Tunnelling to nowhere out of fear

by Celeste Chenard
Friday, 12 June 2009 18:19

Mizzima News

Aung San Suu Kyi has said “Fear is a habit” in Burma. And the fear the junta has incited among its own population has in turn come to increasingly provoke fear on the part of the junta itself. While the “people are conditioned to live in fear; they fear to lose their friends, their liberty, their means of support,” continued Aung San Suu Kyi, suspicion and a lack of confidence have in turn been internalized within the mindset of the military to a state of paranoia, as they fear the loss of power.

The transfer of the capital to Naypyitaw, as one example, shows this increasing feeling of insecurity within the ranks of the junta. Analysts speculate the move of the capital was premised on one, or a combination of, the following three criteria: a return to the royal tradition and a further snub directed at British colonialism; as a further line of insulation against a popular uprising, as witnessed in 1988 and 2007; and in response to a sense of insecurity, a reaction borne out of even greater concern following the invasion of Iraq by the United States in 2003. It is indeed still highly probable the junta considers a foreign invasion possible, in particular one commanded by the CIA. Continue reading “Tunnelling to nowhere out of fear”

Appeal cases of Zargana and Zaw Thet Htwe admitted

by Phanida
Friday, 12 June 2009 21:28

Chiang Mai (Mizzima) – The appeal cases of famous comedian and film director Zargan a.k.a. Thura and Sports Journal editor Zaw Thet Htwe has been admitted by the High Court.

Zargana and Zaw Thet Htwe are serving 35 and 11 years in prison respectively. Their lawyers filed the appeal case for the second time and the High Court admitted it on June 3.

“We can submit our argument for admitting our appeal case. The court has accepted it for all the four co-accused. The lawyers filed the appeal and we have hope. Our families will do everything,” Ma Khaing Cho, wife of Zaw Thet Htwe, said.

The co-accused of Zargana and Zaw Thet Htwe are Thant Zin Aung and Gadone a.k.a. Tin Maung Aye.

They were charged under eight cases including section 33(a) of the Electronic Law, section 505(b) of the Penal Code (disaffection towards State and Government) and section 295(a) of the Penal Code. Zaw Thet Htwe was sentenced to 19 years and Zargana was sentenced to 59 years in prison respectively.

However, the Divisional Court commuted the sentences of Zaw Thet Htwe by eight years and Zargana by 24 years. So they have to serve the remaining prison terms of 11 and 35 years.

Zaw Thet Htwe is serving his sentence in Taungyi prison in Shan State. His wife met him on June 7 in a prison interview and said that his health is fine.

But the High Court dismissed a similar appeal case of blogger Nay Phone Latt after allowing the lawyers to argue on June 22.

Nay Phone Latt was sentenced to a total of 20 years in prison after being charged under the Electronic Law. Then the Rangoon Divisional Court commuted his sentence by eight and-a-half years in February. He is serving his prison sentence in Pa-an prison in Karen State.

Burma to sell electricity to Bangladesh

By Tun Kyaw, Dhaka: A Burmese company is keen on setting up a 500 MW hydroelectric power plant in Arakan State and export electricity to Bangladesh. This was announced by Bangladesh Foreign Minister Dipu Moni yesterday.

During her recent visit to Burma she held discussions with the authorities of a local company the Shwe Taung Development Co. which has leased land in Arakan State to set up two power plants which will export electricity to Bangladesh in order to meet its rising demand.

A team of technical experts from the Ministry of Energy is expected to visit Arakan State in the first week of July for a feasibility study on the prospects of electricity import, she said at a seminar on Bangladesh-Burma Relations organized by the Bangladesh Institute of International Strategic Studies ( BIISS).

The quantum of bilateral trade between the two countries will be increased from the present 140 million US dollar to 500 million US dollar during the 2009-10 fiscal year.

Establishment of direct banking facilities will also be beneficial to the businessmen of both countries, she said.

On road communication Bangladesh is seeking a highway and a railway route linking Burma, other Southeast Asian countries and China. This is underway. Moreover, an airline between Bangladesh and Burma will start operating very soon. To facilitate trade and tourism, bi-weekly direct flights on the Mandalay-Cox’s Bazaar route can be operated by any Bangladeshi private airline, Dip Muni said.

The Bangladesh government is also preparing and updating a list of Muslim refugees from Burma who number around 22,000, at Burma’s request for repatriation to their home country, she said.

A political observer in exile says, there is no hydroelectricity in Arakan State for the Arakanese people under Burmese rule till today. This despite the abundant rivers, creeks and water-falls which can help generate hydroelectricity in the state. Natural gas is also available in great quantity in this state. Despite all this the Arakanese people are in a state of extreme poverty.

The first railway track in Arakan State, which was opened by Prime Minister Lt. General Thein Sein on 19 May, 2009, collapsed in heavy rains on Monday, stopping the new train from running the route.

A monk confirmed the incident over the phone, saying, “The railway route was being repaired but needs some more time before operating normally. It was damaged after a mudslide under the railway track.”

The railway route currently runs between Sittwe, the capital of Arakan State, and the Government Technical College located 11 miles to the west.

The opening ceremony of the railway track on 19 May was presided over by the Prime Minister and had thousands of people turn out to see the train. Since there is no other railway track in Arakan State, people all around Sittwe attended the ceremony to see and ride the new train.

During the ceremony, Lt. General Thein Sein told attendees that Arakan State would be more advanced in the future because the railway would promote development of the state. He added that any region or province is in need of a good railway route and highway in order to be developed, and without such roads, development in the region would be impossible. He urged local Arakanese people to utilize the opportunity for the state’s development.

The state-run newspapers, TV, and radio aired the Prime Minister’s speech and the ceremony on their respective channels with highlights for people across Burma.

“Prime Minister Thein Sein’s speech is good but not in line with practice and reality. Now the railway route has broken down and the train is stopped, just 20 days after the railway was opened,” the monk said.

The railway was quickly constructed by the local army authority so that it could be opened before the rainy season, causing construction shortcuts. Because of that, the foundation of the railway is not strong.

After the railway route broke down, people in Sittwe, primarily students from GTC have avoided traveling by train.

This stretch of railroad is the first of a 250-mile rail route that is being constructed from Sittwe to Ann in Arakan State to Minbu Town in Burma proper. The project began in February of this year.



ထိုင္း-ျမန္မာနယ္စပ္ မဲေဆာက္ၿမိဳ႕တြင္ ယေန႔ နံနက္ (၉း၃၀)နာရီမွ စတင္ကာ ကေလးအလုပ္သမား ပေပ်ာက္ ေရးေန႔ အထိမ္းအမွတ္အျဖစ္ continue


Villagers doubt protection by Mon ceasefire party, prepare to pay new insurgent group – or flee

Thu 11 Jun 2009, Asah and Blai Mon
A new insurgent group has demanded payments from villagers in territory controlled by Mon cease-fire party. Doubting the party’s ability to protect them, residents say they feel compelled to flee or make them payment.

Over the last week, residents of Brigade No. 3 village in territory controlled by the New Mon State Party (NMSP) say they have been forced to weigh their reluctance to make payments demanded by Mon insurgents against questions about whether the NMSP can effectively protect them.

Last week, a new Mon insurgent group calling itself by the name “Rehmonnya” ordered residents of Brigade No. 3 village to pay 100,000 baht. A few days earlier, on June 3rd, 10 armed men from group had entered the village and kidnapped two retired village headmen. According to local sources as well as contacts in the NMSP, the two men were only freed after their families paid a ransom of 50,000 baht.

Many villagers feel compelled to pay, though Brigade No. 3 of the the Mon National Liberation Army (MNLA), the NMSP’s armed wing, sits less than a mile away. MNLA reinforcements recently arrived as well, and the village is now guarded by a rotation of 15 MNLA soldiers.

“Some houses do not want to pay, but they have to pay. Even though the NMSP will guard the village, if any house does not pay Nai Khin Maung [the man from Rehmonnya who issued the taxation order] says, ‘if you don’t pay, I will get the money any way I can get it,’” a villager told IMNA. “I cannot say what he will do because it is not that time yet, but we are afraid.”

On June 8th, the headman of Brigade No. 3 village called a morning meeting to discuss how the payment would be made. About 30 villagers attended. The deadline for payment is tomorrow. Continue reading “Villagers doubt protection by Mon ceasefire party, prepare to pay new insurgent group – or flee”