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Archive for July 11th, 2008

Burma: ILO calls for release of six activists

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Geneva, 11 July (AKI) – The International Labour Organisation on Friday called for the release of six labour activists who were arrested after attending a Labour Day event last year.

The six activists, Thurein Aung, Kyaw Kyaw, Wai Lin, Nyi Nyi Zaw, Shwe Joe and Aung Naing Tun, attended the event on 1 May 2007 at the American Center of the US Embassy in Rangoon.

Each of them were sentenced to at least 20 years in jail for assembling at a public place without authorisation, according to their lawyer, Khin Maung Shein.

On 27 June, Burma’s Supreme Court rejected an appeal by the activists to reduce their jail terms.

According to the ILO, which is an agency of the United Nations, the Burmese Supreme Court had denied the appeal despite requests by the ILO and the International Labour Conference for their release.

The ILO executive director for the office of Standards and Fundamental Principles and Rights at Work, Kari Tapiola, said that through the appeal they had hoped that the sentences would have been annulled and all six activists would have been released.

Tapiola said that securing the release of the activists remains a priority for ILO.

Burma’s ruling military junta recent pushed through a constitution that will assure the military’s control over any elected government. It has promised to hold polls sometime in 2010.

http://www.adnkronos.com/AKI/English/Politics/?id=1.0.2330356924

ILO slams Myanmar for keeping six “labour activists” in jail

Jul 11, 2008, 11:08 GMT

Yangon – The International Labour Organization (ILO) on Friday blasted Myanmar’s Supreme Court for denying an appeal by six activists to overturn their lengthy jail sentences for attending a Labour Day event.

Thurein Aung, Wai Lin, Kyaw Min, Myo Min, Nyi Nyi Zaw and Kyaw Kyaw were arrested on May 1, 2007, after attending a Labour Day function at the American Centre of the US Embassy in Yangon.

A Myanmar court sentenced Nyi Nyi Zaw and Kyaw Kyaw to 20 years in jail and the other four to 28 years for assembling at a public place without authorization.

Myanmar’s Supreme Court on June 27, this year, turned down an appeal by the six to reduce their lengthy jail terms for such a minor offence, said their lawyer Aung Thein.

‘It was our hope that their appeal to the Supreme Court would result in the quashing of their sentences and their immediate release,’ said Kari Tapiola, ILO executive director in charge of standards and fundamental principles of rights at work.

‘It would have been hoped that in view of the government of Myanmar’s publicly expressed intent to take the country into general elections in 2010, that the fundamental freedom of association rights would be respected,’ added Tapiola.

Having recently pushed through a constitution that will assure the military’s control over any elected government, Myanmar’s ruling junta has promised to hold polls sometime in 2010.

Myanmar, also known as Burma, has been under military rule since 1962. The government has one of the world’s worst records in human rights and labour rights abuses.

http://www.monstersandcritics.com/news/asiapacific/news/article_1416386.php/ILO_slams_Myanmar_for_keeping_six_&quotlabour_activists&quot_in_jail

Written by Lwin Aung Soe

July 11, 2008 at 6:12 pm

Posted in Varieties in English

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Myanmar Restrictions on Radios and Currency Exchange Persist, as France Grandstands

Byline: Matthew Russell Lee of Inner City Press at the UN: News Analysis

UNITED NATIONS, July 10 — As the UN appealed for $300 million more for post-cyclone Myanmar, questions grew about the UN’s conversion of money to kyat, the local currency, through government-issued Foreign Exchange Certificates at the Myanmar Foreign Trade Bank. Sources have told Inner City Press that the Than Shwe government is benefiting from the exchange rates.

On Thursday Inner City Press asked the UN’s Humanitarian Coordinator for Myanmar, Dan Baker, who responded that he does not think the conversion to kyat benefits the government. But what about the first step in the process, the conversion to Foreign Exchange Certificates? That “fluctuates,” Baker replied. Video here, near end. Local estimates say that the fluctuations, particular since the cyclone and the UN’s appeal, have benefited the military government.

While Baker and the UN’s top humanitarian, John Holmes, both effusively praised Myanmar on Thursday, their own Situation Report of July 7 states, under the heading “Emergency Tele Communications,” that “Equipment is still held in customs, restriction on official imports of telecommunications equipment remains, and use of telecommunications equipment in Delta region is still prohibited.” Called on with only three minutes remaining in their press conference, Inner City Press asked Baker and Holmes about each of these.

Baker confirmed that these are the restrictions, but noted that the UN has tried to raise them to the government. But why no mention of the restrictions until they arose at the end of a press conference?


UN’s Ban in the Delta, radios and currency exchange not shown

Earlier on Thursday, when Holmes launched the revised appeal, various countries spoke. Thailand emphasized that humanitarian aid should not be politicized. The U.S. spoke about its C-130 cargo flights which ended on June 22. The UK chimes in that it is contributing a further $90 million. (The U.S. has given $47). And then the representative of France spoke, saying

“My country and the international community in general is gravely preoccupied by the situation in Burma… Let me remind our partners that the Security Council is dealing with the situation on the political side, independent of the mission of Mr. Gambari.”

Various Ambassadors scoffed, one told Inner City Press that France was just grandstanding. Afterwards, a Permanent Five member of the Security Council told Inner City Press that France has “embarrassed John Holmes.” Inner City Press asked Holmes to respond to this; he said that France

“was trying to make a political point. They want to pursue the political agenda. But… that’s why Ibrahim Gambari is preparing to go back there. I didn’t feel embarrassed by it. It just wasn’t particularly relevant to what we were saying.”

An irony is that those who pushed so loudly to get their own humanitarians into Myanmar have not pushed at all to make sure that through currency exchange aid meant for victims of the cyclone is not siphoned off to benefit the military government. One diplomat remarked to Inner City Press, France just wanted to “film its MSF and ACF workers there in Myanmar.”

Inner City Press asked Dan Baker if the UN is doing anything to help the Karen people, including IDPs fleeing military action in the east of the country. “We have actually less access to that region,” Baker said, mentioning a trust fund set up to help on the issue. But how is the money in the trust fund converted to local currency? Two weeks after Inner City Press asked UNDP the question, the following arrived on July 10:

“UNDP Funds are remitted into the UNDP US dollar account at Myanmar Foreign Trade Bank. UNDP Myanmar exchanges US dollars for Foreign Exchange Certificates at the Bank, and then converts these into local currency (Kyat). The exchange rate is based on the prevailing [most competitive] rate in the market, which can fluctuate.”

We will have more on these “fluctuations.” For now we note this response to the question of whether the UN and UNICEF have been pressured by the Myanmar government to hold their press conferences about the cyclone only in Yangon.

Footnote: Ibrahim Gambari, whose mission on Myanmar was mentioned by both France and the UN’s Holmes, is reported to have resigned his recent role in the Niger Delta conflict. While it has been explained that he took a leave of absence from the UN for that work, Inner City Press on Thursday asked the UN spokesperson if she could confirm or deny that Gambari resigned his role. It is in her personal capacity, she said. But would he tell the UN if he quit his Nigeria role? Of course, she said. Has he told the UN that? Not that I know of, she said. Watch this site. And this —

For the whole news analysis and the video, please click here.


* * *

These reports are usually also available through Google News and on Lexis-Nexis.

Click here for a Reuters AlertNet piece by this correspondent about Uganda’s Lord’s Resistance Army. Click here for an earlier Reuters AlertNet piece about the Somali National Reconciliation Congress, and the UN’s $200,000 contribution from an undefined trust fund. Video Analysis here

Feedback: Editorial [at] innercitypress.com

UN Office: S-453A, UN, NY 10017 USA Tel: 212-963-1439

Reporter’s mobile (and weekends): 718-716-3540

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Other, earlier Inner City Press are listed here, and some are available in the ProQuest service, and now on Lexis-Nexis.

Copyright 2006-08 Inner City Press, Inc. To request reprint or other permission, e-contact Editorial [at] innercitypress.com –

Written by Lwin Aung Soe

July 11, 2008 at 2:40 am

Posted in Varieties in English

Tagged with , , , , , ,

World focus on Burma (11 July 2008)

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Christian Ministry Brings Life to Burma

Christian Post –

Although a UN report issued last month said that there were as many as 1 million people throughout the country lacking in basic living provisions, …

Heroin, Still Popular in the US, Affects Lives of Millions Globally

Voice of America –

Afghanistan, Burma and Colombia produce most of the world’s heroin. The United Nations estimates there are eight million addicts worldwide. …

Bruce Berkowitz : Maintaining The American Strategic Advantage

History News Network, WA –

Witness the UN’s ineffectiveness in Rwanda, the Balkans, Darfur, and, more recently, Burma. Even the unity of the World Trade Organization is beginning to …

Philanthro-Pinch

ChristianityToday.com, IL –

Yet Hood told Newsweek that a series of recent disasters—Burma’s cyclones, China’s earthquakes, and Midwestern flooding—have inspired no such spike.

Crabs aplenty but price declines

Mizzima.com, India –

Chiang Mai – Fishermen in cyclone-hit Labutta are catching more crabs these days but the price is on the decline. The number of fishermen operating in this …

Playing us for fools

National Post, Canada –

Burma’s government is run by a group of ignorant xenophobes. So how come it keeps outsmarting us? Maung Win/AFP/Getty ImagesBurmese troopers with their …

Gambari Meets UN General Assembly President

The Irrawaddy News Magazine, Thailand –

By LALIT K JHA / UNITED NATIONS UN Special Envoy on Burma Ibrahim Gambari met with the UN General Assembly president on Thursday to discuss the current …

Cyclone Nargis Offers Sobering Lessons, Says Environmentalist

The Irrawaddy News Magazine, Thailand –

The Rangoon-based weekly, 7-Day News, reported on Thursday that Burma’s military government was planning to use the roots and branches of cyclone-downed …

New campaign – Burma Campaign UK

Marketing Week, UK –

The campaign, created by Ogilvy Advertising, uses harrowing pictures of the damage caused by the cyclone, but aims to show that what has happened to the …

When a disastrous regime continues

burma-cycl

Asia Sentinel, China –

As devastating Cyclone Nargis was, which struck southern Burma two months ago, it may well be less disastrous than the country’s military regime, …

America’s strength solves world troubles

Newsday, NY –

Everyone knows it will take the hardest of hard power to remove the oppressors in Zimbabwe, Burma,Myanmar, Sudan and other godforsaken places where the bad …

UN appeals for more donations to help cyclone victims in Burma

Mizzima.com, India –

“We are hoping that the donors will continue to support the humanitarian organizations working in Myanmar [Burma],” she added. The UN on Thursday launched …

The Web Will Not Kill Traditional Organizing

The Nation., NY –

… the intransigence of racism and discrimination, the abuses from Iraq to Burma (Myanmar) – won’t politely go away with a few clicks of a mouse. …

UN raises Burma cyclone plea

Democratic Voice of Burma, Norway –

Jul 11, 2008 (AP)—The UN aid chief called on world governments on Thursday to donate $300 million more to help Burma to recover from the effects of a …

ILO slams Myanmar for keeping six “labour activists” in jail

Monsters and Critics.com –

Myanmar, also known as Burma, has been under military rule since 1962. The government has one of the world’s worst records in human rights and labour rights …

Junta Media Accuses Western Politicians, Media of Cyclone Opportunism

The Irrawaddy News Magazine, Thailand – 7 hours ago

By WAI MOE Burma’s state-run The New Light of Myanmar on Friday accused unnamed western politicians of making political capital out of the Cyclone Nargis …

Revised Flash Appeal Seeks another $280 Million for Burma

The Irrawaddy News Magazine, Thailand –

Reiterating satisfaction over the progress of humanitarian relief works in Burma and the cooperation of the military junta, which he said was positive, …

Myanmar, devastated and dejected after Nargis

Merinews, India –

Myanmar, once known as the rice bowl of Asia, is slowly losing the volume of rice production since the devastating cyclone Nargis hit the country on May 2. …

Living in music heaven

Berkshire Eagle, MA –

In Myanmar, the former Burma, “it’s very difficult to get even one music sheet,” Naing said yesterday, during a break in rehearsals. …

DO WE REALLY WANT TO GO LOOKING FOR ENEMIES?

Tapped, DC –

Both countries feel free to act with impunity, violating human rights and international norms within their countries and protecting their client states when …

Myanmar Journalist Held for 19 Years Must Be Freed, Group Says

Bloomberg –

Myanmar, formerly known as Burma, has been ruled by the military since 1962 and under international sanctions since the junta overturned 1990 elections won …

Voice of the Martyrs Alert

Crosswalk.com, VA –

China’s earthquake and Myanmar’s cyclone may seem like a long time ago, but the long-term rebuilding is only beginning in the two countries, Mission News …

No Olympic Medal for Bush

Wall Street Journal –

The US has lost an opportunity to stand up for the people of Darfur and Burma, and for countless Chinese citizens like Mr. Tang. But the Bush administration …

How Hostages, And Countries, Get Liberated

Washington Post, United States –

Before that, the cause du jour was Burma, where a vicious dictatorship allowed thousands of cyclone victims to die by denying them independently delivered …

Burmese protesters pass through Centre County on cross-country trek

Centre Daily Times, PA –

Three men, two of them refugees from Burma — they reject the country’s newer name of Myanmar — were walking along state Route 45 through Centre County …

Opium Flowers: By Ms Farhat Akram, Assistant Research Officer …

Pakistan Christian Post, Pakistan –

… value of illicit drug income is huge, equaling over 52% of the country’s legal GDP in 2002(compared with 24.4% for Burma/ Myanmar and 3% for Colombia). …

Myanmar Restrictions on Radios and Currency Exchange Persist, as …

Inner City Press, NY –

And then the representative of France spoke, saying “My country and the international community in general is gravely preoccupied by the situation in Burma. …

UN appeals for more aid for Burma’s cyclone victims

Radio Australia, Australia –

The United Nations is hiking its aid appeal for Burma’s Cyclone Nargis victims from an initial 201 million to 482 million dollars. …

Myanmar: CRWRC raises more than one million for Cyclone Nargis …

ReliefWeb (press release), Switzerland –

An amazing $720000 was raised for CRWRC’s relief efforts in Burma/Myanmar. With additional funds from the Canadian Foodgrains Bank and CIDA*, …

Workers’ rights seditious in Burma

United Press International, Asia, China –

“The attendees were divided into small groups, each of which was made up of about ten,” the New Light of Myanmar reported of the May 1 event. …

Written by Lwin Aung Soe

July 11, 2008 at 2:04 am