Monday, February 28, 2011

Regional stability and Burma’s human rights situation

Monday, 28 February 2011 17:11 Thea Forbes

(Mizzima) - The UN Special Rapporteur on Human Rights in Burma, Tomas Ojea Quintana, said last week that Burma’s lack of human rights is placing a heavy burden on regional neighbours who must deal with refugees.

UN special envoy Tomas Ojea Quintana, right, held talks
with Tin Oo, center, and six other senior leaders of the
opposition party, the National League for Democracy, in
Rangoon last year. (Photo: UN)
Speaking from Malaysia, Quintana told that despite the Burmese government’s  promises to improve its record on human rights abuses, the situation in the country is still grave.

Southeast Asian countries that play host to Burmese refugees have an interest in encouraging the military government to improve its human rights situation, he said.

In March, Quintana submitted a report to the UN Human Rights Council stating that Burma’s government exercised a  pattern of “gross and systematic” human rights abuses that indicate they have become state policy. The report led to calls to create a UN commission of Inquiry (CoI) to investigate alleged war crimes and human rights violations in Burma.

So far, several international governments have come out in support of a CoI, including the United States, the United Kingdom, France and Australia. So far, no country in the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean) has spoken in favour of a CoI.

Aung Myo Min, the director of the Human Rights Education Institute of Burma (HREIB) based in Thailand, told Mizzima, ‘The situation of refugees is no longer solely a matter of internal affairs, but an international one that concerns the entire region.’

He said Asean countries should support a CoI because it is in their interests ‘to have a peaceful and healthy Asean region’, and a CoI is ‘a way to solve the root cause of the refugee influx.’

Thailand had suffered the greatest burden of Burmese refugees, but  there is also a growing number of Burmese who are seeking refuge in Malaysia and Indonesia, he said.

Aung Myo Min said Asean’s recent initiative in the Thailand-Cambodia border dispute, sets a good example.

‘They [Asean] should take a more active role in approaching the problem of refugees which reflects the situation of human rights abuses in Burma,’ he said.

Writer Maung Pe Nge, imprisoned by Ne Win, dies

Monday, 28 February 2011 20:43 Ko Pauk

New Delhi (Mizzima) – Funeral services for writer Maung Pe Nge, 67, who was imprisoned for writing about Burmese Socialist Programme Party (BSPP) Chairman Ne Win, were held on Sunday at Yeway Cemetery in Rangoon.

The cover of 'Yanaung Maung Maung Toke',
which led to writer Maung Pe Nge's torture
and imprisonment.
Maung Pe Nge aka Tin Pe suffered from hypertension, diabetes and a heart condition. He died of a stroke at Rangoon General Hospital.

He is survived by his wife, two sons and three daughters.

The writers Htet Myet, Mi Chan Wei and Myat Khaing among others attended the funeral, writer Than Myint Aung told Mizzima.

Maung Pe Nge was known for his historical biographies. In his biography of a king, ‘Yanaung Maung Maung Toke’, he wrote, ‘The King is taking multiple wives while the people are striving  to grow multiple crops in their rice fields’, in portraying a king’s loose character.

Unfortunately, the book’s publication coincided with ruling strongman Ne Win taking another wife. At the time, the BSPP was also forcing farmers to grown multiple crops in their rice fields under a high-yield paddy plantation scheme.

The book caused a stir in the literary community and was banned from distribution and removed from bookstores.

Maung Pe Nge was tried and sentenced to death, which was later commuted to a long prison sentence.

During interrogation, Maung Pe Nge’s face was burnt with a cigarette and the wound could be seen until his death, said a friend.

During that time, one of his poems, titled ‘Snake Charmer’, also appeared in the ‘Shu Daunk’ journal and Ne Win considered the poem a threat to his dignity. Its editors, Win Khet and Win Latt, were imprisoned. Maung Pe Nge was not political, his friends said.

Maung Pe Nge’s books include many biographies of Burmese kings. The book ‘Yanaung Maung Maung Toke’ has not been published since it was banned.

Karen petition urges UN to take action against junta

Monday, 28 February 2011 17:43 Ko Wild

Chiang Mai (Mizzima) – A petition signed by 84,000 Karen has been sent to UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon to take action against the Burmese junta’s violation of human rights and military campaigns against the Karen people.

Officials of the Karen National Union/Karen National Liberation
Army at the Karen National Day ceremony. The KNU, which
has been fighting for self-determination for more than 60
years, is under increasing assault by the Burmese Army and
its ally, the Democratic Karen Buddhist Army, a Karen splinter
group. Photo : Mizzima
Organized by the Karen National Union (KNU) and 31 Karen social organizations in 16 countries in Asia, Europe and North America, the petition was also sent to leaders of eight countries including British Prime Minister David Cameron and Australia’s Prime Minister Julia Gillard, according to the KNU.

The eldest petitioner was 103 years old and the youngest was 16.

Naw Zipporrah Sein, the KNU secretary-general, said, ‘We want Mr. Ban Ki-moon to use his power and authority to exert pressure on the junta to stop the violations of human rights. We would like to request Mr. Ban Ki-moon to put pressures on the junta to negotiate a cease-fire across the country, to hold a serious political dialogue and to build a federal country that can guarantee racial equality and human rights’.

KNU officials said that more than 3,600 villages in Karen State have been destroyed by the junta in the past 15 years. More recently, 18 Karen civilians were killed and 38 were physically abused by junta troops before the election in November 2010, officials said. It said 52 Karen were arrested unlawfully, 2,300 were used in forced labour, 198 buildings including homes, schools and churches were destroyed due to the military clashes in the Karen State, and more than 3,000 Karen villagers were forced to seek refuge in the jungle, according to the KNU statement.

During 2010, there were more than 1,000 clashes between the Karen National Liberation Army (KNLA), the armed wing of the KNU, and junta troops in Thaton, Taungoo, Nyaunglebin, Myeik, Dawei, Papun, Kawkareik and Hpa-an districts, said KNU officials.

The KNU was formed in February 5, 1947, to fight for equality and self-determination for the Karen people.

Upper, Lower houses prepare for regular business

Monday, 28 February 2011 12:59 Ko Wild

Chiang Mai (Mizzima) – Burmese lawmakers will begin the business of organizing the new Parliament’s separate houses on Tuesday, establishing committees, preparing to introduce bills and submitting proposals, according to lawmakers.

Lawmakers and others gather before a meeting of the
Burmese Union Parliament in Naypyidaw. The Parliament
is in recess on Monday. Photo : MRTV
For the past two weeks, members of Parliament have been engaged in the formation of new government ministries and approving ministers and constitutional bodies. Parliament will be in recess on Monday.

Each house will create committees on bills, the budget, on rights of assembly, and oversight committees on guarantees, agreements and treaties, in accord with Parliament’s laws and bylaws.

The speakers of the two houses will decide the number of  committee members and nominate chairmen, secretaries and members to their respective bodies.

Parliamentary rules say that an MP can not be a member of more than two parliamentary committees, and the respective houses shall specify the duties, powers and rights of the committees.

In order to raise questions, to submit proposals or to submit bills, MPs must first go through the responsible committees, according to an MP.

An MP in the Upper House said that on Friday Speaker Aung Khin Myint instructed MPs to use formal language in the official proceedings.

If an MP wishes to bring a matter before a house, they must inform the deputy director general of the respective Parliament office at least 10 days prior to raising the question; 15 days before submitting a proposal; and 30 days before submitting a bill.

The requirement is designed to give MPs who wish to raise objections enough time to collect the required facts, said an MP.

In order for a lawmaker to submit a parliamentary proposal or a bill, he or she must attain a co-sponsor.

In the Lower House, there are 434 MPs. Of those, 258 MPs are from the Union Solidarity and Development Party (USDP); 110 are military-appointed MPs; and are 66 from other parties.

In the Upper House, there are 224 MPs. Of those, 129 are from the USDP; 56 are military-appointed MPs; and 39 from other parties.

Bomb blast in Insein injures eight people

Monday, 28 February 2011 12:40 Mizzima News

Rangoon (Mizzima) – A bomb explosion in Insein Township, apparently accidentally set off on Sunday, injured eight people including two children, a police officer said.

Aftermath of Insein Aungzeya bomb blast

The bomb exploded in front of a betel nut shop in the Aungzeya Housing Complex on Strand Road in Insein Township in Rangoon Division at about 7 p.m.

Police said a man identified as Zaw Min Than apparently carried a bomb and it exploded while he was buying betel nut. A second unexploded bomb was also found, police said.

A doctor at Insein Hospital said Zaw Min Than was severely injured in the explosion and is in critical condition.

Two children, identified as Nyein Nyein Tun, 3. and Zaw Min Htike,13, were among the injured.

Also injured were Zaw Min Than, Kaythi Myo Kyaw, Win Pa Pa Kyaw, Tint Lwin Oo, Tun Tun and Thin Thin, who were all taken to Insein Hospital.

Fighting intensifies between the regime and Shan

Monday, 28 February 2011 12:34 Jai Wan Mai

(Mizzima) - Two armed clashes took place between the Shan State Army-South (SSA-S) and Burmese troops along the Burmese-Thai border last week in the area of Mong Tone Township, part of a strategy to drive a wedge between the SSA-S and the United Wa State Army (UWSA), observers say.

Shan State Army-South troops in formation for parade
review. Photo : Mizzima
During the last four months, the SSA-S and Burmese troops have engaged in 11 clashes, according to sources. The regime lost 14 soldiers and 13 were wounded, sources said.

The SSA-S lost one soldier and two were wounded, sources said. Casualties in the most recent clashes were unknown.

On February 23, SSA-S troops ambushed a unit of the Burmese army near Mong Tone Township. On February 25, the SSA carried out an ambush on Burmese soldiers near Ho Nam Taw village in Mong Hta, a sub-township of Mong Tone Township.

According to an SSA-S official who asked not to named, the fight lasted about 35 minutes and 30 Burmese soldiers were trapped on a mountain besieged by the Shan troops.

Sources said the Burmese regime dispatched around 200 troops from Mong Taw and Na Kong Mu to the area in order to rescue the soldiers.

A military analyst said the reason for the increased fighting in the area, is that, ‘Strategically, the regime aims to cut off the communication line between the southern and northern United Wa State Army as well as the SSA-S by building a town, because the regime is aware that the UWSA could shift sides with the SSA-S, if the regime makes any offensive on the group.’

Reportedly, around 300 UWSA fighters are believed to be stationed at Hai Long (a base to the UWSA that borders with Loi Tai Leng, the headquarters of the SSA-S).

According to a local resident in Pong Pa Kem in Mong Tone Township, ‘The reason behind the fighting is because the Burmese want to transform Mong Hta sub-township into a township.’

A source in Mong Tone said, ‘The SSA is against the plan for creating the new town. However, the Burmese regime has put in place about 200 Burmese civilians together with 19 police officers to settle the area. The SSA has been carrying out many hit and run ambushes.’

He said the Burmese regime promised the Burman civilians that they could do any business they wanted and the regime would support their business for five years without tax.

Residents say they fear the area could become a hub for drug traffickers who do business through Thailand.

According to a local source, around 30 government staff in the Health and Education Department have fled from Mong Hta following several shootings in the town, because they don't want to be targeted by armed groups or be accused ‘of being regime spies.’

The SSA-S is led by Lt. Gen Yawd Serk. Currently, it is the only Shan armed opposition group openly fighting against the Burmese regime, and it is the strongest army among the non-ceasefire groups.
Friday, February 25, 2011

Suu Kyi supports expansion of ILO in Burma

Friday, 25 February 2011 19:08 Myo Thant

Chiang Mai (Mizzima) – Burma's pro-democracy leader, Aung San Suu Kyi, was briefed by an International Labour Organization (ILO) team in Rangoon on Friday led by Executive Director Guy Ryder.

Guy Ryder, the deputy director general of the International
Labour Organisation (ILO), meets with Burma’s
pro-democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi at her home on
University Avenue in Rangoon on Friday, February 25, 2011.
Ryder is in Burma to sign a one-year extension of an agreement
with the Burmese junta to maintain an ILO office to handle
citizens’ complaints involving forced labour. Photo: Mizzima
Suu Kyi gave her support during a meeting held in her home on University Avenue. ILO projects include protecting labour rights and interests and advocating for the freedom to form trade unions.

‘The ILO explained to Daw Suu their planned expansion and  the mandate they presented to the Burmese regime’, NLD leader Ohn Kyaing told MIzzima.

The meeting included Ryder, ILO liaison officer Steve Marshall and three other ILO representatives, in addition to Nyan Win and Hanthar Myint of the NLD.

An ILO team met with about 80 human rights activists at Traders Hotel in Rangoon on Thursday.

During the meeting, participants expressed concern about the recruitment of child soldiers in Burma, and ILO officials said they planned to continue to hear complaints from Burmese citizens and work with the regime to remove child soldiers from the armed forces.

An NLD official said, ‘They explained how the army took responsibility for these child soldiers. The Army has issued orders of discharge in some cases, but not in others.’

The ILO and the Burmese government renewed a memorandum of understanding for one year on Thursday, which includes procedures for lodging complaints against forced labour cases and child soldier conscription.

People can also lodge complaints of forcible seizure of farmland with the ILO, said officials.

Human Rights Education Institute in Burma (HREIB) director Aung Myo Min said that the Burmese government has estimated that there are about 60,000 child soldiers in the army.  Other armed groups may contain about 6,000 child soldiers, say observers.

Woman reportedly changes story in Dunkley case

Friday, 25 February 2011 16:48 Thea Forbes

Chiang Mai (Mizzima) – The facts surrounding the alleged assault case brought against the detained Australian co-owner of the Myanmar Times, Ross Dunkley, remain shrouded in rumour.

After a hearing in the Kamayut Township Court in Rangoon,
Australian journalist Ross Dunkley, the founder and co-owner
of the Myanmar Times, is seen before he enters a car to
transport prisoners to Burma's notorious Insein Prison on
Thursday, February 24, 2011. Photo: Mizzima
Dunkley was arrested by Burmese authorities on February 10 and charged with violations of the Immigration Act and assaulting a Burmese woman.

The founder of the Myanmar Times appeared at a court hearing on Thursday.

A statement given to Mizzima by David Armstrong, the chairman of Post Media Ltd in Phnom Penh, of which Dunkley is a shareholder, said that ‘a woman who had made allegations of physical assault against Mr. Dunkley told the court she wanted to withdraw her complaint.’

The statement said that the woman who brought the charge against Dunkley had made allegations in a hearing on Thursday that she had ‘not made in her initial police interview.’ It was unclear how Armstrong came by that information.

According to a spokesperson from the Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, Dunkley was detained by Burmese authorities on the night of February 10  and charged with offences under Burma’s Immigration Act and Criminal Code.

He had previously been detained on January 20  but was released without charge at that time.

The court refused bail for Dunkley and remanded him to Insein Prison in Rangoon until his next court hearing on March 3, 2011.

A gambling-addicted family commits murder-suicide

Friday, 25 February 2011 13:38 Kyaw Kha

Chiang Mai (Mizzima) – A couple and their daughter who were all found dead on Tuesday in their home in Gyobingauk Township in Pegu Division were victims of a murder-suicide, according to authorities.

A legal lottery vendor in Rangoon. Burmese love to
gamble, and illegal lottery vendors are located
throughout the country. Photo : Mizzima
Ti Pwar, 39, and his wife, Kay Khine Win (aka) Mee Nge, 37, sold lottery tickets and regularly gambled on soccer matches and were burdened with large debts that totaled at least 300 million kyat (US$337,078), said sources.

Authorities said the couple first killed their daughter, Pon Pyace Sone, 3, and then committed suicide.

‘The day before the incident, their creditors were seriously demanding to be paid, and they forced the couple to sign  bonds. They didn’t know how to handle it. That’s why they committed suicide’, said an official.

A friend of the family told Mizzima: ‘They wrote  a suicide note that said they didn’t want their daughter to be looked down on and before they committed suicide, they killed her’.

The husband, Ti Pwar, also operated a gold shop in the Gyobingauk Market.

A neighbor told Mizzima that when Ti Pwar’s wife’s mother went to the victims’ house to feed her granddaughter, she found the child dead and covered with a blanket. Ti Pwar, who had drank insecticide, died near a drinking-water pot.

Insecticide powder and a suicide note signed by Ti Pwar and Kay Khine Win were found on a table near the bodies, according to witnesses, who said that when they arrived at the home, a Buddhist sermon was playing on a CD.

More than 200 townspeople attended the funeral on Wednesday.

A resident told Mizzima, ‘We are shocked. The incident is unforgettable. The child was a kindergarten student, and she was very lovely’.

Another resident in Gyobingauk said five similar incidents have happened in the area in 2010, including a case of a teacher who committed suicide by drinking insecticide after losing money in the illegal lottery.

‘The authorities do not strictly control the illegal lotteries in Gyobingauk’, he said. ‘Eight out of ten people here have spent money on illegal lotteries, so the illegal lotteries seem legal’.

Residents said that some officials in Gyobingauk, including the police and the Military Affairs Security Unit, accepted bribes from people involved in the illegal lottery.

Gambling is illegal in Burma, but many people are involved in illegal gambling operations and money lending.

UEC members nominated; Supreme Court judges approved

Friday, 25 February 2011 12:58 Ko Wild

Chiang Mai (Mizzima) – President Thein Sein nominated six persons to be members of the Union Election Commission (UEC) on Thursday, during the 12th session of the joint Parliament in Naypyidaw.

The massive new Parliament buildings and other
government buildings in Naypyidaw. Photo : Mizzima
The nominations include Aung Myint, Myint Naing, Dr. Myint Kyi, Thar Oo, Win Kyi and Nyunt Tin. Four of the nominees are current UEC members. The nominees must be approved by a joint session of Parliament.

In other action, Parliament unanimously approved six Supreme Court judges: Thar Htay, Soe Nyunt, Mya Thein, Myint Aung, Aung Zaw Thein and Myint Han to the country’s highest court.

The joint session lasted about 15 minutes.

Two UEC nominees, deputy attorney general Myint Naing and Win Kyi, are from Taungthar in Mandalay Division. Observers said that they were nominated on the recommendation of SPDC minister Aung Thaung, who is close to junta leader Senior General Than Shwe.

Earlier, members of Parliament approved retired general Tin Aye as UEC chairman.

Brief profiles of UEC nominees:

Myint Naing, age 73

Nationality and Religion:  Burmese, Buddhist
Education:                     B.A. (Law), LL.B
Current occupation:        UEC member, retired deputy attorney general
Address:                        No. 36, Thitsar Shwepyi road, deputy minister housing, Naypyidaw
Permanent address:        No. 2107, Uttara Thiri Township, Naypyidaw
Native:                          Kyaukkar Taung village, Taungthar Township, Mandalay Division
Spouse:                         Tin Htay Hlaing (Tera village, Taungthar Township)

Aung Myint, age 72

Nationality and Religion:               Burmese, Buddhist
Education:                                   B.Science.
Native:                                        Kunchankon, Rangoon
Current occupation:                      member of UEC
Current and Permanent address:   Flat No. 26, Zeyathiri Township; Deputy Minister Housing, Naypyidaw.

Dr. Daw Myint Kyi, age 66

Nationality and Religion:  Burmese, Buddhist
Education:                     M.A. (History), Ph.D. (International Relations)
Current occupation:        member of UEC
Current Address:            No. 11, Building No. 4, Sabe Housing, Zabuthiri Township, Naypyidaw
Permanent Address:      No. 58, Yadana lane, Thiri Yadana Housing, Thingangyun, Rangoon

Thar Oo, age 63

Nationality and Religion:    Burmese, Buddhist
Education:                         Electrical Communication, B.E (EC)
Native:                              Win Pa village, Theinseik sub-township, Thaton Township, Mon State
Current occupation:            member of UEC
Current Address:                Building No. 3, Room No. 22, Sabe Housing, Zabuthiri Township, Naypyidaw
Permanent Address:          Communication Training School compound, Lower Pazundaung, Rangoon.

Win Kyi, age 66

Nationality and Religion:   Burmese, Buddhist
Education:                       B.Sc. (Hons), D.S., M.Sc. (USA)
Native:                           Taungtha
Spouse:                          Wei Wei Phyu (Pathein)
Current occupation:         member of UEC
Current Address:             Room No. 2, Building No. 10, Sabe Housing, Zabuthiri Township, Naypyidaw
Permanent Address:        No. 156/2 (14/3) Myinthar Ward, Yuzanamar Street, South Okkalapa, Rangoon

Nyunt Tin, age 70

Nationality and Religion:   Mon-Burmese, Buddhist
Education:                      B.A. HGP (Higher Grade Pleader)
Native:                           Winyaw Zeikgyi village, Kyarinn Seikkyi Township, Karen State
Spouse:                          Myint Myint Sein (Kyimyindaing Township, Rangoon)
Current occupation:        ember of UEC
Current Address:            No. 2, Building No. 9, Sabe Housing, Zabuthiri Township, Naypyidaw
Permanent Address:       No. 102, Yazadirik Street, Myaing Tharyar Ward, Mawlamyaing

Junta sends more tanks to Kachin State

Friday, 25 February 2011 18:14 Phanida

Chiang Mai (Mizzima) – The Burmese junta has sent at least 200 troops to Kachin State this week as reinforcements, said the Kachin Independence Organisation (KIO) and local observers.

Observers said that about a dozen junta tanks arrived at Infantry Battalion on No. 58 based in Bhamo in Kachin State on Tuesday, according to the KIO.

The KIO, which is fighting for equality and self-determination, signed a cease-fire agreement with the junta in 1994.

Recently, KIO rejected the junta’s Border Guard Force plan, and starting in September 2010, the junta has restricted KIO travel in the area.

Parliament takes a one-day recess

Friday, 25 February 2011 16:07 Ko Wild

Chiang Mai (Mizzima) – Union Election Commission nominees Aung Myint, Myint Naing, Dr. Myint Kyi, Tha Oo, Win Kyi and Nyunt Tin were approved by a joint session of Parliament on Friday.
A file photo of the new Burmese Parliament complex in
Naypyidaw, the capital. Photo : Mizzima
After a 20-minute session, the Parliament announced a recess, according to members of Parliament.

Parliament will be resumed on Tuesday, March 1, according to one lawmaker, who said the Upper and Lower houses will meet separately at 11 a.m to begin the process of organising parliamentary committees, introduce bills and submit proposals.
Thursday, February 24, 2011

Tay Za, injured, arrives back to Rangoon

Thursday, 24 February 2011 20:02 Phanida

Chiang Mai (Mizzima) – Burmese business tycoon Tay Za, who was stranded on ice-covered Fukanrazi Mountain in northern Kachin State for three days, arrived back home in Rangoon on Thursday, said a source close to his family.

Burmese Business tycoon Tay Za in front of a Bagan Airways
craft in Rangoon. Along with five associates, he was stranded
on a snow-capped mountain for three days before being
rescued on Thursday morning. Photo : Mizzima
Tay Za arrived at about 2 p.m. via helicopter  from Putao in Kachin State through an arrangement with the military, according to the source.

He was given a medical checkup at Pan Hlaing Hospital in Rangoon and then returned to his home on Inya Road. His knee was injured in the accident.

A Bagan Airways hostess, who was one of five other persons traveling with Tay Za, injured her foot, sources said.

Tay Za, who is known as a business associate of key junta generals, is the owner of Bagan Airways and the Htoo Trading Company Ltd., a large conglomerate.

Tay Za and his team went to the mountain via helicopter on Tuesday  to conduct a survey prior to mountaineering in the area in March, sources said.

Due to bad weather, the helicopter attempted to land on the mountain and the aircraft became bogged down and stranded. A military rescue team reached the party on Thursday morning.

The rescue helicopter, hired from a Chiang Mai-based company, reportedly dropped a rope to the victims and lifted them up from the ground to carry them off the mountain.

Former publisher, appearing healthy, attends court hearing

Thursday, 24 February 2011 18:10 Te Te

New Delhi (Mizzima) – Ross Dunkley, the Australian founder and a co-owner of the Myanmar Times, appeared in Kamayut Township Court in Rangoon on Thursday on charges of violating immigration laws and reportedly assaulting a Burmese woman.

Ross Dunkley, the founder of The Myanmar Times, is
seen here before he entered Kamaryut township
court on Thursday. Dunkley was originally arrested for
immigration violations but now faces five criminal
charges. Photo: Mizzima
Dunkley, who appeared in the court in handcuffs, has been detained in Insein Prison in Rangoon.

The former chief editor of the English-language newspaper seemed healthy, a reporter who was in the courtroom told Mizzima.

Dunkley was arrested at his home in Rangoon on February 10, following his return from a trip to Japan, sources said.

No information was available about the circumstances surrounding the assault charge involving a woman.

Dunkley was charged under Section 13(1) of Immigration Act, which carries a maximum sentence of up to five years.

Following the arrest, rumors circulated that Dunkley was involved in a business dispute with a Burmese shareholder of the newspaper. The shareholder, Dr. Tin Tun Oo, became CEO of the Myanmar Consolidated Media Group Ltd on February 14, following a meeting of the board of directors.

Tin Tun Oo and employees of the Myanmar Times tried to put up bail for Dunkley, sources said, but the court refused to grant him bail.

Sources said that Dunkley retains a 49-percent stake in the company and the remaining 51 percent is held by Tin Tun Oo, a member of the Union Solidarity and Development Party from Pazundaung Township.

Myanmar Consolidated Media Ltd’s official objection against some news agencies’ reports on Mr. Ross Dunkley
We found that some local news journals and foreign.-based news agencies reported the news regarding Mr. Ross Dunkley, the former chief editor of Myanmar Times. Some of those reports contained prejudicial usages before the court has delivered the verdict. Those can harm the image of Myanmar Consolidated Media Ltd and the dignity of its employees. So, the Myanmar Consolidated Media Ltd, which publishes the Myanmar Times (in Burmese), Myanmar Times (in English), Crime journal and NOW! Magazine, states its official objection to those reports

Dr. Tin Tun Oo, CEO

Myanmar Consolidated Media Ltd

No. 379/383, Bo Aung Kyaw Road

Kyauktada Township, Rangoon

Fleeing forced recruitment, young Kachin head to KIO bases

Thursday, 24 February 2011 14:08 Phanida

Chiang Mai (Mizzima) – Because of  the Burmese junta’s forced military recruitment, about 100 young Kachin sought refuge in a military base of the Kachin Independence Organisation (KIO) this week, according to a KIO officer.

The Kachin Independence Army is reinforcing its militia
and its army is preparing for battle with the Burmese
military regime. Photo : Mizzima
Forced recruitment of Kachin by the junta’s Northern Command in Kachin State has been underway since February 17, according to sources.

An officer with Battalion 11 of the Kachin Independence Army (KIA) said young Kachin have instead been signing up with the KIA.

For those too young, ‘We also have schools they can attend’, he told Mizzima.

The officer said that he had heard that junta battalions that failed to meet a recruitment quota would be fined 300,000 kyat (about US$ 300) per  month and the money would be given to battalions that met their quota.

The KIO officer noted that some of the young people were underage and could not be accepted.

‘We cannot recruit people who are under 18’, he said.  ‘If we do, it would be said that we use child soldiers. So, we accept only adults and the young people who want to attend our schools’, he said.

According to a document circulated on the Internet, the junta’s conscription law, dated November 4, 2010, says that the military can legally conscript men (between age 18 to 35) and women (between age 18 to 27) into the armed forces. The law has not been made public, sources said.

Reflecting the increased tension in Kachin State, on February 21, KIA Lieutenant General Gam Shawng Gunhtang, the chief of staff, said during a mass meeting at the army’s headquarters in Laiza that the KIO will launch military offensives against the junta and all Kachin must support  the revolution.

Five given prison terms in Water Festival bombings

Thursday, 24 February 2011 11:59 Myint Maung

New Delhi (Mizzima) – The Ahlone and Kamayut township courts have handed down prison terms ranging from two to 11 years to five people arrested following the bomb explosions during the Water Festival in Rangoon in April 2010, sources said.

A series of three bomb explosions at the Water Festival in
Rangoon killed eight people and wounded 94 others in
April 2010. Photo : Mizzima
The five are Myo Min Thu, Thaw Zin, Bo Bo Thein, Thaung Htike Oo and Yan Aung Soe. Police arrested the group in the days following the X2O pavilion bombings.

After the authorities failed to establish any involvement in the bombings, the five were later charged with offenses involving contacting anti-junta opposition organisations and committing offences against the state and public peace.

Myo Min Thu and Thaw Zin received six years imprisonment each under section 13(1) of the Immigration Emergency Provisions Act and section 17(1)(2) of Unlawful Associations Act. They were also given an additional two years each by the Kamayut Township court under section 505(b) of the Penal Code, involving offences against the state.

Bo Bo Then was sentenced a total prison term of 11 years. He was also charged with a second offense involving drugs. Thaung Htike Oo and Yannaung Soe were sentenced to two years each for committing offences against the state and public peace.

‘They were charged with contacting the National League for Democracy (Liberated Area) and Generation Wave (GW) and they were also accused of distributing anti-government leaflets’, said attorney Kyaw Hoe.

He said that Myo Min Thu, Thaw Zin, Bo Bo Thein and four other youths were arrested in a ground floor flat at No. 29, First Street, Ward No. 4, near the Hledan station in Kamayut Township on April 24, 2010, for suspicion of illegal involvement in political activities.

Out of the seven-member group, four are still standing trial, he said.

Lawyer Myint Oo said he will appeal all of the verdicts in district courts.

In other court actions, on February 2 the Rangoon East District Court sentenced Kaung Myat Hlaing, 22, of South Dagon Township to 10 years imprisonment under section 33(a) of the Electronic Law. He was arrested in connection with the bomb blast case at X2O pavilion on April 15, 2010.

In another case, reporters Maung Maung Zeya and his son, Sithu Zeya, were arrested in April 2010 for taking photographs of the bomb blast scene.

The junta blamed the bombings on anti-government
dissident groups and ethnic rebel groups seeking
autonomy. The bombings were condemned by many
pro-democracy groups. Photo : Mizzima
Sithu Zeya was sentenced to eight years imprisonment by the Mingala Taungnyunt Township court on December 21, 2010. Sithu Zeya received a three-year prison term under section 13(1) of the Immigration Emergency Provisions Act and an additional five-year term under section 17(1) of the Unlawful Associations Act. He is also being tried in one additional case.

Maung Maung Zeya was sentenced to a total of 13 years imprisonment by a special court in Insein Prison on February 4 on a charge of illegally crossing the border, contacting unlawful organizations and violation of the Electronic Law.

In the pavilion bombing incident, at a press conference held in Naypyidaw on May 6, 2010, Police Chief Khin Yi said that three members of the organization, Vigorous Burmese Student Warriors based on the Thai-Burmese border, were responsible for the bomb blasts.

Meanwhile, an electric engineer, Phyo Wei Aung, was accused of abetting the bomb blast and is still being held pending his trial. He has denied any involvement in the bombings.

Tay Za group rescued from mountain

Thursday, 24 February 2011 13:01 Mizzima News

Chiang Mai (Mizzima) – After three days of exposure to the elements on a snow-capped mountain, Burmese business tycoon Tay Za and five companions were rescued by a special military team on Thursday.

Burmese businessman and
junta associate Tay Za.
Photo : Mizzima
There were reportedly no injuries, and the group was in good condition.

The party was rescued when lines were dropped to the ground, and they were pulled up to a helicopter and then evacuated to Putao in Kachin State in northern Burma.

An official with the Htoo Trading Company, which is owned by Tay Za, told Mizzima that the group could return to Rangoon on Thursday.

Tay Za’s party included two air hostesses of Bagan Airways, which is owned by Tay Za, and four men who were stranded when their helicopter dug into the snow while trying to land on Tuesday.

The mountain was identified as Phone Kan Razi.
Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Film director arrested for alleged drug possession


Wednesday, 23 February 2011 15:02 Tun Tun

New Delhi (Mizzima) – Nyo Min Lwin, a Burmese film director, was arrested in Bahan Township in  Rangoon on Wednesday, reportedly after police found amphetamine pills in his possession, according to Bahan Township police authorities.

A police officer in the Bahan Township Police Station told Mizzima that Nyo Min Lwin had been transferred to the Ahlone Township Police Station.

However, Nyo Min Lwin’s wife denied that her husband had been arrested. She said that he has been on a trip.

When Mizzima contacted the Ahlone Township Police Station,  officers refused to provide any information.

In January, Nyo Min Lwin was reportedly filming a movie in the Cyclone Giri-affected area of Kyauk Pru, the second largest city in Arakan State, staring Nay Toe and Khant Si Thu, along with Ray Dike, Tun Tun and Moe Yu San.


Burmese tycoon Tay Za stranded on mountain

Wednesday, 23 February 2011 15:00

Chiang Mai (Mizzima) – A major rescue effort has been mounted to aid Burmese businessman Tay Za, a close associate of key junta generals, who is stranded along with as many as eight other people on top of a snow-capped mountain.

Burmese tycoon Tay Za, who is a
business associate of Senior General
Than Shwe and the owner of the
private airline Air Bagan, talks
with employees of Air Bagan.
(Photo: Mizzima)
A rescue team from the Puta-O military strategic command left on Tuesday morning for the mountain, Phone Kan Razi, after the business tycoon’s helicopter dug into the snow while trying to land on Tuesday and became trapped.

No injuries have been reported.

A manager with the  Htoo Trading Company, a conglomerate owned by Tay Za, said that eight people were onboard the craft when it got stuck on the ground. Another source said the helicopter carried six people.


Thailand tightens control of Burmese groups on border

Wednesday, 23 February 2011 13:09 Kyaw Kha

Chiang Mai (Mizzima) – The BBC Burmese Service has reported that the Thai government is clamping down on armed Burmese ethnic groups and political opposition groups in Tak Province, Thailand.

Burmese float across the Moei River near the Thai-Burmese
Friendship Bridge at the border of Mae Sot, Thailand, and
Myawaddy, Burma. The bridge has been closed since
July 12, 2010.
The authorities reportedly will place greater restrictions on the groups’ actions and  movements inside Thai territory, the BBC said, citing remarks by the governor of Tak Province.

Observers say that a factor in the restrictions my be the Thai government desire to reopen the closed Mae Sot-Myawaddy friendship bridge, which is a main Thai-Burmese border trade route. The Burmese government ordered it closed on July 12 last year.

According to the Mae Sot Customs Office, the closing is costing border trade at the bridge about 100 million baht [US$ 3.2 million] a day.

Opposition groups say the threatened restrictions on them by Thai authorities is because of pressure from the Burmese military regime and border-based Thai businessmen.

Federation of Democracy in Burma (FDB) General Secretary Dr. Naing Aung told Mizzima: ‘It will depend on how much they try to appease the Burmese regime––it will certainly have an impact on our movement’.

One of the ethnic armed groups, the Karen National Union (KNU), said that they have no armed movement inside Thai territory. The new Thai policy would not affect them, even if they had to move entirely into Burma, said KNU Pa-an District chairman Saw Aung Maw Aye.

‘There will be no change in our movements even if Thais exert pressure on us. We have many shelters and offices inside Burma. We do not initiate any violent acts in Thailand, and we don’t bear any arms in Thai territory’, he told Mizzima.

Similarly, Shan State Army (South) (SSA-S) spokesman Sai Lao Sai told Mizzima that they didn’t have any permanent offices in Thailand.

But the Democratic Karen Buddhist Army (DKBA), which is fighting junta troops in Karen State which borders with Tak Province, said that the Thai government has always viewed it as a rebel force, and the Thais frequently side with the Burmese military regime.

‘The Thai government always wants to arrest all of us and hand us over to the regime. They only refrain from doing this because of fear of how it would affect their image. Even now, they choke the movements of KNU troops in their territory here and there’, said the DKBA commander of the  5th Brigade, Major Saw San Aung.

He said that the attempt by the Burmese military to eliminate armed ethnic groups and the pro-democracy movements will not be successful and the problem can be successfully resolved only by political means.

Thai military forces and police raided and searched residences of some KNU leaders and the Karen News agency in Mae Sot on February 4.

US diplomat, Suu Kyi talk about US aid

Wednesday, 23 February 2011 18:48 Mizzima News

Chiang Mai (Mizzima) —  The New York Times reported on Wednesday evening that the top U.S. diplomat in Burma has begun to explore what kind of aid the US could give the military-ruled nation in talks with pro-democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi.

Pro-democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi
met on Tuesday with Larry M. Dinger,
the US charge d’affaires in Burma, to
discuss US aid to Burma. Photo :
A NLD official told Mizzima that the meeting took place on Tuesday. He said he was not allowed to provide any more details.

Larry M. Dinger, the US charge d’affaires in Burma, said the U.S. also is in discussions with the newly installed government, which also includes talks about long-standing sanctions by Washington, the newspaper reported.

Parliamentary rule was nominally restored in Burma last month after the country’s first election in 20 years, which was widely criticized as rigged.

The Obama administration has been exploring ways to involve the new government in moving toward democracy. Suu Kyi's National League for Democracy party has cautioned against lifting sanctions too quickly.
Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Nai Htar Wa Ra, Mon leader, dies at 55


Tuesday, 22 February 2011 21:02 Kun Chan   

Chiang Mai (Mizzima) – Nai Htar Wa Ra, 55, a leader of the New Mon State Party (NMSP) who suffered from diabetes and hypertension, died suddenly on Tuesday morning.

A central executive committee member, party officials said he died at party headquarters in southern Mon State.

‘His heart was also weak. In the early morning, he could not breathe well, and he died about 2 a.m.’, said Nai Tala Nyi, a NMSP central executive committee member.

On Sunday, Nai Htar Wa Ra presided at a ceremony to mark the 64th Mon National Day held in Panangpain Village near the party headquarters, where he read an official message sent by the NSMP chairman.

He was born in 1956 in Kamarwat village in Mudon Township in Mon State. He joined the NMSP in 1976 and resigned from the party temporarily in late 1978. He rejoined in 1981, and he served as second commanding officer and later served as commanding oficer until 1999 in the New Mon Liberation Army (NMLA), the armed wing of the NMSP.

In 2000, he moved to the political wing and served as the district chairman. In late 2006, at the party’s 7th conference, he was elected as a central executive committee member. From 2009 to the day he died, he was in charge of the central administration department of the NMSP.

He was well known as a military strategy expert in the NMLA.

‘He was also courageous’, Nai Banyar, a former private in the NMLA, told Mizzima. ‘On some occasions, the enemy felt a shock when they heard his name. He had an open mind, and he treated his subordinates very well’.

He is survived by his wife Mi Khin Myo Yi; a son, Min Kun Thaik (a central committee member of the Health Department of the NMSP); and a daughter, Mi Ah Chan.


Supreme Court judges nominated; Lun Maung new auditor general

Tuesday, 22 February 2011 18:50 Myo Thant

Chiang Mai (Mizzima) – Burmese President Thein Sein nominated six people as judges of the Union Supreme Court in a joint session of Parliament on Tuesday.

The Burmese Parliament in Naypyidaw will take
a rare break on Wednesday to allow lawmakers
more time to study nominees, according to
lawmakers. The Parliament has met each day in
a process to form new government ministries and
nominate ministers. Photo : MRTV
Tun Tun Oo, who previously served as deputy chief justice on the Naypyidaw Supreme Court, was appointed chief justice of the Union Supreme Court on February 17.

In other business, Lun Maung was unanimously approved as the auditor general during the Parliamentary session.

The six supreme court nominees are former Union Election Commission member Tha Htay; Soe Nyunt (the former director of the Civil Cases Department of the Supreme Court in Naypyidaw); Mya Thein (the former director of the Managing Department of the Supreme Court in Naypyidaw); Rangoon Regional High Court judge Myint Aung; Deputy General Manager Aung Zaw Thein of the bonds management and planning department in Naypyidaw; and Deputy Director Myint Han of the Ministry of Mining Sai Saung Si, according to Khin Shwe, a lawmaker in the Upper House from the Shan Nationalities Democratic Party.

On February 15, Thein Sein announced that seven judges would  be appointed to the Supreme Court and the motion was approved by the Parliament on February 16.

The session lasted about15 minutes.

The Union Parliament will be in recess until 11 a.m. on Thursday, in order to give lawmakers enough time to study the nominations for judges, according to Khin Shwe.

Similarly, a chief justice and six judges of the High Court of the Rangoon Regional Assembly were approved on Monday.

Win Swe, a director of the criminal justice department of the Rangoon Division High Court, was approved as chief justice of the High Court of the Rangoon Region.

The six judges of the High Court of the Rangoon Region are Myo Myint (joint director of the crime justice department of Rangoon Division High Court); Hla Aye (director of service personnel department,  Supreme Court in Naypyidaw); Sandar Thwe (joint director, High Court in Rangoon); Soe Soe Aung (joint justice, High Court  in Rangoon); Than Than Aye (West Pegu Region High Court judge, Prome); and Thin Thin Nwe (joint director, civil suit justice department, Rangoon Division High Court).

Lack of information, short sessions upset lawmakers

Tuesday, 22 February 2011 12:56 Ko Wild

Chiang Mai (Mizzima) – The latest round of Parliament sessions, devoted to forming the new government, have each lasted only a matter of minutes, and some lawmakers are asking, ‘What’s going on?’.

The Burmese Union Parliament is rushing through the
formation of a new government in short, 15-minute
sessions, leaving many lawmakers with what they say
is incomplete information about nominees.
Photo : AFP/MRTV
Many MPs are complaining that the sessions are too fast, and that they can not assess the qualifications of the appointments–much less raise a question or objection–because of incomplete personal biographies that are distributed shortly before the nominations or votes.

They say they have too little time to study or discuss among themselves the nominees.

‘We received a personal profile of Lun Maung on Monday’, an MP told Mizzima. ‘It had only 10 points, such as name, date of birth, education qualification, nationality and religion, place of birth, parents and spouse. It did not include even the names of his children’.

He said the speaker of the joint Parliament session told lawmakers that if they had objections they could send them to his office by the ‘evening’.

A lawmaker told Mizzima: ‘It’s not enough time to submit our objections before 4 p.m. How we can evaluate them by seeing only these incomplete personal profiles? These personal profiles should include a lot of facts. No one can raise objections without knowing details’.

Another MP complained about a lack of time to consult with his party members. ‘We should have time to discuss among ourselves and report back to our parties and other ethnic parties for consultation’, he said.

So far, only one lawmaker, the  National Democratic Force (NDF) MP from Rangoon Division, Dr. Myat Nyarna Soe, has succeeded in raising an objection at the Union Parliament level. It was made on February 9 questioning the number of ministries and number of cabinet ministers. He also proposed the addition of a new ministry for ‘Ethnic Affairs’. The motion and objection failed.

A successful objection was raised at the Chin State assembly after State Chief Minister Pu Hong Ngai nominated Pu Qui Thang as a regional government cabinet minister. The Chin National Party (CNP) and Chin Development Party (CDP) objected to the nomination by sending an objection letter signed by opposition MPs on the grounds that the nominee was under age. The objection was successful.

The Union and regional governing bodies have met for 23 days as of Tuesday. The longest session has lasted about 15 minutes. Some lawmakers have defended the process, saying the Parliament’s only business now is to form the new government ministries and ministers. Other Parliamentary business will procede after that duty is discharged.

So far, Union lawmakers have approved the president, two vice presidents, a union attorney general, and various union cabinet ministers. However, various ministers are still without a portfolio.

The National Defence and Security Council, Finance Commission, Union Supreme Court and Union Public Service Commission have yet to be formed.

Similarly, the judges for the Supreme Court, members of the Constitutional Court, members of Union Election Commission, deputy ministers, the deputy attorney general, the deputy auditor general, the Naypyidaw council, the presidential advisory body, the presidential press committee and a spokesperson are yet to be appointed and approved.

In local assemblies too, many appointments and nominations are yet to be made so that the shape of the local governments can not be determined at this point.

Another MP noted: ‘The financial year closes in Burma at the end of March, and the new financial year usually starts at the first of April. I hope the handing over of the governance from the old government to the new one will take place by the end of March or early April’.

KIO, preparing for war, urges people to join militia

Tuesday, 22 February 2011 12:50 Phanida

Chiang Mai (Mizzima) – Young people, adults and ex-servicemen were asked to serve in the Kachin People’s Militia during a meeting of the Kachin Independence Organisation (KIO) on Monday.

A lone Kachin soldier stands guard. Since October last
year, Burma has been moving toward a state of civil war,
with fighting between the regime and armed ethnic
rebels increasing. The Kachin Independence Organisation,
after 16 years of peace in northern Burma, is now on the
verge of a war they can not win, but say they must fight
because the regime offers them no other choice.
(Photo : Mizzima)
At the KIO’s headquarters in Laiza, more than 1,300 troops attended a morning meeting and at noon, more than 1,400 Kachin, including adult local residents and young people, met.

Lieutenant General Gam Shawng Gunhtang, the chief of staff of the Kachin Independence Army (KIA), the armed wing of KIO, told the gathering ‘the KIO will launch offensives against the junta and all Kachin people need to participate in the revolution’, according  a KIA officer.

Currently, the KIO has 15 battalions. The people’s militia would not be deployed in combat, but would be organised to provide logistical support  to the troops, according to a KIA officer.

The general urged volunteers to serve in the militia for as long as hostilities with the central regime appear to be imminent.

KIA militia groups in Kachin State and northern Shan total about 7,000 people, observers say.

The KIO was formed in 1961 to fight for racial equality and self determination for the Kachin people. It began organising people’s militia groups in 2009.
Monday, February 21, 2011

Chief Justice, High Court of Rangoon, approved

Monday, 21 February 2011 19:49 Mizzima News

New Delhi (Mizzima) – The chief justice and a panel of six member judges of the High Court of the Rangoon Region were nominated  and approved on Monday by the Rangoon Regional Assembly.
The old parliament building in Rangoon on Pyay Road,
which is used to hold the Rangoon Division Assembly.
(Photo: Mizzima)

Chief Minister Myint Swe asked the asembly if anyone objected to the nominations. There were no objections.

The session lasted only a few minutes.

Win Swe, a director of the criminal justice department of the Rangoon Division High Court, was approved as chief justice of the High Court of the Rangoon Region.

Other judges approved by the assembly:

(1) Myo Myint (joint director of the crime justice department of Rangoon Division High Court)
(2) Hla Aye (director of service personnel department,  Supreme Court in Naypyidaw)
(3) Sandar Thwe (joint director, High Court in Rangoon)
(4)Soe Soe Aung (joint justice, High Court  in Rangoon)
(5) Aye Aye Than (West Pegu Region High Court judge, Prome)
(6) Thin Thin New (joint director, civil suit justice department, Rangoon Division High Court).

Burmese, Thai activists March for gay, lesbian rights

Monday, 21 February 2011 20:31 Kyaw Kha

Chiang Mai (Mizzima) – About 500 Burmese and Thai homosexual activists staged a protest against discrimination against gays and lesbians in Chiang Mai, Thailand, on Sunday.

Gay, lesbian and transgender people from Burma and
Thailand demonstrated for their human rights on
Sunday in Chiang Mai, Thailand. (Photo: Mizzima)
The demonstration, organised by Thai and Burmese human rights organisations, HIV care organisations and homosexual rights advocacy groups included gays, lesbians, bisexuals and transgender people who demonstrated in the Chiang Mai Night Bazaar area.

Homosexual activists have staged protest demonstrations in Chiang Mai since 2007.

Khun Narumon Parawat, the deputy mayor of Chiang Mai, opened the demonstration, and Christian priests and Buddhist monks delivered speeches against discrimination.

A Burmese lesbian who participated in the demonstration told Mizzima, ‘We hope people will understand that we are also human beings,  and that we have rights too’.

Aung Myo Min, the director of the Human Rights Education Institute of Burma, said that there was  widespread discrimination against homosexuals in Burma, and people there also did not have the right to freedom of expression’.

The demonstration included a gathering of about
500 people, including area politicians, Buddhist
monks and Christian priests. (Photo : Mizzima)
‘In Burma, five people are not allowed to gather to stage a protest, so the situation in Burma is different. And the junta has an extreme fear of the word “rights”, so they will never allow the public to protest’, he said.

Activists said that the Burmese community has become more understanding of the rights of homosexuals in recent years. In the past, The All Burma Students’ Democratic Front (ABSDF) classified homosexuality as a crime. In 1997, the ABSDF revoked that classification. Similarly, the Burmese Women’s Union now allows all women, including lesbians, to apply for membership.

On February 21, 2009, a ‘Redshirt’ rally in Chiang Mai bitterly opposed the homosexual demonstration and threatened demonstrators, saying they lowered the dignity of Chiang Mai. Gay demonstrators had to be protected by Thai authorities.

In response to that anti-homosexual protest, Burmese activists cooperated with Thai activists to stage this week’s demonstration.

KIO arrests nearly 1,000 people in anti-drug campaign

Monday, 21 February 2011 21:45 Phanida

Chiang Mai (Mizzima) – Under a wide ranging anti-drug round-up and campaign, the Kachin Independence Organization (KIO) has arrested 981 drug users, according to a KIO officer.

Opium poppy growing in a cultivated field in Tanai
Township in southern Kachin State. (Photo: Mizzima)
The drug eradication campaign started in October and most of those arrested were identified as drug users or traffickers in the age group of 15 to 40, said Captain Naw Bu, a drug campaign spokesman.

He said everyone received lectures, and some people who were labeled as traffickers were fined, in accordance with the quantity of their dealing.

‘We didn’t do anything to harm them physically, and we refrained from taking more serious action’, he said.

Some people were held over in the anti-drug office in Laizar to help them in their fight against addiction, he said.

People were arrested in areas around Laizar, the 3rd Brigade area, the border area around Mai Ja Yan, Innbapa, the triangle area, and other areas near Phakant, Tanai and Awnglauk.

Moreover, he said the KIO is taking action against 127 drug traffickers. People who were found with raw opium of 1 viss (3.6 lbs) or more were charged a small fine, he said.

Captain Naw Bu said that most of those arrested as drug traffickers were grass roots people who dealt in small quantities of drugs.

The KIO had reportedly destroyed 6,574 acres (2,660 hectares) of opium fields in Wai Maw and Sadone areas, east of Kachin State. The KIO agreed in principle with the junta’s drug eradication campaign before the junta pushed them to convert their army into a Border Guard Force (BGF). Relations between the regime and KIO were severed in May 2010.

‘We had an agreement with the junta in principle,’ said Captain Naw Bu, refering to the anti-drug campaign.

‘But they sometimes imposed restrictions and harassed us in our campaigns. They restricted our movements and sometimes they said that there were no opium fields in certain areas’, he told Mizzima.

Observers frequently say that some armed groups earn money from opium growing and trafficking and use the drug money for procurement of arms and ammunitions for their cause.

However, Captain Naw Bu said that the KIO absolutely did not grow opium or use money from drugs to buy arms. He said the KIO adopted its anti-drug policy at its inception in 1964, but it  could not implement it forcefully and efficiently as it had to wage an armed struggle against the junta for the Kachin people’s self-determination and human rights.

He said the KIO issued a ‘no opium growing’ ban in 1991 and implemented it by educating opium farmers and destroying opium fields. The drug was eradicated in Naphaw, Lweje on China border, and in some areas in Shan State, he said, and drug substitution crops such as sugarcane and paddy have succeeded in some areas.

He said a drug eradication campaign can be achieved successfully only if all people join in the campaign and the international community also provides assistance.

Captain Naw Bu said Kachin families are increasingly abusing narcotics, and many young people are infected with drug-related diseases.

The KIO drug eradication plan is done out of a sense of responsibility, he said, not because of the junta or international pressure.

‘We do this because of our own conscience’, he said. ‘We do this job because this is a national cause’.

The KIO started its armed struggle against the central government in 1961, fighting for its goals of autonomy and equality.

Lun Maung nominated as auditor general; Tun Shin is new attorney general

Monday, 21 February 2011 18:10 Myo Thant

Chiang Mai (Mizzima) – Burmese President Than Sein nominated military auditor general Major General Lun Maung as Union Auditor General on Monday, in another government-building session of Parliament.

In other business, Than Sein’s nomination on Friday of Dr. Tun Shin as Union Attorney General was approved in a joint session of Parliament.

MP Khin Shwe, a United Solidarity and Development Party member, told Mizzima that Lun Maung, 62, is a native of Bamo in Kachin State. He won a Lower House seat in Bamo Township and is a graduate of the Defence Services Academy intake 12.

Khin Shwe told Mizzima that the current government-building sessions, devoted to the creation of ministries and the approval of ministers, may be concluded in the second week of March. After the joint sessions are concluded, each house may discuss and deliberate matters submitted by MPs, he said.

The joint session lasted about 15 minutes, in keeping with sessions all last week.

Defending the short sessions, Shan Nationalities Development Party MP Sai Saung Hsi noted that Parliament is still engaged in the sixth step of the junta’s seven-step roadmap to democracy, which involves the creation of a new government.

‘Only when the seventh step of the roadmap is completed can the shape of parliament be seen’, he said. ‘We’re now electing ministers, the auditor general, the chief justice, etc. We have nothing to debate and discuss on these matters’. Sai Saung Hsi said each MP receives a personal profile of all nominees made by the president.
Saturday, February 19, 2011

Quintana meets Chief Justice in Naypyitaw

Thursday, 19 February 2009 00:07 Mizzima News

New Delhi (Mizzima) – United Nations human rights envoy, Tomas Ojea Quintana, who travelled to Naypyitaw, Burma's new capital, on Wednesday met several Junta officials including the Chief Justice.

An official at the Chief Justice's office said the meeting was on for about an hour from 9:30 to 10:30 a.m. But, the official declined to give further details on the meeting.

According to the UN office in Rangoon, Quintana also met Burma's Attorney General, Minister for Labour, Aung Kyi, Minister for Foreign Affairs, Nyan Win, Minister for Home Affairs and the Chairman of the Civil Service Selection and Training Board, Kyaw Thu, who is also the Chairman of the Tripartite Core Group (TCG).

The UN envoy, during an earlier visit to Burma in August 2008, had advised the military regime to review domestic laws that limit the fundamental rights of the people and make changes in the judiciary so that it is fully independent.

However, Nyan Win, the spokesperson of National League for Democracy said the lack of rule of law in Burma, was the biggest hindrance to the establishment of any system.

"We believe that no system can be successful unless there is a rule of law. And only when there is an independent judiciary and proper rule of law in Burma, can any system be successful," Nyan Win, who is a lawyer by profession, told Mizzima.

Meanwhile, Tate Naing, the General Secretary of Thailand-based 'Association Assistance for Political Prisoners-Burma' (AAPPB), said between the two visits of Quintana to Burma, the ruling junta had committed a lot of human rights violations.

He said the junta had randomly sentenced political activists to long prison terms, and that no process of political reconciliation could take place until the release of the political prisoners.

"Min Ko Naing and his colleagues were sentenced to 65 years in prison. Then, Bo Min Yu was given up to 104 years unfair imprisonment last month," he said, adding that the junta was clearly demonstrating that they were not willing to listen to Quintana, who in his first visit, demanded the release of political prisoners.

"We will see the beginning of national reconciliation and development of democracy only when all these political prisoners are released," Tate Naing said.

Quintana on Tuesday also visited Karen state in eastern Burma, including its capital town of Pa-an. During his visit, he met with the Karen splinter groups Karen National Union/Karen National Liberation Army Peace Council led by Maj. Gen. Saw Htay Maung, Payakone Peace Group led by Padoh Aung San and 'Democratic Karen Buddhist Army' (DKBA) led by Tha Htoo Kyaw.

The UN envoy, however, did not meet members of the Karen National Union (KNU), an armed rebel group that has waged war for self-determination for 60 years. Both the KNU/KNLA Peace Council and DKBA have defected from the main KNU.

Padoh David Tharkapaw, KNU's Vice-Chairman, during an interview with Mizzima, said it was impossible for Quintana to get the true situation and complete information by meeting only these splinter groups and without meeting the KNU.

Similarly, NLD spokesperson Nyan Win also said Quintana's mission would be incomplete unless he meets all political parties and organizations during his visit.

He said the NLD so far had not received any notice for a meeting with Quintana, who according to the UN will wind-up his six-day visit on Thursday.

Sources said, Quintana had put forward a request to visit Kachin and Arakan States, but it is still unclear whether his requests have been granted or not.

According to sources, Quintana, on Thursday will hold a press conference at Mingaladon Airport, before leaving the military junta-ruled country.

(Additional reporting by Ko Wild)
Friday, February 18, 2011

Rangoon Regional Assembly elects advocate-general, auditor general

Friday, 18 February 2011 21:56 Mizzima News

New Delhi (Mizzima) – After nominations were made by Rangoon Regional Assembly Chief Minister Myint Swe, Kyaw Moe Naing was approved as advocate-general and Myint Aung was approved as auditor general, in unanimous votes.

The new Burmese Parliament building in Naypyidaw.
Photo : MRTV
Kyaw Moe Naing is from Thingangyun Township, and Myint Aung is from Insein Township.

The Constitution stipulates that the chief minister of a region or state may nominate an advocate-general and auditor general from either legislators or private citizens with the approval of the local legislature.

Similarly, on Monday, Myint Swe nominated an 11-member cabinet and nine ministries to form the Rangoon Region government.

Nominated as ministers were Colonel Tin Win; retired ambassador Hla Myint; retired Colonel Nyan Tun Oo (brother-in-law of People’s Parliament Deputy Speaker Nanda Kyaw Swa); Soe Min, Kyaw Soe, Than Myint, Aung Khin, San San Nwe and Dr. Myint Thein.

The  ministries are:

1. Security and Border Affairs
2. City Development Ministry
3. Education/Health/Foreign Affairs/Immigration
4. Agriculture/Commerce/ Labour
5. Electricity/Energy/Construction/Industry Ministry
6. Finance and Revenue/Forestry/Livestock and Fishery
7. Culture/Religion Ministry
8. Transport/Communication/Post and Telegraph Ministry
9. Social Welfare/Hotel and Tourism

Legislator and Karen People’s Party chairman Saw Tun Aung Myint, and  Rakhine legislator Zaw Aye Maung were nominated as ethnic affairs ministers in the Rangoon Regional government.

Tin Aye is EC chairman; Tun Shin nominated For Atty-Gen.

Friday, 18 February 2011 21:35 Myo Thant

Chiang Mai (Mizzima) – Retired Lieutenant General Tin Aye was unanimously approved as the chairman of the Union Election Commission by a joint session of the Burmese Parliament on Friday.

In other business, President Thein Sein nominated Dr. Tun Shin to be Union Attorney General. The nomination must be approved by a joint session of the upper and lower houses.

Tun Shin now serves as a deputy attorney general. He was a member of 2008 constitutional referendum commission, and he is on the European Union visa-ban list.

In order to qualify for the EU appointment, Tin Aye resigned as a member of Parliament on Wednesday, and a lawmaker said he had also resigned as a member of the Union Solidarity and Development Party.

‘Our National Democratic Force (NDF) MP, Khin Maung Yee, inquired about him, and they replied that he had already resigned from both groups’, Khin Waing Kyi, a NDF member of Parliament, told Mizzima.

Some opposition MPs, speaking with the media, raised questions of whether Tin Aye could give fair judgments on electoral disputes and cases of alleged malfeasance since his USDP party allegedly committed widespread vote rigging and electoral fraud, including planting bogus absentee votes, according to opposition political parties.

MP Khin Waing Kyi said she believed Tin Aye would be responsible and fair. ‘I see good things from him’, she said.

But an MP from the Shan Nationalities Development Party, Sai Saung, said that it was too early to draw a judgment.

‘We can say and judge only after seeing his work and the decisions he makes’, he said. ‘His work will be clear after the 7-step roadmap [to democracy] has been accomplished. Only at that time can we evaluate his work’.

So far, this week’s sessions of Parliament have lasted only 10 to 15 minutes.

Biography of Tun Shin

Name:           Tun Shin
Age:              63
Nationality:    Burmese
Religion:        Christian
Occupation:   Deputy attorney general
Education:     B.A, LL.B, (Rangoon); diploma international law, (London); M.A., business law (London)

Is Suu Kyi being protected?

Friday, 18 February 2011 21:04 Thea Forbes

Chiang Mai (Mizzima) – Recent unabashed threats in Burma’s state-run newspaper ‘The New Light Of Myanmar’ have raised the issue of security for pro-democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi and other NLD leaders.

Security concerns for Aung San Suu Kyi are increasing
after a recent article in a Burmese state-run newspaper
appeared to threaten her safety unless she stopped
supporting economic sanctions against Burma. Wherever
Suu Kyi goes, she is surrounded by adoring crowds.
(Photos: Mizzima)
In the junta’s first direct criticism of Suu Kyi since her release from house arrest in November, a commentary article read as if she and other NLD leders would ‘meet their tragic end’ if they continued to endorse economic sanctions against Burma, the BBC reported last week.

The Burmese article said Suu Kyi and the NLD were ‘ignoring the fact that today's Myanmar [Burma] is marching to a new era, new system and new political platforms paving the way for democracy’ and claimed that they were going the wrong way’.

There have been serious concerns about Suu Kyi and her fellow NLD members safety since she was released from house arrest four months ago and has begun appearing at events in Rangoon.

NLD lawyer and spokesperson Nyan Win told Mizzima that the NLD has its own security team and that some security members are stationed at Suu Kyi’s house on University Avenue.

“We are very concerned about the security of the Lady,” Nyan Win told Mizzima. He said the NLD security team is made up of youth members and they had no plans to hire a private security firm.

The NLD head of security, Win Htein, said on Friday that Suu Kyi has not received any threats and that comments like the recent one in the ‘New Light Of Myanmar’ have been ‘happening since our party was formed in 1988’.

Suu Kyi's security team is made up of NLD youth staff,
who also are stationed at her lakeside home in
Rangoon. (Photos: Mizzima)
Suu Kyi’s security team has about 20 NLD youth members, he said, some of whom are permanently assigned to  her home, and the rest make up a mobile team accompanying her when she travels to events or appointments.

Win Htein said that the security team routinely analyses events and has internal discussions on the best way to deal with Suu Kyi’s security.

Asked if Suu Kyi or other NLD members had any plans to travel outside of Rangoon in the near future, NLD lawyer Nyan Win told Mizzima, ‘At present, there are no intentions to leave Rangoon’.

He noted the 2003 Depayin Massacre in which Suu Kyi and her entourage were attacked and more than 70 NLD supporters were beaten to death by thugs who belonged to the government-backed Union Solidarity and Development Association (a now defunct, state-run ultra-nationalist organisation).

Nyan Win said that the government had never fulfilled its duty to conduct an inquiry into that bloody attack.  Three generals who have been accused of orchestrating the massacre ran for Parliament in the election last year and all won seats.

Junta leader Than Shwe gets new home

Friday, 18 February 2011 10:59 Kyaw Kha

Chiang Mai (Mizzima) - The Burmese junta leader, Senior General Than Shwe, reportedly will move into a new home-compound this week, joining other generals to take up residence in an ultra high-security neighborhood in Naypyidaw, the capital.

Senior General Than Shwe will move to a
new, ultra-secure compound in Naypyidaw.
(Photo : Mizzima)
Than Shwe is moving from Zeyar Thiri Township to Zabu Thiri Township, according to military sources, who said the general inspected his new home last week. 

Currently, as the new Burmese government is being formed, Than Shwe is holding on to the post of commander in chief of the Defense Services and the leader of the State Peace and Development Council, the group of generals who keep tight reigns on the country’s development and civic life.

He and his family will move into the new home on a 200 x 200 square feet compound located east of Yarzahtarni Road. In addition to his home, there are homes for his staff, a garage, and a ‘hut’ for him to use as a retreat.  An eight-foot  high double fence circles the compound.

His high profile neighbours include No. 2 leader Deputy Commander in Chief of Defense Services Senior General Maung Aye; President Thein Sein; Vice President Thiha Thura Tin Aung Myint Oo; the speaker of the Upper House, Thura Shwe Mahn; and former Lieutenant General Tin Aye, the chairman of the Union Election Commission.

The prestigious neighborhood is backed by a mountain and facing it are empty fields. From the homes, Opvatathandi Temple can be seen in the distance. A 20-foot wide path circles the compounds.

Wherever Than Shwe travels in Naypyidaw, he is accompanied by eight vehicles carrying  armed bodyguards.

Vice Senior General Maung Aye, the deupty chief of Defense Services, moved into a new home in the compound on January 18, sources said.

Area residents said that the land on which the homes were built was confiscated from the owners.