Wa to hold drug bonfire

The United Wa State Army (UWSA) is reportedly planning to hold a drug bonfire on UN World Anti-drugs Day, June 26, at its headquarters Panghsang, 100 km north of Shan State East capital Kengtung, in order to reconfirm its pledge to the world given in 2005, according to local sources close to the Wa leadership.

The activities will be taking place on the same day in 3 other principle towns Mongmai, Wiangkao and Mongpawk.Kengtung and Lashio commanders are expected to be invited to observe the event including Chinese officials and media, according to a Wa officer from the anti-drug force.

In order to hold this event, the Wa authorities have been seizing drugs and have also been arresting people suspected as drug addicts since early June. Up to this day, there has been up to 200 people arrested, said a local resident in Panghsang. “All suspects were thoroughly scrutinized before taken into custody.”

In 2005, the Wa declared its territory as drug free. The group asked for the international community to provide food and promote education for the Wa people and encourage investments, open up markets and reduce taxes on Wa products.

But the group has to struggle alone to help its people as there were only some organizations, like China and World Food Program (WFP) come to provide aid, mostly rice, according to a senior officer.

“The ruling Burmese military junta did not help much.”

Nevertheless, China, at the request of Naypyitaw, stopped providing food to the group after 2007. Likewise, the NGO programs in the areas have also been decreasing compared to the previous period as their members were unable to travel in the areas freely as before since Naypyitaw’s Border Guard Force (BGF) program was proposed in April 2009. The UWSA has so far been against the program.

“Because members are mostly Burmans even though the organizations are formed by foreigners,” he said.
In addition, as the ceremony draws near, security in the areas has also been tightened.

“They [Wa authorities] have been taking it serious this time. They go from house to house and check even at night time,” said another villager.

The UWSA was named by the United States as a terrorist organization with connections to drug trafficking. Its deputy head of finance and Commander of the Thai-Burma border-based 171st Military Region, Wei Xuegang, is wanted both in Thailand and the US on drug charges.

Shanland org

Burmese migrant worker killed by water propeller in Shrimp farm

A Burmese migrant worker was killed feeding shrimp at a shrimp farm close to the market in Nanyoum town, southern Thailand.

The man was feeding shrimp in a pond when his clothes were caught in a propeller which dragged him underwater. He was retrieved from the water and taken to hospital but later died. The incident took place at around 11pm on 22nd May.

Pashu (or Moe), 25, was from Shwe Pyi Thar, Kawtaung city, Tanintharyi Division, Burma and left behind a wife of 20 and an 8 month old daughter.

Ma Khin San, a worker on the shrimp farm told how her husband had also gone to feed shrimp in a pond close by and saw the boat adrift but no sign of Pashu. He saw clothes floating in the water and raised the alarm.

Sources have said that the family was offered no compensation following the tragedy. The funeral was held on Sunday.

Pashu was one of five migrant workers employed to work on the shrimp farm, including his wife Mi Lay, Ma Khin San, her husband and an elderly worker.


N Korea missiles at Burma base

Work has been completed on a new radar and missile base in northern Burma as army trucks reportedly travel the length of the country to deliver stockpiles of weaponry.

An army source close to the Northern Regional Military Command told DVBthat missile launchers, including North Korean-made 122mm Multiple Launch Rocket Systems vehicles, have been moved into place at the Moe Hnyin base in Kachin state.

The base is operated by Rocket Battalion 603, and lies around 80 miles southwest of the Kachin state capital, Myitkyina, and equidistant between the Chinese and Indian border. Munitions, including trucks mounted with radar systems known as Fire Control Vehicles, were reportedly delivered from Rangoon over the course several month’s prior to the opening of the base in May.

Another radar base known as Duwun (Pole Star) has been opened on a hill close to Moe Hnyin. Two Russian technicians arrived at the base in early May via Myitkyina for a final installation and inspection of the equipment, the source said.

It is the fourth such base to be opened in Burma this year; two others are operational in Shan state’s Nawnghkio and Kengtung districts, while one was recently opened close to Mandalay division’s Kyaukpadaung town.

The reports will likely stoke suspicions about the contents of a cargo delivered by a North Korean ship, the Chong Gen, in April this year. Two months later, DVBreleased the findings of an investigation that had unearthered evidence of high-level military cooperation between the two pariahs, but this is the first time that North Korean weaponry has been sighted in Burma. continue


Chinese Weapons Maker Signs Myanmar Deal

China North Industries Corp., a leading Chinese weapons manufacturer, signed a cooperation pact with the government of Myanmar to develop a copper mining project, the latest sign of growing commercial ties between the reclusive Southeast Asian nation and its giant neighbor.

The Monywa Copper Mine Project Cooperation Contract was signed during Premier Wen Jiabao’s visit to Myanmar in early June, China North Industries, or Norinco, said in a statement on its website. The statement was posted on the company’s website Wednesday, but dated June 10. It didn’t disclose financial terms.

The deal underlines how the isolated military rulers of Myanmar are increasingly turning to the country’s most important political and economic ally for support—and how China continues to seek natural resources from its southwestern neighbor to feed its industrialization.

The Norinco statement said Monywa is “abundant in copper mine resources with excellent mineral quality, which is of great significance to strengthening the strategic reserves of copper resources in our country, and to enhancing the influence of our country in Myanmar.” Continue reading “Chinese Weapons Maker Signs Myanmar Deal”

Beijing-based engineering and defense company, signed a copper mining contract in Myanmar

China North Industries Corp., a Beijing-based engineering and defense company, signed a copper mining contract in Myanmar that it said will strengthen China’s strategic reserves of the metal.
The Chinese company, also known as Norinco, made the agreement during a visit to Myanmar by Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao and Norinco Chairman Zhang Guoqing, the company said in a statement dated June 10 posted on its website. Financial terms of the mining contract weren’t disclosed.
China, the world’s largest metals consumer, this week indicated it will abandon the two-year-old dollar peg of its currency, the yuan. A rising Chinese currency may boost China’s purchasing power and increase imports.
Norinco also signed cooperation agreements in Myanmar, the country formerly known as Burma, related to chemical production- line renovations and port, wharf, rail and hydropower projects, according to the statement.

Norinco’s mine contract was reported earlier by the Wall Street Journal.


Aide to US Senator John Kerry meets NLD leaders

Chiang Mai (Mizzima) – US Senator John Kerry’s assistant Robin Lerner met senior members of the National League for Democracy on Tuesday to discuss the party’s stance on upcoming national elections, NLD spokesman Nyan Win told Mizzima.

Lerner, a counsel to the Senate foreign relations committee who arrived in Burma on June 19, met NLD vice-chairman Tin Oo and central executive committee members Nyan Win, Nyunt Wai, Than Tun, Hla Pe, Han Tha Myint, May Win Myint and Win Myint. According to Nyan Win, the one-hour meeting took place at the Rangoon residence of chargé d’affaires Larry Dinger, the most senior US diplomat in Burma.

Tin Oo explained the party’s current situation, future plans and outlined the party’s decision not to re-register with the junta’s Union Election Commission in time for the junta’s March 29 party-registration deadline.

“In keeping with the junta’s one-sided electoral laws, if the party wanted to contest the election, it needed to expel our members who are in prison,” Nyan Win told Mizzima. “This would include the party’s leader Aung San Suu Kyi. Our vice-chairman Tin Oo explained to Ms Lerner that we can’t expel the members who are in prison, a point she understood.”

According to Nyan Win, Lerner asked the NLD how it expected to survive after the forthcoming election and Win Tin, the elderly but spry former political prisoner responded that as things were still up in the air the group could not provide an answer.

He told Mizzima that the NLD leadership also told Lerner that other opposition political parties, which have officially registered with the junta’s Union Election Commission, were being prevented from campaigning freely and therefore an election held this year would be far from fair.

The leaders also told Lerner unequivocally that they could not accept the junta’s extremely undemocratic line that declared members of the military were able to “participate in the national political leadership role of the State”. This contentious clause appears in the first chapter of the constitution ratified in a disputed May 2008 referendum widely viewed as rigged. The constitutional vote was also conducted days after Cyclone Nargis hit, as millions of Burmese struggled to cope with its devastating impact.

John Kerry, chairman of the US Senate’s foreign relations committee, was chosen as the Democratic presidential candidate in 2004 but lost to George W. Bush. Like his fellow Democrat Senator Jim Webb, Kerry is a decorated veteran of the Vietnam War.

Last August, former Kerry chief of staff turned pro-engagement lobbyist Frances Zwenig told The Washington Post that a few months earlier in May, the Burmese regime’s ambassador to the US offered Kerry, who had last visited Burma in 1999, a chance to return. This trip never occurred and Webb went instead in August. Continue reading “Aide to US Senator John Kerry meets NLD leaders”