KIO criticizes Burma junta’s report on poppy eradication

Thursday, 10 March 2011 11:35 KNG
The Drug Eradication Committee (DEC) of the Kachin Independence Organization (KIO) said the Burmese military junta is lying in a March 7th media report about the amount of poppy cultivation it has destroyed.

The state-controlled ‘New Light of Myanmar’ said on Monday, March 7, that “411.30 acres were destroyed in Waingmaw, Danai, Hpakant townships in Kachin State from 21 to 27 February (2011).”

opium_eradication_kioPoppies in a field in Sadung, Waingmaw township in eastern Kachin State was being detroyed by a KIA (Kachin Independence Army) soldier in December, last year. Photo: Kachin News Group

Naw Bu, spokesman of the DEC based in Laiza, the headquarters of the KIO, told the Kachin News Group, “We didn’t see them (Burmese troops) take any action to destroy poppy cultivation. I only heard about them destroying 3-4 acres beside the road in the Sadung area.”

The government paper said a total of 14260.8 acres of poppies were destroyed from 1 September 2010 to 20 February 2011 and “altogether 15021.75 acres of plantations have been destroyed during the 2010-2011 poppy cultivation season.”

It said the junta destroyed a total of 760.95 acres, including 349.65 acres in Mongton, Monghsat, Mongphyat, Kengtung, Nam Hkam, Manton, Kutkai and Momeik townships of Shan State and 411.30 acres in Waingmaw, Danai (or Tanai), Hpakant townships of Kachin State.

“This is not possible. It was only for show because we (the KIO) are doing our own eradication mission and as the government they should have done something,” said Naw Bu. Continue reading “KIO criticizes Burma junta’s report on poppy eradication”

THAILAND: U.N. experts challenge government over lese-majesty case against webmaster Chiranuch Premchaiporn

(Hong Kong, March 8, 2011) Two United Nations experts have sent “a letter of allegation” concerning the case of Chiranuch Premchaiporn, the webmaster on trial in Bangkok for charges of lese-majesty and computer crime, one has revealed in a new report.

According to the Special Rapporteur on human rights defenders, Margaret Sekkaggya in her annual report to the U.N. Human Rights Council, she sent the letter together with the Special Rapporteur on freedom of expression, Frank La Rue, on October 1, 2010.

The February 28 report quotes a reply from the government of Thailand that the case was brought on the basis that “views that are disrespectful of the monarchy, or advocate hatred or hostile feelings towards this important national institution, or those which incite hatred or violence are generally unacceptable in the Thai society”.

In a second letter sent in February, the government asked the U.N. rights experts “not to prejudge the decision” of the court hearing the case.

Wong Kai Shing, executive director of the Asian Human Rights Commission, welcomed the U.N. experts’ intervention and said that it showed that the case is attracting more and more interest globally, because people around the world are concerned about the use of Thailand’s draconian lese-majesty and computer crime laws to stifle legitimate debate.  Continue reading “THAILAND: U.N. experts challenge government over lese-majesty case against webmaster Chiranuch Premchaiporn”

Junta launches covert dam offensive in Karenni State

Karenni Development Research Group

Engineers are secretly surveying for dams planned by China hydropower giant Datang on the Salween and its tributaries in Karenni State under the armed guard of Burma’s junta, according to local researchers.

The Karenni Development Research Group (KDRG) launched today a campaign publication exposing how three planned dams proceeding in secret will block waterways across the state, tightening the junta’s control and causing further widespread disruption to the war-torn population.

A giant 600 MW dam on the Salween at Ywathit, nearly 60 kilometers from the Thai town of Mae Hong Son, will flood upstream to Shan State across large areas forcibly depopulated during ongoing offensives by the junta’s troops. The 130 MW dam on the Pawn River in the heart of the state will particularly impact the Yintale people who now number just 1,000. A 110 MW dam on the Thabet River to the north of the Karenni capital of Loikaw is also planned.

“We’re not allowed anywhere near the dam site” said one local villager from Ywathit. “Some Chinese with strange equipment travel there with soldiers, but we don’t know what’s going on.”

It is unknown how the electricity from the dams will be used but local people fear they won’t receive any. The Karenni have bitter experience from the Burma’s first major hydropower project at Lawpita which had devastating impacts but gave local people no benefit.

The Ywathit is one of seven dams planned on the mainstream Salween in Burma by Chinese and Thai companies. All of the dams are located in conflict zones and have already exacerbated local resentment and instability.

“How can investors think this is business as usual while armies are battling around them and people are fleeing for their lives?” said Thaw Reh of the KDRG. “They should wake up to the risks of these dams and immediately stop their operations.”

The Datang Corporation is a member of the United Nations Global Compact whose members commit to conduct business according to universally accepted principles of human rights, environment and labor standards.

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25 Percent of Migrant Workers in Thailand Fail to Renew Their Work Permits

arch 11th, 2011

By LAWI WENG – The Thai Ministry of Labor (MOL) released a news statement on March 10 that around 225,810 migrant laborers failed to renew their work permits by the 28th of February this year.he news release further reported that 2010 registered a total of 932,255 migrant laborers, but only 706,445 renewed their permits this year.

Burmese migrants are working at a shrimp factory in Mahachai ( Photo: IMNA )

“We estimated 80 to 90 percent are Burmese migrants among the missing migrants who failed to renew their work permits,” said Andy Hall, a consultant with Human Rights and Development Foundation (HRDF).

According to labor rights groups working in Thailand, there are one to two million Burmese migrant workers working in Thailand, but the majority are working illegally, and only a small number of workers possess a legal border passport and have passed the Burmese national verification (NV) process. Continue reading “25 Percent of Migrant Workers in Thailand Fail to Renew Their Work Permits”

Bomb Explosion at Pagodas Festival in Kawzar Sub-Township

March 11th, 2011

By JURI CHAI – Villagers reported a bomb explosion at a pagoda festival in Kawzar sub-township on March 9th, situated in southern Ye, Mon State.

Kawzar Sub-Township (Photo : IMNA)

Speaking to The Independent Mon News Agency on Thursday, a Kawzar villager said that the bomb blast occurred 26 feet behind the opera stage at midnight, and caused no injuries to the audience.

“They are still investigating the case. They do not know yet who is responsible for the bomb,” said a villager who was present at the bomb blast.

Sources say that the local authorities, policemen and the Burmese military opened fire after the bomb blast, believing that Mon rebels were attempting to disrupt the performance.

The Pagoda festival in Kawzar village is an annual festival which lasts for normally lasts for three days. After the bomb blast on the first night, the local Burmese authorities banned the festival due to the lack of security.

The Burmese authorities recognize Kawzar as a “black” area in which two Mon splinter groups continue to fight with Burmese authorities, capture villagers, and demand money.

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KNLA:Sixteen Junta troops die in guerilla ambush

Friday, 11 March 2011 18:14 Kyaw Kha
Chiang Mai (Mizzima) – The Karen National Liberation Army (KNLA) ambushed a junta convoy transporting rations, arms and personnel on Thursday, killing 16 soldiers and wounding 17, according to KNLA sources.

A Karen National Liberation Army (KNLA) soldier mans a heavy machine gun at the front line of a 60-year conflict in this undated photo. Photo: MizzimaA Karen National Liberation Army (KNLA) soldier mans a heavy machine gun at the front line of a 60-year conflict in this undated photo. Photo: Mizzima

A Company, led by Captain Myat Htoo, and a Security Company, led by Captain Se Nar Hu, both from Battalion 201, ambushed the convoy of 27 trucks carrying more than 300 troops to Kanelay and Bayintnaung in the Waw Lay area.

“We got a tip-off that a reinforcement convoy was heading to that area, so we ambushed them’, said Major Kyi Aung, the battalion’s second-in-command.

Major Kyi Aung told Mizzima that KNLA guerillas attacked the junta troops three times, starting Thursday morning with M16 assault rifles and rocket propelled grenades. Junta troops retaliated with small arms fire and 80 mm and 120 mm mortar shells. The fighting halted about 6 p.m.

‘We know this area well, and we opened fire  only when we had the best chance of hitting the targets’, said Major Kyi Aung. ‘We inflicted heavy casualties. Later, when they counter-attacked with heavy weapons, we had to retreat but we didn’t suffer any casualties’.

The trucks from the convoy are unable to move and more clashes are likely to take place, he said.
The number of dead and wounded could not be confirmed.

According to a KNLA 2010 battle report, there have been a total of 1,083 clashes between junta troops and the KNLA in the 7th Brigade area, which killed 618 junta troops and wounded 1,304 and led to the detention of 16 prisoners of war. The KNLA lost 19 soldiers and eight were wounded.

The KNU uses landmines in its control areas and also uses guerilla warfare techniques in fighting junta troops. The KNLA suffered far fewer casualties because of its knowledge of the topography, the report said.

Rumours now circulating in the area say that heavy fighting will break out as urban warfare in Myawaddy  on the Thai-Burmese border after graduation examinations are completed in mid-March.

Myawaddy has been the site of several bombings in recent months, which have caused a serious loss of business in the area. At the same time, cross border trade has been the victim of customs gate closures in recent weeks.

Because of the fear over potential urban warfare in the city, some affluent families are building shelters under their homes and some have moved to other cities. Many merchants have moved to Kawthaung, sources said.

Meanwhile, one day after the general election held by the junta on November 7, 2010, war broke out between junta troops and a break-away faction of the Democratic Karen Buddhist Army (DKBA) which refused to accept the junta’s offer of converting its army into the Border Guard Force (BGF).