Ousted prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra last night called on people who had benefited from his government’s policies to come out and support the red-shirt movement.

I call on you to rise up throughout the country to join the red-shirts and bring back democracy for our children,” Thaksin said.

He also called on politicians who had been part of his disbanded Thai Rak Thai Party to “lead your countrymen in the fight”.

Wearing a red T-shirt, Thaksin appeared on a live video broadcast to the protest by his red-clad supporters outside Government House. It was the second night of protest with a Thaksin’s speech. On Friday he accused Privy Council president Prem Tinsulanonda and post-coup premier Surayud Chulanont of masterminding the 2006 coup that ousted him from power.

Thaksin last night directed his attacks at the government of Abhisit Vejjajiva, portraying it as pro-aristocracy and inefficient in tackling the country’s economic problems.

“It’s time to return democracy to the people, or the confusion will never end,” he told his supporters through a video link-up. continue

State Department Releases Religious Freedom Blacklist

The State Department headed under Secretary of State Hillary Clinton released this week the religious freedom violator blacklist designated by the Bush administration in January before leaving office.

Former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice re-designated the same eight countries named in 2006 – Burma, Eritrea, Iran, North Korea, the Peoples Republic of China, Saudi Arabia, Sudan, and Uzbekistan – as “Countries of Particular Concern” (CPC) on Jan. 16.

The list was not made available until this week after an inquiry by the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF).

Being named a CPC is the worst label a country can receive from the United States for religious freedom violations. The designation can result in a wide range of U.S. actions against the country in attempt to improve its religious freedom record, including sanctions.

USCIRF, a bipartisan government agency that monitors religious freedom status around the world, was critical of the latest CPC list for not adding any of the countries it had recommended. It also voiced dissatisfaction that although Saudi Arabia and Uzbekistan were designated CPC, the Bush administration had given them waivers.
continue http://www.christianpost.com/Intl/Human_rights/2009/03/state-department-releases-religious-freedom-blacklist-28/

Now, the International Olympic Committee has called for an end to international torch relays ahead of future Olympics, starting with next year’s Winter Games in Vancouver.

China’s Olympic Legacy: No More International Torch Relays

n the run-up to last year’s Summer Olympic Games in Beijing, China staged the most ambitious international torch relay to date, a month-long tour spanning six continents, following by a three-month, zig-zagging journey through more than a hundred Chinese cities.

But the relay got off to a notoriously bad start. In London and Paris, protestors tried to snatch the Olympic flame and unfurled Tibetan flags and banners criticizing China’s human rights record. In San Francisco and other subsequent cities, the relay routes were often changed at the last minute to avoid further embarrassing confrontations.

Now, the International Olympic Committee has called for an end to international torch relays ahead of future Olympics, starting with next year’s Winter Games in Vancouver. Organizers of the London Summer Olympics in 2012 had already said they had no plans to stage an international torch event.

“I think when the torch relay is inside the host country there is more control,” said IOC director Gilbert Felli, according to the BBC.

Dharamsala, March 28: Hundreds of Tibetans and their supporters Saturday staged a protest rally to highlight what they describe as “50 years of Chinese oppression in Tibet”.

Tibetan exiles protest “Chinese oppression” in Tibet
India Tibet China
The protesters marched through the streets of Dharamsala, the seat of the Tibet’s Government-in-exile in northern India, carrying Tibetan flags and wearing “Free Tibet” headbands, and shouting “Stop 50 years of torture.”

The protest came as Beijing celebrated the newly created “Serf Emancipation Day” on Saturday. The enforced celebration, the organizers of today’s protest, however, say, is taking place at a “time of high tension in Tibet when the entire region remains under de facto martial law.”


The Tibetan Government-in-exile on Friday dubbed the newly created holiday as a “massive propaganda” by Beijing to hide its “ongoing repression in Tibet.”

Dilemma of Karenni people continues unabated

News – Kantarawaddy Times
THURSDAY, 26 MARCH 2009 18:41

In the early 1990s, when the UNHCR initially established Karenni refugee camps near the Thai-Burma border, the aim was to provide temporary shelter for war-displaced Karenni people, before peace and stability were restored in Burma, so that they could return to their homeland — the Karenni State.

Since then, under the protection of the UNHCR, Karenni refugees have been living in these camps, hoping to eventually return home.

Nearly two decades later, the goal of returning home to Karenni state, remains a dream.

Laced to the pessimism, is the current Burmese military regime’s attitude of unwillingness to negotiate with opposition parties, compromise with the international community and implement any meaningful political changes. Instead, the regime is more determined to cling to power than ever before by unilaterally holding a referendum in the midst of Cyclone Nargis and proposing elections for 2010.

With the aid from UNHCR, more than half of the 21,000 Karenni refugees have applied for resettlement. Thus, for the majority of the Karenni people, the hope of going home is rapidly turning into a myth.

The question now is what the future will hold for the Karenni people? Will they be happy in their new countries? Will half of the resettled refugees ever return home? Will there ever be peace in Burma? The shortest and honest answer is—no one knows. Continue reading “Dilemma of Karenni people continues unabated”

10th anniversary of the founding of the Shan Women’s Action Network

28 March 2009

Today, to mark the 10th anniversary of our founding, SWAN is launching a publication: “SWAN: A 10-Year Journey” as well as the Burmese, Shan and Thai versions of our website. We are also holding a community event on the Thai-Shan border, including an exhibition, cultural activities and the screening of a docudrama on SWAN’s education program for displaced children.

Our new publication contains reflections on SWAN’s experiences over the past ten years, and provides an insight into the complexities of developing a feminist movement within our cultural and political context.

SWAN was founded following the mass forced relocations by Burma’s military regime in 1996-1998 that uprooted hundreds of thousands of villagers in central Shan State, forcing them to flee to Thailand. The urgent need to respond to this mass exodus was the impetus to bring together Shan women active in different communities and formalize our network. SWAN was thus born amidst a backdrop of horror and turmoil.

Ten years on, the situation in Shan State and the rest of Burma remains grim, but we feel we have created a space for women’s activism, and catalyzed a movement for gender equality in and beyond our communities.

We have sought to uphold our feminist principles and commitment to equality, human rights and social justice throughout our work. Despite the many challenges, our experiences have reinforced our belief in these principles.

We wish to thank our friends and supporters who have stood with us over the past ten years. This support has increased our determination to challenge injustice and work for genuine political change and peace in Burma.

Shan Women’s Action Network (SWAN)
P O Box 120 Phrasing Post Office
Chiangmai 50200 Thailand
Email: kenneri@shanwomen.org
Website: http://www.shanwomen.org

SWAN is a network of Shan women active in Shan State and Thailand dedicated to gender equality and justice for women in Burma. It is a founding member of the Women’s League of Burma (WLB), an umbrella women’s organization comprising twelve women’s groups from Burma. .


happy birthday SWAN http://www.shanwomen.org/files/SWAN’s%2010%20years’%20Journey.pdf

ASIA: Fighting the spread of Artemisinin-resistant malaria

BANGKOK, 26 March 2009 (IRIN) – Scientists and health workers are racing to contain a malaria strain along the Thai-Cambodia border that is becoming increasingly resistant to Artemisinin, the best drug available to fight it, experts say.

[See also: CAMBODIA: Malaria gaining tolerance to some treatments]

Artemisinin, normally used in a combination therapy (ACT), has given hope in recent years that malaria can be eradicated worldwide.

But a key trial in western Cambodia in 2007 and other evidence has shown a tolerance to Artemisinin in the Plasmodium falciparum parasite, which causes the most deadly form of malaria.

“To prevent the spread of this [parasite], we need to be fast,” said Eva-Maria Christophel, a medical officer specialising in malaria and other vector-borne diseases with the World Health Organization’s (WHO’s) regional office for the Western Pacific. continue http://www.IRINnews.org/Report.aspx?ReportId=83648