EarthRights International invites local activists to join training in its Mekong School

Thu, 21/01/2010 – 19:45
Start Date:
Wed, 10/03/2010 (All day)
EarthRights International’s Mekong School is a unique training program for activists from the Mekong Region (Yunnan/China, Burma, Laos, Thailand, Cambodia, and Vietnam) whose work focuses on environmental issues and human rights. The seven month-long training program uses experiential learning methods to equip participants from the region with the skills required to conduct research, gather data, and effectively campaign around environmental issues affecting the region. The training takes place in Chiang Mai, Thailand from June to December of each year. Housing, transportation, and a modest living stipend are provided to successful candidates.

The Mekong School curriculum focuses on the impacts of large dams, plantations, mines, infrastructure projects in the Mekong region. The program provides students with the skills needed to voice their individual and collective concerns about large-scale development projects in the Mekong basin. Graduates of the program form a strong network of environmental advocates who, together with their respective communities, campaign for greater public participation and transparency in development planning.

The goals of the Mekong School session are: Continue reading “EarthRights International invites local activists to join training in its Mekong School”

The Burmese military authority has prohibited the distribution of electricity from private generators in Maungdaw,

Distribution of Electricity from Generators Banned, Students Suffer
daw, the western border town of Burma, since the government-owned Electric Power Corporation, EPC, increased its hours of electricity distribution in the town, said a teacher from Maungdaw.

“EPC last week increased the hours of power distribution from two hours to four hours at night in Maungdaw. Since then, the authority has not allowed private generators to distribute power in our town. Because of that, many students have suffered because there is no light in their houses for studying their lessons,” he said.

He added, “The reason the authority prohibited power distribution from private generators is to sell power from EPC. The authority is worried about loss of profits after increasing their distribution of power in the town. So the authority ordered private generators closed down in the town. It is intended to get people to buy power from EPC.”

Maungdaw District Chairman Aung Swe Nyunt recently issued an order to close down all private generators in Maungdaw. After that, many students from poor families began facing problems with a lack of power in their homes.

Naing Kyaw, a student from Wimala Ward said, “The exam is very close but there is no electricity in our houses because the authority deprived distribution of power by private generators. We now have to study for our courses at home by candles.” Continue reading “The Burmese military authority has prohibited the distribution of electricity from private generators in Maungdaw,”

Thai governor warns Burmese social organizations

THURSDAY, 21 JANUARY 2010 13:51

The Thai government proposes to come down heavily on some Burmese political organizations working in the guise of social outfits.

It will investigate and initiate action against these organizations.

Tak Province Governor Samak Loipha said on January 19 at a press conference on the Thai-Burma border town of Mae Sod that the government would take action against some Burmese political organizations working in the guise of social outfits.

At the press conference, where Burmese opposition groups were not invited, the governor, however, said organizations working in the sectors of health and education will be allowed to function.

Though the reason behind the sudden warning is still not clear, Mae Sod based Yaung Chi Oo labour organization Secretary Moe Swe said growing labour protests in Mae Sod could be one of the reasons.

Besides Thai businessmen and the Burmese junta frequently complain about Burmese opposition politicians being sheltered on Thai soil, he said.

“Action can follow the warning. At border committee meetings, traders’ associations sometimes apply pressure on the Thai government because the junta views all social, health, education and welfare associations as part of opposition groups”, he told Mizzima. Continue reading “Thai governor warns Burmese social organizations”

KDA transformed to militia groups by Burma junta

THURSDAY, 21 JANUARY 2010 13:51

The Burmese military junta is keeping up its relentless pressure and has forced yet another ethnic Kachin armed group in Northeastern Burma to transform to smaller militias under the Burmese Army early this month, said sources in the armed group.

The Kachin Defense Army (KDA), which split from the Kachin Independence Organization (KIO) and is based in Kawnghka in Northeast Shan State was forced to change to two smaller local militia groups after the group’s leader Mahtu Naw recovered from serious illness in mid-December last year, KDA sources told Kachin News Group today.
The KDA, formerly part of the KIO’s 4th brigade was instructed today to surrender its big guns and mortars to Lashio-based Northeastern Regional Command Headquarters (Ya-Ma-Kha) of the Burmese military by the regional commander Maj-Gen Aung Than Htut, KDA sources said.

The KDA was also ordered to change to two militia groups today by changing its KDA military uniform to that of the militia by Maj-Gen Aung Than Htut, the sources added.The junta has said that the militia can keep only small arms so the KDA is surrendering all its big guns to the Burmese Army, KDA sources added. Continue reading “KDA transformed to militia groups by Burma junta”

Election ‘preparation’ barred from media

Jan 20, 2010 (DVB)–Burmese media has been banned from publishing material covering political groups’ preparations for the elections this year, while news of the elections themselves is allowed.

The censoring has targeted parties belonging to the ‘third force’ in Burmese politics; those neither aligned to the incumbent nor opposition groups, said potential runner Phyo Min Thein, who recently organized a discussion forum on Burmese politics in Rangoon.
“Basically, [the junta] is blocking its opponents from exercising their rights and is looking to manipulate the [political] playground for itself,” he said.
A veteran news editor in Rangoon said that reporting on activities to do with the elections is not likely to be allowed until the elections laws and laws regarding the formation of political organisations are announced.
He added however that even when laws are announced, the media will be allowed only limited scope to report on the events. Continue reading “Election ‘preparation’ barred from media”

Eight charged for Sept 2007 activities-include four monk and a school teacher

Jan 21, 2010 (DVB)–Eight activists have been charged for their role in the September 2007 uprising, more than two years after police in Burma launched a brutal crackdown on peaceful protests.

The eight men, who include four monk and a school teacher, were arrested last year during a crackdown that coincided with the two-year anniversary of the so-called Saffron Revolution.
Lawyer Kyaw Ho, who is representing two of the men, Thandar Htun and Ko Nyo, said that all eight were charged under the Unlawful Associations Act and the Immigration Act, which together carry a maximum seven-year sentence.
The other defendants are Ye Myint, U Yaywata, U Kawthita, U Withudi, U Waryama and Kyaw Khin.
“They were…[accused] of having contacts with the All Burma Monks Association and the Generation Wave [activist groups], and also charged under the Immigration Act for illegally crossing border to meet with those groups,” said Kyaw Ho.
He added there was “no legitimacy” in making his clients, who were arrested in their hometown of Mandalay, stand trial in Rangoon. Continue reading “Eight charged for Sept 2007 activities-include four monk and a school teacher”

Thai village chief shot by DKBA troops

an 21, 2010 (DVB)–A Thai village chief has been seriously injured after being shot twice by a pro-Burmese junta militia, who last week crossed from eastern Burma into Thailand.

Two members of the Democratic Karen Buddhist Army (DKBA) carried out the attempted murder on 16 January after crossing the Moei river from eastern Burma’s Karen state, the Karen Information Committee (KIC) said.
The Eu Pu Hta village chief, Cha Chai, survived the shooting and is now in hospital, according to his relatives who spoke with the KIC.
“Two DKBA soldiers arrived at Cha Chai’s house around 8:45pm and shot him twice. One shot hit him on the thigh and the other one in his bladder. We didn’t see the attackers’ faces,” said the relative.
“We sent him to Pho Pa hospital immediately but doctors there couldn’t handle the wounds so we transferred him to Mae Sot hospital. His condition is serious and life threatening.” Continue reading “Thai village chief shot by DKBA troops”

New oil producer at Yenangyaung

Singapore listed Interra Resources’ 60%-owned subsidiary Goldpetrol Joint Operating Company has completed the drilling of an oil producer in Burma’s Yenangyaung oilfield.
Thursday, 21 January, 2010, 05:59 GMT
The YNG 3234 well was drilled using Goldpetrol’s Cooper LTO 350 rig and is now flowing 68 barrels per day of oil through perforations in five lower sand objectives.

YNG 3234 is designed to replace a previous production well with a last recorded flow rate of 60 barrels per day. The oil producer was shut in for mechanical reasons.

Curbing human trafficking in South-East Asia focus at UN-backed meeting

20 January 2010 – Officials from the six countries of South-East Asia’s Mekong region and observers from the United Nations and other stakeholders opened a two-day meeting in Myanmar today to step up the war on human trafficking, including sexual slavery and labour exploitation.
“It is only through this kind of coordinated approach and solidarity of the counter-trafficking community that we can make a real difference in the lives of people who are suffering the cruel consequences of human trafficking and exploitation,” UN Inter-Agency Project on Human Trafficking (UNIAP) regional manager Matthew Friedman told the 7th Senior Officials Meeting of the Coordinated Mekong Ministerial Initiative Against Trafficking (COMMIT) in Bagan.

The meeting brings together ministers from China, Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar, Thailand and Viet Nam, along with observers from the UN, including the UN Special Rapporteur on Trafficking of Persons Joy Ngozi Ezeilo, Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and donors.

“COMMIT is unique in that it has fostered unprecedented accountability between the Mekong countries over the past six years,” UN Resident Coordinator Bishow Parajuli said. “I believe that this unity may be one of our greatest strengths in tackling some of our biggest challenges.”

According to UN International Labour Organization (ILO) estimates, 9.49 million people were in forced labour in the Asia-Pacific region as of 2005, with a significant number believed to be in the Mekong region.

Since the signing of a memorandum of understanding six years ago, the six countries have put in place legal and cooperative frameworks to prevent human trafficking taking place, prosecute traffickers and exploitative employers and protect victims, helping them return home safely and with dignity.

The Bagan meeting will take a fresh look at regional approaches to counter trafficking, review plans and priorities, and discuss future joint actions, focusing in particular on law enforcement and the recovery and reintegration of victims.