Villagers held hostage by Mon splinter group

Wed 28 Oct 2009, IMNA
A group of 30-some villagers from Yinye village in Khawza Sub-Township, southern Mon State were held hostage by the Nai Bin Mon splinter on the night of October 25th. According to IMNA’s source, a 40 year-old woman from Yinye village, the Nai Bin group has been moving around Khawza Sub-Township for a decade.

The Nai Bin group reportedly hid out on the back road that leads from Yinye village to the rubber plantations and orchards that surround the village, where they accosted residents returning home after the workday, threatening them with guns. The female Yinye villager that IMNA interviewed, who claims that the owner of the plantation next to hers was one of the 30 victims, said “the splinter group was waiting for villagers on the way to the plantations and asked for 100,000 kyat from each villager.”

This woman also informed IMNA that the Nai Bin group reportedly made allowances for villagers that were taken hostage along with other members of their families – the group only demanded 100,000 kyat from each family.

The splinter group detained the villagers a while, releasing the villagers one at a time to return to their homes and gather the 100,000 kyat demanded as ransom. According to the Yinye villager interviewed by IMNA, the individuals taken hostage were too frightened of a repeat visit from the Nai Bin group to fail to return with the demanded funds after being released.

According to sources in the village, the next day on October 26th, the Burmese Infantry Battalion (IB) No-31, which is based near Yinye village, investigated the villagers who had been detained the night before. The 30 villagers who had been held hostage by the Nai Bin group were ordered appear before the battalion, where Yinye villagers claim that the battalion chastised the group for giving the splinter group the funds demanded, and threatened the gathered individuals with axes. Reportedly, the incident was so frightening that one woman among the 30 had to be hospitalized after she had a heart attack in the middle of the gathering.

A 60 year-old woman from Yinye village told IMNA that the villagers felt they had no choice but to pay the price demanded by the Nai Bin group. She said, “We have to prepare to pay the money like that [in case of such incidents]. No one can refuse to pay money to the splinter group.”

Large numbers of migrant workers in Mahachai return to Burma

Wed 28 Oct 2009, Jaloon Htaw
According to a Mon migrant worker source living in Mahachai, in Thailand’s Samutsakom province, hundreds of Burmese migrant workers living in the city have already returned to Burma after opting not to register for the new temporary passports that will become mandatory for migrant workers in Thailand this February.

This source reported to IMNA that last week, he saw truckloads of roughly 300 migrant workers departing from Mahachai several times a week. Reportedly the travelers paid migrant brokers working in conjunction with the Thai Mahachai police force to plan their trips back to Burma.

“They went back in police trucks, I saw them. Three different days last week, they went back. They said, they don’t want to get the temporary passports,” he said.

According to a female Mon migrant worker who works in a canned fish factory in Mahachai, more than 10,000 migrant workers of different ethnicities work in her factory alone, include Mon, Burmese and Tavoian nationalities. This source claims that while many of her peers are preparing to depart now, many are waiting until the end of the year to earn extra funds. Many Burmese migrant workers fear that the paperwork for the temporary passport, which requires applicants to write down their home addresses in Burma, will result in the Burmese government demanding funds from their families back home.

“In our factory nobody is going back in this month. Some, at the end of this month, they have to go back. Some, after the end of the year they will go back. After getting a temporary passport, they are afraid the Burmese authorities will collect money [from their families]. So they are going back,” she added. Continue reading “Large numbers of migrant workers in Mahachai return to Burma”

25 percent of Shan families forcibly relocated

Oct 27, 2009 (DVB)–More than a quarter of families in Burma’s northeastern Shan state were forcibly relocated in the past year, while nine percent of families had at least one member injured by a landmine, a US health academic said.

A further 24 percent of families had one member taken by Burmese troops for forced labour, according to Professor Chris Beyrer, from the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health.
The findings were reported to the US House Foreign Affairs Committee during a testimony on US policy to Burma last week.
While much of the rhetoric surrounding the policy shift has focused on Aung San Suu Kyi and Burma’s 2,100 political prisoners, Beyrer said that attacks on ethnic nationalities in the Karen and Shan states “are the second major cause for concern in Burma today”.
Attacks by Burmese troops in Shan state, Burma’s largest state with a population of nearly five million, had been particularly intense, with 39 villages targeted and 10,000 villagers forcibly displaced as “part of a systematic and widespread scorched earth campaign”.
The findings of investigations into landmine injuries in Shan state were among the highest rates ever documented, he said. Continue reading “25 percent of Shan families forcibly relocated”

15-year sentence for displaying a poster

Oct 28, 2009 (DVB)–A courtroom in Rangoon has handed down a 15-year sentence to a man arrested after putting up a poster calling for the release of political prisoners in Burma.

The family of Tin Htut Paing, from Rangoon’s North Okkalapa township, was barred from attending the trial, which began in April this year.
His father said that he had been convicted on four different charges, including illegal border crossing and the Unlawful Association Act.
“We knew he was going to be sentenced on the 26 October but we didn’t have permission to attend the hearing,” said Htay Win.
“It would have been nice if the court allowed us to attend the hearing of the verdict. The same thing happened when my wife was sentenced; we were denied entry to the court.”
Htay Win’s wife, 52-year-old Daw Nge, is a member of the National League for Democracy (NLD) in Tamwe township. She was sentenced to six-and-a-half years in prison on charges related to the September 2007 monk-led protests. Continue reading “15-year sentence for displaying a poster”

Ashin Sopaka’s speech at Asean Peoples Forum

Dear friends of Asean and friends from different countries in this forum. I really appreciate giving this opportunity to speak about peace and Democracy.Thank you so much all organizers of this Asean people forum.

In the words of my brothers and sisters, my fellow monks and nuns of the Saffron Revolution in 2007, “May all beings not fight each other. May all beings be happy and peaceful.”

These two sentences were repeated throughout the peace walks of the Saffron Revolution, two years ago. Monks led the people in 65 cities, calling for the basic needs of the people, peace and reconciliation. Monks wish peace not only for Burma but for the whole world.

But unfortunately the regime cracked down brutally on these peace wishers,the monks and nuns; what does it mean that these destroyers of peace are members of ASEAN? is this acceptable?

But in Burma there is no peace and justice so we must speak out very openly. No democracy means no freedom, no justice and no peace. ASEAN is judged by the people of ASEAN and our international friends by how it deals with Burma. Burma is the measure of ASEAN’s success or failure.

Today I speak to you not just with my voice, but I speak for the voice of the people, especially those friends of mine who are in jail. Monks like myself who have spoken for peace for democracy are now in prison. For many people in Burma life is like a prison. All are living in fear. Even those working for the military live in fear.

Instead of being able to live peacefully with families and neighbors they are forced to build pipelines so that the junta can put oil money in their own pockets. Children, instead of being able to go to school are forced to be soldiers.

And instead of living in their own country they are forced to work in neighboring countries without human dignity, just so their families can survive. These workers – even after 20 years of waiting – cannot yet go back home because in Burma there is no peace yet. Imagine how homesick they feel. Continue reading “Ashin Sopaka’s speech at Asean Peoples Forum”

Thailand: Investigations into defective paracetamol concluded

BANGKOK, 28 October 2009 (NNT) – Investigations have concluded that the defective paracetamol, which was found to contain a piece of metal wire, is caused by a flawed production process. The manufacturer will be fined 4,000 – 10,000 baht as it failed to meet the Good Manufacturing Practice (GMP) standard. The primary recall has already cost one million baht.

The Public Health Minister, Mr Witthaya Kaewparadai, said that the Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) report revealed that the wire scrap found the in the drug was part of the sieve. The manufacturer, Osot Inter Laboratories Company, which is a GPO’s subcontract, will be fined as it failed to follow the GMP, and the pharmacist in charge will be fine 2,000 – 5,000 baht too. He added that the incident was the first ever found, and the Ministry has not received anymore complaints after the recollection. GPO has been assigned to take care of the damage any person receives from taking the drug and also given a full authority to sue the manufacturer if needed. Hotnews-255210280039

MD Vithit Athavejkul, GPO Director, said that the state enterprise would wait for the final investigation report before asking the GPO’s legal office to consider legal action against the factory which is held responsible for the cost of drug recall. Preliminary damage is estimated at one million baht.

As for impacts on the sale of paracetamol, MD Vithit said it was too early to confirm but believed it would not be much affected because paracetamol is a kind of fundamental drugs used in every household.

Suu Kyi counterpart gets ‘offer’ from Rangoon

Disclaimer: The following e-mail was intercepted on its way from Rangoon to Thaksin Shinawatra. Though unsigned, it seems to have been written by someone in the top echelons of power. It could be a fake, but it sounds as sincere as Chavalit Yongchaiyudh and Hun Sen put together.

WE NEVER thought of doing this, but since our pal Hun Sen can give an international lecture on humanitarianism and political persecution, it makes us believe that we, too, should be in with a shout. Dear friend Thaksin Shinawatra, what has happened to you is horrible, and if you think Phnom Penh is too risky a place, please consider a warm exile in Rangoon.

Of course, we are totally aware of the irony. How can a foreign version of Aung San Suu Kyi seek refuge in a country where she is under house arrest and her political party is denied a role? We would like you to put that aside for a minute and hear us out.

This whole exile thing is benefiting both of us. Thanks to Hun Sen, the world – which has been shedding crocodile tears for its “Lady” Suu Kyi – is starting to know the truth. The sincerest tears we’ve soon belonged to his wife who cried over you. And the man himself was spot on when he said that if international babbling about our country is not considered nosy or inappropriate, why should his comments on your plight be? Continue reading “Suu Kyi counterpart gets ‘offer’ from Rangoon”

Wa, Mongla meet junta


National Democratic Alliance Army-Eastern Shan State (NDAA-ESS), commonly known as Mongla group, is meeting with junta commanders today, according to reliable sources from the Thai-Burma border.

A 21 men delegation led by its leader Sai Leun have left Mongla to meet junta chief negotiator Lt-Gen Ye Myint of Military Affairs Security (MAS) in Kengtung today over the junta’s “one country, one military” policy, said an informed source.

Mongla is reported to have agreed on the concept that there should be only one military in a country. It is also ready to place its 4,500 strong armed force under the Tatmadaw on a step-by-step basis.

“Initially, the command structure of the Mongla force should remain as it is,” said the source. “Naypyidaw should also not be in a hurry to place its officers at the battalion level and its administrative apparatus in Mongla as yet.” aung myint aka li julieh

Similarly, a 5 Wa men delegation made a 5 day trip (24-28 October) to Lashio, northern Shan State, following an invitation by the Commander of the Lashio-based Northeastern Region Command Maj-Gen Aung Than Tut on 21 October, according to a Wa source on the Thai-Burma border.
Four of the Wa delegates were identified as Bao Youri, Bao Youliang, Li Julieh (U Aung Myint) and Yaku.

In response to Aung Than Tut’s inquiry as to their stand on the proposed BGF program, the Wa reportedly replied it has “yet to make any decisions.”

All ceasefire groups have been given the deadline at the end of October to accept its BGF program.

The obvious thaw in the relations have been attributed not only to the efforts by China but also to reports of the two groups’ growing intimacy with the anti-Naypyidaw Shan State Army (SSA) South of Col Yawdserk, according to a veteran Thai border watcher.

“The junta is afraid it is pushing the groups too far by its inflexibility,” he said.