Arakanese Politician Responds to Critics on the Second Panglong

Dhaka: An Arakanese politician has responded to the Burmese veteran politician who has criticized plans by the opposition led by Daw Aung San Suu Kyi to hold the second Panglong Conference.

Thakhin Tin Mya has criticized the move by the opposition as “inappropriate and unachievable” in his article that was published by the junta’s Burmese-language newspaper The Kyemon on 12 February, which was the 64th Union Day in Burma.

“Daw Aung San Suu Kyi’s proclamations to hold the second Panglong and to build the unity among all ethnic nationalities in today’s situation, dissimilar to the past, are not appropriate and I believe that will not be achievable. Daw Aung San Suu Kyi is also included among those who are never optimistic about anything being done by the Tatmadaw government,” said Thakhin Tin Mya in his article “The Previous Panglong Conference and Today’s Situation”.

U Aye Tha Aung, the secretary of the Arakan League for Democracy and the Committee Representing People’s Parliament, said that the second Panglong Conference is necessary with the current political situation in Burma.

“What [Thakhin Tin Mya] has written may be his own opinions, but we have been trying to hold the second Panglong Conference after analyzing the current political circumstances in Burma. It is very necessary to hold the conference and we know that there are also a lot of possibilities to be achieved by the conference. We have also arranged for internet and phone for open participation in the conference, apart from convening the individual representatives of any ethnic background,” said U Aye Tha Aung, who is also one of the leaders organizing for the conference.

He added that the current armed clashes in the ethnic areas on the eastern frontiers have necessitated holding the second conference 64 years after the original conference, which brought about the ethnic unity for Burma’s independence.

“It has already been 64 years that we have been calling for ethnic unity, but no genuine unity is found in post-independence Burma. There are still armed clashes and tension in the ethnic areas on the eastern frontiers. So it is very necessary to convene the second Panglong to contain the widespread civil wars and tension, and we are planning our best for accomplishing the conference,” he said.

In retrospect, the current conflicts in Burma are due to the refusal of successive Burman-dominated governments, including the current regime, to implement the inter-ethnic agreements for equal rights that came out of the original Panglong Conference, without which the independence of Burma from colonial rule would not have been possible.

Narinjara news


Two Burmese Men Killed in Mae Sai

Two Burmese men suspected of smuggling stolen motorcycles from Thailand into Burma were found dead on Thursday following an alleged gunfight with police in the Thai border town of Mae Sai, according to Thai media reports.

The reports said that a gun was found near the bodies of the two men, who were identified as Than Kyaing, 35, and Aung Than Oo, 20.

Although the reports don’t state that they were killed in a shootout, they quote police as saying that the two men had attempted to break through a checkpoint and started shooting at the police, who then returned fire.

A local resident of Mae Sai said that the men had been missing since Feb. 13 and that their families had been to the Mae Sai police station to ask for help in locating them.

He also disputed the account given by the police, saying that the suspected smugglers were not gang members, although they might have been hired to bring the stolen motorcycles across the border to Tachilek, in Burma’s Shan State.

“It’s not possible that they would have had guns,” he said.

The body of one of the men has been returned to his family in Tachilek, while the other is still being held at a Mae Sai hospital, sources said.


Irrawaddy news

BURMA:Global Fund Back With New Hope

By Marwaan Macan-Markar

BANGKOK, Feb 26, 2011 (IPS) – Burma’s transition from an overt military rule to a civilian administration of retired generals is getting a shot in the arm from a former critic of the junta – the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria.

The Fund that left the South-East Asian nation in protest more than five years ago is returning this year to Burma, or Myanmar. The move follows three agreements inked last November to finance two-year grants of up to 112.8 million dollars against the three killer diseases.

It marks an increase from the 98.4 million dollars that the Geneva-based humanitarian body had pledged during its first foray. The group pulled out in August 2005 citing political interference in its programmes.

Support for HIV/AIDS initiatives is billed to get the largest share, 46 million dollars, with malaria receiving 36.8 million dollars and tuberculosis (TB) 30 million dollars, according to the Global Fund.

“Burma re-applied for Global Fund grants in 2009 and due to the technical merit of the proposals the board decided to approve them,” Marcela Rojo, spokesperson for the Global Fund confirmed in an IPS interview.  Continue reading “BURMA:Global Fund Back With New Hope”

Chin Refugees Get Surprise Visit from UN Rights Expert

26 February 2011: The UN Special Rapporteur on Human Rights in Burma Tomas Quintana made an unannounced trip to Malaysia last week, meeting with Chin community-based organizations and hearing personal stories of human rights abuses from individual refugees.

The visit to Malaysia came ahead of Quintana’s upcoming report to the Human Rights Council in March, where the UN rights expert is likely to raise human rights issues specific to the Chins. The visit coincided with the celebration of the 63rd anniversary of Chin National Day that saw the largest festive gathering of ethnic Chins outside of Chin State.

The Argentinian lawyer spent four days in the Malaysian capital, including a two-day meeting with refugees and community-based organizations. He also met with the Malaysian Foreign Ministry as part of his ongoing mandate to address the human rights situation in Burma.

“During my visit I talked to many people who had recently left Myanmar [Burma] fleeing forced labor, land and property confiscation, arbitrary taxation, religious and ethnic discrimination, arbitrary detention, as well as sexual and gender-based violence,” Quintana said.

The rights expert interviewed a dozen individual Chin refugees whose testimonies added further evidence to the long list of ongoing persecution and widespread human rights abuses against ethnic Chins in western Burma. Among the testimonies was the case of a young man who fled the country after 15 years of portering and forced labor for the military. Another prominent Chin woman religious leader testified about the systematic denial of religious freedom for Chin Christians, including one particular incident in which she was forced to read a statement at a televised event denying allegations of restrictions on freedom of religion, against her will.

“We are very pleased that the Special Rapporteur took notice of the situation of the Chins, and made a special effort to visit the Chin community in Malaysia. We hope that the Chin will be the focus of his next report to the UN Human Rights Council,” said Salai Bawi Lian Mang, Executive Director of the Chin Human Rights Organization (CHRO), who also met with the Special Rapporteur during his visit to Malaysia last week.

In January the CHRO participated in a lobby mission to Geneva during  the Universal Periodic Review, where Burma’s rights record for the past four years was examined by the UN Human Rights Council. During the visit to Geneva, CHRO also met with officials at the United Nations Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, as well as the various Special Procedues mandate holders, including staff working with Tomas Quintana. Continue reading “Chin Refugees Get Surprise Visit from UN Rights Expert”