracy in Thailand, we, a group of Thai students undersigned, petition the Prime Minister of Thailand, Abhisit Vejjajiva, upon his address at St John’s College on 14th March 2009**.

We propose:
1) That the freedom of speech and publication is fundamental to the functioning of a democratic system. The abuse of censorship laws, both the lèse majesté[1] and the Computer Crime Act[2], is detrimental to people’s freedom to seek accountability from those in power. The argument that these laws apply equally to everyone, and therefore are fair, is irrelevant, since the real problem lies in their ambiguous contents, which can be interpreted in ways that contradict democratic principles. The Prime Minister should engage all concerned parties in reforming these laws immediately.

2) That the present B.E. 2550 Constitution is undemocratic in many parts. The Constitution opens ways for non-elected powers to intervene in politics, and allows the Judiciary too much power over the Legislature and the Executive. This has proved to be an impediment to a sustainable development of Thai democracy. Political parties have been dissolved easily, and thus have only limited chance to develop into stable political institutions. Now that the Prime Minister has the opportunity to push for a reform of the Constitution without being accused of having any conflict of interest, he should do so as soon as possible.

3) That the political events that preceded, and opened way for him to become Prime Minister, are still being remembered and questioned by Thai people. The swift dissolution of the then-governing party after the airport siege by protesters, and the military influence in setting up the new coalition government with a broken faction of Members of Parliament from the then-governing party[3] [4], have raised public skepticism towards his rise to premiership. The Prime Minister himself admitted in a CNN interview: “I’m not happy with the way things are. If I could choose my path, I would love to get into power after elections”[5]. Hence, we propose that, as soon as the two proposals above are met, the Prime Minister should consider dissolving the parliament to allow for a general election. Only by doing so could he claim the people’s mandate for his leadership.

[1] Article 112 in Criminal Code states: “Whoever defames, insults or threatens the King, Queen or the Heir-apparent, shall be punished with imprisonment of three to 15 years.” Note that what constitutes as violation is unclear, and often is interpreted too liberally. It also allows third parties to bring charges against each other, making it a convenient means for personal or political gains.

[2] Computer Crime Act 2007 allows ‘competent officials’ to seize hardware and arrest computer owners/users in case the data are deemed ‘a threat to national security’. The recent raid on Prachatai, an independent online news outlet, is widely believed to be a threatening move to stem the voices critical of the government.

[3] “Democrat govt a shotgun wedding?”

[4] “I advised but did not meddle: Army Chief”


Chinese police have visited every home in Lhasa to purge the city of foreigners, according to a new report.

Security forces across Tibet are conducting extensive searches for “suspicious characters” ahead of Saturday’s anniversary of wide spread riots last March.

Mobile phone networks and internet servers have already been shut down so that activists cannot organise any protest.

According to the South China Morning Post, which said it had a staff reporter currently in Lhasa, police have not spared “a single hotel, guesthouse or local home” in the city from checks.

As well as Westerners, residents from Hong Kong, Macao and Taiwan have been banned, and even Tibetans from other parts of the region outside Lhasa.

Statement of 21st anniversary of Burma’s Human Rights Day FREE BURMA FEDERATION (english)

Today marks the 21st anniversary of Burma’s Human Rights Day – a student leader named Ko Phone Maw and other students were shot dead on this day in 1988 by the military security forces while they were protesting in front of Rangoon Institute of Technology (RIT) in Rangoon, the capital of Burma. The government’s inability to settle such heinous crime had not only demonstrated the lack of justice in Burma but also had a confrontation between the government and the students, which leads to the nation wide uprising called 8888 uprising to restore democracy and human rights in Burma. Thus, the day the death of the student leader Ko Phone Maw was honored as Burma’s Human Rights Day later.

Before 13th March 1988, People of Burma had suffered several political, economic and social problems of the single-party dictatorship and closed- door economic policy, emerged from the detrimental 1974 Constitution, which was drawn by force. As the constitution was created by the dictator Ne Win, who staged the military coup in 1962 and the main essence of the constitution was designed for the interests of the military generals rather than the people; People of Burma were not happy about the constitution and its consequences. Therefore, the death of the student leader Ko Phone Maw’s event had become a triggering event for People of Burma to bring down the regime government which administered the country by using a detrimental constitution. Due to this people power movement, the constitution being drawn by force became illegitimate. Thus, March 13th is a symbol of democracy and human rights for Burma.

On this occasion, Free Burma Federation and Burma Democratic Concern reaffirms that the very essence of and the principles enshrined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights are persistently being violated by the military regime for several years. Gross Human Rights Violations, including forced displacement, forced labour, attacked by soldiers on civilians, destruction or theft of food supplies, murder, torture, rape and political imprisonment have been widespread in Burma. Freedom of expression and Freedom of Association are non-existence. The right to life, liberty and security for Burmese citizens are denied. People of Burma have been subjected to arbitrary arrest, detention and exile. In Burma, human rights violations are committed on a daily basis by ruling military regime.

Therefore, on this remarkable day, Free Burma Federation and Burma Democratic Cocnern call upon the international community to support the people power movement to restore democracy and human rights in Burma. We also call Overseas Burmese People around the world to join the democratic movement in any capacity that they can participate to strengthen the unity for Democracy and Human Rights in Burma to fight against the military regime. We also urge new generations of students to carry on the duties of predecessors as the role of students have been so significant throughout the history of national struggles. continue