Burma Shelters Mastermind of Arakanese and Karen Rebel Leader Assassination

23-august 2011

Dhaka: The Burmese government has been sheltering the Indian military intelligence officer who masterminded the killing of six Arakanese and Karen ethnic rebel leaders in cold blood in 1998 on Landfall Island in the Andaman Archipelago in India.

Former Burmese military intelligence officer Colonel San Pwint, who is currently imprisoned at Tharat Prison, reportedly told his close inmates that Colonel Biswajit Singh Grewal has been given safe shelter and business opportunities along with his family in Maymyo in Mandalay Division. Colonel Biswajit Singh Grewal plotted the assassination of six Arakanese and Karen rebel leaders, including Bo Raza from the National United Party of Arakan.

Arakan-army-and-India-armyBo Raza and other NUPA leaders along with Indian army officers in one Indian army camp in Mizoram State, India. This photo was taken by NUPA in 1996.

“Indian intelligence officer Grewal has been given shelter along with his family with the reward of one distillery and one dairy farm for his successful cunning plot to kill the Arakanese and Karen rebel leaders, including Bo Raza, and for imprisoning their soldiers in jails in India,” said one of the inmates who was recently released and had a close relationship with Colonel San Pwint in Tharat Prison.

Previous reports also suggested that Grewal was sheltering with his family in Mandalay under the auspices of the Burmese military regime.

The inmate source said Colonel San Pwint reported Grewal has been living in Maymyo in Mandalay along with his family and has received business rewards from the Burmese regime since he fled into Burma after the incident.

The incident happened in February 1998 when Grewal lured forces from the Arakan Army, the armed wing of NUPA led by Bo Raza, and the Karen National Union based on the Thai-Burma border with fake bonds and the false pretense of providing a secret naval base on Landfall Island in the Andamans.  Continue reading “Burma Shelters Mastermind of Arakanese and Karen Rebel Leader Assassination”

Sithu Zeya ,young reporter for the Democratic Voice of Burma has been given an additional 10 years in prison

A young reporter for the Democratic Voice of Burma has been given an additional 10 years in prison after being found guilty of breaching Burma’s notorious Electronics Act.

Sithu Zeya is already serving an eight-year jail term for his work for DVB. The 21-year-old has been held at Insein Prison in Rangoon since his arrest in April last year, after he was caught photographing the aftermath of the deadly Rangoon grenade attack.

His lawyer, Aung Thein, confirmed the extension under the Electronic Transactions Act article 33 (a) to DVB adding that they would appeal the decision at the Rangoon divisional high court at the end of September, a verdict which although Aung Thein was not hopeful about, said would have greater authority than today’s ruling.

Aung Thein further stated that Sithu Zeya was in court when the verdict was read out at around 2 p.m. this afternoon.

Journalist rights group, Reporters Without Borders’ Benjamin Ismail responded to the news by stating that the group were “outraged” at the decision  which they described as “unacceptable”. Whilst Shawn Crispin of the Commitee to Protect Journalists joined the condemnation telling DVB that,

“Today’s punitive sentencing of DVB reporter Sithu Zeya further shows that nothing has changed for the press under Burma’s new government”.

Aung Thein claimed his client was not angered by the ruling also adding that he appeared in good health. Sithu Zeya’s father, Maung Maung Zeya is also serving a lengthy jail term, also for working for DVB. There are a total of 17 DVB journalists behind bars.

Sithu Zeya was initially charged under the unlawful association act and the immigration act for illegally traveling to the Thai border town of Mae Sot. DVBhowever are not officially an unlawful association. dvb news—–         http://www.freeburmavj.org/

Thai officials categorized refugees in Nu Po Camp

Refugee from Nu Po being checked

Earlier this month Thai authorities in Tak province instructed Nu Po refugee camp officials to list all residents and sort them into three categories.

Saw Thoo Lei Doh Soe, secretary of Nu Po camp committee said the instruction from the provincial Tak officials to the Thai administrators in the camp was to list refugees into the following three categories – resettlement to a third country, repatriation back to Burma or integration into local communities.

Saw Thoo Lei Doh Soe explained to Karen News that he does not know what will be the next stage, but said camp officials have to obey the official orders they are given.

“Last week, we were asked to make the list. We did what

they [Thai officials] wanted us to do. We don’t know the details of what their plan is. All plans depend on the Thai authorities.”

Nu Po was not the first Thai refugee camp to categorize its residents. In August the Tak governor, Mr Samart Loifah, instructed officials in Umphiem refugee camp to make a list.

And it is not the first time refugee camps in Tak have been in Mr Loifah sights. Back in July, Mr Loifah was reported in the Thai media as saying he had held high level talks with Burma government officials about a number of refugee issues including closing all camps in Tak.

Refugees have mixed feelings about their names being listed, as they are uncertain what will be the planned outcome of the process. A resident of Section 7 in Nu Po camp said many refugees are worried.

“Some are worried they will be repatriated back to Burma. Other refugees are happy, thinking it will lead to being resettled to a third country. We heard that [authorities] took the names in Umphiem last month, but so far nothing has happened yet, so I don’t think our case will be different.”

Saw Robert Htwe, chairman of the Karen Refugee Committee said refugees could not be repatriated with the current ongoing conflict in Burma.

“I can’t say whether this should be done or not, but I can say that in the case of repatriation back to Burma – it can’t be done now as there is no peace or security in the current situation.”

The Nu Po refugee camp, in Umphang district of Tak province on the Thai Burma border, was set up in March 1997; the Karen Refugee Committee estimates it has a population of over 17,000 refugees.

There are seven Karen refugee camps along the Thai-Burma border with a total population of over 140, 000 people – the categorization listing by Thai authorities has so far only been carried out in two camps – Nu Po and Umphiem. kic news

Thailand:Former MP and human rights defender for local Karen people in Thailand, Mr Thatkamol Ob-om was murdered late last week

A former MP and human rights defender for local Karen people in Thailand, Mr Thatkamol Ob-om was murdered late last week, allegedly because of his work on behalf of the Karen community.

Mr Thatkamol was shot dead on 9 September. At the time he was preparing a report to the Thai King on the basic rights of the Karen people in Kaeng Krachan National Park in Petchaburi Province, said Wut Boonlert, leader of Petchaburi Province’s Karen environmental protection congress. It is not known yet who killed him.

Wut Boonlert suspected that Mr Thatkhamol was killed for publicising the burning down of Karen homes and the loss of their basic rights, to highlight their plight to the Thai people through the media.

On 8 September, Mr Thatkhamol went to a seminar in Bangkok with 8 Karen and called a press conference, Boonlert said.

At the conference, he said that Karen people have been settling down in the forests for hundreds of years before the laws were imposed and that they are Thai citizens, not illegal immigrants coming from Burma and that they have been conserving the jungles by practicing sustainable rotational slash-and-burn cultivation.

If they are to be relocated, relevant compensations must be given to them and that they should not be forcibly removed (from their ancestral homes), Mr Thatkhamol reportedly said.

A notice which claims Mr Thatkhamol was an ‘agitator’ and banning him from entering the National Park was put up at the entrance of the park by the order the chief warden of the park, Boonlert said.

Mr Thatkhamol Om-bon is known amongst royal circles and respected by the Thai public.

Other activists working for Karen people whose homes were burnt down and who are losing their basic rights are being intimidated, members of rights groups in Thailand said.

The park’s chief warden claimed in the media that the Karen’s homes were burnt down and forcibly moved out of the jungles because they destroyed the jungles and were growing opium poppy.

Tags: Human Rights Defenders and Promoters, Karen, thailand