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အာဏာရွင္စနစ္ က်ဆံုးမွ တတိုင္းျပည္လံုး စစ္မွန္တဲ့ ဒီမိုကေရစီကို ခံစားရမယ္

Posts Tagged ‘Regime

Dirty list of foreign companies supporting the regime in Burma

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the dirty list with company contact details

Dear friends,
We’ve just launched our new edition of the “Dirty List”. It’s the biggest list we’ve ever produced, containing 170 companies that directly or indirectly fund Burma’s brutal regime.
Thanks to your emails over the past year many companies have pulled out of Burma, depriving the regime of hundreds of thousands of pounds. Remember XL insurance? Cotton Traders? Arig insurance? They’ve all pulled out in the past year. So have others like Trailblazer Guides, Jet Gold Corp, CHC and Aquatic.

Please write to a few of these companies right now and tell them to stop bankrolling Burma’s generals:

Every single day foreign companies give millions of dollars to the regime; allowing them to buy the bullets, guns and supplies for the army that keeps them in power. These companies are financing a regime that rapes five-year-old girls, shoots peaceful protestors and leaves storm victims to die.

This is your chance to speak directly to the companies that fund the regime. Tell them why what they’re doing is wrong. Tell them why they must respect the wishes of Burma’s democracy movement and pull out of Burma now:

Do let us know if you receive any replies. You can send them to

Thank you for your continued support.

Johnny Chatterton

P.S. We also just published our monthly newsletter “Last month in Burma” which gives you the latest news from Burma over the last month. You can read them for free here:

Was this email forwarded to you by a friend? If you are not already a member of the Burma Campaign UK e-mail network, and would like to receive these updates directly, you can subscribe by sending a blank e-mail to:

If you would like to unsubscribe from this mailing list, please send a blank email to:

The Burma Campaign UK
Registered Company No. 3804730
Registered office address
28 Charles Square
London N1 6HT


Written by Lwin Aung Soe

December 12, 2008 at 2:20 pm

World focus on Burma (22 November 2008)

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South Africa’s Archbishop Tutu Gets Fulbright Award
Voice of America –
… but that the world’s revulsion for human rights violations in places like Darfur, Burma, Zimbabwe and Gaza shows that evil is not the norm. …

“But it’s a bigger joke on those abroad who still think ignoring repression in Burma will bring positive change,” he said.

Myanmar opposition calls for amnesty on national day
TopNews, India –
The National League for Democracy, Myanmar’s main opposition group, demanded the release all political prisoners including Aung San Suu Kyi and student …

Burmese comic gets 45 years
Chortle, UK –
… June and seized his computer after he organized a group of around 400 volunteers to provide disaster relief in the areas devastated by Cyclone Nargis. …

HMS Westminster arrives in capital for march
Portsmouth News, UK –
Westminster was also sent to offer help with the humanitarian effort in the aftermath of Cyclone Nargis. The full article contains 182 words and appears in …

Comedian gets 45 years – criticized Burma junta
San Francisco Chronicle,  USA –
… and 14 members of detained Nobel Peace laureate Aung San Suu Kyi’s party got 2 1/2 years each for calling for her release on her birthday in June, …

Comedian gets 45-year term as Burma punishes activism
Boston Globe, United States –
AP / November 22, 2008 RANGOON, Burma – Burma’s courts continued a crackdown on activists yesterday, giving a 45-year prison sentence to a comedian who went …

Burma Eats Its Young
New Yorker, United States –
After Aung San Suu Kyi, these two men are the leaders of Burma’s democracy movement, and a source of intense admiration and inspiration among the young …

Opposition big shots spurn 2010 elections
Shan Herald Agency for News, Thailand –
… the democratic opposition led by Aung San Suu Kyi and non-Burman ethnic states, was formed by exiles led by the late Chao Tzang Yawnghwe (1939-2004), …

Myanmar Gives Comedian 45-Year Sentence for Cyclone Comments
New York Times, United States –
Those sentenced have included some 70 members of the opposition National League for Democracy, the party of Daw Aung San Suu Kyi, the detained Nobel …

Rights group says Myanmar judges should be referred to ICC
Despite the September release [JURIST report] of more than 9000 political prisoners, human rights groups estimate that more than 2100 Burmese remain …

Human rights calls
Bangkok Post, Thailand –
Asean governments will be urged next month to call for a Commission of Inquiry on Burma by the UN Human Rights Council. But the new Asean Human Rights Body …

Comedian gets jail for criticizing junta
Washington Times, DC –

AP RANGOON, Burma | Burma’s courts continued a crackdown on activists Friday, handing out a 45-year prison sentence to a comedian who went to the delta to …

Importance of ‘responsibility to protect’ outlined at conference
Irish Times, Ireland –
… invoking the principle – for example, in the aftermath of Cyclone Nargis in Burma last spring – had not helped to build wider acceptance of the idea. …

Chinese living longer but wealth gap widening: UN
ABC Online, Australia –
“You’ve also got trafficking of women from even poorer places, for example Myanmar (Burma) and Laos, into these villages in China now to provide wives for …

In short
Irish Times, Ireland –
(Reuters) RANGOON – A hip-hop star in military-ruled Burma has been jailed for six years for being part of a political group, the latest in a string of …

Burma jails comedian for 45 years
Independent, UK –
More than 100 activists, including Buddhist monks, students and members of the opposition National League for Democracy have been convicted in the past two …

Myanmar on US agenda
Straits Times, Singapore –
The United States refers to Myanmar as Burma, the name used before it was changed by the military junta. Mr Marciel’s visit to Japan will take place on Dec …

Tea room pours good cheer
East Valley Tribune, AZ –
“We have sent women to retreats, and we have sent women onto the Navajo Nation, and we have purchased property in Myanmar (formerly Burma) to help build a …

Journalist gets 45 years in prison, others sentenced
CPJ Press Freedom Online, NY –
New York, November 21, 2008–A Burmese court sentenced entertainer and activist Maung Thura–known by his stage name, “Zarganar”–to 45 years in prison …

Magazine Breaks News on Organ Harvesting in China
The Epoch Times, NY –
24 issue, “China’s Gruesome Organ Harvest ” by Ethan Gutmann, asks why the world’s media, human rights organizations, and governments are not investigating …

RIGHTS: Landmines Banned, And Still Kill Thousands
Inter Press Service, Italy –
Investigations by Human Rights Watch concluded that at least 16 civilians died as a result of these weapons, which are known to tear limbs off a victim’s …

Burma: Cyclone-hit monasteries in need
Spero News –
By IRIN Scores of monasteries in cyclone-affected Myanmar are in urgent need of repair almost seven months after the category four storm struck. …

PEN Canada Honorary Member and One Humanity Award winner ZARGANA …
Canada NewsWire (press release), Canada –
21 /CNW/ – PEN Canada is appalled by the forty-five year prison sentence handed down today by the Myanmar regime to Burmese poet and comedian Zargana (Maung …

Daily Press Briefing
US Department of State, DC –
Burma will also be discussed. He will travel to Tokyo to consult with Japanese officials regarding human rights, democracy, and other concerns in Burma on …

For Andrew K
The Young Turks, CA –
More than 100 activists have been sentenced over the past two weeks in a judicial crackdown across the spectrum of Burma’s pro-democracy movement. …

Myanmar Junta Jails Comedian for 45 Years
New York Times, United States –
By SHARON OTTERMAN A secret court run by Myanmar’s military leadership sentenced a prominent Burmese comedian and activist to 45 years in prison on Friday, …

Myanmar court hands comedian 45-year prison term
The Associated Press –
… for their jokes about the junta, and several other activists delivered donations of relief supplies to the Cyclone Nargis-shattered Irrawaddy delta. …

Top US Agenda at Asia-Pacific Meeting is the Financial Crisis
NewsBlaze, CA –
Topics of discussion will include follow-up from the G20 meeting; nuclear proliferation challenges from North Korea and Iran; developments in Burma, …

Insein prison trials called insult to rule of law and …
Reporters without borders (press release), France –
… trade unions and political activists.” They added: “All of Burma’s lifeblood has been neutralised and silenced by a subservient judicial system. …

World focus on Burma (14 September 2008)

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The Asian century still a long way off
Sydney Morning Herald, Australia –
“The Thais, all they care about is money, nothing else,” one Burmese acquaintance told me in Rangoon, despite never having been to Thailand. …

Aung San Suu Kyi meets doctor amid health worries: witnesses

YANGON (AFP) — Myanmar’s detained democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi met for several hours with her physician Sunday, witnesses said, amid worries for her …

Myanmar loosens some strictures on Aung San Suu Kyi
International Herald Tribune, France –
By Seth Mydans BANGKOK: Myanmar’s military junta will allow the pro-democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi to receive letters from her two sons as well as some …

Nobel laureate from Iran urges against military action
Los Angeles Times, CA –
… up political pressure on the military regime to democratize the nation and free Aung San Suu Kyi, the Burmese opposition leader and 1991 Nobel laureate. …

Rambo-type people less likely to survive disasters!
Entertainment and Showbiz!, India –
To reach the conclusion, Gonzales reviewed miraculous tales of survival from catastrophes like the Burmese cyclone, September 11 attacks and the Boxing Day …

Newspaper: 2 bomb blasts in central Myanmar kill 2
The Associated Press –
The military, which has ruled Myanmar, also called Burma, since 1962, has been widely criticized for suppressing basic freedoms.

Resources center will aid refugee influx
Some of its programs will be specifically for refugees from Myanmar, formerly known as Burma. Thousands of refugees from Myanmar have resettled in Fort …

Beloved Leader would be mourned by more than those in North Korea
Sunday Herald, UK –
… event of Kim’s demise – think a military-style junta along the lines of that seen in Burma – there would be inevitable tensions over the nuclear issue. …

Climate change challenges
The Daily Star, Bangladesh –
In December last year I visited Bangladesh and met people who had lost their homes, their possessions and in many cases their loved ones in Cyclone Sidr. …

Man sets out to retrace his ancestor’s trek around the world …
Chicago Sun-Times, United States –
Tempas, who has been in touch with the State Department, will skip Myanmar, formerly known as Burma, because of political unrest. …

Suu Kyi to appeal to Myanmar junta for her release: lawyer
YANGON (AFP) — Detained democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi will soon submit her first-ever personal appeal for release to Myanmar’s ruling junta, …

India ‘must not show weakness to China’, United Kingdom –
On India’s eastern flank, China has allied with Burma’s military regime and begun constructing another deep water port on the Bay of Bengal. …

Written by Lwin Aung Soe

September 14, 2008 at 1:48 am

World focus on Burma (6 September 2008)

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US and UK Anti-money Laundering Requirements Compared
International Law Office, UK –
The Burma sanctions currently in force in the United Kingdom target specific individuals and entities in Burma. The US sanctions are broader. …

NLD Calls Junta to Ensure Well-being of Suu Kyi
The Irrawaddy News Magazine, Thailand –
By AP RANGOON — The political party of detained opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi urged Burma’s military government Friday to ensure her well-being as she …

Junta Cracks Down on Monks, Activists
The Irrawaddy News Magazine, Thailand –
By SAW YAN NAING Perhaps fearing another uprising during the anniversary of last year’s demonstrations, Burmese security forces are now closely monitoring …

Around the world in eighty ways. . ., Ireland –
Burma had been hit by a cyclone, and China had had an earthquake. “We were kind of stuck, but two days after we arrived, the monarch was ousted and the …

So Far, It Just Isn’t Looking Like Asia’s Century
Washington Post, United States –
One of the most expensive pictures in Thai history, it told the story of an ancient Thai queen who died fighting Burmese invaders — and compounded Thais’ …

Myanmar: Two MMO members acquitted in Maungdaw
The Muslim News, UK –
Some locals believe that Dr. Nurul Hoque alias Dr. Tun Aung, the Chairman of Township Islam Religion Council (IRC) of Burma complained to the authorities …

Burma: Journalist Arrested After Article on Double Murder
UNPO, Netherlands –
… has voiced support for Burma’s military junta and said that international talks on the future of the country should be held without Aung San Suu Kyi.

Malta and International press digest
Times of Malta, Malta –
Irrawaddy reports that members close to Burma’s detained democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi say she has refused to accept food rations for the past three …

In Brief……. (Suu Kyi refuses food)
Dispatch Online, South Africa –
Sapa-AFP BURMA ’S detained democratic leader Aung San Suu Kyi had refused to accept food rations for three weeks, her party said yesterday, calling on the …

Aung San Suu Kyi reported on hunger strike
United Press International –
The league won parliamentary elections in 1990, but the military junta ruling the country formerly known as Burma refused to relinquish power. …

The sands of peace
National Post, Canada –
High oil prices arm despots against their own people, as with Burma’s military regime; they finance terrorism abroad, as with Iran; and they make dreams of …

Strong and ancient links with Burma
Scotsman, United Kingdom –
After Cyclone Nargis struck in May, the Scottish Government immediately backed the Myanmar (Burma) Cyclone Appeal and encouraged all Scots to do the same. …

A pioneering Scot who has dedicated his life to Burma
Scotsman, United Kingdom –
His third book, Pandaw: The Irrawaddy Flotilla Company & the Rivers of Myanmar, is about the company he helped revive and the history of the flotilla. …

Burma’s junta gave best help in cyclone, says UN
Financial Times, UK –
By Andrew Jack in London The Burmese authorities were by far the greatest providers of medical assistance to its population after cyclone Nargis despite the …

Country could face critical rice shortage
It all depends on how much the junta has stored for an emergency, and whether the ordinary Burmese people will rise up in protest if supplies run short. …

Women take up fight for equality
Calcutta Telegraph, India –
“The Indian government had promised us to help in our struggle for democracy against the Burma military regime. We thought it would do another East Pakistan …

Burma: Building upon success
ReliefWeb (press release), Switzerland –
Three months after Cyclone Nargis, the world has an outdated image of the situ¬ation inside Burma. Although aid agencies delivered assistance within days …

Which stones are substitutes for rubies?
National Jeweler Network, NY –

Answer: Rubies from Myanmar (still commonly called Burma) range widely in price, from top-value, high-clarity stones mined in the Mogok Stone Tract to small …

Helen hopes to cross finish line in marathon effort
Worcester News,  UK –

“I decided to run for the Red Cross back in May after seeing television footage of the Chinese earthquake and the cyclone that hit Burma. …

Burmese Regime Fails To Cooperate

Voice of America –

It is difficult to imagine any real political progress in Burma until the country’s leading democracy advocate is released. Indeed, Aung San Suu Kyi has …

World focus on Burma (3 September 2008)

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Daw Suu’s lawyer disputes regime account of meeting
Democratic Voice of Burma, Norway –
The state-run New Light of Myanmar reported on the meeting, stating that Daw Aung San Suu Kyi had had her request granted to meet her lawyer for 55 minutes …

Aung San Suu Kyi honoured with Dundee freedom award, India –
New Delhi – Burma’s imprisoned pro-democracy leader Daw Aung San Suu Kyi has been honoured with the ‘Dundee freedom award’ for her courageous struggle to …

Aung San Suu Kyi refuses to meet her doctor: Junta media, India –
New Delhi – Burma’s state controlled media on Wednesday said detained opposition leader Daw Aung San Suu Kyi has refused to meet her family doctor, …

Vershbow Calls for More Attention to Human Rights
코리아타임즈, South Korea –

“There are many Koreans who will support taking a principled position on Burma’s (Myanmar) human rights record, the treatment of North Koreans in China and …

Burma Expects Better Power Supplies After Hydro Plant Completion
RedOrbit, TX –
The plant is being built under a joint venture with a consortium of Chinese companies and Myanmar’s Department of Hydroelectric Power under the Ministry of …

Legal group calls for an end to forcible disrobing of monks
Democratic Voice of Burma, Norway –
Sep 3, 2008 (DVB)–The Burma Lawyers’ Council has demanded that the junta abolish state law 20/90 on religious organisations and stop the practice of …

David Cameron: Democracy should be the work of patient craftsmanship, UK –
Liberal – because I believe in freedom, human rights and democracy, and I want to see more of these things in our world. But Conservative, because I believe …

Suu Kyi Continues Legal Battle
The Irrawaddy News Magazine, Thailand –
By WAI MOE Burma’s detained democracy leader, Aung San Suu Kyi, met with her lawyer yesterday to discuss a legal challenge to the ruling junta’s decision to …

Ceasefire groups pressured to surrender within 2009
Shan Herald Agency for News, Thailand –
There was a rumor that the Burma Army suspected Maha Ja group of having contacts with the anti-junta groups WNA and Shan State Army-South (SSA). …

Gambira to Snub Military Court
The Irrawaddy News Magazine, Thailand –
The military authorities’ bloody crackdown left at least 10 persons dead, although human rights groups claim up to 31 protesters may have been killed while …

Military backs embattled Thai government, for now
Vancouver Sun,  Canada –
… the system used by Indonesia’s former dictator president Suharto before he was ousted in 1998, and that being proposed by the military junta in Burma. …

Suu Kyi’s refusals indicate anger over slow reform
The Associated Press –
Myanmar, also known as Burma, has been in a political deadlock since 1990, when Suu Kyi’s party overwhelmingly won general elections but was not allowed to …

Suu Kyi rejects junta meeting: report
Sydney Morning Herald, Australia –
Burma’s detained democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi has refused to meet with the junta’s liaison officer and declined a visit from her personal physician, …

Monk Leader Requests Trial Under Buddhist Law (press release), New Zealand –
His lawyer, Aung Thein, is insistent that the military junta does not have a case against the monk leader. “There is no law in Burma forbidding persons from …

Anderson: Is our democracy healthy?
University Daily Kansan, KS –
… that entity is a democracy is like asking someone to refrain from criticizing the actions of North Korea or Burma because they’re not democracies. …

The True Test For Turtle Bay’s Burmese Connection
Wall Street Journal –
The opposition, led by the National League for Democracy leader and Nobel Laureate Aung San Suu Kyi, won more than 80% of the vote in that 1990 election, …

City freedom ceremony for Suu Kyi
BBC News, UK –
Burma’s pro-democracy leader will not be able to attend because she has been under house arrest since 2003. In total, the Nobel Peace Prize winner has spent …

The man who would be president
The News – International, Pakistan –
Pakistan’s economy, the second-worst performing after Burma in Asia, cannot afford messed-up governance. Five, what systems are in place to making …

Refugee children’s artwork on display at ASU Museum of Anthropology
Arizona State University, Tempe –
Painted by youngsters from Burma to Burundi, the images on canvas and paper illustrate the scope of refugee children’s heartache, as well as their hope. …

Burma: More than 39 activists arrested, and 21 imprisoned during …
Asian Tribune, Thailand –
Ko Tate Naing, the secretary of the AAPP, said that even though UN high level representatives visited Burma to try to solve the problems of human rights …

Thai doctor gives free limbs and self-respect, Philippines –
Soon, his noble work reached as far as areas in neighboring countries like Malaysia, Laos and Burma (Myanmar). He also invented an apparatus that could …

Mounting concern over Aung San Suu Kyi’s health
Merinews, India –
There is mounting concern round the world over reports of Noble Peace Laureate and Myanmar democracy icon Aung San Suu Kyi continuing to refuse food …

Can the Army really play the role of peacemaker
Nation Multimedia, Thailand –
… they held scores of people hostage, including Burmese diplomats and their families, demanding that the Rangoon junta release all political prisoners. …

World focus on Burma (1 Sept 2008)

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Daw Suu holds third meeting with lawyer
Democratic Voice of Burma, Norway –
Sep 1, 2008 (DVB)–Detained democracy leader Daw Aung San Suu Kyi and her lawyer U Kyi Win met for 30 minutes this morning, the National League for Democracy …

Burmese blogger conference banned
Democratic Voice of Burma, Norway –
The conference was organised by the Myanmar Computer Experts Association and was to be held at Rangoon’s International Business Centre, situated on the bank …

Mandalay puppeteers raise funds for cyclone victims
Democratic Voice of Burma, Norway –
Aid donations to victims of the cyclone which swept the Irrawaddy delta area of Burma and killed more than 100000 in early May have been gradually …

Business Roundup (September 1, 2008)
The Irrawaddy News Magazine, Thailand –
“Asean aspires to become an EU-like entity but that’s going to be impossible as long as member Myanmar [Burma] is controlled by a military dictatorship. …

Solo demonstrator sentenced to 2 years
Democratic Voice of Burma, Norway –
U Kyaw Ho, a National League for Democracy leader in Bassein, said Aye Win was first charged under sections 505(b) and 143 of the penal code for disturbing …

Free movie, popcorn offered at Pilgrim Congregational
Lexington Minuteman,  USA –
Perhaps one of the most beautiful anti-war movies, the Burmese Harp is set in Myanmar (formerly Burma) during World War II’s last days. …

Burma: Joe Biden and Burma
UNPO, Netherlands –
He met detained democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi in the 1990s in Rangoon. In May [2008], McCain said of the Cyclone Nargis disaster: “It does highlight the …

Between McCain and Obama, an Energy Gap
Human Events, DC –
McCain is suspicious of Beijing’s significant military buildup and its “…relations with pariah states such as Burma, Sudan, and Zimbabwe. …

Aung San Suu Kyi’s lawyer says she’s lost weight
International Herald Tribune, France –
Myanmar, also known as Burma, has been in a political deadlock since 1990, when Suu Kyi’s party overwhelmingly won general elections but was not allowed to …

Lawyer meets Suu Kyi, says she is thin but well
The Standard, Hong Kong –
Burma’s detained opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi has lost some weight but is feeling well, her lawyer said after a 30-minute meeting with her today. …

Democracy, voting and informed consent
United Press International, Asia, Hong Kong –
Burma is an easy example; but it is also not difficult to judge whether Thailand’s elections are democratic or not. The answer is a resounding “no” if …

‘It’s not special to me’ First Monday in September not a holiday …
Waukegan News Sun, IL –
“It’s not special to me,” said Chit Po, a native of Myanmar, the Southeast Asian country also known through history as Burma. “I’ve been here almost five …

Authorities ban Taunggok NLD meeting
Democratic Voice of Burma, Norway –
Sep 1, 2008 (DVB)–Local authorities in Arakan state’s Taunggok township prevented the local National League for Democracy from holding their regular monthly …

4 Political Prisoners Expected to be Used for Forced Labor at …
Narinjara News, Bangladesh –
The associate said, “They are politicians and they are supporters of the Burma democracy movement, so authorities want to give them a lesson on avoiding …

ENC: Rigged election results won’t make lawful regime

Shan Herald Agency for News, Thailand –
“Unless and until the people of Burma can freely and fairly express their true will, there can be no legitimate government.” It instead urges the people “to …

CINEMA ‘59 – Jamyang Norbu
Phayul, Tibet –
An interesting film on the conflict in Burma between the military junta and the dissident democracy movement. Ignore the contrived story of the “troubled” …

UN’s Burma envoys have been a complete failure
Bangkok Post, Thailand –
The meeting would then be in the nature of a prison visit, as undertaken by UN human rights investigators in Burma. A free and frank discussion could then …

Asian Tribune, Thailand –
BIMSTEC’s members today consist of Bangladesh, India, Sri Lanka and Thailand ( the original members) who have now been joined by Bhutan, Nepal and Myanmar. …

7 top Asians, group receive RM Awards for 2008
Manila Bulletin, Philippines –
Other winners have come from Bangladesh, with nine; Sri Lanka, eight; Hong Kong, six; Vietnam and Nepal, with four each; Burma and Cambodia, …

There’s The Rub : Winds of change / Conrado De Quiros, Philippines –
He vows to liberalize Malaysia and turn it into a full-blown democracy. I met Anwar’s wife and daughter when they came here many years ago, seeking support …

In shadow of Olympics, Myanmar mourns failed ‘88 uprising

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In shadow of Olympics, Myanmar mourns failed ‘88 uprising

Demonstrators gather in central Rangoon to protest against the government, in 1988

Hundreds of thousands of anti-government protestors take it to streets of downtown Rangoon (Yagon)

Exiled Myanmar students hold a rally outside the Myanmar embassy in Bangkok

Ne Win


6 August 2008

BANGKOK (AFP) — As China celebrates the start of the Olympics on Friday with much fanfare, activists in neighbouring Myanmar will silently mourn the bloody end of an uprising that crushed their dreams of democracy 20 years ago.

In August 1988, cities and villages across the country then known as Burma were bursting with optimism.

The military dictator Ne Win had just stepped down after decades of iron-fisted rule, and Burma was inspired by a prophecy that it would become a free nation on August 8 — known as 8-8-88.

Students who had already protested for almost a year against Ne Win’s socialist government called for a national uprising on the auspicious date, drawing activists, Buddhist monks, and even young military cadets into the streets clamouring for freedom.

“On August 8, it was not just one city or one area, it was all over Burma — everywhere, even the remote villages. It was not just students or monks or workers. Everybody was there,” said Win Min, then a medical student who helped organise the protests, and now a university professor in Thailand.

“We had high hopes that the situation could change, high hopes that democracy could come to Burma, high hopes that our economic problems would be solved,” he said.

But the euphoria was short-lived.

After dark on August 8, soldiers began shooting protesters in the streets of the then-capital Rangoon, beginning six weeks of bloodshed that left an estimated 3,000 dead.

The protests rumbled on amid the violence, powered by anger at the regime and the once-promising economy it had hammered into the ground.

In the swirl of near-anarchy, a new national leadership emerged in a country under dictatorship since 1962.

The previously obscure and expatriate daughter of a liberation hero, Aung San Suu Kyi, stood before crowds outside the golden Shwedagon Pagoda on August 26, making an eloquent call for democracy and instantly becoming the public face of the movement.

She was joined by veteran politicians and ethnic leaders, including some top generals who had grown disillusioned with the regime.

Without Ne Win, the government struggled to contain the unrest. A series of leaders within the regime rose and fell, until finally a group of generals seized power in a coup on September 18.

The new regime, calling itself the State Law and Order Restoration Council (SLORC), officially allowed the creation of opposition parties and moved to create a market economy.

But in reality, the junta clamped down on the democracy movement, placing Aung San Suu Kyi under house arrest in July 1989. Twenty years later, she is still confined to her home, having only enjoyed a few brief years of freedom.

Even with their leader locked away, her followers in the new National League for Democracy (NLD) won elections in 1990, but were never allowed to govern.

Many student leaders were imprisoned and only released in 2005, when they quickly returned to activism.

They launched new protests against the ruling junta last August, only to be arrested again. Buddhist monks took over the protest movement, but were shot and beaten by security forces in September.

Tun Myint Aung is among the activists, now known as the ’88 Generation, who escaped arrest and continues to try to campaign against the regime while living in hiding.

“The only change has been to a worse condition,” he told AFP, when asked to asses his country’s progress in the past 20 years.

“Now the military junta and their relatives and cronies, this small group exploits our country’s riches. There are great gaps between a handful of military troops and the masses of people.”

The situation in Myanmar now appears worse than ever.

The democracy movement is in shambles after last year’s protests were crushed. The economy is moribund, and huge swathes of the country are still reeling from a devastating cyclone that hit three months ago.

Despite the grim outlook, Win Min says he still believes his country can change — eventually.

“Look at China’s progress,” Win Min said. “Myanmar is where China was 30 years ago.”

“If the economic situation of the people is not improved, there will be demonstrations again.”

Written by Lwin Aung Soe

August 6, 2008 at 3:41 am

The IOC dictatorship: let the Olympic muzzling begin

with one comment

Last night on the news, I saw a story on the Olympics which mentioned that the International Olympic Committee, has stated that any athlete who makes any sort of political statement from the podium in Beijing will be sent home. It seems they don’t want China to be embarrassed in any way. Not about Tibet, not about Darfur, not about anything.

You may say to yourself that that sounds reasonable since the Olympics aren’t supposed to be political. However, I’d say that the Olympics being nonpolitical is the farthest thing from the truth. The Olympics are extremely political, no matter what any individual athlete may or may not do.

The simple fact is the Chinese government is using the Games to legitimize its illegitimate dictatorship, both in the eyes of the world and in the eyes of its own people: “Hey, look what we can do. We’re not such a bad government after all, are we? Look at the big show we’re putting on.”

There’s simply no denying that this is the Party’s big party. The Communist Dictatorship of the Proletariat (or of the rice farmers or whatever) is reaching its pinnacle and these great Olympic Games will finally show the world just how glorious that dictatorship really is.

And if everyone could just forget for the moment that the Chinese government’s rule is, in fact, completely illegitimate–that no one ever elected any of these self-serving corrupt buffoons and that they remain in power only through force and intimidation, no different than in Burma or North Korea–well, that’d be much appreciated.

It would also be extremely helpful if no one mentioned the killing and repression in Tibet or anything at all about the Chinese-armed and -backed states of Burma, Sudan, and North Korea, which, somewhat embarrassingly for their sponsors in Beijing, keep on slaughtering and horrifically repressing their own people. It should be noted, however, that no matter how embarrassing that horrific repression and slaughter may be, China will always be there to veto any and all attempted action by the U.N. Security Council.

Olympic boycott?
I understand why most people don’t support a full Olympic boycott, since that’d be unfair to the athletes, who’ve spent their whole lives training for this. However, I find it more than just a little ridiculous that the IOC thinks it must protect a tyrannical regime from embarrassment. I’d say it’s hardly the IOC’s business whether or not athletes express solidarity with oppressed peoples in places such as Tibet, Darfur and Burma… or China, for that matter.

I mean, why does the IOC care if someone waves a Tibetan flag from the podium?

Well, there are those billions of dollars in revenue, of course. That may have something to do with it.

Can you imagine if an athlete had made an explicit anti-Nazi statement from the podium in Berlin back in 1936? Man, would that ever have wrecked the whole show Hitler was putting on.

Seriously, can you imagine how horrible it would have been had anyone been so rude and inconsiderate as to dare embarrass those poor Nazis? It would have been so tragic, especially after all the work they’d put into preparing for those oh-so-unpolitical games? Thank God no one did anything inappropriate, and the IOC didn’t have to punish any of the athletes for any inexcusable behaviour.

Let’s just hope that all morality can once again be suppressed in Beijing as well.

Come on people, really now, lighten up. Slaughter, repression, genocide, these things are irrelevant. There’s a sporting festival to be held and billions in advertising revenues to be made. Let the Games begin!

Mike Cowie is a writer currently embarked on a book about his three-year trip across Asia with his wife, Sonoko. Read more of Mike’s views on his Web site.

Written by Lwin Aung Soe

July 26, 2008 at 6:49 am

Myanmar politics roiled, but junta grip firm

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In this Oct. 18, 2006 file photo, a Buddhist monk prays at the Swedagon pagoda in Yangon, Myanmar. While Myanmar’s ruling generals show no signs of losing a decades-old grip on power despite their handling of the recent cyclone disaster many experts see the 500,000-strong Buddhist monkhood as the only viable national institution after the army. (AP Photo/David Longstreath, File)

In this Oct. 12, 2006 file photo, Buddhist Monks prepare to make their rounds in Yangon, Myanmar. While Myanmar’s ruling generals show no signs of losing a decades-old grip on power despite their handling of the recent cyclone disaster many experts see the 500,000-strong Buddhist monkhood as the only viable national institution after the army. (AP Photo/David Longstreath, File)

BANGKOK, Thailand (AP) — The cyclone that devastated Myanmar’s heartland has also roiled a political landscape dominated by the military for more than four decades.

Buddhist monks are regrouping after the battering they took nine months ago, civil society groups are emerging and foreign aid workers — often agents of political change in the wake of humanitarian crises — are present in unprecedented numbers.

The junta’s grip on power remains absolute. But anger against the regime has probably never run so high.

“Perhaps incremental change will emerge from engagement on humanitarian problems,” said Joel Charny, vice president of U.S.-based Refugees International who visited Myanmar just before the cyclone struck.

People were already incensed by the brutal suppression last September of anti-government demonstrators, including the country’s revered, saffron-robed Buddhist monks.

Then came Cyclone Nargis, exposing the junta as inept and heartless, initially blocking international aid efforts and even now still hampering them.

“The people are blaming the government. They are responsible for many deaths. They don’t care about right or wrong and they let people die just to hold onto power,” said Aung Myoe, a 32-year-old driver in a comment typical of the mood in Yangon, Myanmar’s largest city.

“In the `Saffron Revolution’ they lost their Buddhist legitimacy; with the cyclone they lost whatever concept of efficacy they had with the public,” said David Steinberg, a Myanmar expert at Georgetown.

Steinberg said the junta constantly trumpet achievements in modernizing the isolated and impoverished Southeast Asian nation formerly named Burma.

Analysts say these passions and emerging trends may in the longer term loosen the junta’s grip on power. But for now it’s business as usual: dissidents are arrested, a brutal campaign against ethnic minorities rages on and the military strides toward elections guaranteed to perpetuate its control.

But the 500,000-strong Buddhist monkhood, the only viable national institution after the army, is regaining strength and cohesion by assuming a leading role in helping cyclone survivors.

Their work is seconded by quietly burgeoning civil society groups, which Steinberg said could foster pluralism and democracy in the future. These groups include professional guilds, including those of actors and singers, charity organizations and loose associations of like-minded citizens.

So could the influx of foreign aid workers and agencies in what may be the most intense interaction Myanmar has experienced with the outside world since gaining independence from Great Britain in 1948.

The operative word is “incremental.” Analysts don’t foresee meaningful political changes in the short run, discounting a dramatic turn of events, such as social upheaval in face of cyclone-induced rice shortages, or a split within the military.

The regime will be hard-pressed to provide enough rice to keep its 400,000 troops and their families loyal and ensure that shortages, which could last several years, don’t trigger major popular unrest as they have in the past, said Donald Seekins, a Myanmar watcher at Japan’s Meio University.

Meanwhile, the junta marches forward along its so-called “road map to democracy.” Elections are scheduled in 2010, based on a referendum-approved Constitution which guarantees the military 25 percent of parliamentary seats and power to run the country in event of a national emergency.

The cyclone response, the referendum and the extension of pro-democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi’s detention for a sixth year all sparked international outcry, but the absence of U.N. or other foreign action reassured the junta it needn’t fear outside intervention.

“The people of Myanmar would have been happy if the United States or France invaded,” said Ye Htun, a 30-year-old English teacher. “In Myanmar, the government is too strong and people are too scared. We can’t do it alone.”

Denis Gray, AP bureau chief in Bangkok, has covered Myanmar since the mid-1970s.

Soldiers march during 62nd annual Armed Forces Day ceremonies Tuesday, March 27, 2007, in the capital city of Naypyidaw, Myanmar. The cyclone that devastated Myanmar’s heartland has also roiled a political landscape dominated by the military for more than four decades. But the ruling junta’s grip on power remains. (AP Photo/David Longstreath)

In this March 27, 2007 file photo, Myanmar’s ruling leader Senior Gen Than Shwe salutes soldiers during 62nd annual Armed Forces Day ceremonies in the capital city of Naypyidaw, Myanmar. People rage against them and the outside world adds a chorus of damning criticism, but Myanmar’s ruling generals show no signs of losing a decades-old grip on power despite their inept and heartless handling of the cyclone disaster. (AP Photo/David Longstreath, File)

Myanmar junta leaders Gen. Thura Shwe, left, Lt. Gen. Thein Sein, center and Lt. Gen Kyaw Win, right, look on during 62nd annual Armed Forces Day ceremonies Tuesday, March 27, 2007, in the capital city of Naypyidaw, Myanmar. The cyclone that devastated Myanmar’s heartland has also roiled a political landscape dominated by the military for more than four decades. But the ruling junta’s grip on power remains. (AP Photo/David Longstreath)

Written by Lwin Aung Soe

July 3, 2008 at 1:14 am


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By Roland Watson
June 26, 2008

We have new, disturbing, and detailed intelligence about the assistance Russia is providing Burma’s dictatorship, the State Peace and Development Council (SPDC), on its nuclear program and more generally its military modernization. This new information both confirms earlier intelligence that we have published, and expands what is known about the overall program.

Nuclear reactor and uranium mining

It has been widely reported that Russia is going to provide Burma a nuclear reactor, for so-called “research” purposes. We have received information that the SPDC has now purchased the 10 MW reactor. It is not new, but is reportedly in good condition. It is being dismantled, transported to Burma, and rebuilt. While we cannot confirm that it has arrived, our sources say that installation is due to be completed by December this year. (We have previously reported that North Korean technicians will assist with the construction.)

The reactor will be built at a site some ten kilometers from Kyauk Pa Toe, in Tha Beik Kyin township, approximately one hundred kilometers north of Mandalay near the Irrawaddy River.

In return for the reactor and other services, a Russian government mining company has received concessions to mine gold, titanium and uranium. There are two gold mining sites: in Kyauk Pa Toe; and in the mountains to the right of the Thazi-Shwe Nyaung railway line from Mandalay Division to Southern Shan State in the Pyin Nyaung area.

Titanium is also being mined, or derived from the same ore, at Kyauk Pa Toe.

Uranium is being mined at three locations: in the Pegu-Yoma mountain range in Pauk Kaung Township of Prome District (aka Pyi); in the Paing Ngort area in Mo Meik Township in Shan State; and at Kyauk Pa Toe.

The reactor site has been chosen because of its proximity to the Tha Beik Kyin and Mo Meik uranium mines. It is likely that the gold mining operation at the former will be used as cover, to conceal the nuclear facilities.

We have previously reported, from different sources, that the SPDC has a yellowcake mill somewhere in the Tha Beik Kyin area. Now we know the exact location (or at least enough information to find it with satellite imagery).

The reactor has been publicized as being for research purposes, meaning research on nuclear power generation. We believe that the SPDC has no real interest in generating electricity, or at best that this is a secondary consideration, and that the primary purpose is atomic weapons development. Our sources say that the SPDC expects to have full nuclear capability within ten years.

Russia is presumably supplying the reactor fuel as well. While Burma has uranium ore, and mills to convert it to yellowcake, this must be enriched to create the fuel, typically using cascades of gas centrifuges. We have received one report that the SPDC has begun a centrifuge program, at the South Nawin Dam, but this is unconfirmed. Barring this operation, the source of the fuel therefore must be Russia.

Note: Locating the reactor at Kyauk Pa Toe really only makes sense if there are plans to build an enrichment facility there. This way you would have the full industrial cycle in close proximity: mine, mill, enrichment, and reactor.

What is perhaps most disturbing about Russia’s program with the SPDC is that it is identical to the Soviet Union’s assistance that propelled North Korea to become a nuclear power. Why, with the end of the Soviet Union and the Cold War, is Russia still helping rogue regimes proliferate? The surface answer of course is money, in this case in the form of natural resources, but the deeper question remains. Russia is considered to be a democracy. What would the people of the country think of their leaders giving such help to the likes of the SPDC and Than Shwe?

In 1965, the Soviet Union gave North Korea a 2 MW reactor, which was upgraded in 1973 to 8 MW. It also supplied fuel through at least this period. North Korea then went on to construct a much larger reactor, and in the 1980s began weapons development. This included building separation facilities to obtain plutonium, and high explosives detonation tests. (We have received reports that the SPDC has already conducted such tests, in the Setkhya Mountains southeast of Mandalay.) At some point North Korea also began its own uranium enrichment program, to produce weapons grade material, and the U.S. confronted the country about this in 2002. This means that the North has two different sources of fissile material for weapons, reactor plutonium and enriched uranium.

The North detonated a small atomic weapon, with a yield of less than one kiloton, in October 2006, using some of its plutonium. It is now reportedly about to disclose its nuclear assets, and also destroy its plutonium producing reactor, but the sticking point has been the enriched uranium. The North appears unwilling to discuss this (and at this point to disclose its weapons cache), which means that even with the destruction of the reactor and the plutonium stockpile (for the latter the size of which is subject to serious dispute), the North would retain the ability to produce weapons with the uranium. At the moment the U.S. appears willing to accept partial disclosure, i.e., of only the plutonium.

In addition to Russia, North Korean technicians have been helping Burma with its nuclear ambitions (and other weapons programs), and we have received information that the SPDC has given the North refined uranium in return, which may be destined for the enrichment program.

This is all very disturbing, all the more so because of the apparent weakness of the Bush Administration, which has been unwilling to press the North, and which refuses even to mention Burma (its nuclear program). It took North Korea forty years before it detonated a weapon. It will likely take the SPDC only a fraction of this period. Once the Burmese junta has atomic weapons, its rule will be entrenched, and its neighbors, foremost Thailand, will be seriously endangered.

Precision-guided munitions

We have also previously reported that Burma has a wide variety of missile installations, including large quantities of land-based SAMs; ship-launched missiles, both surface to air and surface to surface; weapons for its MIG 29s; and even short range ballistic missiles. We have now received information that while Burma formerly bought anti-aircraft weapons from the Ukraine, in 2007 it purchased four shiploads of such weapons from Russia. We have also learned that the SPDC has multi-tube mechanized rocket launchers from North Korea. (Note: these may be for use with the ballistic missiles, and if so they confirm our earlier intelligence.)

Moreover, Burma is researching the production of guided missiles, and with Russian assistance intends to build a rocket factory in Thazi Township. This will mark the latest step in a well-recognized proliferation of Russian precision-guided munitions in the Asia Pacific region. This class of weapons includes surface to air, to attack jets, and surface to surface to attack land-based targets and also ships. Cruise missiles fall within the category. We do not know which specific PGMs the factory intends to produce, only that they will be medium range guided rockets and that production is scheduled to begin within five years.

It is clear that the SPDC is intent on developing a strong defense against an international intervention, including foreign jets, helicopters and ships. Perhaps one reason why the U.S. and the French balked at dropping relief supplies following Cyclone Nargis was the risk of missile attack on their helicopters and ships.

Military modernization

We have previously noted that the Burma Army is weapons-deficient. It is clear that the extensive procurement program underway with Russia, as well as China, North Korea and others, is intended to rectify this. During the era of Ne Win and the BSPP (Burma Socialist Program Party), the junta established six weapons production facilities. There are now twenty-two, and clearly more are planned.

Coupled with the materiel acquisitions is a major educational program. There are more than 5,000 State Scholars in Russia, all of whom passed their Defense Services Academy class, a nine-month program in the Russian language, and an entrance exam in their specialty. (This is an increase from the 3,000 we previously reported.) They are candidates for either a masters (2 years) or doctorate (4 years – we previously reported 3 years for this degree). They study in Moscow or St. Petersburg, in the former in a suburb at the Moscow Air Institute. There are additional State Scholars from Burma in China, North Korea, Pakistan and India.

One of the more recent groups of scholars, Batch Seven, included 1,100 DSA officers. Their majors are as follows:

250 Nuclear science
100 Tunneling science
200 Rockets
100 Electronics
200 Computer science
100 Aircraft construction
150 Artillery

The students also learn other military subjects, including: tanks; maintenance; anti-aircraft training; ammunition production; fighter pilot training; naval craft construction; naval craft captaincy; and anti-terrorist training.

While it is clear that the overall modernization program will improve the SPDC’s preparedness against attack, the junta still has a significant problem with soldier morale. Many of the state scholars, who are an elite in the Tatmadaw, are not motivated and would seek asylum given the chance. Their stipends barely cover their expenses. The Russian language and their training programs are difficult. They are overworked and separated from the civilian population. Their visas prohibit them from buying air, train or long-distance bus tickets. When they return to Burma, some are used as Russian language teachers or as instructors at the SPDC’s Central Research and Training Unit, but many are sent to the front lines.

As an example, in January this year one scholar fled to the border of Finland, but was arrested by Russian intelligence agents when he used his cell phone to call his contact on the other side. There is widespread dissatisfaction at all levels within the SPDC, except perhaps the very top – although there is reportedly a split there as well, between Than Shwe and Maung Aye. While the new weapons systems improve the junta’s defense against an intervention, they still need operators. The SPDC is poised to fall, through an internal coup, and it is subject to a renewed popular uprising as well.

Acquiring a nuclear weapon would alter this equation somewhat, but really only by creating a new defense against an intervention, and this is as yet some years away, unless the SPDC acquires a warhead directly from North Korea. Still, any such development has to be prevented, which raises the question, yet again: what is the U.S. doing? Under geopolitical realism, the only concerns are national interests. On a superficial level, for the U.S. and Burma, these are limited to Chevron’s investment in Burma’s natural gas production and pipelines. A secondary interest is the concern of U.S. citizens of Burmese origin, but since this group is small it can effectively be ignored. It would seem, therefore, that all the Administration bluster notwithstanding, its only real policy objective for Burma is to protect Chevron, which corporation to bolster its case also makes large campaign donations.

The real direct national interest of the United States is to deny Burma nuclear weapons. It is not only North Korea, Iran and Syria that America (and the world) must contain. Having a nuclear-armed SPDC is an unacceptable risk. This trumps the need to assist a domestic corporation. Further, since Chevron is also a major cash source for the junta, which uses money as well as the direct transfer of natural resources to pay its weapons suppliers, it demands that the company be forced to divest.

Source: Dictator Watch & Burma Digest

Written by Lwin Aung Soe

June 27, 2008 at 9:55 am