Cyber-thought crime in Bangkok and Rangoon

By Awzar Thi
Column: Rule of Lords

Hong Kong, China — A court in Rangoon on March 5 sentenced three men who didn’t know each other to a decade’s imprisonment for a crime that they never committed – or rather, for a crime so nebulous that if any of them had ever used a computer he wouldn’t know if he had committed it or not.
The three, Win Maw, Zaw Min and Aung Zaw Myo, were accused of sending news about the September 2007 protests in Burma through the Internet. All were already in jail for other purported crimes.

The next day, police in Bangkok came to one of Thailand’s few outspoken and credible media outlets, Prachatai, searched the premises and arrested its director, Chiranuch Premchaiporn. She is accused of having failed to patrol, censor and delete the comments that readers left on a news website.

The police have charged Chiranuch under the Computer Crime Act 2007, which is only an “act” to the extent that the assembly of handpicked military stooges that passed it could be considered a legislature. According to this law, the importing of “false computer data, in a manner that is likely to cause damage” to a third party or the public or “is likely to damage the country’s security or cause a public panic” can land the accused a five-year jail term.

Now let’s compare that with Burma’s Electronic Transactions Law 2004, which is better described as an executive decree rather than a law. According to this law, whoever does “any act detrimental to the security of the State or prevalence of law and order or community peace and tranquility or national solidarity or national economy or national culture” with a computer can be put away for up to 15 years; the minimum term is seven.

Although the law in Burma is more exhaustive in its categories of offence and harsher in its penalties, it is fundamentally the same as the one in Thailand. The two are being applied in considerably different contexts and with different specific features, but they have a shared subtext.

First the different contexts: A closed court inside the central prison in Rangoon tried the three accused there in the absence of lawyers or relatives. The police had no credible evidence. It didn’t matter, because the case was decided before it was begun. The trial and its outcome went unreported inside the country, which is still a technological backwater despite a big uptake in Internet use during the last few years.

By contrast, a court released Chiranuch on bail. She has received strong local and global support. She will be tried in public, with lawyers, journalists and human rights defenders present. The police might be able to lodge the charges against her with a few scraps of randomly acquired evidence, but once hearings begin they will need more than this.

Thailand is one of the more technologically advanced countries in Southeast Asia. It is home to many millions of savvy computer users. Even accounting for its declining civil and political rights in the last decade, especially since 2006, it is still – in comparison to the majority of its neighbors, not least of all Burma – an open society.

Second, the common subtext, which runs as follows: You as a computer user may do something we don’t know about and don’t understand. We don’t respect you and are afraid of this technology. We don’t know what to expect and therefore we have drawn up a category of wrongdoing that can encompass any conceivable use of the Internet, and we will decide what does or doesn’t fall within its boundaries, case by case. Continue reading “Cyber-thought crime in Bangkok and Rangoon”

Photo of the Day-We need food

Plea for help: A refugee from Burma of the Chin ethnic group protests outside the office of the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees in Dhaka, Bangladesh, on March 18, 2009. Although granted refugee status, the Chin are seeking a subsistence allowance, healthcare and education for their children while they await resettlement. (Photo/William Gomes)

upiasia news

but now China is “vehemently” opposing any discussion in the Council of the plight of civilians in the Sri Lankan conflict. China argues that it is “merely an internal matter,” and not a threat to international peace and security.

UNITED NATIONS, March 19 — The day after the UN involuntarily admitted counting 2,683 civilian killings in Sri Lanka from January 20 to March 7 of this year, efforts to hold a second UN Security Council meeting on Sri Lanka were described to Inner City Press by a range of Council diplomats. Non-permanent Council members including Austria, Mexico and Costa Rica have requested the meeting for March 26, under the heading “Other Matters” since Sri Lanka is still not a formal item on the Council’s agenda.

China,Russia,always the same ….

The Russian representative in a statement said, “The increasing attention paid by the international community to the issue was artificial, and the accusations levelled at the leadership were based on unreliable information, from unverified and politicised sources.” on HR council to Burma campaign “FREE ALL POLTICAL PISONERS”

For three months the Chinese drilled the earth near the muddy Kaladan River in search of black gold. Then, just as suddenly, they left. -The New Great Game


Last year, the Chinese came. The villagers living in western Burma’s remote Arakan state couldn’t quite fathom what the Chinese told them, that below their rice fields might lie a vast reserve of oil. For three months the Chinese drilled the earth near the muddy Kaladan River in search of black gold. Then, just as suddenly, they left. In December, the Indians arrived. Through Burmese intermediaries, they took the village’s paddies as their own, depriving locals of their main source of income. Compensation was promised, villagers tell me, but none has been paid so far. So the impoverished residents of Mee Laung Yaw village, who lack electricity and eat eggplant curry as a poor substitute for meat, spend their days gazing at their expropriated fields, now fenced in and dominated by an oil-exploration tower that dwarfs their bamboo shacks. Several villagers took lowly construction jobs on the site but they were never paid so they’ve stopped showing up for work. “I hope they don’t find any oil,” says village chief Aye Thein Tun. “Because even if they do, none of it will come to us. It will just go to other countries.” Continue reading “For three months the Chinese drilled the earth near the muddy Kaladan River in search of black gold. Then, just as suddenly, they left. -The New Great Game”

Thailand:Army to root out ‘Taksin plan’

Published: 19/03/2009 at 04:06 PM
The army is investigating the so-called Taksin plan, a conspiracy aimed at creating chaos in the country, army chief Anupong Paojinda said on Thursday.

Gen Anupong said he knew of the existence of the plan, which was exposed by the Democrat party, but he did not know the details.

The Taksin plan is said to be a conspiracy aimed at overthrowing the government, the army leadership and important institutions in the country.

The conspirators are said to have appropriated the name of a former king, Taksin the Great, for their plan.

Gen Anupong said those who had thoughts of doing anything bad to the nation, its religion, the royal institution or the people were certanly not good people.

They should immediately put a stop to their plans and actions for the sake of the country, he added.

However, the army commander-in-chief said these people would not find it easy to fuel further conflict, because the majority of Thais were already tired of politics.

Gen Anupong then called on the silent majority to join hands in ensuring the restoration of peace and unity.

United Front of Democracy against Dictatorship (UDD) core leader and former government spokesman Nattawut Saikua said he had no knowledge of any Taksin plan.

He did not undestand why the claimed plot should be be linked to the UDD and its red-shirt supporters.

He also questioned Gen Anupong’s investigation of the so-called conspiracy.

He wondered just why the army commander-in-chief was taking so much interest in the plot when there was so still no information at all about it.

eCentre Returns to Myanmar to Conduct Contingency Planning Training

From 11 to 14 March 2009, the eCentre organized a Workshop on Contingency Planning for the Government of Myanmar in Yangon, Myanmar.
Emergencies can occur at any time, and when they do careful planning can make the difference between a successful response and lives lost. This was the principle lesson of the Contingency Planning Workshop organized by the eCentre from 11 to 14 March in Yangon, Myanmar.
Following its successful pilot workshop on International Humanitarian Response in Myanmar in November 2008, the eCentre returned to Yangon at the request of the Myanmar Government to organize specific training on Contingency Planning. The Myanmar Contingency Planning Workshop looked specifically at the case of voluntary return and reintegration of refugees from Thailand, and the planning that would be needed to ensure their return with safety and dignity. Following planning steps laid out in Inter-Agency Standing Committee Guidelines* the participants assessed the situation, developed scenarios, analyzed warning factors and considered policy and operational assumptions.
Continue reading “eCentre Returns to Myanmar to Conduct Contingency Planning Training”

ethnic cleansing on Burma border

Across Burma aid continues to trickle to those who need it most – or in some cases is denied completely.

This has nothing whatsoever to do with the courageous relief workers distributing supplies as best they can; rather it is the due to the stubborn determination of the junta and their cronies to thwart humanitarian missions.

They would rather see some entire populations wiped out.

In the stricken Irrawaddy Delta – destroyed in last year’s apocalyptic cyclone – the emergency aid programme is finally being replaced by more permanent recovery.

According to Liz Hughes from the Red Cross villagers are being offered cash-for-work schemes to help rebuild ruined infrastructure like bridges and jetties for fishing boats.

But the marginalised and abused Karen people on Burma’s eastern border with Thailand are still being deliberately neglected in the cruellest manner imaginable.

This picture of a young Karen child at the Ei Thu Tha refugee camp, just across the border from Thailand is a typical case. Continue reading “ethnic cleansing on Burma border”

Burmese migrant workers in Thailand – Myanmar’s overflow

Mar 19th 2009 | MAE SOT
From The Economist print edition

Migrant workers battered by the slump

MORE than 1m people from Myanmar have opted to labour in the sweatshops, fields and fisheries of Thailand rather than endure the daily struggle for survival many face at home. The global downturn has conspired to make their prospects, never rosy, even bleaker.

An estimated 120,000 migrant workers live in the Thai border town of Mae Sot. Most work in garment factories, seen as the best of a few bad choices. Others have to take dirty and dangerous jobs processing fish or spraying crops, where abuses, including beating and enslavement, are reportedly most common. Garment-workers say they typically take home about 70 baht ($2) a day, less than half the legal minimum wage. They dispute employers’ claims that the discrepancy reflects the cost of food and lodging.

Some workers, particularly from minority ethnic groups, are fleeing persecution. One young woman, stitching baby clothes, is saving to pay for a physics course at Yangon University. But most workers are in Thailand to support families at home. According to Sean Turnell, a specialist on Myanmar’s economy at Macquarie University in Australia, the average worker sends back around $300 a year, a crucial prop for hundreds of thousands of poor families. Continue reading “Burmese migrant workers in Thailand – Myanmar’s overflow”