Seven suspected “activists” in their 20s and 30s have been arrested in central Rangoon amid a security crackdown following blasts during New Year celebrations

Chiang Mai (Mizzima) – Seven suspected “activists” in their 20s and 30s have been arrested in central Rangoon amid a security crackdown following blasts during New Year celebrations. Another youth evaded arrest, police and neighbours said.

About 60 armed police raided the home of the youths at No. 29, Ground Floor, 1st Street, Northern Kunchan Block 4, Kamayut near Hledan junction just after midnight on Saturaday morning. They seized three mobile phones and sealed the room.

Officers at divisional and township police stations confirmed the arrests. They called it a political case but declined to give details as their superiors were handling the matter and that they lacked the authority to release information.

“Some guys were half-naked, just wearing shorts because they [apparently] were asleep” a neighbour told Mizzima.

Sources who requested anonymity for safety reasons told Mizzima the detainees were Bo Bo Thein, Thaung Htike Oo, Tin Tun, Soe Moe Kyaw, Saw Yin Shin, Thaw Zin, Aung Aung. Police continue to search for at least one of the youths, known as Kyaw Maung Oo.

Neighbours close to local authorities said police were monitoring the young men for at least a week prior to the raid.

“They were living here by sharing room rent. I have never heard of their indecent activity or wild behaviour,” a neighbour told Mizzima.

Since three serial blasts in Burma’s commercial capital went off at a pavilion built for Buddhist New Year water-festival celebrations, police investigations and arrest reports are increasing amid a security crackdown gripping the country. Journalist Maung Zeya and his son Sithu Zeya were detained on April 17 for taking pictures at the scene of the explosions on April 15.

A military engineer from the team investigating the blasts told Mizzima three hand grenades thrown into crowds at the pavilion were behind the blasts that killed 10 people, the majority of whom were security personnel from the army and the Home Ministry. About 170 people were injured.

DKBA Told It Must Provide Border Guards

The Democratic Karen Buddhist Army (DKBA), a splinter group of the Karen National Union, is expected to provide border guards under the terms of Burma’s new constitution, members were told at Independence Day celebrations at the headquarters of the DKBA’s Battalion 999.

The battalion commander, Col Chit Thu, said he had been given the news at a meeting with government officials in Naypyidaw. The DKBA, which signed a ceasefire agreement with the Burmese military regime after splitting with the KNU in 1995, was not expected to disarm, however.
Chit Thu was addressing DKBA members at Independence Day commemoration ceremonies at Shwe Kokko village, in Myawaddy Township, near the Thai-Burmese border.

A Karen businessman who is close to the DKBA leadership said some senior members of the group were unhappy with the news that DKBA members were expected to serve as border guards and had threatened to resign. He thought low-ranking members of the DKBA would continue to serve, however. continue

Kathy Aung,Woman activist sentenced to 26 years in prison

by Than Htike Oo
Monday, 05 January 2009 19:19

Chiang Mai (Mizzima) – A court inside Mandalay’s Oh Bo prison has sentenced Kathy Aung, a woman activist, to 26 years in prison. She had been arrested on charges of unlawful association.

Kathy Aung, was handed a long prison term on November 24, 2008 on charges that she had attended training imparted by an exiled opposition group, Forum for Democracy in Burma (FDB), based near the Thai- Burma border in 2008.

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“The girl has been charged on four counts. She was charged with two counts of associating with illegal associations. And another two counts under the emergency Immigration Act. All together she has been sentenced to 26 years,” Myint Thwin, a lawyer fighting her case, told Mizzima.

Kathy Aung was sentenced to 16 years for two counts each under the Illegal Association Act 17/1, and Act 17/2, and 10 years under the Emergency Immigration Act.

Lawyer Myint Thwin had recently visited the family members of Kathy Aung in order to work as her defense counsel.

Kathy Aung was arrested in September 2008, at her residence in Mandalay, Burma’s second largest city, and was detained for over two months in Oh Bo prison, before being tried and sentenced to 26 years of imprisonment.

open the doors of prisons from Niknayman blog
open the doors of prisons from Niknayman blog

read also Activist Calls for Wife’s Release

BANGKOK—A Burmese social activist closely involved with helping victims of Tropical Cyclone Nargis, which devastated the country in May, has called on the ruling military junta to release his pregnant wife.

Tun Tun, who is also known as Myo Min Oo, said from an undisclosed hiding place that the authorities had come looking for him in early September, at the same time that they detained a number of other activists, whose work with Nargis victims showed up gaping holes in the government’s handling of the disaster.

“My wife and the others in her group have been sentenced to 26 years in prison,” Mandalay-based Tun Tun, 24, said.

“I know for certain that they have sentenced my wife to 26 years in prison. I am very upset to hear this. This case has to do with something that we don’t know anything about,” he said.

Junta officials came looking for him, Tun Tun said, but they couldn’t find him so they detained his 23-year-old wife, Kathi Aung, instead. continue

China leads surge in foreign investment in Myanmar during first 9 months

By Associated Press
3:10 AM CST, January 5, 2009
YANGON, Myanmar (AP) — Foreign investment in Myanmar — much of it from China — nearly doubled in the first nine months of 2008 compared to the same period last year, according to government statistics seen Monday.

Mining accounted for more than 88 percent of the total foreign investment — a record for that sector.

Investment from January to September last year jumped to $974.9 million dollars from $502.5 million in the same period the previous year, said the Ministry of National Planning and Development in its latest statistical survey.

That was the second-highest amount for this nine-month span after 2006, when Thailand built a hydroelectric plant. continue,0,3659058.story

Understanding new Thai policy towards Burma

by the nation

AFTER EIGHT YEARS, it will not be easy to undo the Thai foreign policy towards Burma initiated by the Thaksin-led government and its nominees. A complete overhaul of the Burma policy is out of the question. However, some major shifts by the current government could be forthcoming that would firm up bilateral ties and strengthen Bangkok’s voice on Burma within Asean. Additional principled guidelines, drawing from the Asean Charter, are imperative aimed at supporting the international community’s effort to promote an open society there.
Gone quickly would be the preponderance of one-man decisions on key policies, especially those dealing with cross-border security, investment and trade cooperation.
In the past few years, Thailand has been rather compromising in its security considerations in exchange for economic benefits, which often went to individuals rather than the country as a whole. In particular, from 2001 to 2006, the Thai side allowed the Burmese side greater leeway along the 2004-km border such as issues related to Burmese migrant workers, illegal cross-border activities and harassment of minorities and Burmese exiles. continue

Myanmar grants free rice export from Yangon region

by chinaview
YANGON, Jan. 5 (Xinhua) — Myanmar has granted free export of rice from rice-producing Yangon region over six months after storm, the local Weekly Eleven journal reported Monday, quoting the Ministry of Commerce.

Export of surplus rice from other regions through border trade is also allowed; other local report also quoted the ministry as saying.

The country’s rice export is mainly done through normal trade only but it will also be permitted to do so through border trade if there is surplus rice produced regionally, the sources said, adding that the grant covers surplus rice produced from Sagaing, Bago and Ayeyawaddy divisions.

So far, a total of 35,755 tons have been shipped by 19 companies, of which 3,055 tons were exported by 9 companies through border points since the near-end of last year.

According to the figures of the Central Statistical Organization, in 2007-08, Myanmar exported 358,500 tons of rice, gaining 100 million U.S. dollars. The export tonnage in the first three quarters of 2008-09 went to 150,000 tons amid storm.

Of the rice export, 101,235 tons were shipped to South Africa, 11,908 tons to Singapore, 8,007.85 tons to Sri Lanka, 2,499.7 tons to the United Arab Emirate, 1,500 tons to South Korea and 1,197.7 tons to Egypt, said the Myanmar Agricultural Produces Trading.

Myanmar government has urged agricultural entrepreneurs to make greater efforts for exporting more rice, saying that the country has enough cultivable land to boost paddy production.

The United Wa State Party (UWSP), an ethnic ceasefire group based in northern Burma, has proposed to the country’s military regime that territory under Wa control be designated a special autonomous region from the beginning of January 2009, according to political observers based in the area.

Aung Kyaw Zaw, a Burmese analyst based on the Sino-Burmese border, said that some Wa leaders had told him in recent telephone conversations that the party was now issuing documents stamped “Government of Wa State, Special Autonomous Region, Union of Myanmar.”

“This is a sign that they are preparing to establish a Wa autonomous region,” said Aung Kyaw Zwa.

However, observers said that the Burmese military still hasn’t responded to a proposal to rename the Wa territory the “Wa State Government Special Region.”

The Wa area has been known by the Burmese military as “Shan State Special Region 2” since the United Wa State Army (UWSA), the armed wing of the UWSP, entered into a ceasefire agreement with the regime in 1989. continue

A United Wa State Army caravan in Shan State. (Photo: Thierry Falise)

Junta backed DKBA Attacks KNU

KNU Flag

God bless you all

Further attacks against the rebel Karen National Union (KNU) by the Democratic Karen Buddhist Army (DKBA) look likely to continue after a major clash that began on Saturday, according to Karen sources from both camps.

An armed clash between the KNU’s military wing, the Karen National Liberation Army (KNLA), and the breakaway Karen group DKBA broke out on Saturday in the KNLA’s Brigade 6 region in southern Karen State in Eastern Burma.

According to a source close to the DKBA, battalions 907 and 999 moved in against the KNLA Battalion 103 base. However, he said that the Burmese army did not participate in the operation alongside the DKBA troops.

The KNU’s newly elected Joint-Secretary 1 Hla Ngwe said that further attacks against the KNLA soldiers in Brigade 6 are expected as the DKBA has long coveted the region to control business and collect taxes along the Thai-Burmese border.

The area where the clash took place is rich in zinc mines, said the sources.

Hla Ngwe claimed that about six soldiers from a joint-Burmese/ DKBA force were seriously injured during the clash. However, the source close to the DKBA did not confirm any casualties.

Hla Ngwe said that a joint force of Burmese soldiers and DKBA troops have increased attacks around the border areas since late 2008.

Some observers said that the Burmese army and DKBA forces are intent on targeting in 2009 the KNU Brigade 6 region opposite Thailand’s Tak province, including the KNLA military bases in Kawkareik Township in southern Karen State.

A KNLA source said that the Burmese- DKBA troops were preparing to launch an assault mainly against KNLA battalions 201 and 103 in Kawkareik Township.

In late 2008, KNU’s tax department in Brigade 6 stated that the DKBA had plans to wrest control of Kawkareik from the KNLA, expecting to earn from agriculture, logging and mining in the area.

Speaking to The Irrawaddy on Monday, the source close to the DKBA said, “This is our New Year’s present for the KNU.”