Twin-Track Talks in Burma Raise Peace Hopes

The Huffington Post

Thailand seeks to mediate peace talks between Burma’s ruling junta and the Karen ethnic group that it’s been trying to wipe out for 60 years. Norway, meanwhile, hopes to heal the rift between warring Karen factions.
When we think of the face of the opposition to Burma’s ruthless ruling junta, Nobel Peace Prize laureate Aung San Suu Kyi usually comes to mind. Now in her fourteenth year of on-again, off-again house arrest, she emerged as a national leader when thousands of protesting students and monks were mowed down by the junta on August 8, 1988. The 8888 Uprising, as it came to be known, was reprised, if on a lesser scale, in 2007 when over 100 civilians and monks were killed during the “Saffron Revolution.”
But the SPDC (State Peace and Development Council — the predictably Orwellian type of name that dictatorships tend to adopt) faces another insurrection in Burma, one with which the West is less familiar. Minority groups have been battling to establish their own states — not to mention escape ethnic cleansing — for years. Eventually, cease-fire agreements with the junta were signed by all, except for the Shans and the Karens.
The Karens, the largest such group, inhabit the Burma-Thailand border region, as well as the Irrawaddy delta, the part of Burma hardest hit by Cyclone Nargis. They’re waging a war against what they call the three A’s — annihilation, absorption, and assimilation — in the form of the Karen National Union (KNU) and its armed wing, the Karen National Liberation Army (KNLA). Continue reading “Twin-Track Talks in Burma Raise Peace Hopes”

Yes. Burma did come up in the discussion.-Acting Department Spokesman-Daily Press Briefing

MR. WOOD: Yes. Burma did come up in the discussion. It’s an interest that both the Secretary and the Thai foreign minister expressed. They also – the Secretary got a readout from the Thai foreign minister on his efforts to foster political reconciliation in the country. And the Secretary reaffirmed our commitment to strengthening the relationship with Thailand. But they did – indeed, Burma did come up and they had a good discussion of it, and both countries are interested in trying to bring about an improvement of the human rights situation in Burma and are committed to working toward that end.

News from another Talk-Club

Wa official: No answers to junta’s questions until ours are answered

wei-xuegang2 What about Wei Xuegang, who joined them in 1989? “Wei is relatively a new comer,” he replied. “He thinks in terms of money. And we are aware that the Burma Army is trying to win him over. But I don’t think he will leave us. However, in case he does, the damage will be minimal.

A senior Wa official who declined to have his name divulged told the United Wa State Army (UWSA) has been under pressure by Naypyidaw for response to its demands to come under its wings but that the group has no reply for them until Naypyidaw have answers for its own demands.

“We asked them first and they never bothered to answer,” he said. “Now they want answers for their questions. That’s not fair.”

The official explained that the UWSA had attended the National Convention (1993-2008) and, together with its allies, had presented a joint set of proposals including one to place areas under their control along the Sino-Burma border under Naypyidaw’s direct supervision. “We never received a reply for that and when the draft constitution came out, we found none of our demands were met,” he said. “Needless to say, we are against the constitution and we are against the upcoming elections. Only we are not putting out official statements like others.”

In January, the junta’s representative Lt-Gen Ye Myint came to Panghsang “to pick up from where he had left off last year,” he recounted. “He said we need not surrender but change our name to something like a frontier defense force and older leaders to set up parties to contest the elections. ‘We will even issue you new weapons which are of better quality. We will also assign educated officers from the Burma Army to assist your officers’. And when there was no response from us, he said, ‘There are reports a lot of mobilization is going on in here. Does it mean you are saying no to our offers?’ Again, our leaders refused to say anything. He went back empty-handed.”

Do the Wa have a course of action that they have chosen when the time comes? “We do,” he answered. “But until such time, we are saying nothing.”

He assured SHAN that the UWSA is “more united” and there is no discrimination among races.

What about Wei Xuegang, who joined them in 1989? “Wei is relatively a new comer,” he replied. “He thinks in terms of money. And we are aware that the Burma Army is trying to win him over. But I don’t think he will leave us. However, in case he does, the damage will be minimal.” Continue reading “Wa official: No answers to junta’s questions until ours are answered”

Junta’s concern over foreign media grows

Junta’s concern over foreign media grows
Apr 24, 2009 (DVB)–Strict media control enhances spiritual and intellectual nourishment, says an article in Burma’s leading state-run newspaper that speaks of the dangers of foreign media being broadcast into the country via satellite.

An article published today in the New Light of Myanmar newspaper called for the banning of satellite dishes to “protect the people against dangers and harms associated with news”.
“Satellite programmers are specially designed by major nations to wield influence over the international community in the sphere of the media,” wrote Ko Gyi Ngwe Zin Yaw.
The ruling State Peace and Development Council is notoriously fearful of foreign media being circulated inside Burma. Continue reading “Junta’s concern over foreign media grows”

Senior monk urges Mon political groups to join 2010 election

Fri 24 Apr 2009, Mon Son, IMNA
A senior monk has expressed a desire for Mon political parties to participate in the elections to be held in Burma in 2010 so that the Mon community will have some representation in any future parliament.

Abbot Ain Da Ka, from Kamarwet village, made the remarks during a speech on April 11th at the closing ceremony of a Mon summer school in Young Dong village, Mudon Township. The summer school programmed is run by the Mon National Literature and Cultural Committee (MNLCC) of which the abbot is chairman for Mon State.

He said, “if Mon political groups participate in the 2010 election, we will get a chance to lobby in parliament for the MMLCC and for Mon people.” Continue reading “Senior monk urges Mon political groups to join 2010 election”

Min Ko Naing bestowed Gwangju Human Rights award


Chanho Kim, Director of the “May 18 Memorial Foundation”, the group that bestowed the award said, Min Ko Naing was chosen for the award in recognition of his commitment and struggle for democracy and human rights, despite the ruling military junta’s repression.

“We have chosen Min Ko Naing this year, because of his commitment in the struggle for democracy and human rights under the repressive rule. Moreover, we want to show that we are good friends of Burma. The situation in Burma has not improved and there are many political prisoners,” Chunho Kim told Mizzima.

The award is given by the Gwangju-based May 18 Memorial Foundation and Min Ko Naing was nominated by the Korea-branch of the National League for Democracy-Liberated Area (NLD-LA).

Students in Gwangju city formed the May 18 Memorial Foundation, in remembrance of the day they stood against the then South Korean President Chun Doo Hwan on May 18, 1980. The foundation is mainly sponsored by the South Korean government. Continue reading “Min Ko Naing bestowed Gwangju Human Rights award”

The Wa-Burmese ceasefire looks shakier

by ANN

Twenty years ago, on April 17, 1989, ethnic Wa troops put an end to the communist insurgency in Burma and established the United Wa State Army (UWSA). With Chinese-donated weapons they inherited from Burman communists, the UWSA became the largest ethnic insurgent army in the country. Following the Wa mutiny, other ethnic armed opposition groups along the Thai border asked the Wa army to join their alliance. Instead, the war-weary Wa leaders decided to accept an offer from the military government for a ceasefire agreement.

This week the UWSA will hold a grand ceremony to celebrate their 20th anniversary. Wa leaders feel that they are doing better than ever before. The Wa region, an isolated and mountainous area in the northern Shan State along the Chinese border, is now at peace, and under the control of a Wa army led by Wa leaders, who are following an ethnic Wa nationalist agenda. Paved roads have been built, linking the major towns in the area, where Chinese-style concrete buildings have replaced bamboo huts. And after decades of international isolation, international NGOs are now implementing community development projects. continue

Thailand, Burma sign pact against human trafficking

Published: 24/04/2009 at 05:50 PM
Thailand and Burma signed an agreement on Friday to combat human trafficking, especially of women and children — the first such pact between two countries, the official statement said.

The agreement is aimed at improving cooperation along their 2,108 kilometre border.

Tens of thousands of migrant workers from impoverished Burma are working in Thailand, both legally and illegally.

Burma’s Home Affairs Minister Maj-Gen Maung Oo and Thai Social Development and Human Security Minister Issara Somchai signed the pact in Burma’s administrative capital, Naypyidaw.

The official statement said the pact was “an important step and provided a strong foundation for future joint efforts between the two countries in tackling cross-border trafficking”.

The deal covers areas such as prevention, protection, recovery and reintegration of victims, law enforcement and criminal justice, “as well as developing and implementing joint actions between the two countries”, it said.

“We two countries tried to sign this (agreement) two years ago,” a senior Burma police official told AFP on condition of anonymity.

“It’s a big achievement for us to cooperate with neighbouring countries. We can discuss more effectively in the future,” the official said.

Burma has been ruled by the military since 1962 and is under sanctions by the United States and European countries because of its human rights records and continued detention of democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi.
BKK Post