The smuggling rice seeds from Burma has become so lucrative that villagers in Mae Sot, Tak province, have bought more than 300 pickup trucks to do the job.

Villagers cashing in on riceseed scam
By The Nation
Published on April 2, 2009

Every night around 80 trucks are driven to a rendezvous location after corrupt officials are paid around Bt2 million, a military source said.

The smuggled rice seeds are then illegally pawned under a government priceintervention scheme with the help of corrupt officials. The rice mills and cooperatives then benefit from money generated from smuggled seeds, the existence of which is never recorded.

A source from a network of rice cooperatives in Mae Sot district said smuggling was supported by rice traders from central provinces who hired villagers to carry rice across the border. The smugglers have been operating for quite a while now thanks to the help of corrupt kamnan and village heads.

The smuggling has reduced after a series of military campaigns that began last year. A local military taskforce has since seized 135 tonnes of smuggled rice seeds.

Visit to UNDP ends in Rangoon prison- Among the many people in Rangoon’s central jail who shouldn’t be there are a couple of journalists. These two did not write or say anything against the government.

By Awzar Thi
Column: Rule of Lords

These two did not write or say anything against the government. They didn’t do anything that constituted a threat to the army or its hold on power. Yet they were imprisoned on a charge of inciting others to “commit an offence against the state.”
How this happened illustrates the difficulties faced by people in Burma wanting to improve their society without putting themselves at risk.

The story begins just after Cyclone Nargis hit the country last May. The house of 24-year-old reporter Eint Khine Oo in the outer suburbs of Rangoon was not too badly damaged. After she and her family had patched it up, she started travelling around nearby areas to see how she could help. She worked with the local Red Cross, and sent some news to her journal, Ecovision.

Around a month later she ran into 29-year-old Kyaw Kyaw Thant, another reporter and a former editor of the popular Weekly Eleven journal. He had also been looking around to see what was going on and what he could do about it. Like so many people, he brought food and money to cyclone victims. He gave the money to Red Cross personnel to pay for some medicines.

The two of them got talking. Local authorities were trying to force a group of homeless people staying at a religious hall to go back to their now nonexistent houses. The people didn’t want to stay in the hall, but it was raining and they had no materials with which to make temporary shelters back where they had come from.

The reporters spoke with Red Cross country staff and agreed to go to the International Committee of the Red Cross in town, in the naive hope that they might be able to get some assistance there. But rather than going by themselves they decided it would be better if some of the people in need of the materials came too.

On June 10 a group of them set off early, along with one of the Red Cross staffers. They arrived at the office not long after it opened. They got no promises, but were told that donors would be alerted to their request. Continue reading “Visit to UNDP ends in Rangoon prison- Among the many people in Rangoon’s central jail who shouldn’t be there are a couple of journalists. These two did not write or say anything against the government.”

ASIAN HUMAN RIGHTS COMMISSION – URGENT APPEAL BURMA: Two journalists imprisoned for helping cyclone victims visit international aid groups

Dear friends,

In June 2008 after Cyclone Nargis devastated the Burma delta, a group of homeless residents went to request assistance from offices of international agencies in Rangoon. At that time, two reporters for local news journals went along with them. The Asian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) in this appeal is bringing you details of the subsequent arrest of the journalists along with the residents, and imprisonment of the two journalists on trumped-up charges. They are among a number of persons sentenced because they tried to help cyclone victims.


On 10 June 2008 a group of women and children came to the offices of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) and United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) in Rangoon to request assistance for rebuilding their houses because their group of 25 families had been homeless and staying at a religious building in the outer suburban area of the city since Cyclone Nargis hit over a month before. Two young journalists, Ma Eint Khaing Oo working for Ecovision journal and Kyaw Kyaw Thant, a freelancer with Weekly Eleven, had arranged to go with them.

After they had gone to the ICRC, the police and members of a government-organized vigilante organisation detained the family members and journalists nearby the UNDP office before they could go inside. A group of men came up to them in plain clothes and without saying who they were, pushed them into waiting vehicles and drove them away. They released the family members to the custody of local council officials after 12 days in exchange for forcing them to testify that the two journalists brought them in order to stir up trouble and create animosity towards the government by saying that they had not received assistance and needed help from international groups.

In a closed court the two journalists denied the charges against them. Eint Khaing Oo said that she had gone around cyclone-affected areas in the vicinity of her house, where over 300 people had been left homeless, to see what she could do to help. She had worked together with local Red Cross personnel and had then discussed with them to go with a group of cyclone-affected people to try to get help from ICRC. A member of the local Red Cross had gone with them to the ICRC office and had met with the staff there to request assistance. He had also gone with them to the UN office to see if they could also get some assistance for their projects, and had given money for the cost of transport, but had left when they found the office closed. At no time had she done anything or said anything against the state, she said.

Kyaw Kyaw Thant said that he had gone to the affected area also to collect news about what was going on and to give food to the homeless and needy out of his own pocket, like thousands of other people in Rangoon did at that time. He also gave money to local Red Cross personnel for them to buy medicine and by chance met Eint Khaing Oo, whereupon he agreed to help with arrangements to meet the officials in international agencies. He denied that they had said that the affected persons had not received any aid or had done anything wrong. continue

ျပီးခဲ့တဲ့လက ေစာ္ဘြားၾကီးကုန္းမွာ ရမ္းကားသူေတြရဲ႕ Generation Wave

ျပီးခဲ့တဲ့လက ေစာ္ဘြားၾကီးကုန္းမွာ ရမ္းကားသူေတြရဲ႕ ရိုက္ႏွက္မႈကို ခံခဲ့ရျပီး အာဏာပိုင္ေတြက အေရးယူမေပးတဲ့အျပင္ ထပ္ဆင့္အႏိုင္က်င့္ခံခဲ့ရတဲ့ ဒဂံုတကၠသိုလ္ ဘူမိေဗဒအထူးျပဳ ေက်ာင္းသားမ်ားျဖစ္ၾကတဲ့ ေ၀ျဖိဳးေက်ာ္၊ ေနလင္းေအာင္၊ ေအာင္ဖုန္း၊ ျပည္႕ႏိုင္ျဖိဳးတို႔ ေလးဦးကို ေက်ာင္းမွ တနွစ္စီ နားခိုင္းလိုက္ပါတယ္။

အခင္းျဖစ္ေနတုန္း ၀င္ေရာက္ျဖန္ေျဖေပးတဲ့ ဆရာျဖစ္သူ ဦးေအာင္မင္းဦးကိုေတာ့ ဘားအံတကၠသိုလ္သို႔ အဓမၼေျပာင္းေရႊ႔႕ေစလိုက္ပါတယ္။ continue

KNU demands international community rescue Burma

by Salai Pi Pi
Thursday, 02 April 2009 19:39

New Delhi (Mizzima) – An armed ethnic Burmese resistance group, Karen National Union (KNU), has urged the international community to take stern action against Burma’s military regime in order to restore peace and stability in the volatile Southeast Asian country.

Saw David Takapaw, vice-president of the Karen National Union (KNU), which is waging the world’s longest running civil war against the Burmese regime, on Thursday said the international community’s concerted and timely action against the junta is needed in order to address the political deadlock inside the country.

“We made the call as we [opposition groups and the Burmese regime], by ourselves, cannot successfully address the problem at this time,” Takapaw told Mizzima.

Takapaw continued, “For example we [KNU] have been waging war against the Burmese regime for nearly six decades but there has been no tangible result to come of it,” adding, “We think it is better if the international community solves the problem.”

The KNU in its statement on the peace effort released on Saturday also said that the widespread use of drugs and the country’s poor record on human rights, refugees, human trafficking and illegal migrant workers, have all negatively affected the international community and now threaten global peace.

“Drugs are spreading to the region and there are many illegal migrant workers staying in neighboring countries. Burma has become an international problem,” Takapaw implored.

Moreover, the KNU reminded the international community to be conscious of the true ideology of the Burmese regime when approaching them, warning, “otherwise their good intentions will be easily defeated.”

The KNU, and its armed wing the Karen National Liberation Army (KNLA), has held talks with the Burmese regime on five previous occasions since launching their campaign for self-determination in 1948. Continue reading “KNU demands international community rescue Burma”

The US is prepared to tackle the Burma issue by joining six-party talks along the lines of those held to discuss North Korea’s nuclear program, according to a senior State Department official.

Six-party Talks on Burma Proposal Gets US Support

The US is prepared to tackle the Burma issue by joining six-party talks along the lines of those held to discuss North Korea’s nuclear program, according to a senior State Department official.

Deputy Secretary of State Jim Steinberg told the National Bureau of Asian Research think tank on Wednesday that the US wanted a “collaborative and constructive” approach on Burma, saying nations with sway over the junta should avoid “recreating a mini version of the Great Game.”

Steinberg said: “Viewing relations with a notorious authoritarian regime like Burma as a zero-sum game is in no nation’s interest. We want to discuss a common approach with Asean [the Association of Southeast Asian Nations], with China, with India and with Japan to find a policy that will improve the lives of the people of Burma and promote stability in this key region.”
The US was open to setting up new “flexible” frameworks similar to the six party talks on Pyongyang’s nuclear program, Steinberg said.

Some analysts are skeptical, however, pointing out that the six-party talks on North Korea had not halted Pyongyang’s nuclear program. The talks brought together the US, China, Japan, Russia and the two Koreas. Continue reading “The US is prepared to tackle the Burma issue by joining six-party talks along the lines of those held to discuss North Korea’s nuclear program, according to a senior State Department official.”

Reports say famous liver disease specialist Dr. Khin Maung Win is trying to establish a private airline for operation inside Burma.

Medical specialist to launch private airline

Chiang Mai (Mizzima) – Reports say famous liver disease specialist Dr. Khin Maung Win is trying to establish a private airline for operation inside Burma.

It is envisioned that airplanes will be leased from Ukraine, as the doctor continues talks with the Myanmar Airway and Hotel and Tourism Corporation concerning his proposed business venture.

“The planes will be on lease rather than being bought. They’re not for personal use, but for domestic flights. I’ll lease these planes from Ukraine. I’m currently talking with Myanmar Airway and Hotel and Tourism and I think an agreement will be reached within one month,” Dr. Khin Maung Win told Mizzima.

Though he declined to give further details, according to the local weekly ‘Yangon Times’ in Burma, the planes in question can accommodate 18 passengers and will service domestic travel routes and provide ambulatory service for emergency patients and foreign organizations.

The first private airline in Burma, Air Bagan, was established by U Tay Za, a close associate of junta leader Senior General Than Shwe and his family.

Dr. Khin Maung Win will be the first entrepreneur to enter Burma’s aviation business utilizing only small craft.

Having served in the Ministry of Health until 2007, Dr. Khin Maung Win now operates the 30th Street in Rangoon.

While the exact planes being negotiated for are uncertain, the International Aviation Safety Assessment Program categorizes Ukraine as a tier two country regarding air safety. A category 2 country is in turn defined by the Federal Aviation Administration as guilty of not providing safety oversight of its air carrier operators in accordance with the minimum safety oversight standards.