Archive for September 27th, 2008
Junta arrests nine party members on NLD’s 20th anniversary
Saturday, 27 September 2008 19:11
New Delhi – Burmese junta authorities on Saturday arrested nine members of the opposition party – the National League for Democracy – who were travelling to attend the 20th anniversary celebration of the party’s founding day, the party spokesperson said.
Nyan Win, spokesperson of the NLD said nine of his party members including Htet Htet Oo Wai and Daw Shan Ma were rounded up by plainclothes security personnel as they stepped off a bus near the NLD head office in Shwegondine Street in Bahan Township.
“They were picked up by plainclothes policemen. We don’t know the names of the other seven,” Nyan Win said.
The NLD spokesperson said, at least a thousand plainclothes security personnel were present in and around the party office as members marked the 20th anniversary of the party’s founding day. The security personnel also took video footage and still photographs of the people attending the function.
“There were about 500 people attending the 20th anniversary day but I think the security people were double our number,” Nyan Win said.
The anniversary function was also attended by the recently released veteran journalist and the NLD party founding member U Win Tin, Khin Maung Swe and Dr Than Nyien.
During the function, the current party Chairman Aung Shwe requested Win Tin, Khin Swe and Dr. Than Nyien to resume their old positions and their work with the party.
Win Tin, who was detained for over 19 years, and Khin Maung Swe, earlier served as NLD’s central committee members before they were arrested while Dr. Than Nyien was the vice-chairman of the Rangoon Division NLD.
Win Tin, the veteran journalist, said he welcomed the offer made by the NLD chairman as he had always supported the party.
“I have always exhorted the people to support the NLD and Daw Aung San Suu Kyi. So, we accept the offer in principle but I am not sure when we can actually take up the responsibility because we have to do a lot of work to catch up with,” Win Tin told Mizzima over telephone after the function.
But he said, the first thing that the three of them would like to do is to fight for freedom of the remaining political prisoners, who are continuously suffering under deplorable prison conditions.
“It will include demanding the release of Daw Aung San Suu Kyi and U Tin Oo, and when they are freed, we will continue urging for a political dialogue,” Win Tin said.
According to the Thailand based Assistant Association of Political Prisoners (AAPP), there are over 2,000 political prisoners including student leader Min Ko Naing and his 88 generation colleagues, still languishing in prisons across Burma.
Meanwhile, Nyan Win said, the party is proud to be able to celebrate its 20th anniversary despite the ruling junta’s severe crackdown on its party members.
“I, personally, am very satisfied with what the NLD party has been able to do so far. For the past 20 years, despite severe repression by the government, the NLD is being able to maintain its stand as a political opposition party,” Nyan Win said.
He added that the party will continue to uphold its principle of fighting for democracy and human rights in the country through non-violent means.
Reporting by Solomon & The The, writing by Mungpi
Democratic Voice of Burma
Nine arrested at NLD anniversary celebration
Sep 27, 2008 (DVB)–
Nine members of the National League for Democracy were arrested today at a ceremony to mark the party’s 20th anniversary, according to NLD information committee member Dr Win Naing.
Ma Htet Htet Oo Wai and Daw Shan Ma from Shwepyitha township were among those arrested, along with six unnamed youth members and a middle-aged woman.
Six people were arrested before the ceremony at a bus stop near the Yazana hotel adjacent to the NLD headquarters as soon as they got off the bus, while three others were detained after the event.
Around 500 people attended the event, which began at 12 noon.
Some youth and women members wearing yellow shirts lined up in front of the NLD headquarter to commemorate the monk-led demonstrations that were brutally crushed a year ago.
Newly-released political prisoners U Win Tin and U Khin Maung Swe were reinstated in their previous positions, while Dr Thein Nyein was re-appointed deputy chair of Rangoon division NLD.
U Win Tin gave a speech at the ceremony demanding the release of all political prisoners, claiming that those who had been released felt ashamed that others were still not free, and called for unity among political groups.
There has been heavy security on Shwegondaing road and around the NLD headquarters, with soldiers, police and Swan Arr Shin members standing by on trucks.
Reporting by Htet Aung Kyaw
Burma arrests three on NLD anniversary
Rangoon (dpa) – The military government arrested at least three National League for Democracy (NLD) supporters Saturday before the opposition party celebrated its 20-year anniversary, witnesses said.
Police detained two men and one women near the NLD headquarters before the anniversary ceremony to mark the establishment of the party in 1988.
Before the ceremony about 10 people shouted slogans including “Free Aung San Suu Kyi” and released birds from cages in front of the NLD headquarters, but it was unclear if those arrested were part of that group.
Journalist U Win Tin, 79, who was released from 19 years in prison last Tuesday, attended the anniversary celebration for his first time, having been in prison on all the previous anniversaries.
He said he would help NLD and its leader Suu Kyi in the struggle for democracy.
The Nobel Peace Prize laureate Suu Kyi remained under house arrest and could not attend the ceremony. She has been under house arrest for 13 of the last 19 years.
Before U Win Tin was released last Tuesday, as part of a broad amnesty that freed 9,002 prisoners, he was Burma‘s longest-serving political prisoner.
Two NLD members who were also released on Tuesday, U Khin Maung Swe and Dr Than Nyein, also Saturday’s attended celebration.
Missing from the ceremony was NLD member Win Htien who was one of the 9,002 released last Tuesday, but was arrested again less than a day later.
Win Htien was a founding member of the NLD in 1988.
NLD chairman U Aung Shwe issued a statement calling for the military junta to immediately release Suu Kyi and NLD vice chairman U Tin Oo from detention “because of their unrelenting efforts for the emergence of democracy and human rights in the country.”
U Aung Shwe also called for the release of all other political prisoners. The United Nations puts that number at about 2,000.
While the junta holds absolute power in Burma, the international community still supports Suu Kyi as the most credible leader of the country. The NLD won the 1990 elections in a landslide, but the junta refused to recognize the results.
This post is especially for Burma/Myanmar where some users may need reliable information about imported toxic milk from China.
China tries to reassure public over milk scare
Melamine has been blamed for the China milk crisis that has sickened nearly 53,000 children
Tags with the Chinese characters reading “does not contain melamine” at a supermarket in Chengdu
A saleswoman places a label showing the Chinese characters “does not contain melamine” at a supermarket in Chengdu
Milk products for sale in Manila
BEIJING (AFP) — China on Saturday scrambled to reassure the public over a toxic milk scandal, announcing that nearly 50 Chinese brands which had been tested contained no melamine.
The government said it had tested 47 brands of milk and yoghurt and detected no trace of melamine, the industrial chemical discovered in baby milk powder that has sickened 53,000 children and killed four so far.
China’s General Administration of Quality Supervision checked 296 batches of dairy products from the brands across the country’s major cities, an official at the agency confirmed to AFP on Saturday.
“No melamine was detected,” the agency said on its website.
The test was good news for China, which has sought to contain a scandal that has had global repercussions, with countries and regions around the world rushing to ban or restrict its milk products.
The European Union on Friday decided to stop all imports of baby food containing traces of milk from China, and Hong Kong ordered a recall of two products found to contain melamine, including a brand of Heinz baby food.
Japan meanwhile has ordered firms which import dairy products from China to test them for melamine after the chemical — which is normally used to make plastics — was found in four items made by one of its leading food makers.
In China, where more than 7,000 tonnes of tainted dairy products had already been removed from shops across the country, a popular candy brand became the latest victim on Friday.
The maker of White Rabbit sweets, given to US president Richard Nixon on a landmark 1972 trip, announced it was halting domestic sales after its products were found to contain melamine.
“Currently, it is extremely important to restore consumer confidence in the country’s milk product brands,” Chen Deming, Commerce Minister, said Saturday in a statement on the central government website.
“This can only be achieved through our efforts, through effective monitoring and detection.”
New cases of children falling ill after drinking tainted milk also continued to emerge in China, with 176 new cases detected in the capital, the Beijing Times reported Saturday.
Authorities in Shanghai also revealed that about five percent of children under three in the city had showed symptoms of possible kidney stones after being fed contaminated milk powder, the China Daily said Friday.
A hospital in Taiwan said three young children had developed kidney stones after drinking Chinese milk formula, and the mother of one of the children had also fallen ill.
Hong Kong has reported five cases of children falling ill from drinking tainted milk, in the only other cases reported outside mainland China so far.
Chinese scientists said they were developing a chemical substance that could detect melamine fast and cheaply, and could be used by any dairy farmer, the official Xinhua news agency reported Saturday.
Professors at Lanzhou University in northwest China told Xinhua a dose of the reagent could detect traces of melamine in 20 minutes and would only cost 20 yuan (3 dollars), compared to the longer process of laboratory testing.
The university is to develop the reagent at the request of the government in Gansu province.
China toxic milk victims seen to rise by 10,000
By Chris Buckley
BEIJING (Reuters) – Chinese provinces have reported nearly 10,000 additional cases of children who have developed kidney illnesses after drinking toxic milk formula in recent days, local media reported on Friday.
Attention on the growing scandal in China was at least temporarily overshadowed by the launch late on Thursday of China’s third manned space mission, which is set to include the technologically ambitious nation’s first space walk.
But Beijing is battling public alarm and international dismay after thousands of Chinese children were hospitalized, sick from milk formula tainted with melamine, a cheap industrial chemical that can be used to cheat quality checks. Four have died.
The Ministry of Health has not issued a fresh count of infants suffering kidney problems and complications since Sunday.
It said then that 12,892 were in hospital, 104 with serious illness, and close to 40,000 others were affected but did not need major treatment.
However more recent counts from province-level health authority numbers across the country showed that at least another 9,959 cases have been diagnosed this week with illnesses linked to the toxic milk.
Much of that rise was in Hebei, the northern province that is home to Sanlu Dairy group, which made the contaminated formula that sparked the broader milk scandal.
The Hebei Daily (hbrb.hebnews.cn) said Hebei province alone had diagnosed 13,773 cases up to Thursday, an increase of 4,794 on four days earlier.
Shao Mingli, head of the State Food and Drug Administration, warned his staff that the government would not tolerate cover-ups or reporting delays, after local officials sat on news for at least a month — if not longer — that Sanlu’s milk was suspect.
“Under no circumstances turn a deaf ear to people’s complaints and pretend they do not exist,” he told a meeting, according to the transcript of a speech on the watchdog’s website (www.sda.gov.cn).
Millions across China watched the launch of the Shenzhou VII spacecraft on live television on Thursday and images of the rocket blasting off dominated official newspapers.
But the health and political fallout from children poisoned with melamine is hardly likely to disappear soon.
There are no numbers available yet for China’s big commercial hub, Shanghai, but state media said many infants there may have been affected.
“A recent city-wide health check of children under three years old showed about five percent were diagnosed with symptoms of possible kidney stones after being fed contaminated powdered milk,” the China Daily reported.
The count of recent provincial-level numbers indicated 1,019 additional children were hospitalized this week. But the statistics did not make clear if those cases were included in or separate from the larger number diagnosed with kidney damage.
The count from provincial sources showed no new deaths. The World Health Organization (WHO) representative in China said effective medical help made many more deaths unlikely.
“We don’t expect a large increase in the number of deaths, because we have to remember that a child usually doesn’t die from a kidney stone itself, but from its complications,” WHO representative Hans Troedsson told a news conference in Beijing.
“… the treatment has been shown (to be) effective in China,” he said.
The Maldives became the latest country to pull Chinese dairy products from its shelves.
“Our inspectors have gone out, plus we are warning the public on TV and radio,” said Moosa Anwar, director-general at the Maldives Food and Drug Authority.
Hong Kong’s government set up a taskforce on Friday that will find ways to manage the huge numbers of children turning up for kidney examinations and to cope with mainland Chinese who are traveling to Hong Kong to have their children checked.
Five cases of children made sick by drinking tainted milk have been reported in Hong Kong.
Taiwan media reported three cases involving four children and an adult with kidney stones or signs of calcification in the kidneys. In one case, a 3-year-old girl and her 2-year-old brother were found to have kidney stones after drinking milk made with powder from China, the Liberty Times reported.
The European Commission proposed on Thursday tests and restrictions on Chinese food products containing powdered milk. UNICEF and the World Health Organization called China’s growing milk scandal “deplorable.”
In Shanghai, the producer of China’s popular White Rabbit Creamy Candies said it would stop domestic sales of such sweets, Xinhua news agency quoted an official as saying.
The candy’s producer, Guanshengyuan, had earlier recalled its exports to more than 50 countries.
Nitrogen-rich melamine can be added to substandard or watered-down milk to fool quality checks, which often use nitrogen levels to measure the amount of protein in milk. The chemical is used in pesticides and in making plastics.
(Additional reporting by James Pomfret and Tan Ee Lyn in Hong Kong, Judith Evans in Male, Gina Chang in Taipei and Liu Zhen, Yu Le and Ben Blanchard in Beijing; Editing by Paul Tait)
UNITED NATIONS (AFP) — Ministers from UN Security Council permanent member states and mostly Asian nations are to hold their first meeting Saturday aimed at pushing for reforms in military-ruled Myanmar.
UN Secretary Genereal Ban Ki-moon called for the informal talks on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly amid little signs the military rulers will embrace political reforms, one year after a bloody crackdown on pro-democracy protests.
Yet, officials said the first ministerial meeting of Ban’s so-called “group of friends on Myanmar” would raise the profile of the longstanding internationl demand for the junta to hold a dialogue with the democratic opposition and polish up its human rights record.
“The fact that these countries are attending at the ministerial level and have agreed to this meeting shows that they are putting the Myanmar issue as a high concern,” Ban’s spokeswoman Choi Soung-Ah told AFP.
The group’s envoys at the UN headquarters in New York had met several times since its first meeting in December last year.
The group comprises permanent Security Council members United States, Britain, France, Russia and China as well as Australia, European Union, India, Indonesia, Japan, Norway, South Korea, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam.
An observer from the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) will also be present.
Since Myanmar’s violent military crackdown pro-democracy protests in September last year, repression “has increased and the military government has failed to deliver on promises it made a year ago, despite international efforts at mediation,” said Human Rights Watch, an independent US group.
The crackdown left 31 people dead, including a Japanese journalist who was shot at close range, according to the United Nations. Another 74 people remain missing and thousands more were arrested.
Ban’s special envoy Ibrahim Gambari has made four visits to the country since the bloody uprising but failed to restart a dialogue between detained democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi and the junta or achieve significant gains.
While he came under criticism from disgruntled dissident groups, Choi cautioned: “That’s the only window we have and let’s not shoot the messenger.”
The Security Council is divided on the issue, with China and Russia having vetoed a previous moves urging Myanmar to swiftly return to democracy and free all political detainees.
Last Tuesday, the junta freed seven political prisoners and members of the Aung San Suu Kyi’s National League of Democracy, including the well-known journalist Win Tin, 79, who had been imprisoned since 1989.
But a day later, one activist was rearrested according to Myanmar exiles in Thailand.
Human Rights Watch said 39 political arrests had been made in August and September alone, bringing the total number of political prisoners to more than 2,100.
The military junta, which has ruled the country since 1962, was criticised for holding a referendum in May, just days after a cyclone left 138,000 people dead or missing across the country.
Pro-democracy activists said the vote was neither free nor fair, but the military said a new constitution issued after the referendum has paved the way for multi-party elections to be held in 2010.
The rules render Nobel Peace prize winner Aung San Suu Kyi ineligible to stand for election. Her party won elections in 1990 but was never allowed to take power.