Burma Wants the Bomb-Interview with Thakhin Chan Tun, a former diplomat who served as Burma’s ambassador to North Korea from 1974 to 1975.

by Irrawaddy

Relations between Burma and North Korea have attracted intense attention in recent weeks, as suspicions grow that the two pariah states are joining forces in a bid to thwart international sanctions against them.

Two recent developments have greatly added to worries that these two countries are becoming a double threat to regional security.

The first was the departure of a North Korean cargo ship, the Kang Nam 1, from a port near Pyongyang on June 17. The ship is believed to be heading for Burma, and is currently being pursued by the US Navy, which may act on a recent UN resolution authorizing inspections of North Korean vessels suspected of carrying banned weapons or materials. The second was the leaking of documents and video footage showing caves and tunnels being constructed in Burma with the help of North Korean engineers—possibly as part of a controversial nuclear program by the Burma junta.
To learn more about the possible significance of these events, The Irrawaddy recently interviewed Thakhin Chan Tun, a former diplomat who served as Burma’s ambassador to North Korea from 1974 to 1975. Continue reading “Burma Wants the Bomb-Interview with Thakhin Chan Tun, a former diplomat who served as Burma’s ambassador to North Korea from 1974 to 1975.”

Weekly Business Roundup (June 27, 2009)

by Irrawaddy

Rumors around Secret Russian Mining Project in Shan State

A secretive mining and factory project in northern Shan State involving the Russian heavy industry engineering company Tyazhpromexport is accused of land theft, forced relocation and water pollution.

The highly secret nature of the project is spawning rumors that more than iron ore is involved in the project which involves several open pit mines being cut into a mountain side.

More than 10,000 acres of land have been stolen and as many as 40,000 people will be affected by what is officially described as an iron ore and processing operation near Taunggyi, says the Pa-O Youth Organization (PYO), a non-governmental organization.

Water in the vicinity which normally supplies villages and farmland in the area has already been diverted for the mine operation, and there is concern about pollution when the ore processing work begins, reportedly by the end of this year, said PYO in a study.

“The factory is equipped with underground bunkers and surrounded by two 10-feet cement walls and barbed wire,” says the PYO report. “Extreme travel restrictions and a lack of public information about the project are fueling rampant local speculation that uranium will also be mined on the mountain.”

“They are hiding what they’re doing behind walls and fences,” the report said. Continue reading “Weekly Business Roundup (June 27, 2009)”

State media reported that Mr Gambari met Foreign Minister Nyan Win on two occasions to discuss a visit by Mr Ban.

UN envoy Ibrahim Gambari has left Burma after a two-day visit aimed at paving the way for a possible visit by UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon.
State media reported that Mr Gambari met Foreign Minister Nyan Win on two occasions to discuss a visit by Mr Ban.
But he is not believed to have met jailed pro-democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi, currently on trial accused of breaking the terms of her detention.
Mr Gambari is now expected to brief Mr Ban before a possible visit in July.
Correspondents say Mr Ban is wary of his trip being used by the generals to endorse their treatment of Ms Suu Kyi.
The trial has been widely condemned as a ruse to keep Ms Suu Kyi in jail during a general election which the ruling junta has scheduled for next year.
Progress stalled?
After arriving in Rangoon on Friday Mr Gambari travelled to Burma’s capital, Nay Pyi Taw, where he held talks with the foreign minister.
“Mr Gambari met Nyan Win on 26 and 27 June. They discussed Mr Ban Ki-Moon’s visit to Myanmar [Burma],” AFP news agency quoted state television as saying. Continue reading “State media reported that Mr Gambari met Foreign Minister Nyan Win on two occasions to discuss a visit by Mr Ban.”

World Refugee Day observed in Mae Sot

by Usa Pichai
Friday, 26 June 2009 16:20

Chiang Mai (mizzima) – The United Nation High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR) and related organizations have held activities in honor of World Refugee Day in Mae Sot, a Thai-Burma border town, with the aim of raising awareness and understanding among the Thai population of the vast Burmese migrant and refugee population in the area.

Yoshimi Saita, head of the UNHCR field office in Mae Sot, said in her opening remarks on Wednesday that there is a continuous flow of refugees crossing from Burma into Thailand, particularly, at the moment, those fleeing ongoing fighting in Burma’s Thasongyang District. “We thank the Thai government for not forcing those villagers to return home,” he said, according to a report in the Thai newspaper Komchadluek on Thursday.

An NGO worker in Tak told Mizzima that activities were organized for two days, June 24th and 25th, with various activities to raise awareness and understanding of local people about refugees.

Tak Province, which includes Mae Sot, is home to some half-dozen refugee camps, servicing primarily a Karen population. The camps are home to over 100,000 people.

The events also aimed to provide information about the organizations that work with refugees about what they do and how they operate. Additionally, there was a photo exhibition on the conditions and problems refugees are facing. Continue reading “World Refugee Day observed in Mae Sot”

UN envoy paves way for Ban Myanmar visit: state TV

he U.N.’s special envoy to Myanmar met the country’s foreign minister to prepare for a trip by Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, a government official and state television said Saturday.

Rights groups fear any such visit will lend legitimacy to the ruling junta’s trial of pro-democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi.

The Nobel Peace laureate is in prison and faces up to five years in jail on the charges she violated her house arrest after an uninvited American man swam to her closely guarded lakeside home last month and stayed two days. Her trial has spark international outrage.

Details of the visit by envoy Ibrahim Gambari, who arrived Friday, were not disclosed by the U.N. But a government official, speaking on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak to reporters, confirmed that Gambari met Foreign Minister U Nyan Win in the capital of Naypyitaw. State television later reported the two discussed plans for a visit by Ban. British Ambassador Mark Canning said Friday that he also believed Gambari was setting the stage for Ban.

Ban recently told The Associated Press that he was looking at the “appropriate timing” for a visit.

Human Rights Watch and some governments have urged U.N. chief not to visit now, arguing the trip could be exploited by the military government, which might portray it as an endorsement of the legitimacy of Suu Kyi’s trial.

But Suu Kyi’s National League for Democracy party supports the trip, and other countries say the alternative is to do nothing and miss an opportunity to have the secretary-general press for Suu Kyi’s release and push for more open and inclusive elections next year. Continue reading “UN envoy paves way for Ban Myanmar visit: state TV”

U.S. won’t forcibly inspect N. Korean ship

SEOUL | The United States will not use force to inspect a North Korean ship suspected of carrying banned goods, an American official was quoted as saying Friday.

An American destroyer has been shadowing the North Korean freighter sailing off China’s coast, possibly on its way to Myanmar.

Undersecretary of Defense Michele Flournoy met with South Korean officials in Seoul on Friday as the U.S. sought international support for aggressively enforcing a U.N. sanctions resolution aimed at punishing Pyongyang for its second nuclear test last month. The North Korean-flagged ship, Kang Nam 1, is the first to be tracked under the U.N. resolution.

North Korea has in response escalated threats of war, with a slew of harsh rhetoric including warnings that it would unleash a “fire shower of nuclear retaliation” and “wipe out the [U.S.] aggressors” in the event of a conflict.

On Thursday, the communist regime organized a massive anti-American rally in Pyongyang, where some 100,000 participants vowed to “crush” the U.S. One senior speaker told the crowd that the North will respond to any sanctions or U.S. provocations with “an annihilating blow.”

That was seen as a pointed threat in response to the American destroyer. Continue reading “U.S. won’t forcibly inspect N. Korean ship”

Ban to use Myanmar trip to ask junta to release Suu Kyi

NEW YORK (Kyodo) U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki Moon, who hopes to travel to Myanmar after visiting Japan next week, said Thursday he wants to discuss the release of political prisoners, including democracy icon Aung San Suu Kyi, with the junta leadership.

While Ban did not pinpoint the dates of his possible visit, which some speculate could occur shortly after he leaves Tokyo next Thursday, he only explained that he is still considering the “appropriate” timing for it.
“It can be soon. It can be also decided at a later stage,” he told Japanese reporters ahead of his three-day trip from next Tuesday to Tokyo, where he is expected to meet with Prime Minister Taro Aso and other leaders.

During his visit to Japan, Ban said he will discuss climate change and push Japan to set a more ambitious target in cutting greenhouse gases,as well as matters related to North Korea.
Ban’s special adviser, Ibrahim Gambari, is already in Myanmar, hoping to lay the groundwork for the U.N. chief’s visit. U.N. diplomatic sources said if the visit occurs, it would be a short one, with Ban possibly arriving July 4 from Thailand and leaving July 5.

Gambari’s trip, his eighth, involves discussions about the international body’s expectations about the democratization process, as well as the release of political prisoners, Ban explained. Continue reading “Ban to use Myanmar trip to ask junta to release Suu Kyi”



Ashin Gambira’s prison term reduced by five years
by Phanida
Friday, 26 June 2009 16:17

Chiang Mai (mizzima) – Monk Ashin Gambira, arrested and sentenced to 68 years in prison for his lead role in anti-junta protests in September 2007 has had his prison term reduced by five years by a district court in Insein prison on Thursday.

A message to all members of TheBestFriend.org

A message to all members of TheBestFriend.org

Dear Friends,

Burma’s Ministry of Religious Affairs is effectively prohibiting Buddhist monks from traveling abroad by refusing to issue letters of recommendation, according to senior monks in Rangoon. Without a letter of recommendation from the ministry a monk cannot apply for a visa to travel to a foreign country.

In a move to restrict the movements of monks inside Burma even more they are now forced to give a biography with photo to authorities and passport controlles have intesified.

All monks are requisited to report any monk to authorities who talks about politics.

Please support the monks struggle in concern for the people of Burma. Inform your friends and colleges to help free all political prisoners including 200 monks and Aung San Suu Kyi.

Thank you all
May you be happy
The Best Friend

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