Exiled Kachins urge China to stop Irrawaddy Myitsone dam project

Ethnic Kachin people in the United Kingdom urged the Chinese government to withdraw their investments in the Irrawaddy Myitsone Dam project, which is being constructed by Chinese companies operating in Kachin State, because it is creating more human rights abuses.

The UK Kachin community made their request in a letter sent January 19th, to Madam Fu Ying, the Chinese Ambassador to London.

In it they asked the Chinese state-owned China Power Investment Corporation (CPI) halt dam construction in Kachin State, because it is being done against the will of the local people and it will cause harm to the environment.

“If we destroyed China’s Great Wall, China will be really angry. It is the same situation. We don’t want them to destroy our natural heritage,” Hkamhpa Tu, the joint secretary of UK-based Kachin National Organization (KNO) told the Kachin News Group.

The KNO’s appeal letter pointed out the negative impact on the environment, cultural heritage, livelihood, and safety of the local people by the hydro power projects.

It argued that the project only benefits the military junta, but, the local Kachin people will suffer hardship.

“It is well-documented that development projects in Burma are accompanied by increased militarization and associated abuses, including forced labor and rape,” said the KNO’s statement.

The KNO joint secretary added, “China and the Burmese government should understand this is our homeland, so they should not go ahead with the project against with our wishes. They should respect the autonomy of the Kachin people”.

The open letter also included a letter from Kachin elders and leaders in different areas of Kachin State and Kachin Independent Organization (KIO) Chairman, Lanyaw Zawng Hra, who also urged the Burmese junta to halt the project.

Although, the Kachin representatives urged the country’s military leader Senior General Than Shwe to act quickly to halt the construction, he has failed to do so.

The official opening ceremony for the dam construction phase was held December 21, 2009, by officials of the military, CPI and Asia World Company. Continue reading “Exiled Kachins urge China to stop Irrawaddy Myitsone dam project”

Breaking News: Mongla top leader assassinated by Shan+nmg news

WEDNESDAY, 27 JANUARY 2010 15:21 S.H.A.N.
The general secretary of Mongla-based National Democratic Alliance Army-Eastern Shan State (NDAA-ESS) was shot to death by an unidentified gunman this morning around 08:30, according to sources from both the Chinese and Thai border.

Circumstances surrounding the assassination Min Ein aka Lin Hongshen, 58, however, are yet to be available. WEDNESDAY, 27 JANUARY 2010 15:21 S.H.A.N.
The general secretary of Mongla-based National Democratic Alliance Army-Eastern Shan State (NDAA-ESS) was shot to death by an unidentified gunman this morning around 08:30, according to sources from both the Chinese and Thai border.

Circumstances surrounding the assassination Min Ein aka Lin Hongshen, 58, however, are yet to be available.
Meanwhile, Network Media Group (NMG) has a slightly different version: that he was shot while taking his morning walk in front of his house around 06:00. His companion, also unidentified, was wounded.

“All those living in Mongla have been instructed to remain inside their homes,” said a resident of Maesai, opposite Burma’s Tachilek. “Ingoing vehicles are allowed to pass the checkpoints, but outgoing ones are not.”

Min Ein, said to be a native of Myitkyina, had joined the Communist Party of Burma (CPB) and fought alongside NDAA leader Sai Leun aka Lin Mingxian. Despite their common family name Lin, they are not kin.

“He is seen by some as a soft liner (one who advocates an accommodation policy toward Burma’s ruling junta),” said a source on the Chinese border. “But others say he was a reasonable man and supportive of the efforts to achieve unity among the opposition.”

The NDAA, together with the Shan State Army (SSA) North, are the United Wa State Army (UWSA)’s closest allies. The three, together with the Kachin Independence Army (KIA) and New Mon State Party (NMSP), are resisting Naypyitaw’s pressure to convert them into Burma Army-controlled Border Guard Forces (BGFs), a program proposed last April. Continue reading “Breaking News: Mongla top leader assassinated by Shan+nmg news”

UN Special Rapporteur Quintana to Visit Burma

The UN human rights special rapporteur for Burma, Tomas Ojea Quintana, will visit the country from Feb. 14 to 20. When he made a number of requests last year to visit the country for the second time in one year, the regime said the timing was not right.

He will make a report on his findings to the UN Human Rights Council in March, according to the UN Human Rights office in Thailand.Quintana has asked the authorities to meet with the detained pro-democracy leader, Aung San Suu Kyi, and leaders of ethnic cease-fire groups during his visit, according to an interview he gave to a Burmese radio station on Tuesday. He has also asked to visit Arakan State to study the human rights situation there.

In his report to the UN last year, Quintana called for the release of all 2,156 political prisoners before the 2010 election in order to ensure national reconciliation and a transition to democracy. Continue reading “UN Special Rapporteur Quintana to Visit Burma”

Burmese court delays verdict for detained US man Nyi Nyi Aung: lawyer

an 27, 2010 (AFP)–A Burmese court delayed a verdict Wednesday in the case of a US citizen detained in the military-ruled country, whose release has been called for by more than 50 US lawmakers, his lawyer said.

Rights activist Kyaw Zaw Lwin, also known as Nyi Nyi Aung, was arrested in early September and is being held in prison on charges of fraud and forgery related to a Burmese identity card and of failing to declare currency at customs.
A verdict for the 40-year-old was due Wednesday but his lawyer Nyan Win — who also represents Burma’s detained opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi — said it was postponed to February 10. “The court is not ready,” he told AFP.
In December more than 50 US lawmakers wrote to junta chief Than Shwe, urging him to release the Burma-born detainee from prison amid health worries.
The lawmakers said the charges against Kyaw Zaw Lwin were a pretext to hold him and that his “longstanding non-violent activities in support of freedom and democracy” in Burma were the real reason for his imprisonment. Continue reading “Burmese court delays verdict for detained US man Nyi Nyi Aung: lawyer”

2010 Kenji Nagai Memorial Award goes to imprisoned Burmese journalists Hla Hla Win and Win Maw

New Delhi (Mizzima) – Two imprisoned Burmese journalists have been named this year’s recipients of an award in honor of a Japanese journalist killed during the 2007 monk-led protests in Burma.

Tokyo-based Japanese News Agency together with Burma Media Association (BMA) on Tuesday announced they had selected imprisoned Burmese journalists Hla Hla Win and Win Maw, arrested by Burmese military authorities for sending information and reports to the Oslo-based Democratic Voice of Burma, as recipients of the 2010 Kenji Nagai Memorial Award.

“We decided to honor them in recognition of the sacrifice they both had made in sending out information on what really happened in Burma to audiences across the world,” Son Moe Wai, Secretary of BMA, told Mizzima on Wednesday.

Son Moe Wai said the Burmese regime arrests and suppresses journalists with the intention of creating an information blackout across the country.

“I think they detained them unnecessarily as they did not commit any crime. They just practiced freedom of expression in the country,” he added.

The Japanese News Agency and BMA established the Kenji Nagai Memorial Award in remembrance of Japanese journalist Kenji Nagai, killed by a Burmese soldier while covering protests in Rangoon in September 2007. The honorees of the award will share a US$ 1,000 cash prize and crystal trophy this year.

A ceremony to acknowledge the winners of the second annual Kenji Nagai Award will be conducted during BMA’s upcoming conference, to be held this February in Thailand.

Toru Yamaji, a representative of Asia Press Front (APF), told Mizzima on Wednesday that he congratulated both Kenji Nagai winners, saying, “ They are working for the future of Burma and for the Burmese people who want to get peace in the country.” Continue reading “2010 Kenji Nagai Memorial Award goes to imprisoned Burmese journalists Hla Hla Win and Win Maw”

Imprisoned Comedian Zarganar Turns 49

While popular Burmese comedian Zarganar spent his second consecutive birthday behind bars in remote Myitkyina prison in northern Burma on Wednesday, a small group of dissidents celebrated his 49th birthday at a Buddhist monastery in Chiang Mai in Thailand.

“We offered alms this morning to the monks in commemoration of Ko Zarganar’s birthday,” said fellow comedian Godzilla of the well-known Burmese troupe Thee Lay Thee A-nyeint. “After all, he has made a real sacrifice for his people. We wish that he––and all the other persons who have made such sacrifices––live long and free from danger.”

Zarganar’s sister-in-law, Ma Nyein, told The Irrawaddy on Wednesday that Zarganar is suffering from the skin disease pruritus. “I last saw him on Dec. 7, 2009. Like other families of political prisoners, we expect him to be released this year, but it all depends on the Burmese authorities.”

“He is a very funny man who inspires confidence,” said Kyaw Thu, a famous Burmese actor. “He is a true artiste and I very much appreciate his good deeds and brave spirit.”

Zarganar was sentenced to 35 years in prison for his involvement in the humanitarian relief effort in the Irrawaddy delta after Cyclone Nargis devastated the region in 2008. Continue reading “Imprisoned Comedian Zarganar Turns 49”