Unidentified speakers at USDA meeting press students to organize for 2010 election

Sat 05 Sep 2009, Asah, IMNA
A government controlled civilian organization has been holding meetings to train students about how the political system will in the coming 2010 election, and how they can organize their communities politically.

Over the last two months the Union Solidarity and Development Association (USDA), a government organized NGO, has been trying to organize students who have successfully graduated 10th standard of high school, and recent graduates of university, to support future USDA candidates in the 2010 election.

Though claiming to be a civilian organization that benefits local communities, human rights watchdog groups have documented numerous instances of USDA involvement in political intimidation and violence against groups critical of the Burmese military government.

This training has been taking places in villages throughout Mudon Township in Mon State, as well as Mudon town, according to sources close to members of the USDA and students who have attended the training.

Two months ago, according to a source close to a member of the UDSA, 1 member of the USDA from each Mudon township village had to attend a meeting in the branch office of the USDA in Mudon. There they were instructed by Township Peace and Development Council (TPDC) authorities to begin bringing students to meetings that would be on a variety of topics chosen by the government. Members of the USDA selected to attend were under intense pressure by the Burmese government making the meeting mandatory. Continue reading “Unidentified speakers at USDA meeting press students to organize for 2010 election”

Security tightened during oil alms donations in Mon state

Sat 05 Sep 2009, IMNA, Jaloon Htaw
Burmese government authorities have been tightening security during the oil alms donation to the monks at Ro Go pagoda in Ro Go village, Moulmein Township, Mon State.

On September 2nd, members of Burmese government organizations attended the ceremony wearing full uniforms. Those groups in attendance in full uniform included solders from the Burmese army, members of the Union Solidarity and Development Association (USDA), and members of the fire brigade and traffic police. Nearly 100 people from these groups were waiting around the pagoda and village according to a monk that attended the donation ceremony.

While some organization members made donations, most carried out surveillance on civilians and monks. Some monks refused to accept donations from group members dressed in full uniform, continuing to walk away from them as they tried to make donations.

“We Buddhist monks come to accept the lay people’s donations,” said a monk from Moulmein Township. “The soldiers with uniforms and full military kits make the lay-people frightened and reduces their donations.”

This year about 20,000 people donated oil to the monks, despite tighter security than at last year’s ceremony, said a villager that attended the donation. Continue reading “Security tightened during oil alms donations in Mon state”

Halt war on ethnic nationalities immediately

by Mizzima News
Saturday, 05 September 2009 19:08

Mizzima News – The Burmese military junta is relentlessly mounting pressure on ceasefire groups to amalgamate them under the total control of the Burmese Army. The regime ought to stop using its military might and the law of the jungle against the ceasefire groups, but find political solutions to the issue.

After successfully putting the Burmese pro-democracy leader Daw Aung San Suu Kyi behind bars in a step to move her out of their planned 2010 general elections, another victim in their plans of elimination of all obstacles on its way to the seven-step roadmap is the Kokang ceasefire group known as Shan State Special Region No. 1 led by Peng Jiasheng. The generals from Naypyitaw attacked and captured the Kokang group territories in end August.

Clashes broke out in Kokang areas on August 27 after the junta’s troops raided and searched the house of the Kokang leader Peng Jiasheng on the pretext of searching for narcotic drugs. According to the defeated Peng Jiasheng’s sources, the two-day war left nearly 200 including civilians dead. The Burmese Army lost 26 men while 47 were injured.

Many houses were destroyed in the Kokang capital Lao Kai and over 30,000 civilians became war refugees and fled to neighbouring China within days. Continue reading “Halt war on ethnic nationalities immediately”

Rupturing gas pipeline prompts farmers to flee

Rupturing gas pipeline prompts farmers to flee
September 5, 2009
HURFOM: On September 1st, because of an explosion along the Kanbauk to Myaing Kalay gas pipeline, farmers in the area have been banned from working on their farms. Also to avoid Burmese government authorities, farmers hid themselves or fled to other villages.
“At about 4:30 [pm] the local [Burmese government] authorities arrived at the site of the explosion,” Describes Nai Nee (not real name), a 56 year old area farmer, who fled to Panga village. “All the farmers around the area have avoided [the cite] because they are worried the authorities will make problems for them. The explosion happened beside our farm. The authorities must collect money to make repairs to the gas pipeline and for the security guards. We don’t know yet how much we they will collect.”
According to area farmers, the gas pipeline ruptured at 2:20 am, with a loud explosion according to locals. The rupture has allowed large volumes of gas to escape but the jet has not ignited. The ruptured portion of the pipe is located east of the rail line and west of the motor road, in the Thanbyuzayat Township.
Explained a member of the New Mon State party at the Thanbyuzayat Liaison office, “In this pipe explosion it depended on the pipe quality. [I think] because of that the explosion occurred at the connection point of the two pipes. We heard that the authorities would collect about 50,000 [kyat] for the cost of making repairs and to build a fence beside the gas pipeline.” HURFOM has not been able to confirm that this is the exact amount of money area authorities will attempt to collect from households near the blast site.
This was the first time the Kanbauk to Myaing Kalay gas pipeline has exploded between Anin and Kyaung Yor villages. Previously the pipeline had only suffered minor leaks which were repaired. Authorities would also collect about 2,000 kyat per household every month to cover the cost of security around the pipeline.

Time to Go ‘Down in Flames’ for Burma

U.S. Ambassador Susan Rice said that after the Rwanda genocide she swore ‘that if I ever faced such a crisis again, I would come down on the side of dramatic action, going down in flames if that was required.’ She faces such a crisis again.
After six months, the Obama administration’s review of U.S. policy toward Burma still does not appear to have focused on the one measure with the best chance of inducing the regime to change: a global arms embargo imposed by the United Nations Security Council. The case for Security Council action on Burma long has been compelling, but now is even stronger.

General Than Shwe and the military junta ruling Burma continue to wage a war against their own people. Recently, thousands of Burmese from the Kokang ethnic group living near Burma’s northeastern border have fled to China to escape a new military assault by the Burma army. Not only is the regime a threat to its own people, but there are growing signs that it undermines international security and stability as well. For example, the growing military relationship between Burma and North Korea likely includes North Korean support for a nascent nuclear program in Burma. Even China, long one of the junta’s most quietly consistent supporters, this week became sufficiently frustrated with the junta’s reckless rule to issue a rebuke to Burma’s generals for provoking refugee flows across the border into China’s Yunnan Province.

As the United States assumes the presidency of the UN Security Council this month, it should renew a diplomatic effort at the council, coordinated with the United Kingdom and other allies, to pass a long-overdue arms embargo of Burma. This at least would deny the ruling junta its primary tools of oppression and help stop the atrocities it commits against its own people. It will not be easy. But such a push would be an effective, multilateral, and noble centerpiece for the Obama administration’s policy toward Burma because both the justification for Security Council action and its chances for success have significantly increased. continue
Time to Go ‘Down in Flames’ for Burma

Htoo Chit added that the Global Economic Crisis and political situation in Thailand have also affected migrant workers.

Non-stop raining causes difficulties for Migrant Workers
Friday, 04 September 2009 03:15
A month’s worth of non-stop rain in Phang Nga province, Southern Thailand is causing great difficulties for Burmese migrant workers.
“We haven’t been able to work for the whole of last month and we only had 15 days work in July” said U Myo Aung, a rubber plantation worker from Takuapa Township in Phang Nga.
“When our family is able to work on the rubber plantation we earn around 700 Baht per day but now we are dependent on Banchi shop (shops that sell on credit). It may be more expensive than buying with cash in a normal shop but in some areas they don’t even have banchi shops so many rubber workers are facing difficulties” he added.
Recent non-stop raining affects also construction work, so less construction work means reduced workers on the construction site.
U Kyaw Min, a construction worker said; “Before there were 60 workers with good jobs but now there are only 10. As a result of it raining every day we cannot even work on basic construction work such as making block ceiling or concrete mixing so we have to stop working. Recently we have only been able to do the final decoration of the building, tiling and ceiling in buildings that already have roofing”.
According to Mr. Htoo Chit, the Executive Director of the Foundation for Education and Education (FED), formally Grassroots Human Rights Education (GHRE), based in Phang Nga said; “The workers who depend on seasonal jobs face great difficulties due the weather conditions, especially rubber workers, masonry workers (construction) and people working in fishing are facing difficulties”.
Htoo Chit added that the Global Economic Crisis and political situation in Thailand have also affected migrant workers. “Especially Thailand’s political situation and the Global Economic Crisis have also affected Burmese migrant workers directly and indirectly. For example, in the Hotel and Tourism industry; some hotels have reduced its workforce by half or have asked their staff to work only for 15 days per month. Due to this Global Crisis, many Burmese who are working in Travel and Tourism are also facing difficulties”. Reduced tourism numbers may also have slowed down and reduced construction work in the area, again, affecting migrant workers.
Within Phang Nga there are an estimated 150,000 Burmese migrant workers who work in rubber, construction and fisheries.