Myanmar junta urges West to lift sanctions

YANGON (Reuters) – Army-ruled Myanmar urged Western countries on Thursday to lift economic sanctions and allow the country to modernize and achieve its democratic goals.

A commentary in three official newspapers, which serve as mouthpieces for the reclusive junta, praised “visionary” United States officials who were critical of sanctions, which it said would not bring the downfall of the government.

“The more anti-government groups exercise economic sanctions as a means to put pressure on the government, the further the goal of democracy aspired by the people will divert from its route,” the newspapers said.

It urged “all political forces to give up the tactic of economic sanctions and collectively open the golden door to a modern, developed and peaceful democratic nation.” continue Myanmar junta urges West to lift sanctions

Time for Decisive Action

Daw Aung San Suu Kyi is guilty and her sentence is three years hard labor. That was the judgment handed down by a court in the compound of the notorious Insein Prison on August 11th, 2009. As a result, the military regime in Burma may believe that it has fulfilled its aim of excluding her and the pro-democracy forces from the country’s political process.

There should be no doubt that Snr-Gen Than Shwe and the junta have no intention of reconciling with either Suu Kyi or any of the pro-democracy movement and ethnic forces for the interest of the various peoples or the nation.

They have made that blatantly clear time and time again, and now, this latest verdict is a loud resounding “No!” to domestic and international calls for reconciliation and an inclusive political process.

The National League for Democracy (NLD), the leadership of the pro-democracy movement, has decided to appeal the court decision. While exposing the absence of an independent judiciary and the rule of law is crucial to understanding the current state of Burma, is it really possible for a legal case to reform the judiciary system?

Time for Decisive Action

“At a time when the UN and multilateral solutions to global crises are more needed than ever, Ban and the UN are notable by their absence,” the letter read.

Secret Norwegian Letter Blasts UN Chief

OSLO — Norway’s ambassador to the United Nations has accused Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon in a confidential letter of weak leadership, lack of charisma and angry outbursts, the Oslo newspaper Aftenposten newspaper reported.

The newspaper on Wednesday published what it said was a letter to Norway’s foreign ministry from Mona Juul.

“At a time when the UN and multilateral solutions to global crises are more needed than ever, Ban and the UN are notable by their absence,” the letter read.Juul and her husband Terje Roed-Larsen—now a UN special envoy—had key roles in secretly brokering the now-failed 1993 Oslo peace agreement between Israel and the Palestinian Liberation Organization.

Juul wrote that Ban showed “weak handling” of international challenges. She said he was a “passive observer” to Burma’s arrest of opposition leader and Nobel Peace Laureate Aung San Suu Kyi, and she blasted his slow reaction to the civil war in Sri Lanka.

Secret Norwegian Letter Blasts UN Chief

Chit Thu(DKBA) is now believed to be the most powerful man in the DKBA. He also owns large businesses dealing with logging and auto trading, and he is rumored to be involved in drug trafficking.

A senior commander of the Democratic Karen Buddhist Army (DKBA) received medical treatment in a military hospital in Rangoon’s Mingaladon Township, according to sources close to the DKBA.
Col Chit Thu, commander of DKBA Battalion 999, was hospitalized and had surgery on his stomach because of gastric illness, the sources said.

A Rangoon source also said that the commander is now in better health.

Meanwhile, a source close to the DKBA in Kawkareik Township in Karen State said Chit Thu’s condition is improving, and he recently attended a meeting in DKBA headquarters in Myaing Gyi Nyu in Karen State.

“He has been suffering from gastric problems for a long time,” the DKBA source said. “He also smokes too much and received medical treatment for this.”

comment on:One more thing about his business, they got 800 to 1200 baht per head from those migrant Burmese workers returning to their homes at their 999 checkpoint. Actually, Thai immigration officers in Mae Sot also got their fair share in that dirty money collected from the poor workers.

Now Both sides have interests in this business and they don’t want that official labor registration process to happen.

However, unconfirmed reports suggest that Chit Thu was hospitalized after a shooting incident with members of the DKBA who dislike him, but The Irrawaddy has been unable to gain independent confirmation.

Karen sources have been speculating that Col Chit Thu was involved in an ambush that killed San Pyote (aka Soe Myint), the influential commander of DKBA Battalion 7.

San Pyote was ambushed and killed by an unknown armed group while traveling by longtail boat on the Moei River on June 26.

Chit Thu is now believed to be the most powerful man in the DKBA. He also owns large businesses dealing with logging and auto trading, and he is rumored to be involved in drug trafficking.

The recent week-long offensive against the Karen National Liberation Army Brigade 7 that ended on June 21 was reportedly ordered by Chit Thu, according to sources at the Thai-Burmese border.

comment on
One more thing about his business, they got 800 to 1200 baht per head from those migrant Burmese workers returning to their homes at their 999 checkpoint. Actually, Thai immigration officers in Mae Sot also got their fair share in that dirty money collected from the poor workers.

Now Both sides have interests in this business and they don’t want that official labor registration process to happen.

The majority of the haul comprised products made in China and transported by road via Burma for sale in the north of Thailand and Bangkok.

Counterfeit goods worth 20 million baht destroyed by Mae Sai customs

CMM reporters
As part of the struggle against counterfeit goods, approximately 20 million bahts’ worth of pirated merchandise seized by Mae Sai customs officers during the past 9 months was recently crushed. The goods were intercepted and confiscated at border checkpoints in the area and at local markets.
Goods destroyed included movie DVD’s, music CD’s and fake designer bags and clothes. The majority of the haul comprised products made in China and transported by road via Burma for sale in the north of Thailand and Bangkok. Counterfeit goods make large profits for the manufacturers, and have caused international concern, particularly in the USA.
Chiangmai mail

THAILAND: New NHRC chief promises to ensure that human rights body is meaningless and irrelevant

August 20, 2009

A Statement by the Asian Human Rights Commission

THAILAND: New NHRC chief promises to ensure that human rights body is meaningless and irrelevant

In an interview posted on the website of the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) of Thailand, the commission’s new chairwoman, Amara Pongsapich, has effectively promised to make the national rights institution meaningless and irrelevant, other than as an obstacle to human rights. Throughout the process of selecting and appointing the new commission’s seven members, who include among their ranks a named human rights violator, a policeman and a court administrator, the Asian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) made clear that this would be the consequence of their appointment. In the interview (‘On the Record: New NHRC embraces spirit of cooperation’, from the Bangkok Post, 21 July 2009), the new chairwoman makes plain that the role of the commission is now no longer one of human rights defender but human rights perpetrators’ defender.

In this statement, the AHRC responds with remarks on some contents of the interview, following questions and answers in the original text.

Q. How do you explain local and regional comments on the non-participatory selection process of your commission?

A. The process was in line with the 2007 constitution, which stipulates that a seven-member panel would be set up to nominate seven prospective commissioners for Senate endorsement.

AHRC comment: The answer is correct. The 2007 Constitution is undemocratic and was introduced through a military coup to reduce the effectiveness of parliamentary government in Thailand. Therefore, it is not surprising that this non-human rights commission is the result of its process. It is also the case that as a result the NHRC is no longer a National Human Rights Institution under the terms of the international Paris Principles. For this reason the AHRC has written to the agency responsible for monitoring compliance with the principles to see that the NHRC is downgraded and is prohibited from participating in United Nations forums.

Q When did the line-up get royal endorsement and how were you selected as chairwoman? Continue reading “THAILAND: New NHRC chief promises to ensure that human rights body is meaningless and irrelevant”

In Support of the Struggle for Democracy in Burma

José Ramos-Horta
President of East Timor
Huffington Post
August 20, 2009

The horrors of World War II should have shocked humanity into rejecting violence and wars forever, and ushered in an era of peace. Yet we continue to see countless abuses and crimes, in some instances, amounting to genocide because those who can prevent these crimes did little or nothing.

The “Killing Fields” of Cambodia in the 70s, the genocide in Rwanda in ’94, the ongoing barbarities in Darfur (Sudan), Somalia and Democratic Republic Congo are just some examples reminding us that human beings, though endowed by God with intelligence and sentiments, so often behave in most inhuman cruel manner towards each other.

There comes a time when those who oppose violence and tyranny must rise up. Throughout history from Africa to Asia to Europe, millions of people have risen up against tyrants and brought them down thereby paving the way for freedom and democracy.

On August 5th, I was in Manila to pay tribute to an Asian hero, Corazon Aquino, who led the “People’s Power” movement that toppled the Marcos’ dictatorship in 1986. Millions of Filipinos paid tribute to the discreet and humble housewife turned international stateswoman and hero.

In 1998, students in Indonesia led a movement that brought down the Suharto dictatorship — and contributed to our own freedom. Today, Indonesia and the Philippines are examples of tolerance and democracy in the region, maybe still imperfect like our own in Timor-Leste.

Greater powers have succumbed to people’s will and sustained international pressure. The former Soviet Union and the Apartheid regime in South Africa are just some examples of this truth.

Burma and North Korea stand out among the few remaining outposts of tyrants, monuments of shame and embarrassment, in a world that has changed in the last 50 years. Tyrants who ruled with arrogance and incompetence, from Eastern Europe to Africa, Asia and Latin America, have mostly been blown away by the winds of change.

The time has come for more forceful and creative ways of fighting for democracy in Burma.

I am opposed to trade embargoes and economic sanctions against developing countries. While sanctions might be politically correct and satisfy our conscience, they are morally less defensible as they impose a harsher burden on an already desperately impoverished people.

However, I do not oppose efforts to freeze public and private assets held by the military and their associates in the region. Continue reading “In Support of the Struggle for Democracy in Burma”

55 Rohingya migrants sent to Bangkok after 2 deaths in Ranong jail

BANGKOK, Aug 19 (TNA) – Fifty-five Rohingya migrants detained in Thailand’s southern province of Ranong were transferred to Bangkok on Wednesday following the deaths of two Rohingyas and dozens falling ill after seven months in custody in an overcrowded detention centre, according to the police.

It was reported that the 55 migrants left Ranong Tuesday night after the police issued an urgent order. The migrants are expected to be detained at the Immigration Detention Centre in downtown Bangkok.

Pol Lt-Col Natthakrit Pinpak, chief inspector of the Ranong Immigration Office, earlier admitted that two Rohingya migrants died while in custody in the detention centre.

He said the first Rohingya, aged 15, died in June, while the second, 19, died earlier this month.

The chief inspector said they suffered dysthymia, a type of depression, refusing to have food and water for several days, and deteriorating their health to death.

“The immigration office has taken good care of the detained Rohingya migrants. We provide them three meals a day, but many of them are under stress due to the long period of detention,” Col Natthakrit said.

Fifty-year-old Rohingya Marut Hussein said at first they felt happy arriving here, as they hoped they would be deported to the third country.

“Now the situation has changed,” he said, “Our problem is tied with politics. The Thai authorities have done nothing.” Hussein said, adding that he believed the two Rohingya migrants died in Thai detention centre due to their anguished and worry about their future.

Mr Hussein also said Ranong Immigration Office have sent 13 Rohingyas for health checks at Ranong Hospital and most returned to the detention centre, except for one who remained in hospital.

Meanwhile, Ranong governor Wanchart Wongchaichana said 86 Rohingya migrants were detained early this year. The seven-month detention in a small and packed detention centre affected both physical and psychological well-being of the detainees, leading to the deaths of two Rohingyas, as well as muscle weakness and exhaustion in 13 of them.

Dr Thongchai Keeratihatthayakorn, chief of the Ranong provincial health office, explained that staying in a small room for a long period without having body movement causes nutrition deficiency in the detainees as their bodies can not burn consumed food.

“This leads to muscles weakness and finally affects the heart system which can lead to the death, as seen in the two Rohingya migrants,” said Dr Thongchai. (TNA)

Situation Report in Karen State by thawthikho 19.08

7th Brigade – Pa-an District

Although DKBA troops were supported by SPDC in order to have taken various parts of KNLA 7th Brigade areas in Pa-an district, many KNLA soldiers and officers from 7th Brigade are still fighting and a casualty and death toll of DKBA troops are mounting every day in KNLA 7th Brigade area. A number of DKBA troops are also running away from DKBA military leadership and giving themselves in to KNLA. On 9th August 2009, a DKBA soldier got wounded by our GWMC operations in Paw Paw Lay area. The next day, a 42 years old DKBA soldier Saw Thaw Gay from Battalion 6th of DKBA Brigade 999 gave in himself to us. On 13th August, a member of DKBA 999 Brigade got wounded by our GWMC operations in Tee Pa Doh Ta.

On 14th August one DKBA member got wounded and one got killed by our GWMC operations in Baw Baw Mee Ta, and on the same day another DKBA soldier got wounded in Thay Bay Ta area. On 15th August, a DKBA solider got wounded by our GWMC operations in Ta Kwikla area, and on the same day a DKBA officer, who is the second Battalion Commander, also got wounded in lower Thay Bay Ta area. On the same day two members from Battalion 6th of DKBA 999 Brigade, private Saw Lai May, 28 years of age, and SPDC solider Saw A Bu, 22 years of age, gave in themselves to KNLA.

6th Brigade – Dooplaya District
Disagreements and conflicts amongst DKBA troops have escalated during these days as DKBA military leaders are forcing their soldiers to fight, while many of their solders are reluctant to do. On 9th August, DKBA soldier Pa Taw and his friend from DKBA IB 907 got arguments with other DKBA soldiers. They shot dead 4 DKBA soldiers, 1 SPDC police, and 2 soldiers from No. 12 SPDC Military Operation Control Command, before driving away to Kawka Reit. Just before getting to Kawka Reit, arm skirmishes took place at Tada Oo and one soldier from SPDC LIB 355 got killed and two wounded. After that the two ran out from their car and hid in the Chinese cemetery. DKBA and SPDC troops chased them up and they again shot dead a Captain from DKBA IB 907, and they got one more M-16, one M-79, one 9-MM, and one Willkie-talkie Radio. And then they ran down to Pa Taw’ village called Ka Mya. On 12th August, Pa Taw and his friend went down to Na Bu crossroads, and they confronted and exchanged fire with DKBA soldiers at Ta Grae bridge, Continue reading “Situation Report in Karen State by thawthikho 19.08”

Sanctions permit China to ‘hold sway’ over junta


Senator Jim Webb’s visit to Burma may yet prove to be extremely significant as he seeks to swap Western sanctions for engagement with the military regime.”It is vitally important that the United States re-engage with Southeast Asia, including Burma, at all levels,” the American politician told journalists during a press conference in Bangkok immediately after his return from Rangoon.

One of the key reasons he sees as the need for the US to strengthen its role in the region is China’s growing influence, which he believes is a major obstacle to economic and political development in the area, especially Burma.

If the senator gets his way, and US policy begins to change, it will also have important consequences for the countries of Asean. More importantly the senator’s trip may also reflect the junta’s new approach to the international community – and especially its neighbours.

Sen Webb’s main mission on this visit was to meet the reclusive Burmese military rulers in their hideaway in the mountains north of the former capital Rangoon, and try to coax them out of their isolation. He had talks with the junta’s top man, Senior General Than Shwe – who rarely meets foreign visitors – and the detained opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi.

But at this stage everything to do with his visit is still shrouded in mystery. Despite meeting journalists on two occasions while in Bangkok, the usually talkative politician was overtly coy, extremely evasive and continually non-committal.

“He is hiding something,” said a senior Western diplomat who closely follows Burmese affairs. “He knows more than he’s telling, something surely is afoot.”

This was certainly no ordinary or even private visit, despite senior US State Department officials insisting that the senator visited Burma in a personal capacity. US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton rang him on Sunday night to talk about the trip, Sen Webb let slip during his press conference on Monday. This only added to the increasing suspicion that something significant may be happening beneath the public gaze. After all, that is how serious diplomacy takes place. Continue reading “Sanctions permit China to ‘hold sway’ over junta”