Mahtu Naw, leader of Burma’s ethnic Kachin ceasefire group the Kachin Defense Army (KDA) is in a critical condition in Mandalay hospital

Written by KNG
Saturday, 07 November 2009

Mahtu Naw, leader of Burma’s ethnic Kachin ceasefire group the Kachin Defense Army (KDA) is in a critical condition in Mandalay hospital, said hospital sources.

Mahtu Naw, over 60 underwent a surgery recently in Mandalay public hospital after suffering a brain hemorrhage. He also suffered a paralytic stroke, said relatives in Mandalay.

The KDA leader is in a coma in the hospital. His chances of recovery are slim, his relatives told KNG today.

His health deteriorated in September and he was admitted to the hospital in Mandalay from the Lashio public hospital early last month, said KDA sources.
ust before hospitalization, as an ethnic Kachin leader, he was invited to attend two meetings in the capital Naypyidaw by the Burmese ruling junta— with Ban Ki-moon, United Nations’ General Secretary in July and U.S. senator Jim Webb of Virginia in August.

KDA is based in Kawnghka, also spelled Konghka, near Kutkai town in Northeast Shan State and it accepted conversion to a local Kachin militia group under Burmese Army’s control in June.

The KDA, led by Mahtu Naw, is the former 4th brigade of the Kachin Independence Army (KIA), based outside Kachin State. It split from the mother group in 1990 and signed a permanent ceasefire agreement with the Burmese ruling junta on January 13, 1991. Continue reading “Mahtu Naw, leader of Burma’s ethnic Kachin ceasefire group the Kachin Defense Army (KDA) is in a critical condition in Mandalay hospital”

Riot police deployed in lieu of 2010 elections

Nov 7, 2009 (DVB)–Scores of police from central Burma have been transferred to Rangoon and Mandalay in an alleged attempt to contain possible protests before elections next year.

Police sources have said that since October at least 74 people from 10 townships in Bago division have been redeployed to police battalions, the term the government coined for riot police following the 1988 uprising.
A private police officer who was included in the transfer told DVB that the highest ranking officer to be moved was inspector.
“It was the first transfer of so many to police battalions but our bosses didn’t tell us the reason,” he said.
Locals close to the police said those who have been relocated are not satisfied with the move for a number of reasons.
“They are upset because they have to leave their families behind. Also, when they are in a new place they may not have the same amount of income they can make here,” said a friend of one of those transferred. “Perhaps, they will be used as riot police in the future.”
Riot police were key players in the bloody crackdown on the 1988 uprising in Burma in which around 3,000 protestors were killed.
Later, the military regime changed the name of the riot police force into police battalion.
Sources at the Myanmar Police Force agreed that the transfer might have been carried out to prepare for possible protests in the run-up to the elections. Continue reading “Riot police deployed in lieu of 2010 elections”


Feature – KIC
TUESDAY, 03 NOVEMBER 2009 16:46

Umphiem Mai-Grandpa Saw Pho De is worried when he sees his six year old granddaughter and 11 year old grandson bring things like plastic jewelry into the house he knows they can’t afford to buy. That’s because there has been a sharp increase in crimes of theft by young children at Umphiem Mai, the Karen refugee camp, in Tak Province, northern Thailand, where the family lives.

The 70 year has been trying his best to care for his grandchildren since his son died and their mother left the camp several years ago. He told the Karen Information Center in a recent interview he can give them rice and wash their clothes, but, cannot pay their school fees or give them pocket money to buy snack foods, which camp children eat a lot of.

He said he is concerned the children have other things he hasn’t seen yet, that could be stolen. He said he is concerned about their futures.

Officials told KIC this family’s situation is not unusual in the camp, located near Mae Sot, that is home to 20,000 mostly Karen refugees, as well as residents from 14 other ethnic groups.

They noted that there were 10 cases of theft by children reported in the camp in 2008. But, there have been more than 10 cases in just the first six months of this year.

They also said the children have begun stealing more expensive items, such as CD and MP4 players, cell phones and vegetables, whereas the earlier cases usually involved theft of snack foods.

So, camp officials and members of community organizations are working together to determine the underlying causes of the increase and find solutions to prevent the thefts from escalating.

Saw Htoo Kleh, of the Sexual and gender Based Violence CBO said in an interview said many of the children who commit the crimes are living under the supervision of elderly grandparents, who cannot discipline them or provide for their needs because they have no jobs and rely on the camp food ration.

Peer pressure is also a contributing factor when small children are influenced by friends who are stealing to feed themselves and obtain things, such as toys, their family cannot provide.

Officials say children who don’t have money for food and toys will turn to theft to provide them if they see other children with them.

Saw Mahn Ya, chairman of the Karen Youth Organization said, “One problem is that there is a difference in the social status among parents and people responsible for the children. If parents have higher levels of education, these parents can get a job in hospital, school or NGO in the camp. Therefore, they can earn some money and can provide money to their children for buying snacks. If parents have no education, they depend on the monthly food ration from the camp.”

He said this disparity can contribute to bad behavior in children.

Camp leaders are also concerned that children who do not attend school are more likely to commit crimes like theft.

KYO chairman, Saw Hkun Mahn Ya, said, “Children between 5 and 18 must attend school in 2010. We suggested to the camp authorities that children who don’t go to school should not receive the food ration. By doing this, children will improve their education which can lead to good behavior.” Continue reading “GETTING AN EARLY START: THEFTS BY CHILDREN INCREASING AT CAMP”

POLITICS: Thai-Cambodia Diplomatic Row Bares Decades-Long Rift

By Marwaan Macan-Markar

BANGKOK, Nov 7 (IPS) – Thailand’s swift and strong response to Cambodia’s decision to appoint ousted Thai prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra as an economic adviser exposed an emotional faultline rooted in decades of mutual suspicion and hatred.

By the weekend, Bangkok had delivered its second blow to an already tense relationship between the two South-east Asian kingdoms. The Thai government announced it was revoking a memorandum of understanding between the two countries on developing an overlapping maritime area rich in oil and gas reserves in the Gulf of Thailand.

It was inevitable, said the Thai government, after Phnom Penh’s appointment of Thaksin, who was ousted in a 2006 military coup and lives in exile to evade a two-year jail term after being found guilty in a conflict of interest case. Thaksin’s new role in Cambodia “will directly affect negotiations” between the two countries, states the Thai foreign ministry, since Thaksin “was directly involved in the negotiation process” in 2001 when he was Thailand’s prime minister.

The tone for such a tough response by the government of Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva was set on Thursday. Bangkok withdrew its ambassador in Cambodia in protest against the Thaksin appointment. Phnom Penh reciprocated by Friday.

“We view the appointment of Thaksin as an interference in Thailand’s domestic affairs and disregard for Thailand’s judicial system,” Thani Thongphakdi, Thai foreign ministry’s deputy spokesman, told IPS. “Our reaction has been commensurate with the action of Cambodia.”

Thaksin’s appointment as the new economic advisor to Cambodia was announced Wednesday night on the country’s state television station. He was appointed by a royal decree as a “personal advisor to Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen and the adviser to the Cambodian government in charge of economy,” a statement from Phnom Penh revealed.

Hun Sen’s choice of the fugitive former Thai premier, who became a billionaire telecommunications tycoon before he was elected as Thailand’s leader in 2001, is in keeping with a practice known in Cambodia for years— of the government and the royal family appointing foreign nationals to help them as advisors.

Prior to Thaksin, Hun Sen’s economic advisor was South Korea’s current president, Lee Myung-bak. The latter served in that advisory role from 2000 till 2007, resigning ahead of the 2008 presidential poll. Continue reading “POLITICS: Thai-Cambodia Diplomatic Row Bares Decades-Long Rift”

Ko Nyunt Maung Released

Maungdaw: Ko Nyunt Maung, who was sentenced to one year in prison in Burma for sending information to exiled media, was released from Buthidaung prison on 30 October, said a close friend.

“I met him after his release but his health is not very good. He needs to check his health,” the friend added.

Ko Nyunt Maung, a businessman, was arrested by Burmese military intelligence, known as Sarafa, from his residence in Maungdaw in western Burma in January of 2008 on accusations he sent information to exiled media groups, including the BBC Burmese service.

8 months after his arrest, the Maungdaw court sentenced him to serve one year in prison.

A lawyer from Maungdaw who wished to remain anonymous said, “The court could not find any evidence to sentence him, but the officials from the Burmese military intelligence pressured the judge to sentence him to at least one year. So the judge sentenced him to one year in prison for sending information to the outside.”

Last year, army intelligence authorities arrested at least three Arakanese people for having connections with exiled media in Bangladesh.

Among them is Ko Mrat Tun from Pauktaw Township and Ko San Lwin from Taungup Township. Both were sentenced to five years in prison by the military authority.

Ko Mrat Tun is serving his jail term at the Buthidaung prison while Ko San Lwin is now serving his sentence at Thandwe prison.

True reconciliation needed before sanctions are lifted

Re: Sanctions to stay until Burma reforms: US, National Affairs, yesterday

At this point, keeping sanctions in place is the only reasonable stance the US could take.

Like US Ambassador for Asean Affairs Scot Marciel said, without a fully inclusive process, which includes the party that won by a landslide in the previous election, it would be difficult to make Burma’s 2010 elections creditable.

Reconciliation has been a buzzword for some time in the Burmese political arena. But the earnest overtures have only come from opposition political parties and non-Burmese ethnic groups in the form of federal proposals and tripartite dialogues to end the internal conflict. However, the Burmese junta has been pressuring and oppressing its contenders to yield to a self-drawn, military supremacy constitution, leading to the establishment of a so-called “disciplined democracy”, without offering any genuine give-and-take options for further reconciliation.

According to Alternative Asean’s press release on October 30, the 2010 elections based on the junta’s 2008 constitution, will be a recipe for continued conflict. The constitution has given the military immunity from prosecution and freedom from public accountability; control over future constitutional amendments; and legitimacy to subjugate ethnic communities.

In short, the junta’s 2008 constitution should be viewed in light of whether it is really in line with the people’s political aspiration or not. For without the people’s endorsement, which is the heart and soul of the issue, there would never be a democratisation process.

The solution to resolve this ongoing crisis would be a constitutional review process involving all stakeholders and the election law that guarantees an all-inclusive participation, after the constitutional amendments, to reflect common practice.

And this could only happen, when Aung San Suu Kyi’s National League for Democracy, ethnic groups – political parties and as well as armed opposition – and the junta are able to thrash out their differences in a tripartite dialogue that is endorsed by the UN and reaffirmed by the US.



The combined forces of the Burmese Army and the Democratic Karen Buddhist Army (DKBA) have seized control of the annual Deik Htan Aung pagoda festival in Myawaddy,

Vehicle Drivers forced to by concert tickets in Myawaddy
Fri 06 Nov 2009, Asah
The combined forces of the Burmese Army and the Democratic Karen Buddhist Army (DKBA) have seized control of the annual Deik Htan Aung pagoda festival in Myawaddy, and have compelled vehicle drivers in the city to purchase tickets to the event’s November 8th concert, which kicks off the festival.

According to a Burmese orange merchant from Myawaddy, private vehicle owners and trade-goods truck drivers alike have been obliged to buy concert tickets, to the tune of 8000 kyat each. Myawaddy sits on the Thailand-Burma border, and is a major port for traders and travelers driving back into Burma.

“The authorities began forcing the car owners and traders [to buy tickets] one month ago. They sold one ticket to each car owner. The tickets cost 8000 kyat. And the authorities sold the tickets at the toll-gate at the bottom of the mountain road [that leads into Burma]. We had no choice so we bought them. Now the tickets are all sold, because they forced every trader and car owner driving back into Burma to buy them. On average, 200 cars go back into Burma from Myawaddy every day,” he told IMNA.

A Myawaddy resident with close ties to the local Union Solidarity and Development Association (USDA) told IMNA that despite being forced to buy tickets to the concert (which will feature performances by Phyu Phyu Kyaw Thein and other famous Burmese singers), most of the vehicle owners involved are unable to attend, and are selling their tickets to Mayawaddy residents at prices dramatically lower than their original purchase cost. Continue reading “The combined forces of the Burmese Army and the Democratic Karen Buddhist Army (DKBA) have seized control of the annual Deik Htan Aung pagoda festival in Myawaddy,”

Increase in crime spreads unease in Mon state

Fri 06 Nov 2009, IMNA
Migrant workers from upper Burma are at the heart of a perceived increase in thefts in Mon state villages, according to residents. Some area residents who say they have paid attention to regional politics have also claimed that this increased spate of thefts is the result of Burmese army efforts to purposefully send criminals to make conflict among the Mon people.

“I got information from Burmese army officers that the army encourages their former soldiers and their informers to steal and rob things from Mon communities”, claimed a leader from the People Militia in Mudon Township.

In once instance, multiple thefts occurred on Oct 31st in Thanphyuzayart Township during the full moon holiday of Dazaunmon month. Unidentified youths were reported to have stolen motorbikes, motorcycles, sheets of harvested rubber, clothes, equipment from shops, and in some cases destroying the shops themselves. Despite the rampant vandalism, none of the reported crimes resulted in arrests. The village headman and local police say they are working to solve these problems.

The village headman from Mudon explaining several recent events they’ve been working to solve and prevent from happening again, “Yesterday night [Nov. 2nd] several thefts of motorbikes were reported as well as a case of assault.”

“On the night of November 2nd, 3 motorbikes from Kyaikhamee (Kyaikhami) area in Thanphyuzayart were stolen and have yet to be recovered”, said a village security man from Thanphyuzayart.

At the last month a Mon monastery in Thanphyuzayart Township reported 60 blankets stolen. Additionally younger monks who were making donations at the monastery in Kyonekaroat village reported their money and belongings stolen while making offerings of yellow robes to senior monks as a sign of respect. Continue reading “Increase in crime spreads unease in Mon state”