Aung Mai Company to buy teak from Burmese Army

Written by KNG
Tuesday, 24 March 2009 20:54
Teak continues to be one of the prized items for making filthy lucre in Burma’s Kachin State and the Aung Mai Company is negotiating with the Burmese military junta to buy teak confiscated during an operation last January and February by several Burmese army columns, said sources.
ocal sources close to Aung Mai Company said the firm is now negotiating with the Northern Command Headquarters (Ma Pa Kha) based in Myitkyina, the capital of Kachin State and locally-based Burmese army battalions to buy the confiscated teak in Bhamo district in Kachin State.

At the moment, no teak truck from the company has yet come to China border in Kachin State. However they will have to transport all teak which was confiscated by the Burmese Army battalions before the rainy season starts in June, said local timber traders. continue

Peace conference called off over Dalai Lama visa row

Phayul[Tuesday, March 24, 2009 17:23]
Dharamsala, March 24 – The organizers postponed the peace conference in South Africa after denial of visa to the Tibetan leader Dalai Lama attracted strong criticism from opposition party and condemnation worldwide.

“We have decided to postpone the peace conference until further notice,” Reuters quoted Irvin Khoza, South Africa 2010 Organizing Committee chairman, as saying Tuesday. He said it would be postponed until all those invited could attend.

Reuters reported that several Nobel peace prize winners had threatened to boycott the event over the visa ban, but the South African government said it was standing by its decision. South Africa’s Local media said the visa was refused after pressure from China, a big investor and trade partner.

The 73 year old Tibetan Nobel laureate was to join other winners of the prestigious peace prize including Nelson Mandela and FW de Klerk at a conference Friday to discuss ways of using soccer to fight racism and xenophobia, as South Africa prepares to host the 2010 World Cup.

Government spokesman Thabo Masebe had told the media that the Dalai Lama’s presence was not in South Africa’s best interest at the moment.

“We stand by our decision. Nothing is going to change. The Dalai Lama will not be invited to South Africa. We will not give him a visa between now and the World Cup,” he said.

The decision to refuse the Dalai Lama a visa has come under severe criticism from opposition parties in a country which has prided itself as a model of democracy and human rights since the end of apartheid in 1994.

The Dalai Lama was invited to participate in the conference by fellow Nobel laureates Archbishop Desmond Tutu, FW de Klerk and Nelson Mandela.

An Employer has asked for money from Burmese Migrant Workers to make passports

Tuesday, 24 March 2009 07:43
A Thai employer has asked for money from a couple of his Burmese workers in order to make passports. There is an established agreement between the Thai and Myanmar Governments to issue passports for Burmese Migrant Workers who are working in Thailand.
On a plantation near the Suwar Lele park of Partaya town in Chunbula area of Southern Thailand, a male Thai-Chinese employer asked for 9600 baht from his workers Ko Aung Soe and his wife Ma Lone to make them passports with 3 years validity. They had already paid 8000 baht on March 18th but were made to pay another 1600 baht on March 21st.
“This plantation has 7 Burmese people working together. Two of us, my wife and myself, cannot speak Thai. The employer only asked the two of us to make passports. I thought that it could be true because he said so. So we paid 8000 baht yesterday and we have to pay the remainder on 21st of March. Our Migrant worker permit is registered and will be extended next month for another year. I get 160 baht and my wife gets 140 baht a day. We also have to spend money for food and accommodation. I think we can’t go back to our home for the rest of our life if we have to pay both for the Migrant worker permit registration and the passport. He took money from us, even though he didn’t do anything to make the passports” said by Ko Aung Soe.
Attempts to make passports for Burmese Migrant workers has rarely been successful since an agreement was made between the Thai and Myanmar Government since 2003. The Myanmar Government has announced it will issue passports for 200 workers a day at Myawaddy, Khaw Thaung and Tachi Late. Worker associations and observers expect that it will be impossible to limit the issuing of passports because millions of people are already working in Thailand as migrant workers. To issue them all with passports will take nearly a decade, especially since the Myanmar government is still only using paper work whilst Thais are using a computer system.
For Cambodia and Laos workers it is easy to get a passport because their embassy in Thailand is making legal passports for their workers so that the workers save money and time.
For Burmese Migrants the process has not been successful because many Burmese Migrants are living all across Thailand and they have to travel to one of only 3 places where they can be issued with a passport. There is no security for the migrants on the way there and they have to spend a lot of their time and money to make the journey.
Many of the Burmese Migrant workers are worried due to an official announcement by the Thai government that many work permits will not be extended for Migrant workers who register for an extension after February 2009.

In Brief: Bangkok to host regional disaster reduction conference

BANGKOK, 24 March 2009 (IRIN) – Countries from Asia and the Pacific – the most disaster-prone region in the world – will gather in Bangkok this week to discuss a risk-reduction strategy.

More than 180 delegates from 25 countries will attend the first session of the Committee on Disaster Risk Reduction of the UN Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP) on 25 March.

As part of the two-day conference, a round-table will be held to exchange knowledge and experiences among participants on disaster risk reduction and implications for social and economic development.

The Asia-Pacific region is particularly disaster-prone, experiencing 42 percent of the world’s natural disasters, with a disproportionate 65 percent of people affected.

In 2008, 235,816 people were killed worldwide by 321 disasters, the UN’s International Strategy for Disaster Reduction (ISDR) Secretariat reported, with the Centre for Research and Epidemiology of Disasters (CRED).

Nine of the top 10 countries with the highest number of disaster-related deaths were in Asia, ISDR reports.

Colonel accuses villagers of supporting KNU

HURFOM: Villagers in Tenasserim Division have been accused of supporting the armed Karen National Union (KNU) and been denied access to their land by a Burmese military Colonel who also refused to let Christian villagers hold meetings about improving their churches.
Colonel Zaw Than Nine, who leads Tactical Command No. 2, was approached on March 9th by the Christian residents of Nyank Thone and Mea Khan Baw villages in Tavoy District, Mitar Sub-township who asked permission to hold the meetings with a local district church leader. He refused on the grounds of security, citing the KNU.
The church leader said, “I wanted to discuss with the Christian villagers how to maintain our religion in the villages and also I wanted to improve the churches and maybe build a new one. But the Colonel would not let us meet. I felt so up sad about it”.
Villagers say the Colonel frequently uses the same security excuse to deny permission for many other activities, accusing them of providing support and information to the KNU. Recently villagers were denied permission to leave their villages to work on their plantations and hillside cultivation which left them facing hardship as they need to build firebreaks in the forest to protect their plantations and clear land for planting new crops. Continue reading “Colonel accuses villagers of supporting KNU”

Washington, D.C. – Today, Freedom Now released Opinion No. 46/2008 from the UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention. The judgment declares unequivocally that the ongoing detention of Burmese democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi is illegal and in violation of both Burmese and international law. It also urges her immediate release:

UN Declares Nobel Peace Prize Laureate Aung San Suu Kyi Of Burma’s Detention Illegal
24 Mar 2009


Contact: Ted Loud +1 (202) 799-4348


Washington, D.C. – Today, Freedom Now released Opinion No. 46/2008 from the UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention. The judgment declares unequivocally that the ongoing detention of Burmese democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi is illegal and in violation of both Burmese and international law. It also urges her immediate release:

The Working Group . . . declare[es] Ms. Aung San Suu Kyi’s placement under house arrest [is] arbitrary, being in contravention of Articles 9, 10, and 19 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights . . . and even domestic law . . . which itself contradicts to the basic principles and norms of modern international law . . . Consequent upon this Opinion, the Working Group requests the Government to immediately release, without any condition, Ms. Aung San Suu Kyi from her continued placement under house arrest.
Continue reading “Washington, D.C. – Today, Freedom Now released Opinion No. 46/2008 from the UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention. The judgment declares unequivocally that the ongoing detention of Burmese democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi is illegal and in violation of both Burmese and international law. It also urges her immediate release:”


International court condemns Burma junta for its illegal and “grotesque” record on detention
24 Mar 2009

Today sees the publication of one of the most important international law judgments in recent years. In a heavily argued case, decided last November but only now made public, the international legal system has ruled in the clearest possible terms that the military regime in Burma has contravened every last vestige of humanitarian law and falls to be condemned in the strongest possible way. Significantly, the tribunal rejected every single one of the Burmese Government’s arguments. The regime has been held to be operating entirely outside of the law and its violations of minimum standards of international law are described by the tribunal as “grotesque”.

The judgment has come in a case brought on behalf of four prisoners in Burmese jails. Their “crime” was to wear white clothes, to call for Buddhist prayers and to organise a letter-writing campaign to inform the generals of the plight of the people. Their fate as a result has been extreme torture, a year of detention without charge, lack of access to family and lawyers, eventual trial without representation (their lawyers were imprisoned for contempt for trying to represent them) and now sentences of hundreds of years of imprisonment for their supposed crimes. They are also representative of thousands of other prisoners wrongfully and inhumanely detained by the Burmese junta.

Their names are Min Ko Naing, Ko Jimmy, Min Zayar and Pyone Cho. Continue reading “PRESS RELEASE FROM THE BURMA JUSTICE COMMITTEE”

KNU refuses to yield to pressure

by Salai Pi Pi
Tuesday, 24 March 2009 20:09

New Delhi (Mizzima) – The ethnic Karen rebel group – Karen National Union (KNU) – on Tuesday said they will not yield to any form of pressure to partake in the 2010 general election unless Burma’s generals implement changes to their roadmap.

David Takapaw, Vice-President of the KNU, on Tuesday said that while the KNU is open to peace talks, they will remain firm in their demand for a revision of the junta’s constitution.

To date, the KNU has demanded an all inclusive dialogue based on a national reconciliation process and has boycotted the junta’s seven-step roadmap.

“When it comes to the junta’s road map, we will not change our stand on the roadmap, which is unacceptable,” Takapaw told Mizzima via telephone.

However, Takapaw said the KNU is ready to hold talks with the Burmese regime if it is aimed to address the ongoing conflict in Burma.

“If the regime is willing to solve problems in peaceful ways, we are ready to talk with them,” said Takapaw, adding that the KNU will insist the regime first convene a tripartite dialogue and amend the constitution.

On Monday, Thailand’s Foreign Minister Kasit Piromya, who had visited Burma for a two-day trip, said he was asked by the Burmese junta to persuade the KNU in joining the 2010 election.

Takapaw said so far the KNU has not received any official communication from Thailand for talks.

Starting last month, the Thai government placed renewed pressure on the KNU and ordered them to move out of Thai territory, a move which Burmese observers believe could have been made at the behest of the Burmese junta.

“We have moved all of our offices into KNU controlled areas inside Burma,” Takapaw said.

He stressed that the Burmese army has continued attacking them in different areas such as Taungoo, Nyuanglebin and Tathon districts in eastern Burma.

“On a daily basis, they [Burmese army] are still attacking us,” Takapaw added.

The KNU and its armed wing, the Karen National Liberation Army (KNLA), represents Burma’s oldest rebel group – fighting for self-determination since 1948.

A previous peace dialogue with the Burmese junta bore initial fruit, but efforts proved to be in vain following the sudden purge of the junta’s then Prime Minister, Khin Nyunt, in 2004. Since then, peace talks between the two groups have come to a standstill . Mizzima news

Army Capitalists: The Junta’s Wealth

The Burmese military has monopolized the country’s economy, especially heavy industries, mining and the import-export sector, since the military seized state power in September, 1988.

According to Burmese defense scholar Maung Aung Myoe, the collapse of the socialist regime in 1988 opened the way for the Tatmadaw [armed forces] to resume its socio-economic role, independent of the country and its private, commercial interests, as it decided to play the leading role in national politics.

The scholar notes in his book, “Building the Tatmadaw,” that there were two reasons to establish commercial enterprises: to be self-reliant and to finance defense modernization as an off-budget measure.

The Burmese military founded two military-managed economic organizations, the Myanmar Economic Corporation (MEC) and the Union of Myanmar Economic Holding Limited (UMEHL), in 1989 and 1990 respectively.

Interestingly, UMEHL, also known as U Pai, funding is based on contributions from military personnel, military units, retired military personnel, army veteran organizations and the ministry of defense to support in-service and retired military personnel. Continue reading “Army Capitalists: The Junta’s Wealth”