China takes over the UN Security Council presidency for the month of January

At UN, China Takes Few Questions, ECOWAS Unheeded on Guinea, Myanmar Waits
Media footnote: while the Council is usually off-limits to the UN press corps, on Tuesday morning the bureau chief of China’s state owned Xinhua came smiling out of the breakfast. With human rights issues like Myanmar, Iran, Sudan and Guinea on the Council’s agenda, some wonder how China can be an honest broker. We’l be covering this, and secondarily any honest brokering with the press.

Burma and Bangladesh Sit for Maritime Dispute on Friday

Dhaka: Delegations from Burma and Bangladesh will sit on Friday in Chittagong, the second largest city of Bangladesh, to solve a maritime dispute, according to an official report.

The report said, “Bangladesh and Burma have scheduled to begin a two-day bilateral meeting on maritime boundary disputes in Chittagong on Friday. The meeting is likely to solve the problem peacefully.”

Burma’s foreign deputy minister, U Maung Myint, will lead the Burmese delegation while the Bangladesh delegation will be led by Additional Secretary to Bangladesh Foreign Ministry M Khurshed Alam. Continue reading “Burma and Bangladesh Sit for Maritime Dispute on Friday”

Vehicle owners driving in the area of Anan Kwin village, where the Military Operation Command (MOC) office is located, are hijacked to porter for the Burmese Army.

January 6, 2010
Vehicle owners driving in the area of Anan Kwin village, where the Military Operation Command (MOC) office is located, are hijacked to porter for the Burmese Army.

Drivers along with their cars driving through Thanbyuzayat (Zopbu in Mon) township of Mon State on the route to the Three Pagodas Pass are commonly nabbed by the SPDC and used in their offensive against the KNU during the dry season. On December 29, a Karen column in turn stole the rice from the porters who were transporting the rations for the SPDC’s Burmese Army.

KNU Captain, Saw Htel Nay from Brigade No. 6, fighting in the area confirmed the seizing of the rations from the passengers. “We took the SPDC’s rations from the passenger cars. We knew that the SPDC was planning to launch an offensive against us in the upcoming dry season. That is why we took their rations to halt their plans,” Nay said.

Despite paying bribes to Lieutenant Colonel Tin Maung Maung of Light Infantry Battalion (LIB) No. 407, some motor cars are ordered to porter. One vehicle owner who preferred anonymity told Kaowao that about 3000 sacks of rice were carried to the SPDC battalions which took about half a day.

Nearly every year, the Burmese Army stops vehicles and forces them to porter their supplies. Sometimes the BA takes the passengers in an attack against the KNU column active in the area. One Mon driver who had driven the SPDC soldiers with his mother’s car was injured when the KNU ambushed them around Anan Kwin, no compensation was provided by the SPDC.

The drivers, in this area, are Mon nationals and cannot refuse the SPDC’s orders and must porter, otherwise they are prevented from acquiring a driving permit for about five months during the winter and summer seasons.

The price of Foreign Exchange Certificates (FEC) is significantly higher than the US dollar today.

FEC price higher than USD

New Delhi (Mizzima) – The price of Foreign Exchange Certificates (FEC) is significantly higher than the US dollar today. It is higher by Kyat 15 in the Rangoon foreign exchange market, which is unprecedented.

“The current FEC price is Kyat 1,025 per unit and one US dollar is Kyat 1,010. This is unprecedented in the Burmese market,” a foreign exchange trader in Rangoon, Kyauktada Township, told Mizzima.

In the first week of last month, the FEC price was Kyat 985 and the USD was Kyat 970. The FEC price was at par with the dollar after December 20. Now the FEC price is higher than the dollar.

A fishery products exporter from Rangoon said that the rise of price of the FEC could be due to higher demand in the market.

“I think the price rise of FEC is due to higher demand in the market as the payments for fuel, mobile SIM card and air tickets have to be made in this currency. For this the price of FEC is higher than US greenbacks or else no one will keep this currency which is useless in foreign countries,” he said.

The military regime issues FEC in USD 1, 5, 10 and 20 denominations and guarantees as exchangeable with USD at the same face value. But most of the ime, the price of USD is higher than the FEC in the exchange market. Continue reading “The price of Foreign Exchange Certificates (FEC) is significantly higher than the US dollar today.”

Ethnic Kachin Manau Festival Starts Amidst Burma Junta’s Harassment

Written by KNG
Wednesday, 06 January 2010

A week-long Kachin cultural Manau festival kick started yesterday morning in Myitkyina, the capital of Burma’s northern Kachin State, amidst restrictions and harassment by the ruling junta, Manau festival officials told Kachin News Group.

The daily Manau dance programme will begin on January 8 and conclude on January 11.

The Manau festival is being held to commemorate the “62nd anniversary of Kachin State Day” on January 10. Every year after the junta and the Kachin Independence Organization – KIO signed a ceasefire agreement in 1994, the biggest ethnic Kachin cultural Manau dance festival is held on this day.

Traffic policemen enforced strict checks and detentions on unlicensed motorcycles stationed in front at the main entrance of the Manau venue called Kachin National Manau Park in Shatapru quarter in the city coinciding with the time of the inaugural ceremony at 7:30 a.m. local time, said participants.

Naypyitaw media agents: Ne Linn Way (left), U Tin Win (center) and U Khin Maung Kyaw (right) who restrict the publication of Kachin-language Manau newspaper.

Dozens of unlicensed motorcycles owned by local sellers and participants were detained by traffic policemen, said local eyewitnesses. Every family in the city uses the cheap Chinese motorcycles as their main local transport, added residents. Continue reading “Ethnic Kachin Manau Festival Starts Amidst Burma Junta’s Harassment”

Mon delegates urge for National Congress

Kaowao News
WEDNESDAY, 06 JANUARY 2010 08:34

Mon delegates from inside Burma met Mon from the border and overseas areas in a three-day meeting in Burma to build solidarity among Mon communities.

The 5th Conference on Mon National Affairs was held from 27 to 29 December 2009 in a liberated area. Kaowao reporters attended with 89 delegates including senior NMSP leaders and the Mon grass root organizations from inside Burma, Thailand and overseas.

The conference issued a joint statement rejecting the State Peace and Development Council’s (SPDC’s ) forthcoming 2010 election arguing that the Burmese regime’s initiative was only to ensure military rule over the people and Burma’s resources without guaranteeing democratic and fundamental human rights within a federal union.

The delegates selected 33 Central Committee of Mon Affairs Union (MAU) members to work over a two year term with the goal of building trust, strengthening communication, and uniting the Mon people to move forward.

Nai Baeng (Gang Yaeng), the main organizer of the Mon Affairs Union (MAU), said that the meeting was one of the biggest gatherings he has been to, which had delegates from throughout Mon State and overseas. Realizing there are obstacles to peace ahead Bang said, “Our self-determination must not be obstructed by infighting. How they (MAU) are going to move forward remains to be seen, but it is necessary to call a National Congress which includes representatives from the different political, social and grassroots organizations that can all agree on what strategy to adopt while ensuring agreement and unity.”

US senator Webb gives election backing

Jan 6, 2010 (DVB)–US senator Jim Webb, the only senior-level US official to have met Burmese junta chief Than Shwe, has said that he supports the junta’s controversial planned elections, to be held this year.

In a statement released on Monday, Webb, who chairs the US senate’s East Asia and Pacific Affairs subcommittee, said that he “was pleased to learn that the Burmese government is carrying forward its intention to hold national elections in 2010”.
“I will support all appropriate efforts to ensure that the election process is credible and transparent… [and] stand ready to help in all appropriate ways as we work toward the day when the Burmese people can fully rejoin the world community.” he added.
Echoing UN secretary general Ban Ki-moon’s praise for the “support” from the junta of UN goals for the country, Webb said that the UN and other international organizations “could provide valuable election assistance, and thus enhance the integrity of the process”. Continue reading “US senator Webb gives election backing”