The protesters distributed hundreds of leaflets to passers-by, many of whom were interested to learn more about events in Burma and discuss human rights in other parts of the world as well as Burma.
Some passing cars also stopped to ask for leaflets, though we intending to just leaflet the passers-by.
Earlier the protesters demonstrated at 33 Cavendish Square where Total has the office of Total Holdings UK Ltd.
Total and Burma
A detailed report on Total Oil's involvement in Burma, written by Burma Campaign UK, can be downloaded at http://www.burmacampaign.org.uk/total.html
Total is in a joint venture with the dictatorship in the Yadana gas project in southern Burma. 
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 , the most corruption  and the most child soldiers .
PROTESTS IN LONDON NEXT WEEK
WEDNESDAY 30TH APRIL
Meet at Burma Embassy for normal daily Burmese protest
Myanmar/Burma Embassy 19A, Charles St, London W1J 5DX.
Tube: Green Park | Map: http://preview.tinyurl.com/2vnnbh
Total London HQ, 33 Cavendish Square, London W1G 0PW
Tube: Oxford Circus | Map: http://preview.tinyurl.com/2tylug
Hammersmith Total Station protest
5.00pm - 7.00pm (Wednesday)
Protest at Raven Total station, 372 Goldhawk Road, Hammersmith W6 0XF
Tube: Stamford Brook. Map: http://preview.tinyurl.com/29w9lu
Protests are held weekly but locations may change. For information and reports on protests in London and around the country please see
BURMA CAMPAIGN MAY 16TH PROTEST : Tell TOTAL to pull out of Burma on 16TH MAY
Our next big protest is the global day of action against TOTAL on May 16th. Every year TOTAL gives 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 http://www.total.co.uk there is a convenient Service Station Finder).
2. Download some resources (flyers to give to the public, facts and figures, the campaign briefing) at http://www.burmacampaign.org.uk/total.php
3. Spread the word and protest on the day!
European Day of Action against TOTAL on May 16th Event on Facebook
http://www.facebook.com/event.php?eid=16050426753 (Host Burma Campaign UK)
http://www.facebook.com/event.php?eid=12195222411 (Host Get TOTAL OIL out of Burma)
You can email TOTAL right now to tell them that you think they should leave Burma via http://www.burmacampaign.org.uk/total.html
Burma Campaign UK on Facebook
Get Total out of Burma on Facebook (totaloutofburma.org Facebook group)
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 Avaaz.org global pledge: http://www.avaaz.org/en/burma_corporate
- Don't Forget Burma - send a photo message to the regime:
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:
RECENT BURMA NEWS: (see http://myamarnews.blogspot.com - read links for the full versions of stories)
http://www.freeburmarangers.org/Reports/2008/20080419.html [(CAUTION: this site contains shocking images of atrocities, including recent killings of ethnic minorities). The Free Burma Rangers (FBR) is a multi-ethnic humanitarian service movement. Ethnic pro-democracy groups send teams to be trained, supplied and sent into the areas under attack to provide emergency assistance and human rights documentation. Together with other groups, the teams work to serve people in need.]
FBR REPORT: Atrocities Continue in Karen State, Burma
Karen State, Burma
19 April, 2008
In 2002, the Burma Army chased a group of villagers in Dooplaya District, central Karen State. They caught up to them at night and killed 12 people, 8 of whom were children. We and other organizations reported on this massacre and went to provide relief to others in the area who were also under attack. During the mission we removed the bullet from an eight-year-old boy, Wilbur Htoo, who had survived the massacre by hiding under the dead body of his grandmother and then running away once the Burma Army had gone. His sister, Naw Tha Ku, was severely wounded in the arm, but also escaped along with their father, Saw Ko Nu.
We are now in the same area six years later and while the people have not given up, (as described in our earlier report of churches being burned and rebuilt), there is still heartbreak here. Four months ago, on Christmas Day 2007, a Burma Army patrol shot at Saw Ko Nu, the father that escaped the massacre in 2002, while he was fishing near his orchard. He managed to run away. Above him on a hillside rice field was his 13-year-old son Wilbur Htoo and 25-year-old nephew, Saw No Maw. After escaping the shooting, the father kept running and hearing no more shooting thought that the son and nephew who were about 500 yards away on higher ground, had escaped. But when they didn't turn up later, the father went looking for them. He found their burned bodies in the rice field they had been working. When he looked at them, he saw that they had not been shot, but had been captured and tortured to death. Their tendons on their ankles were cut open, they were disembowelled and throats cut. Their bodies were set on fire but only partially burned. A local FBR relief team already sent the story of this killing out earlier, but now we arrived and wanted to document it further and also hold a memorial service for the two that were killed. When we talked to the father, we were hurt in our hearts to learn that he had already lost his wife and three of his children in the 2002 massacre and now he had just lost his son, his nephew and had an injured daughter. We were shocked to learn that his son was the same Wilbur Htoo who had survived the massacre in 2002 but now had been tortured to death. We also met with the wife, Naw Moo Dah, 22 of the dead nephew. She had a nine month old baby who became sick and died two days after her husband was killed, so she is now alone.
China and Russia's Paradoxical veto
International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH)
Paris, New York, 16 April 2008 - The International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH) strongly condemns the double veto of China and Russia against a draft presidential statement of the UN Security Council on Burma last Monday. The draft called for an early end to military rule and full participation of all political opposition groups in the process of political transition and national reconciliation ahead of the national constitutional referendum.
FIDH considers that these vetoes represent a serious step back since the last Security Council's presidential statement on Burma, on October 11th, 2007 «deploring the use of violence against peaceful demonstrations and stressing the need for the Government of Myanmar to create the necessary conditions for a genuine dialogue in order to achieve an inclusive national reconciliation». The statement had also called on Burmese junta to «take all necessary measures to address [...] human rights issues».
FIDH has expressed its deepest concern regarding the referendum process on the constitutional draft in Burma/Myanmar . Regarding the constitution-making process, and contrary to the statement made by the representative of Myanmar at the Security Council , FIDH considers that it has not been transparent nor democratic. The mere fact that the draft was finalized behind closed doors by persons appointed by the junta deprives the resulting document from any credibility. Additionally, any criticism against the drafting process is considered a criminal offence. Political parties, ethnic groups and other non-military delegates have been excluded from participation, as many members of opposition political parties are under house arrest or imprisoned. According to recent information, Myanmar's military government has arrested more than 20 peaceful demonstrators protesting the scheduled May 10 national constitutional referendum. Despite the mobilisation of the UN Special Envoy,
Mr. Gambari and the UN Special Rapporteur on Human Rights, Prof. Pinheiro, the United Nations offers of technical assistance for the constitutional and electoral processes were ignored.
FIDH consequently calls upon the Security Council to:
• adopt a resolution requesting the government of Myanmar to create conditions for genuine dialogue and reconciliation by putting and immediate end to the house arrest of Aung San Suu Kyi and by releasing all political prisoners;
• call upon the military regime to restart the constitution-making process and making it inclusive, participatory and transparent;
• demand the military regime to effectively cooperate with the Human Rights Council's Special Procedures. In particular, the Special Rapporteur for Myanmar should be able to visit the country as often as is required for the effective fulfilment of his mandate;
• demand the regime to accept permanent offices in Burma/Myanmar for the UNSG Special Envoy's good offices and for the High Commissioner for Human Rights;
• take urgent measures to put an end to serious violations of human rights and humanitarian law.
 The military regime, ignoring the results of 1990's election, has pursued a “road map to democracy” since 2003 consisting on a seven-step process. Since then, a National Convention first established the fundamental principles to be enshrined in the new constitution, and subsequently a body composed of 54 members selected by the junta, the Constitution Drafting Commission, was appointed to finalize the draft. On February 19, 2008, the commission completed the task of drafting the new Constitution. A nationwide referendum on the draft constitution -the fourth step of the road map- will be held in May. In case of its ratification, national elections will be held in 2010 -the fifth step-.
Junta issues ID cards to Chinese citizens
Junta authorities have provided temporary ID card to Chinese citizens presumably to get more support for the junta drafted constitution in the coming May referendum, according to sources from northern and eastern Shan State.
By Hseng Khio Fah
Thousands of Chinese citizens across Namkham, Muse and Panghsai townships in northern Shan State have received their white cards. "It is as if the military is not sure about the support of its own people for its draft charter," said an opposition source.
"By the look of things, it's likely the visitors (meaning Chinese) are going to become residents and vice versa," said an informed native who wishes to be anonymous. "Later they are going to control all the lands and economy like they do in Mandalay."
In order to get more support from the people in the May referendum, junta authorities had been issuing ID cards almost for free to people in Shan State. But Chinese and Thai citizens of Chinese origins were paying up to Y 1,000 ($ 150) in Mongla, opposite China's Daluo, and B 5,000 ($150) in Mongton, opposite Thailand's Chiangmai.
There were many temporary ID cards of different colors that the authorities had issued to the people such as pink, green and white. Wa, Kokang and people in areas of ceasefire groups don’t' get access to hold pink or green cards, which are considered to be temporary citizenship cards. The white card cannot be used for evidence to prove one's citizenship, it is explicitly stated at the reverse side of the card.
Sanctions on Burma To Be Extended
BRUSSELS, Apr 23 (IPS) - Sanctions imposed by the European Union on Burma look set to be extended for an extra year because of the lack of progress on human rights in the military-ruled country.
EU foreign ministers meeting Apr. 28 will review the measures they introduced against Burma in October last year, following the brutal crackdown on Buddhist monks who took part in street protests that have become known as the Saffron Revolution. These measures included a ban on the import of gemstones, timber and precious metal.
Slovenia, the current holder of the EU's rotating presidency, expects the sanctions to be renewed for another 12 months.
Janez Lenarcic, Slovenia's state secretary for European affairs, said he also expects the EU to formally exhort the Burmese authorities to begin planning for a "legitimate civil government" and to release political prisoners, including the iconic pro-democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi.
Yet some campaign groups have argued that it would not be sufficient to merely prolong the EU's sanctions. Human Rights Watch is urging both that existing sanctions should be bolstered and supplementary ones added.
While the EU has frozen the assets of Burmese generals, Human Rights Watch contends that these financial measures should be made more comprehensive. In particular, it wants any use of bank clearing-houses or the conduct of any other financial transactions within the EU's jurisdiction by members of the junta to be forbidden.
The organisation also wants to broaden the range of targets for sanctions. At present, oil and gas exports from Burma remain unaffected by the sanctions, as do contracts signed by the French energy giant Total for exploiting the Yadana gas field in southern Burma. Human Rights Watch is arguing that the sanctions should be extended to cover companies that finance the Burmese military, such as the state-run Myanmar Oil and Gas Enterprise (MOGE).
Lotte Leicht, Brussels director with Human Rights Watch, argued that sanctions can have an influence on the State Peace and Development Council (SPDC), as the Burmese government calls itself, but only if their application is monitored vigorously.
"The way forward for an effective sanctions regime on Burma is to think small and adaptive," she said. "Go after the real perpetrators and profiteers of Burma's military rule and target their ability to access international financial networks to hide their profits, to buy arms and other repressive tools. And do it constantly with updated information and listing of key SPDC officials and military controlled companies.
"The EU must cooperate with other sanctioning states such as the U.S. and Australia, and share information and coordinate action. To do anything less makes sanctions a hollow tool, and plays directly into the hands of the military regime who are accustomed to hard talk and soft measures as a result of divergent international approaches."
Members of the European Parliament have called, too, for tougher sanctions during an Apr. 23 debate. Plans by the Burmese junta to hold a referendum on a new constitution next month were denounced by MEPs.
Brian Crowley, a representative of Fianna Fáil, Ireland's largest party, noted that the constitution would reserve one-quarter of all seats in the Burmese parliament for the military and that Aung San Suu Kyi would not be allowed seek election "because she is married to a foreigner."
Hélène Flautre, a French Green who chairs a parliamentary committee on human rights, said that while efforts to draft a constitution may initially have appeared positive, they "very quickly turned into a Machiavellian scheme."
Richard Howitt from the British Labour Party argued that a U.S. ban on banking and financial transactions by the Burmese authorities has denied them foreign currency. He urged the EU to take similar action.
Some MEPs also exhorted the EU to press China to use its influence with Burma, in which it invests heavily, so that human rights are respected there.
Ten members of the European Commission, the EU's executive, are visiting China this week, including José Manuel Barroso, the institution's president. One of the commissioners remaining in Europe, Jacques Barrot, said his colleagues would be raising the situation in Burma during their trip.
Meanwhile, Amnesty International said that if Barroso's visit will have any meaningful result, he must obtain firm commitments from the Chinese government to allow free expression ahead of this summer's Olympic Games in Beijing. Among the commitments being sought by Amnesty are an end to the harassment of Chinese human rights activists, guarantees that journalists will be allowed work unrestricted, and greater transparency about how many executions are carried out.
"Such a high level visit one hundred days before the start of the Olympics is a crucial opportunity to press the Chinese government to change its tactics," said Amnesty spokeswoman Natalia Alonso. "The EU's commitment to include human rights concerns into all its policies is at stake." (END/2008).
Generals' stomachs full while government starves
Chiang Mai: While Burma's top brass continue to line their pockets with kickbacks and self-bestowed financial rewards, the country's government is facing a burgeoning debt crisis.
Analysts and knowledgeable voices are in agreement that the top generals' persistent refusal to put governmental interests ahead of personal gain has created an economic environment inside the country where the government is no longer able to service its debts or undertake fundamental development projects essential to the state's wherewithal.
"The government is bankrupt and the generals have all the money," is the terse assessment of the situation from a foreign employee of an international non-governmental organization in Rangoon.
Union of Myanmar Economic Holdings, Ltd. (UMEHL), a principle receptacle of the junta's financial interests, continues to expand in revenue received even as the government sinks ever further into bankruptcy. Hardly any of the money received through the holding company is in turn circulated into the economy for governmental expenditure.
Officials vote “Yes” on behalf of civil servant
Apr 25, 2008 (DVB)—A civil servant in Magwe division's Salin township who tried to vote in advance of the referendum was informed by local authorities they had already cast “Yes” votes on her behalf.
U Tar, a 1990 people’s parliament representative for Salin township, said the woman was due to go on a trip and would not be in the township for the referendum.
"A female teacher who was due to go on an advanced teacher training program went to the township authorities and informed them she was there to vote in advance for the national referendum as she was going to be away on that day," U Tar said.
"But the township officials told her she didn't need to worry about it as they had already cast 'Yes' votes in advance for her and the other three people in her family."
U Tar strongly condemned the actions of the local authorities in denying the woman her right to vote in the referendum.
"This is not the normal procedure in a national referendum,” he said.
“The government is doing whatever they want and abusing their authority. There is no justice here."
Public Service Personnel Threatened to Vote 'Yes'
In some divisions of Mon State, military officers have threatened public service personnel to vote ‘Yes’ on May 10th’s constitutional referendum.
Trainees from nursing schools in Moulmein have been told to give a positive vote, and were made to attend the pre-referendum ceremony held on April 22nd in Moulmein. If they failed to attend, they may have either forfeited their chance to attend their school’s next level, or their permits may have been cancelled; the ultimatum, delivered by their headmaster, mainly threatened to remove their opportunity to attend further education, including Bachelor Degrees. One trainee told Kaowao that all nursing school students knew a list of attendants and non-attendants at the pre-referendum ceremony would be drawn up and subsequently acted upon. Another senior trainee added, “It’s our right to vote, and that right should not be restricted. This one basic right is being abused.”
These types of threats are far-reaching. An anonymous source from Mondemo told Kaowao, “There’s no freedom, everything is bias and people who are voting don’t even understand the draft. Their plan is to distribute very few copies to the public in a short time, and the military government’s media groups push their ‘Vote Yes’ message heavily with near-constant propaganda. They arrest anyone who dares to bring attention to a weak point in the draft constitution, and they insist everybody approve the constitution. We are all very concerned.”
At a public service agents’ meeting in Balu-gyun, a military agent threatened attendees to vote ‘Yes’ or face dire consequences.
According to an NMSP officer, in every village of Moulmein the SPDC, town authorities and the military are attempting to force the people to vote ‘Yes’ by threatening them with an alternative of 3 years imprisonment or a heavy fine. He went on, “All the people in our zone have had to deal with the same thing. They don’t want to go and give their vote because they are afraid to vote the way they want to. They are afraid of major harm or danger to their families.”
In the Burmese countryside, elderly and sick forced to vote “yes”
Asia News : There has been early voting for these categories of voters: last Sunday, dozens of election observers went to the homes of the elderly and sick, requiring them to vote and to sign their ballots. In the state of Kachin, the authorities offer rice and mobile phones in exchange for support of the new constitution.
In the Burmese villages, the elderly and sick have been summoned for early voting in the constitutional referendum, scheduled to take place on May 10 on the national level. The voting was coerced by “volunteers” sent by the military regime, and was not conducted in secret. On April 20 - sources outside of Mandalay tell AsiaNews - dozens of observers, including many young students, went to the homes of elderly and sick voters and “made them vote” for the “yes”. The citizens, moreover, were forced to sign the ballot, so that each vote could be traced back to the voter. The population has been afraid for weeks that the junta might enact this kind of strategy. The lack of secrecy in the voting makes more concrete the threats of “grave repercussions” issued by the authorities to those who will not support the new constitution.
“Fear reigns in the villages and in the province following this news”, recounts a farmer in the southern part of the country, “we are angry and concerned at seeing the methods used by the government to obtain what it wants, but I hope that my countrymen will have the courage to vote ‘no’”.
Three weeks from the scheduled voting, the military junta is intensifying its campaign to gather support. The news agency Democratic Voice of Burma yesterday claimed that the authorities are literally buying votes in the countryside in the state of Kachin, where many Christians live. “They offer mobile phones and rice”, says Lahpai Naw Din, director of the Kachin News Group headquartered in Thailand and cited by the agency. “The religious leaders”, he continues, “are asked to persuade their faithful to vote ‘yes’. The military officials have an easy game of it in the areas where the level of literacy is very low and access to the media is almost nonexistent”. “In the area of the Maykha river”, the journalist adds, “they are manipulating the people as they please, they are sure they will obtain a large number of votes here”.
Junta Using Threats to Win Referendum Vote, Says NLD
Burmese civil servants have been told they face the sack if they fail to vote in favor of the draft constitution in the May 10 referendum, according to the opposition National League for Democracy.
An NLD statement on Thursday said that farmers who failed to vote in favor of the proposed constitution would have their land nationalized and students who voted “No” would be barred from continuing their studies.
NLD spokesman Thein Nyunt told The Irrawaddy that people across Burma had informed the NLD of the intimidation. Civil servants and members of the pro-government Union Solidarity and Development Association (USDA) were being told to vote in advance, Thein Nyunt said.
Several government officials, speaking on condition of anonymity, said the regime was planning to make school teachers, university lecturers and civil servants vote in advance in the presence of senior military officers.
“This is clear intimidation to vote “Yes,” said Win Min, a Burmese political analyst living in Thailand. “It’s unacceptable, since it violates the basic right to vote in secret. “It also shows that the authorities are worried that these civil servants are likely to vote ‘No’ if they’re free to do so.”
The NLD statement repeated an earlier call on the electorate to reject the draft constitution in the May referendum, calling it unfair.
The statement said that although the draft could be approved by a majority of more than 50 per cent, any amendment would require more than 75 of parliamentary representatives to become law.
Members of the referendum commission and sub-commission were immune from disciplinary action if they interfered in the voting process, the NLD said.
The referendum laws excluded independent observers from monitoring the counting of the votes, and one sole individual, Aung Toe, leads the committee of the national convention and the committee of the constitution drafting, the NLD complained.
The NLD statement also complained that the electorate had not had enough time to study the constitution draft, which had been available to the public for only one month.
National League for Democracy Special Statement No 7/14/ 08 (Unofficial Translation)
The people will vote the “The Draft Constitution of the Republic of the Union of Myanmar” in the upcoming referendum on May 10, 2008. From studying it, the referendum law and related procedures, we found there is no freedom and justice from the beginning.
1. Chapter XIV, Transitory Provision of the Draft Constitution of the Republic of the Union of Myanmar 2008
According to this provision, the draft Constitution can be approved easily. This provision is created to approve the draft Constitution comfortably with the supporting votes of just more than 25% of all the people who have the right to vote. However, to amend provisions from some chapters of the Constitution, OVER 75 % of supporting votes in the Parliament and over 50% of support of all the people who have the right to vote in a referendum are required. This is purposely designed to make any amendment difficult. While only over 25% support of all the people who have the right to vote is required to adopt the draft Constitution, any amendment can only be done with over 75% of the vote in the Parliament and over 50% of the vote in a national referendum.
2. We also found that the Referendum Law and the detail procedures do not met with (international) standards. While there are provisions to prohibit the activities of the voters and penalties for those who violate any prohibition, we found no provision to punish members of the Commission and Sub-Commissions for Holding Referendum, if they violate their responsibilities, duties, powers and principles. It is totally one-sided.
3. After closing the polling booth, the polling booth team is to count votes-in-favor, votes-against and cancelled votes and then prepares the list in the presence of not less than ten persons eligible to vote. However, people are not allowed to be present at the Commission and Sub-Commissions at all administrative levels, Village-track, Ward, Township, District, State and Division, which were formed by the authorities with the persons they trust, when they count the total numbers of votes-in-favor, votes-against and cancelled votes from the lists submitted by polling booths. This lack of transparency may lead to the opportunity to cheat.
4. Furthermore, the Chairman of the National Convention Working Committee, the Commission to Draft the State Constitution, and the Commission for Holding Referendum for the Approval of the Draft Constitution of the Republic of the Union of Myanmar 2008 are the same person. This should not happen for freedom and justice. Because, when the Chairman of the National Convention Working Committee, which adopted the fundamental and detailed principles for the Constitution, became the Chairman of the Commission to Draft the State Constitution, he made the Draft Constitution almost identical to the fundamental and detailed principles that he helped adopt. Then when he became the Chairman of the Commission for Holding Referendum for the Approval of the Draft Constitution of the Republic of the Union of Myanmar 2008, he will surely try to get approval for the Draft Constitution. And this Commission is not an independent one and serves for the pleasure of the State Peace and Development Council.
5. The contents of the Draft Constitution are not widely publicized through daily newspapers, radio and TV. People are not well aware of the contents, as the authorities have not tried to explain their meaning. As of today, the authorities have not widely distributed the Draft Constitution, so the people have not had enough time to study it.
6. We also know that civil servants and factory workers, who will not be away from their respective areas and who do not have plans to travel to another region on the referendum day, are forced to cast their vote in advance unnecessarily and in front of the authorities, so they can secure their votes-in-favor. This is violation of the Referendum Law.
7. Despite the fact that there are no democratic principles and democratic rights in the Draft Constitution, the authorities’ mouthpiece newspapers are misleading the people, who are sincerely and actively demanding democracy, by placing slogans such as “For the Emergence of Democracy, Approve the Constitution”, “Democracy Can Be Achieved through the Constitution”, with big headlines.
8. The State Peace and Development Council (the ruling military junta) allows all of the state apparatuses from the top to the bottom and its subordinate organizations to campaign freely and openly for the approval of the Constitution. These organs apply pressure, and use intimidation, cheating, misuse of power and the providing bribe to the people to get their support. However, they act differently in regards to publications of statements, appeals and facts that promote awareness of the conducts of the referendum, issued by the National League for Democracy.
(A) The authorities from Daedaye Township, Irrawaddy Division, tried to confiscate these literatures from the members of the NLD and interrogated two NLD members.
(B) The authorities from Wakhema Township, Irrawaddy Division confiscated these literatures and later returned only some of them. Township NLD organizers were also summoned and interrogated.
(C) The authorities also confiscated NLD publications and statements in Taung Twin Gyi Township in Magwe Division, Dala Township in Rangoon Division, and Sittwe Township and Taung Gok Township in Arakan (Rakhine) State. NLD members were also summoned, arrested and interrogated by the authorities.
9. Furthermore, the authorities are threatening the people, saying that they will know surely who votes against the Constitution, that those who vote against will be revenged by expelling students from schools, dismissing workers from work, confiscating lands from farmers, arresting villagers from their village, etc. The authorities are trying every way to make this referendum not free and fair.
Nevertheless, the referendum will be conducted by a secret ballot system, and the referendum procedure stipulates that a person should make his or her desire by making a (X) mark on the ballot paper if he or she does not approve the draft constitution. For the people who have the right to vote, we would like to encourage again all voters to go to polling booths and make a (X) mark without fear, in order to create their own destiny and use their rights effectively.
More Harassment, Attacks on Opposition Activists Underway
The homes of several members of the opposition National League for Democracy (NLD) in Rangoon and Mandalay were raided by authorities and attacked by vandals this week, according to local NLD members.
The homes of two senior members of the southwest and northwest townships in Mandalay, Myint Soe and Aung Ko Ko, were pelted by rocks thrown from motorcycles on April 20, said Ko Gyi, a senior NLD member in Mandalay.
“The attackers used catapults to throw rocks against the houses,” Ko Gyi told The Irrawaddy from Mandalay. He said three motorcycles were involved in the attack. Myint Soe and Aung Ko Ko could not be reached for comment.
Myint Soe filed a complaint at Police Station 7 in Maha Aung May Township, Ko Gyi said.
Attacks against opposition arty members and other activists have increased since the NLD launched its “Vote No” campaign in early April against the junta’s constitutional referendum. The referendum is May 10.
NLD spokesman Nyan Win in Rangoon told The Irrawaddy on Thursday, “Such attacks clearly indicate that there is not law in the country.”
The spokesman said that several NLD members in Rangoon were similarly harassed recently as they walked home from a bus stop in North Okkalapa Township.
On April 22, Nyan Win said the homes of three NLD members who live in South Dagon Myothit Township were raided at night by more than a dozen police and unidentified officials. The homes of Lay Lwin, Ma Cho and Thin Soe were thoroughly searched, he said, but no items were confiscated
In recent weeks, two more NLD members, Thi Han and Myint Hlaing, were assaulted in Rangoon by unknown parties. Myint Hlaing, 72, was hospitalized for injuries.
Other unconfirmed reports say NLD members in townships in Arakan State and Irrawaddy Division have been harassed and assaulted for their political activities.
Junta twists campaign slogan in Chin state
New Delhi – The Burmese military junta authorities are hoodwinking and misleading people into supporting the draft constitution during the referendum on May 10. In Chin state, northwest of Burma, it is urging people to vote 'Yes' in the referendum 'if they want democracy in the country,' local residents said.
Authorities in Chin state, led by Brigadier General Hung Ngai, Chairman of Chin State Peace and Development Council, have been pulling a fast one on locals by explaining that voting in favour of the constitution is the only way to put an end to decades of military rule and for the restoration of democracy.
"In Chin state most people, despite their ignorance, are against the military and would definitely vote against the draft constitution. So, it is possible that the authorities want to twist the campaign slogan," said Myo Min Aung, Editor of the Khonumthung News Group, who specialises in covering issues in Chin State.
Myo Min Aung added that authorities in several Chin villages and towns have conducted demonstrations on how the people should cast their votes by telling them that ticking or writing 'Yes' is the correct way of voting.
Despite the junta's vigorous campaign efforts, several people in Hakha, capital of Chin state, voted 'No' in a mock-referendum conducted by authorities on April 10, a local resident in Hakha said.
On April 10, authorities led by Hung Ngai conducted a mock-referendum, where authorities called about 150 people to vote.
Pu Van Lian, chairman of Burma's opposition party – the National League for Democracy in Chin State said, "I was told by one of the township officials, who participated in the vote counting, that when they counted the results, they found 'No' votes surpassing 'Yes' ballots".
Referendum campaigns speed up in Mon state
Both the Burmese military junta and activists in Mon State have stepped up campaign for "Yes" and "No" votes respectively in the run up to the referendum.
The Mon State Peace and Development Council sent a truck with a music band and ballot boxes to campaign in southern Mon state with security guards.
"The truck carrying letters saying vote "Yes" also carried ballot boxes. The truck travelled around Mudon town and villages and headed for Thanpyuzayart. There were many military intelligence officials following the truck. Along the road they also picked up security men," an eyewitness said.
According to Moulmein residents, this is the first time that they have been such a campaign. The truck travelled around Moulmein through Ye town.
The Thanpyuzayart Township Peace and Development Council (TPDC) has cleared up thousands of fliers written in Burmese which said: "If you don't want to live under military rule, vote No."
The fliers were distributed last night. The TPDC immediately held a meeting with members after finding them on the road. The fliers were one inch in width and about eight inches long. The word "Vote No" was in red colour.
"I found the fliers at about midnight when we went to a festival in Hongsar Htaw temple in town. But we did not see them when we returned home at 3 a.m.," a youth in Thanpyuzayart said.
According to a Mon activist they have launched the "Vote No" campaign, in Moulmein, Paung, Pa-an, Kawkareik, Mudon, Ye and Chaunzone Township.
"Depending on the situation we will distribute it. But some time we have to avoid it for security reasons," the Mon activist said and added that they started the campaign in these towns over two days.
The junta's, Maj-Gen Ohn Myint led the government's campaign in Mon state when he travelled through it. The Maj-General told people "If you love democracy, vote Yes" and "If you want to continue living under military rule, vote No."
According to a Mudon resident, people are confused on how to vote and they are worried that if they vote 'No', they will be troubled by local authorities because they have to write their name and ID number on the ballot paper.
Two village headmen in Ye township told villagers at a meeting that if they voted 'No', they will not take any responsibility about what the military authorities do to the villagers next.
Minister’s insult to Daw Suu provokes anger
Apr 25, 2008 (DVB)—Locals in Yaynanchaung, Magwe division, were furious after the minister of electric power (1), colonel Zaw Min, made a derogatory remark about Daw Aung San Suu Kyi during a “Vote Yes” campaign in the area.
One Yaynanchaung resident said Zaw Min had indirectly insulted the National League for Democracy leader Daw Aung San Suu Kyi during his campaign speech.
"He said that if one lets one’s daughter marry a dog, then she will only be a dog's wife, or if she marries a beggar, she will be a beggar's wife,” the resident said.
“He went on to say that if a woman marries a Kalar [vulgar term for Indian and also for westerners] then she'll be a Kalar's wife. He said people would be wise not to make the wrong decision [by choosing the Kalar's wife]."
Daw Aung San Suu Kyi could be excluded from running for office by the junta’s constitution due to her marriage to a foreign national.
The Yaynanchaung resident said news about Zaw Min’s remark about Daw Aung San Suu Kyi had spread quickly across the region and people were angered by what he had said.
"Everyone understands what Zaw Min meant but they wouldn't speak out against him,” he said.
“Now a lot of people are going to vote ‘No’ at the referendum because they hate his foul mouth."
US Senate Approves Top US Honor for Suu Kyi
The US Senate voted on Thursday to award Burma’s democracy advocate Aung San Suu Kyi the Congressional Gold Medal, America's top civilian honor.
The House of Representatives overwhelming approved similar legislation on December 17 to confer the honor on Suu Kyi, a Nobel Peace Prize laureate, who is being held under house arrest in Rangoon.
Past recipients of the gold medal include Winston Churchill, Pope John Paul II, Mother Teresa, Nelson Mandela and most recently, Tibet's Dalai Lama.
The US Campaign for Burma, a rights group, welcomed the Senate vote. "She richly deserves this award and the Burmese people are so proud that one of our own has been honored in this way," said Aung Din, co-founder of the group.
"The Burmese military generals have tried to isolate Aung San Suu Kyi from her own people and from the international community by keeping her under house arrest for over 12 years,” Aung Din said.
The European Union will call next week for an international arms embargo on Burma's junta and warn of tougher sanctions if the generals fail to improve human rights conditions, according to a statement drafted by EU ambassadors on Thursday.
The EU resolution repeated a call for the release of more than 1,800 political prisoners, including Suu Kyi, and called on the junta to account for all casualties and missing people from the September 2007 crackdown.
USDA Member Killed over Aggressive Campaign Tactics, Residents Say
An active member of the junta-backed Union Solidarity and Development Association (USDA) was stabbed to death in Sittwe on Tuesday because of his aggressive campaigning for a “Yes” vote in the constitutional referendum, local residents said.
Tun Thein, 26, was stabbed several times with a knife in his home by 19-year-old Tun Lin at about 8:30 pm in Sittwe, the capital of Arakan State, according to a senior member of the opposition National League for Democracy, who asked to be anonymous.
He told The Irrawaddy, based on information he had gathered, that Tun Lin became angry because of Tun Thein’s aggressive efforts to get him to join the USDA and vote “Yes” in the referendum on May 10. He said Tun Thein also had reportedly harassed Tun Lin’s father, who works as a laborer in the harbor.
A police officer at the No 2 police station in Sittwe said Tun Thein was killed because of a personal disagreement with Tun Lin, who is in police custody.
The USDA is notoriously well-known for its harassment of opposition group members and activists. The volunteer group has been compared to a vigilante organization, especially following the monk-led uprising in September 2007 which it helped to put down.
Two USDA members were reportedly killed in Kyee Myin Daing and Hlaing-Tar-Yar townships in Rangoon in recent months, according to local sources. No details could be confirmed.
USDA members played a key role in the deadly attack on democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi’s motorcade near Depeyin in 2003, in which an estimated 100 people were killed.
Detained 88 Generation Students’ health worsens
Apr 25, 2008 (DVB)—Ko Aung Aung Tun, brother of 88 Generation Students leader Ko Ko Gyi, has said conditions in Insein prison are to blame for the deteriorating health of activists currently being held there.
Aung Aung Tun said the 88 Generation Students leaders and other human rights activists were suffering from ongoing abuses and a lack of proper medical assistance in the prison.
Release Burmese rebels from Indian jail: Solidarity Committee
New Delhi - Indian political parties including the Communist Party of India and the All India Forward Bloc today called on India to release the 34 Burmese rebels, who are now languishing in Kolkata's Presidency jail.
The call came in a message sent to a press conference held at Kolkata Press Club on Friday by the Solidarity Committee for Burma's Freedom Fighters, a group formed in solidarity with the Burmese rebels by Indian intellectuals, academicians, Human Rights activists and journalists.
Speaking to reporters, intellectuals, politicians and observers, Nandita Haksar, member of the Solidarity Committee, pointed to the loopholes in India's judicial system as it has failed to provide justice to the Burmese rebels, who have been detained in Indian soil for over ten years.
"It is not legal, we cannot detain people for eight years without charges," Haksar said.
The 34 Burmese rebels, who are currently languishing in Presidency Jail in Kolkata, were arrested by Indian security forces at Andaman & Nicobar Islands in February 1998.
The Indian defence establishment accused them of gun-running but they were detained at Port Blair with out a charge-sheet filed against them for eight years.
However, after Human Rights activists made appeals, the Supreme Court ordered the case to be transferred to Kolkata for a day-to-day trial.
"But even after eight years they (Burmese rebels) should have got day to day trial but the Kolkata court has violated this," Haksar added.
 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:
 The World Health Organization's ranking
of the world's health systems:
 Burma joins Somalia in 179th place as the most corrupt countries in the world according to Transparency International 2007 index rankings:
 Human Rights Watch report on Child Soldiers in Burma: