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Posts Tagged ‘military regime

World focus on Burma (31 August 2008)

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Karen Refugees’ Rights Fall by the Wayside in Thailand
Ethical Travel News, CA –
“Thailand should raise concern about Burmese human rights violations that cause forced displacement as well as [respond] humanely to its victims seeking …

Afghanistan: Malalai Joya vs Washington’s warlords
Green Left Weekly, Australia –
Understandably, she’s been declared the “bravest woman in Afghanistan” and even compared with Burma’s Aung Sun Suu Kyi. A household name in Afghanistan …

Appeal For Open Trial (press release), New Zealand –
Aung Thein, a lawyer representing some of Burma’s most prominent imprisoned pro-democracy activists, will appeal for an open trial at a hearing scheduled …

Top-Notch Exhibition
The Post-Standard –, NY –
Chao titles this body of work “What Went Wrong,” alluding to the hardships of the Burmese who have experienced heightened repression by the military junta …

The ungiven gift
Boston Globe, United States –

In Burma, for example – a country isolated by sanctions and its rulers’ own obstinacy – poverty, prostitution, and a brutal human rights climate have …

North Platte Bulletin, NE –
Afghanistan is a major supplier in the international drug trade — the second-largest opium producer after Myanmar, formerly known as Burma. …

Inner City Press, NY –
UNITED NATIONS, August 30 — Having left Myanmar six days about, after not seeing either Aung San Suu Kyi or General Than Shwe, UN envoy Ibrahim Gambari …

Film Review of ‘My Daughter, The Terrorist’
Sri Lanka Watch, Sri Lanka –
… on a much larger scale than any terrorist group: Pol Pot, Idi Amin, Robert Mugabe and the military junta of Burma and North Korea come to mind. …

Gambari ‘wasted precious time’: NLD, India –
Gambari, in his last visit to Burma last week, met NLD leaders twice, though he failed to meet detained opposition leader Daw Aung San Suu Kyi and junta …

Written by Lwin Aung Soe

August 31, 2008 at 6:39 am

Burma/Myanmar: Teen ‘Raped And Killed By Soldiers’

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2:27pm UK, Thursday August 21, 2008

Leah Borromeo, Sky News foreign staff

Burmese soldiers gang-raped and mutilated a 15-year-old girl, Sky News sources have said.

Her basket and clothes were found near her raped and mutilated body 200 metres from an army checkpoint

The schoolgirl’s clothes were found near her body by an army checkpoint.

Schoolgirl Nhkum Hkawn Din was set upon and killed on her way to delivering rice to her brother, who was working in a paddy field in July.

“We are aware of these reports. We are investigating these reports. No one has been officially arrested,” Burmese authorities said, under promise of anonymity.

The teen’s brother raised the alarm after returning home to find his sister was not there.

Friends and family searched for her until they reported the teen missing later that evening.

Her body was found three days later – she was naked, had been repeatedly stabbed and 200 metres from an army checkpoint.

Searchers first found her clothes, then her slippers together with the basket she carried that day.

The girl’s body was so badly mutilated, her family was only able to identify by her clothes and accessories.

“This is a horrific attack and should remind governments and the United Nations of the true nature of this regime,” said Nang Seng, campaigns officer at Burma Campaign UK.

“Local people are very angry that these rapes happen again and again and no action is taken.

“There is no justice or rule of law in Burma. People are hoping that the United Nations will take up this case.”

According to Burma Campaign UK, local army commanders admitted one soldier carried out the attack and a senior colonel has been transferred.

Also, the army has offered the family £250 compensation in addition to a bag of rice, some cooking oil, five cans of milk and some sugar.

In a dangerous act of defiance, posters calling for justice have been put up in the local capital Mychina.

“Cases of sexual violence against ethnic women are rife. There is a culture of impunity and the Burmese army have been getting away with this for years,” said Dave Mathieson from Human Rights Watch.

“This is something that should be investigated seriously by the international community, ideally through a high level commission of inquiry on abuses by the military.”

Over 1,000 cases of rape on the part of Burmese soldiers against ethnic minorities have been documented.

Burma’s military junta faced harsh criticism for failing to allow international aid workers access to the hardest hit areas of the country following Cyclone Nargis in May.

Related story:

Ethnic Kachin teenage girl raped and murdered

Written by Lwin Aung Soe

August 21, 2008 at 2:48 pm


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By Roland Watson
August 7, 2008

We have received additional intelligence that expands our last report, and which also provides confirmation for earlier reports. This intelligence comes from new sources. In summary, as we continue to receive information, the details of the SPDC’s nuclear program are becoming more and more concrete.

Nuclear program objective

In May 2001, at the National Defence College (Rangoon), SPDC Science and Technology Minister U Thaung said that Burma would make an effort to possess nuclear weapons by 2020. Once achieved, this would make the regime the strongest military power in
Southeast Asia; the country would be transformed into the “Fourth Burman Empire”; and, it would be able to threaten Thailand militarily.

This statement reveals the SPDC to be a grave threat to international security and peace. The regime’s announcement that its new 10 MW reactor is intended for peaceful research purposes is a lie.

Program background

The SPDC’s program to acquire nuclear weapons began in 1990. (At this time the junta was known as SLORC.) Rangoon University Physics Professor U Po Saw was consulted about developing the technology, and also the selection of candidates to become state scholars. The process of honing cadet officers for training in nuclear technology was begun in 1997 with Defense Services Academy Class 42.

Prior to 2000, Russian nuclear experts were invited and discussions on building a reactor, its location, and the training of state scholars, were held.

Our sources also tell us that the junta first contacted India to obtain nuclear technology. The country agreed to accept state scholars. However, since India also stipulated that it had to supervise and control the operation of the reactor, this approach was halted.

With the help of China, the SPDC succeeded in reaching its agreement with Russia. In addition, the Chinese government has advised the junta that it should try, by various means, to make nuclear weapons and, if it cannot produce them by its target date of 2020, that it should buy them.

In 2003, the regime sent thirty military officers to North Korea to study reactor technology. In 2006, it started buying from the North the machinery necessary for reactor construction. The SPDC established its connection with North Korea so it would not have to stop the program if its relations with Russia turned sour.

The SPDC sells natural resources to obtain nuclear technology, including for the costs of educating the state scholars (a new source confirms that there are over 4,600 in Russia alone). We have also learned that the resource sales included 20,000 tons of iron ore mined in Ka-thaing Taung, a range in the Hpakan area in Kachin State (near the famous jade mines). But, and as has been reported by others, the junta did experience financial problems in 2005 and its program with Russia was suspended. These difficulties were overcome, the program was restarted, and the SPDC is now financially secure. (The reason for this change of fortune is obvious. According to the new U.S. Burma law: “The Congressional Research Service estimates that the Yadana pipeline provides at least $500,000,000 in annual revenue for the Burmese Government.”)

Our new sources further tell us that the SPDC has secretly tried to gain assistance from Iran. This confirms a relationship that we have previously heard about from other sources.

Further, in 2000, Japan started taking scholars for doctoral level studies, to operate a reactor. With the help of Japan, new departments of nuclear science have been set up at Rangoon University, Mandalay University, and the Defense Services Academy.

Training in Russia

In 2001, the first batch of scholars, 150 military officers, was sent to
Russia from Tada U Airport on chartered Aeroflot flights.

In Russia, the scholars attend a variety of institutes in Moscow and also St.Petersburg, depending on their subjects of study. The schools include:

MEPHI – Moscow Engineering Physics Institute
MIET – Moscow Institute of Electronic Technology
MATI – Moscow Institute of Aviation Technology
MAI – Moscow Aviation Institute
BMSTU – Bauman Moscow State Technical University
MITT – Moscow Institute of Thermal Technology
MISI – Moscow Civil Engineering Institute
MSMU – Moscow State Mining University

MEPHI teaches nuclear science, MIET rocket guidance, MAI aircraft and space subjects, and MATI the technology for building rockets to carry satellites. There are also course programs in tunneling, uranium mining, and uranium ore refining.

Our new sources confirm that many of the scholars are unhappy. They were forced to go to Russia; their pay is too low; the harsh weather has caused them problems; and the medical care they receive is inadequate. They complained to the Burma Embassy in Moscow, and asked to be sent home. In response, the Directorate of Intelligence sent weekly instructions urging them to complete their work and to fulfill the national aim (to produce nuclear weapons). At one point former Foreign Minister U Win Aung came in person and told the students to finish their studies. He relayed a message from Vice Chief of Staff Maung Aye that anyone who married a Russian woman scientist and then returned to Burma would be rewarded.

Also, in 2002, Quartermaster General Win Myint as well as the Navy Chief, Air Chief and Transport Minister went to Russia and arranged for the training of twenty Air Force pilots, who would then take ten purchased MIG 29s back to Burma. They additionally discussed whether Burma should acquire aircraft carriers and submarines. In July 2002, Science and Technology Minister U Thaung went to Russia and signed the agreement for the acquisition and construction of the nuclear reactor.

Reactor Location

In our previous report we stated that the site of the reactor is Kyauk Pa Toe (aka Kyauk Pha Htoe), near Tha Beik Kyin. While we do not yet have a confirmation of this, we have received additional information about the SPDC’s efforts to keep its location secret.

Even the technicians who were trained to build the reactor were not allowed to know its site. In June 2006, there was an information leak, and the officers for the program were called to Naypyidaw and interrogated. This is apparently a reference to the information that was published by Bertil Lintner in a July 2006 Asia Times article, which said that North Korean technicians had been seen at Natmauk, a town to the east of Magwe.

We have now learned that a 10-megawatt reactor was being built (or was intended to be built) in Myaing Township, Magwe Division, and further that it was to use heavy water and, for that reason, that it would be able to produce plutonium.

This leaves us with two plausible reactor sites, Myaing Township and Kyauk Pa Toe. One scenario that could explain this discrepancy is that the SPDC’s original plan was to locate the reactor in Magwe, but that this subsequently changed, perhaps because, as The Irrawaddy reported, it is an earthquake zone. In any case, while Magwe remains a possibility, there is also a strong source identification for Tha Beik Kyin.

Uranium activities

We have received additional information about Burma’s uranium deposits, which helps confirm our prior reports. Uranium ore that is commercially exploitable exists in the Kyauk Pyon, Paungpyin and Kyauk Sin areas. In addition, uranium prospecting has occurred or is underway in southern Tenasserim, Karenni State (the Loikaw area), Moehnyin in Kachin State, and in areas west of Taunggyi.

Uranium milling is in progress at Tha Beik Kyin. Further, and as we speculated in our last report, we have received information that a program to enrich milled uranium (yellowcake) to U-235 has also begun at Tha Beik Kyin. The entire operation at this location is now referred to as Nuclear Battalion-1.

We have also had confirmed that in early 2006, yellowcake was sold to North Korea. In July 2006, the regime purchased from North Korea nuclear activation equipment for use in uranium enrichment and also for the production of plutonium. While we do not know the precise nature of this equipment, there is a good probability, given the other information, that it includes centrifuges. At least one North Korean nuclear expert is now working in Tha Beik Kyin.

We further have confirmation that a related Military Research Center was built in the Setkhya range (aka Sa Kyin) near Lun Kyaw, which area is also reportedly a Nuclear Battalion, and that there is a Civilian Research Center in Kyaukse Township. There are also Russian nuclear experts in Pyin U Lwin, who give refresher courses to the state scholars after they return home.

Military modernization and Napyidaw defense

The SPDC has made a great effort to purchase major weapons systems and to modernize its armed forces. We can now report the following significant acquisitions.

In 2002, the junta bought 122 mm howitzers from North Korea. From China Northern Industries Corporation, it bought fifteen large radars for air force use. These radars were installed at Mingaladon Air Force base; Namsan Air Force base; the radar base at the top of Nat-ye-gan Mountain in Ann Township; Hainggyi Island radar base; and Koko Island radar base. Moreover, for sea and coastal security the regime installed naval-use radars, on Pyin Wain, Take Soon and Ta-pin-hmaw islands in the Irrawaddy Division; on Kyun Thaya, Mayu, Man-aung and Nantha islands in Arakan State; and on eight islands in Tenasserim Division. In 2002, it also bought, from Russia, ten MIG-29s; as well as, in February 2005, missile launchers and trucks; and, in November 2006, 122 mm and 240 mm missiles.

Naval officers are enrolled in training courses in India and Russia. In India, they attend a Ship Simulator Course, and in Russia Anti-Ship Firing and Missile courses. From September 2007, the SPDC started to buy twenty-eight anti-ship missile carriers, in batches, and the related missiles. India together with China are also both selling and giving weapons to Burma. In 2007, India gave 76 mm and 75 mm mountain batteries and 120 mm anti-aircraft batteries, for ten anti-aircraft battalions.

Before 2000, there were only two artillery divisions in Burma. By 2004, the heavy weapons force had been expanded to ten artillery divisions and one rocket division.

Since the move of the military headquarters to Pyinmana, fiber optic cables have been used to communicate with the regional commands. A Wide Area Network (WAN) is used to connect strategic locations including the defense perimeter of Naypyidaw, the radar bases in Rangoon Division, the air force bases, the naval bases, etc. In addition, for the defense of Pyinmana, the ten battalions of MOC 6 are posted in the area. An anti-aircraft battalion is stationed at Taung Nyo in the Pegu Yoma range, another anti-aircraft battalion is to the east of Wegyi and Thawutti, and a number of anti-aircraft missiles are based in Pyinmana itself. For additional security for Naypyidaw, two armored battalions are stationed between Pyawbwe and Pyinmana towns, and three artillery battalions and the No. 901 Artillery Operation Command are in the Bawnetgyi-Payagyi area, in Pegu Division.

For signal communications security, the SPCD is developing its own wireless systems. Prior to 2006, XD-D6M machines were used. They could generate wavelengths of from .01 to 99 meters, and the signal could be intercepted easily. For that reason, the SPDC instructed the Armed Forces Main Communications Factory to produce new devices. In 2006, the factory created a new wireless device, with Chinese technical assistance, and it was tentatively named 2006M1. The new machines produce wavelengths of from .00001 to .00009 meters. It is reportedly quite difficult to intercept messages sent over the new machines.

The SPDC is also developing computer software to replace the manual firing programs for the 76 mm and 120 mm artillery, mortars, 25 Pounder and 105 mm howitzers, etc. There has also been software research for forward observation systems both from the ground and the air.

The defense industry factories No. 16 and 19 have been extensively modified so that they may produce spare parts. (Chinese and Russian weapons are notorious for regularly needing replacement parts, and the weapons also wear out more quickly in the tropics.) The SPDC had Chinese and North Korean experts modify factory No. 14 so that it is able to produce medium-range rockets. Construction of factory No. 14 was started in 2000 in Ngapeh Township of Magwe Division and it is believed to be in operation. Approximately 3,000 military engineers are working in the factory. (Note: Our last report estimated that it would be five years before the SPDC could produce medium-range rockets, but it referred to Russian-made guided rockets, so this could be a separate project.)


The fact that the SPDC is aggressively seeking nuclear weapons (not to mention all of its other programs) should make the leaders of Thailand, and the world, extremely concerned. The appeasement policy of the Thai government and the International Community towards the junta must be reversed. The SPDC is a threat of the greatest severity. It must be stopped. Since the Security Council, with Russian and Chinese vetoes, is unable to act, there must be an alternative solution. The only real options are for the U.S., either alone or with other concerned nations (Thailand?), to assist the people of the country to free themselves, using whatever means are required.

At the moment, though, there is a conspiracy of silence even to acknowledge this threat. Thailand, the U.S. and other nations are preoccupied with other problems. There is no desire to recognize publicly another new crisis. We therefore must force the issue.

We at Dictator Watch recognize the need for the media to confirm its sources and to only publish news after it has been verified. But, we also understand that there is such a thing as investigative journalism. For situations as serious as this, we are surprised that there are apparently not major investigations underway, by leading media outlets. After all, there are innumerable dissatisfied people inside the SPDC, including many who should have knowledge of the intelligence that we have revealed. It should not be that difficult to secure independent confirmation.

Our reports to date have served to alert the Burmese, NGO and intelligence communities, but because there has been no major media coverage the world at large is as yet uninformed. Most importantly, this lack of coverage means that political leaders, in Thailand, the U.S., at the U.N., etc., can continue to act as if there is not a problem.

The fact that the new U.S. Burma law requires the Secretary of State to prepare a report on the SPDC’s programs for weapons of mass destruction is a good start, and something to which we would be pleased to contribute. However, a threat of this severity requires more than a report.

Written by Lwin Aung Soe

August 8, 2008 at 3:05 am

World focus on Burma (3 August 2008)

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New UN rapporteur arrives in Burma

Bangkok Post, Thailand –

Rangoon (dpa) – A United Nations rapporteur arrived in Burma Sunday to discuss human-rights concerns, diplomatic officials said. Tomas Ojea Quintana, on his …


Might is no longer just right

The Age, Australia –

Burma’s closest ally is China, with whom it shares a long border, while it is also a member of ASEAN. China, India and ASEAN — who largely make up the …

Politics part of arena in which Bush attends games

News & Observer, NC –

Then in Thailand, Bush will draw attention to the repressed citizens in neighboring Myanmar, also called Burma, and reflect on the future of US policy in …

New faces in new places

Schenectady Gazette, NY –

The Asian population in the Capital Region has increased about 150 percent from 1990 to 2006. The Capital Region had a small base of about 10388 Asians in …


San Francisco Chronicle, USA –

… poor human rights situation in China, the crackdown in Tibet, and Beijing’s support for the genocidal regime in Sudan and the military junta in Burma. …

Insein Prison (round complex) is shown in a satellite image. “Prison happens to be the longest-running political seminar in Burma,” a former inmate says. (Digital Globe Via Google Earth)

Washington Post, United States –

Human rights groups say more than 1800 political detainees languish long-term in about 20 prisons and labor camps in Burma, also called Myanmar. …

US Must Give UN The Boot

Tampa Tribune, FL –

Or, wring its hands when Burma suffered through a devastating hurricane. Humanitarian aid? Obviously not the UN’s table. Instead, the UN elected Zimbabwe to …

Myanmar Muslims stay put despite Bangladesh misery

Trend News Agency, Azerbaijan –

A Rohingya elder, Suriyaya Begam said returning to Myanmar would make life worse for her people. “We were tortured in Burma. Our mosque was attacked. …

Turkey: A battle in the war of elites

Arab News, Saudi Arabia –

… individuals from participating in presidential or parliamentary elections; or as Burma, which is ruled by a pernicious and corrupt military junta. …

Mia Farrow

Mia Farrow

Huffington Post, NY –
It was a missed opportunity for the United States of America to stand strong for the anguished people of Darfur and Burma as well as for the Tibetans in …

Iran to attend its first SAARC summit

Tehran Times, Iran –

Australia and Burma have shown interest in becoming a part of the South Asian regional bloc. Accordingly the Colombo Summit is likely to consider their …

:. Situation of Human Rights in Kashmir

Kashmir Watch, Pakistan –

The torture and imprisonment in Indian-occupied Kashmir is no less intense as it is in Burma. In fact the pain, suffering and humiliation in Kashmir is …

Written by Lwin Aung Soe

August 3, 2008 at 2:44 am

World focus on Burma (1 August 2008)


Burmese cruises cancelled

Sydney Morning Herald, Australia –

The 108-passenger riverboat was to resume trips in September, following repairs to damage caused during May’s devastating cyclone. …

New UN Rights Rapporteur to visit Burma, India –

New Delhi — The newly appointed United Nations Human Rights Rapporteur for Burma will embark on his first visit to the Southeast Asian nation next week, …

Pelosi to Bush: It Is Essential That You Speak Out for Human …

MarketWatch –

On the eve of your trip to China to attend the 2008 Summer Olympic Games, the human rights situation in China and Tibet is worsening and new restrictions …

Advertisers try to do good!

Ode Magazine, CA –

However with the natural disasters in both Burma and China rightfully dominating the world media – and thus eclipsing the Tibet issue – we felt the need to …

Burma Organizes Field Trip to Cyclone-Affected Areas for Foreign …, OR –

The Government of Myanmar organized a field trip involving more than 148 representatives of foreign missions, UN agencies, international non-governmental …

Burma: UN Revises Relief Funds, Recovery Projects in Wake of Cyclone, OR –

THE United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization’s revised US$33.5 million appeal for Myanmar will directly target more than 150000 delta households the …

Burma Signs Landmark ASEAN Charter at Foreign Ministers’ Meeting …, OR –

… Mr Lee Hsien Loong, highlighted the important role ASEAN has played in helping Myanmar deal with the devastation caused by the cyclone. …

Monks and students object to 2010 elections, India –

In the meantime, the junta has invited UN special envoy Mr. Ibrahim Gambari to visit to Burma in mid-August. But pro-democracy opposition forces do not …

Between old and new

The Australian, Australia –

And the contrast between a truly totalitarian country such as Burma and contemporary China was made clear by their governments’ responses to their …

Another “Bright Shining Lie”

Huffington Post, NY –

If the communists took Indochina, Thailand would fall, then Burma and on across the Asian sub-continent. Jingoists, confused over which way the dominoes …

Hmong: Repatriation by Laotian Government Condemned

UNPO, Netherlands –

It is also know as the Lao Peoples Democratic Republic (LPDR) and is ruled by a military junta which remains a staunch ally of Burma and North Korea. …

Bush looks to Thai trip to raise Burma awareness, India –

Burma’s generals have long drawn the ire of the human rights community, most recently over the inadequate and inefficient handling of relief operations in …

Myanmar cyclone disaster funding falls flat

Monsters and –

Yangon – While the 2004 tsunami that killed a quarter of a million people in Asia sparked a tidal wave of aid from the world community, so far Myanmar’s …

Actor who helped cyclone Nargis victims could get two years in prison, Italy –

… CDs (showing cyclone-hit areas in Irrawaddy and Yangon) and about a thousand dollars for cyclone victims. In the last few days Burma’s military junta, …

Scotland: Burma Demo August 9th 12.30pm

Amnesty International UK, UK –

On 8 August 1988 (8/8/88) hundreds of thousands of people took to the streets in Burma to protest against human rights abuses by the ruling military junta.

Exile says democracy in Myanmar needs new military

International Herald Tribune, France –

He was speaking ahead of demonstrations planned in Manila to mark the 20th anniversary of a failed student-led uprising in Myanmar, also known as Burma, …

Rice Supplies Stable, Prices Falling

The Irrawaddy News Magazine, Thailand –

Burma lost many of its paddy farms and thousands of tons of stored rice following Cyclone Nargis. A canoe unload rice husks from Rangoon river on July 24 in …

Press for Release of Political Prisoners, Say Activists

The Irrawaddy News Magazine, Thailand –

Benjamin Zawacki, an Amnesty International researcher on Burma, said, “We will hope that the special rapporteur can persuade the government of Myanmar to …

Living through the age of denial

Asia Times Online, Hong Kong –

By then, my father, a major in the US Army Air Corps and operations officer for the 1st Air Commando Group in Burma (now Myanmar), had, I believe, …

Business Roundup (August 1, 2008)

The Irrawaddy News Magazine, Thailand –

“Progress on this front is being seen as a big positive in the bilateral ties between the two countries, which had soured after Myanmar [Burma] decided to …

Junta May Allow More Daily Newspapers

The Irrawaddy News Magazine, Thailand –

The Myanmar Times was formed in 2000 by Ross Dunkley and Sunny Swe, a son of one of Burma’s then high ranking military intelligence officers, Brig-Gen Thein …

Bush and Burma

The Irrawaddy News Magazine, Thailand –

By AUNG ZAW US President George W Bush has never been to Burma, and he once called the country’s detained Nobel Peace Prize laureate “Aung Suu San Kyi,” …

‘You could still see bodies floating about’

Filey Today, UK –

Rev Hattan said: “After the cyclone, in one sense I wanted to go even more and stand with those people who had a hard enough life as it was. …

Teacher makes final push in barefoot trek

Scotsman, United Kingdom –

A TEACHER who is walking barefoot to London to raise funds and awareness of human rights abuses in Burma is set to arrive on Monday.

Bomb blasts in two states in Burma

The Standard, Hong Kong –

The blasts, hitting an electricity pylon and telephone operator office, were blamed on ethnic Karen anti-government insurgents by the New Light of Myanmar …

Cyclone Nargis Response Update, 01 Aug 2008

ReliefWeb (press release), Switzerland –

Cyclone Nargis struck Myanmar’s Ayeyarwaddy Delta region and Yangon township on the 2nd of May, 2008. At last count, 138000 people were left dead or missing …

China Farms Abroad

Asia Sentinel, Hong Kong –

This is especially true in Southeast Asia, with its operations extending into Burma, Laos, the Philippines and Indonesia. As evidence of the country’s …

Identity Crisis

Sin Chew Jit Poh, Malaysia –

Because of lack of basic rights and opportunities, hilltribes like the Karen see tourism as a way of living. (Photo courtesy: JAOWATANA/ The Nation) A Hmong …

From power plants to planning board

Laconia Citizen, NH –

Favorite trip ever was a monthlong visit to the countries of Thailand and Myanmar (Burma) in 2004. Mountain hiking was my sport for many years and I earned …

Moving Too Slowly

THE BIRTH: A signing ceremony at the very first meeting of the Asean in Bangkok on 8 Aug 1967. (Photo courtesy: AFP)

Sin Chew Jit Poh, Malaysia –

For instance, Burma’s record on human rights and democratic advancement is quite distinct. Indonesia will certainly strive to make respect for democracy, …

Myanmar charges comedian with public order offence

Reuters –

As one of the former Burma’s most recognised public faces, Zarganar had been a focal point of the informal relief effort by private citizens into the delta. …

Bush: Burma’s Neighbors Not Interested in Sanctions

The Irrawaddy News Magazine, Thailand –

By LALIT K JHA WASHINGTON — US President George W Bush said on Thursday that neighboring countries do not favor economic sanctions against Burma, …

President Bush: US not neglecting Asia

The Associated Press –

He is to meet with activists opposed to the military regime in Myanmar during his Bangkok stay and will raise human rights and religious issues when he …

China in ‘No Mood for Criticism’

No one will be able to say there’s a shortage of ‘security’ at the

2008 Olympic Games WATCH, NY –

And on Wednesday, the US House of Representatives passed a resolution calling on China to end its human rights abuses and stop supporting the regime in …

President Bush: US not neglecting Asia

The Associated Press –

Another theme of his trip will be human rights: He plans to meet with activists opposed to Myanmar’s ruling junta while in Bangkok and raise human rights …

Richard Weiner, Managing Partner of Sidley Austin’s Brussels Office (subscription), CA –

National Foreign Trade Council], was about whether the Commonwealth of Massachusetts could have its own foreign policy with respect to Burma when it was in …

UN rights envoy travels to Burma before uprising anniversary

The Standard, Hong Kong –

A United Nations human rights envoy is heading to Burma for meetings with junta officials in a visit that comes days before the 20th anniversary of a …

An ill wind that blows good, Canada –

Witnessing For Christ, an indigenous ministry based in Burma (Myanmar) that is assisted by Intercede International based in Fort Erie, Ontario, …

Group reflects on a busy year

Wellington Times, Australia –

… the primary school breakfast program, Meals on Wheels and the appeal for the Burma cyclone which was closely followed by the China earthquake appeal. …

Bush picks Bangkok to declare US-asia links

Nation Multimedia, Thailand –

Asked whether First Lady Laura Bush will be speaking on behalf of democracy fighters in Burma, Bush replied: “I have no doubt about that. …

Bush Issues Another Executive Order Concerning Intelligence

OpEdNews, PA –

… are wrong to only characterize his orders as ranging “from restrictions on striped bass fishing to sanctions against Myanmar’s [Burma’s] government. …

Bush vows to ‘press hard’ for democracy

Bangkok Post, Thailand –

”[But] there’s a difference [between us] about how hard people should push for democracy in Burma. I’m at one end of the ledger. …

Bush: US remains very engaged in Far East

Bangkok Post, Thailand –

There’s a difference about how hard people should push for democracy in Burma. I’m at one end of the ledger. And we’ll continue to press hard. …

Burma junta gives go-ahead for visit by new UN Human rights rapporteur

Radio Australia, Australia –

The new UN Human Rights rapporteur for Burma, Tomas Ojea Quintana, will conduct his first mission next week after getting the go-ahead from the military …

Olympics: US resolution upsets China, UK –

The exiles include Wei Jingsheng, a democracy activist who spent nearly 20 years in prison before seeking exile in the US, and a Uighur rights campaigner, …

Brown’s courage and vision deficit knows no borders, UK –

As for Zimbabwe and Burma, it might feel good to express fury about human rights abuses but having an effect is another matter. …

New UN rapporteur to vist Burma next week

Bangkok Post, Thailand –

… the people of Myanmar,” the council said in a press release announcing the visit. The UN uses the name for Burma adopted by the military dictatorship. …

UN human rights expert to visit Myanmar next week (press release), New Zealand –

31 July 2008 – The United Nations Special Rapporteur on the human rights situation in Myanmar will conduct his first mission to the Asian country next week …

Roundtable Interview of the President by Foreign Print Media (press release), DC –

There’s a difference about how hard people should push for democracy in Burma. I’m at one end of the ledger. And we’ll continue to press hard. …

What better time than the Olympics to extinguish the flames of …

J. – the Jewish News weekly of Northern California, CA –

But it is also a time to remind the Chinese government of their responsibility to address the human rights violations in Tibet, Burma and Sudan, …

Burmese monks and students lashes at the UN for back stepping

Asian Tribune, Thailand –

We expect that he will similarly employ his moral authority in Burma/Myanmar, stand up for the rights of the people of Burma/Myanmar and call the outcome of …

Months after Myanmar cyclone, one million yet to receive help, aid …

Atlanta Journal Constitution, USA –

Myanmar, formerly known as Burma, is ruled by a junta that is leery of outsiders, and initially international aid agencies also had trouble getting …

Beijing Olympics: Myanmar to send six athletes to the Games, United Kingdom –

… the 20th anniversary of a pro-democracy uprising led by students in Myanmar. The military, which has ruled the country formerly known as Burma since …

“Dr. No” stands alone yet again

Campaign for Liberty Blog, Va. –

Certainly I do not condone human rights abuses, wherever they may occur, but as Members of the US House of Representatives we have no authority over the

Asia Beat: Jul 31 08

The Asian Pacific Post, Canada

MIa-FarrowRangoon, Burma

Actress Mia Farrow has joined other prominent female activists to slam Burma’s ruling junta on its human rights record in the aftermath of Cyclone Nargis. The women’s groups called for better protection from violence, an end to forced labour and better safeguarding of their human rights. Cyclone Nargis swept through Burma’s southwestern delta region in May leaving 138,000 people dead or missing.

Myanmar: What is the 8888 demonstration and what was General Ne Win’s reaction?

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July 30, 2008 at 21:15:20

by Ashin Mettacara

General Ne Win, the first military ruler of Myanmar

8888 was the largest demonstration that took place in Burma. 8888 derives from the date when the demonstration began: on 8th of August 1988.

In 1987, before the 8888 uprising, the head of state General Ne Win replaced the currency notes (Kyat in Burmese), 75, 35 and 25 with newly currency notes, 45 and 90. The equation of 4+5 and 9+0 = 9. Ne Win was advised to consider 9 as lucky number by his astrologer. But General Ne Win”-s decision to replace newly currency made the economic crisis in the country worse. People were suffering more and more because of the government changing the currency.

In this regard, all students of Yangon Technological University gathered and protested on campus. But the military responded to the students by killing. A student named Phone Maw was killed in this protest. The death of Phone Maw led the 8888 demonstration on August 8, 1988 to begin. The demonstration was widespread. Buddhist monks and citizens from all walks of life came to the streets and joined in demanding for the restoration of democracy and to bring an end to the military dictatorship in Burma.

The military opened fire on the demonstrators and more than 3000 people were killed. But the military government said as usual that the death toll was only a few.

There was a remarkable word said by General Ne Win: “Guns were not to shoot upwards” which means that the military is ordered to shoot directly to the people who are opposing.–What-is-the-8888–by-Ashin-Mettacara-080730-376.html

Written by Lwin Aung Soe

July 31, 2008 at 4:42 am

BROWN: Burmese generals surfing the Internet

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Sunday, July 6, 2008


Military trucks are park outside a government building in Yangon, November 8, 2005, waiting to carry away records and other …

With the push of a button, the generals in Burma can instantly access the Internet, thanks to a U.S.-built and U.S.-financed satellite. The generals and their cronies have been doing this for months as the Export-Import Bank of the United States (U.S. Ex-Im Bank) and the U.S. State Department which together made it possible, stand by silently.

In this instance, the U.S. government was apparently more than eager to see a U.S. company, Loral, build and deliver a sophisticated broadband satellite to a Thailand-based telecommunications company known as Thaicom, formerly Shin Satellite.

At first glance, there appears to be nothing wrong here, but scratch the surface and the Thaicom-Burma connection quickly appears. It was well-established and well-known to all parties concerned long before the satellite in question even reached the launch pad in 2005.

Keep in mind that the White House including first lady Laura Bush, and the U.S. Congress have been quite vocal in condemning the government of Burma, officially called Myanmar. In 2007, for example, President Bush extended for another year the national emergency first signed by President Clinton in 1997. Add to the list the Burmese Freedom and Democracy Act of 2003, and the executive order signed by President Bush that same year.

So the message to Burma has been clear, while the gap that divides the United States and the government of Thailand when it comes to Burma grows larger. Unlike Thailand, engaging Burma has not been the preference of the American government, and U.S. companies are strictly forbidden from doing any business with the government of Burma, although these rules simply do not apply to businesses in Thailand.

More than six years ago, as the human-rights record of the junta in Burma was steadily deteriorating, American taxpayers quietly provided financial backing for construction of the broadband satellite for Thaicom via $190 million in loan guarantees provided U.S. Ex-Im Bank. The French government stepped up and provided loan guarantees for launch services.

America’s dislike for the junta did not prevent Thaicom’s ties to the government of Burma from strengthening. In 2004, for example, the Ex-Im Bank of Thailand rolled out a massive, multimillion-dollar loan to Burma that helped finance telecommunications equipment for the Burmese generals, including a substantial number of broadband satellite terminals to enable Thaicom’s services to be delivered throughout Burma.

The government of Burma and all the assorted businesses run by Burmese generals no doubt constitute the largest pool of satellite broadband customers for Thaicom in Burma, before and after the cyclone. The fact that former Thai Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra created and ran Thaicom’s parent company, Shin Corp., cannot go unmentioned. Shin Corp. is now owned by Temasek Holdings of Singapore, which holds a 41 percent stake in Thaicom and remains its largest shareholder.

Since the satellite itself was launched in 2005, Thaicom has steadily expanded its presence in Burma. And in early 2008, Myanmar Posts and Telecommunications and Thaicom signed a new pair of contracts. This was followed by news that the final remaining portion of the above-mentioned 2004 Ex-Im Bank of Thailand telecom loan is to be handed over to the generals in Burma this year as well.

The response of the U.S. State Department, and the U.S. Ex-Im Bank while all this has unfolded has been to say absolutely nothing. Apparently, when the government of Burma gains access to U.S.-funded satellite broadband technology, the official U.S. response is to simply look the other way and ignore everything that is happening.

So the generals in Burma and their buddies go on surfing the Internet, casually using a U.S.-built satellite in the process while knowing that what truly represents a dark stain on U.S. policymaking in Southeast Asia will no doubt be ignored altogether.

Peter J. Brown is a Maine-based free-lance writer who writes frequently about satellite industry trends and developments in Asia.

Written by Lwin Aung Soe

July 6, 2008 at 4:08 am