The Myanmar Gem Emporium is being held in Rangoon and is being attended by specially invited representatives of foreign gem companies and gem merchants.

Gem emporium commences at Convention Centre

by Nem Davies
Tuesday, 17 March 2009 23:10

New Delhi (Mizzima) – The Myanmar Gem Emporium is being held in Rangoon and is being attended by specially invited representatives of foreign gem companies and gem merchants.

The 12-day 46th Gem Emporium is being held from March 8 to 20 at the Myanmar Convention Centre (MCC). Gem merchants have been invited by the Burmese foreign missions.

“The gem merchants are coming from foreign countries. They were invited by Burmese embassies. But I don’t know from which countries. They are regular buyers from foreign gem companies and other groups,” a source from MCC told Mizzima.

The major buyers coming to this emporium are from China, Thailand and Hong Kong.

In the aftermath of the brutal crack down on the monk-led saffron revolution in 2007, the US government imposed a sanction which banned buying and importing of gem stones and natural gas from Burma.

This law is called ‘Block Burmese JADE (Junta’s Anti-Democratic Efforts).

Burma earned over USD 300 million from gem exports annually, a US government document said.

The global economic turmoil hit Burmese gem exports severely and sales slumped. But the official media of the junta reported that it earned over Euro 130 million (over USD 250 million) in the last emporium held in October 2008.

But Chinese gem merchants view the US economic sanction as ineffective as most of the buyers of Burmese gems are from China. Mizzima News

Clash with Karen rebels wounds two after Burmese army forces civilians to stay at encampment

Tue 17 Mar 2009, Kon Hadae, Blai Mon, IMNA
One civilian was wounded in a clash with Karen rebels after the Burmese army forced passenger trucks to stay the night at their encampment. A Burmese soldier was also wounded in the fighting.

On March 15th, a column from Light Infantry Battalion (LIB) No. 357 ordered passenger trucks on the Three Pagodas Pass to Thanbyuzayat road to stop at their camp near Maezeli. Maezeli is a small outpost approximately 25 kilometers from Three Pagodas Pass, in Karen State on the Thai Burma Border.

Though vehicles using the 60 kilometer road are sometimes stopped a checkpoints if they attempt to pass late in the evening, one source who spoke with IMNA said his truck was stopped at an unusually early 3:45 pm.

“Even though [the Burmese soldiers] did not give us any reasons why they stopped the cars, in my opinion I think they tried to make us like hostages for their [safety]. They thought that, if passengers were with them the Karen soldiers would feel sorry and not fight them,” said the IMNA source.

“We were afraid of the soldiers, so we were going to sleep in Maezale. After we had taken a rest for about 15 minutes, the gun sounds came out. There were another 8 passenger trucks and many passengers with me. Just in my car, there were 60 passengers,” said a male passenger in the truck that arrived at 3:45.
A source at the New Mon State Party (NMSP) Tadein checkpoint, 15 kilometers away, differed slightly and said that the fighting occurred at 4:48 pm.

According to sources present for the clash, the fighting lasted about 10 minutes with the hundred-strong column from LIB No. 357 responsible for the preponderance of the small arms fire.

One passenger and a soldier were wounded, though unarmed civilians were unprotected and exposed during the firefight. The passenger was shot in the arm, the soldier in the leg; neither wound is serious.

After the fighting and through the course of the evening, a total of 20 civilian vehicles arrived and were made to stay the night. Civilian sources report being terrified as they worried over the prospect of another KNLA attack.

“We had to sleep there. But I could not,” said the source whose truck was stopped at 3:45 pm. “I dared not to sleep all night because I was afraid the KNLA would come and shoot again.”

An officer in KNLA 6th Brigade, meanwhile, told IMNA that the clash was inadvertent. According to the officer, 5 soldiers from Battalion 16 of 6th Brigade arrived at Maezeli planning to levy a road tax on a group of what they thought were civilian vehicles. The soldiers were not aware of LIB No. 357’s presence, said the source, who could confirm which side initiated the clash. The KNLA is the armed wing of the Karen National Union, which has been waging an armed insurgency against successive central Burmese governments since the country’s independence.

“Because of us one passenger is wounded,” said the KNLA source. “We are very sad for him – we did not know the Burmese soldiers would be there. We were fighting, but we did so unintentionally. If we knew soldiers and civilians were together, we would not have come.”

Soldier from Karen cease-fire group unpunished after fatal truck accident

A soldier from an armed Karen cease-fire group remains unpunished after killing two people in an auto accident last week in Myawaddy Town. The accident occurred in full view of a busy teashop and many witnesses, say IMNA sources.

On March 11th, a Toyota Hilux truck driven by a soldier from Democratic Karen Buddhist Army (DKBA) Battalion No. 907 collided head on with a trishaw carrying two people.

According to eyewitness, the collision occurred at about 9pm after the trishaw turned around a corner made blind by a parked vehicle. The truck dragged the trishaw driver’s body for at least 100 feet, eyewitnesses told IMNA, who also added that the vehicle had only one headlight. The trishaw driver, who is survived by 3 children, died at the scene.

Though the accident occurred just a few blocks from the Myawaddy hospital, the trishaw passenger’s injuries were too serious for the hospital’s capacity and he died en route to a hospital in Mae Sot, just across the Thai-Burma border in Thailand. continue

The glory days of Manerplaw vividly stay in my memory. Manerplaw was simply a village of about 3,000 Karen guerillas located in a strategic position between a narrow strip of the Moei and Salween rivers and protected by difficult terrain.

Positional Warfare
The quiet life of Manerplaw changed dramatically when the 88 Generation Students, along with various other democratic groups, went underground after the military crackdown on the 1988 popular upraising. We all joined hands with the ethnic minorities’ armies.

Ethnic minorities had become increasingly peripheral from mainstream politics in Burma, but after 88, they again came to the fore, and Manerplaw played a pivotal role—representing the headquarters of the decades-old Karen guerilla movement, the Karen National Union (KNU), and now also representing a symbolic headquarters of the overall democracy movement. Manerplaw was a “liberated area” under the alliance of political dissidents: the Democratic Alliance of Burma (DAB), and other umbrella groups in later times, plus the exiled government, the National Coalition Government of the Union of Burma (NCGUB), were all born from that narrow strip of land.

Since my days as a novice warrior in the All Burma Student’s Democratic Front (ABSDF), my memories of Manerplaw range from the bucolic to the terrifying—war is brutal and cruel.

The Burmese junta launched regular offensives against Manerplaw, especially after 1991. To this day, the scent of forest fires, the smell of humid air and the piercing noise of cicadas stir up memories of those days when I witnessed air and artillery attacks, disfigured corpses, the pain of the wounded, and the ghost-like town of Manerplaw at the height of a military offensive. Porters, forced at gun-point to aid the junta’s army, often escaped and journeyed through the mountains to reach our forces.

It was remarkable how the KNU forces held their own against the junta’s superior manpower and resources. As a recruit, I wanted to believe that Manerplaw could endure and be defended against all offensives—but it was wishful thinking.

The strategy of positional warfare today is a long-forgotten art, and armies never allow themselves to become bogged down in defense of a single fortress or position. Finally, in 1996, Manerplaw fell to the junta’s army, aided by Karen units that joined the other side.

While I was in the jungle, I read an article, possibly written by Martin Smith, that described Manerplaw as the “center stage” of Burmese politics in the early 1990s, since all media and international attention had focused upon the exodus of the students, the exiled provisional government and the unity, though short-lived, of the many ethnic groups under a single banner and field of combat.

The author went on to say that the center of Burma politics then shifted to No 54 University Avenue—the resident of Daw Aung San Suu Kyi—after her release from house arrest in July 1995. Crowds would gather in front of her home, and she and her colleagues gave public speeches weekly, in defiance of martial law, until the next junta crackdown.

From time to time, I wonder where is the center of Burma’s dissident movement today?

I have no precise answer, but from my experience in Manerplaw, I learned something important. I saw the public gatherings in front of Daw Suu’s house and her defiance in term of military strategy, and I wanted the movement to spread beyond her home to NLD branches throughout Burma.

I had learned that single fortresses don’t last long. They can be effectively attacked and defeated. Even during the glory days of Manerplaw, some commanders and politicians argued with KNU leaders to spread out our forces from the fortification in order to strengthen our defense in accordance with the nature of guerilla warfare. It is a lesson the pro-democracy movement needs to take to heart.

The junta’s scheduled election in 2010 poses a new “positional” problem, especially in light of the 1990 election results, which, although a sweeping victory for the democracy movement, were never honored by the military.

Citizens voted from their hearts in 1990, for their aspirations for democracy. The National League for Democracy (NLD) won a landslide victory in the election and many winning representatives of the NLD have since used the results to call for change in Burma—by demands in conventions, failed attempts to form provisional governments, founding the NCGUB government in exile, mocking the legitimacy of the junta by forming the Committee Representing Peoples’ Parliament (CRPP) and in other ways. In 2006, the NLD Special Statement called for the junta to convene a parliament to engage in political dialogue, and most recently it made a credential challenge of the junta representative at United Nations. continue page 2

DKBA_KILLERS_Extortion and restrictions under the DKBA in Pa’an District


Recent reports suggest that, in negotiations with State authorities, the DKBA has been able to ensure its long-term political future in Burma by transforming itself into a ‘Border Security Force’, a title that would nominally place the group within the SPDC hierarchy. Consequently, the DKBA’s ongoing restrictions and extortion in T’Nay Hsah and Dta Greh townships of eastern Pa’an District (near the Thai border) may be expected to continue even after the planned 2010 elections. This report examines cases of abuse against villagers by SPDC and DKBA forces in Pa’an District from the end of 2008 to March 2009.
In eastern Pa’an District, the State Peace and Development Council (SPDC), Democratic Karen Buddhist Army (DKBA), and Karen National Liberation Army (KNLA) all continue to conduct armed operations. However, the DKBA continues to be the most active armed group in this area. As a result, local villagers in eastern Pa’an District, and in particular those living in T’Nay Hsah and Dta Greh townships, face a wide range of restrictions, taxes and ad hoc demands from DKBA soldiers. DKBA forces operating in this area are primarily those under the authority of Brigade #999 (including the Brigade’s ‘Special Battalion’ commanded by Maung Chit Thoo).

The KNLA no longer has a fixed base in T’Nay Hsah Township. In Dta Greh Township, KNLA Battalions #21, 22 and 101 have been largely pushed up against the western flank of the Moei River which, in Pa’an District, forms the border with Thailand.

The SPDC has taken a somewhat reduced role in the region but continues to patrol T’Nay Hsah and Dta Greh townships and, in some cases, has looted villagers’ property and demanded porters to carry military supplies. In previous years, SPDC Army units active in Pa’an District generally followed a practice of rotating every three months (except during the rainy season, when the wet conditions would make travel more difficult.) Since the start of 2009, however, SPDC Army units active in Dta Greh Township have rotated every month.

On February 20th 2009, column #1 of SPDC Light Infantry Battalion (LIB) #206 of Light Infantry Division (LID) #22, under the command of Major Soe Win Aung, was rotated out of Wa Mee Gkla village tract, Dta Greh Township. When LIB #206 left the area on February 20th, it was replaced by SPDC LIB #205 of LID #22 under the command of Thaung Htaik. Upon arrival on February 20th, LIB #205 troops entered Gk— village and looted property belonging to the following local villagers:

The above photo, taken on February 9th 2009, shows a close-up of a picture of Maung Chit Thoo and his wife. Maung Chit Thoo had DKBA personnel under his command forcibly sell this picture to individual households in T’Nay Hsah Township at a cost of 2,000 kyat (US $2.03) each. [Photo: KHRG]

And the Thais give them a new Bridge on their gate!! Stop killing Ethnics!!!

A Sino-Burma border based ethnic Kachin rebel group has declared it is ready to abandon armed struggle after the 2010 general elections, if the new elected government urges them to do so.

NDA-K ready to surrender arms

by Solomon
Tuesday, 17 March 2009 20:42

New Delhi (Mizzima) – A Sino-Burma border based ethnic Kachin rebel group has declared it is ready to abandon armed struggle after the 2010 general elections, if the new elected government urges them to do so.

Zahkung Tingying, founder and leader of New Democratic Army-Kachin (NDA-K) told Mizzima on Tuesday that they are ready to lay-down their arms if they can be sure that their demands will be fulfilled.

The NDA-K was the first Kachin armed group to reach a cease-fire agreement with Burma’s military junta, the then State Law and Order Restoration Council (SLORC) in 1989.

“We are fighting for our rights, development of our people and if these are guaranteed why do we still need to continue armed struggle?” said Tingying. The rebel leader said this in a tone that suggested that the new elected government would be able to fulfill their demands.

“It is possible that we will surrender our arms but at the same time we need to see that our demands and desires will be fulfilled,” he added.

The Burmese military junta in recent months has stepped up pressure on all cease-fire ethnic armed groups to surrender their arms before the 2010 general elections and urged them to transform into political parties to contest the election, sources said.

But, so far, the junta has been unable to convince any of the ceasefire groups to surrender their arms.

The NDA-K, which claims to be fighting for security, social, economic and educational development of its people, however, said they believe that their hopes would materialize after the elected government assumes office following the 2010 elections.

The NDA-K, which is based in North-eastern Kachin state along the Sino-Burma border, was founded by former Kachin Independent Organization (KIO) officers Zahkung Tingying and Layawk Zelum in 1989.

But sources said, following the ceasefire agreement, the NDA-K has focussed more on business than politics and has not maintained active armed cadres. Militarily and politically, the NDA-K has lost its strength, the source added. continue

What they mean by new elected,Shwedog is not elected .he,s illegal and the new election also….

Hleswe, a registered refugee who owns a small cornershop, has contacts among the KNU leaders and firmly believes that the DKBA will attack in the next two months.

Waiting in silence: life in a border refugee camp

Mar 17, 2009 (DVB)–Although being in Nu Pho camp feels like being in any little village peppered with bamboo huts, no one I spoke to there seemed to feel safe.

“The Democratic Karen Buddhist Army is just too close”, says Kohw, an Arakan monk who has lived in Nu Pho for over a year and a half. Kohw is unregistered, and therefore illegal, along with the other thousand or so in the Arakan section of the camp.
Rumors about planned DKBA attacks on former political leaders in Nu Pho circle around the camp from time to time. The DKBA split from the Karen National Liberation Army – the armed wing of government opposition group Karen National Union – in 1992 and joined sides with the then State Law and Order Restoration Council (now State Peace and Development Council-SPDC), Burma’s ruling military regime.
“We have so many spies affiliated with the Burma government,” says Kohw’s friend, who approaches us to warn about any curious bystanders in the camp. On 28 January last year, one suspected DKBA spy was arrested by the camp security officers and later executed.
“All the Burmese people here who speak good Thai are potential SPDC spies”, Kohw says. The presence of spies creates a climate of fear, despite many of the people in Nu Pho having no valuable information or contacts, and thus being of no use to the SPDC. Still, people remain careful about what they say and who they speak to.
The sight of children playing in the narrow streets and the friendly attitude of people in Nu Pho seems to give a false facade. Hleswe, a registered refugee who owns a small cornershop, has contacts among the KNU leaders and firmly believes that the DKBA will attack in the next two months.
Current KNU leaders have warned me that former KNU leaders here, and all political leaders, are in danger of getting assassinated,” he whispers. Hleswe has seen up to a hundred border police moving up to the Thai side of the mountains nearby. “The DKBA will enter the camp from there, behind the mountains,” he said. “It will happen.”
Kohw is an ex-political prisoner, and is aware of the assassination attack rumors too. He is worried about the camp policy whereby ex-political prisoners or people affiliated with activism in Burma live among refugees, who have no special status in the SPDC’s eyes.
“If an attack happens, the Thai military will be of no use to us,” he said. continue

BTW.This Killergroup DKBA Mr. Quintana visited on his last trip

17 March (2006), beaten to death on the street by fascist members of Rangoon Kemmendine Township police,

reserve fire brigade and Union Solidarity and Development Association (USDA / Kyant
Phoot), Ko Thet Naing Oo (a) Pya Laung, All Burma Students Democratic Front
18 March (1988, Friday), Bloody Friday. Thousands of students marched down to Sule Pagoda in central
Rangoon were arrested or killed by the Lon Htein – commander Sein Lwin – and army units – the
22, 66 and 77 LIDs. Schools and universities were closed down.

Burmese Freedom Calendar