Save Burma

အာဏာရွင္စနစ္ က်ဆံုးမွ တတိုင္းျပည္လံုး စစ္မွန္တဲ့ ဒီမိုကေရစီကို ခံစားရမယ္

Archive for September 5th, 2008

Burmese jail over 700 monks

leave a comment »

Burmese jail over 700 monks

Friday, 5th September 2008. 4:24pm

Burmese jail over 700 monks

By: George Conger.

Over 700 monks have been jailed by the Burmese military junta since the introduction of martial law in 1988, the Burma Lawyers’ Council (BLC) reported on Sept 2, with at least 19 having died while in custody.

The statistics on the government’s jailing of Buddhist monks for pro-democracy activities comes at the start of the trial of the Ven U Gambira, leader of Burma’s “Saffron Revolution.”

An increase in fuel prices in August 2007 by the State Peace and Development Council (SPDC) — the formal name of the military junta that seized power in 1988 — prompted protests. On Sept 21, 2007 U Gambira, the 29-year-old leader of the All-Burma Union of Monks, organized a demonstration against the price hikes. The demands soon grew to include the release of political prisoners and for talks between democracy activists and the regime.

Within days the monks’ protest drew support from the people of Yangon [Rangoon], and a week of demonstrations that brought 100,000 people into the streets in support of the Saffron Revolution ensued. The police responded with force, and an estimated 3,000 demonstrators were killed. Gambira escaped the crackdown and went into hiding. However, he turned himself in to the authorities after members of his family were allegedly threatened by the regime. The Buddhist abbot has been held at Rangoon’s Insein prison awaiting trial on treason and sedition charges.

His lawyers from the BLC have protested the regime’s treatment of their client, and have called for the abolition of laws that call for the shackling of political prisoners and forbid monks from wearing their robes in court. U Myo of the BLC said their client would not attend the first day of trial on Sept 3 while shackled and in prison garb “because the trial of a disrobed monk damages the dignity of the monks and the Sasana [Buddhist congregation],” he said, according to a report from the Democratic Voice of Burma (DVB). The DVB also reports that police have begun a detailed census of all Buddhist monks in Rangoon, requiring them to give the names and addresses of their families, as well as their own personal information — an action seen as a veiled threat to the monks should they come out in protest this month on the anniversary of the failed uprising.

Christian leaders in Burma have also come under government scrutiny in recent days. Clergy in the northern town of Chibwe were interrogated by police last month following an illegal poster campaign protesting the construction of a dam.

Kachin Development Network chairman U Aung Wah said clergy were summoned for interrogation by local authorities on July 13 and 24. “The male and female pastors were called to the police station one at a time and pressured to find out who was behind the posters – the officials insisted that they knew there was a link between the pastors and the poster campaign,” said Aung Wah.

“They were forced to sign an agreement saying that they would find out who the culprits were,” he said.

The dam project is a joint venture between a Chinese company and a military controlled Burmese concern, Myanmar-Asia World Company. Kachin farmers have been driven off their land by the army to build the dam. “They have seized gardens and farmland from the locals and the project has destroyed all the roads in the area,” Aung Wa said.

Written by Lwin Aung Soe

September 5, 2008 at 6:17 pm

The Mangrove Forests: Burma’s Best Bio-defense

leave a comment »

The Irrawaddy



U Ohn is the general secretary of the Forest Resource Environment Development and Conservation Association (FREDA), one of a handful of Burmese nongovernmental organizations dedicated to protecting the country’s forests

Environmentalist U Ohn (Illustration: Harn Lay/
The Irrawaddy)

Question: Cyclone Nargis destroyed many mangrove forests in the Irrawaddy delta. What was the impact of the storm on biodiversity in the region?

Answer: The cyclone caused a tidal surge which was up to 20 feet (6 meters) high. Almost 100 square miles (260 square km) of land was flooded and turned into a virtual sea. Meinmahla Island, for instance, was completely covered by seawater, but then resurfaced after the cyclone. The biodiversity of the mangrove forests, sea-grass beds and coral reefs was severely impacted. A large number of plants and animals, including trees, fish and even turtles and crocodiles, were killed in the deluge.

Q: What consequences do you foresee if the destruction of the mangrove forests continues?

A: If the mangrove forests disappear, the impact of similar disasters in the future will be immense.

The Burmese coastline is about 2,800 kilometers (1,740 miles) long, and mangrove forests exist all along the coast, from Arakan State to Tenasserim Division. They are bio-defenses, defending us from natural disasters. The mangrove forests and coral reefs also protect each other. If one is damaged, the other is also affected.

These days, people talk a lot about “food security.” They cut down the forests to make farms to breed fish and prawns. To some extent this makes sense, but you have to consider the environmental costs. The fish and prawn ponds are very harmful. Digging the ponds and feeding the fish and prawns pollute the environment. They also use chemicals to prevent the spread of diseases, and these chemicals are toxic to other organisms.

The coral reefs are also very important—they provide habitats for fish. One square kilometer (about 0.4 square mile) of coral reef can support enough life to feed 1,000 people. I have studied and collected data on this.

People are destroying these valuable resources. They destroy mangrove forests and they grow other things; they change the environment for other purposes. People say they’re doing it to promote ecotourism—building jetties, developing villages.

During Cyclone Nargis, people who lived in areas defended by mangrove forests survived. In Pyapon Township, where we grew more than 3,000 acres of mangrove forests over the past 10 years with Japanese aid, villagers from 26 villages escaped death during the cyclone. Cattle were spared from danger and only a few houses were damaged.

More recently, I started replanting in a reserved forest area in Ka Don Ka Ni with German support. But we weren’t able to finish the job. In that area, almost 80 percent of the people from 12 villages were killed.

Q: How long would it take and what would it cost to bring the forests back to a healthier state?

A: It’s safe to say that it would take at least 5 to 10 years and cost millions of dollars. That is why I am still struggling to find the financial support we need. The money could come from governments, such as those of the European Union countries, or from multinational corporations such as [French oil company] Total or companies from Korea, China, India or Thailand, which are all exploiting Burma’s natural resources. They should fund us—they have the money.

Q: If mangrove forests are not replanted in time, how will it affect biodiversity?

A: If the mangrove forests are destroyed, food chains for fish and prawns are degraded as well. Then the number of fish, prawns and crabs inhabiting the coastal area will decrease. Some sea animals cannot live without mangrove forests. For instance, crabs lay their eggs in the sea, but the newly born crabs come back to the mangrove forests. There are also land animals depending on these forests, such as monkeys and birds. Herons, cranes, crocodiles, otters, wild dogs and even snakes depend on the forests.

Just two or three years after replanting one mangrove forest, river catfish returned to the area to make their habitats. Villagers said it had been years since they had seen any catfish. The river catfish eat fallen fruit from mangrove trees. This is an example of successful replanting, and it could help to promote genuine ecotourism.

But at present, “ecotourism” is first and foremost about economic development. They destroy nature to put up buildings. But ecotourism should be in harmony with nature and deepening people’s love for nature and their desire to preserve it.

Q: The success of your replanting efforts depends on the cooperation of local communities. Is this difficult, given the level of poverty in Burma?

A: The major purpose of our project is to re-grow the mangrove forests. But as we have to cooperate with local people we should create better conditions for their lives, making sure they receive proper food, shelter and clothing.

The mangrove forests contain medicinal plants which can’t grow anywhere else. For instance, taw chauk pin (Limonia monophylla), migyaung kunbut (Hygrophila obovata) and other rare species can be used for medicine. Drug companies should assist local people and set up funds for them, so they can cultivate these plants as a form of value-added farming.

I also operate aquaculture farms, because I get some funding for that. This work has been successful. I have tested self-reliant farming methods [that don’t require chemicals]. But I don’t encourage the attitude of some businessmen, who are driven only by greed, seeking self-profit and ignoring the negative impact on others.

Q: What kinds of problems do you have in your relations with businessmen?

There are some conflicting interests. For instance, while we are replanting trees in the mangrove forest, businessmen are encouraging people to clear the forest and invest in fish and prawn ponds. We are struggling with this problem. We have to educate the people. The state and the authorities should try to control these businessmen, because it is a matter of national interest.

Another thing I want to mention is that according to estimates and studies by the International Union for Conservation of Nature and United Nations Environment Program, by 2020, more than 60 percent of the world’s population will be living within 60 kilometers (37 miles) of the coast. The main reason is that this gives them easy access to food. With mangrove forests, they will also have access to wood, bamboo and medicinal plants. If we are going to have more people living by the sea, we need national planning to deal with this increase.

Q: Do you receive support from the government?

A: We have to acquire approval from the national Forestry Ministry and Forestry Department. In 1995, the government issued the Community Forestry Instructions (CFI), a law which allows villagers to grow forests in their neighborhood for firewood and charcoal. We are working to replant the mangrove forest under the CFI. We are acting as a bridge between local communities and the government, and that is why we have been successful. The stakeholders in this project include the authorities, local people, merchants, beggars, monks and so on. The most important thing is to encourage harmony among them.

The government is responsible for maintaining fairness and preventing overexploitation of the forest, while we do the work. We do not have any privileges or power. We create interest and willingness among the local population. The government authorities give us some support. That is the way we are working.

Q: Is there any government mechanism to preserve the mangrove forests?

When the government received loans from the World Bank to promote paddy farming, they cut down forests. They didn’t understand the impact, so they launched the Paddy I and Paddy II schemes. Many Asian governments did likewise. These projects last just 3 or 5 years, or at most 10 years, and everything is damaged.

Now we are facing all of these messes. Burma was not hit hard by the 2004 tsunami, but it was badly hurt by the cyclone. It has opened our eyes. I am sad to say it, but this has been a blessing in disguise. This disaster gives us an opportunity to educate and increase awareness. The people and the authorities should learn lessons from this disaster.

Written by Lwin Aung Soe

September 5, 2008 at 3:14 pm

Day 11 – Thai Protest

leave a comment »


Thailand: What might happen next?
BBC News –

Thousands of protesters in Bangkok have besieged Government House, demanding the resignation of Prime Minister Samak Sundaravej. They have been there for more than a week, and show no sign of leaving – but neither does Mr Samak.

Thai PM mulls ending state of emergency AFP –

Thai leader refuses to negotiate with protesters USA Today –

Thailand Flags End to Emergency Rule Amid Vote Plan (Update3) Bloomberg

all 3,805 news articles »


Thailand: political crisis continues, economy in danger, Italy –

What do the Thai demonstrations mean for Burma? Democratic Voice of Burma, Norway –

Every which way but loose United Press International, Asia, Hong Kong –


Thai PM buys time with referendum plan
By Darren Schuettler BANGKOK (Reuters) – Prime Minister Samak Sundaravej has bought some time with a referendum aimed at defusing street protests, but it will do nothing to resolve Thailand’s fundamental political conflict, analysts say.

Thai PM says considering lifting emergency rule Forbes, NY –

Senate speaker steps into Thai crisis CNN –

Thai Parliament asks Senate speaker to mediate The Associated Press –

Thai Senate approves first reading of referendum bill Thai News Agency MCOT, Thailand –

Referendum plan wins little support as Thai crisis drags AFP –

Thai protesters in for the long haul TVNZ, New Zealand –

Free media amplifies Thai protests Asia Times Online, Hong Kong –

Thai PM to review state of emergency Sydney Morning Herald, Australia –

Thai Parliament…
The Associated Press

Hanoi: Bishops join
TTX Công Giáo …

Thai state of em…
Special Broadca…

Thai Senate app…
Thai News Agen…

2 students shot, …
The Associated Press

Thailand plans r…

Special Broadca…

Critics slam Sam…
Radio Australia

Thai PM lifts em…

Port workers join Thai strike Cargonews Asia, Hong Kong –

Critics dismiss Thai referendum BBC News, UK –

Thailand could miss tourism targets amid ongoing unrest asap News, UK –

2 students shot, wounded at Thai protest rally The Associated Press –

INTERVIEW WITH KRAISAK CHOONHAVEN Special Broadcasting Service, Australia –

101 East: Bangkok Blues, Qatar –


Thai PM offers to hold referendum, Qatar – .

Protesters fired upon The Mercury (subscription), South Africa –

Shutdown easing: Some southern line trains resume service Thai News Agency MCOT, Thailand –

Thai protesters enjoy free food, massage (Pressemitteilung), Austria –

Thai PM referendum ridiculed TeleText, UK –

Thais to vote on dissolving parliament Irish Times, Ireland –

PM Samak reflects on possible refertendum, resignation Thai News Agency MCOT, Thailand –

The Shortwave Report 9/5/08 Listen Globally! Bay Area Indymedia, CA –

Referendum won’t work: senior Thai politician Radio Australia, Australia –

State union strikes only sporadic Bangkok Post, Thailand –

Tourism sector seeks ways to limit damage Bangkok Post, Thailand –

Samak tries to defuse crisis The Asian Pacific Post, Canada –

Tej: I would quit if I faced political pressure Nation Multimedia, Thailand –

Referendum under attack Nation Multimedia, Thailand –

Thai PM lifts em…

Samak Calls for …
Wall Street Journal

Referendum wo…
Radio Australia

Samak mulls ref…
China Daily

Thailand agrees …
Today’s Zaman

‘I won’t quit’
Straits Times

Referendum ma…
South China Mo…

Thai prime minis…
Northwest Asian …

Thai Leader Pro…
New York Times

Worse than a coup

Thai prime minis…

Thai PM offers re…
The Associated Press

Thailand’s grum…
Malaysia Star

Thai government…
South Korea News

Written by Lwin Aung Soe

September 5, 2008 at 5:02 am

World focus on Burma (5 September 2008)

leave a comment »


Hereford Wye Valley Rotary (Shelter boxes go to Burma)

Hereford Times, UK –
By May 9, Shelter Box had successfully delivered £300000-worth of survival kit to Myamar (Burma) to help victims of Cyclone Nargis and visas for aid workers …

Troops extort money from passengers at check points

Independent Mon News Agency, WA –
Burmese troops manning gates along Mon to Karen State southern Burma (Myanmar) have been extorting money from passengers in vehicles and strictly checking …

Burmese jail over 700 monks
Religious Intelligence Ltd, UK –
The dam project is a joint venture between a Chinese company and a military controlled Burmese concern, Myanmar-Asia World Company. Kachin farmers have been …

Suu Kyi refuses most food rations for three weeks: party

YANGON (AFP) — Myanmar’s detained democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi has refused to accept food rations for three weeks, her party said Friday, …

Agenzia Giornalistica Italia, Italy –
This news came from her party, the National League for Democracy, which said the 63-year-old dissident hasn’t accepted her daily food rations brought by the …

Myanmar’s Aung San Suu Kyi refuses food for three weeks
SINDH TODAY, Pakistan –
Yangon, Sep 5 (DPA) Myanmar opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi has for the past three weeks refused food deliveries to her home-cum-jail in a hunger strike …

What do the Thai demonstrations mean for Burma?
Democratic Voice of Burma, Norway –
Sep 5, 2008 (DVB)–Political tensions are running high in Thailand, with demonstrators from the People’s Alliance for Democracy calling for the resignation …

Free Trade Agreement With ASEAN Countries Announced
Mondaq News Alerts (subscription), UK –
For these purposes, Australia and New Zealand will typically have the shortest implementation timeframes and the 3 least developed countries (Burma, …

Exiled Dissident Visits Burma
The Irrawaddy News Magazine, Thailand –
Zaw Oo, head of the Vahu Development Institute, based in Chiang Mai, Thailand, told The Irrawaddy that he made a four-day trip to Burma in July as an …

Myanmar Airways Unsafe: UK Gov’t
The Irrawaddy News Magazine, Thailand –
By LAWI WENG The British foreign office has issued an advisory warning it staff not to use flights operated by Myanmar Airways, Burma’s state-owned domestic …, South Africa –
Myanmar’s detained democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi has refused to accept food rations for three weeks, her party said Friday, calling on the military …

TYC President Attends IUSY Meeting
Phayul, Tibet –
The 2007 Asia Pacific Meeting asked for help to restore human rights in Tibet and support the freedom movement of Tibetan people and to put pressure on …

Aung San Suu Kyi ‘on hunger strike’, United Kingdom –
Last month she refused to meet Ibrahim Gambari, the UN special envoy to Burma. Her refusal was interpreted at the time as a sign of frustration that his Mr …

AIPMC Appeals to Surin, Ban Ki-moon to Visit Suu Kyi
The Irrawaddy News Magazine, Thailand –
The letter told Surin and Ban: “We remind you that her continued well-being is vital for a peaceful resolution of the conflict in Burma. …

Hunger strike
Bangkok Post, Thailand –
The detention followed an attack by pro-military thugs on Suu Kyi’s convoy in Tepeyin, Sagaing division in northern Burma on May 30, 2003. …

Suu Kyi’s party expresses concern for her health
The Associated Press –
YANGON, Myanmar (AP) — The political party of detained opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi urged Myanmar’s military government Friday to ensure her …

UNPO, Netherlands –
Burma’s detained democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi has refused to meet with the junta’s liaison officer and declined a visit from her personal physician, …

Olympic hero Hoy set to receive top honour
Scotsman, United Kingdom –
They are the Queen, the Duke of Edinburgh, Sir Sean Connery, Nelson Mandela and Burmese pro-democracy activist Aung San Suu Kyi. …

Warning to Chauk monks to stay away from politics and protests, India –
New Delhi – A letter to 70 monasteries in Chauk Township, Magwe Division by the Burmese junta authorities has warned monks to steer clear of politics and …

Myanmar responded well to cyclone victims: WHO
ReliefWeb (press release), Switzerland –
GENEVA, Sept 4, 2008 (AFP) – Myanmar’s military rulers provided a rapid response to victims of Cyclone Nargis last May despite criticism for shunning …

Myanmar responded well to cyclone victims: WHO

Last month, the United Nations said 1.56 million dollars (about one million euros) of international cyclone aid has been lost due to the military regime’s …

Exotissimo Creates Trips to Irrawaddy Delta
PR Web (press release), WA –
According to Mrs. Su Su Tin, Managing Director of Exotissimo Myanmar, “Many people want to visit the Delta, see the situation with their own eyes and lend a …

Myanmar opens to cyclone relief
Seattle Times, United States –
The report said Myanmar, also known as Burma, has now more opened to international relief than at any time in the past two decades, and that the unfolding …

Vets value candidate’s experiences
Stamford Advocate, CT –
Ericsson, who served in Burma during World War II, said the US military has been worn thin by successive wars in Afghanistan and Iraq and will be broken by …

Atlantic storms devastate Haiti
ReliefWeb (press release), Switzerland –

Volunteer mappers were despatched following the Bolivia floods in January, and then in response to Cyclone Nargis that impacted Myanmar (Burma) in May. …

Unnoticed by world, Myanmar opens up to cyclone relief
College Times, AZ –
The report said Myanmar, which is widely known as Burma, has now more opened to international relief than at any time in the past two decades, …

David Cameron: We cannot impose democracy at the barrel of a gun
Independent, UK –
Liberal because I believe in freedom, human rights and democracy, and I want to see more of these things in our world. But Conservative, because I believe …

Sino-Indian Competition for Burmese Oil and Natural Gas
Harvard International Review, MA –
… has begun to heavily invest in Burma’s oil and natural sector. A man selling gas at a market near Inle Lake, Myanmar. Photo courtesy of FLICKR/geminder. ..

Bride import for love-sick bachelors
Daily News & Analysis, India –
Social services chiefs are already in talks with neighbours like the Ukraine, Moldova and Russia and with Far Eastern countries like Vietnam, Burma and …

Tsvangirai nominated for EU courage award
ZimDaily, UK –

Among the previous winners are former South African leader Nelson Mandela, Burmese opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi and ex-UN secretary general Kofi Anan. …

Myanmar Silence at UN Half-Broken by Kerim, Mysteries Continue …
Inner City Press, NY –

Video here

Inner City Press asked if Gambari had told Kerim why he had not met with opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi. “Yes,” the spokesman said, then declined to …

The Naga internal Problem The Subalterns begin to speak
MorungExpress, India –
The political suffering of the Nagas Burma needed to be highlighted, debated and deliberated. But one thing that is very clear is that unless a form of …

Georgia: Good Humanitarian Donorship Betrayed
Reuters AlertNet, UK –
… for returning refugees and internally displaced people in southern Sudan, and for cyclone survivors in Burma, among many other critical situations. …

Designer bottled water: It’s not altruism
Village Times Herald, NY –
It would truly be lifesaving in the cyclone-torn Myanmar (Burma) and the earthquake-devastated Sichuan province in China. So why not effectively help the …

WHO praises Burma cyclone response
Bangkok Post, Thailand –
Coninx was the only official from WHO’s headquarters in Geneva who was immediately able to go to Burma straight after the cyclone struck on May 2-3 as he …

Europe Undergoing Severe Demographic Crisis
The Epoch Times, NY –
He proposes Serbia to import women from Vietnam, Cambodia, Laos, Burma, Bulgaria, Romania, or Moldova to marry the many single men, whose number is …

Digital Influence Group Wins Inbound Marketing Excellence Award
MarketWatch –
… the US Campaign for Burma. Digital Influence Group developed a microsite for the campaign featuring imprisoned Nobel Prize winner Aung San Suu Kyi. …

Tsvangirai nominated for Sakharov prize
SW Radio Africa, Zimbabwe –
Among the previous winners are the Burmese opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi and ex-UN secretary general Kofi Annan.

Directionless Thailand falters on world stage
Nation Multimedia, Thailand –
… was given a full range of powers to keep public order, has refused to use force to purge the People’s Alliance for Democracy from Government House. …

Hurricane Gustav losses could reach $10 billion
Environmental Finance, UK –
The highest death tolls were in the Sichuan earthquake and the Burma cyclone. Achim Steiner, executive director of the UN Environmental Programme warned …

Ceasefire groups in Shan State face renewed pressure to surrender, India –
New Delhi – The Burmese ruling junta has mounted fresh pressure on ceasefire armed rebel groups in Shan State to surrender arms latest by the end of 2009, …

Junta arrests two more activists, India –
New Delhi – In another round of crackdown on dissidence, Burmese military junta authorities in Rangoon on Wednesday arrested two political activists, …