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  1. #1
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    Burmese Weekly : Vol 36 , WE Sun 3rd Aug '08

    Kerry Pushes Rice to Consider Burmese Junta’s Actions as “Crimes Against Humanity”
    Posted on July 28, 2008 by sanooaung


    WASHINGTON, D.C. – Sen. John Kerry today sent a letter to Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice to express his grave concerns over the Burmese military junta’s restricting foreign aid to millions devastated by the recent cyclone, and to ask whether the junta’s actions may constitute “crimes against humanity” under international law. Kerry has requested a legal opinion from the State Department.

    “The junta’s refusal to accept foreign aid has inflicted extraordinary pain and suffering on the Burmese people,” said Sen. Kerry. “The systematic restrictions on international support have denied lifesaving disaster assistance to over a million people. Our State Department should be considering every possible tool to create leverage to force the junta to allow humanitarian aid to reach the people. That includes investigating whether the junta’s actions constitute a crime against humanity under international law.”

    The text of the letter is as follows:

    June 17, 2008
    The Honorable Condoleezza Rice
    Secretary of State
    U.S. Department of State
    Washington, DC 20520

    Dear Madam Secretary:

    I write to express my serious concerns about the efforts of Burma’s ruling military junta to restrict foreign aid to the people of their country, who are recovering from the devastation wrought by Tropical Cyclone Nargis on May 3, 2008.

    As you know, conditions in the cyclone’s wake have heightened the risk of starvation, disease, and deprivation. According to the UN, 2.4 million people were affected by the disaster; six weeks later, over 1 million still have not received disaster assistance.

    Despite the suffering of Burma’s people, the military junta has undertaken a widespread and systematic effort to restrict the flow of international aid. The U.S. Agency for International Development recently noted that “a lack of access to areas affected by the storm continues to impose serious constraints on the effectiveness of relief operations.” The UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs likewise has found that Burma’s visa process for NGO staff continues to move slowly, making a bad situation worse.

    This is simply unacceptable. It is clear that the military junta’s failure to meet the most basic humanitarian needs of Burma’s people constitutes “criminal neglect,” as Secretary Gates put it, on a nation-wide scale. Its concerted efforts to prevent life-saving humanitarian aid from reaching Burma’s people raise legitimate questions as to whether the intentional inactivity of the regime warrants classification under a more egregious crime: a crime against humanity triable by international tribunals and by national courts around the world.

    As you may be aware, Article VII of the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court defines crimes against humanity as certain acts “committed as part of a widespread or systematic attack directed against any civilian population.” Such crimes include a residual category of “inhumane acts of a similar character intentionally causing great suffering, or serious injury to body or to mental or physical health.”

    I respectfully request that your Department review whether the military junta’s inexcusable response to Tropical Cyclone Nargis constitutes a crime against humanity under international law, and that you provide me with your legal opinion.

    Thank you for your serious and timely consideration of this request. I look forward to your response.

    John F. Kerry

    Cc: John B. Bellinger, III, Legal Advisor to the Secretary of State

    source:Welcome to Massachusetts Senator John Kerry's Online Office :: Home Page

    from chat
    mid this letter is from 17.june, san posted tdy for membering

    Mid : opps


    US president likely to meet Burmese activists during visit Thailand
    Mizzima News
    Monday, 28 July 2008

    New Delhi — US President George W. Bush is likely to meet Burmese activists during his trip to neighboring Thailand in early August, sources in Bangkok said.

    The source said Bush may have a luncheon meeting with a few Burmese activists and political observers in Bangkok, during his two day visit to Thailand.

    George and his wife Laura Bush are scheduled to arrive Thailand on August 6 to mark the 175th bilateral relationship between the two countries. It will be his last visit to Asia before his term as president expires.

    Bush, who will visit Bangkok on August 6 and 7, will hold bilateral talks with Thailand's Foreign Minister Samak Sundaravej and commemorate 175 years of bilateral relations between the two countries, according to Thailand's daily newspaper, Bangkok Post.

    During the visit, Bush will also deliver a speech in Bangkok.

    "President Bush will deliver a speech on Asia while he is in Bangkok," the paper quoted Thailand's Foreign Ministry spokesman Tharit Jarungvat as saying. "The importance of the speech is that it will be his last speech on Asia during his presidency."

    Bush is also expected to raise Burma issue during his talks with Thai officials including Foreign Minister Samak.

    During his term as the President of the United States, Bush implemented stricter economic and financial sanctions against Burma's military rulers and pushed for a United Nations Security Council resolution on Burma.

    But his effort, which was backed by the United Kingdom and France, however, failed to yield any result and ended up as a UNSC's Presidential statement, as two other veto wielding countries – China and Russia – objected to the resolution.

    Bush will fly to China after ending his visit to Thailand for the Beijing Olympics, which will have its opening ceremony on August 8.


    UK underwriters 'helping Myanmar's brutal regime'
    Monday July 28, 2008
    By Nick Mathiason

    The London insurance connection propping up the murderous Myanmar military dictatorship can be revealed in a development that will acutely embarrass leading City of London figures.

    Three Lloyd's of London operators will be named as helping to insure the junta's state-owned airline Myanma Airways this year. They are Kiln, Atrium and Catlin. All were contacted by the Observer and asked to explain their involvement but refused to comment.

    Other Lloyd's syndicates have shared the risk of insuring the junta's shipping interests. Without shipping and aviation insurance, the Myanmar Government would not be able to export gems, timber, clothing, oil and gas, which would lead to economic ruin for the generals running the oppressed southeast Asian nation.

    The London insurance involvement, to be exposed this week in a report by Burma Campaign UK, will acutely damage the reputation of the City. It is likely to trigger a wave of campaigns aiming to force Lloyd's of London to recommend its members pull business from Myanmar. Campaigners are demanding a meeting with Lloyd's chairman Lord Levene.

    "The insurance industry is helping to fund the Burmese dictatorship. Insurance companies, including members of Lloyd's, are putting profits before ethics. They don't care that they're helping Burma's brutal regime fund the purchase of guns, bullets and tanks for their campaigns of repression and ethnic cleansing. In an age where companies like to claim they behave ethically, the truth is these companies are helping to finance a regime that rapes, tortures and kills civilians," said Johnny Chatterton, Burma Campaign UK's campaign officer.

    Lloyd's argued its members were not breaking the law by insuring Myanmar's key infrastructure. While the US has imposed across-the-board sanctions on Myanmar, the European Union has taken a limited stance. EU sanctions cover gems and timber but not financial services.

    Despite pressure from the European Parliament to extend sanctions, heads of state have failed to unanimously approve the measure.

    Lloyd's said: "Unless there are official international sanctions in place, we do not instruct the market where it can and cannot write business."

    Lloyd's intransigence will put pressure on the UK Government to intervene. Prime Minister Gordon Brown has made plain his disapproval of any business trading with Myanmar. It is unclear whether the Foreign Office has raised the issue with senior Lloyd's officials.

    The Burma Campaign report will expose eight other insurance companies. By Myanmar law, all insurance has to goes through Myanma Insurance, in which the state is the sole shareholder.

    Last edited by Mid; 28-07-2008 at 10:19 PM.

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    London's link to Burmese junta revealed

    Lloyd's insurers underwrite military dictatorship's aircraft and shipping, claims new campaign
    The London insurance connection propping up the murderous Burmese military dictatorship can be revealed in a development that will acutely embarrass leading City figures.

    Three Lloyd's of London operators will be named as helping to insure the junta's state-owned airline Myanma Airways earlier this year. They are Kiln, Atrium and Catlin. All were contacted by The Observer and asked to explain their involvement but refused to comment.
    The Burma Campaign report will expose eight other insurance companies. While Lloyd's is vital to the regime, much business goes to Singapore and Thailand. By Burmese law, all insurance has to goes through Myanma Insurance, in which the state is the sole shareholder. It is an imprisonable offence to get insurance through any other organisation.
    London's link to Burmese junta revealed | Business | The Observer

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    UN Admits $10 M Exchange Loss in Myanmar, Says Will Disclose Others Countries and Los

    At least $10 million in UN aid money raised by the UN after Cyclone Nargis hit has been lost in government-dictated currency exchanges, UN humanitarian chief John Holmes admitted on July 28. He stated that at the time he launched a second appeal for aid on July 10, "we here" in New York had not been aware of the seriousness or extent of the losses. But an internal UN document obtained by Inner City Press shows that the UN knew as early at June 26 of a "very serious 20% loss on foreign exchange... changing US Dollars to Foreign Exchange Certificates [FEC] then to local currency, Kyats." This appears in the internal "Notes for the Record" of an "Emergency Task Force Teleconference" call involving top officials in Yangon, Bangkok and Rome, available here

    Inner City Press: Investigative Reporting from the United Nations

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    Insurance giants urged to stop business with Burma

    Sixteen of the world's biggest insurance companies have been called on to stop trading in Burma.

    A new report says companies are allowing billions of dollars worth of investment in Burma by insuring the operations of foreign businesses.

    Burma Campaign UK says the investment enabled by insurance companies has not benefited residents in any way and has instead been used to finance campaigns of repression and ethnic cleansing.$1233784.htm

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    Junta Approves Investment in Cyber City
    Tuesday, July 29, 2008

    Twelve local and foreign information technology companies have been given permission by Burma’s ruling regime to invest in the country’s largest IT center, the Yadanabon Cyber City, according to Rangoon-based industry sources.

    The Burmese companies include the semi-government-owned Myanmar Teleport and eight privately-owned companies, including FISCA Enterprise, MCC and Fortune International, Htoo Trading, Myanmar World Distribution, Nibban, Tamoenyel Chanthar Tun Wai Thar, Yadanabon Cyber Corporation and Myanmar Info-Tech.

    An Internet café in Rangoon provides limited access to the World Wide Web.

    Three foreign companies have received the go-ahead: the Russian-owned firm CBOSS, Maxinet of Australia and Global Technology, which is believed to be based in either Thailand or the UK.

    According to well-informed sources, the regime rejected proposed investments by Shin Satellite of Thailand, ZTE and Alcatel Shanghai Bell of China and Malaysia’s IP Tel Sdn Bhd.

    The 12 companies agreed to spend a total of US $22 million at the Yadanabon site. They have been assigned 12 plots, with a combined area of 70 acres, according to a report in

    The Myanmar Times weekly, published in Rangoon.

    Several sources from computer universities said that the objective of the Yadanabon Cyber City project is to tighten control over Internet connections across the country and prevent users from gaining access to or distributing information critical of the regime.

    The 10,000-acre Yadanabon site was established in June 2006. It includes seven training and human resources development buildings, 30 factory plots, a convention center and a research and development area. There are also fiber-optic cables connecting the site with other cities in Burma and satellite connections with India, China and Thailand.

    Over one-fifth of the total area of the site will be used for the production of software and hardware. The project is located in the town of Yadanabon Myothit, near Pyin Oo Lwin (Maymyo), about 67 km east of Mandalay.

    A journalist from Mandalay said that IT professionals based in the city have shown little interest in investing in the Yadanabon Cyber City because it is too remote from urban areas.

    Burma has three Internet service providers—the state-owned Myanmar Posts and Telecommunications (MPT), BaganNet/Myanmar Teleport (formerly known as Bagan Cybertech) and Information Technology Central Services (ITCS), launched by the government-aligned Union Solidarity and Development Association in 2007. All are based in Rangoon.

    Meanwhile, the Burmese military regime approved, a Web site launched by ITCS to spread government propaganda and counter media attacks by exiled Burmese media groups.

    Burma has some of the world’s most restrictive Internet policies, banning blogs and exiled news providers critical of the country’s ruling junta. However, access to prohibited Web sites is often possible through use of proxy servers.

    According to the Open Net Initiative Bulletin, Burma is one of 30 counties that have less than one percent Internet penetration, with an estimated 300,000 Internet users nationwide in 2005.

    Mid : on trying to access this is the response
    Server is too busy


    Source: United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs - Integrated Regional Information Networks (IRIN)
    Date: 29 Jul 2008

    Soe Soe, Myanmar: "Life is totally bleak"

    OUTKWIN, 29 July 2008 (IRIN) - Almost three months since Cyclone Nargis struck southern Myanmar - leaving nearly 140,000 dead or missing - many storm-affected people lack basic necessities of food and shelter.

    In the village of Outkwin, Pyapon Township, deep inside Myanmar's badly affected Ayeyarwady Delta, one such survivor, Soe Soe, 28, told IRIN about the hardship she faces, as well as the birth of her son, named after the storm.

    "That night I went into labour in a small bamboo, thatched house on the banks of the Pyapon River to deliver my first child. But as the wind roared, my husband and I struggled outside only to see our home destroyed right before our very eyes.

    "As the rain poured down and the water began to reach my chest, my husband lifted me on to some floating debris. As I lay there, the labour pains became so painful I began to scream. I needed help.

    "Finally, among the broken pieces of wood I gave birth around six in the morning, but almost died in the process. I had lost so much blood. Both my husband and the woman who had helped me deliver thought I was gone. But a single hope kept me hanging on - that my son needed me.

    "After the cyclone, I thought the worst was over. But finally I understood that the worst of our hardship - bringing our lives back to where they were - had only just begun.

    "We could not rebuild our home. We have neither money to buy materials, nor assistance to build. If my neighbour hadn't had the compassion to share her makeshift hut with us, we would have been left to live in a displaced persons camp. My neighbour collected material from what was left of her own house to build this place. Now, my son Nargis and I have been living here with four other families. My husband, a fisherman, has been away at sea for two months and has yet to return.

    "I hope he comes back soon. I have so many debts to pay back and my son needs medical treatment.

    "For medical fees, I had to borrow some money from a local money-lender at a high interest rate - 30 percent per month.

    "But there are no choices here. You do what you need to do to survive. Not just for my son's medical bills, but also food. Occasionally, the local authorities bring rice to us, but it's never enough. I still need to buy some rice, as well as vegetables and other things for cooking.

    "Of course, I know I shouldn't be borrowing money at such high interest rates, but I don't know what else to do. I feel I should thank her for allowing me to borrow the money given I have nothing to offer her in collateral.

    "My husband earns just $30 a month and our debts far exceed that now.

    "Sometimes, I wonder what the future holds. Right now life is totally bleak."

    lm/ds/mw [END]
    Last edited by Mid; 29-07-2008 at 11:51 PM.

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    Supreme Court accepts Myanmar EXIM loan case against Thaksin

    BANGKOK, July 30 (TNA) - Thailand's Supreme Court Criminal Division for Political Office Holders on Wednesday agreed to proceed to trial regarding the Export-Import Bank of Thailand (EXIM Bank) loan case filed by the now-dissolved Assets Examination Committee against deposed prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra.


    See Also : (Thailand : Supreme Court accepts Myanmar EXIM loan case against Thaksin)

    .................................................. ..

    Mizzima website under attack
    Mizzima News
    Tuesday, 29 July 2008

    New Delhi — The Burmese website of Mizzima News, a Burmese Independent News Agency based in New Delhi, has come under persistent and severe Distributed Denial of Services attack causing the website to become inaccessible since Sunday.


    See Also : (Press Release: DVB web site hit by DDoS attack)


    Kanbawza Bank denies impending closure
    Nem Davies Tuesday, 29 July 2008

    New Delhi — Burma's privately owned Kanbawza Bank on Tuesday denied rumours that the bank is closing down in the wake of panic withdrawals.

    An official at the Bank's head office in Kamayut Township in Rangoon told Mizzima on Tuesday that the bank is functioning normally and that it has no plans to close down.

    "Whatever you heard are rumours. Everything is fine here including the President and the Vice President. There has been no interrogation either and we have no plans to close down," the official said.



    SSA-North denies BBC story

    The report filed by BBC on 29 July that the ceasefire Shan State Army (SSA) “North” had decided to contest in the 2010 elections was hotly repudiated by a top officer close to the group’s chief of staff.


    .................................................. ..

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    Dengue fever outbreak in Monywa
    Reporting by Khin Hnin Htet

    Jul 29, 2008 (DVB)–Residents of Monywa township in Sagaing division have reported an outbreak of dengue haemorrhagic fever among children, some of whom are said to have died of the disease.

    One local resident said the local health system had been overwhelmed by the number of cases.

    "Monywa hospital was running out of beds for patients and families had to bring along their own beds so their children could be admitted to the hospital," the resident said.


    Dr Than Nyein denied medical treatment
    Reporting by Khin Hnin Htet

    Jul 29, 2008 (DVB)–Long-term political prisoner and Kyauk Tan township's elected people's parliament representative Dr Than Nyein is still awaiting proper medical attention after being diagnosed with suspected liver cancer in February.

    Dr Than Nyein, who is being held in Prom prison, has been suffering from kidney stones and liver problems and was diagnosed with suspected liver cancer at Bago divisional hospital in February, according to his wife Daw Khin Aye.

    His family has been appealing to the prison authorities to allow him to seek medical assistance since the diagnosis but have so far received no response.

    "We have been sending a number of appeal letters to the prison authorities but the prison authorities never responded to them," said Daw Khin Aye.


    Nine monks arrested in Rangoon
    Reporting by Khin Hnin Htet

    Jul 30, 2008 (DVB)–Nine monks have reportedly been arrested by authorities while waiting at Rangoon railway station to return to their monasteries for a retreat to mark Buddhist lent, according to an eyewitness.

    A Rangoon resident who witnessed the incident said the railway police arrested the nine monks as they arrived at the station on 15 July.

    “The monks did not come as a group. They came separately and were at the railway station before the train departed,” the witness said.

    “They appeared to be on their own and were not seen to be communicating with each other or doing something together,” he said.

    “But the railway police came and arrested the nine monks and sent them to Insein prison.”

    The Rangoon resident said he did not know if the monks had been charged with any offence.

    DVB is investigating the incident and trying to establish which monasteries the monks belonged to and where they were heading before their arrests.


    Jul 30, 2008 (DVB)–Farmers in Magwe division's Aung Lan township have come under pressure from local authorities after filing a forced labour complaint to the International Labour Organisation.

    The farmers reported to the ILO that local authorities had ordered them to grow sugar cane on their farms after declaring that the land was the property of the defence department.

    A farmer from Thabyaypin village in Aung Lan said farmlands in nearby Sapyanjet that local farmers had been working on for generations were seized by local authorities earlier this month.

    "Officials from Aung Lan township's sugar factory 5, led by major Ye Naing, seized the land and then forced us to sign an agreement to grow sugar cane on the land," the farmer said.

    "They threatened to kick us off the land if we refused to grow sugar cane," he said.

    "The farmers were really frustrated by that and about 50 of them filed a report to the ILO about the abuse."

    The farmers were later summoned to see township Peace and Development Council chairman U Myint Ngwe, who demanded they tell him who had filed the report and why.



    Paddy fields destroyed by crabs in Ngapudaw
    Phanida Wednesday, 30 July 2008

    Chiang Mai — With no major outbreak reporting in Burma's cyclone hit areas, initial fears of 'second wave of death' have slowly subsided but farmers in several parts of Irrawaddy delta said they are faced with fresh threats of the crabs that are cutting of crops in their farmlands.

    Farmers in cyclone-hit Ngapudaw Township in Irrawaddy Division said, fresh water crabs have emerge into the farms and are destroying the paddy crops, which they have recently completed sowing, and are causing huge loss to the farmers who are at their wits end.

    The strange crabs, which enjoys the soil mixed with sea water, cuts through the paddy grown in many villages including Thingangone, Thanyinmu, Zeephyuseik, Ngakone, Konedanpotta, Khwaychaung, Kotaung villages in Ngapudaw Township, local farmers said.

    An official of the Agriculture Department in Ngapudaw told Mizzima that the crabs usually go down to the rivers and creeks along with the full moon as heavy rain start pouring down in mid-July.

    "But the crabs cannot go back as there has been no rain in mid-July. It stopped raining since July 12," the official said.

    The crabs destroyed both the long and short stem of paddy, causing it impossible to revitalized, while a replacement seed cannot be grown, he added.

    "The crabs, however, cannot destroy the paddy which has fully grown. But in this season, growing time has been delayed and some seeds failed to grow. Failure of the seeds is also a major problem," a farmer from Thingangone village told Mizzima.



    Burma’s Fishery Industry near Standstill
    Wednesday, July 30, 2008

    The Burmese offshore fishing industry is at a near standstill because of high fuel prices and a shortage of human resources and other supplies, say sources in Rangoon.

    A businessman from the fishing community said about one-fifth of the offshore fishing fleet, including trawlers and drifters, now engage in daily fishing trips.

    “They can’t afford to pay for diesel,” he said. “A normal trip consumes about 100 barrels of diesel. A barrel of diesel is around 320,000 kyat (US $273)”

    A motorized canoe passes by fishing boats anchored in the middle of the Rangoon river.

    According to the Myanmar Offshore Fishing Vessel Owners Association, there are 536 registered offshore fishing vessels; about 100 vessels are now working.



    Bomb explodes in Telecommunication Office in Mudon
    Thu 31 Jul 2008, IMNA

    A bomb exploded near the Burmese military regime's Central Agriculture Research and Training under the Ministry of Agriculture and Irrigation in Mudon Township, Mon State, Burma last night.

    The bomb went off in the Telecommunication Office precincts in front of Central Agriculture Research and Training in the eastern part of Kyone paik village about 20 miles from Moulmein, the capital of Mon State but no one was injured.

    The authorities have not been able to identify the bomber yet. "It seems to be an internal affair and there were only three people present," an observer from the town said.

    The local authorities are investigating. The office was built in 1996 and the local authorities seized a rubber plantation for constructing the building without paying compensation.

    In July last year, a small bomb exploded in a brothel near the Azin Dam in Mudon.

    Last edited by Mid; 31-07-2008 at 05:49 PM.

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    26-06-2015 @ 01:33 AM
    Junta Approves Investment in Cyber City

    now we know why the junta invested in a cyber city

    Burmese exiles' leading media websites under attack

    Southeast Asian Press Alliance
    30 July 2008

    Two leading news organizations of Burmese exiles reported
    persistent and severe attacks on their respective online servers
    this past week.

    SEAPA partner Mizzima News, a Burmese independent news agency based
    in New Delhi, India, reported that its website has been
    inaccessible since 27 July due to persistent and severe Distributed
    Denial of Services (DDoS) attacks.

    On the other hand, the website of Oslo-based Democratic Voice of
    Burma has also been under similar attack since July 20.

    Mizzima said its website received more than 5 GB of data in less
    than 15 minutes, many times more than it usually gets, said its
    webmaster, adding that this amount of information is more than what
    the site can handle.

    The webmaster explained that a DDoS attack is an attempt to disable
    a website by overwhelming it with information requests, making it
    incapable of responding to regular traffic.

    In a statement released on 25 July, DVB Deputy Executive Director
    Khin Maung Win accused the Burmese military government of staging
    the online attacks.

    "We can easily say that the junta is behind this," he said.

    In an email sent to media outlets, Khin Maung Win asked for support
    as his organization is trying to find a solution to fend off the
    online attacks. DVB is a major Burmese news agency that provides TV
    reports direct from Burma.

    Mizzima also voiced suspicions that the military government is the
    one behind this disruption.

    An IT consultant for Mizzima explained that there had been a lot of
    intrusion attempts from servers in China, Russia and Hungary. At
    least 30 servers are involved in the attack, he added.

    Mizzima said Burmese IT specialists and engineers loyal to the
    military regime are known to be studying in the said countries.

    Mizzima News Agency, run by Burmese journalists, is an independent
    Burmese multi-media group focusing on Burma and related news and
    issues. It maintains three different, and

    Besides distributing daily news both in English and Burmese,
    Mizzima also Podcast video stories on its site, which
    are frequently picked up by other news organizations.

    Both Mizzima's Burmese and English sites attract an average of
    10,000 to 15,000 unique visitors per day but the number of hits
    jumped to hundreds of thousands during the September protests in
    Burma last year and in May and June this year, following the
    destruction wrought by Cyclone Nargis.

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    New UN rapporteur to vist Burma next week

    New York (dpa) - A United Nations rapporteur is scheduled to visit Burma next week to discuss human rights concerns, it was announced Thursday.

    The UN rapporteur for human rights, Tomás Ojea Quintana, will be in Burma from Sunday to Thursday for a first visit to the country, which has not considered human rights issues a top priority.

    Quintana has requested to meet a number of government officials, heads of state institutions as well as ethnic groups, political parties, religious groups and non-governmental organisations.

    The UN Human Rights Council in Geneva, which employs the rapporteur, said he will visit Rangoon and areas affected by the devastating Cyclone Nargis in May, the Kayin state in the southeast and Rakhine state on the coast of the Bay of Bengal.

    "The special rapporteur wishes to engage in a constructive dialogue with the authorities with a view to improving the human rights situation of the people of Myanmar," the council said in a press release announcing the visit. The UN uses the name for Burma adopted by the military dictatorship.

    Special rapporteurs on human rights work independently and without pay, and they report back to the council in Geneva.

    Ibrahim Gambari, the UN secretary general's special adviser, is scheduled also to visit Burma in mid-August, a trip postponed from May because of the cyclone. It will be his fourth trip in the past year to try to persuade the military government to institute democratic reforms and releaseg political prisoners, including Aung San Suu Kyi, leader of the main opposition National League of Democracy.


    Zarganar and Zaw Thet Htway appear in court
    Reporting by DVB

    Jul 31, 2008 (DVB)–Prominent comedian and activist Zarganar and sports writer Zaw Thet Htway have appeared in court for the first time since they were arrested in June.

    The two appeared before Western Rangoon provincial court in Insein prison and were charged with violating section 505(b) of the penal code for inciting offences against the state or causing public alarm.

    The charge carries a maximum penalty of two years’ imprisonment.


    Airline passenger held over gun possession
    Reporting by Naw Say Phaw

    Jul 31, 2008 (DVB)–A woman was apprehended at Kawthaung airport in Tenasserim division at 9am today after she was found to be in possession of a gun, according to an airport employee.

    The woman, who was said to be in her 40s, was due to travel with Air Mandalay from Kawthaung to Tavoy, the division’s capital.

    She was detained by Kawthaung authorities and is currently being questioned.

    Air Mandalay and Kawthaung police station were unavailable for comment.



    Nearly entire Htoi Ra Yang population suffer from Malaria and cholera
    Thursday, 31 July 2008

    Nearly the entire population of the Htoi Ra Yang village, 30 miles from the Sinbo logging fields in Kachin State, northern Burma has been afflicted by malaria and cholera, a source said.

    Villagers suffering from the diseases are now under medical care of the Kachin Independence Organization (KIO) and the UK based Health Unlimited (HU).

    The village is under the joint control of the Burmese military government and the KIO and it has a little over 200 villagers.

    “The diseases in the village are a fall out of mosquitoes breeding in dirty water. In the monsoons most villagers suffer from cholera,” said a health worker from HU who recently returned from Htoi Ra Yang village.


    Chinese security agents allege Kunming bus bombers entered from Burma
    Thursday, 31 July 2008

    Chinese security agents have alleged that the bombers of three public buses in Kunming in Yunnan Province on July 21 morning, are Xinjiang rebels from Northern China and they entered from Burma, said sources close to the security agents.



    Riot Police in Maungdaw Face Hunger

    Maungdaw: The families of riot police in regiment number 2 based in Maungdaw are facing starvation as the government salary is inadequate for their daily survival, reports the wife of one riot policeman.

    She said, "I am dear to tell you the real situation among our riot police families because we are unable to stay silent during this crucial period of hunger. My husband's salary is only 30,000 kyat, but the price of normal rice is 25,000 kyat per [50 kilo] sack in the market of Maungdaw. How can we carry out our daily life with such a small salary? So many families in the regiment are facing starvation."

    A source said at least ten families in the regiment are facing starvation today; another ten families will be facing starvation tomorrow, but it is not permanent hunger among the regiment families.

    "I'm not sure how to say it, but it is like a rotating system where a family gets money today from outside and the family is okay for food today. If not okay, the family faces starvation. All the families' survival depends on corrupt money from outside," the woman said.

    As the salary is inadequate for family survival, many riot police constables are involved in unlawful work in the area. They are particularly involved in cutting wood from the government land to sell in Bangladesh through wood smugglers.

    The woman said, "Yes, many riot police are involved in wood smuggling, but some riot police are working on construction sites as day laborers, and some are working as rickshaw pullers to earn money for their family's survival. We need food, so we have to go outside to look for money."

    However, the riot police also have to share their earnings with their regiment commander whenever they earn money at outside jobs.

    "A riot police has to pay 1,000 kyat illegally to the riot police commander every day for permission if he wants to work outside as a rickshaw puller. Other police also have to share their earnings with the commander," she said.

    Many riot police are solving their problem of hunger this way, but they are not always able to meet their families' needs. When that happens, the families must go hungry.

    A source from Maungdaw said many riot police families are begging for food from monasteries in Maungdaw after facing hunger day after day.

    Maungdaw is a border town in western Burma where commodity prices are double what they are in other parts of the country. Because of this, many government servicemen are unable to provide for their daily needs with the government salary, and many officials subsequently become involved in corruption in the township. #


    Ferry Boat Sinks, 30 Die

    Buthidaung: A ferry boat sank on the Mayu River in Buthidaung Township, 80 miles north of the Arakan State capital Sittwe, on 27 July, killing 30 on board, said a witness.

    He said, "The boat sank in the confluence between the Mayu River and Sai Din Creek in southern Buthidaung when the boat was returning to Nyung Chaung Village from Buthidaung."

    The boat sank as it was trying to cross through the heavy current of a whirlpool that formed at the confluence of the two waterways.

    "Four people were rescued by local people, but the other passengers, about 30 people that were mostly women and children, were killed in the sinking boat," he said.

    According to a local source, all the victims were Muslims who were traveling to their native villages after trading and visiting the markets in Buthidaung. The victims were from villages located between the town of Buthidaung and Nyunt Chaung Village.

    Many bodies were recovered from the river and the authorities in the area are still searching for the remaining bodies using machine boats. People in Arakan State travel via ferry boats around Arakan State because there are many rivers and creeks in the region. Such tragedies are not uncommon in Arakan during the rainy season. #


    Burma on Bush Agenda while in Thailand
    Thursday, July 31, 2008

    WASHINGTON — US President George W Bush will travel to South Korea, Thailand and China next week before taking part in the opening ceremony for the Beijing Olympics.

    While in Thailand, Bush, accompanied by his wife, Laura, will make a major policy statement on Burma while also meeting Burmese opposition group members.

    On his second day in Thailand, Bush will attend a briefing by nongovernmental organizations and US agencies on the Cyclone Nargis relief effort.

    "He will have a lunch in Bangkok with Burmese activists and hear their stories. And then he will be interviewed by the press in Thailand that broadcasts into Burma, so he can give a message directly to the Burmese people," said Dennis Wilder, the senior director for Asian affairs at the National Security Council.


    See Also : (Burma on Bush Agenda while in Thailand)


    Myanmar warns against more bomb attacks

    YANGON, Aug. 1 (Xinhua) -- The Myanmar authorities warned on Friday against more bomb attacks following Wednesday's mine explosion in northeastern Kayin state and urging people in the country to remain vigilant against more such probability, official media reported.

    The mine explosion in the state's Leiktho, Hpa-an at night caused collapse of and damage to a pylon located between the areas of Lawpyita and Toungoo, said the New Light of Myanmar.

    The authorities blamed the country's largest anti-government ethnic armed group, the Kayin National Union (KNU), responsible for the incident. According to the report, Myanmar's state-run Electric Power Enterprise is regularly supplying power through Lawpita-Kalaw-Thazi power line in order not to disrupt the power supply.

    The authorities also appealed to the public to come forward timely with information about the terrorists.


    Last edited by Mid; 01-08-2008 at 10:16 AM.

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    Burma’s Gem Trade and Human Rights Abuses

    Updated July 2008

    Burma produces a variety of gems but is most famous for its rubies and jade. The vast majority of high-quality rubies on the world market originate from Burma. Burmese rubies are renowned for their dark “pigeon’s blood” color, which makes them more valuable than rubies produced elsewhere. According to industry estimates, Burma accounts for more than 90 percent of the global trade by value.

    Related Material

    Crackdown in Burma: Targeted Sanctions Needed
    Background Briefing, January 11, 2008

    Crackdown: Repression of the 2007 Popular Protests in Burma
    Report, December 7, 2007

    Burma: Gem Trade Bolsters Military Regime, Fuels Atrocities
    Press Release, November 12, 2007

    US: Burma Gem Ban Strengthened
    Press Release, July 29, 2008

    Burma: Foreign Investment Finances Regime
    Press Release, October 2, 2007

    More on Human Rights Watch's work on business and human rights
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    Burma also dominates as the top producer of jadeite, the most expensive form of jade. Burma is especially well known for “imperial jade,” a gem-quality jade that is valued highly for its deep green hue. In addition, Burma produces and exports a variety of other precious and semi-precious stones, including sapphires and spinel.

    The color and quality of gems from Burma make them attractive for use in jewelry sold around the world, but the beauty of Burmese gems is marred by their association with serious human rights abuses. A growing number of governments, ethically-minded businesses, and civil society groups are working to curtail the international trade in Burmese gems through targeted sanctions and boycott campaigns. There are signs that these efforts are having an effect.

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    Thailand: Stop Forced Returns of Karen Refugees to Burma

    Civilians Forced Back Into Conflict Zone, More Returns Threatened

    The Karen, an ethnic group who have fled armed conflict and human rights violations in Burma, face persecution and violent reprisals by the Burmese military government if forced to return, Human Rights Watch said.

    “Forcing civilians back into an active war zone may be an easy answer for Thailand, but it’s brutal – a completely inhumane and unacceptable solution,” said Brad Adams, Asia director at Human Rights Watch. “The Thai government should cooperate with international relief agencies and UNHCR to ensure that it upholds the rights of civilians under international law.”

    On July 17, local Thai paramilitary forces, the tahaan prahn (literally “hunter-killer soldiers”) rounded up 52 Karen from two refugee camps in Thailand’s Mae Hong Son province along the Burma border, 39 – mostly women and children – from Mae Ra Ma Luang refugee camp and 13 from Mae La Oon camp. They permitted 17 students to stay on the Thai side, but sent 35 refugees across the border to the Ei Tu Hta relocation site in Burma.

    The refugees, part of a larger group of more than 280 who fled to the Thai camps in early 2008 during a major military offensive in Eastern Burma, were told late on July 16 that they would be forced back the following day. According to local refugee sources, tahaan prahn commanders announced that all new arrivals since April will eventually be forced back to Burma.

    Although Thailand has not signed the 1951 Refugee Convention, it is bound by the principle of non-refoulement, a firm prohibition in customary international law on returning refugees to any country where they are likely to be persecuted or their lives are at risk.

    Thailand: Stop Forced Returns of Karen Refugees to Burma (Human Rights Watch, 18-7-2008)

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    First mission of the Special Rapporteur on the Situation of human rights in Myanmar

    Thursday, 31 July 2008
    Geneva: - -At the invitation of the Government of Myanmar, the United Nations Human Rights Council Special Rapporteur on the Situation of human rights in Myanmar, Tomás Ojea Quintana, will conduct his first mission to Myanmar from 3 to 7 August 2008.

    The Special Rapporteur has requested to meet with a number of State officials and Heads of State institutions, as well as with representatives of ethnic groups, political parties, religious groups, civil society, NGOs and members of the Human Rights Body. He has also requested to visit Yangon and areas affected by cyclone Nargis and travel to Kayin State and Rakhine State.

    The Special Rapporteur wishes to engage in a constructive dialogue with the authorities with a view to improving the human rights situation of people of Myanmar.

    UNIC yangon - First mission of the Special Rapporteur on the Situation of human rights in Myanmar

    good luck

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    1st Myanmar woman to referee in Beijing Olympic soccer event

    YANGON, Aug. 2 (Xinhua) -- A Myanmar female referee is to make her debut in the upcoming women's soccer event at the Beijing Olympic Games next week in China, according to state-run newspaper The Myanmar Alin on Saturday.

    Myanmar's international female linesperson Kaw Jar, who will be the first Myanmar women's referee permitted to take such responsibility in the Olympic Games history, will referee as a linesperson in the Olympic women's soccer event in the Beijing Summer Games in China from Aug. 6 to 23, the paper said.



    US twist to Thaksin court case
    By Peter J Brown

    Thailand's Supreme Court decided this week to proceed with a criminal conflict-of-interest case against former Thai prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra over his role in approving a 4 billion baht (US$119 million) government-to-government loan made to Myanmar's military-run government to purchase satellite services sold by his family-owned communications business.


    See Also : (US twist to Thaksin court case)


    Quote on Freedom - 8808

    August 8 is not only a day to recognize China’s achievements,
    but also an occasion to recall
    the unfulfilled aspirations of the Burmese people.
    --President G. Bush



    My message is going to be one directed to the people in Burma when I meet with some of the activists, and Laura is going to be meeting with some of the people that she got to know.
    — US President George W Bush


    Burma, India Close to Signing Chindwin Dams Agreement
    Friday, August 1, 2008

    India and Burma are reported to be close to signing an outline agreement to allow an Indian state company to build two large hydroelectric power systems on the River Chindwin.

    The projects have been under discussion for years but are now moving to a formal memorandum of understanding, says The Financial Express of India.

    The newspaper puts the cost of the two projects at around US $3.5 billion.



    Troops on standby in Burma for massacre anniversary
    By Nick Meo
    02 Aug 2008

    Thousands of heavily-armed Burmese security forces have been moved to the outskirts of Rangoon days before the twentieth anniversary of an uprising which came close to bringing down the military regime.


    See Also : (8:8:88)
    Last edited by Mid; 02-08-2008 at 10:00 PM.

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    New UN rights envoy on first mission to Myanmar
    Aug 3, 2008

    Mr Quintana (above) said in June that the human rights situation in Myanmar 'has not changed for the better' since the last report by his predecessor.

    YANGON - THE UN's new human rights envoy for Myanmar is due on Sunday to make his first mission to the military-run nation, where his frustrated predecessor made little headway in pushing the junta to reform.

    United Nations special rapporteur Tomas Ojea Quintana, who took up his post in May, is due to arrive in Yangon on Sunday evening, and has said he wants to travel to areas devastated by Cyclone Nargis, which hit three months ago.

    Before his trip ends on Thursday, he also aims to meet state officials, ethnic groups and political parties, and try to open talks with the generals on improving their human rights record.

    'He is likely to go to (the capital) Naypyidaw on Wednesday to meet with our government officials,' said a state official who did not want to be named.



    Burma Puppet show floors DSS visitors

    Dubai Outlet Mall, a member of Dubai Shopping Malls Group, hosted the Burma Puppetry show as part of its Dubai Summer Surprises (DSS) activities.

    The renowned theatre group has performed around the world and its members are known to be exponents of the string puppetry which is popular in Myanmar.



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