More NLD Members Receive Lengthy Prison Sentences

A court in Rangoon’s Thingangyun Township sentenced six members of the National League for Democracy (NLD) to five years in prison on Monday and extended the sentence of another party member to 18 years, according to sources close to Insein Prison.

It was unclear what the charges were against Tin Mya, the chairman of the NLD’s Thingangyun office, and five other local party members who received five-year sentences. Observers suggested, however, that the timing of the court’s decision was intended to link the six to recent bombings in the former capital.

There were also no details available concerning the ten-year extension of Thingangyun NLD member Ye Zaw Htike’s prison sentence. He was initially sentenced to eight years last November.

Meanwhile, Burma’s military government transferred two other political detainees from Mandalay Prison to prisons in more remote parts of the country.

Than Lwin, the vice-chairman of the NLD’s Mandalay Division headquarters and an elected member of parliament, was transferred to Loikaw Prison in Karenni State on Saturday, while Win Mya Mya, a female NLD party activist, was sent to Putao Prison in Kachin State. Continue reading “More NLD Members Receive Lengthy Prison Sentences”

Suu Kyi Climbs Higher in Time Magazine Poll

Singaporean protest

Burmese opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi ranks 25th in this year’s poll by the US magazine Time listing the 100 most influential people in the world.

Suu Kyi, 63, a Nobel Peace Prize winner, received 306,684 votes, not very far behind US President Barack Obama, who got 335,732 and came in 16th in the poll. She just pipped Malaysian opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim, who ranked 26th with 302,874 votes. Continue reading “Suu Kyi Climbs Higher in Time Magazine Poll”

Authorities have once again banned tourists from visiting the ‘Land of Jade’, after reneging on an announcement last month that foreigners would be permitted to visit mining towns in Burma’s northern Kachin state.

by May Kyaw
Tuesday, 31 March 2009 18:04

Chiang Mai (Mizzima) – Authorities have once again banned tourists from visiting the ‘Land of Jade’, after reneging on an announcement last month that foreigners would be permitted to visit mining towns in Burma’s northern Kachin state.

In February, the Ministry of Tourism told tour companies to include the jade mining town of Phakant as a tourist destination in a bid to boost tourism.

“Last month they [ministry officials] said they will allow visits to Phakant, but now say they have not yet allowed any such excursions,” a visitor, who asked the ministry of tourism in Naypyitaw for permission to visit Phakant, told Mizzima.

However, while authorities have restricted foreigners from visiting the country’s mining sites – including both Phakant and Mogoke, a town in Mandalay Division renowned for its rubies – it has eased restrictions regarding visitations to other towns in rural areas, such as to the country’s northernmost town of Putao, also in Kachin state.

Nonetheless, a Rangoon-based tour operator complained of the authority’s fluctuating policy, saying, “Even if we ask for permission they refuse to give it to us. Their policy is always fluctuating and not consistent.”

And while authorities continue to allow tourists to pencil in the destinations of Myitkyina and Putao in Kachin state, guidelines stipulate that tourists must travel only by air and avail themselves to authorized travel agents.

Burmese democracy a daunting task: Abhisit

by Mungpi
Tuesday, 31 March 2009 18:51

Chiang Mai (Mizzima) – Thailand’s Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva says Burma remains a hideous blight on an Asian map of otherwise expanding freedoms and growing economies.

Abhisit, during a speech at the 15th anniversary of the Council of Asian Liberals and Democrats (CALD), held in Bangkok from March 27 – 30, said while democracy and freedom are expanding in Asia, the struggle in several countries, including Burma, remains daunting.

Abhisit said even as detained Burmese pro-democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi’s unwavering fight for democracy in Burma continues to provide great inspiration and hope for members of CALD and freedom fighters the world over, the struggle for democracy in Burma remains the largest obstacle in the regional expansion of democracy.

“Some of our struggles are more daunting than others. Burma’s repressive regime remains a hideous blight on Asia’s map of expanding freedoms and growing economies,” Abhisit countered.

The Thai Premier said several countries in Asia are in a transitional stage of economics and governance, and affirmed the challenge for liberal democratic parties is to ensure that such competition occurs within the parameters of credible and free elections, accountable and transparent governance, and the rule of law.

“As liberals, we must tirelessly continue to promote dialogue and seek common ground in mediating disparate interests and opposing positions,” said Abhisit.

Burmese migrants arrested at Bangkok charity gig (Iron cross)

Mar 31, 2009 (DVB)–Nearly 400 Burmese migrant workers were arrested in Bangkok last week when Thai immigration officials raided a charity rock concert held to raise money for HIV/AIDS sufferers and orphaned children.

Over 1000 Burmese migrant workers were thought to be attending the concert on 29 March given by popular Burmese group Iron Cross.
Thai officials stopped hundreds of people en route to the concert to check for identification.
“Around 400 migrants who failed to show their identification cards were arrested by the immigration who took them away in four trucks,” said a Burmese migrant who witnessed the incident.
Another Burmese national at the concert told DVB that Thai officials also ordered the concert to be shut down after they discovered that singers and band members were performing on tourist visas without official permission from the Thai government.
“It happened just about when [frontman] Lay Phyu started playing,” he said.
“The Thai officials demanded the show end because the band didn’t get permission from authorities to perform.
“The show ended around 11pm after Thai authorities let Lay Phyu and three other singers, yet to perform, sing one song each.”

30Mar,09….ဘန္ေကာက္ျမိဳ ႔ျမန္မာစတိတ္ရိႈး ျမန္မာ၄၀၀ခန္႔ထိုင္းပုလိပ္ဖမ္း

Too many nations have forgotten that the Burmese military brutally crushed unarmed monks and civilians showing their support, resulting in the death of hundreds of protestors and detention of thousands more.

The sky is not blue in Burma

The recent decision by the Burmese military to release 6,313 prisoners indicates that the rulers are well-versed in undertaking public relations exercises ahead of proposed multi-party elections in 2010.

Some parties see this as a positive first step in the seven-stage roadmap to democracy; a sign that the junta may be ready to enter the international community after years of isolation. But Burma has been at war for more than six decades. The military uses armed conflict, rape, torture and displacement of civilians. Of the inmates that have been released, 24 are deemed political prisoners.

According to the Burma Campaign UK, there are more than 2,100 political prisoners still behind bars. As for a people’s power movement, an anonymous Burmese blogger on the BBC website remarked that the junta’s way of dealing with such a concept is to “simply shoot everybody”. continue

Bangladesh to Develop Nuclear Power

Dhaka: Bangladesh is keen to set up a nuclear power plant in the next decade with a 1,000 MW capacity with potential help from Russia, in order fulfill the demand for power in the country.
According to official sources, the power plant will be set up at Rooppur, which was previously set up by the then East Pakistan government for the same purposes.
Bangladesh recently received three initial proposals to set up the nuclear power plant from three countries – China, Russia, and South Korea – but Russia is at the top of the list and is eager to move ahead with the project under a bilateral agreement.
A Russian technical expert team arrived on Sunday in Bangladesh on a three-day visit to discuss the proposed power plant project with Bangladesh authorities.
Prior to the team’s visit, the Russian ambassador met with Bangladesh’s state minister for science and ICT, Mr. Yeafesh Osman, to discuss issues related to the project.
However, Bangladesh may face big challenges in mobilizing funds for the project due to the current global financial crisis. The project is likely to cost US $1.2 to $1.5 billion and take up to ten years to complete.
The nuclear power plant project was initiated in Bangladesh during the previous BNP government and the caretaker government that followed expedited the process to obtain a clearance certificate from the International Atomic Energy Agency.
According to sources, the Bangladesh caretaker government received technical and financial support from the IAEA to develop a site suitable for the plant, with the IAEA providing $366,000 for the site in Rooppur.
Bangladesh has also requested the IAEA to provide technical support to create a trained and skilled workforce for the project, the government source said.
Narinjara news

Burmese military authorities have employed a new tactic instead of the typical use of forced labor in the construction of embankments for erecting a fence along the border of Bangladesh, said a village chairman from Maugndaw Township.

Authorities Employ New Tactic with Labor
Maungdaw: Burmese military authorities have employed a new tactic instead of the typical use of forced labor in the construction of embankments for erecting a fence along the border of Bangladesh, said a village chairman from Maugndaw Township.
“The army authorities have constructed embankments along the border area piece by piece, but they are not using forced labor as usual. Authorities have forced all village chairmen in the areas to pay the wages of residents who are working at the embankment construction,” he said.
The construction of the embankments for the border fence is being undertaken in the region by GE, the army engineer battalion, led by Colonel Kan Chun.
“The army’s authorities seem to be worried about local people complaining if they use forced labor for the embankment construction. So the army authority has avoided using forced labor, but we have been ordered to pay the wage of the workers daily,” the chairman said.
Many village chairmen in Maungdaw Township now have to pay wages for workers by collecting money from other locals, mostly business people and smugglers.
According to a local source, the engineer battalion has been stationed along the border to build the fence, but have been divided into smaller groups and stationed distances of five miles from each other. Before erecting the fence, the army is constructing the embankments above where the fences will be placed.
Meanwhile, the Burmese army is also transporting rock from Buthidaung to Maungdaw to make the concrete pillars that will be used in the fence, and many villagers have been used as porters for material. However, the army authority is paying wages to these villagers.
According to local sources, prisoners in Buthidaung have been used at the quarry site, located near the Buthidaung – Maungdaw motor road, that is producing stone for use in the border fence. NARINJARA News