Tin Oo, Win Tin and Khin Moh Moh – previously barred by the District Court in Insein Prison.

Second defense witness to testify in Suu Kyi trial
by Mungpi
Tuesday, 09 June 2009 18:10

New Delhi (Mizzima) – The Rangoon Divisional Court on Tuesday decided to allow a second defense witness to testify in the trial against pro-democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi.

The decision came following a request by defense counsels to reinstate three witnesses – Tin Oo, Win Tin and Khin Moh Moh – previously barred by the District Court in Insein Prison.

Nyan Win, a member of Aung San Suu Kyi’s legal team, said, “The court has allowed only Daw Khin Moh Moh to testify, despite our appeal to reinstate all three of the witnesses.”

Earlier the District Court in Insein Prison allowed only one defense witness – Kyi Win – to testify, barring the other three, while allowing 14 prosecution witnesses to take the stand.

“I really do not know the reasons given by the court today [for their decision]. The court just said that since two of the witnesses have been barred by the District Court in line with the law, they are rejecting them,” Nyan Win recounted of the appellate court’s decision.

But Nyan Win said he, along with the other three members of Aung San Suu Kyi’s legal team, believes the Divisional Court’s decision was unfair and not in line with the law.

“We will take the case further to the High Court and request a review of the decision of the Divisional Court,” he said.

Meanwhile, the court in Insein Prison has fixed the next hearing of the case for Friday, June 12. Only then, according to Nyan Win, will they know when Khin Moh Moh will be allowed to testify.

“Probably, the court will adjourn and appoint another date, as we are going to appeal to the High Court concerning the reinstatement of the other two defense witnesses,” he added.

He said at its current speed, the trial will continue for some time yet, as the case will be subjected to possible further reviews.

“Only when the issue of reinstating the witnesses is over will the case resume in the Insein Court,” he concluded.

Thailand:15-day tourist extension rules toughen up

CMM reporters
According to the Thai Immigration Bureau, the rules for the 15-day tourist extension have been tightened up, in order to prevent foreigners’ abuse of the previous ruling.
The new regulations were put in place without warning on June 1, and state that any foreigner who has entered Thailand on 4 consecutive occasions using the 15 day extension stamp will not now be allowed to leave and re-enter the kingdom unless this is done via an international airport, in which case a further 30 day stay will be allowed.
The new rules will not affect holders of visas issued abroad; foreigners at present using the 15-day exemption method are advised to obtain Tourist or Non-Immigrant ‘O’ visas from a Thai embassy or consulate outside the country. Holders of Tourist visas will be given a 60 day stay; those with Non-Immigrant visas will be allowed 90 days.

Burma plays long in trial of Aung San Suu Kyi By Mark Canning, UK Ambassador to Burma

In the face of a wave of condemnation, Burma’s military leaders are bending over backwards to project an impression of openness. They have now allowed Aung San Suu Kyi’s defence team to appeal the decision of the trial judges to disallow three of the four witnesses her team had wanted to put on the stand.
A ruling is expected this week from a higher court, allowing for the resumption of the trial next Friday. Nobody expects it to alter the final verdict, but it may be that the government has come to realise the value of playing things long as a means of dissipating criticism.
But they still find themselves in a fix, because of course nobody has forgotten about the trial. It remains the subject of huge interest – and anger – among the Burmese, and as soon as proceedings move back to the courtroom in Insein that gaze will intensify once more.
The government has in the meantime lashed out at the younger members of Daw Suu’s party – the NLD, which swept to a landslide victory in the 1990 elections – for having criticised the trial in an internet posting, and has threatened to unleash the considerable powers of the Press and Publications Act.
The NLD comes in for a lot of stick. It is accused in some quarters of being behind the times, of being insufficiently strategic and wedded to a result that is now many years distant. But the members of the party – many of them women – are exceptionally brave people who put themselves at constant risk of arrest and harassment and, in a failing economy, make immeasurably more difficult the task of finding employment.
The Press and Publications Act is used in some strange ways. Anything with a political content generally falls foul of the censors, but it’s puzzling why things that one would have thought might serve to distract the populace from the bigger picture are also blocked.
There is nothing in the government-controlled media to suggest Burma suffers from road accidents, crime or other nastiness. Buses tip into ravines, natural disasters strike and lurid crimes occur, but rarely is news of any of this carried. Were a Martian to read the New Light of Myanmar he could be forgiven for thinking an extraordinarily successful feat of social engineering had been achieved.

Thai government spokesman Panitan says the Thai authorities have emergency procedures to handle large flows of villager refugees.

Thailand has confirmed reports that thousands of ethnic Karen villagers have fled into the country to escape fighting in neighboring Burma.Rights groups and aid organizations were the first to report as many as 3,000 ethnic Karen villagers fled from Burma to Thailand, in the past week. The groups say villagers crossed Thailand’s western border to escape escalating fighting between Burmese forces and Karen rebels.

Thai government spokesman Panitan Wattanayagorn confirmed the reports for VOA. He says it was not the first time fighting in Burma had forced villagers to flee to Thailand and would not be the last.

“We believe that, with the experience of Thailand handling this situation in the past two decades, where at times there were several hundred thousand came over the Thai borders – this is, on one hand, serious issue,” said Panitan. “But, on the other hand, I think Thailand is capable of handling this. And, there shouldn’t be any problem.”

Panitan says the Thai authorities have emergency procedures to handle large flows of villager refugees. He says they will be given temporary shelters and medical care, while immigration authorities decide what to do with them.

Thailand has tens of thousands of refugees living in camps along its borders. Many of them fled fighting in Burma.

This latest flood of villagers came as Burmese forces moved in on rebel fighters from the Karen National Union.

Burma has been increasing pressure on Karen rebels to end decades of fighting, ahead of next year’s controversial Burmese elections. Burma’s military-run government wants the country’s many ethnic groups to support the elections.

Thailand has been acting as a go-between for the Burmese authorities and the KNU to try to end the fighting, but with little success.

Burma’s last elections were in 1990, when the party of democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi won by a landslide. The military ignored the results and placed her under house arrest.

Aung San Suu Kyi is now on trial for allowing an uninvited guest to stay in her house without official permission and is expected to be sentenced to up to five years in prison.

VOA News

Burmese Junta Allows Felling Of 100,000 Tons Of Timber Per Company Annually

he Burmese military junta has granted permission to each logging company in the country’s northern Kachin State to fell over 100,000 tons of timber except teak every year, said local officers of the Forest Department.

In reality, both hardwood and teak from forests are Kachin State is mainly transported to neighbouring China through the two countries’ border in Kachin State and Rangoon, former capital of the country for export, said local timber companies’ sources.
U Tet Zin, the head of a timber camp near Train Station in Mayan Village between Myitkyina-Mandalay railways said, “We can log unlimited timber. However the military authorities have officially allowed us 5,000 tons of timber in a year.”

He added that the hardwood accumulated in the timber camp in Mayan is jointly owned by the regime’s retired generals in Rangoon and retired officers of the Forest Department.

The trees were felled in the forests along the ascent of Loili River also called Loili Hka in Kachin and Gwi Marit Bum (Gwi Marit Mountain) near Mayan village. The forests have been preserved by generations after generations, said elder Kachin villagers of Mayan who are very upset with the rampant logging in their preserved forests. Continue reading “Burmese Junta Allows Felling Of 100,000 Tons Of Timber Per Company Annually”

A senior monk from Maungdaw who did not want to disclose his name said, “We asked the government authority once to repair the road because it is an important road in western Burma. But the authority replied to me that if the road is high quality, many Muslims from Bangladesh would enter into Arakan to settle. So they neglect the road’s reconstruction.”

Arakan-RD_neglected285 Maungdaw: The Buthidaung-Maungdaw motor road, the primary road in western Burma for trade and transport with Bangladesh, collapsed yesterday in three locations after heavy rains, said a businessman from Maungdaw.

“It is the beginning of the rainy season but the road collapsed. All transportation was stopped between Buthidaung and Maungdaw yesterday after the motor road was damaged,” he said.

The road is the primary transportation link between western Burma and Bangladesh, and is essential for trade and business between the two countries. Many people, including traders and travelers, have suffered delays since yesterday due to the road damage.

The road is only 16 miles in length, but it is constructed through the difficult terrain of a mountain range.

“The road was constructed by the British around 1910 when it ruled Arakan, but there has been no real renovation since the British left the country in 1948,” the businessman added.

The road typically collapses every year, and last year it was severely damaged multiple times throughout the rainy season. However, the authorities have never undertaken work to improve the road.

A senior monk from Maungdaw who did not want to disclose his name said, “We asked the government authority once to repair the road because it is an important road in western Burma. But the authority replied to me that if the road is high quality, many Muslims from Bangladesh would enter into Arakan to settle. So they neglect the road’s reconstruction.”

The monk added that the authority’s excuse was probably sincere, because the authorities know the road is essential in western Burma and the government also uses it for transportation on a daily basis, but still there is no effort made to improve it.

Throughout Arakan State, there are many roads besides the Buthidaung-Maungdaw motor road that are suffering from damage and disrepair.

A court in Myanmar has said it will allow a second defence witness to testify in the trial of Aung San Suu Kyi, the country’s detained opposition leader.

The decision to disqualify Khin Moe Moe, a lawyer, from giving evidence was overturned by the division court on Tuesday, but the ban on two other witnesses remains.

“The court accepted one more of Aung San Suu Kyi’s witness, lawyer Khin Moe Moe,” Nyan Win, the spokesman for her National League for Democracy (NLD), said after the 10-minute hearing.

“We will go to a higher court for the other two witnesses.”

The two witnesses still prohibited from testifying are Win Tin, a dissident journalist who was Myanmar’s longest serving prisoner until his release in September, and Tin Oo, the detained deputy leader of Aung San Suu Kyi’s party.

Judges in the Yangon lower district court, which is presiding over her closed-door trial, had last month disqualified all but one of the witnesses called by the defence.

Aung San Suu Kyi’s lawyers had argued that the decision was illegal.

The Nobel laureate is widely expected to be found guilty of violating the terms of her house arrest over the visit of an American man, John Yettaw, to her house.

The 63-year-old opposition leader’s legal team and members of her party say Yettaw’s visit was uninvited and she only agreed to let him stay after he pleaded with her that he was unwell. Continue reading “A court in Myanmar has said it will allow a second defence witness to testify in the trial of Aung San Suu Kyi, the country’s detained opposition leader.”

Youth sold to Burmese army for $US20

June 9, 2009 (DVB)–Teenagers are being kidnapped and sold to the Burmese army for as little as $US20, while those caught trying to escape are often shot or poisoned, say young army deserters recently interviewed.

Burma’s ruling State Peace and Development Council has come under fire recently as documented cases of forced recruitment of child soldiers continue to emerge, with various international jurists, British MPs and exiled Burmese lawyers labeling the practice a war crime.
Last week, Human Rights Watch criticised as “window dressing” a ceremony in which child soldiers were handed back to their families, and said the problem continues.
A report released by the Karen Human Rights Group (KHRG) last week featured interviews with three teenagers, one 16-years-old, who recently escaped from the army.
“When I returned from my grandmother’s shop [in Rangoon], I went to Sule Pagoda and a soldier who was there from Taw Boke army camp grabbed me,” said an 18-year-old deserter.
“He told me that he would give me pocket money. Then that soldier sold me for 20,000 kyat [approx US$18.80] to a military officer who was sitting in a tea shop.”
He added that out of a monthly salary of approximately US$20, army seniors stole $US18, leaving them with about US$2 for a whole month. Continue reading “Youth sold to Burmese army for $US20”