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Asking Wallace Art Collection not to accept Total Blood Money

Awyame | 11.04.2008 15:19 | Anti-militarism | Repression | Social Struggles | London

The group again visited the Wallace Art Collection at Hertford House, Manchester Square, London on April 9th. They have been considering accepting money from the French oil company, Total that is the largest western sponsor of the brutal military junta in Burma and whose pipeline was built with slave labour. Total seeks to whitewash its dirty image by associating with the Arts.

When last asked, Burma Campaign hadn't received a reply to their request to the gallery not to accept sponsorship from Total. At our last visit to the gallery on 19th March a senior member of the gallery had said a final decision had not yet been made. Since then an independent inquiry from an Indymedia reader, appeared to confirm that the gallery was going to accept sponsorship in the form of a "Corporate Membership" scheme for Total.

Several distinguished regular visitors to the gallery were very concerned that the gallery might be accepting Total sponsorship and gave us their full support. One was going to write to the director of the gallery and another who had lived in Burma spoke to the reception staff who denied Total sponsorship but seemed confused about the issue. So this visitor kindly asked the gallery to reply to Burma Campaign if they were not accepting money from Total. This time nobody from the gallery came and spoke to us.

We hope the gallery will help preserve humanity as well as Art !

This week there was also a protest at TOTAL petrol station in Hoole, Chester see

Note: The Burma military junta has now set a date of May 10th for its military constitution referendum.

Total and Burma

A detailed report on Total Oil's involvement in Burma, written by Burma Campaign UK, can be downloaded at

Total is in a joint venture with the dictatorship in the Yadana gas project in southern Burma, which exports gas to Thailand. [1]

The gas project funds the junta with hundreds of millions of dollars a year and represents a major source of foreign currency for the regime to buy weapons and finance the army.

Burma has the world's worst health care [2], the most corruption [3] and the most child soldiers [4].

News from Burma Campaign UK

Tell TOTAL to pull out of Burma

Our next big protest is the global day of action against TOTAL on May 16th. Every year TOTAL give the Burmese regime $500 million through its gas platform in Burma. Since around 1/2 of the regime's money is spent on the army and its violent campaigns of repression it is fair to say that TOTAL is funding repression in Burma. We're aiming to hold protests at TOTAL Garages across Europe on May 16th, why not join us? Below are the 3 steps to holding your own protest:

1: Find your local TOTAL garage (on there is a
convenient Service Station Finder)

2: Download some resources (flyers to give to the public, facts and
figures, the campaign briefing) at,

3: Spread the word and protest on the day!

You can email TOTAL right now to tell them that you think they should leave Burma via

Burma Campaign UK on Facebook

Get Total out of Burma on Facebook ( Facebook group)

Jersey Burma Water Festival Saturday, April 12
The Jersey Burma Group asked us to add news of this event. For anyone in Jersey, come and add to the candle lit vigil at the water feature and at the same time you’ll be supporting Burma Campaign UK and orphanages on the Burmese border. Saturday 12th April is an important date in Burma. It is the start of the Burmese Water Festival, an opportunity for fun and to jokingly criticise problems in the country before their New Year on 17th April.

Date: Saturday, April 12, 2008
Time: 6:00pm - 10:30pm
Location: Liberation Square, St Helier, Jersey
Street: Esplanade / La Route de la Liberation
Email: burmagroup [at] jerseymail (dot) co (dot) uk
Facebook Event:

Protests in London Next Week

Wednesday 16th April

Burma Embassy for normal daily Burmese protest
Myanmar/Burma Embassy 19A, Charles St, London W1J 5DX.
Tube: Green Park | Map:

Total London HQ, 33 Cavendish Square, London W1G 0PW
Tube: Oxford Circus | Map:

Chiswick Total petrol station
5.00pm - 7.00pm (Wednesday 16th April)
Protest at West Four Total petrol station, 137 Chiswick High
Road, Chiswick W4 2ED
Tube: Turnham Green

Protests are held weekly but locations may change. For information and reports on protests in London and around the country please see

Make sure you've signed:

- "Free Burma's Political Prisoners Now!" petition (global campaign launched 13 March 2008)
- The Burma Campaign UK e-action to TOTAL:
- The global pledge:
- Don't Forget Burma - send a photo message to the regime:

Burma Videos

Burma Campaign UK's video channel on YouTube:

- New to Burma? Watch these videos for a brief introduction
- This is Burma Music - U2, REM, Damien Rice, KT Tunstall...
- This is Burma: News and Documentaries - including Burma's Secret War
and Inside The Crackdown

Get TOTAL OIL out of Burma group on Facebook:

Burma Campaign UK on Facebook

Recent Burma news:
(see - read links for the full versions of stories)

Note: The Burma military junta has now set a date of May 10th for its military constitution referendum.,myanmars-gas-exports-to-thailand-earn-27-billion-dollars-in.html

Myanmar's gas exports to Thailand earn 2.7 billion dollars in 2007

Yangon - Myanmar, which faces economic sanctions in the West because of its poor human rights record, earned 2.7 billion dollars from natural gas exports to Thailand last year, media reports disclosed Tuesday. In 2007, Myanmar's total trade hit an historic peak of 8.7 billion dollars, split into 5.9 billion exports and 2.8 billion in imports, leaving the country with a trade surplus of 3.1 billion, said the Myanmar Times weekly, citing government officials.

Myanmar's exports last year were driven primarily by natural gas, which earned the impoverished country 2.7 billion dollars, or 45 per cent of its total exports.

"The major reason why Myanmar's trade volume is increasing is the massive contribution form the energy sector - the export of natural gas to Thailand," said Maung Maung, an economist and researcher from Economic Studies and Research Institute, the Union of Myanmar Federation of Chambers of Commerce and Industries (UMFCCI).

Natural gas exports have risen dramatically since 2002, when Myanmar first opened a pipeline to deliver gas from offshore reserves in the Gulf of Martaban to Thailand.

"As a result, Myanmar has enjoyed consecutive trade surplus since 2002," said Myanmar's Commerce Minister Brigadier General Tin Naing Thein in a recent interview.

Besides natural gas, Myanmar's main export items last year included agricultural products, amounting to 572 million dollars in earnings, gems and jewellery to 561 million, and fishery products to 366 million.

The country's main imports were fuel, which cost 471 million, followed by textiles at 276 million, palm oil at 251 million, machinery parts at 243 million, and automobiles at 192 million.

Most multilateral lenders such as the World Bank and Asian Development Bank, severed their programmes with Myanmar in 1988 following a brutal military crackdown on a pro-democracy movement that left more than 3,000 people dead.

The US forbid its private sector from investing in the country in the early 1990s, after the ruling junta refused to acknowledge the outcome of the 1990 general election, and the European Union has placed visa restrictions on the regime's rulers.

US and EU Sanctions were tightened after another crackdown on protesters in September, when a sudden doubling of fuel prices prompted demonstrators, led by Buddhist monks, to take to the street on Yangon.

The latest incident left at least 31 dead, according to official estimates.

Burma migrants suffocate in lorry

Fifty-four Burmese migrants have been found dead after suffocating in a lorry smuggling them into southern Thailand.

More than 100 people were packed into a container measuring 6m by 2m. Many of the survivors are seriously ill from dehydration and lack of oxygen.

The driver opened the doors of the vehicle after the migrants banged on the walls - but he fled on foot when he saw what had happened.

Thousands of Burmese risk the trip to Thailand in the hope of better wages.

Police said the Burmese had crossed by boat to the Thai town of Ranong from Burma's southern tip at Victoria Point - a route often used by illegal migrants.

They had then been packed into an airtight container on a lorry for the journey to the resort island of Phuket.,,regime-cracks-down-on-anti-constitution-activists,23629

Regime cracks down on anti-constitution activists

More than 50 human rights activists have been arrested in Burma over the past three months for urging people to vote against the regime-proposed constitution in the national referendum planned for May, writes Edward Loxton for The First Post. Pro-government thugs have attacked and beaten up several other activists, including a Rangoon district leader of the opposition National League for Democracy, 74-year-old Myint Hlaing.

At the same time, the regime is paying its supporters to attend evening training sessions in crowd control methods. "They are instructed how to crack down on crowds if protests occur," said one Rangoon resident who attended one of the sessions.

A nationwide campaign to persuade the electorate to reject the draft constitution in the May referendum is gaining momentum as details of the regime-drafted document emerge. Most important, the draft guarantees the continuation of a leading role for the military in running the country.

After weeks of silence on the issue, the National League for Democracy, Burma's main opposition party, led by pro-democracy icon Aung San Suu Kyi, finally took a stand this week and urged the electorate to vote 'No' in the referendum.

The regime has warned it will crack down harshly on any attempt to disrupt the referendum or prejudge its result, but it’s unclear how it will respond to the NLD. Aung San Suu Kyi is disenfranchised because she is being held prisoner in her own home, and the draft constitution also excludes her from standing for office in any future Burmese government.

Apart from continuing arrests, secret trials are being held at which participants in the anti-government demonstrations last August and September are receiving heavy terms of imprisonment. One of the first to be arrested when people took to the streets last August to protest against steep price rises was sentenced this week to life imprisonment under a section of the criminal code outlawing “acts intended to destabilise the government.” The accused, Ohn Than, had already served eight years for his part in the 1988 national uprising.

Amnesty International and the Thailand-based Assistance Association for Political Prisoners-Burma say at least 700 people arrested for participating in last September’s mass demonstrations are still behind bars. The number of political prisoners in Burma has now risen to more than 1,800, they report.

No way for voters in Tachilek to "express his wish secretly"

On 6 April, officials providing referendum training people in Kengtung, Mongyawng, Mongphyak and Tachilek, taught them only to tick in favor of the junta-drafted charter, according to local sources.

By Hawkeye/ Lieng Lern

Officials from District Peace and Development Council (DPDC) and Township Peace and Development Council (TPDC) explained the draft constitution and how to vote at the city hall in Tachilek on the Thai-Burma border. The time for voting the draft constitutional referendum would be between 8:00 to 16:00.

There were about 200 headmen from different village tracts and villages who attended this workshop.

According to the workshop, each polling booth team of ten will be led by a headman, with the rest divided into 3 sub-teams of 3 each, one to check ID cards and issue ballots; another to oversee the voters marking their ballots and the last for security.

After the polling booth is closed, local authorities will count the ballots in front of the public without letting the public to stay near them. “That is not transparency," said the source.

The headmen from every township in eastern of Shan State were also selected to attend trainings at Naypyidaw, the new capital of Burma.

"People who went to attend workshops at Naypyidaw were each paid Kyat10, 000 ($8) by the junta and given a car with a driver for use during their free time," said a participant returning from Naypyidaw workshop.

"During the training some headmen made phone calls to their assistants back home and instructed them to train the villagers only to tick. They said putting symbols other than the tick would only make the military remain in their power," he added.

NLD slams late release of draft constitution

Apr 10, 2008 (DVB)–The National League for Democracy has criticised the Burmese regime for releasing the draft constitution only one month before the national referendum is to be held.

NLD spokesperson U Nyan Win said the late release of the full text does not give people enough time to study it and make an informed decision.

"Coinciding with Referendum Commission chairman U Aung Toe's announcement on the dates of the referendum, the text of the draft constitution is now available for the public to buy starting from today," he said.

"So there is only a little time for the people to study it before they vote on whether to approve it.”

According to U Aung Toe’s announcement, the referendum on the draft constitution will be held on 10 May.

The draft constitution was completed on 19 February, but it was not made available to the public.

Nyan Win said the party will continue with its “Vote No” campaign to encourage people to vote against the constitution.

"If people from the government side have a right to campaign for 'Yes' votes, we also should have the right to campaign for 'No' votes," Nyan Win said.

"It's only fair that we get to call for 'No' votes when they get to call for their 'Yes' votes,” he said.

“We are not violating the law by urging people to vote 'No'. We will carry on with our campaign."

Under the government’s referendum law introduced in February, campaigning against the referendum can be punishable by up to three years in prison.

NLD Wants International Observers at May 10 Referendum

Burma’s main opposition party, the National League for Democracy (NLD), called on the military government on Thursday to drop its opposition to the attendance of international observers at the constitutional referendum, now set for May 10.

NLD spokesman Nyan Win said the party wanted to ensure a free and fair vote on the regime’s draft constitution, and for that reason it wanted the presence of international observers.

In a statement in Rangoon, Nyan Win said that although pro-government organizations were allowed to campaign for a “Yes” vote in the referendum, NLD members were being arrested for taking an opposing stand. “The authorities deter any move by dissidents, particularly the NLD’s.”

The May 10 date of the referendum was announced on state-run radio and TV on Wednesday evening and in the press on Thursday.

Myanmar warns embassies ahead of referendum

ANGON (AFP) - Myanmar’s military government Thursday warned foreign embassies not to support Aung San Suu Kyi’s pro-democracy party, as the nation gears up for a referendum on a constitution opposed by her supporters.

The warning carried in the official New Light of Myanmar newspaper came the morning after the regime announced that the referendum would be held on May 10.

Aung San Suu Kyi’s National League for Democracy (NLD) party is urging voters to reject the constitution, which they say will not bring democracy to the country which has been ruled by the military since 1962.

“Certain foreign powers, with the intention of interfering in the internal affairs of Myanmar, are now … aiding and abetting some local political parties to destabilise the country,” the paper said.

“Some diplomats of certain foreign embassies in Yangon regularly visit NLD (headquarters), hold talks and give directives to harm the interests of the nation and the people,” the paper said.

“The embassies should stop such activities,” the government mouthpiece said.

The ruling junta says the new constitution will help create a “discipline-flourishing democracy,” with multiparty elections set for 2010.

But critics say the constitution will give the generals a dominant role in government, even after the polls.

Aung San Suu Kyi, who led the NLD to a landslide victory in elections in 1990, would be barred from running in new polls. The military never recognised NLD’s election win, and has silenced the Nobel peace prize winner by keeping her under house arrest for 12 of the last 18 years.

One quarter of the seats in parliament would be reserved for soldiers, appointed by the commander-in-chief. The military would also have broad powers to declare a state of emergency and take direct control of the government.

Amending the constitution would be almost impossible without the military’s consent. Three-quarters of parliament must approve any changes, which then must go to voters in a referendum.

Although the NLD and other pro-democracy groups are calling for a “No” vote, they have little ability to campaign effectively because the regime has outlawed speeches and leaflets about the referendum.

Dissidents have no access to the media, which is tightly controlled by the regime.

Copies of the constitution were only released to the public on Wednesday, when they were put on sale in government bookstores for nearly one dollar — a price far beyond the means of most people in this impoverished country.

Thailand-based Myanmar analyst Win Min said that by placing the date for the referendum only one month away, the regime left voters with little time to understand the 194-page document.

“They are worried that if they make it longer, the movement for holding a ‘No’ vote will get some momentum, and people will be more likely to vote ‘No’,” Win Min told AFP in Bangkok.

“They are giving little chance to the opposition to organise,” he said.

The regime may also have sought to avoid scheduling the referendum too close to the symbolically important date of May 27, which will be the 18th anniversary of the 1990 elections won by the NLD, he said.

That is also the date when the military is due to renew Aung San Suu Kyi’s house arrest.

Temporary ID for voters living in outskirts of Burma

Please take a look at the photo.

(courtesy of Vimutti blog )
It is a temporary Identification card for those people living in outskirts of Burma. They are tribal Karen, Chin, Shan, etc who do not pocess Burmese citizenship identification card.

Now, they can own the temp. card which has validity of only six months only meant to participate during voting process of the draft constiution. After six months, we don't know the government will issue an actual nationality identification card. Since they participate in the voting process, they should be allowed myanmar citizenship.

In the card, It is clearly written in Remarks No. (2) :

With this card, it cannot identify which nationality at all.

For safety, we have erased the particulars of the owner of the card.

So, with this sentence, we don't know what this card is for. If somebody out there understands, please tell us. Do we need to issue temp. card just to participate in voting for the possible vote rigging?

If possible, please help us carry this new to the news agency.

25% of Burma's Karenni State is internally displaced
Burma Issues

(Bangkok, Thailand) Over one quarter of the Karenni population of eastern Burma has been forced from their homes due to years of military oppression, a figure expected to increase as militarisation of the state continues unabated, according to a new report from Burma Issues.

In Karenni State, located in eastern Burma, 81,000 villagers are currently internally displaced, representing 27 per cent of the state's population. Between 70 and 80 per cent of those displaced are women and children.

What is needed is Thailand's immediate action to enable international support for cross-border aid and for the governments of SE Asia, China and India to support a UN Security Council Resolution on Burma, Khu Thaw Reh, Mae Hong Son Area Coordinator for Burma Issues, a non-governmental organisation working in Thailand, said.

IDPs in Karenni State face severe food shortages, inadequate shelter, cannot access health care or education services and are vulnerable to violence and exploitation from Burmese soldiers, said Khu Thaw Reh said.

He urged Burma to move quickly into genuine dialogue with ethnic groups to address issues of human rights and socio-economic grievances.

Unarmed villagers are forced to flee their homes to escape military attacks and human rights abuses perpetrated by the Burmese army, while others are forced from their homes to make way for income generating projects benefiting the military junta. Over the last five years the number of internally displaced persons in Karenni State has increased by 42 per cent, a number expected to increase if the situation continues to worsen, according to Khu Thaw Reh.

Sudan, Colombia, Iraq, Uganda and the Democratic Republic of Congo have the five largest displaced populations in the world. In Sudan nearly 13 per cent of the population is displaced, Colombia 8.5 per cent, Iraq over 6 per cent, Uganda over 6.5 per cent, and in the Democratic Republic of Congo nearly 2 per cent.

The percentage of the population displaced in Karenni State is twice as high as the level in Sudan which has the world's largest internally displaced population, however, they receive little assistance or international attention, Khu Thaw Reh said.

Slain Karen leader: Rebel effort is self defence

MAE SOT, Thailand (CNN) -- A Myanmar rebel leader killed in February said that his group is fighting for the preservation of the ethnic Karen minority, and for greater freedom throughout the southeast Asian nation.

Pa Doh Mahn Sha, the secretary-general of the Karen National Union (KNU), spoke in an interview three weeks before his death. He talked about his group's battle against Myanmar's military government.

"Our struggle is to protect ourselves from the military regime," he said. "They always attack our villages, burn down our villages, burn our food supplies. We want to stop fighting but we have no choice."

UN Worker Among Arrested in Maungdaw

Maungdaw: A local UN worker was among those arrested recently in a roundup of several Muslim community leaders in the western Burmese border town of Maungdaw, and he is currently being interrogated by military authorities along with nine other Muslim detainees.

The UN worker has been identified as Mr. Nurul kawbi, a driver for the UN office in Maungdaw.

A source close to the army authority said that he was arrested by the Burmese military authorities on accusations of leaking information to sources abroad and to the UN office in Maungdaw whenever human rights violations took place in Maungdaw Township.

Burmese military intelligence recently arrested at least ten Muslim community leaders in Maungdaw, including some well-known and well-educated individuals.

Officials have not disclosed any information about the arrests, but there are many rumours that the Muslim community leaders were preparing to oppose the upcoming referendum.

Cry Rohingyas!!! Cry!!!! by Rohingya Human Rights

Thailand's Prime Minister Samak Sundaravej said after emerging from a two-hour meeting of the National Security Council on March 28.2008 that the Thai Navy is exploring a deserted island to place the Rohingya refugees living in Thailand. He expressed his intention to show the Rohingyas "life here (Thailand) will be difficult". He could not show any single point of wrongs or crime that the Rohingyas have ever done in Thailand for which he has decided to banish the entire Rohingya ethnic community in Thailand to a deserted island.

Snatching away the right of Rohingyas to citizenship of Burma and conducting genocidal operations from time to time, Burma's military rulers have turned the Rohingyas into a stateless sub-human community denying our right to live in peace in our motherland Arakan of Burma where we have been living centuries after centuries and where our forefathers ruled the land for many centuries together with our sister communities of Arakan in peace and perfect amity. Today, being uprooted from our own motherland, over 1.5 million Rohingyas are roaming in different countries of the world as status less gypsy human beings.

Today, the Thai Prime Minister wants to fulfil the unmet wish of Burma's ruling generals to kill those hapless Rohingyas who escaped from their paws, through deporting them to the solitary island where either the Thai forces or the Burmese army will be able to massacre the Rohingyas beyond the notice of the international community.

The Thai Prime Minister said,” We want electricity. Burma has allowed us to build a dam. We want to sell goods there. Burma will build a port. Is that not good for Thailand?” So, in order to build up a celestial empire, the Thai Prime Minister wants to offer the innocent Rohingyas as the requiem in the altar of tyranny of Burma's military rulers by sending them to the island of Death where if the Thai forces can place the Rohingyas today, then tomorrow the Burmese forces will land in that island and thus massacre the entire Rohingya men, women and children.

Scolding the Western nations for picking on Burma's military regime, the Thai Prime Minister said that Westerners are overly critical of Burma and he has new found respect for the ruling junta after learning that they meditate like good Buddhists should, conniving the series of atrocities that the military regime has committed even against the revered monks who are the dharma sons of Buddha.

On March 25.2008, the Thai army raided Burmese opposition groups in Mae Sot, Thailand. They raided the homes of three Karen National Union leaders and the office of one Burmese student group. Many exiled groups and community organizations in Mae Sot began closing their offices for security reasons.

The statement of the Thai Prime Minister sent a wave of shock and grief among the whole Rohingya community. Due to decades long political oppression, economic exploitation, social degradation and cultural slavery, the Burmese military rulers have turned the Rohingyas into a powerless, defenceless and voiceless crippled community. Today we feel so helpless that we do not know how to reach our voice of helplessness and hopelessness to the international community to stir their conscience.

Rohingyas have been crying in corners and dying in silence decades after decades. Now, if the international community will not come forward to save the Rohingyas from deportation to the island of death by the Thai Prime Minister, it will just add another notch of genocide on the scale of man-made tragedies of Rohingyas.

However, we the 1.5 million Rohingyas in exile will not become the silent spectator of the episode of genocide of our Rohingya brothers, our sisters and our children in Thailand. We will cry through all democratic means to protest the inhuman decision of the Thai Prime Minister. And if necessary, to draw the international attention, we the 1.5 million Rohingya men, women and children in exile will resort to hunger strike until death at the premises of the UN missions and offices of other World Bodies to save our Rohingya brothers, our sisters and our children in Thailand.

At the same time, we fervently appeal to international humanitarian community, the World Bodies, human rights groups and the news media to come forward to save the Rohingya refugee community in Thailand. We also appeal to the people of Thailand, its human rights groups as well as its journalist society to understand our plight and come forward to prevail upon their Prime Minister to withdraw his decision.

Please Release Min Wa, a Burmese Refugee

Since 2005, a Burmese refugee, Min Wa has been detained in Bangladesh prison after he was arrested by the border security forces of Bangladesh BDR when some local people misinformed the Bangladesh authorities that Min Wa had a gun. His wife Ma Aye May said that after his arrest, Bangladesh authorities sent him to prison and have detained him since then without any trial.

Min Wa is Burmese refugee recognized by the UNHCR in Dhaka. He was working at a husbandry project in the village sponsored by UNHCR under their self-reliance program for urban Burmese refugees. He was arrested by Bangladesh Rifles during the evening of 16 July, 2005, from his family home, while he was enjoying dinner along with his wife and only daughter.

Report carried out by The Narinjara News said that a few days ago, his wife Ma Aye May went to Chittagong prison to see her husband, but she could not meet her and now she does not know the whereabouts of her husband Min Wa despite her repeated request to the jail authority to let her know where her husband has been detained.

The report also said that a UNHCR staff member in Cox's Bazar who is familiar with such cases said that this is a false case.

We, the Rohingya Human Rights Council(RHRC) fervently appeal to Bangladesh government to release Min Wa and also to look into how a man could have been put in prison for nearly three years without any trial.

We also request the UNHCR in Dhaka and other human rights groups of Bangladesh to take up the issue for the quickest release of Min Wa and also to provide legal assistance in his case.

Malaysia continues crackdown on Burmese migrants

Apr 10, 2008 (DVB)–Malaysian authorities have raided the offices of exiled Burmese organisations and arrested activists, including those with official papers, in their ongoing crackdown on Burmese migrants.

U Kyaw Kyaw, chairman of the Malaysia branch of the National League for Democracy (Liberated Area), said ethnic organisations were among those targeted.

"They are now arresting everyone regardless of whether they are holding legal documents or not. Burmese exile organisations’ offices are getting raided as well," U Kyaw Kyaw said.

"A lot of ethnic organisations including Zomi, Kachin and Chin groups have had their offices raided and their property seized. A number of activists in those offices were also arrested."

U Kyaw Kyaw said authorities were holding some migrants until their employers came to collect them.

"They are also arresting passport holders and they only let them go when their work agents or employers come and collect them at police stations where they are being detained,” he said.

“If no one comes to collect them, then they are not freed."

DVB reported on Tuesday that the Malaysian authorities had stepped up action against Burmese migrants, forcing many to go into hiding in jungle areas.

Migrants were being rounded up by groups of volunteers and handed over to immigration officials in return for a reward of 80 ringgit [US $25] each.

WITNESS: Death in the streets of Yangon

Adrees Latif, a Reuters photographer who has won the breaking news photography Pulitzer Prize for his coverage of anti-government protests in Myanmar last year, worked for Reuters in Houston and Los Angeles before taking up his post in Bangkok in 2003. In the following story, he tells the story behind the picture that won him the prize.

The Failure of Gambari Mission in Burma

By: Ahmedur Rahman Farooq

Turning a deaf ear to international outcries, Burma's military rulers are going to perpetuate military domination in running the state forever through unilaterally holding a referendum on May 10.2008 on a pro-military constitution which will not be possible to amend without the consent of the military representatives in the parliament, while the UN especial envoy Ibrahim Gambari who was appointed on a mission to restore peace, democracy and human rights in Burma through a meaningful participation of Daw Aung San Suu Kyi and other democratic and ethnic minority leaders in the process of drafting a national constitution, has virtually reached to a position where the people of Burma can not see any ray of hope from his mission.

Mentionably, in the draft constitution the constitutional power has been given to the commander in chief to run the country, instead of vesting it in the people under the basic tenets of a democratic system. The commander in chief has been given the power to appoint 25 percent of the seats in both the upper and lower houses of parliament with hand picked military officials who will not be accountable to the people, but fully loyal to the commander in chief. It also stipulates that no amendments to the charter can be made without the consent of more than 75 percent of lawmakers, making changes impossible without the support of the military representatives in Parliament who occupy 110 seats out of the 440-seat lower house which is called Pyithu Hluttaw (House of Representatives), and 56 seats out of the 224-seat upper house which is called Amyotha Hluttaw (House of Nationalities).

Moreover, in the event of a "state of emergency" which thetatmadaw (armed forces) is given the authority to declare at any time, the commander in chief would assume full legislative, executive and judicial powers.

However, after returning from his third visit to Burma on March 6-10.2008, Ibrahim Gambari has briefed on Burma with the 15-member UN Security Council (UNSC) on March 18.2008 where he admitted his efforts had yielded "no immediate tangible outcome." But he could not ask the Council to do something effective or to strengthen the mandate of the Secretary General in pressuring the military regime for an all party-inclusive national reconciliation process in Burma. Of course, he said that he had reason to believe that the Burmese government attaches importance to his mission and "continues to value the Secretary-General’s good offices as the best prospect for further cooperation through mutual trust and confidence, and constructive suggestions." But the people of Burma can not find grounds for such optimism of the UN envoy.

Most unfortunately, Gambari failed even to persuade the Security Council members to release a Presidential Statement after his briefing. The draft Security Council presidential statement which was prepared by three Security Council members—the United States, Britain and France on the Burmese constitutional referendum reflecting the views of the people of Burma, was opposed by the Russian ambassador to the UN, Vitaly Churkin. The draft UN statement called on the military regime to allow full participation of all political actors, including Daw Aung San Suu Kyi in the referendum process in order for it "to be inclusive and credible" through the guarantee of freedom of expression, association and assembly in the political process leading to the referendum as well as independent monitoring of the referendum.

Opposing the draft statement the Russian ambassador said, "Responding off the top of my head, I said to the members of the Council that the way I heard this idea, to me it is somewhat improper for the Security Council to go into describing modalities for a referendum or an election because we are not an election board." He also said, "We are the Security Council; we are dealing with issues of threats to international peace and security." Sadly, the lack of peace of 57.6 million people of Burma who have been groaning under the military for the last 46 years and now going to be enslaved generation after generation through the sham referendum, is not a matter to deal by the UN Security Council as the Russian ambassador wanted to mean.

250-Mile Journey Ends

Cox's bazar: The Long March ended for Burmese activists yesterday at the border town of Cox's Bazar, Bangladesh, after 13 days of walking from Dhaka.

The Long March was started by a group of Arakanese pro-democracy activists, including six months and eight laypeople, who departed from a monument at Dhaka University on 27 March, 2008, a revolution day in Burma.

U Thilawantha, who is leading the group, said, "We conducted the Long March with the intent to attract the attention of the Bangladeshi people, as well as the international community to the upcoming referendum for the new draft constitution, which is scheduled to be held in Burma in May 2008."

He added that, "We on the march oppose the upcoming referendum as the Burmese military government excluded democracy icon Daw Aung San Suu Kyi from participating in any future elections, and the draft constitution does not grant equal rights to the non-Burman ethnic minorities."

Many Arakanese communities in exile welcomed the Long March activists from the roadside when they arrived in Cox's Bazar yesterday morning.


[1] Aung San Suu Kyi, Burma’s democracy leader, has said that “Total is the biggest supporter of the military regime in Burma.” For more information about Total Oil's investment in Burma see the Burma Campaign UK website:

[2] The World Health Organization's ranking
of the world's health systems:

[3] Burma joins Somalia in 179th place as the most corrupt countries in the world according to Transparency International 2007 index rankings:

[4] Human Rights Watch report on Child Soldiers in Burma:

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Change in protest times

12.04.2008 10:31

Protests in London

Wednesday 16th April

[Burma Embassy closed all week for Burmese New Year so
Cavendish Square protest time is earlier]

Total London HQ, 33 Cavendish Square, London W1G 0PW
Tube: Oxford Circus | Map:

Chiswick Total petrol station
5.00pm - 7.00pm (Wednesday 16th April)
Protest at West Four Total petrol station, 137 Chiswick High
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Tube: Turnham Green

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