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အာဏာရွင္စနစ္ က်ဆံုးမွ တတိုင္းျပည္လံုး စစ္မွန္တဲ့ ဒီမိုကေရစီကို ခံစားရမယ္

Posts Tagged ‘Elephant

World focus on Burma (11 January 2009)

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Karen rebels under the gun along Thai-Burma border, India –
From a secret location on the Thai-Burma border, KNU Vice-Chairman David Thackerbaw said government soldiers were maintaining a “scorched earth policy” …

Supersized Kids – Don’t Do What America Does, India –
What has happened to the Burmese wrap around ‘longee’, to the elegant sari, to the loose fitting pajama pants and kamiz? “Where have all the chaplis gone, …

The art of the elephant
ohmidog!, MD –
… to the information posted on YouTube with the video, was rescued from abusive treatment in Burma, and now makes a living as an artist in Thailand. …

Epic wartime road project may finally be put to use
TheDay, CT –
They gave their lives to build a 1079-mile road across northern Burma (now Myanmar) to reinforce Allied troops, a project derided by British Prime Minister …

Junta struggling to keep state budget afloat, India –
by Moe Thu Rangoon (Mizzima) – Experiencing increased pains related to the global financial crisis, Burma’s military government is struggling to maintain a …

FSA Investigation Finds Aon Payments To Burma
AJC Consultants, UK –
For dealing in business in Burma (also known as Myanmar), which is under US sanctions, the US Treasury Department’s Office of Foreign Assets Control …

United Nations Worried Over Nigeria’s Donation To Myanmar
The Guardian – Nigeria, Nigeria –
Ki-Moon said last month at the UN that he was “disappointed by the unwillingness of the government of Myanmar (Burma) to deliver on its promises for …

East Timor president opposes international sanctions on Myanmar
Monsters and –
Horta last visited Myanmar in 2005 and has lent his support to his fellow Nobel laureate Aung San Suu Kyi. He said Sunday that Myanmar’s long-delayed …

In its best year, 1934, when it was called Burma, it exported 3.4 million tonnes. Thailand, today’s top exporter, shipped around 10 million tonnes last year …

Dream works are made of these
Malaysia Star, Malaysia –
Spielberg was inspired to make poignant war movies by his father who had fought in Burma, and who told him: “Nobody ever makes a movie about my war except …

Diaspora studies current situation, India –
The seminar held on the topic “HIV/AIDS, Human Rights and Social Psychology in the Conflict Situation of Manipur” was participated by many resource persons. …

Written by Lwin Aung Soe

January 11, 2009 at 2:52 am

World focus on Burma (16 December 2008)

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Glimmers of hope for Burma
Across the Aisle, DC –
… junta of Burma certainly fits that bill, as demonstrated in its complete disregard for its citizens’ livelihoods in the aftermath of cyclone Nargis that …

Mekong a ‘treasure trove’ of 1000 newly discovered species
War is always a threat in countries touched by the Mekong River, particularly Burma. Also known as Myanmar, the largest country by geographical area in …

EarthRights International Special Commentary:, DC –
When asked what advice he would give to private businesses invested in Burma’s (Myanmar’s) energy sector, the UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon firmly stated …

Isolation or Engagement? It’s Than Shwe’s Choice
MorungExpress, India –
His treatment of the democratic opposition and detention of Aung San Suu Kyi and 2000 other political prisoners are also taboo topics. …

ASEAN sets summit, welcomes charter
MorungExpress, India –
… is likely to arise in the case of Myanmar, formerly Burma, where the ruling military junta violently suppressed protests led by Buddhist monks in 2007. …

Vijay Diwas: Maneckshaw stamp released
Times of India, India –
He served in Myanmar, then called Burma, during World War II and was awarded the Military Cross for valour on the battlefield.

Former Czech president criticises EU for relations with Russia
Czech Happenings, Czech Republic –
The European Union should pay more attention to human rights questions on the international scene, starting with Cuba and ending with Burma, Havel said. …

Egat upbeat on Hatgyi prospects
เดอะ เนชั่น, Thailand –
… organisations on concern that it will violate human rights, given that part of the project lies in an area occupied by minority groups in Burma. …

Afro-Asian organization demands release of Burmese political prisoners, India –
… (NGOs) today collectively called for the release of all political prisoners in Burma, including democratic opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi. …

Exiled lawyer slams Burmese legal system
Democratic Voice of Burma, Norway –
Dec 16, 2008 (DVB)–A defence lawyer who fled Burma in October under threat of a prison sentence has detailed numerous unnecessary delays and restrictions in …

Junta bans popular Buddhist monk’s sermon, India –
by Myint Maung New Delhi (Mizzima) – The Burmese military junta authorities in Rangoon Division have banned a sermon by abbot U Thumingla, organizers and …

Thailand to host ASEAN summit
Times of the Internet, Ohio –
One of the ASEAN members is the military-ruled Myanmar, formerly called Burma. The junta in 2007 brutally put down protests led by Buddhist monks. …

NLD meeting banned, India –
by Myint Maung New Delhi (Mizzima)– A meeting to prepare for Burma’s Independence Day by a branch of the National League for Democracy was banned by local …

Eight migrant workers killed in truck crash
Democratic Voice of Burma, Norway –
Htoo Chit, director of the Grassroots Human Rights Education and Development, said the cause of the accident was not yet known. …

Pro-junta group gearing up to contest elections, India –
… for transforming Burma to a multi-party democracy. But he later turned against and became a critic of main opposition forces including Aung San Suu Kyi …

AK-47s—Made in Wa State
The Irrawaddy News Magazine, Thailand –
By LAWI WENG The United Wa State Army (UWSA), an armed ethnic ceasefire group based in Shan State, northern Burma, is manufacturing arms and ammunition for …

Crackdown on Freedom of Speech Condemned
The Irrawaddy News Magazine, Thailand –
By MIN LWIN The World Association of Newspapers condemned the crackdown on freedom of expression in Burma, in a press statement released on Monday. …

More Calls for Ban to Visit Burma
The Irrawaddy News Magazine, Thailand –
… Burma by the end of December to persuade the Burmese regime to release all political prisoners, including detained pro-democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi …

Thailand to Host Postponed Asean Summit in February
The Irrawaddy News Magazine, Thailand –
Military-ruled Burma strongly opposes giving the human rights body the power of even monitoring or investigating violations. Asean secretary-general Surin …

Burmese women in exile honoured with Madeleine K. Albright Award, India –
She also met Burmese democracy opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi in 1997. Madeleine Albright, in recently released report on preventing genocide, urged US, …

Biggest ever Burma ‘Dirty List’ published
World Travel Guide, UK –
Burma Campaign UK has published a list of 170 companies that directly or indirectly help to finance the military junta ruling Burma (Mynamar). …

Holiday greetings from Burma….
OpEdNews, PA –
“But what about the Junta,” you might ask. “We’ve heard that Myanmar a military state. Are you safe?” Apparently the generals all live in some new capital …

Rice yield down in Bogalay after cyclone
Democratic Voice of Burma, Norway –
Dec 16, 2008 (DVB)–The rice yield in areas of Bogalay township in Burma’s delta region has dropped this year in the aftermath of Cyclone Nargis, …

60 years on, UN rights declaration faces new challenges
Monday Morning, Lebanon –

“Today no government denies that human rights are a valid concern of the international community. They may fail to respect human rights but they can’t deny …

Fugitive lawyer defending political prisoners flees to Thai border, India –
by Than Htike Oo Chiang Mai (Mizzima) – Young lawyer Saw Kyaw Kyaw Min who represented political prisoners fled to the Thai-Burma border in the wake of an …

Myanmar in an hour and a half
Earthtimes (press release), UK –
Then there is Myanmar, formerly known as Burma, a notoriously corrupt

Bush met the writer and bloggers
OpEdNews, PA –
… marked Human Rights Day on Wednesday by meeting with a writer from Sudan and six bloggers from Belarus, China, Cuba, Egypt, Iran, and Myanmar(Burma). …

More than 1000 previously unknown species have been discovered in the Greater Mekong, a region comprising Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar (Burma), Thailand, …

Tortured for seeking democracy
St Marys Star, Australia –


BY KYLIE STEVENS But it’s been a serious crime in Burma [Myanmar] since the military seized power in 1988. More than 2000 political prisoners are currently …

Over 1000 New Species Found: World’s Largest Huntsman Spider …
Associated Content, CO –
World Wildlife Foundation researchers reported in First Contact: New Species Discoveries that the area, which is comprised of Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar, …

Asia’s bio-frontier at risk
First, the Greater Mekong – which takes in areas of China’s Yunnan Province as well as Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar, Thailand and Vietnam – includes some …

Biggest Burma ‘Dirty List’ Exposes New Companies
OneWorld US, DC –
“To those that claim investment aids the people of Burma, the evidence shows the opposite is true. As investment has increased, the human rights situation …

The dangerous vacuum at the end of Pax Americana
Daily Star – Lebanon, Lebanon –
The evidence of this will be seen not only in global institutions but also in places like Darfur, Zimbabwe, and Burma. Until this happens, let us all hope …

Shocking Pink Dragon Millipede a Highlight of New Species Finds
International Business Times, NY –
There are already twenty-three other dragon millipedes of the genus Desmoxytes in the Southeast Asia area from southeaster China, south through Myanmar, …

Dragon Millipede, Laotian Rock Rat Only Some of Species Found in …
Associated Content, CO –
A majority of the creatures were found in rainforests and wetlands along the Mekong River, which goes through Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar, Thailand, …

Gwynne Dyer: Democracy fails in Thailand
Georgia Straight, Canada –
Relatively few Asian countries are openly run as dictatorships nowadays—China, Vietnam and Burma are the main exceptions—but the urban elites and the big …

ASEAN steps out in European style
The Standard, Hong Kong –
… provision to sanction members like Burma, where the junta has kept democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi under house arrest for most of the past 18 years. …

The junta changed the country’s name from Burma to Myanmar in 1989, partly in order to legitimize their rule over parts of the country like Kachin, …

Rights & Wrongs: New Media Targeted, Sonic Torture, US Arms Deals …
World Politics Review –
… the anniversary to call on the world community, and the UN in particular, to secure the release from house arrest of Burmese leader Aung San Suu Kyi. …

Activist Calls for Wife’s Release
自由亚洲电视, Washington DC –

A Burmese social activist wanted for helping the victims of Cyclone Nargis says they have sentenced his pregnant wife to 26 years in jail. …

Smuggling Elephants Out of Myanmar
Asian Tribune, Thailand –
United Nations, 16 December ( : About 250 live Asian Elephants have been smuggled from Myanmar (Burma) in the past decade, mostly destined …

Abhisit, Chuan’s young protege gets his turn at last
Nation Multimedia, Thailand –
… a Bachelor’s degree in Philosophy, Politics and Economics (as did former Prime Minister Kukrit Pramoj and Burma’s opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi). …

More Than 1000 New Species Discovered in Rivers, Jungles…and …
MarketWatch –
The region comprises the six countries through which the Mekong River flows including Cambodia, Lao PDR, Myanmar, Thailand, Vietnam and the southern Chinese …

More than 1000 species discovered in Mekong: WWF
The species were all found in the rainforests and wetlands along the Mekong River, which flows through Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar, Thailand, Vietnam and the …

One thousand new species found in Greater Mekong region: WWF
Thai News Agency MCOT, Thailand –
… four birds, four turtles, two salamanders and a toad, in Thailand, Laos, Cambodia, Myanmar, Vietnam and the southern Chinese province of Yunnan. …

World focus on Burma (13 December 2008)

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Asia Pacific League For Freedom And Democracy Meets On Guam
Pacific News Center –
Guam – 60 delegates from 17 Asian and Pacific countries are on Guam this weekend for the 54th gathering of the Asia Pacific League for Freedom and Democracy …

Myanmar releases former dictator’s daughter from house arrest
Monsters and –
Ne Win came to power in 1962 after a coup against Myanmar’s first elected post-independence prime minister U Nu. He launched Myanmar, also called Burma, …

Saturday, December 20
eTaiwan News, Taiwan –
1852 – British forces annex Pegu, lower Burma, in war with Burmese. 1860 – South Carolina becomes the first US state to secede from the Union. …

Christina Patterson: Blog and be damned – and thrown into prison
Independent, UK –
A trio of comedians in Burma joked about their time in prison, being tortured. Now, they do illegal shows on Monday nights in their front room. …

Silence raises questions of relevance
Bangkok Post, Thailand –
… by protesters going under the banner of the People’s Alliance for Democracy. “Thailand and Burma are adequate test cases for the toothless Asean. …

Mia Kirshner Declares: “I Live Here”
Comic Book Resources, Ca –
For example, sexual violence against women in Burma and an unspoken genocide within Burma. In Chechnya, a population of people who, post-9/11, …

Burma’s Junta Doesn’t See Humor in Zargana’s Comedy
Huffington Post, NY –
He was incarcerated for criticizing the government’s response to Cyclone Nargis and leading a private relief effort. On Nov. …

Hope for Suu Kyi release
Hindu, India –
SINGAPORE: Myanmar’s military government has informed democracy campaigner Aung San Suu Kyi that her “appeal for release is being considered. …

Looking Beyond 2010 Election in Burma
Asian Tribune, Thailand –
If Ban were to go to Burma without having to achieve any substantive results, he could demean the Secretary General’s office. His basic demands, such as the …

Community leaders: Five notable nominees
Dallas Morning News, TX –
Second, she really is the highest-level person in the world to stand up to the generals in Burma. The Burmese activists are terribly sad she’s leaving the …

The UN must not admit defeat under the military dictators of Burma
Asian Tribune, Thailand –
Afterwards he told the media that he will only go to Burma (Myanmar) if there are some positive growths by the Than Shwe regime, including release of …

Nobel laureates launch appeal for Aung San Suu Kyi
They also urged world leaders to “force the Burma regime to start a peaceful reconciliation process in order to restore democracy and respect for …

CFI gives 2008 Freedom Award to Laura Bush
Sault Ste. Marie Evening News, MI –
… over five decades, and has also called for the release of Daw Aung San Suu Kyi, Burma’s democratic leader who has been under house arrest since 1989. …

Jackson Diehl: The door that Bush kept open
Arizona Republic, AZ –
On Wednesday, in honor of the 60th Human Rights Day, Bush did it one more time, inviting dissident bloggers from China, Burma, Iran, Cuba, Belarus, …

The importance of universality
Index On Censorship, UK –
… in pessimism unrelieved’, others were fomenting the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, an unparalleled statement of optimism and faith in humanity. …

Solidarity vs. the infernal spiral of terrorism
International Viewpoint, UK –
Other military conflicts engulf South Asia and a veritable arc of crisis has formed from Afghanistan in the west, to the Burmese frontier via Sri Lanka to …

Junta rejects Aung San Suu Kyi’s petition: NLD-LA, India –
by Solomon New Delhi (Mizzima) – The Burmese military junta has rejected outright a petition by the lawyer of detained Burmese pro-democracy leader Daw Aung …

Illegal elephant trade flourishes in Burma: TRAFFIC, India –
Chris R. Shepherd, TRAFFIC’s Southeast Asia Senior Program Officer, said, “The elephant population in Myanmar [Burma] is declining due to poaching and …

Opposition MP released, India –
The Nobel Laureate Aung San Suu Kyi led party won the elections in 1990 but the military regime not only refused to hand over power but put the party under …

Written by Lwin Aung Soe

December 13, 2008 at 5:53 am

World focus on Burma (12 December 2008)

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Burma needs Rambos, India –
by Mizzima News As the year is about to end and the junta’s plan for its proposed election draws ever nearer, many democracy and human rights activists …

Former Norwegian PM urges action on Burma
Democratic Voice of Burma, Norway –
Dec 12, 2008 (DVB)–Former Norwegian premier Kjell Magne Bondevik expressed his hopes for a democratic transition in Burma but said a fair election could not …

Health care at risk in cyclone hit areas in Burma: UN, India –
“There are very positive results from projects related to prevention and treatment of diseases like Malaria and HIV/Aids in Myanmar [Burma]. …

Rangoon Residents Suffer Power Cuts
The Irrawaddy News Magazine, Thailand –
… sector in Burma in recent years. Quoted in the state-run newspaper, The New Light of Myanmar, he said, “There was only 228 megawatts in the past. …

Tay Za: Recession Taking a Toll
The Irrawaddy News Magazine, Thailand –

The junta’s response to Cyclone Nargis in May of this year has also been highly criticized. Tay Za’s meeting with executives took place just one day after …

Sundance Film Festival lineup announced
Desert Valley Times, UT –
211:Anna / Italy – The story of Anna Politkovskaya, a Russian journalist and human rights activist who risked her life to report the truth about the Chechen …

First’s lady’s Biography: Laura Bush, India –
She also met with President Hamid Karzai and expressed America’s continued support for Afghanistan’s new democracy, which ensures equal rights for women and …

A vote against ‘discipline democracy’
Asia Times Online, Hong Kong –
By Nehginpao Kipgen Shed another tear for Myanmar’s (Burma’s) swelling population of prisoners of conscience. In recent weeks, the country’s ruling military …

Junta Releases Activist after 2 Months of Interrogation
The Irrawaddy News Magazine, Thailand –
By AP RANGOON — Burma’s military authorities freed a prominent member of the opposition National League for Democracy (NLD) party Thursday after holding him …

Weekly Business Roundup (December 12, 2008)
The Irrawaddy News Magazine, Thailand –
… but the Hindu News newspaper reports that Burma’s neighbor will now face competition from several Middle East countries. It quotes the Union of Myanmar …

Child trafficking continues between Burma and Thailand
Human Rights Tribune, Switzerland –

It has Thailand’s largest Burmese population, estimated at 80000-plus, nine refugee camps, and probably the largest concentration of Myanmar-focused …

YANGON (AFP) — Myanmar’s military government is working on pro-democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi’s appeal against her detention but has rejected her …

Ashin Gambira awarded honourary citizenship by Italy, India –
by Zarni Chiang Mai (Mizzima) – Ashin Gambira, sentenced to a lengthy prison term for galvanizing the monk community into staging protests in Burma last …

Asia and Africa’s wild elephants live longer than their zoo …
Fresh News, India –
… National Park in Kenya; and the Myanma Timber Enterprise in Myanmar (Burma), a government-run logging operation where Asian elephants are put to work. …

Myanmar junta sweeps clean for 2010 polls
TopNews, India –
Yangon – The two pivotal events for Myanmar in 2008 – Cyclone Nargis and a national referendum – fell on the same month, highlighting the ruling junta’s …

Nobel Women
The Globalist, DC –
Mother Teresa of India and Aung San Suu Kyi of Burma remain perhaps the most famous of recent winners for their work on eliminating poverty and facilitating …

Force: The Real ‘F’ Word, CA –
The Burmese junta ruthlessly represses both activists promoting democracy and ethnic groups fighting for autonomy. Lebanon has suffered through civil war, …


After Pax Americana?

Today’s Zaman – 
The evidence of this will be seen not only in global institutions but also in places like Darfur, Zimbabwe and Burma. Until this happens, let us all hope …

Liberal International – Bangkok Executive 2008

International Federation of Liberal Youth (press release)
The mission includes a visit to the Maela Refugee Camp in Mae-Sot, and meetings with several exiled Burmese democrats and human rights advocates.

Elephants kept in zoos die younger than in the wild

Independent – 
… case of the African species – in Amboseli national park in Kenya, or – in the case of the Asian elephant – in the Myanmar Timber Enterprise of Burma. …

Mugabe, please tell the West to shut-up!

Triumph – 
They are wrong in Iraq, they are wrong in Myanmar (Burma), they are wrong in Sudan. The attempt to export democracy to Iraq backfired. …

Panel looks at ‘the crime of all crimes’

Harvard University Gazette
She’s deputy director of Physicians for Human Rights, a Cambridge-based research and advocacy group that in 1997 was a co-recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize …

Study: Elephants live longer in wild than zoos

The Associated Press – 

Myanmar is the country formerly known as Burma. There is some good news, though. The life spans of zoo elephants have improved in recent years, …

Zoo life harmful to elephants: Research

Leader Post

… living in European zoos have approximately half the average life span of elephants born into the logging industry in Myanmar, formerly known as Burma. …

[WT논평]The plight of Myanmar

세계일보 – 
Myanmar, formerly called Burma, gained worldwide attention when it was hit by Cyclone Nargis in May, leading to the death or disappearance of up to 140000 …

MYANMAR-THAILAND: Child trafficking continues, but not fuelled by …, NY –

MAE SOT, 11 December 2008 (IRIN) – When Cyclone Nargis hit Myanmar in May, leaving close to 140000 people dead or missing, aid workers feared an increase in …

World focus on Burma (11 December 2008)

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Daw Aung San Suu Kyi disallowed meeting lawyer, India –
by Nem Davies New Delhi (Mizzima) – The Burmese military junta has refused a request by opposition leader Daw Aung San Suu Kyi, who is under house arrest, …

Thailand reverts to old-style politics
BBC News, UK –
This constitution was the first to enshrine protection of human rights and freedom of expression. It created a number of independent bodies that were given …

Ali Alatas: In Memoriam
International Crisis Group, Belgium –
… though working against very difficult odds until the end of the Suharto era; to try to sustain external pressure against the Burmese military regime’s …

Obama urged to back UN LGBT rights statement
MWC News, Canada –
“The US government often berates Zimbabwe, Burma and Sudan over their human rights violations. These condemnations will ring hollow if the US refuses to …

A daughter’s undying hope for her detained father, India –
“We have lost our human rights in Burma. Even after graduation, it was not possible to work in government departments. Also, nobody was willing to give me a …

MYANMAR-THAILAND: Child trafficking continues, but not fuelled by …, NY –
MAE SOT, 11 December 2008 (IRIN) – When Cyclone Nargis hit Myanmar in May, leaving close to 140000 people dead or missing, aid workers feared an increase in …

Nobel Laureates speak out for Suu Kyi
The Age, Australia –
Nobel peace laureates opened a summit in Paris on Thursday to draw world attention to the plight of Burma’s Aung San Suu Kyi, but former Soviet leader …

RIGHTS-BURMA: Junta Turns Blind Eye to Rising Landmine Casualties
Inter Press Service, Italy –
A similar cloak of secrecy confronted researchers trying to get casualty figures from ethnic rebel groups in Burma, or Myanmar, who also use the …

More companies ignore sanctions on Burma: BCUK, India –
“To those that claim investment aids the people of Burma, the evidence shows the opposite is true. As investment has increased, the human rights situation …

Suu Kyi Denied Meeting with Her Lawyer
The Irrawaddy News Magazine, Thailand –

… the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. ( Photo: AP) “According to the correct procedure, I sent a written request to the Special Branch of Burma’s …

Is UWSA Preparing for Clash with Junta?
The Irrawaddy News Magazine, Thailand –
… near the Thai-Burmese border since the beginning of December, as Burma’s ruling junta steps up its efforts to force the former rebel army to disarm. …

George Bush: “In countries like Belarus fervent pleas for freedom …
Charter 97, Belarus –
President of the United States mentions Belarus as a country where human rights and freedoms are violated in the proclamation on Human Rights Day. …

Junta Demand for Higher Rice Production Derided
The Irrawaddy News Magazine, Thailand –
“Although Myanmar’s [Burma’s] rice production has increased, it can be found that she has not been capable of producing more rice than the nations that are …

Unhappy Human Rights Day in Burma
United Press International, Asia, Hong Kong –
… accused of plotting bomb attacks after he spoke out on the need for more emergency relief in the wake of Cyclone Nargis, which hit the country in May. …

Former Indonesian minister dies
BBC News, UK –
… and he also worked as a UN special envoy to Burma, calling for the release of detained pro-democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi. …

Junta Has Crushed Peaceful Dissent: Laura Bush
The Irrawaddy News Magazine, Thailand –
Bush said all these female dissidents were following in the footsteps of Aung San Suu Kyi, the world’s only detained Nobel Peace Prize winner. …

MYANMAR: Anyo, “I don’t know whether I will live or die”, NY –
Burmese people are honourable people, but this is the only way I can earn some decent money. “Now I receive about 300000 kyat [US$240] per month. …

Indonesian ex-FM Ali Alatas dies
Sydney Morning Herald, Australia –
Mr McMullan said the fact that many non-democracies, such as Burma, China and Vietnam had shown up was a positive sign. “What is welcome about this is that …

You Are Powerful: the promise of the Universal Declaration of …, United Kingdom –
Strikingly put together by superimposing actors onto real footage of human rights abuses (the film makers had the unenviable task of wading through hours of …

Sixty Years On, ‘Inalienable Human Rights’ Still out of Reach for Many
The Epoch Times, NY –
Amnesty International Vancouver focused on human rights abuses in Burma, Tibet, Ethiopia and China, while the Falun Gong raised awareness about the …

Uncertainty Surrounds Asean Summit
The Irrawaddy News Magazine, Thailand –
Burma’s Asean chairmanship was cancelled in 2006 because of the political crisis in the military-ruled country. The political turmoil in Thailand has …

New book on the struggle ‘more questions than answers’
Shan Herald Agency for News, Thailand –
… told fellow exile journalists, most of whom had been ex-rebels fighting against Burma’s ruling military junta like himself, that his book Far from Home: …

Ta-ta to the age of virtue, Canada –
Gareth Evans, a human rights advocate and former Australian foreign minister, started the proceedings with a five-minute speech. …

The council has hardly challenged the worse abusers, such as China and Burma, and Iran and Uzbekistan have escaped sanctions, says RSF. …

IFEX, Canada –
ARTICLE 19 likened the ban to the tactics used by the Burmese military junta. “The lifting of the ban for one day only was yet another cruel twist in the …

Vietnamese Inquisition: Catholic protesters face a show trial as ...
TTX Công Giáo Việt Nam, Vietnam –
Pro-democracy leader in Burma, Aung San Suu Kyi, has pleaded with tourists not to visit her country, as it merely endows the Than Shwe junta with legitimacy …

US to provide $5 million more for Myanmar relief aid
Reuters –
… leave the White House, Bush pledged she would keep pushing for democratic reforms in Myanmar, previously known as Burma, after leaving Washington. …

Beatings, Protests, Arrests Mark 60th Annual Human Rights Day
Malaysia Today, Malaysia –
10th December 2008 marks the 60th anniversary of the UN Declaration of Human Rights. To commemorate the day, activists around the world have staged protests …

Burma-Thailand elephant smuggling accusation, UK –
Asian elephants are being smuggled from Myanmar into neighbouring Thailand for “elephant trekking” tourism, a new report by the wildlife trade monitoring …

Nearly one-fifth of coral reefs lost and more threatened
Irish Times, Ireland –
They included Cyclone Nargis, which hit Burma last May, claiming 84500 lives. Mr Loster said extreme weather events accounted for nine out of every 10 …

Bush talks with international bloggers
CNET News, CA –
… he also advocates using the Internet to facilitate democracy. President Bush, in recognition of Human Rights Day, met with bloggers from Belarus, Burma, …

UN appeals for funds to meet health needs in cyclone-battered Myanmar
UN News Centre –
10 December 2008 – The United Nations has called for funding to help meet health needs in areas of Myanmar that are rebuilding after this May’s devastating …

UN appeals for funds to meet health needs in cyclone-battered Myanmar
UN News Centre –
… in areas of Myanmar that are rebuilding after this May’s devastating Cyclone Nargis which claimed some 140000 lives and left 800000 others homeless. …

UN in Myanmar focuses on Dignity for Women
ReliefWeb (press release), Switzerland –
(Yangon: 10 December 2008): The United Nations in Myanmar and partners have joined its colleagues around the world in marking the annual global campaign ’16 …

First Lady Campaigns For Human Rights
Mrs. Bush says she will continue to fight for human rights after leaving the White House, especially for women in Afghanistan and Myanmar, also known as Burma.

… where the US-backed government is fighting Taliban militants, and Myanmar, also known as Burma, where harsh treatment of dissidents has earned worldwide …

Laura Bush in NYC discusses human rights
Houston Chronicle, United States –
The women of Burma have responded to this brutality with inspiring courage.” Bush said she would remain involved in struggles in Afghanistan and Myanmar …

RIGHTS: Politics Still Reign Over Principles at UN
Inter Press Service, Italy –
… France and Britain have continued to protect Israel, Iraq and Afghanistan while Russia and China continue to shield Zimbabwe, Sudan and Burma (Myanmar) …

Human Face : ‘Droits de l’homme’: best-kept secret / Ma. Ceres P. Doyo, Philippines –
Even Burma’s Aung San Suu Kyi came out bigger than life on the video screen to deliver her message. UN Secretary General Kofi Annan and France’s President …

Big task to tackle at Bali forum
The Canberra Times, Australia –
In the name of inclusiveness, the forum includes some of Asia’s most repressive regimes, including Burma, China and Vietnam. At the same time, …

UN must be tough on Burma’s dictators
OpEdNews, PA –
… should make good on the Security Council’s call in Oct. 2007 for Burma to release the prisoners, including Nobel Peace Prize winner Aung San Suu Kyi. …

RIGHTS: Politics Still Reign Over Principles at UN
Inter Press Service, Italy –
… Iraq and Afghanistan while Russia and China continue to shield Zimbabwe, Sudan and Burma (Myanmar) against any strictures or sanctions for human rights …

US, world influence over Mugabe limited
Christian Science Monitor, MA –
Singling out the cases of Zimbabwe and Burma (Myanmar), Ms. Rice said the world remains unable to mobilize “international will” to take on tyrants. …

WWF: Border Guard Funds World Cup Soccer Trips Through Elephant …
MarketWatch –
The border official in Myanmar, formerly known as Burma, openly shared details with TRAFFIC investigators on his role in moving live elephants across the …

Couple’s efforts take photography to whole new level
Nova News Now, Canada – 7
The classes were linked to a free clinic called Mae Tao that treats thousands of refugees from Burma each year for malaria, TB, HIV/AIDS, landmine injuries …

Fact Sheet: Promoting Human Rights Worldwide (press release), DC –
She discussed efforts by the United States to help women in Afghanistan and Burma overcome oppression to secure basic rights. The Administration has helped …

Laura Bush promises to continue work on human rights
Boston Herald, United States –
… from the audience, said she was particularly concerned about promoting the rights of women in Afghanistan and Myanmar, previously known as Burma. …

Taking Responsibility
Campus Progress, DC –
But when I deny my role in global issues such as human rights violations and climate change, I am shirking my social responsibility—and this is …

Laura Bush in NYC to discuss human rights
Newsday, NY –
NEW YORK – First lady Laura Bush is visiting New York City and will give a talk at the Council on Foreign Relations. The first lady is discussing human …

After Pax Americana?
The Guatemala Times, Guatemala –
The evidence of this will be seen not only in global institutions but also in places like Darfur, Zimbabwe, and Burma. Until this happens, let us all hope …

Burma accused of elephant smuggling
Sydney Morning Herald, Australia –
Burma is at the centre of an illegal trade in elephants and ivory, with more than 250 live animals smuggled out of the country in the past decade, …

India, Burma to change transaction currency to Euro or Singapore …, India –
… a Burmese Trade Union official said. An official at the Union of Myanmar Federation of Chamber of Commerce and Industry (UMFCCI) said, the two countries …

UN calls for more support to the health sector in Myanmar
ReliefWeb (press release), Switzerland –
Disease outbreaks and malnutrition have been averted through the establishment, in conjunction with the Myanmar Ministry of Health, …

CIA Drug Trafficking and remembering Gary Webb
Capitol Hill Blue, VA –
{3} The Nationalist Chinese army, organized by the CIA to wage war against Communist China, became the opium barons of The Golden Triangle (parts of Burma, …

Russian business presence becoming stronger in Burma, India –
by Moe Thu Rangoon (Mizzima) – With several Russian firms directly investing or having businesses interests in Burma and with the closer cooperation between …

Bush to Meet Activists, Bloggers to Mark Human Rights Day
Voice of America –
… meet with an activist from Sudan’s troubled Darfur region and bloggers from China, Burma, Egypt and other countries Wednesday to mark Human Rights Day. …

Interview With Michele Kelemen of NPR
US Department of State, DC –
And I wonder if you think some of this made it more difficult for you as the Secretary of State to talk about human rights. SECRETARY RICE: No, of course …

Elephant nation: Saving the big grays

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Elephant nation: Saving the big grays

‘Asia hero’ says rescue work ‘makes my heart smile’

Posted: September 26, 2008
8:01 pm Eastern

By Anthony C. LoBaido
© 2008 WorldNetDaily

Editor’s Note: This past summer, Anthony C. LoBaido spent nine weeks documenting and photographing the horrific plight of abused elephants in both Thailand and Sri Lanka.

“I can’t remember anything that happened before two weeks ago.” – Jason Bourne

“Lucky you.” – Marie Kruetz

– from “The Bourne Identity”

CHIANG MAI, Thailand – They say an elephant never forgets. But those majestic creatures who are the national symbol of Thailand may be forgiven for perhaps wishing they could forget the abuse, injury and death they’ve suffered in a society where their elephant birth certificates often amount to death sentences.

Their fate includes encounters with land mines that leave them with feet blown off, torture from hooks, spears and knives in the hands of humans, chain-saw attacks by ivory hunters, spine damage from trekking platforms and even drug abuse.

Yet as the morning mist rises over the lush river valley in this slice of heaven otherwise known as the “Elephant Nature Park,” a herd of formerly tortured and abused but surviving animals is making tracks to the Mae Tang River, its pristine waters flowing silently under a sky turned purple and orange by the rising sun.

They enter the water, one by one, males, aunties and babies alike. There’s Max, a giant 13-foot-tall elephant (said to be the second tallest elephant in all of Thailand) whose legs were broken by an 18-wheel truck during the homeless phase of his life. B.K. has only one tusk. After being drugged and chained to a tree, ivory poachers took a chainsaw to his right rusk; B.K. awakened and chased away the men before they could cut off the other tusk.

Jokari had both her eyes stabbed and shot out, because after giving birth to a baby the baby rolled down a hill and died, and Jokari refused to continue working.

One by one, the elephants enter the water, submerge, and soon reappear. They shake their ears emphatically and spray water from their long, sensitive trunks. “Doot-doo-da-doot!” they trumpet, seemingly in unison. It is an exhilarating scene.

Elephants swimming in the Mae Tang River at Lek Chailert’s Elephant Nature Park

Before long the “elis” are engaging in friendly trunk pulls and jumping in happy playfulness.

Standing on the shore of the river and taking in this wildly maverick, idyllic spectacle is the guardian angel of Thailand’s elephants. Her jet black hair falls over her slender shoulders as she smiles her electrifying smile by flashing bright white teeth.

Her name is “Lek,” which means “small” in the Thai language. At 5-feet, 2-inches, it would be easy to dismiss Lek Chailert, instead of recognizing her status as one of the most heroic people (man or woman) on planet Earth.

In fact, she’s a woman that Paul McCartney, Angelina Jolie, Brad Pitt and Meg Ryan all have sought out regarding her work with Thailand’s abused elephants. She’s been featured on CNN, Animal Planet, The Discovery Channel, Time Magazine (selected as one of “Asia’s Heroes”) as well as National Geographic. Yet since this remarkable Thai remains a kind and humble woman; she would never tell you any of those things outright.

But she shares with WND the story of how she came to be the savior of Thailand’s elephants. It is a fairy tale about a little girl who was given an elephant at age five that also includes the dark side of murder, abandonment, slander, a courtroom showdown and physical assaults with fists and guns.

The last chapter is yet to be written, but for now, it has culminated in her becoming the human voice for Thailand’s elephants.

The jungle girl

“It was long ago … I was just a little girl, about five years old, when my grandfather, who was a shaman in a small village in Northern Thailand, saved a man’s life. Because of this deed my grandfather was given an elephant which he in turn gave to me,” Chailert told WND.

“I named the elephant ‘Goldie.’ When I first met her I found this creature to be truly amazing. She looked so kind and so gentle. We become friends at our very first meeting. I loved my new elephant so much and rode her everywhere I went in the jungle. We used to play games with Goldie like ‘Climb the Mountain.’ Many of the children in our little village (nestled between Thailand and Burma) would climb up Goldie’s trunk, tail and ears. Another time we found a toy gun, and my brother and I would play ‘Army’ with Goldie. We’d pretend to shoot her. Then I would say ‘Goldie, we shot you but you are still standing up!’ So she would dutifully obey and lay down as if to say, ‘Oh look … I just died!’ Then she would get up again. This would go on and on, 50 times in a row or even more.”

Theories about elephants were jolted in 2002 when researchers documented that elephants emit subsonic trunk calls at 30 Hz which can travel up to 10 miles or more. Elephants also have another natural Internet via the sensitive nerve endings on their feet. By stamping on the ground they can send and pick up messages. This is probably why so many elephants headed for high ground right before the 2004 Asian tsunami. When elephants are sending out their subsonic trunk calls, if you look closely (or even touch) you can see a small section of their frontal brain area moving under their two-inch thick skin.

The gentle giant Max was homeless for a time and has recovered from being run over by an 18-wheel truck

“As I grew up I continued to become closer to Goldie. My mother told us there was gold (like gold bullion) inside of the elephant, and my brother actually tried to climb inside Goldie to find it. One day, he was halfway inside Goldie’s mouth when my mother ran outside and saw this – shouting ‘No!'” Chailert related.

“I was also becoming closer to many of the animals in the jungle. I would find injured animals and bring them home to care for them. I would often fight with my father about this … he was a hunter you see.

“That’s one thing I have to thank my family for … they gave me the chance to love and care to the other animals. When I was young my grandfather rescued many wild animals caught in traps. He would heal them. He would also let me to help him and taught me how to take care of those animals. He called me the ‘Little Doctor,’ and I was so proud with that title. I fell in love with all the animals I treated and made sure they were safe and eventually returned back to jungle. My mother also supported me in loving the animals by educating me and allowing me to have pets when I was young.”

She said her favorite trait among elephants is “the way they love and care for each other.”

Lek hit her teen years and she started traveling to the Burma border in order to help sick, abused and injured elephants.

Her life’s calling was emerging, and while she was still looking through a glass darkly, there came an irresistible calling of love, sacrifice and service for the elephants.

“At first I went to the border of Burma with a Christian missionary … then I started to go on my own. When I was in high school I wasn’t really much of a student. My teachers would tell me to open my backpack in order to see my books, but inside there were no books, only magazines, film and cosmetics. You see, I used to sell those items on the street in order to get money to buy medicine for the elephants on the Thai-Burma border. They were sick and injured and no one was there to help them. When I visited them I saw the eyes of the elephants, which were dead eyes. And I was heartbroken,” she said.

“As time passed, my backpack got bigger and bigger as I sold more things in order to buy more medicine for the elephants. They had become my life’s passion. I had antibiotics with me and learned all I could about medicine for the elephants.

“I would rent a Jeep and go where no other veterinarian would go. There were no more roads. One time, 100 people actually built a section of road for me so I could turn my Jeep around. For 13 kilometers (more than six miles) they pulled my Jeep through the mud with a strong rope,” she said.

Later she attended the university and studied library science, because officials wouldn’t allow her in veterinary classes.

Years in the wilderness

But her love for elephants was now growing, and her trials were beginning.

“There was a man staging Thai boxing matches in Chiang Mai, featuring a baby elephant with boxing gloves on. When he went around the city to ask for money with the baby elephant, I followed him with a sign reading ‘Don’t support this kind of elephant abuse.’ Eventually the man punched me right in the face. I was badly injured and my face was mangled. I had to wear a neck brace. I was sent to the hospital and had a head scan. I saw stars. There was pus and a terrible infection. I thought I would die. The man who did this to me was fined 500 Baht. (About $3),” she said.

She had crossed over from being an eccentric, enthusiastic youth to become a dues payer en route to a respected world-class activist on behalf of elephants.

“I love them,” she said. “I will never turn my back on them until the day I die”

Landmines are a major problems for elephants in both Burma and Thailand

Elephants don’t abandon their children. They don’t “trade up.” They mate for life. They don’t abuse. They have served as tanks and armored personnel carriers and to this day remain bulldozers.

Her fame soon spread. Organizations began paying attention to her warnings about Thailand’s elephant abuse. And opposition arose.

She’s had a gun held to her head, she was called “traitor” by Thailand’s government, the “Bangkok Post” printed accusations against her, she lost family and friends and her life was threatened.

In fact, it was during this time she was forced to run from house to house, eluding the shadowy assassins dispatched to hunt her down and kill her.

Amazingly, the Princess of Thailand, Rangsoi Napadol Yukol, interceded for Lek.

“The princess contacted me and said, ‘Lek they will kill you. You have to come and live with me in the Royal Palace … no one will be able to hurt you here.’ (Thailand’s current king is probably the most popular sovereign in modern world. His collection of perfect white elephants is considered an ancient symbol of the king’s divine right to rule). She also told me, ‘Lek, you are a train with no brake – a kamikaze.’ The princess found a lawyer for me. And people gave me some money, $100 or $200 or $300 at a time.”

But Lek couldn’t stay locked up on the royal palace forever. She had to leave if she was going to help the elephants. So she left, heading directly to the streets where elephants needed her.

“People would spit on my family … restaurants would not serve them. They told my little eight-year-old nephew that they would ‘bury’ me. My brother cried. I had to adopt an alias. (Sirinya Chaidee). People felt I was hurting Thailand as a boycott of tourism was being organized because of the revelations of the elephant abuse. I was so scared. I cried and cried. But then I thought of Mel Gibson in that movie ‘Braveheart’ and Russell Crowe in ‘Gladiator.’ People can in fact change history and I felt that I would come back and achieve victory for the elephants. I thought, ‘I can take this abuse! I must fight for the elephants!'”

She withstood attacks in the form of a special television episode about her, offers from politicians for payments for her to shut up, and the hint of treason for her work.

“One day I sat down along Pat Pong Road … I looked around at the filth and I thought, ‘Why don’t [Thailand’s elites] clean up this country?’ I thought, ‘I am a thorn under their feet … this country can change and I won’t give up. I am a strong Buddhist. I will not kill or steal or have an affair. I will not lie. The Buddha had a passion for animals and never wanted them to be sacrificed!'”

Her battles eventually took her into court.

The rescued elephants have become like family members to workers at the park

“Karen hill tribes wearing no shoes came to the biggest courthouse in Bangkok in order to testify on my behalf. They explained the cruel way in which the elephants were treated. It was the first time anything like this had happened – people coming barefoot into the court. I mean, they came all the way from the Burma border on the train … just for me. They helped me to take on Thailand’s mass media in court and win. I was able to clear my name,” she said.

Still, opposition remained. “Only the Princess of Thailand stood up to say, ‘This woman is speaking the truth.’ In the mass media, some in my family denounced me as a ‘Black Sheep.’ Lies were spread that the abuse of the elephants was happening in Burma, and not in Thailand,” she said.

At Lek’s trial, the Karen tribal members testified about the methods they use to train and control the elephants and where this “abuse” was taking place – inside the borders of Thailand. (Logging was made illegal in Thailand during the late 1980’s. Yet land mines, drug wars and the physical stress of tourist-based elephant trekking continued to devastate the elephants in the region at large).

It was after this trial that Lek and Thailand’s elephant began to turn the corner. A Texan who supplied coffee beans to Starbucks heard about Lek’s work with the elephants, and he donated the land which would become her Elephant Nature Park without condition. Now the framework was in place for a safe haven for the 4,500 elephants left in the nation, down from the 100,000 as of 1900.

We don’t need a baby elephant with two dead parents

But perhaps because of her growing successes, the attacks continued: Lek and her staff members were detained on payday when a clandestine and elite military/police unit showed up. There were sacks placed over the heads of the staff. One staff member had his face rearranged with the back end of an M-16 rifle. Stones were thrown at their cars. Lek was called various names, none of them printable.

And then came the worst possible. Lek had rescued a three-day-old baby elephant stuck between two trees in the jungle. The mother had been shot dead for daring to eat from some farmer’s field.

“Never before in history has it been documented that an elephant less than a week old survived without the mother,” Chailert told WND. “I stayed up with the baby, whom I named Ging Mai, day and night for six days. Then on the seventh day, I passed out from complete exhaustion. I had been giving the baby elephant milk from a bottle … and in the middle of the night Ging Mai woke me up to kiss me. It was then I knew he would live.”

Lek’s miraculous rescue of Ging Mai thrilled elephant lovers everywhere, but only served to further infuriate Thailand’s power brokers, who were still determined to somehow punish her.

“Sometimes I felt such fear … that I was walking alone on a dark road,” Chailert continued. “Many times I was set up by government people trying to put dirt on my name. For the last of couple years I’ve had hard times because of the elephants I rescued. We were constantly disturbed by government officials who allegedly came to check on us, but instead threatened and did anything they could to make our work too difficult and inconvenient to continue.

“Then one day a group of men came to see Ging Mai … ‘veterinarians’ … they said the government needed to check on my baby elephant. This was just days before his first birthday. They injected him with cyanide. Ging Mai ran to the lake and drank and drank water … I ran to him and he pushed at me … his eyes were all red. He was in agony and screaming. He died in my arms,” she said.

“Why, why, why did they murder my baby?” she said, while weeping almost hysterically in her Chiang Mai office.

Australian Michelle Kobylka, who has volunteered at the Elephant Nature Park over the past half decade, (and aspires to become a veterinarian, perhaps studying at Texas A&M) told WND that when Ging Mai was murdered, it left a huge vacuum at the park.

“We had this cart with wheels, and one of our elephants, Hope, used to play on it with Ging Mai. Ging Mai was only a baby. And when Ging Mai was murdered, Hope wouldn’t eat or play or do anything for days on end. I sat out in the field, crying and Hope came right up to me and put her trunk around me to offer consolation.”

Asia’s Hero

“Finally ‘Time Magazine’ announced me as ‘Time’s’ ‘Hero of Asia,'” Lek continued. “It seemed that I would finally find the light at the end of the tunnel, and the door of my dark room had opened. I felt safe again, not just only for me, but for our elephants as well.

“Most injuries to the elephants come from humans. I can say that the first reason is greed. People don’t understand the elephant’s nature. They use the elephant like a machine for making money. Sometimes when the elephant [is] sick they still force them to work – and then when the elephant rebels against such work they start to abuse the elephant in a cruel way.”

Lek Chailert has come a long way from her childhood and teen crusades to help Thailand’s elephants. These days she supervises a staff of 75 men and women who care for 33 elephants, including a little baby named, (no surprise) “Goldie.” Every day, visitors from around the world come to the Elephant Nature Park in order to feed (with corn, pineapples, bananas and watermelon at a cost over $250,000 per year), bathe and fuss over Lek’s elephants. It is here that visitors can take an excruciatingly long, slow walk with the gigantic yet gentle Max to the Mae Tang River for his bath, petting his trunk while his crushed legs make the journey.

There’s also the possibility for a special photography shoot arranged by Lek, even amongst the baby elephants and their massive and protective aunties.

Lek possesses a magical quality, an aura of humility and greatness. When she asked this writer to go to Sri Lanka on her behalf to investigate the plight of elephants at the baby elephant orphanage at Pinnewala, I dutifully went without question.

While at the Elephant Park, visitors also can listen to talks about the elephants given by expert guides. A film is also shown by the staff, (Jennifer Hile’s excellent “Vanishing Giants”) though the documentation of elephant abuse sometimes arouses great sadness and even anger. More than a few visitors told WND that capital punishment should be invoked for maiming and killing an elephant. One visitor remarked, “I’d have absolutely no problem with that.”

Former U.S. Navy Seal Mike Kelley, who saw the film, said, “You know I really love animals … elephants especially … but what the people do to the elephants …” his voice trailing off.

Says Chailert, “The volunteers and visitors provide most of the funds we get to help to support our elephant project. Some of our volunteers who stayed at the park help us raise money after they leave. Also, some school children around the world have adopted a few of the elephants and have helped support them.

“To see the elephants that have been rescued from very bad conditions … when they first arrive at the park they [are] like the living dead. Their eyes are empty and they are so skinny. Yet today I find them happy, joining new family groups, healthy and starting to play again. That is the most joyful thing to me and makes my heart smile,” she said.

Among Chailert’s many crusades is the “Jumbo Express,” an outreach to win the hearts and minds of the local hill tribes (Hmong, Karen and others) and teach them how to love and care for elephants through positive reinforcement.

Along with two professional veterinarians (one of whom hails from India), teams of volunteers (mostly college students, including veterinary students) they trek through the jungles of Northern Thailand in an effort to assist the injured elephants. Some projects include handing out presents at a local elementary school or undergoing back-breaking labor to build a community center.

Janna Schurer of Canada and Alexandra Bowes of Great Britain are archetypes of the new breed of elephant whisperer. Tall, blonde, pretty and well conditioned, these college students are not averse to getting their hands dirty, be it by handing out medicine for sows in a dark, rainy Karen village, or engaging in the aforementioned back-breaking labor.

Says Scherer, “Sometimes I think we have to consider why the people are so cruel to the elephants. Imagine being ‘them.’ Imagine their fear of these giant animals that could so easily kill you. There’s that other side to the whole question … why do they do what they do?”

Bowes, who spent part of her youth in Africa, said, “It used to be the vet schools were filled with men. Now it’s the other way around. When I do field work in the UK, some farmers wonder if I am qualified. I have to show them that I am qualified. Regardless, being in the field and volunteering is important to the future of any vet student.

“During the past months I was able to infiltrate an elephant camp, and I secretly took footage of elephants being tortured while being forced to paint pictures. You can see this kind of footage … the painting I mean … all over But people don’t know what goes on behind the scenes as the elephants are tortured with knifes and hooks to make them paint. I hope to soon publish this footage on in the fall when I return to the UK.”

Women like Shurer and Bowes are the new face and hope for Thailand’s elephants, whether through their hidden cameras or the sweat of their brow. They plan to carry on Lek’s work, and teach the coming generation about what has been done to and for the elephants, as well as the work which remains incomplete.

Is international cooperation the answer? Some have floated the idea of a major transnational consortium or grouping of the major elephant nations – akin to the G-8. These nations would include Thailand, Burma, the Indonesian island of Sumatra, Sri Lanka, India, South Africa, Namibia and Botswana. These nations could hold periodic meetings and form strategies to help their respective elephant populations. These nations, be they Buddhist, Hindu, Maoist, Marxist and/or fascist, could put aside their differences in an effort to show solidarity with all the world’s elephants.

History starts now

As for her ultimate goal, Chailert said, “One day I want to see the elephants in Thailand finally have a real home. I want to see them living in freedom – elegantly — in their own kingdom. My dream for the future of Elephant Nature Park is to have the park for the elephants that we rescued featuring 24 hours per day of freedom in their safe homeland.”

What’s left now for her work? To start, laws could and should be enforced to make it illegal to profit from an elephant begging on the streets. Such laws do exist but they are not uniformly enforced. Second, more protections could be instituted for elephants.

Also, the centuries-old violent and torturous “crush” or special cage where a soon-to-be domesticated elephant’s spirit is broken while long carpentry-style nails are sometimes stabbed into its inner ear should be re-examined.

And the forced “painting” by the elephants as depicted on must be exposed and forever ended.

There also have been proposals for land to be set aside for Thailand’s elephants. Such a “homeland” offers great promise. Consider that the nation of Borneo has set up an elite unit in which elephant rescuers, including veterinarians, a sharp shooter (armed with tranquilizers) and a super mahout/guide, slip into the jungle where needed. They perform surgery on the elephants on site in the jungle. The elephants in Borneo number around 1,600. Some leaders of the herds are monitored in real time by state-of-the-art tracking devices.

Since Thailand’s 5th Special Forces Regiment sits only a few miles down the road from Lek Chailert’s Elephant Nature Park, it is not hard to imagine some form of synergy emerging and a similar elite elephant unit being duplicated in Thailand.

Donations for Thailand elephant rescue efforts: Account Name: Elephant Nature Park Account No501-3-08706-7 Siam Commercial bank Thapae Branch Chiang Mai Swift Code: SICO-TH-BK

Written by Lwin Aung Soe

September 29, 2008 at 4:10 am